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2015-01-07

Bottoms up: A visit to a potential hull stripper

This is a radio my late father purchased about 45 years ago. I recall it from our annual two-week cottage rental as being the only form of entertainment beyond cards, board games, rowing and "chase the toads". It's a little crunchy-sounding but it gets CBC well enough. Note the bad weather and improvised lighting. If I need a light, I usually just crimp one together.
The weather outside is frightful, and the pilothouse is less than delightful, but between a welcome but time-eating dose of work, holiday preparation and commitments, and weather that was less than clement when I was available to do boat things...not much has happened of late.
This is why I want to have a proper companionway door fabricated. A sheet of Lexan as one big dropboard lets in lots of light, but also lets in snow, rain from S to WSW, and benzene fumes from the accursed airport.
On a day that was sunny and well above freezing, I took bike and trailer to tend to poor Valiente's batteries, which received a much-needed, Honda 2000-supplied boost and a bit of a tidy-up. Plans are in motion to get her sold as I have reached the boat-owning equivalent of the last of  Elisabeth Kübler-Ross's five stages: Acceptance.

The sleet I put up with.
On Alchemy, progress continues on the positioning and installation of the fuel filter system. I have some questions I will pose at next week's Toronto Boat Show to the guy who sold it to me, and who will no doubt be amused that I didn't install it years ago, but such are the trials of a idiot savant refitter. My questions are improving. Somewhat.

I always like to know the weather, inside and out.
Working aboard in the winter means layering up on the clothing, clearly, but I have to run a second 15 amp line (on top of a reduced 15 amps for "boat power") in order to run extra work lights (it is often dim) and at least one heater fan.
There are others I could use, but I have to be careful not to trip the circuits on the power post closest to the boat.
More to come soon on developments aboard in the present. When it comes to longer-term planning, you sometimes have to take a field trip. Captain Matt, who owns the steel 40 foot ketch Creeation and has been a big influence in getting me into a bigger boat and in keeping me out of trouble, has his own vessel in the shop at the port of Whitby, Ontario, about 30 miles east of National Yacht Club. Creeation is out of the water in order to have her 36 year old hull "blasted back to bare metal" to check and remedy corrosion or thinning out of the carefully welded plates that comprised her nicely rounded chines and then to apply the various potions and coatings required to keep said hull rust- and critter-free going forward.
Even with a touch of rust, that's an amazing turn of the bilge for a small steel yacht.

Matt picked boat builder and restorer Peter Karadi's operation on the basis of long association and the fact that the man clearly knows his business. My trip with Matt to inspect some additional repair work (the actual redo of the hull will commence shortly) was to "get a feel" for the man and his shop because Alchemy, while nine years younger, faces the same maintenance issues and my wife and I agree that it is best they are addressed before we hit salt water, where the acceleration of corrosion of any steel surfaces unprotected, even on a microscopic level, can be expected.
Damned spots. Also, half-second shutter speed.
Now, Captain Matt is pretty rigorous when it comes to care and maintenance of his vessel, and is arguably more thorough than me, although we tend to emphasize in slightly different areas. 
The engine bay of Creeation: Cleanliness is next to captainliness.aption
Clearly labelled, anti-chafed and well-secured: I try to live to this standard, too.
People think everything's labelled on boats so that know-nothing crew can figure stuff out. It's actually for the benefit of the confused captain.

He has been doing "spot" repairs for a few years on the more obviously troubled areas of his hull after hauling out each season, but there are signs (there are always signs, if you care to see them) that the issue, requiring plenty of grinding and application, was getting worse, or at least, more extensive.
Rust never sleeps, but it can be made to take naps.


But it's a non-trivial thing, to soda- or sand-blast a metal boat hull, and it's best done quickly, the idea being that one wishes the minimum amount of time that untreated, freshly ground-smooth mild steel plate is exposed to the corrosive soup we call breathable air. Specialized equipment is required, special (very) heavy-duty hoists are employed, grit-confining giant curtains are hung, parts of the hull not requiring constructive destruction are masked off...it's a big, expensive deal. But it is not a surprise.
Matt knows how to light a set. That pitting reveals sub-coating corrosion and will require blasting off.


In that spirit, I am also thinking we should have this done next winter. The advantages of going to Mr. Karadi are not restricted to his lower-than-Toronto but by no means cheap skills and services. He has a Travelift and room on his grounds to store the completed job until spring at a reasonable tariff...far more reasonable, in fact, than it costs to keep the boat on land in my own club. There's a GO train station within a 10-minute walk, and Custom Yacht Builder is heated, and then some. Some planning and leaving of a "skeleton" set of tools aboard should mean I can get work done, including perhaps some fabrications, until my own bottom is blasted, which sounds rude to everyone except a paranoid metal boat refitter.

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