Dancing In the Dust

 Sunday May 6, 2012

Heading out to the boat today I had no idea if I’d be getting any sanding done since winds were right at that point where I might be able to get the tarps up or they might all come tearing off on me.  I’m beginning to loathe the wind and how it dictates my work.  Can’t wait until it’s dictating my movements of travel, but I think the lack of a professional job and experiencing different places will help to combat that irritation.  I was about to beg Matt to stay home and I’d maybe finish work on the dodger once and for all but he said that if I couldn’t sand he would need my help on the rudder.  We stopped at West Marine on the way to pick up some supplies for the day (where I noticed they had some Sperry Topsiders I was eyeing for Matt’s birthday that were in stock) but they did not have the filler we needed to do work on the rudder.  If winds weren’t agreeable I’d be stuck there all day with nothing to do.  When we pulled into the yard and got out of the car there were small waves rolling through the docks near our boat and I worried I was out of luck but the winds themselves didn’t feel too strong.  Both of us had checked different weather sites that morning and while the one I looked at showed winds going from 9 up to 16 mph in the afternoon the one Matt checked showed them only going up to 11 which since it was more acceptable to him of course had to be the correct one.  After years of studying forecast on multiple sites I can tell you the one starting with accu is usually not the most accurate.

Unloading all my supplies from the cockpit I tried to gauge which direction the wind was coming from so I didn’t have any openings in the tarp on that side and could hopefully use the full coverage on that side from letting wind blow in on other sides.  Conditions were so well when I started that I didn’t even ask Matt for help or put down the anchor chain. Of course once the third and last tarp was taped up wind started kicking in so I used both anchor chain and a few concrete blocks to hold everything down. We had given up on shore power so I ran an extension cord to the far docks for some electricity.  I had everything set up but just needed to grab a few more things from the cockpit.  Standing on the port side where I would be working that day I could definitely hear gravel moving by Nemesis’ boat and freaked out thinking he was there.  I don’t even know why I worry, we’re doing everything we’re supposed to and he shouldn’t have a problem with us, but if I can avoid him all together I would prefer to.  I didn’t want to spend my day having him tell me what he thinks we’re doing wrong.  Not wanting to use the main opening I had given myself by the bow for fear I could run into him there I made my way to starboard by the ladder where two tarps were overlapping.  Having used sheet stays on the top and middle to keep it closed to the wind I got on my hands and knees to crawl out the bottom and make my way up the ladder without being seen.  Up in the cockpit grabbing the last few things necessary, a sander is usually good to have, I stood out on deck searching for his black pickup but did not see it.  Going back down the ladder and around the front this time I found it was a man from a neighboring boat hooking himself up to shore power.  Guess it was back on after all.

Hoping to use this day to bridge the gap between the front and back I started putting on all my gear only to find out Matt had shoved my mask and goggles in the bag with the hose while cleaning up last week and they were absolutely covered in dust.  Making a quick trip to the restrooms to clean everything off as best as possible I finally suited up and got to work.  My arms were sore from the beginning but I had the same problem when I began last week and thought I just needed a little time to get my body used to the movements again.  I was also starting with an old sanding pad trying to get as many miles out of it as possible and that was slowing down my work as well.  Maybe I was going at the same pace as before, but without caffeine and other things to keep me going it felt like I was moving in slow motion today.

When I finished my first top to bottom section I went through the routine of vacuuming the dust that had accumulated on the hull and made sure to change the sanding pad stat.  If I needed to buy a new box to finish the job, so be it.  Just when I was getting ready to start the process again Matt came under the tarp from the rain that had just begun to do a little sawing for a platform he needed to place the watermaker on.  I had heard some thunder booming off in the distance for awhile and asked if I would be ok working through the storm and wouldn’t be electrocuted by the cords I had running outside.  He said not to worry which either meant it was a non issue or he was getting ready to take this journey as a single man with all my life insurance money.  Before he went back up to do work in the cabin he asked if I could sand down the fiberglass he had put over the throughull last week.  It wasn’t a problem to do it for him, but once I had finished all the rough edges really took their toll on the sanding pad and I was almost back to square one when I went back to working on other parts of the hull.

Working two more 6-8″ top to bottom sections I sat down to take a little rest.  Looking down the side I didn’t have too much more to sand before bridging the gap.  What I did have though was the whole underneath section leading to the keel and then the keel itself. It would be the hardest part where I wouldn’t be able to hold the sander right in front of me and use my body for leverage, but instead holding the sander above my head and only using the muscles in my arms to not only hold it there but to keep just the right amount of pressure on it too.  If I finished the easy part today and left only the hard part for next week I would die.  I’d be incredibly miserable and get nothing done.  So I made the decision to start working the underneath today and split up the job a little bit.  Sitting myself on the cradle I positioned the sander against the hull above my head and turned on the power.  15 seconds of work and then lower my arms for a rest.  Back up for another 15 seconds and then down again.  Sometimes I’d get a burst of energy where I could hold it up for 20-25 seconds.    By the time I had worked about three feet horizontally and only gone down about four inches vertically I was panting like I had just run a 5k.  My arms were burning and I needed a rest.  Since I still had a bean burrito in the car that I hadn’t eaten on the ride over I pulled it out and went back under the safety of the tarp to enjoy it.

While I was eating the winds had begun to pick up at bit more just like I had forecast them to (ok, or the website I chose) and I started to wonder if the tarps would hold.  Just as I was thinking this the opening on the windward side blew open and all my clothespins exploded off.  I quick ran out to put it back together and sat down again.  While I was finishing Matt had come down to see how much longer I wanted to stay and when I mentioned the winds were really picking up he gave me the ok to start cleaning up for the day.  I hadn’t even finished my burrito yet when the wind broke the tarp open again and even more forceful this time started plucking the tape off the hull with it.  At least it was helping me to do my job of taking it down.  Maybe it could help me a little more by blowing all of the dust away instead of me having to vacuum it.  (kidding!!)

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