Nemesis

Sunday October 23, 2011

I was quite surprised this morning when we left home and I still had full use of my arms.  I was originally thinking that I’d be so sore from Friday that I wouldn’t even be able to brush my hair.  I knew I wouldn’t have Superman strength that day (not that I ever do), but was confident I would get a decent amount of work done.  To help us even more we made a quick stop at Home Depot and picked up some 60 grit sandpaper for our sanders to help push through the layers of paint quicker.  Throwing up the ladder and climing into the cockpit when we got there it looked like a layer of dirt or dust was covering our boat and the boat next to ours.  There was still a little morning dew on the deck as well, so Matt rubbed the surface with his finger and it came right off.  We knew it would need rinsing off (as well as the boat next to ours) but we figured we might as well wait until the end of the day since we were just going to make a mess again.

Ther original plan of the morning ws for Matt to work on the hull of the boat with his larger sander while I was going to try again with the Makita sander lent to us by Jack.  This plan lasted all of five minutes where we still weren’t able to supply both of us with enough power and I was forced to go back to the chisel.  The good thing about working on the keel for me is that there was actually a good spot for me to sit on the cradle while working and I rarely had to lift my arms above my head.  Matt was zooming along with the coarser sandpaper ans were were on the road to having a ton done that day.  And that’s when he pulled up…..Nemisis.

Just as Matt was going to have me walk around the boat while he was sanding to see if the dust was floating anywhere, a black pick-up truck pulled into a spot by our stern and a man got out and walked over to the boat next to ours.  We immediately walked over and Matt apologized for us running our electrical cord through their boat cradle to get to shore power and offered to move it.  We also mentioned that we think some of the dust from our sanding had landed on their boat and we’d be happy to wash it off for him.  Instead of being greeted in return with the friendly boater reply of ‘Wow, thank you so much, that would be really nice’ that we were expecting, we got this instead.  ‘We had this same problem last year when someone next to us with a blue bottom sanded and got dust all over our boat.  It’s not going to come off with soap and water.’  Turns, and walks away.

We looked at eachother in shock with a kind of ‘what do we do now?’ expression while we walked back to our boat.  That day we had been working on the Starboard side of the boat while their’s is to our Port side so luckily we didn’t have to look at Nemisis and his wife while they worked on their boat.  Sanding again was obviously not an option while they were there, at least not with the power sander Matt was using.  Both of us took shelter behind the keel, completely hidden from view of Nemisis and his wife.  We started hand scraping just to be doing something and wondered how long this other couple would be here.  We were desperate to run up the ladder of their boat and show them how easily the dust does actually wipe off but we figured the best course of action was would be to stay where we were and attempt cleaning it after they had left.  It felt agonizingly long but an hour to an hour and a half later we could tell they were packing it up for the day.  By this time Matt had pulled out the palm sander to do work on some of the hard to reach areas on the bottom of the hull.  I saw Nemisis walk up first and tapped Matt on the shoulder.  We both turned around as Nemisis explained that the dust was in fact very bad and he would be contacting the service department at Torrsen’s the next morning to see what chemicals could be used to clean his boat without damaging it.  He said we should expect to be hearing from them (Torrsen’s) soon and again walked away to his truck to leave.

This is where Matt and I differ on our feelings of the situation.  He feels our neighbor has every right to be mad since it was our fault his boat is ‘damaged’.  He also feels that this guy has every right to treat us as inconsiderately as he did because it’s understandable that he’d be upset especially if this was the second year in a row this has happened to him.  Then there’s me.  Although I agree this was our fault and we should be the ones to take care of it, I feel we should be treated better than we were.  We told this guy immediately about his boat as soon as he pulled up that day.  We admitted it was our fault and the next words our of our mouth were ‘We’ll do whatever it takes to fix it’.  Yet still we could not get one Thank you or I appreciate that out of him.

So when they pulled out we raced up our boat to get a closer look at his.  The morning dew was long gone and our finger rubbing did nothing this time around.  Matt started pulling out cleaners and we mixed them in a bowl with water and applied it to his fiberglass with a wet rag.  Nothin’.  We pulled out every cleaning supply on board and it was not getting any closer to coming off.  This sent Matt into a panic.  He imagined that Nemesis’ boat would have to be pulled into the service area to be cleaned and polished professionally.  He started calculating the cost in his head, what our deductible was and what we would have to pay out of our pockets.  He was obviously too scared to keep sanding any further that day so we moved to the next project on the list, putting anti-freeze in the lines.  It took us less than a half hour and we were still left with a little over two hours of daylight.    Since the only project available for us to do that day was sanding and Matt was still in such a panic we decided to go home so he could begin his hours of research on the internet of what takes paint from fiberglass and what the cost of a professional cleaning would be (expensive).  In the end the plan was for me to drive out as soon as the sun was up the next morning and give another attempt to clean it since I couldn’t get away from the explanation that the morning dew wiped it right off as soon as we had gotten there.

Rolling out of bed the next day in the dark I put on grungy clothes and packed nice ones in my car for work.  I made the drive out to Muskegon with a stop at Meijer on the way for some rags and cleaning products.  The first thing I did when I pulled in to the marina was stop into the service center and make them aware of the situation and that I was going to try cleaning it myself since I knew Nemesis would be giving a call there later that day.  The guys in the building were super nice and helpful with information and possible solutions for our problem.  One even said he would walk out with me to take a look at the ‘damage’.  Unlocking the ladder from our cradle he leaned it against the boat and climbed on deck to have a look at the two boats.  After standing up there for a few seconds he glanced down at me and said, ‘What dust?  I don’t see anything on either boat.’.  I explained it was a thin covering that looked like dirt and was on the cockpit and deck.   He verified that he still wasn’t seeing anything and invited me up to take a look.  When I was on our deck everything did in fact appear clean.  There had been rain the previous night and it must have washed everything off.

Upon closer inspection there were still a few small dots on the fiberglass if you looked really close.  The service guy said everything looked good enough to him and stepped down the ladder to go back to work.  That made me feel so much better because even if a call were placed to the marina that day I had someone on the inside to back me up.  Still wanting to make everything as clean and shiny as possible I pulled out my rags and started giving both boats a good wipe down.  When I finished, to me, they looked cleaner than they had before any sanding had even started.  I texted Matt that everything was ok and he didn’t have to keep stressing himself into a heart attack, we’ve lived to fight another day.

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Let the Sanding Commence

Friday October 21, 2011

In our attempt to get Serendipity ready for a trip around the world, or at least a few thousand miles down to the Caribbean, we want to give her the best treatment possible.  A boat spa perhaps where everything is updated, polished, cleaned and prettied up.  This includes getting her to a bare bottom so we can start fresh with the paint next year instead of adding layer on top of layer to the old one which is usually what happens.  While some people will do this by hand scraping alone which I can imagine would be torture, we were doing a combination of hand scraping and power sanding.  I had taken a day off work and we figured that between the two of us working two days this week and two days next week we could finish this project and leave the hull bare all winter before applying a fresh coat of sea-worthy paint before it hits the water in spring.

We had two sanders to work with that day, a large 6″ Porter Cable for Matt and a smaller 5″ Makita for me.  Although after getting the tarp down near the bow of the Starboard side, running the extension cords and hooking into the wet/dry vac we turned on our sanders and found there was not enough power for both of us to be working with the power sanders.  Since we both knew Matt could do more damage with a sander than I could he continued to work from the bow back while I picked up one of the hand scraping tools and started just behind him.  I found that it was nearly impossible for me to get down to bare hull using that tool alone, even the few moments I was able to put my full force behind it.  I didn’t want to give up that early in the day and leave Matt with all the work to do alone so I kept scraping off as much as I could going from the dark gray color on top to a bright orange that was below it.

Work was already going a little slower for Matt than he expected, even with the power sander.  He was using 80 grit sandpaper to try and keep as smooth of a finish as possible but it was also making the work go impossibly slow.  It seemed like there were a million layers of paint to get through and the sander was not going from gray to white right away like he expected.  I was hoping that when he got to my area it would be easier and quicker for him since I’d already gotten a few layers in.  Once he did get to a spot I’d been working on he said it did help and that it didn’t take as long to get to bare hull on the area I’d scraped vs the one I hadn’t.  Feeling like I did have a purpose out there I began scraping with a fury just to make sure I was always ahead of him.

After working a good six hours I had scraped nearly 1/3 of the starboard side while Matt had sanded close to 1/4 down to bare hull.  So maybe this won’t be a two weekend project after all.  Hopefully November won’t be too cold and we can get a few Sundays out here to finish it so this project doesn’t run into spring and we can focus on all the other things that need to be done.

Matt’s working hard

And I’m trying to (I actually did get much further through the layers than this)

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Finding Jupiter

Saturday October 8, 2011

I’m starting to think that West Michigan is beginning to have a trend in the second weekend of October of gorgeous summer like weather.  Make no mistake though, while I’m thrilled to have it right now I hope to high hell that I’m not around next year for the trilogy.  Relishing the chance to throw on shorts again they were actually a necessity from spending all afternoon in the bedroom completely overheating from the sun blazing through my window.  Also following the warm weather trend this year was not much wind on the water once we got out to the mooring.  Wanting to take advantage of the opportunity of being able to anchor without high winds we brought Serendipity out to the breakers by the pier to spend the night.  After motoring around the shallow waters for 10 minutes and debating between ourselves we finally dropped anchor in a spot we were sure would not drag us into jagged rocks or the pier should the wind pick up and shift.

Matt surprised me by telling later that night we could take the dinghy to shore and hit up Captain Jacks, a bar on the beach, for a few drinks.  Did you hear that?  We are going out for drinks!  We never get to go out for drinks.  That’s an occasion normally reserved for once a month when we’re out with friends, and more and more that’s even being converted to pizza and a 12 pack at a friend’s house to save the money of actually going out.  But tonight I had the option to go wild and possibly even order an imported beer.  Only 1 of course, we’re still on a budget.  Enjoying the balmy evening we grilled cheeseburgers and watched the locals walk the pier.  I asked Matt if he wouldn’t mind taking a detour there after dinner so I could get some good sunset photos.  After cleaning up the plates, changing into long pants just lounging on the boat a little longer we eventually got in the dink to go ashore.  Motoring ourselves in as far as possible and then gunning it before it became too shallow for the engine we glided up to a point where I was able to jump out on dry sand and pull us the rest of the way in.

When we had it towed all the way up on the sand we began to walk the few hundred feet to the beginning of the boardwalk where there were also a lot of other people out that had the same idea we did.  Once on the boardwalk we could also get  good perspective on Serendip and see exactly where she was positioned in the breakers which happened to be smack dab in the middle which was funny because both of us felt that we were way too close to either the rocks of the breakers on one end or the smaller [of the two] lighthouse on the other end.  We had fun taking a leisurely walk and even stopped at some of the giant rocks on the Lake Michigan side so Matt could jump around on them while telling me I couldn’t join because I’d kill myself.  I’m sure that’s not true and I would have only ended up with a broken leg, but I stayed put all the same.  Once we finally reached the lighthouse at the end the sun was dangerously low in the sky and crowds were forming to watch it drown.  Just like everyone else around me I became snap happy with my camera even laying on the cement for some good angles while Matt looked at me like I was crazy.  I have to say though, I think they’re some of the best photos I’ve gotten all year.

Once the sun was down we made our way back down to the dinghy where we’d relax on the boat a little more before going out for drinks.  It wasn’t even 8:00 yet and we didn’t want our night to be over by 9:30.  Being the gentleman that I am I told Matt to hop in the dinghy and get the engine ready while I pushed us off.  Figuring that if I had my jeans rolled up to my knees I could keep them from getting wet but of course the only pair of long pants I had with me for the weekend besides my sweatpants ended up soaked from the knee down.  Getting back on the boat I quickly took them off in hopes that an hour of laying out would get them dry before we left again.  I was not going to make my debeut at Captain Jack’s in sweatpants.  Once I did have my sweats on for lounging on the boat we took our sport-a-seats up to the coachroof (raised part of the deck) to watch the sky turn all shades of orange and yellow and pink before becoming dark.  Just as it was hitting twilight there was a large tanker that began to enter the channel, probably over 400 ft long.  All of the lights on deck were ablaze and we took advantage of our close proximity to it.  Mos of the time we only see them from our mooring and don’t get a close look.  This time we could fully make out the deck and bridge and people onboard.  It was great to see it that close from anchor because I don’t want the next time something that size comes that close to me be in the middle of the night in the open ocean while it’s charging at me at full speed.  When that excitement was done we had new entertainment of a powerboat of what appeared to be drink twenty-somethings  speeding around in the breakers and by the pier.  Their stereo was blasting and they were doing donuts while hooting and hollering at the people on the boardwalk.  Since we were the only other boat out there at that point and they weren’t coming near us and were only in danger of harming themselves I decided not to blow the whistle and call the Coast Guard which was right next to us.

After the drunkies made their way into Lake Michigan and things became quiet again we turned our attention to the stars that were starting to come out.  Even with some of the lights from shore and the boardwalk lighting up the night sky there were a few bright stars standing out.  I picked out a few of the major constellations I knew like Orion and the Big Dipper but there was one very bright star standing alone that neither of us could place.  I remembered Matt’s phone had the app to show constellations of the night sky so I ran below deck to grab it.  Turning it on I brought it up to the sky where it was able to bring up constellations there were hidden to my eye.  The Swan, The Dolphin, and some other creatures that were a real stretch to what they claimed to be.  When I brought the phone up to the bright ball of light in the sky I could see it was not a star at all, but it was a planet.  I had just found Jupiter.  Not that it was being elusive to anyone else in the area but it was interesting to happen upon something that can only be seen every 13 months.

When our star gazing was done I changed back into my still slightly damp jeans, threw on a jacket and flip flops and we headed back to shore for our night of live entertainment (meaning being around people other than ourselves) and drinks.  After beaching the dinghy again and bringing it far up on shore we walked out to the one way street on our way to Captain Jacks.  It looked a little dark and not too busy from the road but since it was October we figured it wouldn’t be as busy as it usually is in the summer.  Getting closer to the door we realized we hadn’t seen a single other person and the building looked dark inside.  Sure enough it was closed for the season.  I was pretty bummed figuring our one chance to go out was not wrecked.  I turned to Matt to see if he was ready to go back to the boat but he asked if I would mind walking to the bar in Harbour Towne.  Excited at the opportunity to still go out that night I said it wouldn’t be a problem at all.  Neither of us knew the right roads to get there since we had only gotten in by water before so we crossed the street and started heading that general direction.

On the other side of the road was a playground with slides and monkey bars that looked like it would be fun to play on but at the moment I was only interesting in getting to the bar.  After making one wrong turn onto a side street we finally found our way and began to walk past the condos that led to Dockers.  When we turned into the parking lot we could see it was packed with people and were happy to know that this place was also not closed up.  The first few people to walk past us were nicely dressed and that didn’t surprise me too much since I had always thought this to be a nicer restaurant even though we had never actually been inside.  Still passing through the parking lot there was another young couple that passed us even more dressed up than the ones before.  I began to wonder if Homecoming dances were this weekend.  Almost when we reached the door there was a family walking out in their finest attire including their two young children.  It was starting to look like there was a wedding reception being held here.  I was hopeful in thinking that there were multiple rooms and the wedding would only be using one of them and not taking up the whole building.  Walking in dressed in jeans, t-shirts and flip flops the hostess stopped us as it was obvious we were not there with the other wedding guests.  She let us know that the restaurant was in fact closed for the season but will open for nights when it’s fully booked like a wedding.  Cheated again!  I was very tempted to jump someone in the parking lot and switch clothes with but there didn’t appear to be anyone in the immediate vicinity the same size as us.

Very discouraged this time we began walking back to the shore as we couldn’t think of any more bars in walking distance.  On the way back past the park we saw it was now empty from some creepy kids that were hanging out in it earlier and I thought a little play time might lift my spirits.  We spent about 30 minutes taking turns on the slide which was actually big and fun enough even for adults.  We raced around the sand and pulled ourselves over bars just like we were 10 years old again.  It was the perfect weather for this kind of activity, in the high 60′s with just a little bit of wind.  We jumped and played and slid until we tired ourselves out.  Wondering what to do with the rest of the night we knew there was one bar that was still open for the season, Bar Johnson, and thought we’d enjoy a drink there before bedtime.  I tell you though, if I get there and find out it’s closed there are going to be words to be had.

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