Sunday, February 28, 2010

Yeah! Boatwork!

Many a moon ago, when I was first starting out as an aircraft mechanic, I would walk up to some million dollar airplane, put a nice sharp drill bit against some piece of shiny aluminum skin, take a deep breath and punch a hole. Then I would smile at whoever my work partner was for that day and say, "Too late to back up now."

The Boulder Marina's "No Boat" party was last night. It was a lot of fun to see the gang and catch up on the winter's doings. Some had made it to the BVI for a little warm weather sailing. Some had made it to the SVI. A lucky one or two made both. But even those lucky enough to make a sailing trip this off season agreed that this has been a long, cold, endless winter.

Ah but this morning; sunshine and the promise of slightly warmer temps had Deb and I eager for a trip to the lake. My plan was a kind of low key approach to the work list, putter around a bit, maybe pull a part or two, get a feel for the best way to get the work done and the boat back in the water. Work smarter, not harder.

Instead Deb and I fell onto little Nomad like a couple of deranged salvage operators. Tool bags were opened, the ladder was set in place, and the next thing you know parts were flying in all directions. I pulled the prop, an easy job but my big wrench was down in the dock box. Then I started pulling the rubber rub rail off the stern. It came off pretty easy as well but underneath? Ugh, spider city. And after pulling the chaffing strip, (otherwise known as duct tape) I found a few places where the hull / deck seam had opened up a bit. Clean and reseal but...oh yeah, the sealer is down in the dock box. This time I grabbed anything that looked even remotely helpful, cleaning stuff, polishing stuff, scotchbrite...

With the stern rub rail taking a lot longer than I thought I decided to leave the port and starboard sides for another day. There was clearly not enough sunlight left in the sky to take them on. Instead I moved the ladder to the bow to start pulling life lines in preperation for removing the bow pulpit.

Meanwhile Deb had disappeared into the interior. She spent the day down there and, when she emerged Nomad's interior was, well, not Nomad's interior any longer.

Trim strips were down, the headliner was laying out in the parking lot, wasps nests and other creepies had been evicted from behind the V-birth side panels, the panels over the settees where lying on the deck, leaks had been discovered under the bow pulpit and aft port side stanchion, and (this was a bit of a shock) we discovered that Nomad was built without a single backing plate on the pulpits or stanchions. (No wonder the thing felt soft everythime I went forward to change a headsail!)

I was glad to find the chain plates sporting big, sookey metal backing plates. I thought I had hit the outside of the boat pretty hard but Deb had seriously rearranged the inside of our little boat.

Too late to back up now...

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Wanderings vs wonderings

My normal airplane ride is in the shop. Whenever I start to chaff at how much work Nomad takes, I just remember the airplane. It will be down for about 3 weeks to undergo a major airframe inspection. Barely 36 hours in and I have already authorized about $100,000 in additional repairs. I'm glad it is OPM (Other People's Money)! Anyway, even with my ride parked I am off to Nebraska tonight on a contract trip. Home tomorrow if I don't freeze to death first. (It will be something like 8 degrees for the low where I am headed. Ouch.) This weekend is the "No Boat" party with friends from the marina, we hope to spend Sunday working on Nomad, and next week is wanderings around from home to the maintenance shop to the office to my home airport, round and round...and with good hope that bigger and bigger parts of more and more weekends will be spent on the boat.

With all of these wanderings Deb and I have started to do some wondering as well. Wondering what the trip on the Fourth will be like. Wondering if a 38 foot boat will turn out to be long enough to actually live on. Wondering if we can get tear ourselves away from the boat enough this summer to get some of the needed work done on the house, (I didn't do too good on house projects this winter)...

...and wondering if we could be on the water by the summer of 2011?

It's just a thought, a curiosity if you will. It isn't a statement of intent, not a goal, nothing I'll feel bad about if we don't do. But I wonder?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

A bit of a boat

Another winter weekend though we are starting to edge above freezing for the daytime highs. A little more snow is due to pass by but, given the beating the east coast has been taking, it seems kind of weenie to complain. In addition to the weather Deb had a bunch of things to do today, so heading to the boat wasn't really an option. Among the things she needed to do was getting a new cell phone. I don't think she really wanted a new cell phone but her's was ready to upgrade, mine wasn't, and I needed a new one.

Why did I need a new one, you ask?

Well, somehow, somewhere, at some point in my travels yesterday, I went one way and my cell phone went someplace else. That "someplace else" is a complete mystery. I had it, then I didn't. Retracing my steps to where I had it last proved fruitless. So I made the loop again just to make sure I was wasting my time. At least on the boat, when I lose something, I can be pretty sure it is at the bottom of the lake and so stop looking for it. In any case I have caught back up to the 21st century by having my service switched over to Deb's old phone.

I wasn't near the boat today, but there are a few bits of the boat near to me. And so I decided it was time to pretend the season is near. Out in the shop I cranked up my little heater, loaded up the palm sander with a fresh round of 60 grit, and went after Nomad's cockpit teak grids. To give you some idea of how rough they had gotten I ground though nearly 5 hours of 60 grit. It didn't need to be that much, they are only floor boards after all. But that is one of my favorite parts of jobs like this. I can grind away to my heart's content, making dust until the grids are smooooooooth like glass, or bailing out at any point and just finishing the job. (My grandfather taught me a long time ago, getting it perfect is always the enemy of getting it done.)

But even being around a piece of a boat can make for a good day. Out in the shop, working away, listening to some tunes and drinking a cold one (or two, gotta wash the dust out once in a while) is not a bad way to spend time. I don't know that I'll finish this job tomorrow, but this is an easy one. There is a lot more work to do but it will have to keep for a bit longer. The shop is just big enough for bits off the boat.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Winter chores

It is cold outside. Some snow fell last night, more is expected tomorrow night. It seemed a good weekend to stay warm and dry, maybe crank up the fireplace, hit Netflix for a movie, and just bum our way through yet another endless winter weekend.

So of course Deb and I headed for the Marina. It was cold at the Marina as well but we didn't really care. It was just good to be back at one of our favorite places.

Unfortunately, when I put Nomad up on the hard I didn't have the covers with me. Since then we have simply been inundated with travel, holidays and flu bugs. As a result the covers never got installed. And as one would expect, this is what we found.

So this is what we did next.

With her decks clear and drying in the winter sun Deb and I retreated to the clubhouse for lunch. After some warm food we walked the docks to get some items from our dock box and climbed back aboard. We installed the cabin cover and boom tent, cleaned out the cockpit scuppers, (packed full of ice and pine needles) retied a couple of lines, and added a little anti-freeze to the head and bilge. While closing up a large flock of King pelicans flew over the marina. They were pointed dead into the North wind and didn't appear to be making much progress. As we watched they sort of veered off to the east, apparently deciding they had gone as far as they needed this day and it was time to find a place to wait out yet another cold night.

By this time Deb and I were chilled to the bone so we headed back to the CWE. I think I'll dial up Netflix next, and there is still a little wood left for a fire. The pelicans had the right idea.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Stop the Train...

...I want to get on.

The Chicago boat show weekend was a complete success and the tone was set as soon as we entered the train station. What a civilized way to travel! No x-rays, no constant computer-voice announcements from our friends from the TSA, and they didn't ask for my shoes or take my 10 oz. of shampoo. We walked out to the train and climbed on. The aisles were wide enough to pass another person without getting intimate details. There was room between the seats even with the seat back in front of you reclined. Each seat had its own, easily reached, AC plug to run electronics, (maybe 1/4 of the travelers were working on a laptop or watching a movie) and no one cared if the tray was down for departure or arrival. There were no seat-belt announcements, there were no seat belts! If I can't be on a sailboat at least put me on a train.

Chicago (this year anyway) was a mono-hull show. A lone Island Packet Estero sat kind of "up front," but as much as I want to like that boat it just doesn't tickle me at all. I'm done looking at it. The J-boats aren't my thing, and a few other strays couldn't entice us back for more than one visit. We found ourselves circling though the 4 big displays of Beneteau, Jenneau, Hunter, and Catalina.

Catalina 445 cockpit
The Catalina 445 barely edged out the Hunter 49 as the "best in show" as far as Deb and I are concerned. Everything on the 445 seems to be done just right. I couldn't find any real faults with the Hunter so this was pretty close to a coin toss. But both those boat are at the "long" end of the scale of "hulls for two people."

Hunter 49
Right in the middle of that list sat the Jenneau 39i, Hunter 39, and Beneteau 40. Hunter barely lost out to Jenneau, this time the lack of a separate shower stall tipping the scale. It seems a minor thing, but who wants to wipe down the toilet after every shower? And (to my eye anyway) the high tech window shapes on the Hunter detracted from its looks. The Beneteau 40 lagged a few boat lengths back. Deb didn't care for the galley and the settees just didn't sit very well. (I'm still fond of the 43, but Beneteau insists on mounting the sinks along the port side. Deb wants to see them nearer the center line of the boat.) The Jenneau 39i hit every note true and its variable position nav station was unique. I would really like to look at the 42i, though all of these boats are serious $$.

Hunter 39 Salon

In the "too short but still really nice" category the Catalina 375 looked like a wonderful boat. The fold up table made the main salon area huge and user friendly. Truth to tell, Deb allowed as that living on a Catalina 375 would still be pretty good living. Catalina didn't bring their 40, but several people at the show spoke highly of that boat. We'll have to look one up sometime.

Hunter 39 Galley

Catalina 375 Galley

Tim standing in Hunter 49 galley

Things we liked? I am really fond of the Hunter arch, and Deb constantly gave the Hunters the edge in the galley department. I thought the Catalina 445 port side "work room" was a really good idea, and both of us have grown fond of twin helm cockpits. And as usual, I walked about from this boat show thinking I could call nearly any of these boats "home" without much problem (or prompting) at all.

Things I didn't like? It is still winter, it will be nearly 10 weeks still until Nomad is back in the water, and I don't own any of the boats that we looked at in Chicago.

Catalina 375

Hunter 49 Centerline V-berth