Rebuilding the Quarter Berth: Part II

Where we had last left off on the rebuild of our quarter berth, we had just cut all the necessary pieces of plywood and Eurolite from the templates we had removed during the demolition.  Because we had finished later in the evening, we waited until the next day to take the v-groove router to the panels.  A project we had dozens of times before and assumed would take 2-3 hours in total to complete the three panels that needed it.

One issue we had to be careful of though was to match up the lines in the quarter berth with the lines that were running down the aft part of the pilot house.  Initially screwing the panels in place, we made marks with a pencil of where a few of the lines needed to end so they would butt up together.  Then taking the panels down to our work bench we had to figure out the distance from the center of the bit to the edge of the router since we always run it along a straight edge to keep it, well, straight, from one end to the other.  I had my mark made there, and from then on went along the Eurolite making marks every 3.25 inches on the edges where we’d eventually clamp the straight edge down.

Everything looked to be going well until Matt went to make the first mark.  It turns out the the square casing around the router bit wasn’t equal on all sides and the edge of the router Matt was running along the straight edge was not the one we had measured for earlier.  So not only were all the marks I had just done now incorrect, but we had a line in the board which was now not going to line up with the rest of the boards.

Making the new correct marks we finished up the board placing the lines where they were actually supposed to be, and then mixed up epoxy and filler to take care of the initial line that was messed up.  We made sure for the next two boards to be very careful of where our marks were in relation to the router edge.

pilot house bare wood

pilot house with primer

Spending two days having worked on this process now because of our screw ups as well as being rained out of the afternoons, we were already behind the schedule we were hoping to be on.  The next few days were a fury of work inside the boat, although we still had a few of those ‘hurry up and wait’ moments.  The panels were placed back in and then the corner was epoxied with filler, but after that we couldn’t touch it again until the next day when it was dry.

The next morning was full of sanding on my part to smooth out the areas that had been epoxied, and then I ran a palm sander over all the boards once more to give them a final smooth down.  Just before lunch I spent 2-3 hours applying a coat of primer, then after a 30 minute lunch I was back at it applying a second coat.  Working on the quarter berth and the starboard side of the pilot house together, it was more painting than I was used to in one go, and by 6 pm I was happy to throw down my paint brush for the day.

On our last day of work for this area I had to split the day up between sanding and painting.  My morning was spent going over all the surfaces with a palm sander and 220 grit sandpaper.  It was a dusty mess and my goggles kept getting coating any time I had to work on the overhead.  By the time lunch came around I looked like a ghost because I was covered in white, and happy ran to the showers to take a rinse before I sat down to eat.

In the afternoon I was able to apply a coat of satin paint, which always seems to go on so much smoother than the primer.  I’m always happy when I get to this point, not only because it means I’m just about finished with the area, but the color is so bright that it is almost blinding.  This boat is becoming so bright and white, I absolutely love it!  Now all we have left to do are the overhead parts of the pilot house and we are all done with walls.  Can.Not.Wait.

Jessica sanding quarter berth

finished quarter berth

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Rebuilding the Quarter Berth: Part I

The last room.  We’re actually starting work on the last room.  I honestly wasn’t sure this day would ever come. Ok, so work still needs to be done to to the starboard walls of the pilot house, but our aft quarter berth was the last untouched area….and now we have our hands all over it!

Our first step was clearing it out which was no easy feat in itself.  Ever since we moved aboard this boat the quarter berth has been our main ‘storage’ area (other than our 10′x10′ storage unit up the road), so if there was anything on the boat we didn’t know where to stick it…in the quarter berth it went.  About half of it we were able to keep chaos free, but the front half, the part we used to store all our tools, rarely to ever had a sense of order.  For more than 48 hours anyway.

To clear space in this area in order to tear it apart and rebuild it, we needed to find new homes for all the items that had been sitting there.  Most of the smaller tools we use nearly everyday were placed in what will eventually become an extra pantry for me; the bottom area of our nav station.  Our drawers from the old nav station; your run of the mill junk drawer; small tools; computer electronics; and then boat electronics; have been moved to sit on top of the port settee on the pilot house.  Over there also went the two boxes of canned food that we had brought over from Serendipity and never visited again.  They really should have been in an easier to access spot.

What resulted was a new chaos in the pilot house that even spilled out a little bit to our forward salon.  Imagine if you (as a homeowner) took everything you stored in your garage and attic, and moved it into your living room.  It is complete craziness.  I actually have video of it that I’ll put online as soon as I have a following video once we’ve cleaned it all up so we don’t look like we belong on an episode of hoarders, haha.

Anyway, back to the project. After the area had been cleared out we started the process of removing all the old walls and plywood, bringing  them below the boat to keep as templates for when we’re ready to trace and install the new wood. The existing pieces still didn’t fit exactly as we wanted though, so before they went down we went through and measured areas we’d like to extend them out just a little bit, and marked those areas with a Sharpie so we’d know later the adjustments that needed to be made.

cleaned out quarter berth

Matt taking measurements

taking apart quarter berth

Once all the old wood was out, there was the task of making sure the aluminum in that part of the hull was still ok and wasn’t pitting enough to the point it would need replacing.  Since our welder is still scheduled to come out and fix one or two more problem areas, we need to know of all issues to the hull, inside and out, before we send our welder packing for good.  This meant taking out the existing insulation against the hull below the waterline, which we wanted to anyway because it’s easier for moisture to get trapped there.

Getting to work with an oscillating tool, I worked through two rows of insulation until I was down to metal, and then scrubbed the area with a metal brush to make sure any remaining debris came loose and was vacuumed up.  Keeping a clean surface down here will help prevent any future pitting, and we definitely don’t want that.  But I have to say, after sticking my tiny little fingers from my itty bitty hand between a few of these metal frames because no other tools would easily fit in there to clean out all the dirt build up, I was tempted just to let it sit and rot.  But sigh…future Jessica would hate me for that.

The next few days on this project were easy sailing.  We used 2x4s as the cleats that would hold the new plywood flooring (seating?) and also put up the new battons which the Eurolite will adhere to.  On a rain free morning I epoxied all of them so they could be installed permanently, and we were ready to trace our old templates onto fresh wood.  In a few areas we made over cuts ‘just in case’ because we knew it would be much easier to shave a little off than be too short and screwed.  The plywood fit in perfectly, although the Eurolite needed just a little trimming.  All in all it was an easy process and the initial install came together very nicely.

Next step will be to route the v-groves in the Eurolite, and epoxy the backs before we can install them for good.  Then it’s onto my favorite task of filling and sanding the corners, and eventually I’ll be unleashed to prime and paint.

Jessica removing foam insulation

Matt adding new beams

initial walls of quarter berth

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Prepping for Paint

It never fails that as soon as we get a few walls new up, and I get excited and gung-ho to get a  nice white coat of paint on them, only to find that project is going to be pushed back about a week for other things first.  Not only that, it’s usually for one of my least favorite projects on earth.  Using filler, and then sanding that filler down.

For all of our areas that are not overhead panels, basically meaning the ceiling, we would like them permanently fixed in the corners instead of solely using trim, and so we’v been stuffing them with an epoxy filler which then gets sanded down smooth.  And who gets to sand down these areas with peaks so hard and sharp they’ll slice open your finger if your hand skips off the sandpaper?  Ding ding ding, this girl here!

Ok, so this round in the pilot house wasn’t so bad because I was able to use  the palm sander for a good portion of it, and there were only a few corners that needed to be done by hand.  A Sharpie wrapped in sandpaper helped to do the trick in those areas, and for once I was left asking, “That was it?”.

Remember last fall when I had the horrible task of sanding all the seams inside the head?  At least these areas, for the most part, are a little easier to reach.

Taking the palm sander to the remaining boards to smooth down the surface for the initial priming, the job actually went by pretty quickly.  Sure there was another day added so we could go through and add a second filler that had better sanding qualities, covering the screw holes and any seams that may have had indents from the first round.  After about three days, I was let loose with my paint brush.

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It was a long day, but I was able to get two coats of primer on all these boards in one work day.  Notice I say ‘work day’ because I will still throw in the towel at 5 pm even there is plenty of daylight left for working later.  I would say the next day where I did a hand sanding, as to not take of everything I’d just done with the palm sander, as well as put a coat of paint on a good day too, but I was suffering a massive wine hangover.  A side story that will be saved for a later post, but Will and Cat from Monday Never met up with us at the patio while they got ready to sell their boat Paradox, and after the few glasses of wine that Cat and I had, combined with the insufferable heat, and we both had headaches until 5 pm the next day.

In any sense, I kept pushing past the fact that I thought my skull was going to rip out of my head, because I was determined to get an actual coat of paint on that day.  The hand sanding took me from breakfast until a late lunch, and the painting was much easier.  Our semi-gloss Valspar just glides right on, although I do have to be careful about my brush strokes.

All this work did take me about an hour past my quitting time, but it was completely worth it.  Look at the difference it’s made in this space.  Pretty soon we’ll have the walls up on the port side as well, and once I’m forced to go through the hassle of filler and sanding once more, those too will be painted.

Gahhhh, I’m so excited to see how all this is coming together!

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Continuing Work on the Pilot House

There has been a lot of work going on inside the pilot house lately! I am just a little more excited that progress is happening here, because as soon as these walls and overheads are built, we move on to the aft berth (which will hopefully be quick and easy), and that’s it for major woodwork!  When these areas are complete we can finally move on to trim, electrical, and plumbing, and BAM, we’ll be in the water.  Ok, so getting that far is still a few months down the road….but at least it finally seems within sight.

There are two main projects we’ve been putting all our efforts into for the past few weeks, and they are getting the upper walls of Eurolite on the port side of the pilot house, and beginning the desk/nav station on the starboard side.

For the walls in the pilot house, it was extremely beneficial to us that we had saved the previous templates from the old walls in our storage unit for the past nine months until we could use them again.  Placing the old boards up against our new 1/2″ plywood that will act as our seat back, we made necessary adjustments to cut the board down until it properly fit in it’s new space.  Once we were happy with how the old template was sitting, we brought the template down to a new 4′x8′ 1/4″ thick sheet of Eurolite, and traced the pattern onto the virgin wood.  The newly cut sheet was brought up and screwed into place.  Basically no tweaking needed!

We decided to leave the sheet that faces midship a smooth surface, but continued with our routing v-grooves into the pieces that face fore and aft.  Wow, I don’t even know how long it has been since we’ve taken on that project.  Maybe sometime last fall when we were throwing up walls in the galley? Everything is coming out great so far though, and I can’t wait to get a few coats of primer and paint in there to finish it off and brighten up the area.

woodwork in the pilot house

Matt cutting wood

 It was fun to begin the tongue and groove projects of the nav desk again.  After having to make odd shaped templates and squeezing boards into place for the walls, doing something square was a nice adjustment.  Not to say this project doesn’t come with it’s difficulties, but at least there are new and fresh ones to offer us a change from what we’re normally dealing with.

The front of the desk was a quick and easy day of cutting and gluing, once we had tailored the table saw to make the correct cuts in the hardwood.  Our frame that will support the doors for our drawers and storage space gave us a few problems of wanting to slide or move just a little bit when we’d go to glue and screw them together.  There’s nothing like having three 90 degree angles and one that’s off to leave you running through your list of expletives in a relatively short time frame.  After lots of tweaking in this area, we eventually did get all the squares to snugly fit our carpenter’s square, and we moved on to making the doors and fronts for these areas.

building nav station

Plus, I was able to paint the walls behind the desk and what will be our electronics area.  I love getting fresh paint in a new space!

painting the pilot house

 Next came the desk top, which is a variation of 2 1/2″ & 3 1/2″ pieces of cherry hardwood for the frame, and a piece of 1/4″ cherry plywood glued to 1/4″ Eurolite, with both pieces sliding into grooves in the hardwood. The tops of the hardwood were rounded over with our router to give them a smooth edge, and we did a light sanding on the bottom edge to take away the sharp corner which would no doubt end up in my forehead on passage.

We also built the frame and panels which will serve as the face for all our electronics.  Things like our switchboard, VHF, stereo, and bilge pump switches.  Once everything was built and properly fitted into place, we disassembled it all to give at least one coat of protective varnishing.  We are so happy with the way everything is coming together in here, and I can’t wait to keep you up to date on the rest of the progress as we get closer and closer to completion. Until then, I’ll just keep daydreaming about our evening at anchor, sitting in here and watching the sunset while comfortable eating dinner inside, or afternoons of reading books and sipping on sparkling water while bathed in natural light.

nav station pilot house

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Building Seating in the Pilot House

Progress on the pilot house continues!  As I mentioned in my previous post, I’ve currently lost misplaced my memory card that has the photos of us building up the seats for the area on the port side, so we’ll have to skip forward about a week and a half on progress in that area.  Just picture in your head a lot of cutting  of plywood and attaching it to 1×2″ cleats.

Before that was even possible though, we needed to replace the old floors with new 1/2″ plywood (epoxied on both sides and later to have 1/4″ maple placed on top), but before we could even do that, we needed to clean out our bilges and our metal tanks as best we could.  Mostly this job fell on to be because of my little hands and arms along with my ability to get into the small nooks and crannies that were hiding old dirt and other kinds of buildup.  For the most part I was able to scrape away any excess dirt and old oil from the engine with a combination of a chisel and a wire brush.

Not one of my favorite projects and I could have really done with those gloves that go up past for elbows for the amount of rubbing my arms faced on our metal frames.  Sometimes there was also the project of removing old insulation that fell below the waterline and is not necessary for us, but that was usually a much easier job.  As big of a pain in the butt that project was, it should keep any new corrosion from building in our bilges and give us much better peace of mind.

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 On to the seats!  The port side of our pilot house will have a L shaped settee, and since we’re building them ourselves, we’re going to make sure they’re as comfortable as possible for when one or both of us sits there.  Because we assume that will mostly be Matt’s sitting area, he wanted to make sure he wasn’t forced down into the forward salon because the seats weren’t big enough for him to be comfortable on.  What’s the point of having a pilot house if you never use it?  Based on a few measurements he took from Serendipity, we found out that a seat width of 26″ inches would be the most enjoyable for relaxing.  Since the previous seats in this area were only 14″ wide, there was no way we could copy that set up again and have enough room to easily sit there.

Because the new design for the seats comes out so much further than the old plan, we didn’t want to lose all floor room in this area as well.  So instead of having a 12″ platform that begins as soon as you come to the bottom of the companionway, we’ve decided to push it back so it only sticks out 6″ from the seats, as an extra step up to them.  This does cause us to lose a little more storage space in this area, but we do gain some of it back with the extra width of the seats since the entire area underneath them is reserved for that purpose.

Once we had the base built up as well as painted, it was time to work on the seats and back.  Using 1/2″ plywood for this as well, we used two sheets of plywood.  Overall we’ll have three access points to storage below, and on access point to an area that will house our batteries.  The very end area toward the center of the boat will be our wet locker, but access to that will be a swinging door from the side.  We’re also making opening doors to a storage area that will sit behind our backs, opening  up the area that curves along the hull.

After having put one shelf in here we decided that the lower area which gets thinner the closer you get to the floor will be a perfect place to store charts, since we have so many but use so few at one time.  Because they are so thin and can mold into that spot, and now we don’t have to worry about what other odd shaped items might fit in that spot.  The upper area for storage, I’m really looking forward to using for tupperware.  Silly, I know, but since we didn’t have a great spot for them on our last boat I’m so happy to finally have an easy access area for them.  I’m loving all this extra storage on our new boat!

old floors

Our old floors.

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Random Happenings in the Boat Yard

I know it has been forever since I’ve done any kind of boat work or boat related post, and for that I apologize.  With things like a failed computer that had me only publishing long ago saved drafts from my tablet, to the Florida summer heat leaving me incoherent at the end of every night to, honestly, becoming too addicted to our Instagram account, I’ve let the ball drop.  I’m going  to try and pick it back up because there’s a lot that’s been going  on over the past few months, and I’d love to keep you updated on it!

Just to start you out with a couple of the small things before I really catch you up, I’m posting a ‘Random Happenings’ post before I get to the down and dirty work that has been keeping us busy for the past few weeks.

 

  • We’ve purchased our canvas for the dodger & bimini!

Colors.  Just as much as renovating a home, picking out colors for a boat is just as much of an overwhelming task.  What do we think would look good?  What colors do we want to stay far away from?  What might clash with our bare metal hull?  And mostly….what can we afford?

As I’ve said before, I’m so lucky to be married to a man who’s biggest source of entertainment is researching items online.  Whether it be boats on yachtworld.com (how we came across Daze Off), eBay (how we were able to double the size of our winches for half the cost), or the fabric we’ll need to outfit the inside and outside of our boat.  We knew that Pacific Blue was out.  We had already done it on Serendipity, and as the number one canvas color out there on boats, we wanted something  that would help us stand out a little more.  As if that would be an issue anyway on this new boat.

We had been toying with the idea of a light or bright green for quite awhile, thinking that a lime green would give it a nice fresh look and give this old boat a more modern feel.  After searching for months and months, because we have that kind of time on our hands, he came across a  remnant roll of Ginkgo Green by Sunbrella.  It was a situation where we were not able to request a sample, but instead had to take a gamble buying the remaining 16 yards on the roll and hoped we liked it. Although at the amazingly low price of $6.95/yard, we were willing to take that gamble.  At a 70% discount, we were sure we could like it enough.

When the roll came in the mail we hurriedly ran it over to Daze Off and unwrapped it from the plastic to hold a corner of the fabric against the pilot house and see how the color looked in the light of day and between the white deck and silver hull.  A huge sigh of relief was released when the bright green matched the two perfectly and gave us the modern yet slightly funky look we were after.  It may be months down the road before its turned into anything, but at least we have it and won’t have to worry about hunting down a color later on.

Sunbrella ginkgo green canvas

  • We’re building up the pilot house…finally

This is the moment, at least I personally, have been waiting for forever.  It means that our construction phase is nearly over.  The last major renovation to the boat.  Sure, there’s still a million things to be wired and plumbed later on, but at least once this is complete it will look like a home.  Not to mention ALL the storage space we’re going to gain once this area is built up.  Can you imagine what it will be like when I don’t have to keep spare soda and chips in the van because its the only place to keep them safe and out of the way?  When all of our tools will have a home to be put away in?  It will be heaven.  I can’t say I’ll still love being in the work yard at that point, but at least our living conditions will be much more comfortable.

We’re starting on the port side and then moving to the starboard side once it is mostly built up, hoping the disassembly of the nav station and tool drawers can wait until we have a new surface to put them on.  The first step is framing in the curved area of the hull, which on that side, will eventually turn into storage units that will sit behind  the back of our L shaped settee in the pilot house.  Just as much of a pain as ever, trying to template these odd curves comes with it’s difficulties, but we’re still doing just fine with our 1/4″ pieces of wood attached together instead of using foam.  We’ve had this suggestion from many people, but we can easily take apart the template and reuse those strips of wood, so we think this way works out for us best.

The next stage of this project will be to build up the seats and what will be the storage units underneath them, before eventually moving on to the upper parts of  the walls, covering the three sides of windows.

*I had photos of this part of the project, but lost my memory card before I could transfer them to my computer, so you’re going to see a huge jump in this project.  Sorry!

pilot house 1

pilot house 2

  • Storm season is upon us once again

Oh yes, the reason it feels like we never got anything done last summer.  Come  3:00 pm, cue the storm clouds and heavy rain. A few things have changed since last year though, and hopefully our summer will be at least 50% more productive than it was last year.

The first reason for this is most of our work actually happens indoors now.  If we’re given a few good hours in the morning and afternoon of decent weather, we can make all of our major cuts with the table saw and circular saw outside, and spend the rainy hours of the afternoon indoors assembling what we’ve just cut.  Another is that we’re just doing many of our smaller cuts indoors at this point.  Once the big cuts to the plywood are made, most of the cuts from that point on are little cleats which we can easily tackle indoors with our oscillating tool or circular saw.

The other major reason is, other than a few big storms in May, the rest of the summer so far has been relatively dry.  I don’t even know how many days we’ve seen dark clouds come rolling up to us in the afternoon, winds beginning to gust…and then nothing happens.  Mostly we’re left with overcast skies and a bit of wind, but you won’t hear us complaining about that one bit.  In fact, if we can keep a dry yet cloudy a cool way of life all summer, we’d be on a fast track to get A LOT of work done by this fall!

storms in south Florida

summer storms in Florida

  • We bought an arch for the boat.  It didn’t work out.

This is an item we’ve been hemming and hawing about practically since we’ve purchased the boat.  We know we don’t want davits on this new boat, but we do need a system that will keep our radar and solar panels mounted.  Do we spend the money on an arch?  Do we even like the looks of a massive arch back there?  Or do we go much more simple with two vertical poles to house the radar and wind gen, and a horizontal one suspended between the two for our solar.

Having such a different setup on Serendipity where A.) our davits supported our solar panels, B.) our radar was up the mast, and C.) there was never a wind generator to deal with, I was at a bit of a loss as what to suggest for a solution on the new boat.  Will the three pole system work out?  If so, Sure, go for it!  If not?  Get an arch.  Easy peasy.  I don’t like to be bothered with details like that.  Whatever works, just get me the hell out of this yard.

Unfortunately it doesn’t  always work like that on our boat and we need to think smartly about all of our options.  In the end…the arch did seem the better option.  It would be stronger and give good support in all the areas we needed.  As far as looks go?  Well, hopefully it looks good, and if not….at least we know our goods are secure.

So when a 7′ wide arch popped up on Craigslist in Coco Beach within our price range, we figured we may as well bite the bullet and pick it up.  Choosing a random Friday night, we made the 2 hour dive north on I-95 to the boat yard where the seller lived.  Eventually finding it propped up against a gate (the owner was not there when we arrived) we noticed right away it looked very large for 7 feet.  Taking our measuring tape to it, we immediately found out why.  It was actually 9 ft wide.  We were half tempted to walk away from it right then, but we figured we may as well get it back to the boat and give it a try before we made any decisions.  If it didn’t work out, we could easily pawn it off on someone else.

Making a now 3 hour drive home on US-1 with this gigantic piece of metal hanging off each side of the van, we arrived back near midnight and didn’t even bother to take it off the van before passing out in our bed.  Over the next day or two we eventually did get it on the ground and even up on the boat with the help of one of our neighbors, only to find that the extra two feet of width made it too wide to fit on the aft end of our boat, especially with the angle of the feet the arch sat on.  We toyed with the idea of having our welder make a few adjustments to it the next time he was out working on our boat, but in the end, we decided it wasn’t worth the trouble and we’ll probably go with the other idea of the two vertical posts with a connecting beam.

Luck was on our side though in the fact that we had a neighbor in the boat yard that was more than happy to take it off our hands.

sailboat arch

9 ft sailboat arch

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Changes to the Top and Bottom

Everything seems to be about the exterior of our boat right now, but that is ok.  We’d prefer to sit outside in the sun when it is merely 82 degrees instead of waiting until August when it is trying to break 95.  Most of the work on our interior has come to a screatching halt, but we figure we’ll be able to pick it back up in a month or so, our deck covered by a sun shade and two 5000 BTU air conditioners blowing cool air onto us as we work to complete all the projects inside.

Other than the paint and plexiglass which had been taking up most of our time so far on the deck, we’ve had two other major changes to the exterior.  To the upper most and lower most parts of Daze Off.

The first project/change is one you all knew was coming.  Or at least those of you that have been following us since this post when I originally talked about it.  Our mast has come down and is currently resting on jackstands in the open area next to our boat.  When we originally purchased Daze Off we had been hemming and hawing on if it would be a good idea to bring the mast down.  Yes, she would need a new light attached to the top.  Yes, there were a few new wires we’d like to run up the mast that were probably not of consequence to the previous owners.  But did we want to pay the fee of $500 to have her stepped and then raised again?

Unfortunately the decision was made for us when we were taking apart the overhead surrounding the deck step for the mast and found that one of the previous owners used an ORANGE EXTENSION CORD to wire it.  Whaaa??!!  We were speechless.  Who was the idiot that thought this was a good idea?  So yeah.  The mast would have to come down and be completely rewired.

This of course had not been a top priority on our list and was a project we had been planning on saving until near the end….until we learned a few things.  If you have your mast raised or lowered at the same time as someone else in the yard and the crane only needs to make one trip out, each party saves $50.  Ok, so all we needed to do was find a friend that needed a crane for theirs, and we’d go at the same time. And although we did have some friends in the yard who we thought were a month or two away from putting their mast up (and so we agreed to go together), we struck gold when another set of friends came into the yard and needed theirs lowered.  Best part was he used to be a rigger for Mack Sails and knew this process inside and out.

We figured our mast would be down for 3 weeks or so while we rewired, ordered new rigging, and then Bam, we’d still be in time to have it go up along with our other friends that were getting  ready to raise theirs.  Win/win.  The new friends in the yard happened to be the friend of a friend sort.  We’re both friends with Ren and Ashley of Evolve Freediving, and when this couple had come to the yard in September to put their Bayfield 32, Rainbow Connection, in the water, we chatted for a little bit, made plans for a weekend sail in Stuart sometime (which unfortunately never happened due to our lack of taking  days off), and kind of lost contact.  Until they came back to put their new/traded boat in storage (Long story.  Or short.  They traded Rainbow Connection for a Rival 39).

But when our new-ish friends, Jamel and Tania, came back to Indiantown, we were glued to each other.  Afternoons spent checking out one another’s boats, and evenings in their salon (cause who would want to be in ours?), eating  delicious meals Tania made, or even Little Ceasar’s takeout.  And when they mentioned they were taking their mast down before they went into storage for hurricane season, we were quick to jump on the opportunity and shout “We need to too!”.  Letting them choose the schedule since their timing mattered more than ours, we settled on a Monday morning to have A+ Crane services come out and bring both of our masts down.  Unlike previous years of storage in Michigan, you needed to do all the work yourself here, other than operate the crane, so we were especially happy to have a rigging specialist at our side.

Quickly getting through Jamel and Tania’s stepping first, we were over at Daze Off, and Jamel was riding a bosums chair up to attach the hook and a strap to the top of our mast.  Since I still know next to nothing on rigging, I let these three knowledgeable people around me unscrew the turnbuckles and bring the standing rigging to the mast to later be tied, as I ran around and tried to help them in any way I could.  Handing over screwdrivers, crescent wrenches, and sometimes vice grips to help them get our rigging (which hasn’t been touched in almost a decade), lose from our deck.

Because we had these friends with us helping out with a job that I know would have ended in a lot of short fuses if it was just the two of us, we soon had the mast resting on a set of jackstands next to the boat, and we paid the crane operator and sent him on his way.  One project down, but a lot of little projects left before it will be ready to go back up.

Jamel getting raised by crane

Jamel up the mast

Matt loosening the rigging

stepping the mast

The other change had to do with what we wanted to do to the bottom of the boat.  Not that we’re going to get as far right now as putting a coat of anti-fouling on, but we would like to have all the barrier coats built up so just before we are ready to go in the water, we can spend one quick day getting the anti-fouling on and be done with it.

This was the decision before us: Do we leave the previous barrier coats on, the ones that have been sitting there for at least 10 years now, (although doing a great job of holding up, it looked like), and just sand off the light blue anti-fouling coat and add a new one when we’re ready; Or do we take everything  off, getting  all the way down to bare metal, and start from scratch.  Both sides had their pros and cons.

By only taking off the top layer of anti-fouling that exists, we had the pro that it would be a cheaper solution, only having to buy 2 gallons or so to complete the bottom.  Even though it was old, it seemed to be holding up extremely well.  Would we make it worse if we attempted to start all over ourselves?  The negatives to this plan were that while going through the storage inside the boat (while trying to make this decision, actually), we found that the current bottom paint had tin instead of newer copper-free. To get a new bottom paint on that works with the aluminum, we’d have to heavily sand this layer, and in other areas, all the way down to bare metal.  A special primer would need to be applied, and then barrier coats….we were starting to realize the time and money we were saving ourselves didn’t put us that far ahead.

Then there was the option of taking off all the existing paint, bringing the bottom down to bare metal, and build it all back up again.  The negatives were of course spending what we expected to be about 10 days stripping the paint off, and then the multiple days of applying coats of primer and barrier coats.  Just like the top of the boat, any bare metal needs to be hit with our Aluma Protect before the metal can oxidize, so we have to work in small areas for that, grinding and priming within an hour of each other.  Then there’s the days spent building up the barrier coats, about 4 days, to get it to the point where it will be ready for anti-fouling this fall.  Plus, what if it somehow doesn’t end up as strong as what was already there?  What if we go to check it out in a year or two and find out that areas are flaking off?

Eventually the positives of this outweighed all else.  Yes, it was going to be at least 2 weeks of extra and unexpected work.  Yes, we’re  going to have  to buy another gallon of Aluma Protect and about three gallons of InterProtect.  And hey, let’s throw in another 2 gallons of paint stripper to get off everything that’s already on there.  But when we thought about it more and more we realized that if we went with the first option, we’d only be putting off the inevitable.  Eventually the bottom will have to be stripped and repainted, and who knows where we’ll be when this comes up on us.  Right now we’re already out of the water, in a DIY yard, and have easy access to all the supplies we need.  It may be a headache to go through all these extra steps here and now, but it could be a much bigger headache if we wait a year and have to do it in some remote island in the Caribbean, or while freezing my butt off while wintering over in northern Europe a few years down the road.

Matt has been doing a great job of getting all the old paint off and so far has been moving at a pace much faster than both of us expected.  In less than 10 days he’s been able to not only scrape both sides clean, but to sand off any remaining remnants.  The days have been a little hot and sweaty, and he completely ruined a set of lightweight Helly Hanson foulies he got off the free table a few months ago, making sure that none of the paint stripper came in contact with his skin.  He’s a real trooper though, and in the next few days we’ll getting the new waterline painted on.  I do have to say this this has benefited me in one big way….all these hot days of work under the boat actually has Matt craving beer at the end of the day, so guess who was able to pick up 2 cases during our last visit to Sam’s Club?!

 

Matt sanding off bottom paint

sanding off bottom paint

Daze Off, looking bad ass

Matt sanding the hull

bare hull and bottom

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Installing the Last of our Plexiglass Windows

Somehow it has now happened that we are a water tight boat.  From the top at least.  Don’t go actually sticking us in the water just yet because there’s still that big hole on the bottom where we need to put a transducer in.  But we’re getting closer.  And Daze Off is actually starting to look pretty!

As fate would have it, the day we had originally planned to put in our five remaining plexiglass windows, Indiantown felt like giving us some torrential downpours.  The worst we’ve seen this year, actually.  It was one thing when we had the windows on the sides removed during rain storms, because the tarps covered those flat surfaces much better and all the water managed to find ways to the deck that did not involve coming inside our boat.  This was not the case for the forward windows which sit on a slant.

Even though we had covered them with HUGE tarps and weighted down every corner, water somehow managed to find ways to pool up under the tarp and come streaming right into the pilot house.  Same thing with the rear windows, but only because those tarps hat to sit in awkward half extended positions because we still needed a way to get in and out of the companionway.  For two days we had to sit put inside the boat while it poured down outside and chase multiple leaks as they came up.  Since we love to take advantage of rainy days as errand running opportunities (or in this case, going out to lunch with a blog follower that invited us out), we were shifting tarps and grabbing clothes out of our dirty laundry bag to stuff leaks.

Soon those memories were in the distant past though as we installed the remaining windows and were able to remove the tarps from our deck forever.

It was of course a much easier task the third time around as we had it almost down to a science.  The first two rounds gave us a lot of know how, but of course the initial measuring and placements was it’s ever lengthy process.  The one that causes lots of cussing as you measure and remeasure, but never seem to get things level from one side to the next.  And when the level was telling you that everything was perfect, you’d step back, and something about it just seemed a little askew.  Eventually we decided that even if the level may get upset that we were 1/4″ off on one end, it was the more eye pleasing solution.

Plus, as we try to remind ourselves, no one else in the future is going to be scrutinizing these details as much as we are.  Throw the mast back on, the deck hardware, as well as a bimini and dodger, and there’s a good chance no one would even be drawn to a slightly off kilter window.  At least that’s what we hope, and keep telling ourselves.

From that point it was time to move forward with the project.  Our pieces of wood that held the windows up were stuck on tightly with command strips, and we drilled the holes into the boat and temporarily stuck in the bolts.  I taped around each window so clean up with the caulk later would be much easier.  Another smart move we did this time around was to mark a line on the tape of the window and run that line up to the tape lining where the window will be placed.  That way when it was time to place the window in it would be much easier to line up again because our holes would be covered with caulk and not visible to us.

installing forward windows

forward plexi windows

rear plexi windows

lining up bolts

Taking the windows back off it was time to get them ready to permanently go in.  Wiping down the topcoat of paint with denatured alcohol, I also gave the exposed part of the glass a wipe down as well.  We then used the 3M VHB 4991 tape to outline the area right next to the opening, before covering the remainder of the exposed paint with DOW 795.  When the windows were actually ready to go in I was worried about them lining up perfectly, especially with the angle in the front we needed to worry about.  Surprisingly they all went in incredibly smooth, and before I knew it, Matt was down below tightening all the bolts to hold them in place.

Clean up was done after each window was placed instead of installing a whole group and then cleaning the area up.  We found the caulk is easier to work with when it’s still a little wet, and if we left it too long it would become tacky and very hard to fill in spots if they needed it.  This time around I don’t know if I had Matt to thank for his wonderful caulking skills, or me for my taping, but this time we were able to peel the tape off to clean lines that needed very little to no touch-ups.

Before we knew it we had all five windows installed and all remaining caulk had been wiped away.   Peeling off the outside layers of protective paper from the glass, we were able to look at Daze Off as if she were a brand new boat.  What a huge step forward for us!  And a huge item checked off our list!  Time for me to go celebrate with a new craft beer to add to my World Tour.  ;)

backside of plexi window

caulking window opening

placing in plexi window

For a more detailed description on this process, make sure to check out our first post on installing plexiglass windows.  This post is more of a follow up with a few additional photos that I didn’t get in the first time around.

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What are we Doing? We’re Still Painting!

Sorry for the few weeks of radio silence there.  With my computer running into so many issues it was hard to even look at the screen for a period of longer than 10 seconds, let alone try to edit photos and write a post using it.  There finally came a time where I had to put it away in a corner and pretend it didn’t exist, using our little 7″ tablet for all my internet needs.  Great for  keeping up and posting on Facebook and Instagram, but terrible for writing post and next to impossible for editing photos.

The good news was, I knew a new computer was in my future, so I just had to wait it out until we found the perfect one for me and waited for it to arrive.  A kind of vacation from blogging, if you will.  But now I am fully online again and ready to go at it!*

What have we been up to lately?, you may be asking.  The same thing we have been working on for weeks and weeks now.  More priming and more painting of the cabin top of Daze Off.  When we last left off on this project, you had seen us laboring over getting every millimeter of existing paint off so we could prepare it for the new layers we’ll be putting down.  It was a long and exhausting period that extended a few more days than I think either of us had originally hoped or planned for…but finally it was done and we could begin priming.

Because we had to grind down each area once more even after the original paint had been removed, so the primer could be applied before the aluminum oxidized, we broke the project of painting the area we’d just prepped into two sections.  The first was the cabin top which covers the forward salon and galley, as well as the front section of the pilot house.  We saved the cabin top of the pilot house as well as the companionway wall for the second day.  Mixing up our two part Aluma Prep, we slowly turned our boat into Big Bird once more.  Initially starting with the welds and hard to reach areas, we hit those spots with a chip brush before breaking out the roller for the larger flat surfaces.  Getting good coverage on it did end up using more primer than we were anticipating, but we knew that a well covered surface was much better than a thin or blotchy coverage in the name of saving a few dollars on a new canister of primer.

primer on roof

cabin top primed

sanding cabin top of pilot house

companionway primed

 Another reason for splitting our painting into two sections and multiple days was because we didn’t want to leave the aluminum primer exposed for too long without applying a barrier coat over the top.  Once a thick coat of the Aluma Protect was on, we waited two hours before going back over the surface with our Interlux InterProtect.  If you’ve seen from the other posts where we’ve painted other areas, you’ll know it’s a very light off-white color.  And when we applied it…WOW.  What a world of difference it made to the cabin top (and the boat by association) look brand new.   On the second day when we covered the cabin top of the pilot house as well as the companionway area, it was as if Daze Off had a complete face lift.  Yes, the deck still had to be done, as well as the cockpit, but those areas had never been as dirty as the cabin top, so overall she looked like a boat I actually wanted to own.

Now to the best part of our priming and barrier coating the cabin top….there’s no extra priming or top coat for 90% of it.  Yes!!!  Yay for my poor hands and all the sanding necessary to complete these steps!  Because we’re going to be covering most of these areas in a non-skid coating (most likely Kiwi Grip), the process stops there.  Just another barrier coat to be added right before the non-skid, and that’s it.

For the downside though…there were still the few areas that will still get the top coat.  The front and back walls of the pilot house receiving new glass, as well as a 1-2″ border along the edges as well as around the hatches and the welded areas where the granny bars connect to the deck.  Since the non-skid can be applied right over the top coat if necessary, we’re not being too precise on those lines at the moment and are covering an area about 3″ wide around each of those surfaces just to be safe.

It’s still time consuming to work around some of the tight or hard to reach areas, but I’ve fallen back into my schedule of one day sanding, one day priming or painting.  Hopefully by next week the last layer of top coat will be on and we can finally get the last 5 of our new plexi windows in.  In the meantime as I work, I’m finding out that I have to be very careful where I step while working on the cabin top…..

cabin top barrier coated

companionway barrier coated

footprint in paint

*Or so I thought.  Now my new computer is giving me issues too.

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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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