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2014-11-07

What other boat refitting blogs won't tell you

There's actual snow in that sunset.
In case one is completely delusional and thinks "hey, this sailing around the world ambition is a bit of a doddle: all I have to do is fix up some old boat and push off", I would like to, by example, provide a small reality check.

I have alternated in the last two weeks between my paying work, the usual household stuff, and hauling out and winterizing two boats. While these are arguably the problems of someone, in worldwide terms, of relative affluence, it does not diminish in any sense the time and labour involved.

Let's take today, for illustrative purposes: Having finished by noonish my duties to one of my clients,  I determined to go down to Alchemy to get a start on the fuel system. Let's face it: a jug of diesel with a fuel and a return line clamped awkwardly in place is no way to run a freshly instaleld diesel, even if said diesel has run quite cheerfully for 2.1 hours (as per the hour meter) on said half-arsed provision.

But what the other refit blog won't disclose is that in order to do anything constructive, one must undone the previous efforts. Add to that a fair bit of stowage, followed by unstowage to get at the things you've forgotten are beneath the things you've just stowed, and the time alloted can be eaten quicker than an unzinced hull moored off a nuclear plant.

I wanted to set up the "proper" fuel system, which involves installing the FilterBoss dual Racor device in a place both easy of access and not so high up that it would tax the various fuel pump. So first I had to undo the diesel jerrycan. Then I decided, it being both cloudy and wintry, I should rig a second 15 amp power cord. I also hauled up to the deck level the roughly 25 kilos of docking lines (there are chains and shackles and general beefiness in play), because we are not permitted, nor is it a particularly bright idea, to leave them loose on the slips, given the possiblities of ice and storm.

More power is required if I wish to run heaters, which I really should, because it's already bloody cold.

Then I needed a light, which I found in the aft cabin. Then I heard the ripped and worn tarp overhead flapping in the breeze, and concluded "well, it's no use having rain coming in because I put the gasket repair of the pilothouse hatches down the list" (which I have), and so I thought "clever you, to have several 9 x 12 tarps and hundreds of cable ties to hand". But alas, unclever me, I had buried them in the paint locker, which was topped by various boxes of cable, which was jammed into the pilot berth.

One can see where this is going.

So, to the sounds of Beethoven's symphonies, which, blasting away inside a partially uninsulated metal boat, can be appreciated at some distance in the boat yard, I set myself to the tasks at hand. One issue was immediately apparent: in order to safely transit from dock to slings, and hence from slings to cradle, I had put most of the boxes of fasteners, hooks, sailing bits and random tools atop the locker in which I keep the sort of tools one requires to install FilterBOSSes.

Anyway, I had to move an excessively large amount of gear to merely reach the tarp stores, after which I removed the old raggy one, installed the new, replaced the boat hooks, froze a bit in the wind and snow (yes, there was snow, unseasonably, I suppose), and vacuum the dirt in the boat from the haulout-related footprints.

And then the sun went down (see Figure 1).

And I haven't yet got to the reason I was ostensibly present, because I needed to rearrange so much stuff.

And that what other boat blogs won't tell you: a significant amount of time spent refitting is actually spent rearranging, cleaning and sorting. With a touch of labelling.

Please don't tell anyone.





2014-11-04

Sling shots

It's never been easy to explain why I have two sailboats, nor has the phrase "but one of them is in pieces" garnered much sympathy. But them's the facts: I never sold my first boat and have enjoyed it through the (literally) long years of Alchemy's rehabilitation.

Also, we don't own a car. I ran the numbers, and owning two sailboats is cheaper on a yearly basis, all-in, docks and insurance and winter storage, oh my. Clearly, however, the time is drawing nigh when I have to acknowledge, now that Alchemy is officially mobile and getting her mast back in next spring's priority, that I may have one sailboat surplus to our needs. More on that soon, but in the meantime, what our little navy has as a commonality is the need to spend winter ashore, so here are some 2014 sling shots.
The non-dock-side is where I keep the crappier of my fenders. If you were at a finger end, you would, too.
Alchemy came out, as has been customary, first on October 25 in my boat club's general haulout. The keen-eyed will note that for reasons best known to the yard honchos and perhaps the crane operator, Alchemy, which has consistently been hauled to her cradle bow to the west, needed 180 degrees of spin (that's the RYA training talking, that "degrees" reference). Having already "hovered" in place for some minutes, awaiting my turn to be slung, I managed a respectable coming-about under engine control. I am so far quite pleased with the "out of the box" performance of my VariProp, and its four blades, even in "dead slow forward and aft" were able to turn Alchemy's bow and stern effortlessly. It remains to be seen next season if I need to tinker with the pitch settings. Frankly, I got sufficient stares of disbelief from some of my club's members to indicate they were astounded to see Alchemy moving at all, never mind with a degree of competence and control.

Always alarming a sight, even in excellent conditions for photography (it was a touch windy).
While the prop itself is a little dirty, in general, the anti-fouling held up, despite the lack of ablation my dilatory diesel work could supply.

That charming solar arch has to be rejigged: I made an error in leaving enough room for the twin backstays to get through.
There's plenty to do this winter; even if I possessed laurels, I could not rest upon them, nor do I have the impression they make a decent sea berth.

Note most of the conscriptees standing well back: Nobody wants to be under our boat "just in case".
The jury-rigged diesel can, for instance, will give way to the arrogantly named FilterBOSS system acquired lo, so many seasons ago. And water and batteries, oh, my. And more welding. Some holiday this has turned out to be.


She's come unslung: Alchemy's berth until April 2015.
The jobs with Valiente are more in the way of cleaning and tarting up in anticipation of selling her. Regretfully, but after several family dinners at which I've unsuccessfully tried to give her to various in-laws and relatives (just until we return, mind), I have come to the sad conclusion we must part. And given her unfashionable, if still fast, lines and even more dire brown plaid interior and non-condo-like amenities, I don't expect to increase the cruising kitty overmuch. Still, having only one boat will further focus my efforts. Too bad I've enjoyed this one so much.


Valiente came out today (November 4, 2014) under less benign conditions. Firstly, the keel or prop got fouled when I cast off from my marina dock and I couldn't get the Gori folding prop to deploy properly in forward. The wind pushed me sideways while I was attempting to shift the suspected sea grass off the drive train, and a light thump on a dock end put a fresh scratch on the gelcoat. Then, having found thrust (it wasn't an engine fault, more "marina can't be arsed to mow the weeds" fault), I ventured eastward across the harbour in rising winds that were 20 knots, forecasted to gust past 33 knots, straight into the channel where I was to haul. 
Not my flag, but I will own up to the Portabote.

The two men, Uli and Clayton, who comprise the entirety of the Pier 35 staff, were muttering dark imprecations of doom and invective against the gods, the weather and "the stupid boaters who left things too late", otherwise known as their customers. Alas, I felt compelled to point out that I had been scheduled to get hauled on that very day (I wanted to go the previous, calmer day, but had been dissuaded) and had in fact arrived an hour early.You go to Pier 35 for the price, not so much the charm, but they like me enough to hand me lines off other peoples' boats. Otherwise, I'd just be standing around waiting for things to happen.
Six boats were hauled while I was present. Clearly, I'm not the only guy who likes post-Hallowe'en sailing.
Things did eventually happen, and despite some irregularities with pad placement, or rather boat placement requiring pad adjustment (yes, I am sure they are numbered correctly!), winter squatting was achieved.
Look at all the crap I still have to drag below!
Not pictured (because I have to work at least part of today) was my $100 ($3/foot LOA) power wash. Frankly, dragging down my own power washer and a genset and a length of hose via bike cart has lost its charm for me, and this is a rare splurge. I even evinced a double-take from the Pier 35 guys, who with their customary drollery, informed me "you are finally getting smart".
Fate: Uncertain. Bottom: Washed
Unfortunately, that sort of intelligence boost could me an end to my need for Pier 35's overwintering services. With just one boat, I can stay at the club, or rent out our whole house, move aboard and try out "Winter in the Water!" at the marina at which I've been keeping Valiente.

We shall see. I wouldn't want to rush things.

Clearly, more to clean up and stow, but the motor won't freeze into irreparable chunks now.
UPDATE 2014.11.06: Sloop winterized, main stripped off boom and bottom power-washed (yeah, this year I actually paid to have that done because it's a big drag to cart down both a power washer and a genset to run it to The Yard That Hath No Outlets). I would've done more, but the rains, they came.