Baggy Wrinkles

Baggy Wrinkles

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Saturday, August 20, 2016

Diesel mechanic showed up to look over the Berg's power unit down in the bowels of the bilge area.  And of course, it was terrifically hot as usual.   This photo is deceptively harmless, and without closer inspection would seem to be just a fine illustration of the complexity of power-plants built into small spaces.  Yet upon closer inspection there are culprits lurking all about this thing begging to be re-routed, changed, put in better working order.
Looks harmless enough right? 
Before the mechanic arrived, I had cleaned up the general area and let him open the hatch door on the diesel and see the beautiful art work himself.  Surprise!  For 3 hours he methodically made his way around the unit, re-connecting wires, checking fluids, cleaning surfaces and putting in gaskets.  It was like a courtesy military inspection where you don't get "gigged" for items but receive guidance on fixing deficiencies.  And the great part about it was he was educating me on the unit at the same time, i.e., this probably came off when someone was leaning over the engine, this ought not to be here, it should be there, this is incorrect, do this not that way, and so forth all over the place.

There was much to do, and so upon his departure he gave me the homework of removing this awkwardly placed and impossible to reach in-line stainless steel sea preventer (?) box from down below so that he might come over and extract the prop shaft later.  
Scary bilge creatures waiting for my arrival below decks.  Wires, tubes, dangling wires, broken tubes, water in the bilge, fiberglass tearing at my forehead every time I sought to surge forward.  Wiping the blood off periodically I pushed forward to extract this box to no avail.
 I was enthusiastic about the project though a bit cautious about what I would have to do structurally to get to this "extraction" point!   He advised an access point to port via the lazarette.  That made sense, however after some "Hot Yoga" trying to get positioned in there head forward body sliding toward electrical panel, I thought there had to be a better way.  Dripping in sweat, I gave it some thought, but before I arrived at an answer, I decided it was time for "Cross Fit" and I descended the ladder to get something cold to drink.  That would certainly boost my mental prowess I figured.
It's called Cross-fit.  As soon as you mount the boat via the ladder you realize you need something downstairs.  As soon as you retrieve it and return to down below you realize it is not the right item and you must return, and return and return.  I'm getting my work-out!
 Back aboard, I sat in the cockpit looking down through the sole, a pedestal mount being the only access from above, and thinking how useless this pedestal thing was for me.  I would not put a wheel helm at that point on this boat because the cockpit is simply not large enough to accomodate such a structure.  Too, there'd have to be a system of pullies and relays...too much.

Look just aft of the tools and mooring lines on the blue plastic inlay and you see the emerging pedestal protruding from the cockpit sole.  Notice also the brilliant coamings and cap  rail now finished.  The lazarette hatches inlay are treated with teak oil only.  The remain nice on the bottom.  There's just not much room for a pedestal in my opinion.
So, a deck hatch might be the preferred solution for this area.  Something large enough to enable hands-on work on the through hulls, the shaft, the tubes, etc., that was what I was thinking.  Armed with that decision, I went back to Hot Yoga and entered the lazarette, yes, entered feet first, then legs into bilge area back of engine, leaning against one of those enormous fenders to keep me from tearing up the electrical panel. Once in, what to do now?

I say Hot Yoga, because our neighbor's daughter introduced us to that idea in casual conversation, speaking highly of the art form.  Hot means you sweat in the heat.  Yoga means body contorting to fit the environment.  And so once there I left one leg in and the other 90 degrees toward stern permitting me just enough room to begin wrestling with the stainless steel box still holding on to its exhaust hose and its stern hose.  Unrelenting.  It was better at Hot Yoga than me.  But I managed to pull the box through the hole I had cut in the lazarette-to-bilge area.  While pulling, I twisted it like an arm wrestling contest, and noticed the slightest movement of the hose, aha!, I thought I would win!  It took me about 30 minutes of arm wrestling to wrest the box from the cyclops exhaust pipe which was suctioned onto the end of it.  I was soaked as I lifted the box onto the cockpit sole and took a breather before trying to figure out how to extract myself without injury from my predicament.

I have no idea why this is here other than that as one fellow "AlBerger" told me, it might have been a seawater preventer for situations where following seas might flush into the exhaust against the engine.  A probable scneario.
I like everything substantial about the pedestal ring and the stainless steel box but I have to have the luxury of getting to below this part of the deck in the event of mechanical issues.  I procured a 10 x 20 flush deck hatch to cut and affix in this area.  Once this was out, everything began to be easier to approach.  My homework was just about done while I turned to issues of the seized sea-cocks visible in the picture below.

So, next will be to insert the deck hatch and move towards re-arranging the electrical, putting batteries in the "ice box" to port of the hatch stairs, and re-routing the wiring to meet the needs of the batteries and remove them from tangling with the engine.  In no way am I proficient at this stuff, I'm taking photos so I can put things back in correct order.  I just know that the batteries were below the water line and the bilge was sketchy, so I've got to make some changes now while I can, as once she's in her slip all this stuff will be much more difficult.

There are too many anomalies in this bilge so my idea is to replace and refit as necessary and to re-route electrical, making this area as difficult as it is, manageable even so.  I don't anticipate a lot of use of the diesel but I do want it to be regularly tended to so that in times of crisis it is available and ready.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Punishing heat.  Clear beautiful skies are a bane to me as I load my cooler for the daily commute to work on the Berg.

I stuff it with the same gel packs that Tri-Care uses to keep my insulin refrigerated on its way from Tuscon to South Carolina.  I keep the last half dozen every time they send it and the cold gel packs keep drinking products cooler than a Yeti!  And off I go, many mornings I'm very tired even though I slept all night--that's unusual!  Seems the older I get, the less I sleep.  My mother told me she had the same strange occurrence.  Well, she's in another place now where sleep does not occur as far as we know.

 And when I arrive at the work yard, the Berg reminds me of my Collie, very happy to see me and welcomes me aboard for the daily grind.  Today it is port-lights.  I've just finished varnishing the cap rail, and while doing that I ordered some acrylic 3/8ths tinted plastic for the salon replacements.  
This is 3/8ths acrylic.  A tiny bit thicker than the original product.  Looks very dark but has a UV tint that enables one to view out the port-light in direct sun without glasses with ease. 

After removing the interior aluminum window frame, I left the exterior frame glued to the exterior and put my 3M 4000 around the interior lip of this frame pushing it in to its pre-seated position I had done earlier. 
This is called "homework" for adults. Original fiberglass had gotten attached to the frame, the glue used was way too effective making removal a torrid affair in the heat.  But once done, they responded well to treatment.

But before I can put the acrylic into the frames, I decided to clean the openings well, and to rid the exterior aluminum frames of their paint, which had trapped in a few places corroding aluminum.  So their exterior will be natural aluminum, coated with Permalac, designed to sustain metals in extreme exposure to the elements.  Inside, they are much better preserved and despite a bit of grinding and repainting with appliance spray paint, they will be white.
This was taken in broad daylight.  Rather dreary isn't it?  I have one pane out and another old portlight pane waiting for extraction.  I labeled everything and replicated the designs at home for insertion later.

And this is later.  You see the aft port pane is seated and frame attached and the forward pane awaiting its tinted acrylic.

And both are in here showing the incredible change made by the Brightsides and the nonglare acrylic UV tinted plastic.  If you can see the original and this and still want the original then you simply don't care about your surroundings.  And some don't.  I do.  This environment inspires me!

And oh, the salon, yes, that I painted with the Brightsides, and what a difference a coating makes!  The dour faded mustard color is replaced with Brightsides.  In fact, I like it so much, as I continue work on her I will paint the interior foc'sle area white as well.  If I have time, I'll do that this month.  

Lots of details in the heat.  Here, soaking wet, I'm removing some handles in anticipation of mounting the original wooden teak handles.  I also removed the "first step" from under the hatch as I think it may interfere with later installation of a shore-power panel.  Not sure yet, but time will tell. 

And the view after the Brightsides, handles replaced, electronics to be rerouted and everything made shipshape.
 The work site is punishingly hot.  Maybe it's because I'm 63, or maybe because it really is hot, it depletes my energy rapidly.  I feel like I'm engaged in some masochistic version of "cross-fit a la berg" as I have to go down the ladder to the truck to find something that was right in front of my eyes in the salon.  Yes that happens more often than I'd like to admit.  I am up and down that ladder like a gym rat, hoping every day that I don't misstep and tumble onto the gravel below.  I wonder if I did fall who'd care to look over and help me?  No one I suppose.  And that would really suck to lie on the gravel, a broken arm, sprained back, burning in the hot sun, just out of reach from my truck and unable to rescue myself.  That's morbid.  But I think about that event often.  So I try to be more than careful.

When 2 or 3pm arrives, I am more than happy to punch my card and head for the shoppette for a cold drink and a cool ride home on the freeway.  I feel rather successful that as I write this entry, it has been 30 days since the Berg arrived and lots of changes have been made.  

  • cap rail repaired, sanded, varnished and complete
  • garden variety gate valve replaced with Groco lever
  • coamings repaired, sanded, varnished and ready to put
  • replaced to dorets on the stern
  • replaced the zinc on the rudder with magnesium
  • pulled portlights without mishap, reputting tinted acrylic
  • chainplates manufactured with 5/16ths bolts ready to reput with strengthening plywood and fiberglass
  • refurbished the V-berth sole with Epiphanes
  • reput leaking stanchion on portside
  • refurbished port side salon cabinet and backing
  • sanded, repaired and painted the cabin salon with Brightsides
  •  validated functionality of bilge pump and automatic indicator
  • inspected interior of forward water tank to determine next best solution
  •  compounded and polished entire freeboard of hull with 3M high speed polish and polisher
And one last photo from lots I took.  Here is a glimpse of one of the teak coamings before rehab:
Looking like a juicy board ready to lunge at you, this is layers and layers of varnish, perhaps added without proper time or conditions.  At minimum they sought to preserve the teak as best they knew.
And here is one taken after I installed the coamings this morning:
And here the partner coaming after rehab, sporting a matte finish, installed with stainless steel Philips' head screws, which will not tear at clothing like the flathead variety.  Quite a difference a bit of work makes.
Of course I'll have to keep after the varnish work, all part of maintenance, just like with the Cape Dory Typhoon.  But time and again people love a boat well cared for.  She might have age, and some awkward this and that, but she's getting to look like she might have game:
In the early morning light, finish varnish on the Cap Rail, some triage of gear taking place, she looks like she's going to be getting in the water soon.
Diesel mechanic is scheduled for this week!  Hope that goes well...

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Another Blistering Hot Week

It's not easy to work in direct sunlight in this southern climate this year.  Temperatures have been pushing the 100s for weeks now and only in the past week have we begun to see some climate shifts as clouds have begun to provide some respite to those of us who are laboring away at a renovation on a classic yacht.

I sat in the local tire shop waiting on my truck tire rotation and fiddled with my sketchpad/notebook in which I keep my daily activities during this renovation period.  There are so many items calling for attention I began to "mind map" the situation aboard the Berg while waiting for my tires to be rotated.  They've been great tires, already 40k miles and only half the tread is used, I think they'll take me quite a bit further.  The commute to the yacht club alone will rack up some mileage as there's no easy way to get there but going backwards to go forwards.  So I mused and scratched at my design, noting everything that seemed to be calling for my attention...
It's a method.  Conceptualize the project's various urgencies, then prioritize according to splash date.  Some things must be done, others can wait.  Yet with the heat, some things must be delayed, like varnishing in the hot sun is not advisable, and working the deck under direct sunlight in this increased summer heat can be exhausting.  Nonetheless, there is a project, many items raise their hands for assistance, but only certain ones warant a fix right now. 

Meanwhile, beyond the items I listed, I dreaded the blistering heat that was awaiting me this past week.  Sort of playing catch and mouse with the sun and trees in the work yard, I would work until I was thoroughly drenched from sweat, drink water to hydrate often, and yet pushed on racking up an average of about 8 hours a day on the project.  I include my commute in that figure, one hour to and one hour from.  Plus, I include my resupply visits at West Marine, which usually occur after a days work, in order to prep me for the next day.  

I think I've begun to get a pace now after 3 weeks.  I dodge the sunlight as best I can and carry a cooler filled with drinks to hydrate.  But the process is also quite mentally demanding, to focus on priorities and not give in to pet-peaves aboard.  I let stuff lie about like the life-lines and stanchions which I dumped in the salon and left there or the sails in the v-berth area, or the head area which I've not touched.  It is a priority driven approach but I really would like to clean things up a bit.  

And I await my appointment with the diesel mechanic, assured that I would be included at about this time, I think I'll do something to clean up the hodgepod of assorted scrap and tools which lie about in the galley.  I would not want the mechanic to think I'm a careless vagabond with whom one could overlook small but important items to fix on the diesel.  And I did see a couple of rusted bolts I would like to pull out and replace!
This is where it began to collect and spread across the salon, with bits and bolts, tools and tubes, this and that, all awaiting some sort of triage and re-engagement to the bulkhead. 
So, at the end of week 3, I've managed to reset a leaky life-line stanchion, dry out a leaky area portside in the salon and clean and re-attach both cabinet hinges and screws, and coat with their first drink of teak oil.  I also grabbed the sole in the v-berth and in between other things, revarnished it to see the difference I'll have once done with all of the teak sole.  
Makes a difference to keep up with things doesn't it?

I've re-put hatch trim pieces, coated with 7 coats of Epifanes varnish, now a matte finish, and have finished also the coamings which will be attached to the cockpit area on a cool day.  I've also fabricated replacement pieces for the port quarter area and painted with some white Brightsides in the area to brighten the cabinet interior and the bulkhead/instrument area.  Awating me is to sand, prep and paint the salon in Brightsides white to liven up the joint.  In addition I've procured some acrylic 3/8ths tinted plexiglass in order to reput the crazed portlights aboard (however, I know this can wait and be done in the slip, so have pushed back on installation).  I've repaired the stern taff-rail corner, and scraped and sanded the entire cap rail on the vessel and begun just yesterday with the initial burst of thinned Epifanes gloss which serves to seal the teak. 

One of the consuming and urgent tasks was to scrape the cap rail, sand and prep for its varnish sequence.  Using the heat-gun was great but afterwards sanding with 80 grit was necessary to pull the surface back to receive its treatment.  The first photo here is a close up of what the entire cap rail looked like before work and the second, a close up of it ready to receive its successive coats of varnish:
Yes, it was greyed in many areas, varnish had been carelessly applied without protecting the hull with various places chipped and broken.  A thankless and tedious task in the heat to revive but I knew it had to be done.

This looks clean as a whisper now that the ages of peeling varnish has been removed.  Notice the varnish still somewhat caked onto the genoa track.  It was inside the track and I had to use a narrow flathead screwdriver to reach inside and force it off the aluminum track.
Along with that scraping I had the messy task of extracting spongy silicone which had been shoved in-between the cap-rail and the hull to perhaps attempt to prevent water from entering the joint between deck and hull.  I don't think that is a great idea due to the fact that silicone products also can retain moisture.  A sailboat's hull and deck joint is a fortified junction and unlikely to be so easily compromised.  Besides, there is a bilge pump right?  The stringy silicone has left its presence under and around the cap rail, something nearly impossible to remove but by specific removal one by one.  It will take some time.  

This joint was seeking attention so I pulled the culprit out of its hiding place and will re-put with epoxy.

Awaiting the shade of the afternoon, I taped off the cap-rail and began with a 50 percent thinned gloss Epifanes mixture to seal the cap.  I used a sponge brush and lightly coated all around the vessel killing my knees in the process.  Once done I knew that this would be a week long process, every day, retreating, gradually building the varnish base before the last two coats of matte are applied.

These foamies are just fine for these stages of varnish.  Will use my special Badger Hair brush when we get to the matte finish coats, a week from now.
After a first sealing application of Epifanes gloss thinned 50%.  Upon this will be put increased thicknesses of the gloss until we reach about 6 coats and then will change to the Epifanes Matte finish which permits wood grain to be visible but reduces the impact of imperfections in finish look.  Not being a professional or having the skills or the environment to do this in a top-notch fashion, this is as good as it gets!

 It also begins a 7 day process of application, not an easy task either as it has to be one of careful coatings, no drips, no slop.  And I've cleaned the genoa track of globs of old varnish which blocked the cars from moving, and reput the hatch cover, stripped and oiled the handrails on the cabin above and its associated railing on the inside of the salon below.  No need for varnish on either, just oil, teak oil for the exterior and some old Danish oil for the interior wood which is not teak.

Late afternoon in the shade finally, the gloss seals the teak.  A nice start to its rehab.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

How much does it cost to renovate a sailboat!

During an unusually hot work day this past week, temps in the 100s and heat index in the 110s, I stood in my salon considering the myriad of "to-do's" I had before me while sweat puddled at my feet, running onto the sole boards, they too needing refinishing (photo here of one in process), and thought to myself, "I need to catalogue the man-hours I'm putting into this vessel lest I lose sight of the enormous amount of energy, time, effort and unseen 'cash flow' which occurs in the midst of this process."  

One of the many projects saying, "help, fix me please!"  After working 6 to 8 hours at the yard, I come home and meet my overnight crew of passive fixes in the form of wood, needing cleaning, scraping, sanding, refinishing.

So for the past 3 weeks, time has flown by fast, the Berg has taken my complete focus.  Personal duties have subsided with the final burial of my father, and life has returned to "normal," as normal as life can be with our many personal hurdles, family responsibilities, and the many items needing a human hand and attention.  Even making sure my grass has enough water is a focus, alas, so much to think about, evenings are often summarized in a few drinks and a cigar, something suitable to eat, keeping in mind my own battle with endocrinology matters, and rest, i.e., sleep.  And I thought to myself standing there drenched from my own sweat, how enormous a commitment of time alone, I've invested.  

I thought I must quickly now jot down an estimate of hours spent on this project so far and make a habit of logging in my daily time spent.  For what?  For myself.  Lost in the mystery of the Berg's transition, is the human element, the physically torturous environment conditions and the building monetary deposits which also stealthily creep upward and upward so that the surveyor's estimate of what it would cost to replace "Queen Bea," her former name, would be about $220,000 dollars.  

Hmmm, I suspect I may be on that pathway myself.  If I determine that I alone, rookie ship-refitter that I am, have a doctoral degree in another discipline and have been hired on despite all that to refit a 39 year old classic Alberg 30 all by my sophisticated self, I'd have to charge at least what I'd pay another fellow to do such summary labor--that which I do myself.  If money weren't an option, I'd pay 15 to 20 bucks an hour!  I've got to remember I'm paying myself so with education alone I should merit more but I'll settle for such a payment from my imaginary employer, ha!  If we don't do this, we lose sight of why our vessels refit and renovation are so very expensive!

In another week the diesel mechanic will arrive to do a base-line service on my Yanmar 2QM15 iron jenny.  I will not expect that mechanic to do his service for less than a food-worker in New York City who is getting 15 dollars and hour for taking orders now would I?  I fully expect to pay much more.  I want that diesel to provide the Berg safety and security under sun, night, and torrential rain and storms, to chug relentlessly to port.  That is worth a lot of green backs.

Therefore (you see how I reason this--rational deduction is a blessing) I will now "keep book" on my commitment of time and cash to see what the Berg really costs.  I will see if there is some sort of widget that I can use on this page to illustrate this commitment.  If one of you reading this knows of such a little bugger, please comment so that I can procure it's services.

The port side of the taff rail where a skeen chock had sat, covered with varnish, obscuring its pleasant design, and a piece of the rail now pulled apart and ignored for years, is to be uncovered, re-put, polishing the chock, and revarnishing with the proven Epifanes varnishes I used on Baggy Wrinkles in 2013-2016.  Time to renovate.

Meanwhile, my days at the yard usually end with a cold shower from the old hose that lies in the grass like a snake.  I strip down to my boat shoes and shorts and remember cold waters I've been in from place to place, and feel my body temperature pull downward and recuperate from punishing strain in the sun as I reflect on the final task that day of the removal of varnish from the taff-rail (see photo before) , I continued using my pal's heat gun, scraping the heavy curling fragments of old varnish from beautiful teak, revealing a diamond in the rough here below, even with a crack to fix, looks beautiful.  I think it was worth the heat and suffering...

The same taff rail after mere minutes under the service of a hot-gun and scraper.  The physical demands of this are slight yet made torturous by surface temps over 100 degrees in all directions.  Soon it will transform.

Despite the cold shower, the oppressive heat has worn me out by this time.  I began working this day at 0730, when I drove over to the club, and arriving at 0830 I began my work, albeit light, and some conversation with another club pal who knows electric, I then began reputting dorets I had manufactured overnight onto the stern dorade vents and then moved on to the taff-rail.  By the time it was 1430, I was smoked from heat and sun.  I stood motionless letting the water cool off my body, not as young as I thought I was, but feeling the revival of energy surge a bit.  And even though I consume as much cold water as possible, these infusions are no match for direct sun.  But I find another drink and change, starting my truck, adding the A/C and slowly down another cold drink and think to myself, "Who in the earth could I get to do this work for 15 dollars an hour?"

Gainfully employed, I make my obligatory trip by West Marine and find whatever hardware or item necessary or the next day.  Entering the store for me has become like Norm on Cheers, that sitcom from years ago, they greet me by my first name and welcome me back.  Sure they ought to, I had spent $400 dollars in merely 3 weeks!  I'll surely rank as one of their preferred customers this month.  The A/C works great there and I try to be careful and take my 3x5 card with my supply list so that I am not romanced by attractive things like electronics, rubber coated anchors in blue, red and yellow (which I really like), or the smaller Yeti cup like my neighbor has which costs an alarming 30 dollars.  My bill this day is actually a credit because I had inadvertently purchased screws too short for my taff rail skeen chocks.  That link to skeen chocks is too interesting not to follow right now!

Once home, I check on my final project list, the "after hours" items.  The forward v-berth cabin sole, foc'sle ( yes look this up too ) , has begun transformation.  And after a few days of home-work and about 7 or 8 applications of Epifanes, this renovated piece of the sole will inspire anyone "down below" aboard the Berg.  

All in a day's work and schedule.  Now for sleep.

Monday, July 25, 2016

"Where does this go?"

So that day, the temperature was in the 100s...

I was sweating profusely while twisted into the engine compartment, peering down, underneath the diesel, into the black abyss known ironically as, "the bilge."  It's a  rather somber location in the grand scheme of things.  You don't really think much about the bilge on a boat.  Well, unless you're the new skipper, and you realize that the bilge is the netherworld of the sailboat and the nexus between survival and sinking.  I had noticed the little bronze threaded plug in the sink by chance as I made my initial assessment of the Berg upon its arrival.  Underneath the rich blue hull, past the boot stripe, there is this dripping, slippery excretion, from the bilge.  Yes, it's messy but it is like your appendix, stuff gets held in suspension down there and if allowed to fester, could become a big issue.  You don't have to encounter the bilge often, but if you do, it is certain to get your attention.

Just past that seacock is the bilge, it's dark down there, and water, and some diesel too...never let go of the flashlight, or my phone, near that gap...will have to install some sort of lighting down below just so I can see it better when trying to find out where wires are traveling to and from.

As I squinted down my flashlight's beam, the bilge stared back at me and showed a bit of diesel floating atop the surface in the bilge.  A couple of large flexible tubes ran down the bilge going to where, I had no idea.  And that was where I began my journey below decks, or in cabinets, between the hull and liner of the Berg, trying to locate and identify the important points of my new old vessel. 
My notepad in the sink with the bag of tools, some leftover water from Nova Scotia (tasted pretty good too), and the odd assortment of that day's work assembly.  And oh by the way, it was over 100 degrees inside.

I'm asking myself this question repeatedly now about where things are and where they're headed.  And, I'm also having to take notes, because the list is growing rapidly.  It was great to get a formal Survey of the Alberg 30, and it was more than a pleasure to meet the sellers and get to know them and ask questions.  But now that all the exchange has taken place and the Berg sits on the hard, I'm looking at so many little things and asking myself, "What in the world is that?" or, "Where does that wire go to?" and, "Why is that in there?"  Too funny.
This is called "a bugger."  It's a leftover from another era.  Appears to be a radio line as the same wiring is atop the mast but the antenna is long gone.  Don't we all use handheld radios these days?  Wow, oh well, it's an old boat.  I've got a copy of Don Casey's "This Old Boat" which the previous owner bequeathed to me, LOL.
 Certainly, previous skippers wanted this or that, and I'm sure there was a reasonable answer for all of these little "buggers."  It's like a puzzle however, and I'm not the best at puzzles.  This process is like when you get a product at Walmart which has been fabricated in China with directions created by a non-english speaking and non-sailor from China.  I've scratched my head and thought, "that bolt can't fit in that hole!"  But the directions indicate it has to?  Even if I had such a sheet of directions I'm not sure I'll be able to sort out some of these mysteries.  And then you realize the directions skip something, and the mystery deepens, as you attempt to read the writer's mind in order to put together this thing which ought not to be too complicated but now has taken several hours of head-scratching and your commentary about the way the directions are written, none of which will help you in the least to figure out where to put the thing, but it feels good to rage against the author just the same.

Everyone in the Alberg Association said, "yank those things and fix 'em..."  Ok, ok, I yanked them.  Today I sent them for rehabilitation.  Chainplates, strong yet meager bolts did not do justice to them. 
So, I'm in a graduate course in shipbuilding here.  I'm being funded by my military pension and my office is aboard.  I am the Skipper and bosun's mate all at once.  I have no one to point at except myself, and it's just fine with me.  I hold the briefings and I execute the Skipper's intent.  It can't get any better than that.  Days are hot but I know that'll pass as I plan to finish my work by Labor Day weekend at least.  I keep thinking about all those uncrowded days on the lake as Fall moves in and me and the Berg get acquainted. 
I'm a philospher theologian, not an electrician, thus, this appears to me to be a very organized mess with some meaning but that meaning eludes me.  I have no idea why these wires are arranged the way they are.  So I will call in a pal from the club who speaks "electricity and wires" and have him tutor me in this stuff.  I have to comprehend it in order to fix it later. 

But the way to that vista is paved with some renovation I've seen before but multiplied by 10 or 15 at least.  The Cape Dory Typhoon was a handful but this is a truck load of complexity.  Just the teak alone has been a herculean task made easier by a pal loaning me his hot air gun which i will probably purchase from him because I've successfully started to melt the scraper.  I still have left the cap rail which is globbed with varnish that has long since peeled away from the teak revealing a poor attachment in the early coats as can be seen here:
Thick molasses colored varnish covered the bolts and sat on the teak revealing a lack of proper sealing.  However, once lifted off and sanded, the teak returned. Pictures are on the way later.
Hours of heat gun and scraping have paid off and the Berg is coming to life again.  I think this journey is going to be full of challenges and many rewards as well.  I just want to know why there is a 4 pin trailer plug coming out of the mast?  
You just never know sometimes what someone was thinking at the time.  It might have been a good idea too!
I kept looking for the mate to this but could find nothing, no holes, no wires, nothing.  I guess it was left on there as perhaps something to "get-to" one day but got "left behind" instead.  I keep reminding myself that it is an "old boat," ...39 years old to be exact.  My challenge is to extend its life by fixing systems, upgrading her specifications, making the corrections advised, and keeping on her with a schedule of maintenance that meets the Skipper's intent.  He's pretty understanding about this but does not like to miss things he should have noticed.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

"The Berg"

This week the Alberg has taken up residence at the yacht club.  While most all our active fleet is in and on the water, there are other unfortunate vessels collecting debris while tied-to in a slip or sitting on a trailer.  No one wishes to work in mid-summer, so I have the work yard all to myself.  

We received the 'berg this past weekend by long-hauler after a week of its journey from one of the northernmost locations in Canada.  I'm glad we had the opportunity to go north and see the vessel in its local setting as this has made all the difference in understanding its condition and its care previous to our reception of it.  Its owners were very careful to make sure it was covered in winter and sailed in a beautiful salt-water lake environment called Lac bras d'or, well worth taking a look at.  We saw this phenomenal lake stretching for nearly 500 square miles, protected by entry at only two locations north and south.  Although a salt water lake, Bras d'or is very much like Lake Murray but about six times as large!  So, she's jumped from a northern lake to a southern lake, with all the differences that brings.  

Making that final turn towards delivery.  Coming from Nova Scotia, Canada, to Chapin, South Carolina is a "haul" in itself with an assortment of complex regulations across national boundaries, and through highly regulated interstate highways.  It was well worth it to have the good folks from Nova Scotia employed to deliver the goods. 

Thanks to a dedicated yard owner and several additional folks to help pull on the chains and re-put the wheels, the Alberg was getting to know these admirers on a hot Saturday afternoon.  High humidity and high temperatures made this process exceedingly difficult for the humans although the machines and lift worked fine.

One major difference is a change in temperatures.  And it seems every summer seems hotter than the last in the south.  

So there I was the other day, doing the "nug work" required of a devoted skipper, stripping varnish, turning old bolts, opening compartments aboard, discovering and taking inventory of what was stuffed here and there aboard the 'berg.  And during the process, the trees which had protected the vessel in the morning gave way to several hours of over-head direct sunlight and temps of nearly 100 degrees.  Standing, facing aft, looking down at the Yanmar diesel, there was a pool of water forming on the cabin sole, a pool I was creating, as the summer sun siphoned every diet coke and water bottle within me, like some medieval exchange program.  I quickly grabbed one of my old Army towels to clean up.  You can tell these towels were not made for public distribution as they are the color of milk chocolate.  I assume the civilians at Natick Labs figured such a color would not permit a soldier to know whether they were clean or not after some personal hygiene in the field.  And this was my "field" now, standing in my Alberg, no top, drenched shorts, and work shoes.  What a sight.

One of many refurbishing points seen  in this photo.  I've gone throughout the vessel removing teak and other "wood" which needs attention.  Interesting to note the hatch covers are plywood rather than odd discovery and not a difficult fix, simply a bit expensive.  I am removing all teak, escorting it to my home where the debridement of old varnishes is taking place and new preparation takes place.  Jamestown Distributors is furnishing the initial supply of Epifanes Matte finish, a preferred look which can cover many anomalies in wood and present very well for many years (with appropriate care in between) a classic yacht. More to come on that....

You cannot pay someone to do this stuff.  Well, perhaps some of it, like the diesel, which I really don't understand despite the dismissive comments of some, who claim diesels are "simple" and attribute accolades to the Yanmar like, indestructible, reliable, "just keep her running," so they say.  I haven't dared fire it up as I don't even know where to put the water hose to start such an adventure.

Yet there is a great satisfaction to be standing in the cabin despite its sauna-like conditions at the moment.  "I'll sleep good," I think to myself.  Too, I remember doing this aboard my Cape Dory Typhoon, the hot sun, ducking into the cuddy cabin, the feel of the searingly hot deck plate on bare feet!  "Watch out for the metal stuff," I think as I look around aboard the 'berg, I don't need to be hopping around on a boat that is over 12 feet to the ground.  Yes, that would certainly hurt to fall off at this height.  

Lying in the work yard alone at the end of a hot summer day in the south.

Despite the infernal references, it's great to have the Alberg in the work yard, submitting to her makeover.  This phase is all about teak protection (first) as the summer sun will destroy anything not protected from those UV rays.  Going back to my previous post, and the items of concern I listed, I will be doing whatever is critical to getting the 'berg in the water first.  That means teak is first (because it cannot withstand inattention long before it greys and cannot return without massive work, chain-plates (which I discovered were indeed very small diameter bolts, some nuts I unscrewed by hand!) , the diesel servicing, thru-hull checking, and hull compound and polishing.

Chain-plates:  a common fix among Alberg 30 owners.  Original plates and screws are not sufficiently robust for the vessel.  Figuring I had to do this now before stepping the mast and putting her in a wet slip.  Tough environment when temps are 100 degrees, places are cramped, bolts are hard to remove and fiber-glassing additional support must still take place. 
I treat this as my summer job, a loathsome commute of about one hour to the job and one hour home and a pile of tasks in my "inbox" to complete before some of this work will ease back a bit, probably by the end of August, I'd suppose. 

The turn into the club as friends helped haul the 10k pounds package back to where I would begin troubleshooting and fixing things aboard this summer.