Sunday, May 27, 2012

May 26, 2012.

And now the rest of the news.

With Christy having the new job, some irregular thoughts started going through my head. The organizing shes doing is a massive undertaking. Just when shes got it under control and running smoothly it'll be time for us to head south for the winter. Somebody else is going to come along and slip into a job where the dirty work has already been done.

A month before our return the yard manager at the AHBY set out for greener pastures. The company tried for a time to get along without the position being filled but they found that they really needed somebody to tie the day to day operations together. Which fire to put out first, who's promised what to whom and how to best deploy the manpower were all being approached as each manager saw fit.

The coordination of a 20 person workforce is right up my former alley. So I applied for the job. I found that I had already been considered but our seasonal nature was an issue. I had foreseen this and had only applied because Christy & I had a plan.

Christy having the good job that should get easier with time was a major consideration. Another was the fact that Veranda could use a year off from the grind of cruising. It's time for a refit. With the extra money generated by a full year of working we can perform some major upgrades. Pulling and refurbishing the rig, a new mainsail, a new drive train and a new roller furler are at the top of the list. New toilets we got, so we're covered there.

So we've decided to forgo cruising this season. I committed to staying in town for the next 18 months and in return I'm the new yard manager at Annapolis Harbor Boat Yard. After the October of 2013 boat show my obligation ends and we're free to leave. But at this point who really knows. Its all about being happy and if we're paid like we deserve and are enjoying ourselves here who's to say what the fall of 2013 holds.

At the end of my first week in my new capacity things are looking pretty good. There was laughter in the yard, a LOT of boats were repaired and returned to their owners and the sun even decided to poke through. I think I even glimpsed a unicorn frolicking in the back lot. Timeliness is our biggest issue at the moment but we made a huge gash in the backlog of work immediately in front of us.

Can I do the job? Yeah. I've got the support of management and a talented crew that enjoys doing good work. The quality pieces are all in place, they just need to be applied efficiently. And the parts coordinator loves me....

Saturday, May 26, 2012

May 24, 2012.

I've been remiss in keeping up with the blog as of late. We've been pretty busy and there have been some major changes.

The biggest change was in Christy's job options for this season. The woman that she did brightwork with the last 2 years was being a little uncommunicative. Maggie broke a few ribs last year which really put a limit on what she could physically do. Combine this with the unpredictability of the weather and a birthday celebration/ vacation that lasted for more than 2 weeks and the decent paychecks were few and far between.

As we roared up the eastern seaboard Maggie professed a desire to have Christy's help again this year. But once we arrived there didn't seem to be any boats lined up for brightwork and more than a few phone calls went unanswered. Since we're not working as a hobby but for remuneration we decided it might be a good time for Christy to look for full time employment. The hourly rates bound to be smaller as Maggie was very generous but it might work out better in the long run.

My job was looking for a wood refinisher so she went down to inquire about it. Turns out she walked in the door on the right day. There was a mini uproar over the lack of control of the parts we install on peoples boats.

Lets say I was sent to your boat to fix a starting issue. If I determine that a new starter is the answer then I would return to the office, decide what starter was required and then order it. So instead of the mechanic spending time repairing boats he's got to spend time researching and ordering parts. When the part arrives the bill is paid by the company and the starter is given to the mechanic. So I would take the starter that the company just laid out the cash for down to your boat to install it. Then when I filled out my time sheet for the days work if I neglected to note the starter then the starter never made it onto your invoice. Something as simple as a starter install and it probably wouldn't get forgotten but when dozens of parts are going towards a single boat then the mechanics “memory” isn't good enough. Multiply that by several mechanics and the amount of money and parts involved is dizzying. After several instances of costly parts sailing over the horizon without being billed it was time to address the issue.

Christy is now our new parts coordinator. EVERYTHING we order, from tape for the painters, resin for the fiberglass people to breakers for the electrician goes through Christy.

On the negative side is that Christy has never been a secretary so her typing is like most of us, mediocre. She's also having to learn and master three intricate computer programs while her position takes shape around her while one mechanic after another asks for widgets and muffler bearings. It's a lot like learning to swim at the top of a waterfall.

The plus side is huge. Christy gets to shop from more than a dozen catalogs and an unlimited supply of internet resources; all with somebody elses credit card. She gets her shopping fix and the bill isn't ours.

Even though shes not out in the sun with a heat gun shes still busting her ass. But things should get smoother as things fall into place.

Monday, May 21, 2012

May 20, 2012.

Last weekend the princess mounted her new throne. So that left the rest of the head looking a little shabby in comparison. Or so I'm told.

So this weekend was dedicated to yet more boat chores including the replacement of the faucet in the aft head and the faucet in the galley.
The aft faucet went in like it was supposed to so I threw in a bonus and changed out the rather shoddy sink drain. And there was great joy throughout the realm.

While there was nothing wrong with the galley faucet it was an issue that needed to be dealt with to keep the crew in harmony. The chef has a spice rack mounted directly over the sink. When you lifted the lever to turn the sink on, the lever touched the bottom of the rack. The interference was only a quarter of an inch but it was an issue. Raise the spice rack some might suggest....but alas, we could not because the paper towels live directly over the spice rack. Raise them both thou might suggest. Above the paper towels there is a permanent shelf where all manner of galley paraphernalia doth live.

This interference was fairly small and didn't really affect water flow. As soon as the faucet was half opened the water pump came on and that's pretty much that. Raise the damn lever as high as you like but if the pumps already running full blast that's pretty much it. The Princess scoffs at the laws of physics so we searched all throughout the kingdom until we found a low profile faucet at Ye Olde Home Depot that would allow full function of the magical water providing lever.

Eighty dollars and 2 hours of contortionist labor later we had our additional quarter inch of throw and there was once again peace throughout the land. No more water flow than before but that's not really the issue is it.

Since we were on a roll we back flushed and pickled the watermaker. Filled the water tank, defrosted the freezer, checked and adjusted the water level in the ships batteries, food shopped, drove to Home Depot for work, Tucker was groomed, a trip to Petco, cleaned and organized some cabinets and changed the inline freshwater filter.

I'm thinking I've earned Knighthood.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

May 19, 2012.

Yesterday at work at the end of the day we got a phone call from the owner of one of the local race boats. It seems while attempting to install a new main halyard he screwed up somehow and had the old halyard fall out of the mast without the new one taking its place as he had hoped. He would like to stop in and have someone install a new halyard. Oh, and there’s racing tomorrow, could we do it right now? Sure Cap'n, come on over.

Its a fractional rig so there’s no other halyards that go to the masthead. That leaves me in the bosuns chair, dangling from the hook on the crane and hopefully, gently brought to the masthead to drop a new line down through the mast.

Like any normal guy the captain was a little chagrined at having screwed up the whole halyard exchange in the first place. He seemed to be very into letting me know that he knew what he was doing as he laid out the plan for the installation of the new halyard. I had already surmised that he knew what he was doing since he had decided to don sailing gloves for the 300 yard motor from his slip to our marina. I listened politely and then explained what was actually going to take place.

I was going to send a line down the mast that he would hook and pull out at the bottom. He'd attach his new halyard and I would pull it up and through the masthead. I stressed that he couldn't be jumping around the decks as he moved on his boat. If the boat heels only a couple of inches at the waterline the masthead wants to swing back and forth several feet. While at the masthead I wrap my legs around the mast to keep my relative position to the masthead steady. If the mast should get away from me it wants to swing 5 feet in one direction while my dangling ass wants to swing in the opposite direction. Swinging away isn't a big deal, its when we start heading back at each other that it starts to resemble “Bill the PiƱata versus the 50 foot stick”. The last time I had a captains help it ended with my first emergency room visit in over 30 years. So captain please move slowly and deliberately.

I had to remind him twice from above but otherwise the new halyard installation went pretty well. But this is one of those times when you find out if a persons glass is half full or half empty. While at the masthead I discovered that his backstay had broken wires at the swedged fitting. So there's a very real possibility that if he had gone sailing this weekend it would have parted and he would have lost his entire rig.

When Karl returned me safely to the ground I explained to the captain that his backstay was partially parted. His first reaction was “Damn, after I just went through all this and spent the money to have you replace the halyard, crap”. Frankly, I was kinda dumbf'kingfounded. I looked at him and said “Captain, losing that halyard was a stroke of luck. You just dodged a bullet. That whole rig coulda come down. My trip up the mast is a drop in the bucket when you compare it to the price of your sails and rig. Not to mention that somebody could have been killed.” Right away he snapped out of it but he still lamented “I'm just so disappointed” I told him “Dude, your the luckiest guy I met today”

Sunday, May 13, 2012

What queen doesn't deserve a new throne every now and then....Happy Mothers Day sweetie
What did you do on your day off?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

May 9, 2012.

The eye is all better and work is going well so I thought I'd use this opportunity to do the fishing season recap.

This year we really knocked the shit outta the lobster with 181 taken. The weather was especially nice, we made it south pretty quickly and the lobster gods favored us with a record harvest. We gave a lot away, we brought 9 back with us and evidently ate a shitload.

57 Lionfish were removed from the delicate ecosystem that is the Bahamas. They're an invasive species and I kill em' because its the right thing to do. They're so dangerous that they just sit there looking at you when you swim up to destroy them. Even after they're shot there’s no fight, they just sorta die. Good riddance. Bitches.

Hogfish is our favorite fish. They can be pretty deceiving when it comes to size. In the past I've been badly fooled and discovered that my catch was a lot smaller than I had anticipated before I shot him. After firing its too late to take it back so I tried to be a lot more selective when shooting.
As a result we only took 14 but I was pretty pleased by the size of all of them.

I only took 1 Nassau Grouper this season. Before the season I saw several big ones but once the season started I just wasn't seein' the large ones. I passed on dozens of borderline fish but I can't really complain.

We took our first Tiger Grouper
ever this year so I have to consider it a success that we came away with 3 Tiger Grouper for the season.

I took 1 Margate this year because he was a monster. They're easy to kill so I really don't bother unless a huge one shows up. And one did.

We also took our first Porgy this year. They're pretty skittish and I was pleased to run into one face to face with my spear already cocked. Another bonus was that he was fairly large and turned out to be quite tasty.

I took 1 Red Hind this year. They're usually fairly small so I generally skip em' but this year a big one challenged me to a game of “around the rock”. He was also tasty....for a loser.

The last fish of the season was a real nice Almaco Jack. He was so big that the meat chunks that Christy prepared in a soy sauce/ ginger glaze were mistaken by guests as ribs until they started eating them.
Big, solid, really firm meat that was very good.

During the season we had a tremendous day of line fishing while traversing a stretch of deep water. We were rewarded with 3 Mahi Mahi. Mahi is a terrific fish and straight out of the sea, they're hard to beat. Of course none of our were as bigs our friend Mikes. Bastage.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

May 5, 2012.

Happy Cinco De Mayo everybody. Margaritas and nachos for everyone.

Yesterday we had an older powerboat in the 45 foot range come in with a delivery crew onboard. The boats instruments and fresh water pump all failed during their trip down the bay. The boat has a combination 12 / 24 volt system. The 24 volt side of the system was healthy while the 2, 12 volt batteries were as dead as any battery I’ve ever seen.

The 12 volt battery charger is water stained and obviously is not working. The engines only charge the 24 volt system and the generator has to run to charge the 12 volt side. So they've been plugging in to a dock every night and using an auto style charger to top up the 12 volt batteries every night. They got in late the previous night and didn't apply the charger and now the batteries are dead. Go figure. They don't want to pay for a new charger, they just want to get moving.

We put a charger on the batteries to enable them to start the generator. If they run the generator periodically they can keep the batteries charged and continue on their journey. I'm not sure why but color me surprised when after an hour of charging the batteries the generator didn't even think about starting. Its at this point the captain decided to share the fact that they haven't actually run the generator but he “thinks the survey said it works”.

The abused batteries are not recovering so he opted to replace them with 2 new group 31's. This is when my day started to spin down the toilet.

I was working elsewhere when the new batteries arrived later that afternoon. So at 1530 I grabbed my tools and the batteries and headed down to make the swap. There’s a large set of stairs inside the cockpit so I lifted the first battery over the gunnel and into the cockpit and set it on the top step. I put the second battery next to it and turned to get my tools. I saw the captain lift the batteries and put them next to the opening in the floor.

I should have asked him not to touch them but I just didn't think. What could be the possible harm. It was one of those hindsight moments everyone has that you agonise over later. They were in the midst of washing the boat and when I stepped over the gunnel and into the cockpit the addition of my weight made the boat move ever so slightly. But thats all it took. I watched helplessly as one of the batteries slid off the edge of the wet deck and toppled into the bilge.

I dropped my tools, jumped into the hole and shoved the other battery away from the opening. The battery had fallen 3 feet, bounced off a diamond plate platform and fallen another 2 feet into the lowest bilge. Everything is wet from them washing the boat and the battery is lying on its side in a few inches of water in the bilge. I snatch it out and set it between my knees on the wet diamond plate platform to examine it.

I carefully inspected one side then another. While I'm looking at the third side I realize that the case is split and battery acid is draining out into a puddle that I'm kneeling in. As I put the battery back down it slipped on the wet decking and flopped into the acid. It was like somebody had thrown a shot glass of acid straight into my eye.

None on my shirt, none on my shorts just straight in the left eye. Shit. I jumped up outta the hole and fortunately the guy washing the boat was standing on the dock right next to the cockpit with the hose his still in his hand. I was flushing my eye within 5 seconds of the splash. After 2 minutes I ran up to the shop and used the eye wash station for several more minutes.

Christy then drove me to the hospital in one of the company trucks. The ride would have almost been comical if not for the pain in my eye. We ran into traffic at the last traffic light before the drawbridge. The traffic was caused by a crew pushing one of those long Dragon boats across the bridge on dollies. Christy made a turn to avoid the bridge and the 20 minute clusterf'k that this spectacle was gonna cause.

The new route would add a few miles but it should get us to the highway quicker. At the last light before the highway we ran into traffic from a fresh accident blocking our path. Christy once again changed direction but back towards the smaller streets and traffic of town. After finally getting through the circle on West Street we arrived at the hospital. A trip of less than maybe 8 miles in 35 minutes.

Christy dumped me at the door while she went to park. I wandered into the ER with a moist paper towel over my eye. There’s a long line waiting to sign in, great. A volunteer standing outside the counter asks what happened and when told he immediately took me in for treatment while completely bypassing the line. Awesome.

Pretty quickly my stats were taken and my eye was irrigated. A doctor did a pretty thorough examination. I have some abrasions on my cornea to the side of my line of sight so my vision is unaffected. It should heal in a week or less so after being issued some antibiotic drops we were on our way. The hospital was super efficient and it actually took longer to fill out the paperwork afterword than it did to get treated. Kudos to the hospital.

Having the hose being so close at hand and getting water into my eye so quickly really saved the day. By the next morning my eye was already much better with just some redness and a bit o' pain.

I also noted that when I used the term "masterbation aid" in the last post, hits on the blog went up 40%. Interesting.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

May 3, 2012.

Boats are all so different as are their owners. Diversity is good or at least amusing.

This Shannon fifty something footer is one of those boats that I lust after.
A beautiful Vee berth, a double sized quarter berth and copious room for “stuff”. Nice ride.
Although I was a bit intimidated by the 6 faucets at the galley sink. I didn't bother to look to see what they were plumbed to but I'm guessing a foot pump for each of the fresh water tanks, a nozzle for the Sea Gull filtered water, a sea water pump, the standard galley faucet and a dedicated nozzle for rum on tap.
I dunno, the boat just oozes class and if I had a spare $600,000 laying around we'd be the proud new owners.

But in appreciation of diversity this other boat oozes something other than class. I'm not sure what the naked girl from truckers mudflaps is doing hanging from the shower head but my guess is, masturbation aid.
I did enjoy the useful hints for using the head that were taped right to the vanity in the head.

If you guessed powerboat....Bada Bing, you're correct.