Sunday, June 27, 2010

June 27, 2010.

The World Cup is over for the Americans. It bummed me out a bit but they lost to a good team that played a great game. The Americans didn’t capitalize on a few chances and made a few uncharacteristic mistakes and at this level you can’t get away with that. The French embarrassed themselves on a world stage and Italy found out that reputation doesn’t mean much against youthful legs.

Other than that the big news here is the friggin’ heat. And it’s not one of those “105° but dry days” like they talk about in Arizona. We were over 100 degrees twice this week. The humidity was such that not only could you see the air, you had to lean forward to push through it as you walked along. Test the bilge pump? No problem, just send Bill down below deck to work for thirty minutes and if the pump works it’ll kick on because I sweat like a pig.

I was driving along the other day and realized that I had never opened the window. I just hopped into the closed up, broiling truck and took off down the road and it didn’t occur to me that I was getting really, really hot until I was almost at my destination. Crap it’s hot.

Christy’s new glasses came in and she’s all psyched because she can see again. We’re both pretty happy about this years eyeglass buying experience. It was nothing like the 800 mile, 2 month long Lenscrafters debacle from a few years ago.

We’ve also started the hard dodger and bimini for the boat. Our existing canvas dodger is close to 15 years old. Since we’re north for the summer and down in the islands for the winter, we’re always under the broiling sun and it has really taken a toll on the bimini. The Sunbrella canvas has degraded to the point that it feels as if I could poke my finger through it with minimal effort. Some of the stitching has started to fall apart as well. I don’t think the material would survive another season or an attempt at restitching. So, its time for some new protection for the cockpit.

There are a few options available to us. We have friends that have bought the material and remade their entire enclosures with fantastic results. We could try that but my sewing skills are rated as “survival” at best. We could pay a canvas shop to come down and redo everything but there are 2 problems with that. First off, its expensive, I wouldn’t be surprised if it were in the $5000 dollar range. Secondly, for some reason, canvas shops seem to be unreliable as hell. It’s not just us, several cruisers we know have also had dealings with several different canvas shops up and down the eastern seaboard and nobody has a good story to tell. You’ve got a better chance of getting the Pope to a Bar Mitzvah than you do of having a canvas guy performing as promised.

So we’ve opted to build and install a hard dodger and bimini. This will also enable me to bring the solar panels forward from the radar arch and mount them on the bimini. The first thing we did was to buy some material to make a level surface to work on. Then I made a template of the cockpit coaming and then copied it onto half inch plywood. On top of this we started building the dodger. Its roughed out and after I cover the outside with fiberglass we’ll remove the braces and blocks from inside and apply some glass inside as well. After its all one fiberglass encrusted piece we’ll cut the openings and add the windows. I’ve got a plan, I’ve made drawings and we’ve begun. We’ll just have to see how it all shakes out.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

June 16, 2010.

Okay, where to begin. Let’s start with soccer. The Germans have arrived in South Africa, everybody else grab your cleats and head home. Thanks to ESPN3 I’ve been able to watch a few of the recent World Cup games on the computer. The Brazilians were entertaining, even against defensive minded North Korea. It just gets a little old watching the boys from Brazil throw themselves to the ground every time they get bumped. The Italians are past their prime and everybody else seems to be playing ultra conservatively, even in “must win” games. The Germans just looked like a freaking machine. 4 goals against Australia and it could have easily been 7.

Christy is still doing the scrape, sand and then varnish thing while I’m attempting not to make a complete idiot out of myself while working on other peoples boats. I removed an injector pump the other day and sent it out to be rebuilt. Today I picked it up and reinstalled it. Then I set about attempting to bleed the air from the fuel system so I could restart the engine. That’s where the wheels fell off…..

I installed the pump and everything was tight as it should be. Try as I might, the engine would not fire up. I got air outta everywhere fairly easily and every time I checked and rechecked there was nothing but pure fuel oozing out of every spot I chose to bleed. What the hell?

Finally, after a couple of hours wracking my brain, sweating my ass off and going over everything again and again I realized that the engine shut off solenoid was in the “kill” position. It seems that when the owner brought the boat into the slip the solenoid froze when he shut the engine down. So I come skipping along and take the fuel system apart. Then a few days later I wander back in and after putting everything back together the boat doesn’t start. So its gotta be something I did, right? Wrong. The system designed to shut the engine down is still physically engaged in the “off” position. The plunger was freaking stuck. Should I have noticed it sooner? Absolutely. But I was sure it had to be something that I wasn’t doing right and just didn’t see it until I stepped back to look at the bigger picture. F%#k me.

Of course the owners were on board and the captain had been hovering over me like my own personal dark cloud of annoying suggestions. So when I manually put the solenoid in the correct position the engine fired right up. It had to, since I’d bled every drop of air that it’s ever had, outta there. It ran like a top and there was great but sweaty joy throughout the land. At this point the captain said to me “what was wrong?”. In keeping with my policy of unflinching honesty I explained to him that the stuck solenoid was the culprit the entire time. He looked at me and replied “Oh, that thing, I hate that f%#king thing, its always getting stuck”.

This is where I decided to abandon my personal policy of unflinching honesty. Because I thought it might cause some hard feelings if I were to express just how deeply I wanted to beat his forehead in with my ball peen hammer. He knows the thing gets repeatedly stuck which causes the engine to not start, he’s got his head practically right in my ass all morning and it doesn’t occur to him to mention that this reoccurring issue might be the problem? F%#k me.

In the evening I went shopping with Mike from Sapphire and watched him spend some money on boat stuff. That made me feel a little better…..tomorrow is another day and I’ve heard rumors that the sun will be out.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

June 13, 2010.

I’ve been doing a bunch of electrical work on our latest project boat. I call it a project boat because as of right now the list I’ve been given has 29 different tasks to be done. There have been some pretty cool upgrades like the addition of a Boatsense system.

Boatsense is a cool toy that enables boat owners to stay in touch with their boat. Its especially handy if the owner lives a good distance away from the boat. There are multiple options as to what you can hook up to your Boatsense system. This boat will have the high water bilge alarm and the shore power feeds connected to the Boatsense. Once connected, if the shore power should be disconnected or the high water alarm goes off, the boat itself will automatically call you on your cell phone. This way you can call the marina and ask them to check in on your boat as you’ve just received word that theres a possible problem. You can customize the system to meet your requirements. You can hook it to the companionway hatch to let you know if the door has been opened. It’ll even tell you if your freezer is getting to warm. Kind of amazing. I wonder if the boat will ever drunk dial the guy to tell him its lonely, maybe accusing him of having a little runabout on the side.

Another toy on board is the giant wind up key on the uppermost deck. Embarrassingly enough it now goes round and round at the flip of a switch.

Christy has been working quite a bit and is actually enjoying doing brightwork in spite of the physical demands. You can see the difference between the partially stripped deck and the newly varnished finished product. You go girl....

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

June 9, 2010.

Last year at work I earned the nickname “Sparky”. It seemed appropriate after a few different occasions where “Bob” and I were in close quarters in a cramped engine room and I inadvertently arked a wrench or some other ferrous tool against a starter post. The resulting shower of sparks is actually quite pretty unless it’s only inches from your face and you’re wedged into some tight spot unable to recoil from the “POP” and shower of sparks.

Today, while working with “Pablo” I was able to see this dazzling light show from the other side of the wrench so to speak. We were in the engine room together with the engine and generator between us. I was replacing the alternator on the main engine while “Pablo” was changing out the raw water pump on the generator. Complacency yields the most spectacular light shows. He got a little careless with a wrench and soon there was the familiar “POP” and associated shower of sparks. It was almost as if someone were taking flash pictures down in the engine room with us.

But there was one huge difference. The “POP” and flash were accompanied by a noise that could only be described as a shrill squeal or perhaps even a shriek. Quickly, I looked around to see if a young girl had wandered aboard and had fallen down the hatch into the engine room. It turned out that shriek that I heard that resembled a prepubescent girl had only been “Pablo” shrieking in fear. And then there was laughter, copious laughter, of course all the laughter was coming from me. It’s always startling when you make that “POP” and associated shower of sparks but “Pablo’s” reaction was one for the record books. He sounded like a little girl who found a spider in her panties. I’m still laughing about it and I’m sure I’ll be grinning for days so I think it only appropriate that the occasion should be commemorated in a Haiku……

Pablo got sloppy
A shower of sparks erupts
It makes me giggle

Friday, June 4, 2010

June 4, 2010.

People that can afford to pay to have their wood looked after are in a different caste than the boaters I’m used to dealing with. Don’t get me wrong……I get to work on some fabulous boats that are way out of any price range I’d ever be able to consider, but…. Christy is involved with folks that expect their brightwork to be pristine.

Yesterday she started scraping and refinishing the decks on an older 60 foot wooden Chris Craft. She said the boat is just gorgeous and it’s an issue of constant rotating maintenance to keep the boat looking as good as the owner expects.

The classic wooden boat is highlighted by touches such as a Viking stainless steel range and a piano topped with a picture of JFK, Jacqueline and Caroline from back in the day when they were aboard.

History and opulence aside, I still can’t get over that my baby is crawling around in the sun with a heat gun in her hand.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

June 2, 2010.

I’ve spent the last 3 days under a large steel trawler scraping and sanding the bottom. It’s been 5 years since I did anything like this and it hasn’t gotten any easier.

My coworker, who I’ll call “Pablo” and I spent the better part of 3 days of mid to high 80 degree days inside a plastic tent under the boat. At first glance you might think that this might be a good time but don’t be fooled….it sucked, no really, I’m not just saying that. It totally sucked. Our boss “Bob” did make a few cameo appearances under the boat but the lion share of the work fell to “Pablo” and I.

No matter how much protection you wear, sooner or later the flakes and dust just find a way into your clothing, shoes, hair and eyes. Every night in the shower is like standing in a toxic waste dump.

Finally, today we knocked out virtually the last of the dirty work so it was with a happy heart that I headed home to the boat. While I was walking down the dock to the boat I heard a horrible scraping noise immediately behind me. When I turned around I realized that it was only the sound of my ass dragging. Thank God that shits over with…..