Sunday, February 24, 2013

Pliobond sticks to your ribs

Listening to "Precious" by The Pretenders

The oven on Paragon has not worked since I arrived almost two years ago.  Something to do with a spring and a thing and a boyfriend who never, ever bakes.  Ever.  And this was cool.  I sautéed, simmered, and braised my way through through my cookbook much to my, and Drake's, delight.  Curried chicken, moyakodon, and super spicy beans and rice were some of our staples.  Then one day I had a craving for lasagna and suddenly nothing else would do.  Not only did I want lasagna, but I wanted MY lasagna.  Layers of gooey melted cheese combined with obscene amounts of garlic, spinach, mushrooms, chorizo and ground beef layered with spices and noodles and….oh my.  

There were other problems with the stove/oven.  I loved how heavy duty and over built it was, but all of the knobs had come off leaving us to turn on the propane using one jury rigged knob…except for the one burner that required channel locks and a stern grip (or glare) to get started.  The biggest concern, however, was the broken gimbal on one side.  The metal rod and attached hardware had bent at some point and presented a real hazard.  Cooking at sea is dangerous enough without the threat of the stove suddenly detaching and flying forward.  

If we had the motivation and an excess of extra time there is a chance that we could have taken the stove apart, ordered new parts, cleaned up some of the rust, fixed the gimbal, and generally restored her to her former glory.  If the parts were available.  If all went as planned.  If we weren't pushing off for New York in less than three weeks.  A lot of ifs...

So, with visions of cheesy baked food in our future, we ordered a new Force 10 three gimbaled range with a 19 L oven.  It has come in so, after we finish up some things we have going today, it's out with the old and in with the new.

Other projects are going…okay.  I cut the insulation for the aft clothes locker, but I didn't want to use the spray adhesive that Drake has been using.  Perhaps I should take a step back.  Are there any Douglas Adams fans out there?  If so (or even if not) there is a spaceship in one of his books, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, that has some amazing qualities including the fact that it creates absolutely no friction.  Like any.  If you try to put your hand on this ship it just slides right off…nothing sticks.  

I believe this ship was coated with our insulation.  

Nothing (NOTHING!) seems to adhere to this stuff.  I thought I would use duct tape to keep it in place while I trimmed the sides, but the duct tape fell away like so many autumn leaves.  Regular glue just beads off and the spray glue Drake was using seems to have a limited shelf life since strips of insulation are drooping and peeling apart.  

Insulation that is falling down in the condiment locker

The spray adhesive does not seem to be working

I went to the hardware store yesterday, got a couple of different bonding agents, and I think I found one that will work.  It's called Pliobond (sticks to rubber, leather, steel, fiberglass, and your soul!) and smells sufficiently like cancer in a bottle to make me think it will work.  It also mentions that it is resistant to salt, gasoline, and some acids which is a relief.  I can't recall how many times I have left an open bottle of acid in the clothes locker only to have it tip over to disastrous results.   (I am joking.  I would never leave an open bottle of acid in the locker.  I always close the acid before I put it in with my clothes.)  The test piece seemed to hold so *fingers crossed* I'm going to give it a try and attack the aft locker.  It would be lovely to finally get everything off of the bed and be able to sleep in the aft cabin again.  We'll see how it goes…

I'm hoping this will work

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Need some rain? Wash the boat!

Listening to WBUR Boston's NPR News Station

Nothing ever works on a sailboat.  NOTHING!  Okay, this is an exaggeration, but that is how it feels sometimes.  You go to flush the head, the head that you just soaked with vinegar and thoroughly cleaned, and nothing happens.  You go to check the radar, the very radar that was working mere moments ago, and *poof* it's suddenly gone.  You sit at the dinette under the dorade vent tapping away on your computer when suddenly a drop of water plops down.  Never mind that the vent was just resealed.  Never mind that after it was resealed you sat with a hose and sprayed it with everything that little spigot could handle.  No.  This is a boat and everything on it has a shelf life and, despite your expectations, some expire faster than others.  

We have had a trying day.  Days.  Time is passing faster than ever, and every thing that does not get done or suddenly stops working is a mini disaster.  Now, when a replacement part needs to be ordered, we are actually looking at a calendar to make sure that it will arrive before we leave.  Notice has been given, a departure date has been set, several friends have agreed to crew, and we are feeling the heat.  

I'm certain this is my inexperience talking, but there is a part of me that feels it will all be okay.  I almost feel that we could take off tomorrow and, with what we have, be more than okay to start our travels.  Sure, there are things that need tending, but isn't that what cruisers do… travel the world and go to beautiful places to work on their boats?  Of course, unlike Drake, I am not in charge of the safety and well being of everyone on board and tomorrow comes faster and faster.  

It's not all despair and ringing hands.  Today Drake made wonderful progress cleaning off the deck and cockpit and I've learned something.  Much like a car, washing the boat seems to be a sure fire way to bring about some serious rain.  The last three times I have washed the deck rain followed within several hours, and as I sit here the rain is pattering away on those lovely clean decks.  *shrug*  Perhaps we'll be like the rain god mafia and people will pay us to stay away from their outdoor events.  Pay up or it's grey skies for everyone!

I have also been working on several things.  My avoidance of laundry has left me riffling through the back confines of the clothes locker where I discovered we had a serious moisture and mold problem.  (Do I sound like a broken record?  mold mold mold!)  This is interesting since the very next locker is fine, but this one is quite obviously NOT fine after I discovered one of my favourite jackets spotted with mold.  Blah!  After removing the shelves I scrubbed the whole area with a bleach mixture and will lay down a few more layers of insulation as soon as the surface is dry...hopefully that will take care of the problem.  

Before scrubbing
After scrubbing

Since everything that was in the locker is currently piled high on our bed in the aft cabin, Drake and I are bunking in the salon.  This has its perks.  Tonight we will lay on the settee, watch an action film that has nothing to do with sailing (I'm thinking The Bourne Identity), and recharge our batteries.  All I can think is...tomorrow will be a better day.

P.S.  I promise not to talk about mold for a while, maybe, and I've also included this sunset to remind me of the beauty that I am surrounded by every day.  

Sunset on Whittaker Creek

Saturday, February 9, 2013

The Devil and Mr. Clean

Listening to "This Is Not A Love Song" by Nouvelle Vague

As the days fly by and our departure date looms in the foreground, Drake and I are madly dashing around Paragon in an attempt to finish all last minute projects and tie up loose ends.  In between whipping lines, downloading and figuring out weather fax, and repairing various things (the aft head door, the zipper on the strataglass) I have also spent a portion of every day cleaning and organizing.  

The organizing part can be quite satisfying.  Do we really need sixty 2-4 foot pieces of leftover rope?  What about the miles and miles of spare wire? (Drake is under the impression that one day he will meet someone in a far off place who needs to completely rewire their boat and TADAA!  Like a misguided superhero he will come to the rescue.)  Broken brushes, lids to tupperware bottoms that are long gone, random plumbing fittings, and a host of unnecessary items linger uselessly about.  Damaged items are thrown in the bin, superfluous extras are given away, and the remaining objects have been neatly stored.

The cleaning part is not as fun.  Fenders that have been neglected for far too long have accumulated a layer of grime and gunk that seems impenetrable.  Slightly dank pools of condensation that emit a stale smell seem to pop up overnight and soak everything in their path.  Best of all though is the sailor’s constant companion...mold.   

Mold would like nothing more than to take over this boat and cover every slightly damp surface with its fuzzy and blackened finger print, so with a bleach mixture and scrubie in hand I attack.  In some cases, a quick swipe and a little elbow grease is all that is needed to put the sparkle back.  Other times, however, there isn’t enough elbow grease in the world to clean the dirty object, but this is where I bring out my secret weapon...the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.  

I do not know what sort of Faustian contract was signed in order to make this magical little pad.  I am certain that the key ingredients include crushed fairy wings and the tip of a unicorn horn mixed with the last remaining dodo feather, for how else could this eraser literally wipe clean the grimiest of grime with a mere swipe.  

I spent over an hour trying to clean a fender with the most abrasive pad available. Soaking it with soap, mineral spirits, acetone and, finally, the tears of my frustration, I had all but given up.  As a last resort I grabbed the magic eraser and sat back in amazement as it sprinkled it’s faery dust and left a sparkling clean fender in its wake.

Timidly at first, and then with a resounding WHOOP! I proceeded to clean stains that had left me stumped and under the impression that we would be simply be surrounded by discoloured patches around the boat.

Rust stain on the cabin top?  Gone!  Grease on the faux leather covering?  Finis!  A wine stain on the galley laminate that resembled the state of Wisconsin?   No more!  (sorry Wisconsin) 

Now for those of you who are scrambling over loved ones in an attempt to quickly reach the keyboard to tell me exactly why I should NEVER use the magic eraser on the boat, I beg of you to leave me in the dark.  This innocuous little pad has made my life easier in ways I cannot fully describe.  It has cut my cleaning time and, more importantly, frustration in half.  Therefore, to those delightful people at Procter & Gamble who have waged their souls so that I may better clean...I thank you.  

Side by side comparison.  The fender on the right is the third one I cleaned using nothing but the magic eraser.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Rope? Nope, but line is divine...

Listening to "Sexual Revolution" by Macy Gray

One of the first times I came aboard Paragon I was looking around and asked the name of the rope that was pulling up the big sail.  

If you can imagine at this point that big SSSSCCCCRRREEEEEEEECCCHHHH that happens in the movies where the music abrubptly comes to a halt as everyone turns to look at the goof ball who just put their foot in their mouth.  Thus began the first of many lessons about sailing and boats in general.  

Rope practically does not exist on a boat.  In the most general sense of the word there are lines.  Lines criss cross the boat in every direction, and as they begin to do certain jobs their names get more specific.  There are halyards, dock lines, sheets, and fender lines to name a few, and they all need attention in some way.  They need to be cared for, coiled and stowed, cleaned, whipped, and occasionally spliced.  

Drake was telling me a story about a particular gentleman who, when questioning potential crew, would ask if they could whip a line.  If the answer was no then he felt they didn't have the basic knowledge he required to help on the passage.  At this point, and after a bit of practice, I can resoundingly say I possess this skill.

For those not in the know, lines can become frayed at the end which can lead to some serious unravelling.  This can render the line unusable, but is easily prevented by tightly wrapping (or whipping) twine around the bitter end.  I'm certain there are many different ways to wrap that twine, perhaps with a lovely design or pattern, but I was taught a simple and effective way that works and takes little time.  

The twine is so tightly wound around the end of the line that it feels solid and will keep the lines from unraveling with even the heaviest usage.  In preparation for our departure in about a month (Gah!  About a month!!!) I spent the day checking all lines and whipping those that had none.  *Note:  These pictures are not meant to be instructional.  I'm just showing what I did.*

Waxing the twine to help it lay better

Preparing to start wrapping

Initially I go over, under, over to create an extra little 'lock' on the starting edge

Halfway wrapped

Now I loop the other end over and begin to wrap with the other side

Pulling the ends in the center tightens the whole wrap

Trim the loose ends and tie a square knot

Seal the ends with a lighter

Now, instead of looking like this…

How several of our lines looked prior to being whipped

...our lines look like this and are ready to go.

The beautiful finished product