Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Secret Life of Cats

Billy in our Arizona desert back yard. He was quite the hunter back then, slaying and dismembering mice and lizards, and giving the pack rat the boot from the Airstream.

With four days of steady rain, chilly temps, and Travis sick with can only be called the sleeping-coughing sickness, not much has been done to either boat. We did manage to order materials for the upcoming overhead project in the v-berth on Lucy Maru, and paint Mr. Perkins, Me Voy's engine.

Billy on a leash at the Grand Canyon during our exodus East. That is the one and only time he allowed us to walk him on a leash.

All this free time has lead me to wonder about cats, cats on boats in particular, and even more specific, our cat, Billy. Lately he has taken to doing laps around the top deck, galloping in circles from the back deck to the bow and back again, in the middle of the night, of course. What is he doing? I wonder as I wait for the dreaded splash.

Billy chillin on a roof top of our first B-more apartment

The splash must have been very quiet, for I slept right thru all of last night's secret goings-on. The only evidence something did happen was a thoroughly wet and embarassed Billy shivering in the salon. He wouldn't talk about it at all, and went to brood in the pilot house, leaving us baffled, wondering about his secret night life.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

I've been working on a sailboat...

A full blown case of the deer-in-headlights condition

by Maggie

If you've read T's last post you'll notice he mentioned my deer in headlights look every time I come aboard Me Voy. Its true, right now Me Voy's interior is in a total state of chaos that I find unnerving. From little pieces of wood, to stainless screws, to pluming bits, to brushes, thinnners, and now engine degreasers, there is stuff crammed, jammed and strewn all over the place. You see T is a wonderful wonderful worker, who gets into the job whole heartedly and does great work. He's very meticulous, detailed, and dare I say a bit anal about everything he does. This combination works great, as most boat projects are very challenging both in terms of the contortions required and the mental energy that goes into figuring out how to do something. So its no wonder that the guy pays little attention to the tornado like zone that he leaves in his wake. He's usually exhausted, mentally and physically, and he's getting right back to it anyway. Right. Ok. I get it.

I've tried different methods of coping with this, the latest being just avoiding going over to Me Voy until we drop the engine in. That is the magical star date, after which we will do a major clean up with acetone, respirators, you know the works. So I've been patient. I've resisted the urge to go over and pick up and arrange the various tools, and materials, for although such behavior cures my own deer-in-head-lights condition, it only aggravates the same condition in T, who stands in the newly organized work space, staring blankly wondering where the vise grips are. So, I haven't interfered in T's progress as he put the engine mounts in, and began the engine clean up...until today.

Engine mounts awaiting bilge paint and of course the engine

Today was the first day, since bringing her down to Baltimore three months ago, that I worked on Me Voy. It was a simple job of painting the engine mounts, which really meant: sanding the epoxied mounts, filling previously drilled holes with epoxy and wood flour, and giving everything a nice coat of Bilgekote, while being crammed into a space the size of a chest freezer.

Mounts ready for the engine, with all insulation and lead sheeting in place

The deadly sweet smell of the bilge paint took me back to the time when we were only beginning dealing with the bilge rot. That was two years and fifty- three, five gallon buckets of rot ago. I'm not kidding either. I counted. As the rot-removing-machine- I kept good track of just how much rot there was.

Buckets of rot being removed from the engine hold, with the help of my trusty fein too. Perhaps we should have thrown in some tomato seeds and grew a garden instead? Hmmm.

You see Me Voy is a cold molded boat, which means she was built out of wood, then fiberglassed on the outside, and epoxied on the inside, making her more like a glass boat with a wooden core. The hull itself is a 1" thick wooden hull made of 3/8" fir strips on the outside, then a 3/16" mahagony layer , then another 3/16 mahogany layer then a final 3/8" mahogany strip layer on the inside. Then the fiberglass on the outside and epoxy on the inside. Mr. Holman and Mr. Pye, her designers, now known for their Oyster boats, designed her for circumnavigation at the request of a Mrs. E. Hatchett the owner of a boatyard in Spain. Everything about this boat is hard core, including her hull construction, which we are now intimately familiar with. She was glassed years later at a yard in Tilghman Md. where she was a charter vessel for a short period. But that was years ago, 13 years, and since then she was bought by Dusty, a boat carpenter (for a dollar) who took very fine care of her mast along with some keel work, but never saw the project thru. Enter us, three years ago, starry eyed, love at first sight, and so ignorant of the work that lay ahead.

This is the above engine hold with new wood and epoxy. The new wood is the orange colored strips. You can see where the rot stopped by the dark color of the planks on the right hand side. On the left hand side the new planks extended well up into the bilge. There was a leak that caused much rot on that side.

We did know that replacing the rot that disintegrated the first three layers of mahogany along the length of the bilge, was going to be a huge job, but even then we didn't think it was going to take two years - weekend warrior style. Looking back on those days, I'm amazed that we stuck to it. Hauling tools and wood up and down the ladder, driving to Oxford every weekend, man, we were determined. Still are, but now the light in that tunnel seems a bit closer. Once the engine plops in and purrs, we can start working on the interior, and who knows maybe we'll be moving in this summer. Maybe even sailing to FLA. this winter. Who cares really. I feel like we made it already just having her here.

Monday, March 22, 2010


Chopper watches from the deck of L.M. as we lower boats and gear

The first weekend of Spring was full of sunshine and pleasant temps. Too nice to spend it working on boats, especially after the couple of weeks I had. You see, in my freelance art world, its feast or famine, and that means, on the one hand, we get a nice injection of cash flow during the feast time, and on the other I get my ass kicked working 12 hr. days. Anyway I'm enjoying the work, and right now this schedule complements my boat work schedule, so really everything is just bursting with yummy goodness.

Our new strap and lift system on the top deck of L.M.

Anyway we decided to take out the water toys and go for a ride. Along the way, one improvement to Lucy Maru was utilizing the third level and its davit for both the storing and lifting of our small boats. Why didn't we think of this before?

T using the davit to lower the canoe, while I steady the boat and take pics. How's the for walking and chewing gum at the same time?

With a few straps and bungees, I can now put my kayak into the water by myself, and paddle anytime I like. And, even though I am getting less preoccupied with the " I can do this by myself and don't need any help" mentality, which can be isolating and stressful, I like to be self-reliant.
That's another thing these boats are teaching me. Finding the balance between self and other, between teamwork and independence. So there you go, Jomamma: following the Kreative Blogger rules, here's something you might not know about me: I'm a hard-headed, do-it-yourself-usually-the-hard-way kind of reform.

Me throwing a line that will steady the kayak while I lower it to the water.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Monday, March 8, 2010

Undercover Boatwork


Well we have survived all that nature could throw at us all winter long. Now birds are back, singing their songs as constant reminders that it is time to get back to work. The task has been laid out clearly by the dozens of to do lists that have been compiled throughout the winter. The task is daunting. I am getting very anxious to sail Me Voy again so I have been working at an urgent pace. Today is Monday and I am glad to have been able to go to my regular job today so that I could get a break from working so hard. The pace at work is far from urgent, and most projects require focus in only one area to be repaired or up graded, rather than having something to do everywhere like we have on Me Voy. It is nice to have a break but I am looking foreword to this coming week-end so I can get back to it.

People at the marina are used to seeing us working outside on Lucy Maru. They would walk buy real slow and gauge our progress day by day. Now, evrything is hidden. It feels like working on some top secret project for NASA or something. I have even had one guy who lives at the marina ask me if we had been out of town all week-end. I kind of like the privacy but I am looking foreword to getting the tent off so I don't have to crawl on deck.

I am hoping, before the cover comes off in a few weeks, to get the cockpit looking the way it should. Finally finished. I had some thin teak I had left from re-sawing some boards for a cockpit coaming I did on another boat a while back, that I decided to veneer the bulkhead in. As with most boat projects, doing the job takes a bit of figuring out. How do I hold these very thin boards into place while the epoxy sets? After some head scratching I came up with the system pictured above, using a pile of scrap Mahogany, a few scrap pieces of Teak, and two strips of Ash screwed in between the seams holding all the veneer flush. The system worked great, and everything sanded and finished out great.
Here it is sanded with a coat of epoxy. I also cut in the "doggie hatch" which will be Chopper and Billy's primary entrance to get below deck, seen in the lower right of the above photo. There is still some engineering problems to work out in order to make that system work, but when it is all done, there will be a door that battens down from the inside with cabinetry that the boys can climb to get onto the deck. Should be kind of cool, if it works.
I also got the engine beds set into place this week-end. The engine beds are the heavy timbers that the engine is bolted down to. The originals were in great shape so we saved them and after a half day of modification with a handsaw and a dulling chisel, they fit perfectly. They are being held into the perfect position with a couple of pieces of fir and a sauce pan for gluing. More clamping improvisation.

This is a raft I made at work for a customer. I didn't mean to post this pic but here it is and I don't know how to delete it.
Mr Perkins awaiting installation. I am hoping to begin the work of cleaning up and going over our engine over the next few weeks. Now that the engine compartment is ready, the next step is to install the engine.
The place is a wreck. Maggie gets a deer in headlights look evrytime she comes aboard. She has decided to focus on LM. I feel a little overwhelmed but the thought of a fresh salty breeze filling those sails is more than enough to keep me going. I fantasize about a day, in the not too distant future, when I can kick back on deck in some tropical anchorage aboard this beautifully restored sailboat and do nothing all day long. Until then I'll keep plugging away.