After 8 years of pretty much continuous use, I needed to strip and revarnish the drop boards. I’ve repaired nicks, dings, chips and breaks in the finish up to now, but there have developed several dark spots under compromised varnish that are too extensive to repair.  The boards are red oak, which is a strong, heavy material that looks beautiful under varnish.  The drawback with this wood is that it is prone to rot, which means any break in the protective finish needs to be repaired right away, or deep dark stains result, followed by deterioration.

The middle board has two vents built into it for fresh air movement.  With the forward hatch open an inch or so and the vents in the middle drop board, I never have any problem with mold/mildew through the sailing season, and not much of a problem during the winter when the cover is on.  However, where the vents are epoxied into the board has been a problem area, and it’s been difficult to keep them sealed from the weather. Aside from chips and wear spots on the upper and lower boards, the middle board in the vent area is affected the most.

I spent several hours out of two days with chemical stripper and a scraper, only to remember a little later that a heat gun would have done a more efficient job. The heat gun is not the tool for the epoxy-glued vents. Heat would weaken the glue bond and I’d have more problems, so regardless I would have needed to use the chemical stripper on the middle board.

It’s a messy process. The only way I could do this at the pier was because it was a windless day, and I could collect all the varnish shavings.

There were many, many coats of varnish to remove. 16 or 20, probably.  This is because I refresh the finish at least once each year, often twice. It’s not really a lot of labor to refresh the varnish – really, just a light sanding with fine sand paper, wipe down with mineral spirits, and then a quick coat of new vanish thinned 10 to 15% with mineral spirits or paint thinner. But it does build up and begin to look bad after years of refresher coats, and needs to be all removed. An important tool for this job is a paint scraper (or two) with a mill file handy to sharped the blade every so often. It is surprising how tough the varnish layers really are. They were hard to remove.

The louvers in the vents, as you can imagine, were the most tedious to prepare. I used the scraper and several applications of stripper, working on both sides of the board. After that, I wrapped sandpaper around a paint stir and sanded all of the interior surfaces of the louvers.

It looks most of the way stripped here, but it’s actually only about half done. Two or three more applications of stripper were needed to get most of the varnish off.

This board is finally done, and I have also bleached it to remove any water stains that stripper didn’t get.

I used oxalic acid to get any dark stains out of the wood, followed by a neutralizer (baking soda in water). I discovered a few years ago, that if the acid isn’t thoroughly neutralized – not just rinsed with water – that the finish would turn milky underneath the varnish after some time in the sun.

The vents are taped off so that I can fill the seams between the board and vents with thickened epoxy. The sanding process excavated some of the original expoy. This is also where the finish failed, and I want to ensure that the crevices are completely filled and sealed.

First sealer coat of varnish applied. Not very shiny yet, but protected against the weather until I can add additional coats.

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Cay of Sea is unwrapped, sanded, painted, signed, sealed. . .  but not delivered. I’m waiting for the boat yard to launch her.

As usual, I used Hydrocoat antifouling paint, and continue to be satisfied with its performance. It effectively keeps the hard growth at bay for two seasons, and is easy to sand smooth after the second year, prior to recoat.

The winter cover greatly reduces deterioration due to weathering, and effectively keeps rain water on the outside. Like most older boats, Cay of Sea has her share of deck leaks, typically along the gunnels. Eventually I’ll need to recore the side decks and rebed hardware. The decks aren’t soft anywhere, but I know there are sections of saturated core along the sides.

Here are a few photos of the spring work.

 

Winter storage

Sanding in progress

Sanding complete. Topsides washed and waxed.

Not shown, but I coated the prop with cold galvanizing spray this year. I usually use bottom paint, which works fairly well. We’ll see how it works – I’ve heard good reports.

Starboard view.

 

Cay of Sea is finally buttoned up for the winter. Although she’s been hauled out for 6 weeks now, we’ve finally finished the alterations on the winter cover, and it fits nice and tight.

Alterations involved cutting appropriately placed slots for stanchions and shrouds, then sewing binding tape around the newly cut slots. We also needed to take material out of the stern section. This area was marked with a sharpie, pinned together into “darts,” then sewn up along the marked seam lines.  Finally, the excess material was removed from underneath the darts. My wife, having sewn a great deal in her younger life, knew exactly what to do, and did a great job.

All in all, it wasn’t a marathon sewing session. Just a couple hours on two different days. The final day of sewing involved a trip to the boat (just a mile away from our house) to fit and evaluate the alterations. Then a final session with the sewing machine finishing up the last details.  Here are some photos of the process.

Cutting new relief slots for stanchions and shrouds.

Cutting strips of excess material on the bias to be made into binding tape.

Sewing the tape along the raw edges of material.

A finished slot, raw edges bound with tape. There were probably 10-12 of these slots to bind with tape.

There’s the finished product.

Compare with last years’ arrangement, when the cover was just put on any way it would fit:

The alterations made a big difference. Now it lays flat and tight without bunchy gatherings where the cutouts were in the wrong places.

Many thanks to Kate and Frank for the use of their excellent Sailrite sewing machine!

Here are links to previous posts on this subject:

https://middlebaysailing.wordpress.com/2016/10/18/score-winter-cover/

https://middlebaysailing.wordpress.com/2017/01/07/winter-cover/

 

I finished the sailing season with a series of solo day sails, as my mate was deeply involved in an art show for the past two weeks of the season. Now with holiday madness upon us, it’s time to haul and put Cay of Sea to bed for the season. Here’s a photo from one of my final days on the water.

One of those beautiful light, sky, and water moments.

As usual for haul-out time, I pumped all the water out of the bow tank and “shop-vaced” the water lines clear. I pumped antifreeze into the holding tank (which was empty except for that last half-gallon that you can’t get out), and left the head as-is this year.  Next spring will require a head rebuild anyway, so no need to disassemble now.

The next morning I warmed up the engine, then extracted the old oil. Removed the filter, installed new, and refilled with oil. Now we’re ready to motor across the creek for haul-out and winter storage. On the way over, I met the boatyard crew in the yard skiff – they were coming to get Cay of Sea, as today was the scheduled time to haul and they wanted to get it done! They turned around and followed me back to the travel lift slip, promptly lifting her out as I stood and watched.

Hanging in the slings.

I’m still happy with Hydrocoat anti-fouling paint. Second year on this application and there were very few barnacles. Lot’s of “muddy” soft growth, which is typical for this area, though. I scrubbed the bottom twice this year, so there was certainly less growth than if I had not done so, but I was still pleased with the shape she was in. I had maybe six or seven barnacles on the prop, and six or seven scattered elsewhere on the hull.

There are a of couple barnacles left on the prop after power washing. Not too bad. Hydrocoat stays on the prop through the year. I repainted the prop last spring.

Scotty is blasting the mud-growth off.

Soft growth before power washing.

Heading to her parking spot for the winter.

Shipwright Harbor, where I haul out each year, has changed ownership. The new owners are investing lots of money into the property and have re-landscaped, renovated the pool and deck area, cleared out all the storage (aka abandoned) boats, rebuilt piers, installed new pilings and aprons along the bulkhead. They’ve also changed practices for blocking and hauling, which seem much safer than before. I was never concerned with the safety elements before, but these changes make a lot of sense to me: now they block the boats much lower, keeping the center of gravity lower and less exposed to shifting in windy conditions. They also now place a plywood pad underneath each foot of each boat stand to keep the stand from sinking into the gravel through freeze and thaw cycles. Each boat now has a bow chock (never did before). Finally, the travel lift never moves without a spotter, and the boats aren’t parked as closely together as they used to be. All this seems like common-sense precaution and safety to me. I really appreciate it.

Blocked, chocked, and set for the winter.

I still have to finish altering the fit of her canvas cover, then install it. Another couple of posts on that forthcoming.

This was one of the days you dream about. Wind 13-15, temp 72F, crystal clear sky. About 1430 I said to my wife, “I have to go out on the boat. Wanna go?” She really did, but couldn’t – had stuff to do.

I got the boat ready and cast off. Went 200 yards and turned around. The engine was surging suspiciously. Fuel, obviously – filter? No. . . that’s the way it acts when it’s low on fuel. I eased back into my slip and didn’t even tie up. Dug my two jerry cans of fuel out of the lazarette and put all 11 gallons in the tank. It holds 13. That pretty much confirmed the symptoms I was experiencing as low fuel. Like many sailors, I have a fuel gauge on board, but it doesn’t work! It used to, but was never very accurate. I’m pretty sure I can bring it back to life with a little cleaning and adjustment of the float mechanism, but it’s not one of the more fun maintenance items, and if you carry extra fuel, it’s not really a problem.

Back out the creek, out into the bay (no engine surging now), out of the traffic area. There are white caps, the wind is SE with lots of fetch kick up the chop. I set reefs in both sails before raising, and off we go at 5+ knots – late season hull fouling taking half-to-three-quarters of a knot off our speed.

I love the way the reefed headsail sets. The shape is perfect!

With the reefs I was comfortable and controlled, but hard on the wind, we were heeling a fair amount. Out 5 miles past the pound nets. Not many other boats out today. I passed one other sailboat. He was on the opposite tack, sailing down my reciprocal course. We waved. By then we were out in the open bay and shore breeze had stopped affecting the wind strength and direction, so our angle of heel was less.

I tacked, and followed the other boat back the way we came. The afternoon was getting old and the wind was consistently more moderate as evening drew near. Still, the reef was a comfortable way to sail.

Sailing back down the outbound course, opposite tack.

We crossed the channel, out of the traffic lanes, and hove to. Dropped and bagged the sails and motored towards the creek entrance.

Backing in with a little trouble – wind on the stern, I kept having to bump back into forward with opposite helm to get lined up – then we were parked, tied up, cleaned up, closed up.

I took a few photos of the varnish-fortified Cetol teak.

As it turns out, the shiny bits are hard to capture with a cell phone camera. I’ve gotten lazy – I used to use my dslr for all of this stuff.You know you have the right boat when you keep looking back at her as you walk away.

Hey, this is a different view for me –

Without the tiller pilot, I can rarely leave the helm. Note the fishing rods along the starboard side of the coach roof.

It’s really cool to get out of the cockpit and stand on the bow while motoring. I can do this under sail also, if the wind is moderate. Not a big deal I guess, just novel for me.

I’ve been on the bay several times lately – not sailing so much, as the wind has been very calm – but drifting, and. . .  fishing! Yes, another novel thing for me to do. I fished with my dad all the time growing up, but haven’t done so for years. When we moved from Jacksonville to Washington DC, I got rid of all my fishing gear, seeing that the kids we grown up and I didn’t have that much interest in it beyond the kids’ interest. But I’ve gotten my line wet several times this year (acquired some gear at the second-hand store near me). Sadly, my skills are less than poor. I haven’t even gotten a bite this year! Truth be told, I was never a very good fisherman and things very obviously haven’t changed in the intervening years. Oh well. . . actually, it’s kind of better if the fish don’t bite. That way my solitude isn’t interrupted. Still, my son and I are going this Saturday, and we are anticipating catching more fish than we can manage ;-).

I’ve started my fall rounds of varnishing with the nice weather. I discovered something interesting last year, and have decided to experiment a bit more with it. Last fall, I had a little varnish left over in my container, and wanting to use the same container for Cetol. . .  I mixed the two together. It was mostly Cetol, so I didn’t think a very little bit of varnish would have any effect. I was wrong. The varnish made the Cetol finish glossy. I noticed this fall that the small piece of wood finished like this suffered almost zero degradation since last fall, unlike the Cetol-only pieces. Hmmm. . .  So I mixed some varnish and Cetol and recoated all the woodwork that usually got only Cetol. We’ll see how it stands up over the next year. I like the way it looks too – it’s the dark natural finish Cetol, but has a hard glossy shine to it. I’ll get some photos of it next time I’m down at the boat.

Drifting around today, I hauled out my light-air sail and hoisted it. It’s actually (probably) a mizzen staysail from a ketch, but it’s so light-weight that it works okay as a sort of asymmetrical spinnaker with a high clew. It filled and drew well in about 3-5 knots of breeze. It’s fun to just slowly ghost along with a sail that draws that nicely. I should have taken a photo, but, well, I didn’t!

I’ve been away. Literally and figuratively. We travel far and long this summer (to S. Korea and back), and spent every free moment with our kids who were moving there (before they left).

But, I’m back now.

We’ve been day-sailing recently and had an over-night with a group of friends over Labor Day in the Rhode River. Last week I finally installed and satisfactorily tested a tiller pilot that I picked up for cheap at a second-hand marine shop ($40.00!). As I’ve experienced with my previous tiller pilot (that gave up the ghost about 5 years ago), it isn’t strong or fast enough to steer the boat in a brisk wind, but in moderate conditions it’s okay, and of course for motoring it’s excellent.

As you can see, I had to adapt the old bracket with an extension because this unit is shorter than my old one. This is a prototype bracket, and I need to make one that looks a bit more shippy.

I’ve done a couple other small projects on the boat, mostly by way of keeping the appearance and functionality intact (the continuous refit). Otherwise, she’s been sailing great and doing exactly what we want her to do.

Some boaters get 5-foot-itis – the desire to get a bigger boat. We keep pushing that away, knowing that for how we sail and cruise, Cay of Sea is just perfect for us. We are so satisfied with her size, seaworthiness, and cost! Besides that, I can’t imagine starting all over again with a different boat. There is always so much to do with a boat before you trust her completely, know her systems, know the status of all her maintenance items.

We’re completely comfortable with boat we have!

 

 

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