Under the category of regular maintenance, I’ve finished (refinished?) several varnish and paint projects noted in recent previous posts.  I’ve built up 6 coats of varnish on my fresh re-do of the fore hatch, and reinstalled it. But this time, I also painted the under-side of the hatch, so that it’s nice to look at while we’re lying in bed. It’s also easier to clean now, with a fresh smoothly painted surface.

More coats to come, as the seasons progress and I refresh the varnish 2x per year, but 6 coats is a good place to start.

More coats to come, as the seasons progress and I refresh the varnish 2x per year, but 6 coats is a good place to start.

Fresh paint and no mildew! Just couldn't get the stains off the old finish, no matter how much I scrubbed on it.

Fresh paint and no mildew! Just couldn’t get the stains off the old finish, no matter how much I scrubbed on it.

I also completed a paint project that I’ve been threatening to do for years, and I’m so happy with the result. This isn’t one of those projects that gets a lot of public attention.  It’s another hatch under-side that only we see – our companionway hatch slider. That ugly is hidden with the hatch open, which nearly all the time when we are on board. But at night, and in bad weather we close up, and there it is. . .  scraped, scarred, mildew-stained ugliness. But in the immortal words of Inspector Clouseau, “Not anymore.”

This has got to be one of my favorite accomplishments! It has niggled at me for a long time.

This has got to be one of my favorite accomplishments! It has niggled at me for a long time.

And an on-going project – the varnish repair of the top-side of this same hatch. Occasionally, a small bubble of moisture will form underneath the varnish. I’m loath to strip and refinish the whole thing for a 1-square-inch imperfection. So I cut out the spoiled section and slowly build up the layers in that area, gently using a combination of scrapers and razor blades to shave the excess varnish as it builds up in the wrong place.

See where the repair is? About 2/3 to the right, slightly above center?

See the repair? About 2/3 to the right, roughly centered in the vertical axis.

I applied the sealer coat of varnish to the fore hatch, and re-coated several other pieces of bright work at the same time. This round of varnish re-coating will carry me through the fall until I put the boat away for the winter.

The raw wood soaked up thinned varnish (50% thinner) like a sponge. You can also see an area that I filled with thickened epoxy that was chronically problematic due to the uneven surface. Though not pretty, I think it will hold onto the varnish now.

The raw wood soaked up thinned varnish (50% thinner) like a sponge. Upper right: you can also see an area that I filled with thickened epoxy that was chronically problematic due to the uneven surface. Though not pretty, I think it will hold onto the varnish now. I keep threatening to build a new hatch because of this one’s imperfections imperfections. . .

Slider/companionway hatch decking - I've patched 2 places in the varnish, but they're not complete yet.

Slider/companionway hatch decking – I’ve patched 2 places in the varnish, but they’re not complete yet.

Another revarnished piece that's been problematic. The vent was a Home Depot purchase - it wasn't assembled with waterproof joints/glue, so water has spoiled some of the areas. I'm looking for a different solution to the wood slatted vents.

Another re-varnished piece that’s been problematic. The vent was a Home Depot purchase – it wasn’t assembled with waterproof joints/glue, so water has spoiled some of the areas. I’m looking for a different solution to the wood slatted vents.

 

I’ve been working on a several small maintenance projects – stuff all boaters (especially sail boaters) can relate to.

The first project is a continuation of the previous post – re-bedding stanchions. I’ve done two on the port side, and have moved over to the starboard side, again chasing rainwater leaks. I removed the stanchion opposite the galley cabinet, cleaned all the surfaces, repaired the corroded toe rail with epoxy, and remounted the stanchion bedded in butyl. Access to the fasteners was very difficult – literally, finger-tip access to the nuts under the side deck. I managed to get the washers to stay in place with a bit butyl to stick them on, while I threaded the nuts back on. Photos follow:

Lying on the galley counter on my back - with a boat cushion underneath. Inside the cabinet, underneath the liner.

Lying on the galley counter on my back – with a boat cushion underneath to keep the fiddle from permanently denting my back. Inside the cabinet, underneath the liner.

Corroded aluminum toe rail from galvanic interaction of dissimilar metals.

Corroded aluminum toe rail from galvanic interaction of dissimilar metals.

Missing material filled with thickened epoxy and shaped with a grinder.

Missing material filled with thickened epoxy and shaped with a grinder.

Stanchion remounted. Butyl squeezing out around the edges is visible. I trimmed most of it off before this photo as taken.

Stanchion remounted. Butyl squeezing out around the edges is visible. I trimmed most of it off before this photo as taken.

Next project: hand-sewing strapping for bimini frame (not shown) and sail fore deck stowage bag. This only involved sewing a couple of loops. I had broken one of the bimini straps that was UV rotted. I’ve been gradually replacing the material with UV resistant strapping as they fail. For the sail bag, I just needed to replace a UV-rotted loop that had broken. It involved sewing the loop in the right place on the top of the bag – 10 minute job, tops.

Not a very good photo - I just created the loop by sewing both ends to the top of the bag. I used the Speedy Stitcher.

Not a very good photo – I just created the loop by sewing both ends to the top of the bag. I used the Speedy Stitcher.

Finally, I’ve started the fairly lengthy process of refinishing my fore hatch. The varnish has irreparably failed, and the only thing left to do was to remove all the varnish. I had undercoated the varnish with epoxy, but haven’t had a lot of success with this. It seems that, no matter how well I’ve prepped the surface, the substrate of clear epoxy fails, then the varnish in that area is compromised as well. I think I’m going back to varnish only. It’s a lot easier to repair, and I somehow think it won’t fail as completely/quickly. Also, once the epoxy substrate is compromised, it is very difficult to remove. I spent several hours this afternoon removing all the finish from the hatch. Photos below illustrate:

Tools I used (or tried). For my money, the block plane is not the right tool. Someone else might get it to work, but I couldn't. Scrapers were the correct tool - kept sharp with the mill file every 10 minutes or so.

Tools I used (or tried). For my money, the block plane is not the right tool. Someone else might get it to work, but I couldn’t. Scrapers were the correct tool – kept sharp with the mill file every 10 minutes or so.

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Done! Whew - long couple of hours of scraping.

Done! Whew – long couple of hours of scraping.

After scraping, I sanded with 120 grit. Tomorrow I’ll sand through to 220, then start building the varnish layers.

I have been suspecting this particular stanchion as the source for leaks for quite a while. At one point 6 or 7 years ago, when we were in a shallower slip in this same marina, we had a super low tide. The boat grounded out and leaned over against the finger pier and, I think, slightly bent this particular stanchion. I’ve never re bedded any of the stanchions, so this was the original compound underneath. Stanchions are not designed to be pulled on, and certainly not designed to withstand having the weight of the boat push them into a pier, so I believe that is when it began to leak a good bit.  It may have leaked some before then.

Regardless, I decided that I wasn’t going to hide from the heat today, and ventured down to the boat with my large fan in hand. I set it up on the galley counter, and it made a huge difference in tolerating the heat today. I also put up all my hot-weather canvas and kept as much sun off the boat and myself as possible.

Artificial breeze was critical today.

Artificial breeze was critical today.

The fasteners were impossible to access with the hull liner in the way. I’ve thought about this project for a long time, and had determined that the only way to gain access to the fasteners under the side deck was to cut a window in the liner. I had to remove the stove from this space, and the fold-up table it sits on/sits behind. I moved all the cushions to the v-berth to keep them out of the dust, then donned my respirator and started cutting. Took about 90 seconds.

A 5-inch grinder with a cut-off wheel makes this so easy.

A 5-inch grinder with a cut-off wheel makes this so easy.

This is the view up behind the window in the liner. I've already removed the fasteners and stanchion.

This is the view up behind the window in the liner. I’ve already removed the fasteners and stanchion.

The window made access easy.  I had the fasteners off and the stanchion removed in another 10 minutes. The caulking underneath was insufficient to begin with. I mean, there really wasn’t enough of the old compound down there to begin with.  I scraped it off and cleaned up the surfaces with a wire wheel. There are dissimilar metals involved, so there is also quite a bit of corrosion both on the spacer plate and the toe rail.

Lots of pitting here. Aluminum against steel, with stainless fasteners, frequently dowsed with salt water.

Lots of pitting here. Aluminum against steel, with stainless fasteners, frequently dowsed with salt water. . .

I forgot to photograph the section of the rail before filling with epoxy. It was significantly corroded away, and I had to fill it to make a flat surface for sealing.

I forgot to photograph the section of the rail before filling with epoxy. It was significantly corroded away, and I had to fill it to make a flat surface for sealing.

You can better see the extent of the filled area in this photo.

You can better see the extent of the filled area in this photo, now that the excess epoxy has been sanded away.

I re-bedded the stanchion with butyl, after straightening the stanchion. I was not able to get it completely straight, but it’s much better than before, and I don’t think anyone can tell it was bent now.

You can see a very slight bend to the left at the bottom of the stanchion. It was much more pronounced before I straightened it.

You can see a very slight bend to the left at the bottom of the stanchion.

I refastened the stanchion with lots of butyl between it and the deck, bedded the screw heads and tightened it down. I got lots of squeeze-out, which is good. That’s how you know you’ve used enough bedding compound. After that, I made a cover panel for the window in the liner. I had some fiberglass left from when I enlarged my engine compartment a couple of years ago, and it was the right thickness and color.

Not a perfect piece, but it will be pretty much out of sight anyway.

Not a perfect piece, but it will be pretty much out of sight anyway.

I spent another 15 minutes picking up and cleaning up, but left most of the tools out for re-bedding the next suspect stanchion in my quest to stop leaks. Here’s a photo of the remounted stanchion. It used to lean inward toward the coach-roof, but it looks straight now.

It' s the first stanchion forward of the blue cloth in the toe rail.

It’ s the first stanchion forward of the blue cloth in the toe rail.

We were invited out for a ride on a friend’s 41 foot down east-style yacht to view the race in mid-fleet, as it were. We had a wonderful afternoon/evening of looking at and photographing beautiful, fast yachts sailing in pretty gusty conditions. I’ve posted a few photos below – if you’re like me, looking at photos of beautiful sailing yachts is almost as good as sailing.  Enjoy!

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While backing Cay of Sea into our slip with Ruth at the helm, she shifted into reverse and applied a good bit of throttle to change direction of the boat. Then while attempting to counterbalance the reverse thrust in forward, she moved the throttle forward after shifting gears, and nothing happened.

Huh?

I instantly thought the fitting that holds the cable-end captive had let go, but on inspection found that the cable had broken at the throttle-lever end. I disconnected both ends and slipped it out of place to examine the break. That’s when the end of the inner cable came out of the outer jacket entirely.

This is what came out of the red, outer jacket of the cable.

This is what came out of the red, outer jacket of the cable.

You can see the threads and nut on the rod that attaches to the control lever. The other end has the single strand cable captured in it, sort of like a swage fitting. So my conclusion is that the steel strand that actually moves inside the jacket was allowed to work and flex right at the connection point to the threaded rod end. Eventually (last week) it became brittle and broke.

The other end of the cable, on the right of the photo, is exactly the same as the end that broke. At left are the two pieces that should be connected.

The other end of the cable, on the right of the photo, is exactly the same as the end that broke. At left are the two pieces that should be connected, and there should be single strand cable protruding out the end of the red jacket, but it was lost inside the jacket.

The single strand should be exiting the right end of the this fitting, and connecting to the threaded rod.

The single strand should be exiting the right end of this fitting, and connecting to the threaded rod.

So I ordered another through Amazon: $23, and if you have have Amazon Prime there is no shipping charge (here’s the link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004LF7364/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1).

When I install it, I think I’ll try and capture the lever-end of the cable so that the strand doesn’t flex. Maybe I’ll get more than 10 years out of the next cable!

Last Friday, after a very busy week for Ruth, we stepped on board the boat and cast off for parts unknown. Really, our destination was unknown, as I looked at the wind forecast. I thought we might go north to Rhode River, but after an hour and a half of really great sailing, a giant storm cloud rolled in from the direction we wished to travel. It was a thunderstorm, and there was no good option really, but we decided to run away east, instead of sailing directly into its teeth.  Turns out, it didn’t make much difference what we did, because the storm chased us east and south, overtaking us about 2/3 the way across the bay. Fortunately, the storm wasn’t nearly as bad as it looked. I got damp – not even soaked – and Ruth took refuge down below.

We made Knapps Narrows in clear weather, and motored up to Dun Cove. We would have gone up to Drew’s Cove, but we had just finished what would have ordinarily been a 3-4 hour crossing in 5-plus hours, and we were getting hungry and tired, and Dun Cove was right at hand.

There was one other boat in the cove, and we anchored well away from it. Our “new” 33# delta set fast and hard with no drama, and we didn’t budge from that spot.

The only other boat in Dun Cove

The only other boat in Dun Cove

Dinner, reading, and bed. A restless night for me, despite feeling very secure about the anchor set. I think this is more related to the onset of old age. . . As a “younger adult” I used to sleep really hard and wake up really hard. Not so much anymore.

Ruth rose before I did and made coffee. As often happens at anchor, her day began when awakened by crabbers  – “chicken neckers” – puttering about the anchorage, often very near our boat, speaking in not-very-hushed-tones. They don’t realize there are people sleeping on board at 0530.

Intent upon their quarry

Intent upon their quarry

Ah well, they provided the morning entertainment, especially when they’re confronted with a larger-than-normal crab. You’d think they’d hooked a whale, judging by their excitement!

We hung out at anchor until about 1100, then cast off for home. 3 hours of motoring gets us back to home port at 5 knots (average speed) when the wind doesn’t cooperate – which it didn’t on Saturday. But time on the water is satisfying regardless. We were tired when we got back, but refreshed too. Looking forward to the next time!

Pelicans are an unusual sight for the this area of the bay. I grew up seeing them in Florida, and it was nice to see these last week too.

Pelicans are an unusual sight for the this area of the bay. I grew up seeing them in Florida, and it was nice to see these last week too.

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