Tuesday, January 20, 2015

2014's accomplishments for the Oceanus crew

Hauling out Oceanus was only one of a list of accomplishments in 2014.
2014 was a seminal year for Virginia and me. We made several major steps toward our goal of cruising full time. Last year left us exhausted, but elated. Here's a list to buoy us up and to inform our readers.

Sold our house

Our house was a very very very fine house. We don't miss it.
Leaving the house we lived in for 11 years and getting rid of a lifetime of stuff was the hardest thing we did last year. Maybe in the last 10 years. We were pretty excited when we got a near full-price offer less than a week after we put it on the market in early summer. The excitement faded quickly when the buyer's agent fired off the first of nine adversarial revisions to the offer. The deal almost collapsed several times until finally closing more than four months after we put the house on the market.

Even though we loved our 1400-square-foot house, it was clearly too big. "The only thing I miss is my bathtub and washer and dryer," Virginia said.

Getting rid of our stuff

We are not hoarders by anyone's definition. But still we accumulated a small mountain of stuff. Paring it down to what fits in our Columbia 43 was just plain hard work. We sold tools, wood and excess boat stuff on Craig's List and on Ebay. Our kids rented a large truck and hauled away tables, chairs, beds, pots and pans.

With each trip to the dump or truckload of donations to the thrift store we felt lighter and more free. In the months since we haven't missed any of it.

Hauling out

Sanding down to the original gelcoat.
I hoped the haulout would take only two weeks. Boy, was I naive! It took almost seven. But the haulout was worth the effort, we:
  • sandblasted the bottom and the keel taking off about six layers of old bottom paint;
  • sanded, faired with epoxy the keel and bottom;
  • painted three coats of epoxy barrier coats on the bottom and keel;
  • painted two coats of Trinidad hard bottom paint;
  • removed four through hulls and repaired the hull with epoxy and lots of fiberglass;
  • installed three new through hulls;
  • replaced two old through hulls;
  • unstepped the mast and rewired it as well as taking apart all the rigging and inspecting it;
  • removed an old transducer and replaced with a new one;
  • removed rust and painted the mast step;
  • made rigging improvements to the mast;
  • sealed deck with epoxy around mast partners;
  • removed and replaced the cutlass bearing;
  • more than doubled the capacity of the cockpit drains
  • and the most noticeable improvement -- we spent days and days sanding fairing and sanding some more before having the topsides professionally painted with the AwlCraft 2000.
It was the most physically demanding work we've done in a long time. We literally worked our butts off: we lost weight even eating almost exclusively fast foot for the entire haulout. We called it the boatyard workout. And it was every day, all day for both of us.

Toward the end of the haulout it was tough to haul our tired selves out of bed. "This is like the movie Groundhog Day," Virginia complained, "the same hell every day. Sanding and fairing and sanding some more."

It was dangerous too. Oceanus's deck was 12 feet off the ground and we made dozens of trips up and down the ladder each day. We also worked on scaffolding and with power tools. To make things even more scary we had no health insurance because we both ...

Quit our jobs

It was hard leaving a job I enjoyed and which provided a regular paycheck. It felt like stepping off into the abyss. I miss many things about the job, especially seeing my many friends.

Virginia resigned as a full-time nurse, but still works per-diem at the hospital, picking up about three 12-hour shifts a month. She is something of a minor celebrity when she returns. Her co-workers introduce her to patients as the nurse who lives on a sailboat and is about to sail away.

Oceanus leaves the dock under her own power

Oceanus heads down the river after her haulout. For 12 years she didn't leave her slip.
For most boats this wouldn't be a big deal, but Oceanus hadn't left her slip, except with the help of a tugboat, for more than 12 years. When a previous owner trucked her to Oregon from California he launched her at the Toledo Boatyard and found the engine didn't work. So he hired a tug to tow her down the river to Newport where she stayed in her slip for 12 years.

One of the things Jason, the owner we bought her from, did was rebuild her Perkins 4-108. But several engine issues remained when we bought her, including a leaking raw water pump and a prop that was the wrong size. Jason helped me replace the water pump and, after two trips to Astoria and three attempts by a professional diver, we installed the proper propeller.

Selling Ravn

I sold my beloved faering in 2014.
I suppose I should have included this in our second section, but Ravn deserves special mention. I wanted to build a faering for more than a decade and in 2010 finally finished a 19-foot version designed by Atkin. Before our lives changed, it was to be my last boat. I even joked that my family could use it to give me a Viking funeral when I died.

I loved that boat and poured three years of hard work and the finest wood I could find into building her. She was and is a head turner and won the People's Choice Award at the 2011 Toledo Wooden Boat Show. So selling her was a big deal to me. Luckily I found great new owners for her in Paul and Maryann. It helps that they are good friends and love the boat almost as much as me.

Finishing the head

Virginia gives a final coat of paint to the head.
The most unfinished space in the boat when we purchased her was the head. It was wonderful to build it just the way we wanted it, but it was a lot of work too. It turned out great with an AirHead composting head and a real bathtub.

Bimini and two enclosures

Virginia used the first enclosure, made from Sunbrella View, as a pattern for one made from clear vinyl. 
Virginia's skillfulness and ingenuity never ceases to amaze me. With the help of a local canvas guy, she designed and then he fabricated a stainless steel tubing frame for the bimini. Then she sewed the canvas for it, including a small window so you can see the masthead fly from the helm.

During the haulout (while the boat was in the paint tent and out of the wind) she patterned an enclosure. Once the boat was back in the slip, she sewed a warm-weather enclosure out of Sunbrella View fabric. Then she used that as a final pattern to sew an enclosure with clear vinyl windows for rainy, cold Northwest winters. Since we moved aboard, we are thankful for it every day for the enclosure.

Cabin sole

Varnished teak on the saloon sole gives way to paint with non-skid beads in the rest of the boat.
The plywood cabin sole of the boat was strong, but ugly. We considered several options, but in the end we replaced the ugly plywood in the main saloon with beautiful marine-grade teak plywood and varnished it. In the rest of the boat we cut access hatches to every section of the bilge, then faired, sanded and Virginia painted it. It looks good and is easy to care for.

Painted deck and non-skid

Virginia primes the deck for the first coat of non-skid.
Another huge project Virginia did almost singlehanded was stripping the old paint from the decks of Oceanus and repainting. The decks were repainted several times over the years filling the weave of the original non-skid pattern and making it unsafe. The decks also just looked ugly!

Virginia spent countless hours on her knees using Citrus Strip and a wire brush to prep the decks for painting. Then she did most the painting herself. I only helped with the tipping of the polyurethane paint in the water channels that border the non-skid sections.

Other projects

Oceanus never had curtains until Virginia sewed them using Sunbrella and a track from Sailrite.
We finished several other projects including more wiring, a real AC panel, plumbing projects, a 600-amp house battery bank and a 60-amp Sterling smart charger for the house battery bank and engine battery. I also rebuilt three more hatches and installed a freezer. Virginia sewed curtains for the main cabin. I will highlight several other projects in future posts.

Oceanus received notice in the media being featured in Three Sheets Northwest and named an honorary Columbia 50.

Adjusting our plans

As the haulout stretched into late October it became painfully clear to us that we were not going to sail south in 2014. The weather window slammed shut just days after we relaunched the boat. We also have several projects that need finishing before Oceanus is ready for blue water.

While we really wanted to celebrate last Christmas in the Sea of Cortez, moving our departure date forward has its advantages. One is that we will be around when our eighth grandchild is born in early May.

Another is the relief we felt when the deadline pressure was off. We now will have time to sail north and do our shakedown cruise in the familiar waters of San Juan Islands and Puget Sound. We will then sail south and take our time exploring the Channel Islands and other places in California before going to Mexico in the late fall.