This is the month where the weather turns the corner. It can be cold, but a few warm days can get the grass green, trees and bushes starting to blossom. March is starting out pretty bad, with lows overnight of minus 1 and 3 degrees on March 3 & 4. And the end of the month the weather didn't deliver, everything is still brown and buds haven't even started yet with it snowing on March 30 in the shipyard. Damn the weather, full steam ahead, we schedule our launch back into the water on June 5. T-minus two months and counting!
Since June of 2017, I now have spent 70+ days at the boat doing nothing but working on it whether the boat was in Milwaukee WI, Waukegan, IL, in a shipyard or harbor in Chicago, IL. That does not count my time running around in the car picking up parts, going online to find just the right thing, in the garage rebuilding, painting or varnishing components which is probably another 15-20 days of time. Getting a wreck and attempting to restore it takes commitment and sticktoitiveness. I've seen many start a restore and just decide later that other things in life are much more attractive.
One guy suggested - what if you worked at McDonald's for those 100 days, took that money and just bought a boat that was in better shape?
I now work with three lists:
- Those projects that can be done in cold weather (4 items to go).
- Those projects that need warm weather (50 degrees as a low overnight): washing down dust, painting, varnishing, epoxying, caulking, etc. (16 items to go).
- Those projects for the future that would be nice to do, but there's no rush (12 items).
220. The main sliding hatch had the front board on it split in many places which could injure people, catch sails and tear them, and just isn't yar. I get a piece of African Mahogany and spend 5 hours trying to be a master carpenter making this complex curved piece using just about every tool I own. It looks great installed. Then comes the refinishing. Then for good measure I bring the hatch boards home and refinish them too. All are clean shiny Cetol (a tougher type of varnish) now. I waxed the slide areas of the wood that lie on aluminum flat tracks. Then sprayed the front underside with FlexSeal to waterproof the varnish and wood. This area will now butt up to the fiberglass ridge on the front of the deck opening that I put foam gasket material (that may hold water for extended times) so when the hatch is closed there is no longer a path for a wave to come across the deck, go under the front edge of the hatch, slap the fiberglass ridge shooting up and over and drop right down below getting the cabin, and people, wet.
221. There are hoses inside the boat that are below the waterline. Last winter I replaced about 65% of them, and just haven't slept well not having replaced them all. They are now all replaced.
222. Can you waste a day just cleaning a cockpit? Yes! More than a day? Yes! The prior owner had a knack of not using masking tape or wiping up drips of varnish. Removing old caulk, tar varnish and paint drops, on fiberglass gelcoat non-skid surfaces is painstaking. Oven Cleaner softens the varnish well, and slightly softens the gelcoat. Most of it is on the non-skid surface which is a cross hatch pattern. So you spray, wait 15 minutes (wait too long and it dries having to start all over again), then take an awl and softly scrape the varnish in every little channel, in both directions. I then use water and a 3M Scotchbrite pad to finish cleaning. This is done spot by spot, sometimes needing a second applique of Oven Cleaner. I've spent hours over the past year and a half cleaning the cockpit, and now can say it is 100% done. It looks great and when scrubbing the deck you don't stay in one spot anymore to try to clean something that is not coming off with soap and water.
Not completely satisfied with the result of the first day, the floor of the main cockpit is splotchy gray as the floor had a cross-hatch teak insert when we got the boat that was rotting which we tossed. However, the owners didn't pull it out to clean or oil the teak, they left it in place to do that work. The gelcoat has grayed-out teak oil splotches making it look bad. The internet suggests trying orange citrus cleaner, teak cleaning acid/base agents, and oxalic acid, I tried all, none did the job. Acetone, lacquer thinner and the like were suggested to just force the teak oil deeper into the gelcoat, which I had tried before with no results. Lastly I know a light sanding should remove the surface of gelcoat leaving it white underneath. I spend three and a half hours more on a second day with 600 wet or dry sandpaper being the best solution. And now the entire cockpit looks decent for the first time!
Before (gray around the edges all the way around):
223. While cleaning the cockpit, I noticed two countersunk washers on the front wall of the cockpit were rusty. Steel on a boat (except the engine) is a big no-no. I scrounge around and find two stainless steel washers and replace the steel washers.
224. The ladder to below decks fell off by blowing on it when we got the boat (not really, but was coming undone all of the time knocking it when walking by). I added wedges to lock the bottom in place which worked well, but still couldn't take the healing and waves in the 2018 Chicago Mackinac race and fell off - not fun to put back on in those conditions. I come up with a simple drilled hole through the ladder right down into the fiberglass floor and add a long stainless pin with a light line loop on top to pull out fast if the ladder needs to be removed. It works great!
225. As the professional re-cored the side decks a year ago and repainted the deck in those areas when finished, that leaves about 2/3 of the deck not looking as good. On the worst 1/3 of the remaining white painted areas of the deck, I grind out, fiberglass a few spots, epoxy fill and sand so it is ready for a coat of paint when the weather turns. Maybe next winter I'll go after the remaining 1/3 as there should be much less to work on next year. I really chewed off a lot this winter.
As things are progressing well on List 1 and the weather isn't warming to get to List 2, I grab a few items off List 3 to fill the time until the weather turns warmer:
226. The GPS can accept data from the wind instruments. To do so, a pair of wires have to be strung from the Pod at the steering wheel that holds the wind instrument, to the navigation table belowdecks where the GPS is located. Then the GPS needs to be programmed to accept this data, and will then display on the graphics the boats tacking and gybing angles. As when the wind is lighter you might tack in 115 degrees and heavier in smooth water might tack in 85 degrees the GPS and wind data does the calculation to display the tack line (or gybe lines) based on real numbers.
227. There are five gate valves mounted on the bottom of the boat that drain hoses attach to. They're there to shut off in case there is a failure, such as a drain hose breaks. Not knowing if these have ever been closed, tested, rebuilt or greased, I figure its time to test them all. They needed an adjustment, but the gate valve for the water intake for the engine was missing its handle and could not be shut off - stunned. It is in a really tight area under the floor. I take it out, and find the elbow from the thru-hull to the gate valve is steel. Mating dissimilar metals is never good. Having steel threads in bronze threads causes the two different metals to act like a battery and eats away at the threads eventually leaking. Off to the store to get parts.
I get a ball valve to replace the no-handle gate valve, and a bronze elbow. I literally had to disassemble the ball valve, and re-assemble it piece by piece to get it to fit into the tight space. Once done, the handle has full easy swing, the sea strainer is easier to get at, and while no one sees it, it looks great.
It doesn't look like much for the month, but I started a very large, involved project that I estimate will take 27 hours to complete. More on that next month when it's done.
The next owner is really going to enjoy this boat.
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