Dock Line Death Test

25 Jan

In the book The Bad Girl, by Mario Vargas Llosa, a character named Arquimedes has a preternatural ability to tell where breakwaters and groins should be built. He can tell just by meditating on the sea whether the breakwater will serve its purpose or make matters worse. The best hydrologists and engineers in Lima always hired Arquimedes, because if they didn't their projects often ended up as expensive failures.

Pier 39 Marina, where I keep my boat in San Francisco, did not hire Arquimedes. It's hard to figure out the mechanics, because there are breakwaters and sea walls every which ...

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Anatomy of a Water Damaged Deck Part II – Repairing and Sealing Minor Damage

21 Jan

In this continuation of our examination of cored deck saturation I’ll be taking about dehydration and perspiration. Which is to say I’ll explain how we sweated gallons while drying out and repairing some minor areas of damaged deck in the ‘ideal’ situation of a New Orleans summertime!

If you didn’t read it before it might be worth jumping back to my previous post Anatomy of a Water Damaged Deck which sets the stage for our repairs on the leaky decks of my 37-year-old boat. Our work roughly fell into three categories: sealing deck fasteners which showed minimal or no leaking, ...

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Not Born to Buff

13 Jan

You might ask what my buffer is doing in the bathroom. I'll get to that.

I few months ago I ponied up and bought the Makita 9227c buffer/polisher. I'd accepted that no real buffing or polishing of paint, gelcoat, or stainless was going to happen by hand. I needed some horsepower, and followed many recommendations for this beefy, variable-speed machine, which cost about $250.

I am the first to show proper awe and reverence to a power tool, more so for anything that has a spinning blade. Before I use a table saw or circular saw I take all the ...

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(Occasionally) Great Stuff – Cheating with expanding foam

10 Jan

One of the projects we got to while my family was down in New Orleans helping me out was installing a holding tank and second water tank. To make our lives a little easier we set the tanks in place with regular old hardware-store expanding foam. The water tank went into a mostly dead space behind where the engine will go, when we find one (Have a used 10-15hp marine diesel to sell?-Get in touch). We just hooked up the hoses, shoved it back into the stern until it kind of stuck and then sprayed some foam around to hold ...

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Bluenose New Year

30 Dec

I’m in Nova Scotia, visiting my wife’s family for the week. I’m sorry I ever complained about San Francisco being cold. Even the lobsterman down the street says it’s too cold and rough to go out.

My in-laws live just outside of Lunenburg, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and home of the Bluenose. The Bluenose is a 140-foot fishing schooner, built in Lunenburg in 1921, and famous for beating the US for the International Fisherman’s Trophy over the course of the next seventeen years.

Bluenose launch, Lunenburg, March 26, 1921 - courtesy of the Nova Scotia Archives

She was the first non-human to be inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame. She’s ...

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Fairing the Hull Patches: Things Get Messy!

12 Dec

It has been cold of late even here in New Orleans and also a bit wet so we haven’t gotten too much done on the boat itself. But there’s always plenty to do in the shop, so we haven’t been idle! I’ll get into that soon with some posts on the chainplates we are fabricating but for now I’ll pass on a couple lessons we learned from the bit of fairing we’ve been able to do.

Having patched the through hulls satisfactorily, including a second session of glassing on some of them, we have moved onto trying to get them ...

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Hull Patching Continues as we Fix a Few Mistakes

7 Dec
 Yesterday we worked until the stars came out. 
As for what time we got started, well no need to get into that.

It would appear I was right to be second-guessing our repair job on the hull as we found some definite weak points when things set up. Upon inspection of the new patches we found a few of them looked like this:

 You can see how some of the fiberglass is sticking up a bit from the patch and visible as individual strands. This means that it didn’t bond properly with the rest of the hull. This case is ...

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Research, and a bit of humilty: Patching the old thru-hulls

3 Dec

I’ve just done a bit more research on fiberglass repairs and am feeling rather sheepish about my cocky post on grinding the boat’s hull. I’ve since learned that the essential aspect of the 12-1 ratio which we resolutely ignored is less about strength than it is about flex. I had assumed that due to the thickness of my hull we would get plenty of strength even when patching a relatively small area. However it seems there is a possibility of the patch failing precisely because it is stronger (or, more accurately, harder) than the rest of the hull.

The issue ...

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Evil, awful fiberglass: Grinding the old thru-hulls

30 Nov

 It may be the single greatest advancement in making sailboats affordable but fiberglass is horrible stuff to work with! Here you see me emerging from the forward anchor locker where I’ve been grinding a 2sq-foot section directly into my own face. Even with a shop vac sucking air out of the compartment it would so rapidly fill with dust (which was also filtering into my foggy goggles via the ventilation holes) that I was doing most of this by feel. No doubt the wost job yet on the boat but we’ll see what’s to come…

This was just a quick ...

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Working on the boat: Painting prep and water-tight hardware installations

24 Nov
Having a crew to help sure makes for short work
Yesterday was a very productive day! I had not one, not two, but three helpers out for the whole day and we got quite a lot done.
After having found water damage in some parts of the deck core we earlier pulled all the deck hardware, where possible squirting in thickened epoxy to fill gaps in the balsa core. Now we’re trying to protect this core from points where anything enters the deck and water might seep in. In the case of through-bolted hardware (mainly stanchion bases, for us) this ...
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