Monday, December 26, 2011

So this is Christmas. . .

It's Christmas Day as I write this. Outside snow hides in little nooks and shaded corners, but the grass is still green. I haven't worked on the boat this month, but it was a warm fall. Boatwork was possible deep into November. I finally covered her up the weekend after Thanksgiving.

I'm looking forward to a good Winter refilling the boat fund.  There are some design and outfitting choices to make; perhaps some stainless steel parts to order.  As soon as the snow melts in the Spring, I'll be back doing some interior work and waiting for the Sun.

The big projects for Spring/Summer are finishing off the space where I removed the pilot berth, replacing the chainplates, re-installing the seacocks, and replacing the two large aft ports on each side of the cabin.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Hanging Locker, Part Deaux

[Editor's Note: Check out the hair!] The picture to the left is from two Aprils ago, when I was right in the same spot as below. Back then I was removing deck hardware; including the above-the-deck part of the chainplates and having a Bad Boat Karma Day. This last time I was working on the part of the chainplates that was inside the hull.

Clutching the valence at the top of the hanging locker [that's closet to you landlubbers], I gingerly placed one foot onto the small floor that curves with the starboard side of the hull. Lifting my self a bit, I swung the other foot up and into the small opening. With both feet inside I shimmied one hip in, then the other and sat down. After one shoulder at a time, I wriggled my arm in from behind me. The multifunction oscillating cutter and the safety light were already inside the locker waiting for me. Some surgery was needed.  First up, I had to cut a larger hole in the cabin liner to access the area against the hull.

I am replacing the stock through-the-deck chainplates on my Cape Dory 28 sloop with stainless steel strap on the outside of the hull. I'm copying several ideas from Fred Bickum's Fenix. Cape Dory Yachts embedded a metal structure inside the fiberglass hull to support their chainplates. Next Spring, when I drill through the hull to bolt on my exterior chainplates, this gangling structure will likely be in the way. A chainplate is the connecting structure for the shrouds and stays. The shrouds and stays are the wire ropes that hold the mast vertical on a sailboat.

The chainplate is attached to the hull with a layer of fiberglass cloth and resin. The cloth must be cut loose and then the chainplate pulled out. Cape Dory's version of a chainplate is somewhat unique. On many boats, a section of stainless steel bar stock projects out of a deck. This type of chainplate is problematic because the chainplates are bound to wiggle where they come through the deck which ultimately causes some leakage. Cape Dory attempted to prevent this leakage by eliminating the projecting bar stock. A die-cast pad eye is bolted through the deck and into a piece of angle iron. Welded to the bottom of the angle iron are three “J” hooks made of re-bar. The J's are glassed against the hull with the angle iron is glassed up into the corner where the deck meets the hull. I was concerned that the angle iron was inextricable.

The broad round blade of the multifunction cutter made quick work of uncovering the re-bar. A small amount of water actually came out from under the forward “J” on the starboard side. At least one sailor on the Cape Dory Board had reported water collecting under the fiberglass. The mild steel re-bar was not in bad shape actually, but I was glad to see it and the water go.

As I struggled to keep my feet awake and ignored my zafu wracked knees, my perch inside the hanging locker led me to decide the angle iron was not coming out. There are three chainplates to port and starboard. The angle iron ran along the gunwale on each side for four feet and connected all three “J” hooks together. The angle iron ran above and behind both bulkheads – neither of which I intended to remove. After some pondering though, I realized everything was fine. Next Spring,
the drilling will only need to avoid those J's. I could leave the rest right where it was. All I needed to do was two things: uncover the rest of the “J's” and cut out all six with a grinder.  In order to do the port side I would have to sit on the toilet side-saddle – backwards.

Grinding off the metal hooks in the hanging locker was a little scary. There was nowhere for the sparks to go but against the fiberglass hull and then ricochet all around in the closet. Several times I stopped and lifted the edge of my double filter mask to smell if anything had caught on fire. Even the backward side-saddle grinding went fine on the port side. The various sprawling metal structures that were in my way were gone. Next Spring, before I attach the exterior chainplates, I will put a couple layers of heavy glass cloth inside the hull to reinforce the area. I had to grind the inside of the hull smooth for the glassing.

It was a wonderfully sunny fall weekend; such a pleasure for late season boatwork. It was a little cool, especially in the mornings, so lucky for me I had layered up. So when I got back in the small space of the hanging locker, to grind the hull smooth, I was wearing long sleeves. Grinding off the chunks of fiberglass left by the J's, the dust had nowhere to go but to swirl all around ME! It was like working in a snow globe.  I was glad
to have had my arms covered.  Enough itchy dust did find its way under my wrists cuffs and under my hat to remind me for the rest of the week what a great day of boatwork it was; a Good Boat Karma Day!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Grunting at the Rock.

There is always something else to work on.  The boat project continues; lately more Sisyphean than Herculean.  On unseasonably sunny days, I've finished the fiberglass work at the gunwale.  When its been cooler and wetter, I moved to the interior.  The pilot berth on the port side of the main cabin has been removed.

A pilot berth is a bunk in which a pilot sleeps [duh].  A pilot, in nautical terms, is a person with the local knowledge to lead ships into foreign harbors or through unfamiliar rivers or canals.  On long passages, the pilot would need to sleep, but the Captain of the piloted vessel wanted the local expertise close at
hand.  Moreover, the pilot was not a guest who needed to be catered to or impressed.  Hence, the pilot berth was usually tucked in an unused space somewhere near the bridge of a ship.  Somehow, this tradition spilled over into pleasure craft.

My Cape Dory 28, hull #53, is an early version that included a pilot berth.  In theory, the main cabin could sleep four.  One to starboard on a single bunk, two to port on a pull out double bunk and a fourth in the pilot berth above and abeam of the double.  We would have to be REALLY good friends for all that.  The pull out double is really a one-and-a-quarter.  In modern sailing, the pilot berth little more than a place to drop things rather than stow them properly.  In a seaway, anything dropped on that bunk would be cast to the cabin sole ['thrown to the floor' for you landlubbers].  Moreover, the cabin will be more comfortable, and more symmetrical, with some modifications to this area.  I'm going to move the existing face, with the three holes for drawers, back
15" or 20", to create a shelf in place of the bunk with storage underneath.  The port side settee will be more comfortable this way as well.

There is just never enough time to spend working on the boat, but I've also been working on my life, and career too.  Nearly everything I've done in 2011 was a concerted effort to maximize my time working on the boat in 2012 and 2013.

Poking around after Sisyphus came to mind, I found a short movie that I remember fondly.  Dad's career running REMC's at the intermediate school district level in Michigan afforded me the privilege of seeing lots of interesting and creative filmwork. When I was in school, Dad's office supplied the films and filmstrips we watched in class. Later REMC's like his supplied video tapes and then computers along with other educational equipment and programs. Back in the day, Dad would often bring home a projector and some interesting film. I can't recall if I saw this Sisyphus short through Dad or whether I had spotted it because I had developed a taste for short films through him. Click here to watch the very cool short "Sisyphus" by Marcell Jankovics, a Hungarian graphic artist and animator, who was nominated for an Oscar in 1974 for this very film.  Its not unsafe for work, but if your volume is too load, the soundtrack will make your office mates wonder what you're watching.


The Sisyphus image is a screen cap from the Jankovics film that I lifted without any permission from the "I Took the Liberty of Reading Your Mind" blog. The other images are before and after shots of my boat's interior taken by either me or my father.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Glassing the gunwale.

There is a confidence, a sort of comfort, in doing something you've worked hard to be able to do.  I've just completed my third week at the hospital.  I am so thankful to have found such a great place to be.  My new coworkers in the pharmacy are great.  The job is interesting and ever changing.  Working for a nonprofit community hospital is surprisingly enriching. Without being on the front lines of directly caring for patients, it is an honor to be a part of helping people.  The work feels more like an extension of me than just something I do.  There is a natural ease as if everything is coming together.

This new togetherness extends as well to the hull and deck of my boat. Last fall, I ground a one inch radius at the gunwale; where the hull and deck meet.  Cape Dory had screwed the deck to the hull at about 8" on center, but I wanted a stiffer joint.   This weekend, and last, I've finally been glassing over my radius.  2" fiberglass tape followed by 3", 4" and 6" - about 65 feet in each layer by the time I got around the curve of each side of the hull.  There will be lots of fairing to do, but the long curve looks good actually.  I'm happier with the results than I had hoped to be.

The chainplates will be moved outward to external rather than through the deck.  Also, I have designed a floating toe rail similar to Fred Bickum's Fenix.  Any wave over the deck will have an unimpeded flow to go under the toe rail and off the boat.  Another project on the near horizon is to glass over the two large, aft most, cabin hatches.  This will allow me to re-drill and cut a hole for a somewhat smaller portlight, but one that will match the other six I installed last year.

For now, these old bones are tired.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Next please . . .

I can still feel the undulating rhythm; the random thud into the trough of a wave.  Standing at the forestay, tiller tied amidship, Sarasota Bay a slate grey color in the waning sunshine of early evening.  As I leaned against the stay, the water split below me at the cutwater, dolphins raced at the bow wave and I was in my element.  There was nothing else but the rush of my breath and the hiss of water against the hull.  And there was peace.  I've been waiting for that peace again.

Yet another part of that long wait is over.  The dearth of boatwork, caused by my Pharmacy Technician Course, is nearly over.  The coursework is done and I'd be certified now if it weren't for a slightly overwelmed Workplace Training Office at GRCC.  There are days I've considered that another factory job might have gotten me farther along. . . in the short term.  Can you get farther along in the short term? I don't know, but 6 months just above minimum wage was way longer than I originally planned. Builds character I hear.

I decided that, in order to do my career change well, I had to concentrate on what I was doing.  During the class, we memorized nearly 300 pairs of Generic/Brand drug names, learned about pharmacy operations, the requisite legal and procedural stuff, and a little about pharmacology.  The class went very well.

I currently have three hospitals and a big box retail pharmacy on a string.  Interviews and background checks abound.  The CPhT certification exam will get scheduled just as soon as all the necessary paperwork gets done.  Then I'll take a deep breath and do some boatwork.

The overall plan remains the same.  I need to get back to my boat.  She's been patiently waiting for me.  It's been hard to maintain the vision, to keep my sanity and my enthusiasm.  Its still here inside me, buried under flash cards and textbooks and pharmaceutical nomenclature.  I am chomping at the bit to get started again on the boat.  I'll go see her this week.  I won't be doing much real work until my certification exam, but, if I close my eyes, I can almost feel the sway of her deck.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Fancy Catch Up

Not the Heinz 57 variety, but a good old fashioned bring you up to speed "catch up."  Rather than continue the slog to provide content for two blogs and two websites, I have decided to consolidate. I was paying for more cyber real estate than I was really using anyway.

So welcome to!  This is where you will find my boat related blog posts. My non-boat writing blog is found here.  In case you have just arrived, this will catch you up.

In April 2007, I quit a nine year office job and bought an old sailboat. Not a romantic OLD wooden ship, but a fiberglass sloop just old enough, and just neglected enough, to be in my price range. She is a 28 foot Cape Dory; a wonderful little ship that I found in Bay City, Mi.

There was, however, a lot of work to be done; more than I thought. When I cashed in and checked out in Indiana, I felt like I was loaded. Comparatively so, I was more loaded than I had ever been, but that really wasn't saying much. I was quickly caught in the tarpit of "Bigger Project and Less Budget."

I was two steps past broke when I left Bay City and hit the road as a long haul truck driver.  In the beginning, home time was rare, but I worked on the boat when I could. As I moved up the ladder at various trucking companies, I was able to spend a little more time with my baby. In 2009, I moved the boat to a marina on the westside of Michigan. Now that she was only about 30 minutes away, I got a lot more done that summer.

This last Summer, I worked part time for four months and got even more done! Of course, working part time while refitting an old sailboat is a perfect way to go broke. So last Fall, I went back to driving full time and delivered office furniture all over the Eastern United States. It was a good little company, and a good job, but I was not able to dedicate much time to my writing.  Also, I was dead sick of Winter Driving.  Life is too short not to like what you're doing.

So, I'm entered a new phase in January. I quit my commercial driving career to enter a job training program. The program was subsequently delayed, and delayed again, so I looked at other options. I am now about halfway through a course that will lead to a national certification as a Pharmacy Technician. The cert should travel well once I'm sailing.

For now, I'm working part time, going to school and working on the boat.  My recent boatwork was in planning out what all needs to be done before she is launched again. It appears that I have more manhours, and more money, to spend than will be available this Summer. Hopefully, next summer she'll be in the water. She'll let me know when she's ready.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Off Route!

The road undulates over the hills. Pastures, farms and patches of forest alternately flys by just over the ditch on either side of the highway. A hawk soars in lazy arcs over the right-of-way fence. And on the dash, the GPS flickers every quarter mile or so to update the perspective of its little map. The sad fact is that many drivers are paying more attention to the 4" LCD screen on their dash than they are to the hawk, the trees and the landscape.

As a salacious billboard crests the hill, the driver is suddenly hungry and takes the next exit. The drive-thru window is a half mile down the side road. Halfway there, the GPS starts to blink "OFF ROUTE . . . OFF ROUTE . . . " Off Route is how this last week went for me.

I resigned my Commercial Driver job, the whole career actually, to get off the road, out of the snow and ice, and to devote more of my time to writing. It was a solid plan supplemented by a training program, that would lead, most likely, to a new job. The new skills would not only help with my own boat project, but could easily be applied to future work in and around marinas and boats. Though I had almost enough cash to make it through the training period, I was halfheartedly some kind of part time work to keep me out of trouble. Perfect!

The last two weeks have been great. I've been working hard to "detox" myself from the dust and diesel of the road. I've been meditating, exercising, eating well, working on my music stuff, and writing. I set up an rigorous hourly schedule; like Summer Camp in January.

On Wednesday, I got a call from the Community College doing the training. Due to "modified hiring projections" at the sponsoring employers, the start of the training would be delayed for a month. A MONTH!! I've been unemployed for two weeks already. Much as I'd like to, I cannot go 10 or 12 weeks without any income.

Like a jab from the twin tines of a meat fork, my frustration at the disruption and the necessity of amping up my job search had blown my rigorous schedule to pieces. I've got some good job leads, though, and I can afford to be picky. The Bubba the Pirate Motto has always been "Eat when you're hungry, work when you're broke." It wouldn't be nearly as poetic if I had said "go back to work just before your broke."

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Don't wait for the Lottery

Back in 2006, I was working with a Life Coach on my career options. She was very good and we dug deep. Despite working on a career transition, I ended up realizing that what I really wanted to do was some long term voyaging on a sailboat. Early in 2007, I started doing just that. I bought a boat that I could afford because it needed some work and set out on my path toward sailing off. One of the coaching tools we used was the question: What would you do if you won the lottery?

What would you do, after you paid your bills, after you gave money to friends and family, after you partied your ass off? Consider this a serious philosophical question. What would you do if money was no object? What would you do if any of your dreams could come true? Hands down, no question, my answer was: Voyaging by Sail. I would take off on a boat and chase the horizon, visiting remote and unspoiled places.

So the next even more serious question is: why aren't you working toward that goal now? If you really want to do something, not having enough money is a cop out. There are versions of your dream that are attainable. Perhaps, your current priorities are just not focused properly.

There are many ways to pursue the course you would choose. If you map out, intricately, the choices you have, and the choices you've made, you can find a way to walk the path you dream of. It will not likely be a straight line. It will be difficult, gut wrenching hard work. Nevertheless, it is possible to pursue some version of the life you wish you had. Why on Earth would you do anything else?

In Finance, there is a concept called the "present value of money." Its a bit like what J. Wellington Wimpy means when he says "I'll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today." The hamburger is worth more to him today and the price is too low for the cook to wait until Tuesday for the money. Wikipedia says Present Value "is the value on a given date of a future payment or series of future payments, discounted to reflect the time value of money and other factors such as investment risk. Present value calculations are widely used in business and economics . . ." Blah, blah, your present value of winning the lottery is ZERO. It is such an incalculably small probability that it just ain't gonna happen.

Moving yourself toward your goal, by whatever baby steps you can, you create forward motion. Without motion your dream's present value is basically zero. With coordinated action, there is a life changing space that opens up in your heart when you are doing what you really want to do. Your feet no longer shuffle aimlessly down an indiscriminate trail. You are walking the path that leads to your dream. It is not possible to calculate the positivity. Your life is your own and you have moved the present value calculation of your dream to priceless.

The way the lottery works, NOT winning does not affect our lives at all. With 14 Million to One odds, we can't really expect to win. The odds cannot be improved no matter how we play. Winning would certainly change anyone's life, but there is little chance of that happening. Yet when you begin your own work toward your own goal, you are improving your odds at every step. The only downside to going your own way is that the gut wrenching work is going to take longer than you expected. You'll have heartache and pain, travails and tribulations, delays and dead ends. Nothing good comes easy.

Recently, I became troubled with my life as a truck driver. The road chafed and I just wanted out. I've developed a good plan. In considering my work options though, I did some long overdue project planning. I came to realize that it is going to be difficult to finish the boat next summer. I need to plan on being in Michigan into 2012. It was a crushing blow, but I wouldn't have it any other way. I'm doing exactly what I want to be doing. The disappointment is tempered by the knowledge that every day I am closer to my dream. The heartache dissolves into the satisfaction of remaining on my path.

Byron Katy, says "Life is simple. Everything happens for you, not to you. Everything happens at exactly the right moment, neither too soon nor too late. You don't have to like it... it's just easier if you do."

I understand that not everyone is able to make the same choices that I made. Further, no one's dream will be just like mine or anyone else's. I don't think that defeats the argument. If you focus on what you want, you can find a way to get closer. And just like the unexpected twist of my coaching experience, you may pursue something long enough to find out it isn't what you want. You may stumble upon something better. Keep trying! Those people shuffling aimlessly, staring at the dust kicked up by their shoes are not going to get anywhere. They are not going to be happy. If you look to the horizon and concentrate, you will find your way.

Postscript 2014/10/30
I'm still in Michigan just until next summer. I have a different boat than the one I was working on here. See the beginning of the new boat series here
Postscript 2016/01/30
There's this thing about mice and men and their plans. Anyway, I helped deliver a Westsail 42 from Stony Point, NY to Florida in early 2015. After that, I joined the cult. I didn't want any other boat. Find the start of that here. I found a neglected Westsail 32 floating on a mooring in Miami and bought her. The refit will likely take into the Spring/Summer of 2018. That story starts here.