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Showing posts from 2012

A Bucket of Jobs List

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Occasionally, I get some gentle ribbing about how many jobs I've had in my life. I bring this up on the occasion of my retiring from the hospital. It is an occupational hazard of a wannabe vagabond writer to have had several jobs. To a career oriented person this would seem like a problem. Luckily for me, I don't self identify by what I do for a living. Further, my real career is exactly what I've been working on for the last five and a half years - fixing up a boat to go sailing and writing about it. Looking to my life, rather than my jobs, I've been on track and I'm good with that.

The job that I am starting in a week or so is ironically the one I thought I was going to do when I left the road in January of 2011. Back then I wasn't too happy when the training program was pushed out. In hindsight, I am impressed how carefully the company has brought on new people. Rather than bring on people in a panic and then have to let them go as new business expanded and…

Quick Monday Update

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I worked at the hospital all weekend, but went back to the boat today after a morning meeting. Today was short, but a good day. Momentum is building as I work on finishing projects before snow flies. I'm removing lots of sticky notes from the 'To Do' columns of my project board [that is a good thing for those of you who never met Roger Batton].

I worked on the cockpit today. The drainage[pictured above] that runs along each side of the floor, and carries water to the drains, has been all smoothed out with epoxy paste.  It will get a little sanding tomorrow and then I'll glass over the floor. Besides paint, the cockpit floor project is finished!! It will get painted with the deck and cabin sides.

Also, I cleaned up the re-patch I wrote of before. It was a chopped hole in the deck last week [to the right] and now is pretty and smooth[to the left]. The after shot shows some of the work I re-did on the gunwale radius just because I couldn't stop myself.  Paint to come …

Fancy Catch Up

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So, it's been about five weeks since my last post. The time has come for a "Fancy Catch Up." By the way, back when I was truck driving, I used to pick up Red Gold Tomato products, made with pride in Alexandria, Indiana.

A couple weeks or so ago, I shed one of the part time jobs I had. I miss the people there, but my schedule was getting too tight. Several projects down at the boat required more time than money anyway.

I've been spending my free time where I should be, hard at work down at Tower Marine. The project with the biggest splash was getting some paint on her. It's only primer, but the boat is all one color above the waterline. That's a big deal. It is still exciting to drive up and see her. 

The important part of one color was to be able to check the radiused gunwale; a big project from last fall. Without the distraction of all the colors of all my repair work, it is smooth. I am very happy with the result. It's not perfect but it nearly looks l…

One step forward . . . .

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It's really not as bad as one step forward and two steps back, but I left the boat rather frustrated today. A repair that I made two summers ago was undone - by me.

I had replaced a small spot of deck core back in 2010. To do so, I carefully cut and peeled off the top "skin" of deck fiberglass, dug out the damp balsa core, cut and planed a replacement piece out of plywood, and epoxied it all back together including the top skin. It wasn't perfect, but it was pretty good. I've been working on and off between other projects to smooth out this patch ever since.

Friday, I noticed a void in a spot at the edge of my repair. It was where I had laid some of the top skin back over good core. The easy fix was to just cut off the loose skin and fill it with fairing epoxy.

A little more grinding nearby and I discovered the truly disconcerting and bigger
problem. In my grinding and sanding to smooth the repaired area, apparently I had sanded off what epoxy was sealing a str…

Between Home and a Hard Place

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Last week I downloaded the sailing movie, “Between Home” [trailer here, download here], an exceptionally well filmed documentary of a young man's intrepid journey across two oceans and the continent in between. The movie, by Jack Rath, is about human endurance and self discovery and flirts along the way with bigger questions of home and place and life. Nick Jaffe, German and Australian, found himself in Berlin searching for clues about a father he never knew. At some point it seemed like a good idea to go back to Australia; not by expensive airliner, but by an inexpensive, barely fit sailboat; a boat he named "Constellation."

At first, of course, the scenes of sailing had me nearly doubled over in existential pain because my boat is not yet in the water. It's bittersweet to see a small boat sailing on the open sea as I want to be there with mine so badly. There are days when fear and doubt and land-locked angst creep across my brain like a nagging, oozing rash. Conc…

Bow to the Grindstone

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Hoorah! The gunwale is completely glassed!! Last fall it got too cold to work with epoxy before I was able to do the last five or six feet of fiberglassing. What I had left to do was also the trickiest part; right at the bow.

I glassed four layers today. It was so hot that the epoxy was kicking off before I could have a drink of water and admire my work.  At the bow, I had to cut pleats in the cloth and carefully wrap it around the multipe curves and angles.  It was a little like trying to iron a shirt after you'd already put it on.

A little more sanding and the gunwale will be complete. Then . . . . wait . . . . more sanding!! The rest of the hull will be prepped and at least the primer coat will go on. It is so much more fun when all the hard work leads to actual physical improvements. I can do this!!!!

Swab the deck, oil the teak!

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Today was a bit of a lay day. Just as I was rolling in to the marina, a good friend called and came by to see the boat and visit. It was pretty hot, so we ran into Douglas to the Respite Coffee shop for an iced Americano.

Earlier in the week, another friend stopped by the boat. Sometimes it takes giving a tour to notice the obvious. I hadn't oiled my teak in about 18 months. So, I broke out the tung oil and mineral spirits and went about it today. It was almost like having a real boat instead of a project. I was making her prettier instead of building or tearing down. A nice relaxing day, but a necessary accomplishment as well.

Fair to Middling

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'Fair to Middling' is a phrase from farming to describe a range of quality of animals and produce. The loosely defined grades were 'good', 'fair, 'middling', 'ordinary' and 'poor.' So 'Fair to Middling' was in the middle leaning toward good. 'Fair' by itself, is also a verb - to smoothen or even a surface.  I got a little obsessed fairing the radius I'm working into the gunwale of the boat.  Obsessed in the best possible way.

Back in 1992, when Disney's Aladdin movie came out, the Ringling Bros. & Barnum Bailey Circus which is based in Sarasota, was using an Aladdin theme at their souvenir tables. The vendors wanted minarets and they came to us - a small plastics job shop in town. I built the mold for the onion top part of the minaret. The minarets were molded in halves which were then put together and stuck on top of a section of 12" PVC pipe with an Arabesque window cut out of it. The whole thing was toppe…

#^@!, I don't want to do this anymore!

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There are days I don't even know if I want to do this anymore. Usually in Late Winter/Early Spring, when I haven't been near her for weeks or months. The separation doesn't make my heart grow fonder, it makes my mind wander. Did I buy the right boat? Did I do the right thing? Am I still on the path? Is this path the right path? What the $%^ am I doing with my life?

It is hard enough to remain committed to such a long range project, and to do it on a shoestring, but being away from her – physically disconnected – is so disheartening. The project leers at me like Sendak's Wild Things. Without the contact, without the least amount of progress, the steps melt into a monolith, progress made is forgotten. I get frozen just looking at the whole thing. I get scared.

And then I get to spend some time with her. And like Max, I conquered the Wild Things by "staring into all their yellow eyes without blinking once." A couple weeks ago, the tarp came off. The bilge was d…

Real Juice

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Its funny how something unexpectedly profound can spill out of your mouth unfiltered. If you aren't too uptight, there are moments in your life when real juice can spill. The adventurer inside you is usually drowned out by the roar of life's machinery. It is hard work to slow down enough so that a few drops of honest, personal blood can ooze to the surface. I can't remember the last time I allowed this to happen. It happened just the other night.

My boat project really languished last summer. I had decided to change careers; to get a little closer to the boat in order to make better progress. To do so, I spent nearly six months trudging through some career training and working hard just to eat. I felt disconnected from my boat; mostly because I was. There were days when I couldn't concentrate enough to remember exactly why or what I was doing. Other days I wondered if it wasn't just some scheme to run away from life. I really don't have any responsibilities to…