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It's the most wonderful time of the year...

...even if it involves getting spattered with a wide variety of chemicals, some toxic and most tenacious. It's the run-up to "Launch 2015", and the grudging receding of winter's clammy grasp has proceeded to the point where only a zephyr off the still exceptionally brisk and recently frost-bound lake can break the solar spell.
Valiente's battered battery banks with Honda genset boosting. Yes, it's dirty there. It's pointless to clean up until I'm back at my dock, where there's water and a tap.
Many tasks remain and supplies to be a) located in my overly layered garage/chandlery and b) purchased again if a) fails, as is always the case, but progress is being made. Things are getting serviced, sewn, charged, greased, moused, painted, checked, tightened/dogged down or loosened/freed up, inspected, confirmed and lovingly patted, as is the custom of the sea.
The man who taught me celestial navigation, Nick DeMunnik, has his boat on the hard beside Alchemy. Seeing him yesterday made me think I need to refresh my ability to reduce sights. The top sextant is mine; the nice Freiberger is Mrs. Alchemy's.

When I launch Alchemy is known (May 2); when Valiente goes in is anyone's guess, as the employees of the cheapest yard in the city where I keep her have yet to manifest from their southern soujourns. There's just two men who haul and launch and cradle a few hundred boats in a jammed yard on the east side of Toronto Harbour, and they work constantly on both pleasure and commercial vessels throughout the warm months, only to head south from about November 15th to ...well, now, supposedly. I could launch Valiente with six hours' notice as my dock for her is already prepped. Said six hours would require about half a hour for an engine check and test-fire, more charging time until I reach the blessed green light status on the Guest charger, and various cosmetic work insofar as I can clean and polish the hull when there is only a few centimetres between the parked hulls.
The blessed green light on Alchemy's soon to be repurposed (to the forepeak) battery charger.
Yesterday, the airport reached 17C, which means about 13-14C on the waterfront, but this was enough to do remedial work on the hull to refresh some spots requiring "rust-locking", galvanizing paint and two-part epoxy barrier coat.  My wife, who is of modest dimensions, not to mention younger, tends to do this hull work, whilst I work on the topsides and deck.
Not to mention a provisional prop cleaning and service.
It was also a time to sort out the anchor well with the miracle of power washing and to put on a base coat of Rustoleum galvanizing paint.
Second coat will be brushed on to obliterate the drips. The bitter end eye can be seen to the right. The Dri-Dek, also power-washed, goes around this.
The tarp on the pilothouse roof, installed to keep out leaks due to the failing gasketing (itself to be addressed when I rewire and permanently reinstall the pilothouse roof this summer), was also replaced. This was a "two-tarp winter": even doubled, the wind and weather wore them to ribbons.

The VHF hailing and P.A./fog signal horn doesn't look wildly out of place, I think.
Back aboard Valiente, the main is back on. I need to tune to rig anew, and the winches need servicing, but that can wait until after launch.

Not as wrinkled as this, the Dacron main is actually in pretty good shape.
Make and mend: I have a rather elaborate sail repair and bits and pieces kit on Valiente that, when she is sold, will come over to Alchemy. I sewed a few rips in the sail cover, recycled from a CS 36 and therefore about two feet too long, and can therefore claim a readiness to sail. A readiness to motor? We'll see after the next time I go down to charge and do the bottom paint.
Y'arr, 'tis the bosun's locker, of sorts. Things stowed in here have saved more than one cruise.
UPDATE, 15.04.15: 

More make, mend and paint/sand/varnish today. It took some digging, but I located the pieces used in the tabernacle to both secure the mast to it and to enable it to be lowered for locks, or service or to avoid the bosun's chair:
Bolt, cap, shiny heavy tube part et al.
The idea is that the bolts welded to the heavy tubes can be, when the stays and shrouds are slacked off, raised to bring the butt of the mast up and off the base of the tabernacle. Then halyards can be tensioned and the stays slacked off further (or removed entirely, if needed) to lower the mast aft for service. It seems a good idea to build a gallows, even if provisional, for that.
Appropriately sturdy, I think. Ignore the temporarily deployed boat hook.
The whole scheme, for which I cannot take credit, is designed to allow the mast to rest on the pilothouse roof. I was told this was to facilitate canal travel, which I do not think this boat ever did under previous ownership. Damned handy and good thinking, I say.
I guessed the colour from a chip in a Dulux store. It's close enough for me, and as it will be covered in Dri-Dek and massive amounts of new G70 3/8" chain.
I also covered yesterday's spray can of Zincorama with a thick coat of Metalclad paint. Once again, the staff at the downtown Dulux paint shop understood why I wanted a particular coating and could confirm its properties. I really prefer going to the places that contractors use these days. There's hardly ever hand-holding or explaining to do. Tomorrow I'll check this for curing and then, if it feels cured, I'll replace the flooring and start sorting out the anchors better.

Ar, 'tis a venerable rudder stick, it be.
This rather worn item is Valiente's 42-year-old tiller. You can just make out my fingernail marks. I took off the flaking Cetol coating and thought to pretty it up a bit with a proper sanding, a staining and then a couple of coats of marine spar varnish. I will do a light sanding tomorrow and apply a couple more. The Cetol would last longer, but this will look much nicer, and after that, it's the next skipper's problem. I have been using simple teak oil rubs on some of the discounted teak bits and pieces I've been collecting for spice racks and paper towel holders and whatnot for Alchemy; perhaps I'll try some of this treatment on that. I am on record as expressing my dislike of wood on the outside of boats but I do not mind a more traditional bit of dead tree down below. Because the interior is black cherry battens holding up masonite whiteboard, which is in turn securing inches of closed-cell insulation board, the interior of Alchemy is a bit "Elizabethan pub", but at least it's bright.

UPDATE, 15.04.16: The Metalclad paint was still a little tacky, and I put on a second coat of varnish on the tiller, so I switched focus today and decided to do some measuring twice.
For reasons of physics, I wanted to make sure the helm seat could take the helmsperson's mass even if Alchemy was subject to an unexpected wave.
This involved some test perches on our new helm seat, purchased somewhat impulsively when Genco's Queen Quay location closed last summer. The seat slides back and forth, and can be raised up and down to meet the needs of the rather disparately sized owners (and crew). The seat must allow standing operation, and also must rotate cleanly 360 degrees as it will also be a "regular seat" when we are under autopilot. So I had to fiddle and measure and futz about. Then came The Beast Makita, my weapon of choice for drilling through metal.
This is brutal enough to spin me in place if I am insufficiently braced. It's one of my favourites, and I got it on sale.

Six 3/16" pilot holes later, followed by 3/8" pilot house and the same for the variety of 1/4" aluminum backing plates I trust will keep the base firmly attached to the steel pilothouse deck and I was bolted down. When I recover said deck, I will probably trace around this base rather than remove it again.
Not all vessels come with a Deck Dalek.
The seat, while simple (read: "at the lower end of the marine gear spectrum") fits the space available and is mobile enough to fit all.

Ignore the surrounding builders' tip.
About the only issue is that the base, fully lowered, gives me proper visibility, but my relatively short legs dangle about six inches off the deck. I will have to rig some sort of bracing blocks, or stirrups, or pegs of some description on either side of the helm cabinetry (note the restored cherrywood lip? I do) in order to be braced should we be motoring in heavy chop.
In the raised, closer to the helm "distaff" configuration.
The long march continues...

Well, well: Cleaner, brighter and plausibly organized. Even my clown shoes fit in there.
The anchor situation is clarified, which might come in handy should we have unforeseen engine issues or meet up with a nice fresh squall. The cleaned Dri-Dek is back (now that the paint is also dry decked) and on the right is the Fortress FX-37, secured and with 10 metres of 3/8" chain and about 40 metres of 5/8" rope rode, as per its specifications. On the left is a 20 kilo CQR anchor (for now) with 34 metres of 3/8" chain, most of which fits coiled down into that handy bucket. For now I have the two anchors secured with shackles on wire lines in turn shackled to the bitter end; I have a "devil's claw" to secure deployed chain, but the padeye that is bolted through the deck is really too small to work without fudging about with insufficiently beefy shackles. So we shall see how my "drill through the deck" plans work out...after launch. This is simply a way to have anchors more or less at the ready should a sudden stop be needed in relatively shallow water.

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