Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Trying to Remember....

A male box fish near Black Rock.
We should be spending our vacation time and money working on Oceanus. But Virginia and I decided we need a break. Seems like all we have been doing for the last 14 months is work, work on the boat, work, work on the boat, rinse and repeat. So, we're on Maui -- we flew this time -- for 10 days of scuba diving. We're billing this as a let's-remember-why-we-are-working-so-hard-on-the-boat trip.

Milletseed butterfly fish.
Virginia and I love to dive. I used to dive a lot in the Pacific Northwest, but lately the cold water (48 to 52 degrees) gets to me. Diving in Hawaii is pure bliss. A big part of my motivation for sailing away on the boat, and an even bigger part of Virginia's, is to dive, or at least snorkel, every day in warm, clear water. The reef life is amazingly beautiful and interesting. The experience of weightlessness and total relaxation I experience when I dive is unlike anything else.

Coral-banded shrimp
 So far we have chalked up 12 dives, including a boat trip to Lana'i and an underwater pumpkin-carving contest. (We came, we carved, we got the T-shirt.) We will most likely snorkel tomorrow, since we have to fly home the next day.

Virginia carved a witch to enter in the "Best Use of Stem" category. She didn't win, but we got a T-shirt.
Lest any of you think that all we do is dive when we come to Hawaii, well, you're mostly right. But we do snorkel occasionally on our "rest" days. And this year Virginia won tickets to a luau, which is a story unto itself. The luau was a good one. It had excellent food and the dancing and singing made you feel like you were getting a little Hawaiian culture.

Meantime, back underwater....

Two four-spot butterfly fish at Makena Landing.

A snowflake eel at Makena.

A green turtle at Honolua Bay.

A white mouth moray eel at Black Rock

Mr. and Mrs. Lizardfish hanging out at Black Rock Diner.
Divers in the world-famous Cathedral Number One of Lanai.

Raccoon butterfly fish and a few wrasses make a feast of eggs from a sargent major's nest off of Lanai.

A rainbow butterfly fish off of Makena.

Moorish idol near the Black Rock.

Juvenile longnose butterfly fish near Black Rock.

Hawaiian cleaner wrasse near Black Rock.

A whitemouth morey eel with a three-spot damsel fish.

Two juvenile homosapiens swimming near the Black Rock.
We think this is a Christmas wrasse but it might be a rainbow wrasse off of Black Rock. Or maybe and ornate wrasse. It's tough to tell with most wrasses because the juvenile usually doesn't look like the adult and males often don't look anything like females.

A rock mover wrasse. The juvenile looks so different that it's called a dragon wrasse. Both juvenile and adult are strange-acting creatures. The juvenile can bury itself in the sand faster than you can blink your eye.
Good-bye Hawaii. Next time we see you we will be here on our Oceanus.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

New Cockpit Cushions for Our Columbia 43

New cockpit cushions for Oceanus have five-inch thick firm foam. Note the snaps on the underside of the top cushion.
Virginia finished another big project: new cockpit cushions. Oceanus had some old two-inch thick vinyl cockpit cushions. They were old and showed it. We wanted something thicker, so we could sleep on them (they are 80-inches long on the long side) covered with a fabric that feels better than vinyl.

The foam we chose was five-inch thick firm foam. It's the same foam we used in the bunks. We avoided closed-cell foam, which is about as comfortable as sitting on a rock. We also didn't want the extra-firm foam we used in the settees. It's fine for sitting on, but too firm for sleeping on.

The fabric we bought from our friends at Sailrite. (They've been getting a lot of our business lately.) It's called SeaMark. It comes in the Linen color that matches the color palette of our other fabrics on the boat. It's waterproof but, unlike vinyl, it feels wonderful!

Virginia is especially proud of how the zippers and the zipper cover turned out. The snaps on the bottom are four inches in from the front and are sewed on so you can get your fingers under them to snap the snaps. They should be secure, but easy to put on and take off.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Making a New Dodger for Our Columbia 43

Virginia made a new dodger and awning that zips on to the aft end.
By Virginia

When I was in 8th grade Home Economics class I got a little cocky. We were starting the sewing section and the teacher had everyone sewing pillow. I had sewn a LITTLE and figured I could jump ahead and sew a dress. If I remember right it was orange...heck it was 1968 and I had poor taste...what can I say. The dress had darts and was pretty complicated but I finished it. It had puckered seams and lots of other imperfections. I was proud that I had finished it but I would never wear it.

I kind of feel the same way about the dodger. I have sewn many things since that orange dress, including wedding dresses, but the dodger was a giant leap. Kind of like going from a pillow to a dress.

Our old dodger was a disaster. It was made of vinyl and had shrunk beyond fitting and leaked like a sieve. We had to do something before winter and all of its 90 inches of rain came. I had mentioned to a few people about sewing a dodger hoping for volunteers but I got empty stares. My sister laughed and me and told me I was a "good woman." I took that as a no. There is very little on You Tube or the internet to help with a dodger so I turned to Sailrite. I ordered the two DVD set Make Your Own Dodger and went to work. I really had no comprehension what I was doing. I couldn't have done it without it! I found my new best sewing buddy on the DVD named Deb. She led me through everything I needed to do. I would watch each section three or four times and then sew. Sailrite needs to give her a raise!

When patterning your dodger mark EVERYTHING!  Every screw, bar, handles,  intersecting bars, flies, birds. Seriously, the more things the better.
We patterned the dodger just like the DVD said except we chose a day that we were both sick. First mistake. By the time we got to the critical part, the front, we were shot. I couldn't think straight and so decided that I would use the old dodger front as a pattern since that wasn't shrunk. Second mistake.
Cutting out the dodger pieces and pattern took the entire living room floor! Most of the pieces I cut out using the hot knife. I should have used it on ALL pieces because I ended up melting a couple of frayed seams after the fact.

I found that the double-stick bias tape was a life saver in keeping seams together. I used a marine grade sunbrella that was very stiff and when the bias tape didn't keep pieces together I used binder clips.

We took the dodger back to the boat three different times to fit. The first time I discovered that I hadn't accounted for the handle bars and the zippers were way too long. I left the side flaps long and unfinished until the second fitting
When I patterned the dodger I think it would have been better to leave this front facing bigger and straight across. Then I could have taken it to the boat and drawn where lines and bars go through. When I sewed it I had no idea what the cut outs in the old dodger were for so I ended up with a couple of strange cut outs! But the front piece was one of the first pieces you sew and I think it was the hardest so I am not sure this would work
I am happy with the zipper and zipper flap I sewed on for the awning! If will also be where the enclosure zips to the dodger.
I still have the zippers too long but they will have to do for now.  The rains are here.
Too many puckers but it is done.

I think Oceanus is proud of her dodger.....but she doesn't want to wear it!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Chainplates, mast boots: making Oceanus water tight

My tarted-up hanging knee with polished and re-installed chainplate.
A couple of weeks ago I pulled the chainplates on Oceanus intending to replace them. I didn't know how old they were and, since they were stainless steel, I worried about crevice corrosion where they went through the deck.

After I cleaned them up, they looked to be in good shape. I polished them and showed them to a boat builder friend and then to a sailboat owner in the marina who owns a metal fabrication business. Both of them declared them to be in good shape and recommended reusing them. "They will last as long as you want to sail the boat," the metal shop owner said. That was good enough for me.

Before I re-installed them, I painted the hanging knees they bolt to and made some other enhancements.
I epoxied on three fragments of a study cast
 by Nora Hall.

In the original interior arrangement, the knees and chain plates were inside some cabinetry and consequently were pretty rough looking. Now the port hanging knee is out in full view above our bunk. I cut away some unnecessary sections of the hanging knee making it look a little more graceful and so it would not interfere with the bunk's occupants. I also thought it would be nice to make it thicker and rounder so it wouldn't hurt so bad when we smacked into it.

To that end, I epoxied a study cast I had from my carving teacher, the late Nora Hall. The cast had already broken in one place and I cut it in another to make it fit the curve better. I filled between the breaks with thickened epoxy. Once it was painted, I liked the way it looked. It provided some visual interest as well as softening the sharp edges for safety. It also reminds me of a great teacher and beloved friend.

All I did on the starboard chainplate was clean and paint it, since it will be inside another cabinet.

While the chainplates were out, I filled the holes where they went through the deck with epoxy to seal the deck core around them. I then cut away most of the epoxy so I could replace the chainplates, but the wood remained sealed and any voids in that area of the deck filled.
The blocks on the knee and the bulkhead
 are for shelves to be added later.

I used bytal tape to seal the chainplates where they came through the deck.

Oceanus leaked (notice the hopeful use of past tense here) where the mast came through the deck. I needed to seal her up before the rains start again. I considered several fixes to this age-old problem, including one system that cost more than $100.

Just in the nick of time, a sailing blog that I read, The Commuter Cruiser, had an article on using a wax toilet seal to waterproof around the mast. Having replaced a few toilets in my time, I thought, This. Could. Work!  (Cue the Young Frankenstein music here.) The wax seal cost about $2 -- way better than my other options.

I ran the wax seal treatment past several of my sailboating buddies. They all thought it should work, but expressed concern that it would melt in hot climates, like the Sea of Cortez, where I hope to be about this time next year. Jan and David of S.V. Winterlude haven't had any problem for the five years the toilet wax seal has kept their boat dry and they cruise in the western Caribbean, where I hear it also gets pretty hot.

One old salt, who sailed to most of the places I want to visit, said he keeps a couple of toilet wax seals in his kit to seal leaks in an emergency. "You just wad it up into a big ball and shove it in the hole," he said. Not a bad idea.
The tools, the old caulking and the blood. When I'm through rebuilding her, Oceanus will have enough of my blood to be a relation.
The worst part of the job was digging out the old caulking around the mast. It was really tough stuff. I think it was some kind of polysulfide caulk. I tried a couple of things to dig it out, but a sharp eighth-inch chisel seemed about the only thing that worked.

I used a flat screwdriver and a half-inch chisel to pull it away from the sides of the mast and the metal ring around the mast. Then I used my Thor hammer to drive the eighth-inch chisel in and pry it out. It was so hard and rubbery that when I got a little bit free I would grab it with my right hand and pull on it while working the chisel under it. I was breaking my cardinal rule about working with knives, chisels and other sharp tools: always keep all body parts behind the sharp edge -- but it was the only thing that was working.

After a short break to get a band aid and stop the bleeding, I carried on until I had the old caulking removed to about an inch deep. I suspect there is at least another inch or more lurking down there, but I think I removed enough to allow the wax to do its job.

The hole for a compression rod.
It was kind of fun to use a putty knife and fill in the void. I made a nice little slope so the water would run off. Then I used some Emergency Tape to cover it so it wouldn't get dirty and also to protect the crew from the sticky goo.

I also used the wax to fill a hole in the casting where the compression rod will go when I reinstall it. The old caulking I pulled out from the hole had signs of water intrusion. I think that was a major source of the leaks.

I also cleaned out old caulking from the screw heads that hold the aluminium casting in place and used Liquid Boatlife Caulk to seal them. I used the same stuff around the edge of the casting, but I think it was a little too thin. I may have to redo that part of the job.
Bol-Wax; don't fail me.
I'll let you know how it works. I have a feeling I won't have to wait long before it gets a good test.