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2016-04-20

Painting the hull red and other preparations

Ah, Pettit Premium: How much you cost.
A break in the weather coinciding with a break in the workload has allowed us to creep ahead of the "rush point" to launching Alchemy on April 30, weather, again, permitting. Mrs. Alchemy fits rather better under the hull than do I, and I'm sticking to that story, so while I finished up the mast tabernacle re-org and cleaned off the prop, she dealt with a few rust spots and needful places for cold galvanizing spray. We may, if time permits, even paint under the pads with the remaining dribbles, something we haven't always done as the boat tends to be put in variable places in its cradle from year to year and we can paint what was missed when it's revealed without lowering the pads. Now that we can move, I care more.

The topsides will be repainted in the customary two-part Endura once we are in the water, but the hull got, once again, its layers of Pettit Premium Performance anti-fouling paint, which, despite its claims to be "very economical", is clearly significantly pricier than it was last year, to which I attribute generalized greed and the daunted Canadian dollar.

I find its "performance" not great, but realistically, if you put ablative paint on a boat that doesn't move, you're not doing it right, so this season, where movement is very much scheduled, I expect to change my views. The issue is also that I want to do what Capt. Matt did and take the hull back to bare metal, have a nice thick barrier coat put in, and have hard, multi-season anti-fouling put on, not ablative, single-season. Given Capt. Matt's issues with outrageously low-balled estimates locally, I'm thinking we'll go down the St. Lawrence as is and get this done in Halifax or nearby on a commercial basis, as Alchemy is smaller than the average fishing trawler, and yet we want pretty much the same industrial-grade, ocean-ready bottom coatings.

Our dock's for the birds, clearly
After inspecting the quality of the shackles, thimbles and lines, and after verifying the shackle mousing could go another season, I put the dock lines in. If we know we aren't moving immediately, I tend to double the lines to and from the boat; Neptune knows I have enough fenders. The lines pictured, however, are 3/4-inch; after several seasons and careful deployment of anti-chafe, there's no real sign of wear on them. Still, we are conscious of the potential for 16 tonnes of mischief at large in the basin, and we try to reduce risk of our boat coming loose. I often see chafed 1/2 inch (or smaller) lines on other heftly boats, with no chafe gear and looking worse for wear. It's really the easiest thing in the world to deploy one's lines properly.
I haven't had complaints about this. In fact, I haven't heard a peep.
I'm on my club's Mooring Committee, which is fairly self-explanatory, although we also have a fair bit to do with the docks. This time last year, I was asked to redesign our guidelines and these illustrations are part of that. I don't see fore and aft springs on too many boats and yet it does distribute loads effectively, particularly in slips, like ours, where "beam-on" winds are the norm.


If the chain saws through the bollard, it's the club's fault, not the sailor's, which could be handy with one's insurer.
Regardless, those lines are heavy and I was glad to get them off the list and on the dock.

Gratifyingly, the dewinterization of Alchemy's engine went smoothly. I flushed out the system, checked oil, transmission and coolant levels, and slightly pressurized the fuel system. My reward was an instant start, even off the miniscule and aging Group 24 which I've been nursing as the putative house bank. On that front, the house bank batteries have been selected and priced and will be purchased and delivered in May. Then I have a lot of carpentry and rebar assembly to perform, as six L-16 batteries will need proper boxing and securing in a way the typical (for around here) pair of Group 27s also need, but do not always have. Anyway, we are ready to splash 10 days before we need to, and the forecast doesn't call for any freezing overnight temperatures and in face none lower than 4 C, so that's fine.

Lastly, my boat broker tells me Valiente's getting two showings this Friday. Perhaps it's because we lowered the price by a grand and perhaps the next post will have some good news on that neglected front. I hope so, as with a new main coming and a big battery purchase, we are burning cash again this spring.


2016-04-17

Stepping up, part 2


Yes, it's a relatively simple bend and drill and tap and fasten job, but it has to support me and my big feet.
The failure of the fellow pictured here to actually get back to me over the winter, never mind to do the simple fabrications I requested or to provide an estimate, is driving me to attempt things I wouldn't have otherwise. Don't get me wrong, I dislike spending money on skilled labour as much as the next sailor, but unlike the next sailor, I am not, I hope, delusional about my own skills. "In many instances, theoretical" would be generous.

Nonetheless, some decisions can be deferred no longer. The new main is approaching completion, and  I already know that the new Tides Marine batten cars, along with the more robust fabric of the sail itself, will add considerable height to the sail height when lowered above the boom. I needed to stretch fully to unshackle the halyard, to secure the cover and other such putting-away jobs. My wife is a full foot shorter; her only option has been to climb atop the pilot house roof. As the new main will make this situation even more out-of-reach, it's time to get a leg up with "tabernacle steps".

Alchemy's mast sits in a 1/2 inch aluminum plate flange affair about 1.2 metres high. It's massive and is tied into the main beam that crosses the boat under the deck in front of the pilothouse, which in turn is tied into the stringers via secured piping. Throw in the 11 5/16th inch stays and shrouds, and we don't worry about losing the stick much. The mast has a heavy steel pin through it allowing it to pivot aft over the pilot house, which is handy for doing canals or changing mast top lights or other maintenance that might require a bosun's chair. But the tabernacle is strong enough to have two steps secured to it which will allow us to reach every part of the "stack", even in heavy weather.

Should be a nice place to hang coiled lines, too.

I can see my pilot house from here!
The fab-up consisted of a bike trip in the rapidly improving weather to my friends at Metal Supermarket, who recognize me as the only geezer on a bike who buys plate and square tube aluminum.
Partially future garage sale, mostly boat stuff, the drift is shrinking gradually.
Not knowing precisely what I'd need, I had two-inch strips of 1/4" thick 6061 (same alloy as the mast tabernacle) cut to 90 cm. I drilled some preliminary holes on the press in the dim and messy Man Cave.
The elderly bench grinder has just about had it.
The bench grinder acquired from Ken and Lynn of Silverheels III prior to their departure ground down the edges and a cheap-ass Dremel-like tool smoothed things out.

I was going to make a jig, but that wasn't necessary with vises and clamps and dowelling to make nice curved bends.
 Yes, my home bench is messy, too. There is usually more than one project happening at once.

I made marks on the plastic coating in grease pencil to indicate where the bends needed to be.
I toyed with making a jig (see toy below), but I really didn't have the right bolts to hand. I expect if I start fabricating frames and straps to a greater degree, the purchase of a proper and versatile bending jig may be in order.
Eh, a failed experiment is also instructive.
The workshop at National YC had a much bigger vise and its own even beefier drill press. I like quarter-inch aluminum plate, however, because even modest power tools, like an electric jigsaw with the right blade, can cut and shape it easily.
The blue piece of particle board scrap has a rounded corner that was perfect for bending the angles I wanted.
Having determined my step "straps" were considerably too long, I cut them back and fitted them to the tabernacle. I had enough clearance to use nuts and bolts, instead of simply tapping into the tabernacle as some of the cleats have been. I isolated the #10-32 SS bolts with lanolin and secured the nuts with Loc-tite. If I spot issues, I'll go to bushings.
Not so bad with the plastic off.
The reason for doing all this work (about six hours in total, including travel time) is that I have really large feet. Super-wide, too. I literally based the mesurements around my largest New Balance running shoe (13 EEEEEE) and all measurements proceeded from that. The good news is that I don't fall over much, being ballasted by the keel. The other good news is that these two giant steps cost me about $18...pretty low-buck, if you ask me.
The second one is in. This will allow Mrs. Alchemy, who is just over five feet in height on damp days, to reach the new main headboard and to secure the cover.
I'm reasonably pleased with this; it certainly doesn't budge under my weight. I have a couple of displaced anodized cleats to relocate, but I think it's a decent improvement that solves the "new main is too high!" issue. Note, however, that I can't make a full revolution on the port-side winch. This is a deliberate choice. The winch on the port side only handles the jib and the staysail; the first is only hoisted once a season and the second is hand-hauled and only tightened on the winch at the end, so "cranking" less than a full circle is a small price to pay for the ability to safely and easily reach the top of the flaked main stack and to secure the sail cover. If one's boat has the more common mast partners or the "collar" type tabernacle, you can just put them clear of the winch handles. 

If I find I'm really missing the full turn on the port side mast winch, I can rebend that step slightly or I can weld an extender onto a winch handle "starsocket" or even weld up a custom crank. I could also even take that trend and move it up so the extrusion stand-off for the winch supports it, bringing that lower attachment inward, which gives me the clearance. So if this is an issue, I've given myself some options.