Throwback Thursday: Birthday Celebrations on the High Seas

Now that we’re sitting in Indiantown Marina and it’s obvious that we’re going to be here for quite a long time while we fix up Daze Off to sail, I don’t want to bore you with stories that are only related to boat work (but don’t worry, they’re still coming).   I know that’s what some of you crave, but if you’re like me, you also need a little fun in there.  A little travel and a little adventure.

So for the foreseeable future while we are doing nothing much more than boat work I will be adding a Throwback Thursday post in every week as well.  Cataloging our trip so far, giving you that needed sense of travel and adventure, and for those of you that haven’t started with us from the beginning, catch you up on some of the most important or memorable parts of our travels.

When we last left off on TT, just after leaving for our Atlantic crossing we had hit terrible storms just off the coast of Florida about an hour after the sun had gone down and weren’t even sure if we were up for that 3.000 mile journey anymore.  Deciding that it was most likely a freak incident that we would not experience again, we kept going.  It turns out that more storms were on their way for us, although luckily anything bad came during the day in full light and with lots of warning.

Getting as far north as Georgia, we turned our bow east and started making real miles offshore.  Or tried to at least.  Even though our nights were filled with thunderstorms which would always come a little too close for comfort without actually passing over us, our days were left with no wind and we were lucky to make 70 miles a day.  We tried to fill those days of bobbing around on glass calm seas by doing a little fishing, and did get a mahi on the line once.  It happened to outsmart us while bringing it onboard and escaped our grasp, but since we were only a week out I don’t think our fridge and freezer could have handled all that meat at the time.  There would be more chances.

Things out at sea were becoming a bit boring…until Matt’s birthday came upon us.  Just when I was looking forward to calm seas to throw the best at sea celebration I could….we were hit with another storm system.

You can find the original post here.

Saturday June 21, 2014

Some of you might be wondering how we’ve been getting our weather so far on this trip, probably actually feeling bad for us because we can’t seem to find winds to move us anywhere. The sad part is, we know exactly where they are. We just happen to not want to travel to those areas, mainly which are in the northern parts of the Atlantic, and you can refer back to my little freak out here to see why we’re so adamant about staying in the land of drifting versus following the route with more wind. As I said, we do know where the winds are, everyday, and that’s because we’ve been able to download forecast with Weather Fax, using our Single Sideband receiver. Similar to the single sideband radio, but we can only receive instead of transmit as well.

Every morning at 0800 UTC, Matt hooks up the SSB to my computer and fiddles with the dials until he can fine tune a station from Boston that transmits a fax audio signal to us for the next 24 and 48 hours*. The app on my computer deciphers the tone and turns it in into files that we can read, giving us a surface analysis of the entire Atlantic, as well as a separate wind and wave forecast. Each morning we read these forecast through the images, much the same way we’d look at the GRIB files through Passage Weather, to find out what the winds in our neck of the woods are going to be, and also tracking low pressure systems to make sure that we can stay out of their way. Here’s an example of both a surface analysis and a wind & wave forecast from our Weather Fax.** ***

Atlantic surface analysis

Atlantic wind & wave forecast

While keeping an eye on these images for the past few days we’ve noticed that a cold front is heading our way, which is going to bring us some stronger winds and unfortunately, probably some bigger waves with it too. We’re trying not to be near the center of it, but our file is telling us that we can expect 15-20 knot winds and waves at 2 meters. Treating it just like we always have our Passage Weather forecast, we’re interpreting that to mean the winds will actually be anywhere in the 20-30 knot range. To be fair to our Weather Fax though, it was showing data spread all the way across the Atlantic, and what we were experiencing was local weather which is very hard to pinpoint down to a few degrees of latitude and longitude when you’re looking at an entire ocean. But why is it that winds always seem to be higher than forecast when they’re stronger than we want them, but never when they’re forecast for 5-10?

We’ve started to see an increase a little bit tonight in both wind and waves, already reaching those predicted 15-20 knots, and seas going from less than 1 meter, up to the 1-2 range. The pressure is starting to drop on our electronic barometer, and although I am enjoying logging these miles while we finally push along at 4.5 knots, I have to wonder what the next day or two will bring. Hold on to your hats, it looks like it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

*There’s also a 96 hour forecast that we can receive and sometimes go through the trouble of getting later in the afternoon.

** If you’re interested in learning more about using Weather Fax, tips and tricks, or a schedule of broadcast frequencies and times, check out a great post that our friends Brian and Stephanie wrote while they were making their own Atlantic crossing last year, here.

*** We’re also very lucky to have my dad, who’s the best for helping us out with this, send us reports from Passage Weather via a text message on our Sat phone, so we have multiple sources to confirm forecasts.

 

Sunday June 22, 2014

I had one goal this morning when I woke up. Something that’s been in the works for weeks now, and that was supposed to be decorating the cabin with balloons and streamers for Matt’s 32nd birthday while he slept. All the necessary items were shipped to me weeks ago by Matt mom and all I had to do was display them. Waking up and looking around though, I realized it was going to be a lot easier said than done.

The low pressure system and cold front that we had been watching on our Weather Fax for the past few days and were beginning to feel the effects of last night, was now in full swing. When Matt woke me up at 8 am I stumbled out of bed and poked my head out the companionway to see gray skies and building seas. Winds were now steady at 25-30 knots and waves appeared to be in the 8-10 ft range. Carrying on at 3.5 knots under a triple reefed main alone, we were looking at a long and uncomfortable day ahead. Even though I was planning on spending most of my shift in the horizontal position on the open settee below, I was still strapped into my harness in case I had to run out into the cockpit for any reason. To make matters worse, I didn’t have a seasickness patch on. After doing two straight runs of them I was not willing to become cross-eyed and I was weary about putting another one on. That’s ok, this is now 10 days at sea, by body should be able to handle a little motion, right? Wrong.

This is how my four hour morning shift passed: Lay on the settee where I had a wrist-watch next to me, and after dreading each time the clock hit the quarter of the hour, I would roll myself off the settee and onto the floor. Slowly standing up I’d walk the few steps to the companionway and rest for a moment while my dizzy head gained itself and I could trust my body to walk again. I’d go up 2-3 steps while still keeping myself in the companionway, check the wind speed, check the sail, check for boats, and then rush back down the stairs and throw myself back on the settee for the next 12 minutes until I had to do it again. It looks like the balloons were going to have to wait another day.

The rest of the afternoon and evening followed the same suit. When Matt woke up I took a short nap. When I woke up we cuddled together on the settee and I kept apologizing about what a horrible birthday he must be having, as if I had any control over the situation. Matt, not being one to care about birthdays, laughed it off. His grand birthday dinner which was supposed to be meatloaf ended up being a can of Progresso soup that he had to heat up himself because I couldn’t be bothered to move. Happy birthday my love, I’m glad you were able to spend it taking care of me.

Matt on his birthday

 

Monday June 23, 2014

Today is day 13, and the madness is beginning to set in. Not because of our time at sea. Not because I have been almost two weeks from land. It is the damn sails and their consistent flapping. 10 knots of shifty wind behind us and they are flogging all over the place. Slamming in and slamming out. Every 5 damn seconds. I could even handle the snails pace of 2 knots we’re currently moving at if it weren’t for the racket going on above my head. It makes any kind of concentration impossible. Adding to the madness are the low but rolling swells that are passing through. Our limited speed is keeping us from riding on top of them, so we are left to bob between the crest and trough, constantly wallowing back and forth. My body can’t handle it. I can’t even take up the simple task of reading at the moment. You’d think that after 12 full days at sea it would be a non issue for me now. That any seasickness would be long gone due to the length of time we’ve already been out here. Granted though, the first 8-9 days were ‘at anchor’. How could my body grow accustomed to a bobbing sea that was never bobbing? Since the real motion hasn’t started until two or so days ago, I’m praying that I only have two more days left before we can be violently thrown about and I won’t even shrug a shoulder. I’m starting to miss being becalmed.

On a different note, a fun story that I forgot to mention yesterday on Matt’s birthday, and why we’re moving at just over 2 knots even though the wind hasn’t dwindled all the way out yet, is that we were hit with another surprise squall. Just when we were beginning to think that we were safe from them. It was late in the afternoon, and since it’s been cloudy for a few days now, we had to run the engine for an hour or so to charge the battery. Just as the winds were beginning to die down again and our speed was dropping, so it seemed like a win/win. I was hoping to be able to pencil in a 100 mile day, and the extra power from the engine was looking like it was going to get us there.

Just like our first night out from Miami, Matt was in the cockpit and I was down below when it came. It took me about 2.5 seconds to realize that something seemed wrong, and then about 10 more seconds to put my harness on and race up to the cockpit to see what it was. Once again Matt had the sheet for the headsail in his hands, which he was desperately trying to release slight tension on while trying to roll it in at the same time. Unlike last time though, between the two of us, we were able to gain control of the situation before I was going to spend another week making repairs to our genoa. With daylight on our side this time it wasn’t hard to see how many degrees we needed to fall off to put ourselves downwind and take pressure off the sails. The sheet to the headsail was passed to me, and still having it wrapped around the winch, without the full pressure on it now I was able to ease it little bits at a time while Matt furled it in from the other side of the cockpit.

Phew, crisis averted. But now, just as we were starting to let our guard down about squalls and thunderstorms, we don’t trust that we won’t be hit with one out of nowhere and have gone back to keeping minimal sail up, even in these 8-12 knot winds we’re now getting after the front.

rainbow after storm

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Random Happenings in the Boat Yard

It’s time for random happenings in the boat yard!  Times where there isn’t quite enough on a single subject to fill a full post, but things which are important enough where I don’t want to leave you in the dark completely.  They also come in handy when I forget to take pictures of something that could have been a full post, something I’m sadly becoming very good at.  Kind of funny for a person who used to get scolded for never putting their camera down and just experiencing life instead.

So, here’s a few things that have happened over the past few weeks which you might enjoy a sneak peak at:

  • Work continues, slowly, in the head.

As I get back to my task of painting the cabin top outside, Matt has once more taken to the head.  Normally I wouldn’t trade places in there for anything (remember my sanding woes of a few months ago?), but Matt is the lucky one that gets to do some amazing things in there.  After having put together pieces of sap covered cherry hardwood and plywood to make the cover for our composting toilet and also our cabinet door, he has now made the counter the sink will sit on.

For this we used 1/4″ thick by 2.5″ wide pieces of cherry hardwood that also had sap marks on them, and glued them on top of a 1/2″ piece of marine plywood.  It’s actually come together so nicely that I’m sad 2/3rds of it will be covered by the sink.  When that was done he began trim on all the pieces he’s made in there, routing rounded edges to take the place of the sharp 90 degree angles.  Having received our new toilet seat and lid in the mail, he was also able to cut the hole in the cherry lid, and also the square that will allow us to open a portion of the cherry seat to empty the…contents…of our composting toilet.

(I now realize I should have been using manual focus on these shots since the auto focus wanted to concentrate on the wall instead of the inside) cherry counter top in head cherry cover for composting toilet cherry cover of composting toilet

  • I am already in love with our new maple counter tops.

Yes, this has been one of the projects that both of us have been the most excited to start for months now.  For much too long we’ve been staring and the beautiful, pristine, and unblemished boards of maple hardwood sitting in our storage unit.  This wood will also eventually become our floors, but since that is the absolute last project we are going to complete on this boat, doing the counters in the galley will give us a small taste of what it will look like.

There is a slight difference between the sink counter top and the floors though.  On the floors we will be gluing 1/4″ thick pieces of maple hardwood to 1/2″ plywood, but in the galley we skipped the plywood and decided to go with 3/4″ pieces of hardwood maple.  Come to think of it, the lid of the fridge and freezer are also 1/4″ maple glued onto the plywood lid we’d already made.  Either way, we know that these two spots will be much easier than the floors, and that is because they are square.

For the sink counter we measured the general area and took into account the hole for the sink.  Going just a little large on that area, we glued all those pieces together, and once they had a few days to sit and harden, Matt attached the sink and used a router bit to properly trim the wood around the sink.  The lid to the fridge and freezer gave us just a little more trouble since we glued the full length of both of them together with the maple, and later went back to cut the line between the fridge and freezer so each can be opened on their own.

The line for the freezer side was perfect, but we forgot to take into the consideration the width of the blade and it cut deeper than we would have liked into the foam lid of the fridge.  Nothing a few more days and epoxy filler plus a few more layers of sheet fiberglass couldn’t fix, but it would have been better if we didn’t have to go back and fix any mistakes at all.  Now we just need to add some trim and a fiddle and that area will be all set!

gluing together maple counter top

  • maple counter tops installed
  •  New friends came to see us in the boat yard!

After nearly a year of corresponding back and forth through emails and Facebook messages, we were finally able to meet up with fellow young cruisiers, Johannes and Cati.  The funny thing about our getting to know each other is that although Johannes had been following our blog for a few years, he didn’t reach out to say hi until we arrived in Indiantown and just started refitting Daze Off.  As it turned out, we had mutual friends in the Sailing Conductors, who knew Johannes from being interviewed by him in Germany for Yacht Magazine, and them being our new neighbors and best friends in the work yard.

Ok, so maybe location was more of a coincidence in timing of them contacting us when they did, as him and Cati were passing through Florida and were situated in Palm Beach for a few days, extremely close in cruisers terms. Unfortunately it didn’t work out at the time, and we even missed out on each other once more this winter when they flew through Florida again on their way to the Bahamas, but the third time was the charm.

With their boat in Miami for a few days and a rental car at their disposal, they made the drive all the way up to Indiantown just to see us for dinner!  Showing up with a variety of German beers for us and cat treats for Georgie, it was nice to finally meet face to face after having become friends online. We quickly took over a table on the patio after giving them the grand tour of our boat, although we knew it wouldn’t be a late night (this time) because they still had to drive back to Miami.

We never had a lack of things to talk about as we compared boat projects, passages, and generally all got to know each other better. Some of our discussion was even able to revolve around the Vineyard Vines photo shoot we had all just participated in. When the producer had come to me in need of a solo sailor I was able to recommend Johannes as once upon a time he crossed the Atlantic alone in his old boat.  He’s since moved up to a bigger one as well as a beautiful companion, and we were able to laugh and swap stories of how each other’s shoot went…including the run in of his boat with the chase boat while sailing/shooting out on the Atlantic!

This was another occasion where I only brought my camera out for a total of about three photos, otherwise I probably could have written an entire post on our fun night.  The good news is that they’ll be passing through here soon enough on their boat as they cross through the Okechobee Waterway before getting back to the Atlantic and setting off for Germany in May.

Cati, Johannes, Jessica & Matt

German beers

  • My computer is trying to silence me.

For the past few months I’ve been having issues with my computer that I’ve been ignoring too long.  Mostly it consists of my screen shaking on me, and sometimes momentarily freezing.  Whatever is doing it, it has now gotten so bad that I literally can’t get on my computer do any kind of work (or even pleasure surfing) for fear of seizures or at least a terrible headache.

If you’ve noticed…it’s been about a week since I’ve gotten my last post up.  If you’ve sent me an email in the past 2 months, there’s a 40% chance I’ve not replied yet.  Getting on my computer to do anything has been a complete frustration lately and I’ve basically been ignoring it except when absolutely necessary.  I should say, some days are better than others, and although I should be spending my time looking in on how to fix this problem instead of sticking my head in the sand about it…I take whatever moments of visual stability I can get on it to do all the work that one would need to do on their computer.

We do have a few other devices I could use…but my computer is the only one with the photo editing abilities I like, and also the only device we own with an actual keyboard.  I may be old fashioned, but I don’t like to type posts or write emails with a touch screen.  I spend more time fixing mistakes than getting any actual work done.

There is good news though!  I posted a short video of my problem on our Facebook page, and a number of you poured in with recommendations of what might fix it.  Although I’ve tried just about every personal way to fix it that I can, it sounds like it may have to go in for service due to a lose wire or connection.  Or…I may just end up having to get a new one altogether.  Which may not be the worst case, because I don’t want to leave the country this fall with a computer that I’ve been limping around on.  I can already tell you from personal experience that buying new electronics in the Caribbean is not usually an easy (or cheap) task.  So this may have been the push I needed to get it done.

Since both Matt and I are so stubborn about letting go of money where we don’t need to though…I’ll probably keep limping along until we make t to Arizona to visit my parents in a few weeks.  At least there we’ll not only have a lot of free time on our hands to visit techie stores or service desks, but we won’t have to drive 30 miles each shot to do it.  So until then…just be patient on the lack of posts and updates on my end….I should be back to a more regular schedule soon.

shaking computer screen

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A Night of Luxury in Miami

Tonight we were able get away from the boat and and all the work that comes with it, but not only that, we were able to experience a night at the complete other end of the spectrum from what our lives have been lately. From our normal routine of stepping over power cords every time I walk through my ‘home’, and washing dishes from a nearby spicket (we’re working on the galley counters at the moment); to staying in a suite overlooking Biscayne Bay and dining on refined cuisine on the waterfront overlooking downtown Miami, our 80 mile drive gave us a 180 degree change in lifestyle.

How did opportunity fall in our laps you might ask?  (Because you know there is no way we would treat ourselves to this.) That may just be the best part of it all.  Because if we thought our night tonight was incredible, the motive leading us here is pretty epic.  The entire reason we’ve been pulled away from the boat to come to Miami is to participate in a photo shoot for Vineyard Vines.  They’re a preppy clothing company that originated in Martha’s Vineyard, and it turns out that they’ve been following us for a few months after finding our Daily Mail article  and thought we would be a great fit for their summer catalog with a theme of ‘Every sailor has their story’.  Along with a few other athletes (cyclists, surfers, swimmers), they’ve gathered a few sailors to feature in their summer line of clothing, and we happened to be two of them!

This line of clothing, as well as the photos of us modeling a few of the pieces, won’t be out until mid-May, and since there’s a strict ‘no personal photos on set’ rule, I won’t be able to share the details of that part of our experience for a few more weeks, but I can tell you about the 5 star treatment we received during our time in Miami prior to the shoot.

Knowing that the prep for the shoot would begin around 7 am and we’d have a good 2 hour drive ahead of us (not considering traffic that may pop up), the company offered to let us stay the night prior in the Mandarin Oriental Miami, a 5 star hotel on Brickell Key, overlooking both Biscayne Bay and the downtown area.  Not only that, but just like the crew that flew down from CT to work the shoot, we were given the opportunity to eat at any of the fine dining restaurants inside the hotel for our meal while we were there.  To say that we were stoked even for these amenities alone, beside the added excitement of the shoot the day after, would be a bit of an understatement. As soon as check-in time arrived, we were going to be there to take full advantage of our night of luxury.

Since we’re still not high profile enough to have a car sent for us, that meant we needed to take the Kia minivan down.  Although she did have her (major) issues this past fall, we knew that this time she should get us there without a problem.  Except one.  We still had to show up in her.  To a hotel that only offers valet parking. Oh, and did we mention that Georgie was along for the shoot too?  So imagine us pulling up in our faded jalopy, dents in a few areas, and even a door handle missing from one side; to hand the keys over to someone whom I’m sure thought we mistook the employee entrance.  Either way, they were extremely nice to us and contained any puzzlement they may have had of why we thought we belonged there as we grabbed our overnight bags, Georgie, and her litter box.  A feat which kept our minds so occupied that we actually forgot to tip the guy.

Upon check in at the front desk, not only did my lacy dress and new sail bag help me feel a little bit more in place, but everyone was so enamoured with our cat on a leash that I’m not quite sure they ever noticed us.  A few minutes later we had our room keys in had and were told that they’d upgraded us to a larger room so Georgie could have more space to wander.  In this pet friendly hotel, it looks as if they really do take care of their guests needs. Taking the elevator up to the 14th floor and walking down the hallway to our room, we were greeted with a gorgeous suite which housed stunning views from our wraparound balcony.  Directly in front of us was downtown Miami and the bridge leading over to Brickell Key, and to our left was the beginning of Biscayne Bay.

Once we had picked our jaws up off the floor we took full advantage of the in-room espresso machine and walked around with tiny little drinks in our hands to fully take in the magnitude of this room. The bathroom, I’m not joking, was bigger than our boat.  The room itself had a king size bed, a large couch, and a desk and tv separating the two.  The best feature though was of course the outside, and since our little espressos only lasted us about 5 minutes, we stopped to make another round before enjoying the view out there and the cool breeze passing by.  Since we had unfortunately arrived late in the afternoon, it wasn’t possible to fill up our evening with too many activities, especially since we needed to save most of our energy for the next day.

Throwing on our swimsuits and retrieving Georgie after she had somehow magically managed to find a way inside the couch, we took a stroll by the pool and the large man made beach they had created at the breakwater to Biscayne Bay.  The clock was nearly striking 5 by this time though, and not only was the sun beginning it’s decent behind the skyscrapers of the city, but we had dinner reservations at 6:30.  Something I planned to get into full girly mode for.  Laying out on some beach chairs for about 20 minutes just to say that we soaked up a little sun, we were soon back in our suite and, you guessed it, enjoying more espresso.

Georgie at hotel

Matt at Madarin Oriental Miami

 room - Mandarin Oriental Miami

Mandarin Oriental pool

When dinner time did roll around I exited our room in a full Miami style crazy print maxi dress.  Our destination for the evening was La Mar, a Peruvian inspired restaurant that gazed out on the same waterfront view we had from our room, only 12 floors lower.  Opening up the drink menu it took me about two seconds to zero in on the Pisco Sour, a traditional drink in Peru which I only experienced once during our entire trip there while backpacking a few years ago.  The menu was a much tougher call, since many of the names were the familiar street vendor food we were used to consuming for $1/person.  Deciding on the Chaufa Aeropuerto, a cheap Chinese meal we were used to filling up on, I was not disappointed when La Mar’s version came out.  Fried rice, succulent shrimp, and spiced sausage all mixed together with a perfectly seasoned soy sauce, this meal made me feel like I could subside on nothing else for the rest of my life.

Enjoying a second Pisco Sour and the cool evening breezes rolling through, we wanted to stay out and enjoy the night as long as possible, but it seemed that all the espressos in the world weren’t enough to keep us alert and awake after the exhausting weeks we’ve spent working on the boat.  Signing the tab to the room, we made our way back upstairs where it was time for a little pampering session.  I enjoyed my first bath in years, and even Georgie received a shower since her new hobby seems to be rolling around in the dirt of the boatyard.  By 10:30 I was passed out in bed, a huge smile on my face, and butterflies in my stomach about our upcoming photo shoot.

La Mar at Madarin Oriental Miami

Miami at night

Matt and Georgie

As if I needed any more perks, this trip also gave me an excellent excuse to pack up my new sail bag from North37 Designs, as it made the perfect overnight bag for me.  Although this French company offers a wide variety of different sized and purposed luxury purses, bags, and duffels, my Sam Bag fit right into the category of easily and stylishly fitting every thing I could need for 36 hours away from the boat.

I haven’t owned it for long, but I’m already head over heels for it and I can tell that this will be a main staple in my outings when we’re once again out sailing.  Listed on their site as a ‘shopping bag’, I could see it coming in very handy for this purpose when we find ourselves in spots like the Azores where I would run out every couple of days to grab fresh bread, cheeses, and crisp fruits and veggies.  Not to mention how handy it will also come in for beach outings as it will perfectly fit a large towel, sunscreen, e-readers, and snacks and drinks for the day.

A few of the features I adore about my new sail bag is how sturdy and well built it is, as well as it’s exquisite architecture.  Each item is is a one of a kind product designed from previously flown sails.  And they genuinely mean it when they say one of a kind.  Once my bag shipped to me it disappeared from the website  since it was literally the only one they owned in that specific mix of sail, colors, and number. As a testimony that your item is unique, each product also comes with an authenticity label on the inside, with a backstory of your sail, including what type of sail the items was made from, where it has traveled, and even who the skipper of the vessel was.

Because I knew my bag was meant for a slightly rougher life than most landlubbers who may purchase them, I opted to go for a mylar sail which has a laminated coating and will let sand or other debris easily wipe or wash off.  The top is zippered to keep all my belongings where they’re supposed to be as I board our dinghy and boat, and the shoulder straps are extra thick, which means I won’t be cursing a non backpack style bag if I am walking around with it for a few hours.  All in all I think this North37 Design bag makes a great fit with our lifestyle and honestly, it feels kinda good to own something so pretty again.*

North 37 Design - Sam Bag - shot 1

North 37 Design - Sam Bag - shot 2

North 37 Design - Sam Bag - shot 3

North 37 Design - Sam Bag - shot 4

*My Sam Bag was a sponsored gift from North37 Design, although all views and opinions are my own.

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On to the Next Big Project

Now that we’ve finished putting 10 of the 15 new plexi windows on Daze Off, it’s time for the next big project.  Not only to we have to prep the companionway wall in the cockpit and the front of the pilothouse for the last 5 windows by going through all the steps to get the high gloss paint on them, but at the same time we’re also going to tackle grinding and priming the top of the cabin top and pilot house.

Matt had, as always, the very non fun job of grinding all the existing paint off until we got down to bare aluminum, which ate up a few days where I spent my time below working on a sewing project (to come in a future post). I was hoping there would be very little hand sanding and we’d be able to get right on with the first layer of Aluma Protect, but this was so far from being the case.

Even though we had taken off all the hardware (including winches, blocks, and other items), there were still a number of nooks and crannies that our sander could not make it into. The areas that were becoming hardest to reach were the spots under the grab rail on the cabin top as it butts up with a rail at the edge.  With only being able to get to it from one side, and having about three inches of head room, it was my little hands that had to squeeze in there and work vigorously to remove the multiple layers of paint.

From there, the hard to reach areas only got harder.  Since everything is attached to our boat through welds, and let’s just say they’re not all clean lines, we were also left to manually remove paint from all the divots and holes in all the weld lines for the grab rails, granny bars, and cleats.  It was after I spent a full day agonizing over these areas with my measly sheet of sandpaper when I had the bright idea to bring in other tools.  Our 1/4″ chisel did a great job, with it’s tiny and sharp corner, of getting in those hard to reach areas.  Plus since I was able to put a decent amount of force on the handle, instead of slowly scraping I was usually able to just pop out the remaining chunks of paint.

The hardest area by far though, and the one left to me because of my tiny hands (yay me!!) was getting under the area where the winches sit on top of the pilot house. An area that is raised up about 1.5″, and fully painted on top as well as underneath.  For the longest time I had tried to get in there with just my hand and a sheet of sandpaper alone, working it from each side, and I hate to admit that it took me so long to figure out the best way to really get in there and apply the kind of pressure necessary to actually remove the paint (I kept bumping my knuckles against the top any time I’d try to add speed in as well), was to attach the sandpaper to a long thin stick, to reach the areas I couldn’t.  This in no way made the job a piece of cake, but it did make it manageable.  In 6 hours I think I actually removed all the paint from in there.

So you can see why we’ve probably been exhausted, robotic, and a little quiet lately.  I literally have to drink a coffee at the end of each work day now just to stay awake past dinner.  Yes, we are kind of killing ourselves and are in desperate need of a break.  There may not be any extended vacations coming up in our future for awhile, but the good news is that we do get two days off coming up for a trip to Miami.  A little bit of fun, a little bit of work, and the opportunity to do something we’ve never done before.  Curious?  Stay tuned for the next post where we go from our dirty and laborious days in the boat yard to getting 5 star treatment in the Magic City.

Matt sanding the coachroof sanding under winch holder Matt sanding coachroof bare aluminum on deck bare metal on pilothouse Georgie under boat

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