Friday, July 27, 2012

Mai Tais and...bottom paint?

Listening to "Social Aid and Pleasure Club" by The Subdudes

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Last saturday I spent the day cleaning and scraping the engine in preparation to paint, but after careful consideration that has been put on hold.  Drake and I realized that we needed to be able to turn on the engine at various times during the process and, since we are on the hard, that is not possible right now.  Fear not!  I was able to transition rather smoothly into another task that was sorely needed, namely painting the hull.

Now, I have to say that when I told my friends that I was moving onto a boat most of them pictured beautiful blue water, sunsets near a lovely island paradise, and a Mai Tai always in hand.  One friend even expressed concern that I would fall victim to something she referred to as "rum fatigue" and suggested we beef up my tolerance immediately.  I hate to disappoint them, but my reality is quite different from that rosy facade.  You are more likely to find me cleaning, scraping, sanding, or editing than lounging in the cockpit with a drink at hand.  The only time I have gotten any sun lately has been while riding my bike to West Marine or scrubbing the deck.  Or painting...

a close up of Drake rolling on the topside paint

Drake and I have spent the last several days painting Paragon, and the whole process is nearing completion.  Drake attacked the topsides since the rather toxic and nefarious concoction of paint and mixers freaks me out.  It creates a beautiful finish, but I wouldn't want to stand in an enclosed room with this stuff unless I had a serious desire to kill off some brain cells.  He also painted an initial blue coat of paint on the hull to show me where the paint needed to go while I followed with two coats of red.  Weather cooperated a bit by staying at or under 90˚F/32˚C, but the heat was still overwhelming at times.  As I raised the roller to apply a coat of paint I could feel rivers of sweat escaping my protective plastic gloves and running down my arms.  Never before had I realized that I could sweat so profusely from my hands, however, the hard work was justified when I saw the finished product.  

look at that reflection...

roll and tip...

almost done

With shiny new topsides and a demure red hull, Paragon is beginning to look like the travelin' lady I have always pictured.  She is a phoenix arising from her thirty-six year old ashes and, my, what a beauty.  I start preparing the boot stripe to be painted tomorrow which brings us one step closer to getting back in the water and heading north.

look at that finish

Monday, July 23, 2012

The blank canvas

Listening to "Death Letter" by Cassandra Wilson

I believe napkins are forms of creative inspiration.  Their blank smoothness and texture literally cradle the mind for the epiphany to come.  How many great portraits, radical scientific equations, and love sonnets have been scrawled across their blank folds to capture an idea before it fades into oblivion.  Their surface is never as imposing as the long, blank page of paper and, if the idea falters or is discarded, the medium can always be used to wipe the milk moustache from your lips and be tossed into the obscurity of the trash pail.  One has only to look at a man's napkin to glance into the depths of his soul.

what is on your napkin?

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Jolly Good Perkins!

Listening to "Holiday in Cambodia" by The Dead Kennedys

For some reason I imagine that, if our engine ever started to talk, it would be with a British accent.  Don't ask me why it would suddenly burst into chattiness, but our Perkins 4-236 85 HP diesel engine calls to mind a rather natty British gentleman who, though silently keeping to the background, is none the less always ready to push up his sleeves and help with the task at hand.  

Perkins engines are dependable.  They are known the world over for their endurance, longevity, and also the ease of finding replacement parts.  Well today ours is getting a new suit.  Buckle up Savile Row, we're heading down!  (okay, Napa Auto Parts, but that doesn't quite have the romantic ring, does it?)

In case you haven't already guessed, I am starting the process to paint our engine.  There are so many things on Paragon that I cannot do without close instruction from Drake, or at least the promise that he will stay close at hand for consultation.  Yes, I took the head apart when it stopped working and rewired the power cord, but both were only after watching Drake do similar tasks over and over.

brushed and ready to be degreased

The galley spoon I have commandeered.  Poor thing doesn't know its cushy life has ended.

From what I understand, painting the engine is a job that is simply going to be dirty and most likely a bit uncomfortable.  I may have to do a certain amount of what I like to call "Boat Yoga".  These are the Cirque du Soleil like contortions you need to do in order to reach whatever it is you are working on including, but not limited to, wedging yourself into small spaces while hanging upside down.  

I'm going in

Cleaning the pan under the engine

I shouldn't complain.  There are many things that are difficult to reach on Paragon, but the engine is not really one of them.  Unlike most, we have an actual engine room that is quite spacious and gives us almost universal access to most sides of the Perkins.  

Now I've spent the morning with a wire brush and a scraper removing any loose paint chips and other gunk from the surface.  I've also cleaned up the mire in the pan underneath the engine and removed *shudder* all sorts of unidentifiable objects.  Let's just say I am glad I was wearing gloves.  Time to strap on a respirator (I'm rather fond of the brain cells I have left), spray some engine degreaser, and let that soak for a bit.  


To be continued...

Thursday, July 19, 2012

This little piggy

Listening to "Long Ride Home" by Patty Griffin


Am I perhaps watching some classic Batman?  Engaging in a boatyard brawl?  Unfortunately not, for both of these might be more enjoyable than the sad sad truth.  No, my little toes have just been informing me, in the most painful way possible, that they are willing to take one for the team by reintroducing me to the hazards on our decks.

Let me back up a bit.  We've been on the hard for a while now, and the most urgent action I take on deck is scrambling to get the clothes off the rails before the rain truly starts.  Before that we were in the marina and, again, speed on deck was not critical.  We were working on various projects, hauling groceries, or just ambling about and chatting with our neighbors.  Because of this relaxed pace my feet have slipped into complacency and forgotten the obstacles that were once second nature.  

If you live on a boat, or any slightly uneven or confined space, then you most likely understand.  I make my way into the cockpit, duck my head just enough to miss the hard dodger, swing around, and drop down onto the companionway stairs in one fluid motion that can be done without even thinking.  I've done it so many times that it can be done in the dark, in squally weather...practically in my sleep.  I am told, constantly, that I must prepare for the worst, and part of that is being able to move around the boat efficiently, quickly, and without causing injury.  At best, a couple of good knocks on the head will let you know just how low your dodger is, but at worst you can seriously hurt yourself.  A stray hand or finger left around a windlass could cause the kind of injury that forces you to abandon shoe laces in favour of velcro for the rest of your life.  (My! you must be can she go from a stubbed toe to dismemberment in three paragraphs?)

So the other day, while working on some time sensitive paint work, I ended up running all over the deck and ran into, quite literally, a block for the wind vane.  

Many, many times...

Now I sit here nursing my bruised toe and cracked toenail desperately hoping this is one lesson I retain. 

The offending party

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Crotchety Orangutans

Listening to "Graffiti Limbo" by Michelle Shocked

We have now been on the hard for a while and I have no idea where the time has gone.  I blame this on the heat wave.  While in the water Drake and I were like dolphins...playful, fun, footloose and fancy free.  We laughed and toodled around and just enjoyed life.

Now, after two weeks on the hard, in heat lingering on the cusp of100˚F/38˚C, we are more like two crotchety orangutans in an animal testing facility...glaring around and poking one another while occasionally checking the air conditioner with suspicion.  Is it really possible that it is still 83˚F/28˚C in the cabin even with the air running?  Hmpf...

Some things are getting done.  Drake has gotten a chunk of the sanding finished on the topsides, I managed to fix the dryer and clean a couple of boats, and we're both getting a lot of work sorted with various editing projects, but we absolutely must step it up if we have any hope of getting out of here.  "Stay focused!", I tell myself.  Unwrap this heat induced veil of lethargic fatigue and WORK ON THE BOAT!  

Ahhhh, perhaps I should back my little train up.  I DID learn how to rewire the shore power cord, which is super exciting.  

I am not electrical girl.  Should you happen to ask me to describe how the magic of electricity works, I am more likely to answer with large hand gestures and technical terminology such as "flux capacitor" and "crushed unicorn horns" than anything resembling expertise.  It has always been something of a mystery to me made even more scary due to the fact that, if handled incorrectly, it can also kill you.

However, at some point someone stepped on the shore power cord plug where it attaches to the boat, bending it and breaking the waterproof seal, and it was vital that we replace that.  You might say that I was volunteered for the job.

Between Drake and the online installation video I was able to cut the plug, strip the outer sheath, splice the wires to the plug, position the new waterproof gasket, and reattach the outer casing.  


!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  <------ this is how I felt.  wait, let's add some more. ------> !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

Mission Accomplished!

I really do love learning about the boat and the various systems aboard.  Not only does it give me a sense of empowerment, but it makes me feel more comfortable when I understand how things work and, more importantly, how to fix them when they stop working.  

It seems there will be a bit of a break in the heat...I'll see how empowered I feel after painting the hull for many hours.  *grin* 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Louver my nemesis

Listening to "Johnny Got a Boom Boom" by Imelda May

Louvered doors.  

Chances are you have little to no response to these words, and oh how I envy you, for that was once my reaction.  I have been bartering my time with our fabulous carpenter by helping him construct the louvered doors we require in the forward head and salon.  Drake and I feel that these doors are best both for their functionality and their aesthetics.  Wow, do I wish we'd just grabbed a teak board and drilled some holes.  (maybe)  The amount of work that goes into making these is rather mind-boggling, and I have a profound new respect for their creators.  On the plus side, every time I pass these little gems my heart swells with pride as I remember all the work that went into trimming, routing, and sanding every slat, side, and corner.  

Forward head storage 

This offers great storage as well as access to the seacock

They are now 80% installed and are simply waiting for some inner braces and outer locks.  This is good.  It suddenly becomes one less project that stands between us and leaving to go north, and allows me to see that light at the end of the tunnel.  Now we just have to sand and paint the hull in 98˚F/37˚C heat.  Pah!  Not a problem...I've made louvered doors.

Just finishing up the initial installation

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

My biking companion

Listening to "Gnossiennes - 3. Lent" by Erik Satie as played by Jean-Yves Thibaudet

It's late and dark...dark as it can only be in a small town.  I'm riding my bike through the quiet streets, feeling the heavy and humid air roll past me in waves as I pedal towards Paragon.  This southern air has a tangible quality, cloying and sweet with scents that prick at my nose.  Honeysuckle?  Perhaps jasmine?  My lack of knowledge when it comes to plants is well known, as witnessed by my black thumbs and many casualties, but I appreciate from afar.

This is one of the many things that I have come to love about living on a sailboat.  I feared when I left Colorado that I would never again live so close to nature, but life on Paragon has left me breathless with it's beauty.  On my morning walk to the showers I spy the jellyfish, engaged in their fluid ballroom dancing, while the hermit crabs scamper around looking overly tough with one giant claw.  Seagulls, turtles, giant crabs and, once, a black bear and her cubs have all graced me with their presence.  And then tonight...

On the last turn I spied a shadow of what I believed to be a cat darting across the road, but as I slowed I noticed it was, in fact, a fox.  

I stopped and she stopped.  We stared. 

Slowly my foot pushed down on the pedal and, as the bike silently glided forward, the most surprising thing happened.  The fox, always staying at least fifteen feet away, ran along with me.  She stayed with me almost the entire way to the marina and then, with a quick look, took her leave.

My heart is filled with wonder and joy as I think to myself, "This is just the beginning..."

The illuminated cloudy sky