Monday, September 30, 2013

Living on the Hard Aint Easy

When I had left the fashion industry to pursue this lifestyle, I never thought I'd be trading the corporate ladder for a physical one.  We have been on the hard now for a almost a year and a half (how time flies!)  We had expected to have the boat back in the water by this time when we had first hauled out, but of course, nothing ever goes to schedule.  Procrastination, life, hot humid summer days, lack of motivation, opportunities to go to NY, work, feeling disheartened, life....these have kept us on the hard a little longer than we have wanted.  I can't tell you how much it sucks to live on, what I sometimes refer to as, a trailer on stilts.  Every day, we climb the ladder, up and down, up and down, up and down.  We have learned to balance our groceries in one hand while climbing the ladder with the other.  I can't tell you how many times Frank and I have precariously carried something heavy up this.  An air-conditioner, our new stove, our dehumidifier, our mini fridge, our boom, etc....all these times, we have had to think of creative ways to haul it onto the boat.   I have slipped on the ladder once the whole time we have been on the hard, but managed to catch myself mid fall. Though I was hanging upside down, holding on to the thing with one leg while hysterically laughing, it was still quite scary!  Frank has learned to climb it with no hands, but I'm too clumsy to attempt that.  When it's raining, it gets very slippery and I have to remind myself to hold on tight.  Our car is our garage, and we are constantly between Frank's workshop and our trunk in search of a tool that we can't find.  Our sink drains into a hose that leads to a 5-gallon home depot bucket, and our bathroom is up six steps, down a 12 ft ladder, and 100 yards away (or if it's late at night, just down the ladder in a dark corner, though we are not above using an empty bottle either...)  Our dorm room fridge can fit 4 bottles of water, a carton of eggs, maybe a vegetable or two, a package of meat, and some York peppermint patties.  I have to drive out everyday to get us something to cook for dinner.  When we get a new neighbor, I suspiciously eye their bottom paint, and secretively pray that that's not the job they are hauled out for, though it usually is.  Our decks are usually covered in red, blue, or black bottom paint powder, and everything takes on this odd metallic smell.  Sometimes we get a cool neighbor and sometimes we get a power boater.  Luck of the draw.  You would think that all of these things could put a fire under our asses, but set-backs (both major and minor) are extremely effective in sapping our motivation.  There are some days that the light at the end seems so close, I can almost feel the warmth of it and then there are others...

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Through with Thru-Hulls

I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but we have 21 Thru-hulls.  Yes, 21!!!  17 of which are below the waterline, including the shaft log and the rudder.  That is a lot of holes to keep track of. We created a nerdy diagram using our boat's layout and marked out where every single one of them is located with colored dots.  Frank decided to glass over the thru-hull for the old speed log since we went with a combination unit from Furuno that measures speed, depth, and temperature.  Though this was a straight-forward project, it was a bit more time consuming and itchy than we had thought it would be.  Frank had initially planned glassing over several of them, but after tackling this one, he has decided we should just replace the unused thru-hulls and cap them.  We ended up replacing 11 of them, mostly because the old ones did not have proper flanged bases.  They were just ball valves attached to a thru-hull.  If knocked hard enough, they could easily snap off without support at the base.  Some above-the- waterline ones were made of plastic and had severe UV damage to the point of crumbling upon removal, so these also were replaced with bronze.  Though these are expensive purchases, they rarely need replacing if properly installed and maintained, they are also good insurance that water will stay on the outside of the boat, where it belongs. Defender occasionally runs good sales, and we had bought all 11 during one of their big sale events.  

Thru-Hull Diagram

We went with Groco thru-hulls as we've had bad experiences with the Apollo brand.  Several of the ones we've purchased in past would not open or close, even when brand new.  Even a West Marine representative had tried, in vain, to get them to work after refusing to believe us when we told him what was happening.  I secretly enjoyed watching his neck and forehead veins bulge when he attempted this,  and did all I could to not giggle and say "I told you so..."

Groco Thru-Hull
Installed for our new Furuno combination unit
Fairing block for unit sculpted with West Epoxy and high density filler
Look how thick our hull is!  

When we installed the thru-hulls, we followed this guy's method that we had found online, and replacing them proved to be a piece of cake with 2 people.  Hopefully they don't leak.  Frank tackled plugging up the single thru-hull by first tapering the hole at a 6 to 1 bevel.  He then put a singular layer of glass on the inside of the hull to help support the external lay-up.  From there, he cut concentric circles each approximately 3/4" bigger than the last of 5108 bi-axial fiberglass cloth to fill the void.  Then it was just a matter of rolling on the epoxy and using a laminate roller to squeeze out any air bubbles and excess resin in the lay-up.  Eventually this will be sanded over and painted when we do our barrier coat and bottom job.    

Start with smaller circles and work your way up...
Finished glassing over