Friday, January 31, 2014

Varnishing, (NOT AGAIN!!!!!!!!)

Real quick.

Varnishing is just about as asinine as it gets on a boat. You take a great looking finish,
attack it with sand paper until every bit of that gloss is gone,
then you go and put it back on again. Looks great when your finished doing your “penance”.

Boy! does it ever bead up water after you put a fresh coat of varnish on.
 I feel like Sisyphus who had to roll the rock back up the hill every day only with me, it’s varnish twice a year.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The family “car”

When you live on a boat your dinghy becomes your “car”. Need a gallon of milk? Hop into the dinghy and head into the store. Going to another boat? Yup, into the dinghy and start up the engine. Setting out a spare anchor… into the dinghy, anchor and all, and take off.  We started out with an old, leaky dinghy and an old engine that sounded like a chainsaw when ever it decide to run. After a year or so we bought a new motor and a better used dinghy that also tended to leak. After that we found an off brand dinghy at the boat show, Big Dog Boats. 

The boat at the boat show
This dinghy looked good, it was the right size and the price was right… the only trouble was... it was not put together very well. This Chinese manufactured dinghy was sold in the USA by a company called Big Dog Boats and just as the saying goes, “you get what you pay for”.  After 2 partial years of use, here’s a pictorial of everything that has gone wrong with this brand of dinghy. 

outside hand holds coming off

every line that ties something to the boat rotted from the sun

"D" rings that are made of steel that was chrome plated instead of stainless steel

transom that is delaminating after 2 years (dinghy used only 6 months each year)

notice "Bubbles"? Air floor has two leaks at the seals

plastic connector on seat broke

The last straw happened when I was returning to the Snow Goose and I noticed that the entire back of the boat had come loose! The wooden transom that the engine sits on had un-glued from the rubber boat! This is a bad thing. I calked the transom back into place then put screws into the rubber flange to hold it tight. 
entire transom came loose... the glue failed
I glued and screwed the transom back into place

This boat represents typical Chinese manufacturing, looks great but made to a sub-standard quality.  So, if you ever see a Big Dog Boat for sale… beware!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Saltwater woe’s,

Every year I go up the rig and inspect the wires that hold up the mast. I not only check the wires but more importantly the end fittings. Well, this year I found a bit of trouble, 5 of the end fittings on my standing rigging were cracked.This is a "bad" thing for if the end fittings fail the wires that hold the mast up can come loose and the mast falls down when under high stress, like, Oh say, in a storm! Salt water gets onto the wires and wicks it’s way down into the end fittings. Once there the salt begins to rust the “stainless steel”. When steel rusts, it grows in size and with no where to go, it’s like water freezeing in a glass jar, (only this is a stainless steel fitting) and it cracks the fitting. 

crack at the bottom by the wire
One of the cracked end fittings was on a jumper strut wire (up on the top of the main mast), two were on the end fittings that hold the main mast up and two more were part of the rigging for our second mast, the mizzen mast. I started on the main mast by climbing up and unhooking the bad wire, taking it down, replacing the end and reinstalling it. Sounds easy until you have to undo cotter pins, knock out clevis pins, unscrew the tips of the spreaders (to release the wires) all while hanging from a bosons chair 50ft+ above the deck in a wind.

Next it was the Mizzen and the main standing rigging. Here’s a pictorial of what it takes to replace a 3/16th end fitting with a “stayloc” brand wire fitting.

I use these large cable cutters which are NOT chain cutters

cable cutters "shear" cut so you get a clean cut wire

cut the wire close to the bad fitting

excellent clean cut

old on left, new Stay Lock on right

put the tappered plug over the inner wire and slide it down into the outter wires

Now, bend the very end of the outter wires to follow the bevel of the inner tappered plug

Now, put some silicon calk into the wires to keep that rotten salt water out

slid the end on and

screw it together

finally, tighten the two down really tight

Here are the five ends that I cut off showing the cracks on each one!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


Lately we have had several fronts come thru here. It doesn't bring cold and snow what it brings is wind. Between the fronts, when it's calm, we get some pretty sunsets too.
looking out over the gulf

sunset in the anchorage

Deck leaks

Unlike “normal” boaters who have fiberglass boats with decks that (for the most part) don’t leak I have a deck make out of wood, teak to be precise and if you don’t take care of it it will leak. The deck was 1 ¼  inch thick when it was new. It was installed by screwing each piece of teak decking in place from the bottom up( instead of the more conventional way of screwing it from the top down). Well, over the years, the deck is slowly wearing away and in a few places the tips of the screws are starting to poke thru the deck or the surface of the deck is cracking where these screw tips are just under the surface allowing water to soak thru.

The cure is to take a dremal tool with a carbide grinding tip and slowly grind the tip of the screw away. Then drill out the hole and installing a wood plug. First though, I had to make some teak plugs. Doing this on a boat without a drill press was a real challenge.
in the cockpit drilling plugs

ready to install
Then it was time to grind the tips away, drill the holes and glue the plugs into the deck.

cutting around the screw tip

screw tip before I cut it off

after the tip is gone I drill out the hole for the plug

glue the hole and the plug

here's a couple of plugs glued and drying
 I also had a few areas that were too large for a plug (splitting wood or areas of rot) so I made up “Dutchman’s” which are pieces of wood that tightly fit into holes that I had chiseled into the deck. Every year I seem to have a few of these breakthroughs that need attention. At this rate, my deck will be nothing but plugs and patches!

dutchman installed and planed down

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Back home

Anna’s posted a bit on the main page of the website but I will also update everyone here. She went in for a rapid heart beat (140+) and to slow it down they hit her with the paddles, 10,000 volts and Bam, it reset her heart to 60 beats/min. We are back home and doing fine enough to pose for a silly picture.
Not sure that I'd want this boat name

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Back in the hospital again, rapid heart beat... More later

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Seagull wars

The local seagulls have taken up residency on the top of my main mast. Yes, those beautiful, laughing gulls… those forever defecating, worthless, mess making gulls. I have retaliated by “snapping” the rigging wires which scares the gulls off the top of the mast for a few minutes. The war increased when, as I was climbing the mast, one of the buggers unloaded a bomb on top of me! How RUDE! I have taken the war to their home base by installing spikes on top of the mast! Now their in for a sore foot if they try to land. The winner….. Rich!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Anna update

As you know, they took Anna to Mount Sinai hospital in Miami yesterday and today they did some tests and decided that they had to send a catheter in to the heart to dye check for blockages. Long and short, they found 2 blockages (90+ %) and put in two stints. She is doing well and should be out and hitchhiking back to the boat by tomorrow...

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Off to Miami

Real quick, The hospital here in Marathon decided that Anna needed more expertise than they had on staff and sent her up to Miami to Mt. Sinai Hospital where they have a top notch heart hospital. It’s suddenly turned cold and windy and lonely on the boat.
Be back soon!

Trouble in Marathon

on drugs but feeling better
Sorry for not putting anything on the blog for a few weeks but it’s been a busy time down here. Socializing and maintenance take up the days. Yesterday Anna didn’t feel too well and by the afternoon she decided that a trip to the hospital might be a good idea. It’s a short 2 block walk and when she got there they found her heart in atrial fibrillation (a bad thing). Through the use of drugs the top half of her heart went from a 160+ heart beat back down to the 90’s and started to beat in sync with the bottom half of her heart. No wonder she felt like “dog dodo” warmed over. Good news is no apparent damage and drugs can take care of keeping her heart in sync.