Saturday, March 16, 2013

Co-conspirators in The Escape

Without a doubt the most fun part of rebuilding Oceanus is working with my wife. She is smart and hard working with skills that complement my own. She is constantly coming up with ideas that will make the boat more livable and beautiful  -- and then helping me bring them to life.

Jobs that I hate, or I'm not good at, she tackles with aplomb. It was such a relief to be able to turn over all of the painting to her. She is fast and good at it. She kept me racing along with the filling, sanding and other prep work so she would have things to paint during our weekends together working on the boat.

Popping plugs: The Plug Queen at work. More than 800 plugs so far and counting.
When I grumbled about all the screw holes that needed to be plugged after installing the ceiling, she volunteered to do it. She soon became the Plug Queen, spending hours gluing more than 800 (so far) plugs in place. Then, she learned to use a chisel to pare the plugs off flush. Now, she claims to love plugging screw holes. Another tedious job I don't have to worry about.

All 78 pounds of Virginia's new sewing machine.
A huge job she shouldered is the many sewing projects on the boat. Since the boat has an entirely new layout, it will need all new cushions. She picked out fabric (Sumbrella) and foam to make the new cushions and bought a heavy-duty sewing machine to sew them.

She is experienced with sewing, having made many of her own clothes over the years and even sewing covers for our other sailboats. But sewing a new dodger, bimini, cockpit enclosure and other boat-canvas projects will stretch her abilities. She is also learning to do sail repair and even make new sails.

She also thinks of ways to incorporate our favorite things into the boat to make it ours. For instance, she pasted old park passes, Fast Passes and other memorabilia from trips with our kids and grandkids to Disneyland onto the insulation before we covered it up with the ceiling. We won't (I hope) ever see it again, but it's fun just knowing they are there. We did the same kind of thing by incorporating an old paperweight of mine into the wood trim.

Mementos soon to be buried behind the ceiling. 
More than anything, Virginia is my inspiration on this project. Whenever the thought creeps into my mind to take a shortcut in the work I'm doing I think, "No. I want this to be the best work I can do because it will be Virginia's home." I would hate myself if, for instance, I failed to round over a sharp edge and she banged into it and hurt herself.

While she has always been supportive of my sailing obsession -- including three years when I disappeared into the garage to build a faering -- this time is different. This time she is fully engaged. She usually works with me two days a week on the boat. When I work alone, she always asks for a full report on "our escape-pod project." She spends hours watching how-to videos on making all the canvas work needed for our sailboat and carefully selecting fabric and just the right fasteners.

The result is that we are closer and more in tune as a couple than ever before in our 37 years of marriage. Working together on the boat and planning for our New Life is about the most fun we've had with our clothes on. I tell people that we are doing this project because I can't stand to be more than 40 feet away from my wife. And that's no joke.

Now, if I could just talk her into doing the plumbing....

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Columbia 43 Mark IV; the new interior layout

My drawing of Oceanus's new interior.
One of the reasons I was eager to buy Oceanus was the interior layout. The original Columbia 43s had a traditional layout well suited for an ocean racer. But for a cruising couple it was less than ideal.

Jason, the previous owner, took a sawsall to the old interior and then expertly fiberglassed new bulkheads in place and built new furniture. The result feels more spacious with a head large enough for a separate shower, a larger galley and a real double bunk in nearly the center of the boat. Of all the boats we looked at, this was the best interior layout by far.

The top bunk in the forepeak can serve as a sit-down desk or a standing workbench.
In place of a V-berth in the forepeak, is an over-under pair of berths. The top one works well as a sitting desk at the foot end and a standing workbench at the head end.

The hanging locker and a nice place to sit.
The double bunk is used for tool and lumber storage at the moment.
Aft of the forepeak is the stateroom with a double bunk that is just a few inches narrower at the head than a queen-sized bed and just as long. There is lots of storage space and a nice place to sit.

Aft of the stateroom is the large U-shaped galley and a head that's nearly twice as big as the old one. Nice improvements for full-time, live-aboard cruising couple.

Aft of the head and galley, and stepping up, is the saloon with two large settees facing each other.The saloon is under the gun-turret cabin top (sometimes referred to as a "bubble top") so even though you step up, headroom remains about 6'5" as in the rest of the boat. The raised saloon accomplishes a couple of things: it allows space for two 50-gallon water tanks (doubling the original water capacity), allows you to look out the windows, and it means one step less up to, or down from, the cockpit.

The head. Also used for storage for now.
The galley, which is my main work area for now.
Jason stretched the main saloon by moving the aft bulkhead a few inches underneath the cockpit. This allows the starboard settee a length of 78 inches so it makes into a full-length berth. With a lee cloth it will make an excellent sea berth. Moving the bulkhead aft also strengthens the cockpit and better supports the cockpit floor.

Furniture on the aft bulkhead is removable providing excellent engine access.
All of Jason's work served to strengthen and stiffen Oceanus. The old dropped-in interior did not add much stiffness to the hull. I hefted a chunk of fiberglass cut from the original interior and it seemed much heavier than the equivalent sized piece of plywood that replaced it. I'm not saying the new interior is lighter in weight, but my guess is that it weighs the same or less. And it is stronger and stiffer as well.

Changing the interior was a huge undertaking. I can't imagine all the work and planning that went into it. If it was me would I undertake it? Maybe... if I was younger.

Monday, March 4, 2013

I can finally stop watching "Revenge"

I think this is the boat from the first season, a Hinkley 47. See earlier post for details.
My wife and I can finally stop watching "Revenge," the ABC drama that features a Columbia 43, because they blew up and sank the boat.

We kinda enjoyed the first season of the show. The writing was pretty good and it had an interesting setting. But the second season got sillier and sillier. The latest episode 14, "Sacrifice," which we watched on Hulu, may be the silliest of all, especially if you know anything about boats. This recap captures the flavor of the episode. But the episode also had some great shots of Blue Norther, the Columbia 43 that plays the role of the sailboat Amanda.

In the dramatic conclusion, there is a shootout aboard the boat and a propane tank is hit, filling the boat with gas and the bad guy blows up the boat. It then burns and sinks. All pretty crazy and far fetched.

My question is: how did they do it without hurting the boat? It's pretty clear to me that the underwater shots of the sunken boat are not a Columbia 43. It looks much smaller. Did they have a set made of the interior of the boat? Was it all special effects? I hope the boat is OK. If anyone knows, please let me know in the comments.

Blue Norther is hull number 11 of the Columbia 43s. This picture was featured on the cover of one of the company's brochures for the Columbia 43. Blue Norther sails out of Marina del Rey, Calif.