Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas

My wife and I love Christmas lights. Since you can see our boat from the Yaquina Bay Bridge and a local restaurant, we felt it was our obligation to decorate Oceanus with lights. The superwide lens and the panorama feature makes the boat look fat.
Merry Christmas my faithful blog readers! I hope both of you have a very merry one.

I promise a full report of my activities soon. I've been working on access hatches in the sole of the boat and installing a bathtub. Yes, you eyes did not deceive you, Oceanus will have a soaking tub that will be super insulated. I know it sounds kinda impractical, but the more I think about it the more I like it. It will have other uses as well, like washing clothes. More on this later.

Virginia's and my Christmas gift is a new, stainless steel bimini frame. It's installed and Dean did a super job. More on this later too.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Destiny: a Unique Columbia 43 With a Rich History

Destiny, a 1971 Columbia 43, is a well-traveled boat.
Destiny, a 1971 Columbia 43, was the live-aboard home for Gerry Waterson for more than a decade. He cruised her to Maine, Nova Scotia, England, the Jersey Isles, Canary Islands, Azores, Windward and Leeward Islands, Pueto Rico, Dominican Republic, Virgin Islands, Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, Bermuda, Florida and the Chesapeake Bay.

He and his wife bought the boat when he was 31 and she was 29 after seeing her at the Annapolis Boat Show. "I fell in love with her lines immediately," Gerry said. "I could see she would be a great cruising boat."

He asked Columbia to build his boat with a shallow-draft keel. "I may have been the first to use the smaller keel," he said. "I told Columbia that I wanted a five-foot one instead of the seven-foot one or the centerboard model. I knew reef avoidance was a major consideration where I would be traveling. I drew a diagram of a keel roughly based on the Star class boats with a large streamlined  bubble at the bottom and Columbia made it. I'm not sure if they offered it to others; they said they might. If so, I was the first to have one. If any readers had that keel configuration, I'd like to know."

Gerry said he used to race informally against a Columbia 43 with the deep-draft keel and didn't notice any difference in performance.

Gerry paid around $30,000 for his new boat back in 1971 with Atomic 4 gas engine and special-made five-foot keel. If you run that through the Inflation Calculator it comes out to be about $173,000. The cost of a new Corvette was about $5,000 in 1971.
Destiny is docked behind Gerry's home.
That was just the beginning of the changes Gerry made to Destiny. After taking possession in August 1971, he replaced the gasoline engine with a Westerbeke diesel, replaced the alcohol stove/oven with a stainless steel propane one, added mast steps, replaced the fuel and water tanks with bladder types and added some more in other compartments of the vessel and added a wind-vane style self steering mechanism.

After getting the boat, Gerry and his wife spent every weekend and vacations on the boat, including during cold weather. They were living in Philadelphia at the time where he was Director of Computing at Rutgers University and she was a physical therapist. They moved aboard full time in 1976 and continued to work on outfitting the boat.

"Our last winter before we left I added a small firebox that burned pea coal and that provided more than enough heat on a freezing night," he said. "We lived and worked in the Philadelphia area while refitting Destiny into a shorthanded vessel, adding self tailing winches, a substantial anchor davit and windlass [to handle the] all chain rode, fanny supports around the mast to facilitate sail changes and life raft support on the cabin top that made for an easy toss into the ocean if need be."

He also added a boom crutch, which served as the front support for an awning that covered the entire cockpit. One last addition was a club jib, "which was great for sailing in high wind conditions since it was not way up at the bow and it was a small sail that could even be furled into a smaller area."

In 1977, before he started cruising full time, Gary gathered some friends to sail from Cape May, New Jersey to Bermuda.

"We didn't have weather forecasting like there is today, but did check as best I could. It's around 600 miles and I thought I could make it in around five days or so," Gerry recalled. "Hurricane force winds developed and we were in a terrible blow. We used double reefed main, reefed club jib and dragged a sea anchor for stability. All of sudden the furling genoa unfurled and the boat went over on the side with the mast touching the water. Then the genoa caught wind on the other side and went to the other side touching water on other side. Before we could all say our last prayers, the genoa ripped to shreds and we were saved. We limped along as the storm abated and tried to determine where we were using sextant (no GPSs in those days) but I couldn't get a great position. We saw very large U.S. Navy ship in distance."

The ship was the cruiser USS Columbus. It came towards Destiny, probably because they saw the shredded sail on the forestay.

"It looked enormous alongside Destiny and we had to speak via megaphone since our radio was out of commission," Gerry continued. "I asked for our position and a bearing to Bermuda."

After sailing for a few days it became clear that either the Navy gave Gerry wrong coordinates or he misheard because the sextant readings didn't jibe with where the Navy said they were. Eventually he got the readings to work out and Destiny limped into Bermuda. "She was a mess with vomit, paper mush and broken items all over."

Gerry said he loved the club jib and never used a roller furling sail again after that experience.
This bow photo showes several modifications Gerry made to his boat, including the bow roller for the anchor.

The harrowing trip to Bermuda didn't dissuade Gerry from his dream of cruising full time. In 1978 he and his wife chucked their jobs and cut the dock lines. He cruised with her for two years. They divorced in 1980.
"She was very excited to do what we did," Gerry said, "but she really did want the white picket fence. I continued my cruising  and then I remarried in 1986."

Next came a house, then a job, then a business. The house required a cedar shingle roof, new bathrooms, new windows, new patios.... "The intervening years went by fast but each year I look out at my dream and shed a silent tear as to what was and what could be," Gerry said.

The other priorities lead to Destiny being ignored. Water damage from deck leaks, a failed hose and defective bilge pump left her with a long to-do list. But Gerry is committed to bringing her back.

"Your work has inspired me to bring Destiny back to life," Gerry said. "It might take me five or 10 years but I've already started the planning. I am fortunate to live near Annapolis, Md., so there are local places to buy all sorts of exotic woods, maybe rebuild the Westerbeke 40 and get some stanchions replaced. I'm 73 so I'll have to work fast."

Monday, December 9, 2013

Boat Work Suspended for Something More Important

Peter Ford on Day Nine, the day you could really tell someone is home.
Virginia and I didn't work on our boat this weekend. There were one hundred things, I'm sure we could have done to move the project along, but we didn't. Instead we drove five hours one way on snowy roads (really rare for the Oregon coast) to see our new grandchild, Peter.

It was worth it. I hardly gave a thought to Oceanus I was so enraptured with this little guy. We were there for days seven, eight and nine of his life. Each day brought new accomplishments. This morning he was looking around and you could really tell the lights are on inside that little fuzzy head.
Grandma and big brother Corban.

Check the hair.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Giving thanks for a son-in-law who's an electrician

Son-in-law Tony strips insulation from some wire in the engine room.
I was super thankful for our son-in-law Tony this Thanksgiving. After feeding him prime rib on Thursday we spent two days doing more (yes, I said more) wiring on the boat. We (and when I say we, I mean Tony wiring, me wringing my hands and trying not to get in the way) wired a couple more lights and three pumps -- the bilge pump, the shower sump pump and the pressure water pump.

The shower sump came with the boat and was really nasty-looking. So while the prime rib was cooking on Thanksgiving I spent more than an hour cleaning up the sump and the 500 gph pump inside. I did most of the cleaning with dish-washing detergent and really hot water, but I had to resort to some 409 cleaner on some ancient, black soap scum. At least I hope it was soap scum. Did I mention that it was really nasty? I got the pump looking almost new.

As you can tell from his sweatshirt, Tony is a proud member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. Not many yachts, even the really expensive ones, are wired by union electricians. At the bottom of the photo you can see the new pressure water pump.
The next day when we got to the boat we tested the pump and the float switch. Neither of them worked, so we went to Englund Marine, the local marine supply, and replaced them both. The bottom line is that all three pumps are band new. Even if the old pump worked, I'm glad we replaced it.

Tony spent some time making the back of the electrical panel look good. He also installed two new LED lights in the engine room, but didn't have time to connect the wires. Looks like I'll have to wait for the next visit.
Granddaughter Lydia visited her hard-working dad and brought lunch.

"So, what percentage of the wiring is finished," I asked. "Eighty percent?"

"More like 65 percent," he said. Then he started to tick off all of the stuff yet to do: battery bank, charger, inverter, regulator, solar panels..." The list went on long enough for my eyes to glaze over. And I don't even think he mentioned all the electronics we need to install.

Speaking of big boat projects, the installation of the pressure water pump is the first step in plumbing the boat. Well, maybe not the first step: Jason, the previous owner, built in two new 50-gallon water tanks and just before the party I installed the galley sink and faucet. Hooking everything together is what gives me heartburn. Plumbing and I have a long and ugly history.

The thing I have working in my favor is that I've somehow convinced my otherwise intelligent wife that plumbing the boat would be a fun project to do together. "It sounds like doing a puzzle," she said, "I like puzzles."

Fun. Puzzles. I can hardly wait.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Columbia 43 article in Sailing magazine

Here's a post that I wrote months ago. I don't know why I never posted it. Keith, a neighbor on A Dock, gave me a copy of the Sailing magazine issue the article is in. I love it.

There was a nice article in Sailing magazine about the Columbia 43. Here's the link:

Here's the comment I wrote about the article:
Thanks, Mr. Liscio, for an excellent article. I purchased a 1971 Columbia 43 in July and I'm continuing a big remodel and refit that the previous owner started. Almost nothing inside the boat is original. The previous owner stripped out everything, including the hull liner the bulkheads! The engine, a Perkins 4-107, which I understand was original to the boat, is newly rebuilt. All new bulkheads and furniture are installed and painted. There's still a lot to do, but the new interior design is perfect for a cruising couple.

I hope to have her in sailing condition by next summer. The comments from current and past owners of the 43 on the sailing characteristics got me very excited. Once she is ready, my wife and I plan to sail our Columbia 43 to Mexico and Polynesia before returning to the Northwest.

I noticed a couple of facts that didn't jibe with what I've read about the boat:
* You say "The MkIII version of the Columbia 43 had its hull lengthened by six inches, a taller mast for more power and a lead-ballasted keel instead of iron" The mast and the keel part are right (the mast is six feet taller on a Mk III), but I think the hull stayed the same length.
* You said gas engines were standard. I think the standard engine was a Perkins 4-107, but some racing enthusiasts pulled the Perkins and put in an Atomic 4 to make the boat lighter.
* Tanks: you said it was 45 gallons of fuel and 35 gallons of water. In my owners manual it says it was 50 gallons of each. (My boat has new water and diesel tanks, 100 for water, 110 for diesel.)

The important thing is that you captured the essence of this wonderful boat. Tripp was a master and created some of the most beautiful boats of the CCA era.

I blog about my boat at: http://hagothlog.blogspot.com/

Thanks again for the good article,
Brandon Ford
SV Oceanus, Newport, Ore.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Wrapping up old projects, starting new ones on Oceanus

The ceiling in the forepeak got two full-strength coats of varnish along with the rest of the interior brightwork.

Yesterday we took a big step and ordered frames for a bimini for Oceanus. Dean, our local canvas guy, came by the boat and spent an hour discussing the pros and cons of bimini design. Before we met him a few weeks ago I considered trying to bend the frames myself, but I'm glad he's doing it; there's a lot to the design and getting everything to fit and look right. If he has all the parts he might install it this week. If not, he'll get it done after Thanksgiving.

Eventually, I want to do is install solar panels on top of the bimini. Its a good place because most of the time it is out of the shade of the mast and sails. Dean assured me that the dodger frame will be strong enough to support two or three solar panels.

Virginia is eager to start sewing the bimini. She likes big projects. She already received the fabric from Sailrite and the how-to video on bimini construction. The bimini will be simpler than the dodger she made.

Speaking of solar panels, our daughter and son-in-law will be here for Thanksgiving followed by a couple of days spent wiring the boat. Tony, a marine electrician, is a great help with this project.

Before the final varnishing, I installed the bookshelf above our double bunk. The fiddle for the shelf is ripped from the same board as most of the ceiling strips.

Last week and the week before we spent doing final varnishing on all the interior wood. It really looks nice. It has a deep shine that seems to open up the inside of the boat and make it feel bigger.

Virginia was pleased with the way it turned out. She was excited by what a big difference it made in the appearance of the boat. She had complained that all the hard work we did this summer stripping old paint off the deck didn't seem to make a difference. That represented much harder labor, but did nothing to make the boat look better. A shipwright friend of mine says that's the way with boat projects: you work and work and it seems like you don't make any progress at all. Then, all of a sudden, it seems to come together.

I also spent some time with Henry, a diesel mechanic that has a boat on B Dock. He helped me design a fuel system for Oceanus and offered to rebuild the engine's raw water pump that's leaking.

Speaking of leaking, (do you like my stream-of-consciousness transitions?) I think we can declare, if not total victory, a cease fire in the war on deck leaks. We recently had 10 days of rain and the boat's interior stayed dry, dry, dry! The toilet wax seal trick is working perfectly on the mast and so are the rebedded chainplates. In the chain locker we stanched the flow of water when I filled the holes for the old bow roller with epoxy. I then I installed a new bow roller with lots of butyl rubber bedding. So far so good.

The new (old) bow roller looks pretty good after four hours of polishing. It is now installed on the bow of Oceanus.

Virginia sewed a beautiful cover for the ship's helm. It covers the wheel, compass and the teak cockpit table that I installed. The table was a find at Columbia Marine Exchange, a Portland reseller of used marine equipment. It's beautiful and cost about what I would have to spend to buy the lumber and hardware to build one. Score!
Virginia made a new cover for the helm out of the same fabric as the dodger.

Well, that's the news from Oceanus, where all the crew is strong, the boat is good looking and all the workmanship is above average.

The ceiling and woodwork in the stateroom got two coats of varnish.

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!