Thursday, June 30, 2011

Whatcha Been Doin'? Refit Progress Report

So where are we in the progress of the refit? What has been done, what is almost done? That would be a lot. A lot has been done in the past 2 years. While we did have the yard do our blister repair and bottom job, pretty much everything else has been done by Mark. Not just done, but done beautifully. The man might not be quick but his level of craftsmanship is truly impressive.

So here is the list so far. Keep in mind that we've done all this (and by we I mean largely Mark. I handle aesthetics, research and keeping the kids busy. Plus I am not allowed near power tools. Don't ask) while working, planning, having a baby and trying to have a little bit of fun here and there.
  • Boat renamed and registered with Coast Guard
  • Blistered bottom repaired- mystery coating removed, hull dried, etc.
  • Bottom painted
  • Replaced shaft mechanical seal
  • Cutlass bearing replaced
  • Exhaust elbow made and replaced- We couldn't find the part we needed so Mark and his friend Christian built one out of stainless
  • Transmission removed, disassembled, cleaned reinstalled
  • Key way in transmission repaired
  • Engine realigned
  • Motor mounts repaired
  • Engine cooling sysytem refurbished
  • Fuel lift pump replaced
  • Galley sea and fresh water pumps refurbished
  • Sea cocks removed, grease nipples replaced, refurbished, inspected reinstalled
  • Small surface cracks in deck fiberglass groud down, epoxyed, repainted
  • Traveler blocks replaced and upgraded
  • Fuel tank flushed
  • Fore and aft heads comissioned- these will eventually be replumbed but we are good for now
  • Bulkheads repaired- rot removed, new ply scarphed in, epoxyed, reglassed and repainted
  • Chainplate deck insertion points raised via epoxy islands, painted
  • Chainplates inspected, polished rebedded
  • Port lights removed- rot removed, scarphed in new ply, epoxyed, reglassed, repainted
  • Cracked glass in 2 port lights replaced
  • Head liner removed
  • Recored decks at deck hardware insertion points- still on going but on the downhill side.
  • Rebdding deck hardware- see above for progress report
  • Main sail repaired
  • 150 Genoa repaired
  • Rigging tensioned
  • Bilge pump upgraded- not 100% happy with this and more work is coming
  • Interior cushions recovered- just waiting for the upholsterer to finish them up and send them out
  • Berth enclosure sewn
I am so very happy that we did not purchase a project boat. I am not so much a fan of surprises any more. The good news is we really, really know the systems on our boat and by know I do mean in the Biblical sense.

The girls are becoming accustomed to playing nicely while power tools are buzzing around them. Mark is getting better at taking a break from time to time for important things, like ice cream breaks and learning that sometimes you just have to embrace Murphy. I'm getting better at learning patience. We are all growing...

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Harness and Tether STAT!

Kitty is what we like to call a "full tilt toddler". At 14 months she has but one speed and that speed is go. Unlike Maura who was an early fan of reading, daydreaming and chillaxin, Kitty is an explorer and adventurer at heart. This is a great quality to have as an adult but is a challenge when she is too small to really understand that gravity is always on and sometimes things can get pretty hairy very quickly on a boat.

Kitty is a climber. If it is there, it must be climbed. Companionway, chairs, cockpit coamings or cabin top if it provides a toe hold, she will climb it. She is also scarily quick. Due to this and the fact that sometimes both of us have to get our hands dirty on a project, we made an emergency run to West Marine. Not my favorite place to shop but they had a child sized sailing harness and tether in stock and we needed them NOW. Oh and we got to oogle the Dyneema lines we will have on our boat. Eventually.

Our life line netting is on its way from Fisheries Supply but when it comes to keeping kiddos safe on the boat, I prefer to have redundancy. Also, with temperatures regularly just shy of 100 Farenheit asking Kitty to lounge around dockside in a PFD is just cruel. Seriously, would you want to wear a parka in the subtropics in the height of summer?

And so it was that we found ourselves procuring a harness and tether for Crash. She's happy enough to wear it in the cockpit because she can just peek over the coamings well enough to see what we are doing. We've still got to install padeyes and jacklines, but this is workable for now. She is not a big fan of wearing it below (when we need to keep her safely away from power tools) but she'll adapt. I can now breathe a little easier knowing she is safer although I do miss the days when she hadn't figured out how to climb the cockpit. So happy she is learning and growing, just wish we were a bit further along in the refit before she mastered vaulting out of the cockpit or scampering up the companionway.

*post script * My friend Gina is one of my most favorite people in all the world. We have been friends for many years. We were friends back in the day when our youthful eyes could easily read white text on a black background. We are still friends although our eyes are no longer so youthful. Due to the fact that I do not want to permanently "burn the white text into her retinas" any longer, I've changed the font to an easy on elderly eyes grey. If for some reason this new color doesn't work for you all, let me know and I will consider other options.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Rock Star Moment

For many years, I made my living as a musician. Not in some hipper than thou angsty rock band, but in an odd, very specific subgenre of music (think Lithuianian polka band.Not really, but Lithuianian polka band is funnier). Usually we would go from town to town, festival to festival and while those peeps who actually followed that type of music would know who we are, we could stop at a local Denny's, order a Grand Slam and clean out the toys in the claw machine without ever being "recognized". Every once in a great while, someone in say- Hayti, Mo. would be a displaced follower of Lithuianian polka music and would recognize us and we would get approx. 5 minutes of "fan time". We called these moments, Rock Star Moments. I had my first blog Rock Star Moment.

Yesterday morning I was sitting in Starbucks enjoying their free and very fast WIFI. While I was pulling up the blog to do a bit of admin stuff, a gentleman behind me piped up. "You read Ceol Mor too?" He pronounced it as Seal Mor so I knew he wasn't a displaced Scot. "Actually, I write it" I replied. I'm kind of surprised that anyone other than my Mom reads this but Jim is retired so I suppose he has some free time to read and I did once mention Kemah in a post, which is how he found us.

As it turns out, the gentleman's name was Jim. He reads lots of blogs about cruising, boats getting ready to cruise and most especially boats getting ready to cruise with little kids. See, Jim and his late wife cruised with their children through out the Carribean, South America, the US and Europe in the late 1970's.

Jim said that reading about our getting the boat ready while trying to ensure these kids have a childhood and while having our original time frame slip away from weeks to years was so familiar to him. He hand his wife had purchased a 32 foot boat in order to go cruising with their 2 boys, aged 3 and 5. As it turned out, they did go cruising on a 32 foot boat but with their 3 boys- aged 18 months, 7 and 9. Sound familiar? Jim had what might be my favorite quote of the year about cruising. "Cruising is the most fun you will ever have with your family while being absolutely miserable". I admit that hearing him describe cruising for a few years on a 32 foot boat with 3 young boys made me feel like a real whiner about our boat. Never have I been more grateful for 10 feet!

So thanks for the words of enocouragement Jim. Thanks for letting me know that al 3 of your boys have grown into responsible adults despite being vagabonds for a few years and missing out on the public school experience. Thanks for reassuring me that all of this frustration and hard work will indeed be worth it. I look forward to being absolutely miserable all over the world.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Dyneema Experience 2011 or Sometimes S%&T happens.

The 2011 Dyneema Experience is heating up. Teams are answering the challenges and fiercely competing for the grand prize- a trip to Spain complete with a 2 day training sail with the Puma racing Team. Nice, huh? Racing teams are posting professionally filmed videos of their boats competing in races with their new Dyneema running rigging. Lots of professional photos are appearing on Flickr of the boats resplendant in their new Dyneema rigging. This is a competition based on social media exposure after all. with the winner being announced after the close of the competition on Sept. 21.

So why have I been so quiet? Don't I want to win the grand prize? While the answer to the latter question is a definite and resounding YES! My answer to the former question is that its hard to write about waiting. and waiting.

See, through nobody's fault we've not received our Dyneema rigging yet. Nor have the crews of Majestic , Excellent Adventure and Zero to Cruising. We are all trying to remain upbeat and positive because the worst case scenario is still pretty great- we will all eventually have our boats rerigged with Dyneema. Despite being determined to remain positive, its a little bit of a bummer to feel that you are being handicapped in the competition for the grand prize before you even had a chance to get started.

As I see it, I have three options. The first option is to not compete for the grand prize, keep silent and just be happy when the rigging arrives. Well, that doesn't work for me. Firstly I feel that I owe Dyneema a big one in exchange for the rigging I will eventually be receiving. All that they have asked for in return for the rigging is for us to promote Dyneema by blogging, tweeting and sharing our experiences with the line. Its not a small thing getting free Dyneema rigging for the boat- its actually pretty darned big. Dyneema is absolutely the best line on the market and it is also not inexpensive. WInning the rigging really is helping our refit budget. Secondly, I've got enough competitive spirit in me to not be able to just throw in the towel. I've still got some fight in me.

The second option is to be bitter and angry and go on and on about how unfair Dyneema is. That doesn't work because quite frankly, every one at Dyneema has been fantastically nice and helpful. They are as flummoxed as we are at the delays we are experiencing. I just can't bad mouth a product I know I'm gonna love and a group of people who I believe to be really, really good peeps.

So I've decided to go with option three. Option three is to make a good show of it by laughing about the delays, making light of the frustration and competing for the grand prize with nothing more than a Dyneema burgee, a sticker and sheer chutzpah.

Option three is definitely more my style so in that spirit, here is my entry for Challenge 3 of the 2011 Dyneema Experience. There are some people who are able to make lemonade when life hands them lemons. I've always prided myself on being able to pop a paper umbrella in a glass of water and pretend its lemonade when life refuses to even give me lemons in the first place.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Off to the wilds of Indiana

It has become a regular Summer Rite. It being Maura's yearly journey to the wilds of rural Indiana for time with her grandparents. Time to run through cornfields, bake cookies, catch fireflies, eat sweets and oogle the livestock at the county fair. A chance to see how others live by playing with the children of the local Church of the Brethern members (think Amish but with trucks). Time to enjoy a cooler climate, a slower way of life and two grandparents who think our Maura hung the moon.

And so it was that we found ourselves at the airport at a time which was far too early to be decent. It would have been fine had it not been for the morning commuters snarling up the freeways. We got through check in fairly quickly as I suppose the extra funds you pay for an unaccompanied minor ticket allows access to your very own special check in desk. I can't see that there is much more added service than that and that they seat your kid near the attendants. Anyway, we made it through security without being x-rayed or strip searched- so far so good.

There was a Starbuck's which to my mind is a sign of civility. I had to leave so early to fight traffic, check in and security I had not properly caffeinated myself before departure. Hello friendly Barista. Double tall, extra dry cappuccino please. Bless your hands. You are doing God's work.

Inexplicably, there was also a large self serve vending machine for ProActiv facial stuff. Who tries to get to their boarding gate and stops and thinks" My face is a huge zit factory. I need something to fix it NOW! Oh look, an acne "system" handily available here in the boarding area"?!?! Maura and I both thought it was really, really weird.

And then, she was gone down the ramp with a quick hug and a wave over her shoulder. Not the least bit nervous about being away from home or traveling alone or, well anything. She told me once that she never gets nervous flying or sailing or on any other mode of transportation because she lovesto  travel. Loves it. It doesn't make a whit of difference to her whether she is going to some glamorous Caribbean or European destination or to the down home simpleness of Lake Wobegon, Indiana. She wants to travel and she loves it all- the kooky stuff you see at the airport, the adventure of finding an ever changing departure gate or even getting a boat ready to sail.

For Maura, it is about the journey much more so than the destination. I'm making a promise to myself to be a bit more like her. The refit takes as long as it takes. There will be set backs and frustration and kooky stuff along the way and it is all part of the journey. Thanks for reminding me of that Maura. I owe you one.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Dog days of Summer indeed

Ok, while it might technically NOT be Summer just yet we've been enduring precocious weather around here. Temperatures have regularly been hitting just shy of 100 farenheit and we've only been teased by rain. This has slowed down to the progress quite a bit. Despite having lived in Texas for more than a few years, Mark still does better in condtions similar to home. When its bitter cold, blustery and raining, Mark accomplishes tons of work. When its hotter than a $2 dollar pistol, his output diminishes.

He is managing to move onward with the portlights and we've now gotten the 150 genoa off to the loft for repairs and recutting. We took the genny off with only a little bit of excitement. I had the clew in hand, struggling against the breeze a bit when a little micro burst started approaching from behind. I was afraid for a moment that I would be doing a bit of unintended dockside parasailing but Mark managed to get it furled in enough to prevent me from flying away. As we wheeled the genny up the dock in a cart, one of the local professional captains commentedthat he thought for sure I'd be going up, up and away. I told him people paid a lot of money in the carribbean for such excitement and here I was getting it for free.

We got the genny laid out, Mark made some careful notes for the Quantum loft and off she went for repairs. I'm hoping to receive our new Dyneema rigging we won from the 2011 Dyneema experience before the repairs are done. It'll be a good thing to get all the running rigging and sails up on the same day.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

All Work and No Play

Its really easy to become so caught up in preparing/refitting/correcting previous neglect on the boat that you forget to take time to enjoy the people around you. I made a concious decision to take time out to play with the kids a bit more. If it meant that it takes me a bit longer to get the items on my list ticked off, so be it.

I started in on the cloth baby gate to block access to the companionway as Kitty has figured out how to quickly clamber up the steps. I''ve not finished it because I took a break to take the girls for a walk about the neighborhood, an ice cream and a quick dip in the marina pool.

Kitt hates to wear hats but she loves sunglasses. She especially loves these round, glittery ones. With her newly cut bangs and her reddish tinged hair, she looks just like a baby Elton John in them. I know this. I am okay with this. I love Elton John. Ok, I love Bennie and the Jets/Rocket Man/Tiny Dancer Elton with a love so strong I can forgive him his Disney disasters...

The next day we spent the morning at the beach. Maura was a bit annoyed as I wouldn't let her go in past her knees as the red flags were flying, the surf was pounding and rip currents were ripping along. I know, kill joy. That's me. She wants to learn how to surf and took the opportunity to jump on a piling to practice her balance.

This was Kitty's first beach experience and she wasn't quite sure what to make of it. She loved the wind and was signing "wind" like mad. She loved the birds hovering over head. The sand made for unsteady footing and she wasn't 100% sure about it but toddled on gamely. She was definitely not a fan of the surf coming in over her feet to surprise her. Eventually, she relaxed and had a good time. I'm sure with a bit more exposure she'll come to love the beach as much as her sister.