Spring 2007 Maintenance and Preparations

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June 4 & 6, 2007:  Launching
Bad weather on Monday, June 4 caused me to cancel the launching--but not until we reached the public ramp in Rockland and could truly see the conditions.  What a pain.  Fortunately, I was able to reschedule for Wednesday, June 6.

Please click here to read all about the launching.

June 2, 2007
After a couple weeks where I didn't really do that much on the boat--since she was more or less ready for launch--I spent a couple days taking care of the final pre-launch projects, such as loading cushions, sails, and other gear on board, installing the anchor rollers, anchor rodes, and anchors, and taking care of a few minor chores.

Then, on Saturday I rigged up the mast with its halyards and stays, a process that took several hours including securing the mast to the pulpits for transport on Monday.  I also washed the decks one more time to rid them of grime from the past month.

With that, the boat was ready for launch.  All I had to do was put the boom on deck.


May 11, 2007
Last week, I rescheduled my launching date for June 4--not because I wanted or needed to go in later, but because I came to the conclusion that I really wanted to stick with Steve for my boat moving, and just wasn't comfortable with the other arrangements I had made. 

The boat is basically ready to go in now, though I still have a short list of projects that I hope--and expect--to get done over the next few weeks.  The late launch date is truly relaxing and luxurious, in a way.  And, frankly, sailing season doesn't get going up here till June anyway, as much as it'd be nice to extend it.  But early launches tend to lead to disappointment, non-use, and, all too often, nasty spring storms to worry about.  So while I am still bothered by the (gasp!) June launching date on some level, it is actually working out extremely nicely for me this year, particularly with so much going on at work and with the house, and with the whole new boat relocation thing happening.

May 8, 2007
Contain your excitement:  today, I varnished the other side of the coamings, and I don't even have pictures to show you!

May 6, 2007
Over the weekend, I installed the stanchions and lifelines, and fabricated new chainplate deck covers to replace the old, which were a few years old and needed rebedding.   Since commercially available plates don't fit in the space I have, I have always built simple 1/4" thick sections of mahogany with slots cut out for the chainplates. After removing the old ones, I bedded the new ones with a heavy glop of polysulfide.

Sunday, I decided to paint the bottom and get that out of the way.  In a few days, I'll move the stands and paint the areas that I couldn't get during the first round.


May 1, 2007
Last weekend, I spent part of Saturday afternoon working on the engine--first an overall inspection, then reassembly of the water pump, and finally a test run.  Not unexpectedly--yet still somehow surprisingly--the engine started immediately, as if I had only shut it down a few minutes earlier rather than a year and a half ago.  The Yanmar is always a champ.  I ran the engine for some minutes, confirmed that the charging system was working properly, and enjoyed the moment.

Sunday, I carted load after load of gear down from the attic so that it would be readily accessible for loading and inspection.  I also reorganized my fastener box, as I had picked up a new storage system to replace the heavy, unwieldy, and inefficient large tackle box that I had used before.  The old box, still containing larger fasteners and other random spare parts, would need to remain on board, but now the basic screws and bolts that I'd typically need for maintenance or repairs would be better organized for easier use.

Tuesday, I sanded down the coamings, lazarette hatch, and tiller, and applied a coat of varnish to all (one side of the coamings only at this time, of course).  All were in good condition and required only maintenance coats.  After I have a chance to apply a coat of new varnish to the other side of the coamings in a few days, I'll reinstall these pieces on the boat where they belong.


April 27, 2007
The great stretch of weather continued through Wednesday, allowing me to get 5 coats of varnish on the toerails.   I needed to take down the staging Wednesday afternoon for use in the shop again after my short break, but at least I now had enough varnish on the toerails to take the pressure off.  With luck, I'll manage a few more coats sometime between now and launching, but there's enough to last the season if it absolutely had to. 

There's still varnish work required on deck, in areas that I can reach without staging.  And there's a host of engine maintenance tasks ahead, including fuel and oil filters and a careful inspection, since the engine hasn't run since September '05.

Launching date is May 29, the day after Memorial Day.  We'll see how that all goes, with an untested hauler and a new boatyard for mast stepping. 



April 23, 2007
I had many errands to run today, taking advantage of one of the few days off I allow myself during the week, thanks to a brief period of downtime before my next work project began later in the week.

Among my errands was a trip to Ed's Batteries to replace my aged trio of boat batteries.  The two Trojan T-105s and single Trojan starting battery had served me well since 2001, but I had noticed some decrease in performance during our last sailing season in 2005, and last year, 2006, was the kiss of death for the batteries; I had hooked them up and left them aboard during the summer to allow the bilge pump to drain any rainwater, but never paid them much attention, and they wouldn't take a charge now.

I replaced them in kind with a new pair of T105s and a new Trojan 24SM850 starting battery.  The price on the T105s had increased substantially since I bought the first pair.

When I got back to the boat late in the morning, I installed the new batteries--always a fun chore on this boat, given the limited access.  Then, I sanded the toerails and sea hood top again (the sea hood sides were in good condition and needed only maintenance coats, which I'll apply once I build up several base coats on the top) and applied more varnish.  It was extremely warm today--in the 80s, which set records across the state.  Too hot for varnish, really, but since they were base coats I didn't worry too much about it.

I took these photos early the next morning after a brief rain shower.



April 22, 2007
With clear skies yet again and more warm temperatures, I decided this morning to get the bronze port frames refinished and over with--a more or less annual ritual, though I didn't touch them during last year's "season of neglect", and they were in surprisingly good condition this spring--though with flaking lacquer in some areas they clearly needed to be refinished.  These two photos showing the beginning condition are pretty poor...sorry.


As usual, the preparation and masking took far more time than the actual work.  I began by masking off the inside and outside of all the frames,  after which I sanded them with 80 and 220 grits to remove flaking lacquer and clean them up a bit.  As usual, I didn't obsess over this; I like the old patina, and have never spent huge amounts of time on prep.  I go for the aged, yet bright, bronze appearance.

Next came my favorite part--and by far the most annoying and time-consuming:  applying masking paper around all the ports so that the spray lacquer wouldn't coat the adjacent surfaces.  This took forever...plus, I don't get the newspaper anymore, and therefore had little in the way of material to use for the purpose.  I began using paper that had been used as packing material in some boxes I had recently received, but the paper was in poor shape and tore easily--very frustrating. Then, I happened upon a large roll of red rosin paper left over from the house construction, and this worked well for the remaining ports--although it was far heavier than required for the job.

With all the ports finally masked off--I rushed to try and beat the wind--I applied several coats of exterior spray lacquer to all the ports.  At this time, I only did the eight ports I could reach from the staging; the two forward-facing ports in the saloon could wait till later.  But I had a limited amount of time before I'd need the staging back in the shop for my next  work project, so I concentrated for now only on those areas for which I truly needed the staging.



Once the lacquer was dry, I sanded the toerails with 320 grit to prepare them for more varnish.  Then, I stripped the top of the sea hood, using first the carbide scraper and then a DA sander with 120 grit.  The loose and flaked varnish came off easily, of course, but the remaining varnish--probably 15-20 coats' worth--was surprisingly difficult to remove.  It was a foregone conclusion that the mahogany plywood veneer forming the top of the sea hood would probably be compromised during this process, since there were already a few areas near the edge where I had sanded a little too much during the original construction.  The top was in such poor condition that I figured I'd do what I could, and hope for the best. 

I ended up with a few thin spots in the veneer, but there wasn't much I could do about that.  I hoped the overall effect would be minimal in the end, but I was already mulling over ideas for redoing the top of the sea hood without needing to rebuild the whole thing.  That would come later, though.

It was warm in the sun, and the first coat of thin varnish I applied to the sea hood dried quickly, so I applied a second coat later in the day.  Then, I applied the second coat to the toerails.

April 21, 2007
The weather was gorgeous, and unseasonably warm, and I got right to work on the toerails this morning.  The toerails--particularly their top, horizontal edges--were in horrible condition, with the varnish severely crazed and worn away, and clearly my only route was to strip them completely.  IN addition, some of the other brightwork on board was in similarly poor condition, particularly the sea hood top (which had been declining for the past couple seasons anyway).  But overall, the toerails represented the most work.

Using a carbide scraper, I scraped off the varnish from the top of the toerails and from the inside portions as well, which were also suffering from neglect and showed many areas where water had gotten behind the varnish, lifting it in sheets.  The exterior portion of the rails, however, were still in sound condition, and I didn't bother stripping them to bare wood, choosing instead to simply sand them thoroughly.



It was amazing to see how one year of neglectful maintenance can begin ruining a boat.  With no time to spare last year, I didn't do anything on the boat at all, and things had really gone to seed.  It was depressing, but I was energized to start the restoration work.

Once I had stripped off the varnish with the scraper--which went quite easily for the most part--I sanded the toerails with 80, 120, and 220 grits, using a sanding block where possible and finishing with hand sandpaper for the rounded edges and tight spots.  I was pleased to find that the rails cleaned up nicely, with no staining.



Next, I masked off the deck and the brass rubrail, and applied the first coat of varnish to the bare wood, using a thinned-down mixture to best allow it to soak in.  And thus began a long process of building up as many coats as I could during the unpredictable spring weather.


April 20, 2007
Although my decision to not put the boat in the water last season was the right one, given the amount of time I spent building our new house, it was still difficult to go a full year without the boat, and I was starting to really look forward to this season's boating.

Because of travel plans, we pulled the boat early at the end of the 2005 season--September 9, in fact.  So it had been a long time since she was in the water--by the time we reach our scheduled launch date of May 29 this year, it will be 627 days.

April didn't work out well at all for boats, since we had two late-season snowstorms (14" and 6") during the first two weeks of the month, followed a week later by the so-called "Patriot's Day" or "Tax Day" northeaster, which brought high winds and heavy rain.

So, much later than usual, I finally managed to uncover the boat today.  It was pleasantly warm, and I pulled the cover off early in the morning before the wind had time to pick up.  Later in the day, I removed the framework and chafe gear, as well as the cockpit coamings so that I could refinish them inside.  Fortunately, the coamings were still in good condition and required only maintenance coats of varnish.

First and foremost on my work list for the spring was a substantial bath:  both above and belowdecks.  I had washed the boat last September before putting on the cover--she was filthy then after her long summer of non-use--but winter is always tough on the boat, and before I could do anything else I had to start with a clean canvas.  So I scrubbed the decks and hull, and then cleaned up below, cleaning all the countertops, woodwork, and lockers.  Much better.

With that done, I set up some staging around the boat so that I could get to work on the most important job for the spring:  refinishing the toerails (and other brightwork.


Glissando, Pearson  Triton #381

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