Sunday, September 26, 2010

September 25, 2010.

The last few posts have been about fun stuff. Working with the girls in bathing suits, buying a copious amount of liquor, that sort of thing. Let’s get rid of the fun and talk about money for a minute.

Now that the dust has settled, let’s talk about the price of the hard dodger and bimini. Before I started I guesstimated the price at about the $2000 mark. I was wrong. I can tell the time of day by looking at a tree frog and the state of the tide but I wasn’t even close when pondering the price of the “project’.

All things tallied up and the final price for the dodger and bimini was $3992.00. That’s right, almost $4000 dollars. That’s what I thought too when I added everything up, you gotta be freaking kidding me. So let me break it down a bit.

First I built a 4 foot by 8 foot table to assemble the dodger on. So including the wood for that, the dodger and the bimini, the lumber total was just under $300 bucks. Not too bad.

The windows themselves were a bit more than I envisioned. The glass came in at $420. The “h” channel for the frame was $162 and the special goo to seal everything added another $16. This bloated the price of the 6 windows to $630. The windows came out spectacularly so at $105 per window it was a bargain.

The paint was a lot more than I had anticipated. I used a gallon of barrier coat to waterproof everything. Then there was a quart of special Alwgrip primer and then the Alwgrip paint itself. Then of course, they both need their own individual thinners. I also used a gallon of Durabak non skid paint of the top of the bimini. Grand total, $410.

I had to modify the existing enclosure sides to be able to attach it to the new dodger and bimini. So between Sailrite and West Marine that ran us just over $200 bucks for hardware and such. It’s the incidentals that get you.

The biggest expense was the fiberglass and associated crap. Fiberglass mat, 7 gallons of resin, brushes, rollers, mixing cups and so forth ended up costing us about $1100. Ouch. We could have saved a bit of money if we had realized just how much resin we were gonna need. If we had bought the resin in a 5 gallon pail rather than by the gallon we could have saved another $150. It always seemed like 1 more gallon would do it. I had no idea we had gone through 7 gallons until I was adding up the receipts at the jobs completion.

Finally, the last big expenses were the accessories. I had to cut 2 gaping holes in our cockpit coaming to be able to thru bolt the dodger in place. I solved the problem of hiding these holes by installing a glove box compartment in either side of the cockpit. They were over $100 apiece. Then we decided to add 2 hatches to the roof of the dodger to vent fresh air into the enclosure. Each hatch was over $200. The there was the built in 12 volt fan, the light fixture and the associated wiring. Totaled up, the accessories cost us $866.

The labor. We started the job at the end of June and finished up in mid September. We used our weekends and I did a bit before and after work whenever possible. We logged 166 hours from start to finish. That’s counting building the assembly table all the way through installing the last snap attaching the enclosure to the bimini.

When all is said and done, the job cost more money than we had figured. The job also took a lot longer than we had guessed it would, but I gotta say…..I think it came out even better than I had hoped.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

September 22, 2010.

This week at work I’m doing something completely different. Christy’s boss Maggie has taken on a big job and she could use more help than usual to make sure the job is completed before the weather gets too chilly.

So, I’ve been going to work everyday with Christy. The project boat is a 53 foot Fleming trawler. All the woodwork needs to be scraped, sanded MULTIPLE times and then varnished. Maggie’s expecting to put on 8 coats of varnish with the entire boat being sanded between each coat. It’s a bunch of work.

The bizarre thing about this job is that there are (8) 53 foot Flemings side by side at the same marina. These are million dollar boats.
Talk about peer pressure, or is that pier pressure. Either way, nobody wants to have the boat with the shittiest brightwork on the dock, especially here in the high rent district.

So on Monday, the 3 of us spent the day with heat guns, scraping the old finish off the wood. On Tuesday, Christy and I were still at it while Maggie started to do some sanding. By the end of the day on Wednesday we had sanded the entire boat twice with one more sanding yet to come.

Working with the girls has really opened my eyes concerning the whole brightwork thing. On the plus side is the fact that the girls work all day in their bathing suits. Covered in sawdust or sweat? No problem, just a quick blast under the hose on the dock and all things are better. Another plus is the smell, no not the girls, the wood. All day with the smell of freshly sanded wood. It’s the same smell that you encounter when you walk down the lumber aisle in Home Depot. That smell just makes me happy. Then there’s being outside in the fresh air and sunshine. I haven’t even seen the bilge in this boat and theres comfort to be had in that.

Of course, theres a few negatives as well. A pleasant day is tolerable but when it gets hot, it can be brutal. The weather determines whether you can work or not, a little rain and you probably have the day off. If you’re fond of your fingerprints, forget about it, mine are completely gone after a single day of sanding.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

September 21, 2010.

It’s getting to be that time. You know, time for us to start thinking about heading south. There’s been a pleasant chill in the evening and some leaves on the deck in the morning. These harbingers of the impending fall are nice but not really the queue that heralds the imminence of our departure. For us it’s the yearly sale at Bay Ridge Wine and Spirits.

For 3 days every September, the Bay Ridge liquor store has a great sale. Everything in the store is sold at cost, plus $1. Bargain. Today was the first day of the sale and we were in the line waiting outside for the store to open.

The store doesn’t open until 0900 so Christy called her boss Maggie to tell her why we were gonna be late for work. Next thing I knew, Maggie was standing there next to us in line. I told you, it’s an important event.

We were about tenth in line and by opening time there were easily a hundred people behind us. Once the doors opened Christy, Maggie and I all grabbed shopping carts and headed off in different directions. I headed for the bargain rum isle and a bargain it was. The half gallon bottle of the rum I enjoy were $8.60 and before I knew it, all 25 bottles on the shelf were in my cart. Score!

Not to be outdone, when I reached the checkout Christy was directly behind me with 130 litres of various boxed wines. Toss in a couple of bottles of coconut rum and a pair of faux Grand Marnier’s and we’ve suddenly got the liquor provisioning for the Bahamas done. Well, we might go back before the sale is over……

Christy and I save quite a bit of money when we shop at this sale even though we both drink cheap shit. Somebody like Maggie can really save a chunk of change. Maggie has a bunch of social obligations coming up and she usually brings a pretty expensive bottle of wine with her. She bought a case of wine that usually retails for about $50 a bottle. But her $600 case of wine only cost $260 today at the sale. Score!

Monday, September 20, 2010

September 19, 2010.

Since my last post pretty much centered on jobs let me expound a bit on Christy’s employment situation. She’s been working for a small "company" that is amazingly successful, all things considered.

She works for a woman who I’ll call Maggie, who has been doing brightwork for close to 20 years. Maggie has worked alone for the majority of those years but she has employed someone here and there at various times. This year Christy just happened to be lucky enough to be here when Maggie was considering hiring a helper again. Christy has always done all the brightwork on our boat so she has a bunch of experience.

Maggie’s business has no name, no business cards, no letterhead or work vehicle emblazoned with slogans, promises or the nonexistent company name. Maggie gets all her work through repeat customers and word of mouth. And she's as busy as she wants to be.

Maggie pays Christy well and keeps her busy. The work is physically difficult but Christy has been learning a bunch. In fact Maggie has encouraged Christy to take on side jobs
of her own.

On Friday Christy used a heat gun and stripped all the existing finish off a Caliber 40. The old finish was past its prime and the wood was starting to look seriously neglected.

On Saturday she spent the day sanding the wood with progressively finer sandpaper.

The owner wanted to use Cetol so after the sanding was completed she taped and cleaned the teak and the applied the first coat of finish.

The difference is already amazing and it will look even better after several coats of finish.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

September 16, 2010.

Things here are in a state of flux, so to speak. My boss “Bob” has run away to Florida. This is the third extended trip that “Bob” has taken to Florida since we’ve been back this year. You see, he’s got a giiirrrllfriend there and as a result of his absence my paycheck has been suffering. So while he was gone I caught up on the backlog of work and then….nothing. Nobody here to beat the bushes = no work. Crap.

As a result I’ve had to scramble a bit to keep earning money to pay for extravagances like the dodger. There was the potential for depression but things just seem to have a way of working out. I was actually offered 3 jobs within a 30 hour period. So I took em’ all. It’ll mean some juggling but it could work out pretty well or I could die, we’ll see.

I spent some time this morning working on a boat that’s had some issues. The boat would run fine and then just die. One of my new bosses “Patrick” tried several things which included adding an electric fuel pump and eliminating the rest of the fuel system, but still the engine was starving for fuel. They finally realized that the owner had just commissioned a new fuel tank which was exactly when the problems started.

It seems that the fuel pickup tube doesn’t come close to reaching the bottom of the tank. So even though there are several gallons in the tank, it sucks air depending on where you’re standing. The boat heels one way or the other and the boat either runs fine or it dies. Sometimes it’s just enough to make you insane.

Now that the problem had been solved, I was charged with reinstalling the fuel system properly. The problem for me was the access. I’m not the biggest guy in the world but I can fill a jacket. I had to put one extended arm and shoulder into the cabinet door under the sink and then twist and wriggle the other arm and shoulder in. This left me with the sink drain pressed firmly against my face with an outstretched arm on either side. I had everything mounted and plumbed together with only the last and most distant connection left to go.

I had to press the fuel hose from the electric fuel pump onto the barb of the Algae-X fuel treatment system. Try as I might, I just could not get both hands involved. It was just barely within reach of one hand. So I got a good grip with one hand on the hose and wriggled and wormed the fuel line down onto the barb.

It was an extremely tight fit and it was very satisfying when the hose finally popped firmly into place. I was a sweaty mess but feeling elated until I realized that the hose clamp I should have placed on the hose was still clutched firmly in my left hand. I almost cried. F@#k me.

Try as I might I could not pull the damned hose back off the barb. Shit. I ended up having to open the clamp up and slip it over the hose. This left me with having to hold the clamp in the tips of my fingers while trying to tighten it with a foot long screw driver in my left hand. Of course, I couldn’t see the damn screw driver slot without my glasses so let’s just add another level of difficulty. The sink drain pressed against my face skewed my glasses off to the side so I was trying to see outta the right lens with my left eye, with the other eye closed while trying to apply a lot of left handed pressure with a foot long flathead screwdriver on a god damned hose clamp that I was barely able to hold with my right fingertips. But I got it done and went home a satisfied lad. I will NEVER forget the hose clamp again.

Once home, I received an interesting phone call. You see there was a 18 foot trimarran powerboat that “Bob” had rebuilt an engine for. We installed it in the boat and he left for Giiirrrllfriend Land while I did a bottom job on the boat. Once the boat was ready to go back in the water it was left to me to do the last minute finishing touches and to time the engine and get it running good.

That went pretty well for me and after I was done I took the boat out Back Creek and over to Spa Creek. The boat ran great and I left it tied to a dock where it was supposed to sit until it would be ferried down to Deale, Maryland.

Stupidly, I thought that the boat would sit there until a perfect day presented itself, since this piece of shit micro tiny powerboat was going to be asked to navigate the 22 miles from Annapolis down to Deale on the open bay. Ya know, the bay where the freighters roam, the tide flows and the wind blows. The Chesapeake can be scarier than the ocean at times and this boat is a half step below a pontoon boat. It would be a lot like skydiving with a bed sheet, you might survive but it would take a lot of luck.

When I awoke this morning I checked the weather as I always do and saw the forecast for a deteriorating day. 10 knots outta the south with 20 knots, gusting to 30 with rain coming this afternoon. I’m sure that Dullard also checked the weather before he decided it would be the perfect day to head south on the bay in this skateboard of a boat.

So when I received Dullards call it was with rapt fascination that I listened to his tale of delivering the boat south. I had no idea he was going and I couldn’t believe that he went. By his estimation they were taking random waves over the bow that were depositing 50 to 100 gallons of water into the cockpit at a time. In the infinite wisdom of micro tiny piece of shit powerboat architects it seems that all the cockpit scuppers drain directly into the bilge rather than overboard.

This left the miniscule bilge pump in the micro tiny powerboat fighting for its life to keep the boat afloat. Fortunately (bizarrely) so much water made its way below that the engine was semi-submerged to the point of stalling which left Dullard and the micro tiny piece of shit powerboat bobbing on the surface of the waves rather than plunging headlong into them. This gave the pitiful little bilge pump the chance to catch up so they could move along and repeat the process.

Bottom line- Dullard says that now the boat won’t idle at less than 2000 RPM’s. I’m thinking it doesn’t idle at all and all he can do to keep it running is to race the shit out of it. Wish I had a crystal ball to see how this shit is gonna play out…..

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

September 6, 2010.

Holy shit, what a weekend! Christy & I labored our asses off on this beautiful Labor Day weekend while getting the new hard dodger and bimini installed on the boat. Before I get started I really have to thank all the people who helped with the physical act of actually maneuvering the dodger and then a day later the bimini into place. I won’t list all the names because I’d forget someone and then I’d feel like a turd. So its better this way, Thank You to everyone involved. And if you weren’t involved, thank you for not getting in the way.

On Friday when I left work I tied the dodger to the top of the truck and brought it home so I could get an early start on Saturday. In the morning it took us a little less than an hour to strip away the old sunbrella dodger. This is what my baby looks like when she’s topless. Once the old dodger was off, it became readily apparent that the coamings crown at the front of the cockpit was a LOT more than I had estimated. Crap. I’d figured on a half inch or so and it turned out to be closer to 2 full freaking inches. F#%k me. The old dodger was so flimsy I was afraid to move it to get an accurate measurement and figured that when the time came I’d resort to the builder’s friend, the shim.

So, the tiny spacer I had envisioned suddenly became much thicker. The spacers weren’t the problem, it was how to finish the whole thing up so it didn’t look like some cobbled together piece of shit.

I decided to make up some tapered spacers and we mounted the dodger. At just about that moment Ron from Dawntreader walked by and commented that a piece of trim along the bottom of the dodger would really enhance the lines of the dodger. An idea! A freaking idea was born and we were soon headed out to Home Depot to buy some material to use as trim.

With the mounting issue solved Christy and I went about finishing the dodger. We ran wires up through the coaming and up through integral tubes in the dodger for a light fixture and a fan for my sweaty sweetie.

On Sunday morning we again relied on an outpouring of help and succeeded in manhandling the bimini up into place. The local WM didn’t have the hardware that we needed, we had to order additional
mounting hardware, so we had to temporarily mount it. The front of the bimini support structure rests on top of the dodger. So with a new dodger that meant some re-engineering of the support tubing. Christy and I went to work and when we were done I was pleased to find that the radius I had built into the bimini was spot on.

Next it was on to the windows. They had all been fabricated and dry fit weeks ago. At this point we had to drill screw holes into the frames and apply sealant. I put a bead of caulk in every “h” channel and then pressed the channel back into place on its assigned piece of glass. Next was a liberal application of the same sealing compound (Dow Corning #791) was applied to the edges of the window openings. Then it was a simple matter of pressing the windows into their respective openings and screwing them in. That pretty much killed the second 10 hour day of our 3 day weekend.

On Monday I installed the trim at the base of the dodger. Then we “gooed” and installed the 2 hatches in the roof of the dodger. Then we finished the insides of the windows, we masked the frames and laid a cosmetic bead of caulk along the inside of all the window frames.

We still need the hardware to finish up the bimini mounting but that’ll go quickly. I also still have to mount the track to accept the top of our enclosure. Once the track is up there will be a
“bit” of sewing as we modify our old enclosure’s walls so we can use them with the new bimini.

So even though we’re still not “done”, Thank God we’re done, mostly……..