Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Repairs, Upgrades and Maintenance. Work Continues…

[Kyle]Since things stopped being horrible 100% of the time, they’ve only been horrible about 50% of the time. I’ll get parts in the mail and I’ll be back to being crazy busy for a day or two. My most recent crazy day came when all of the dinghy stuff that wasn’t actually the boat itself arrived in the mail (the boat arrived last week).

Dinghy and radar installed - Actual Progress, yay!

In addition to the basic boat which, you know, lets you float on top by keeping the water out, we also ordered the sail kit, the lifeboat kit and a few other extras, including all of the necessary hardware to securely attach it to our davits. My day was spent unpacking and checking over all of the hardware, then putting everything together and getting the dinghy stowed in the davits.

As an aside, I want to compliment Portland Pudgy on their dinghy. The refinements that designer David Hulbert has made since our last pudgy have been marvelous. The dinghy, the sail kit, and most importantly, all of the safety gear associated with the lifeboat kit are really well thought out and constructed using the highest quality hardware. I honestly don’t think you can get a better dinghy/lifeboat anywhere else. It’s a nice feeling when opening the boxes to be impressed again and again with each new item that comes out. Well done, guys!

After the fun of unpacking, the real meat of the day was spent figuring out how to get the Pudgy secured. After several hoisting/lowering attempts, I finally determined there was just no way to make it work without removing our ten person canister life raft from its bracket on the stern. We had bought the Pudgy as a replacement lifeboat, but I was hoping we would still be able to keep our raft as a backup. It’s not possible. Like young siblings, there’s no way those two things can occupy the same space without them tearing each other up. The problem was that I now had to get the life raft out of its mounting. I manoeuvred myself underneath it in the Pudgy and untied its lashings and worked it to the edge of the bracket. I could tell it was heavy. I had the same feeling I had as a teenager when I replaced my first clutch. As I removed the last bolt, the weight of the whole transmission came down on my chest, pinning me to the garage floor. While the raft’s weight was still being supported by Begonia I had the presence of mind to take my glasses off and put them in the cockpit because I just KNEW I was going in the water with it when it came free.

Somehow, I was able to control its fall and we both ended up inside the upright dinghy in the end. I had a foot pinned, so I tried to maneuver the raft both off of my foot and into a position that would make it easier to get it out of the Pudgy and onto the dock. That thing is really heavy – at least 200lbs. As I yanked and pulled on it, I fell over into the other side of the dinghy and then the life raft canister rolled onto me. Ahhh, THAT’S the feeling I was expecting. This is one of the reasons I exercise so much, so I have the muscle strength to get myself out of crazy situations like this and the tendon and ligament strength to not have them just snap when something tries to force all of my joints the wrong way. It still hurt like hell, though, but I couldn’t get in a deep enough breath to scream.

Once that was out of the way on the dock, I was thrilled to find that the Pudgy was easier to hoist and stow than it was on Footprint. It fits perfectly into a vee between the davits and the life raft bracket and once it’s there, feels like it’s bolted to the big boat. Whoo, hoo!

That was another exhausting day. I work hard when I’ve got jobs to do because I’m not sure how long things will take. I’ll be plowing through, when I suddenly find myself at the end and coast disoriented into a few hours or an afternoon where I have nothing substantial left to do until the next shipment. It’s so unexpected that I find myself wandering around aimlessly looking for work that I can make, even if it’s just double checking work I’ve already finished. I seem completely incapable of calling the day done and propping myself in the cockpit with a glass of wine at 3pm. That’s fine when we’re cruising, but this is a refit. Refits are supposed to be work. This one has been pretty exhausting so far and I have the sneaking suspicion I’m forgetting something important if it doesn’t continue to be so.

New beam, and new heating both moving along nicely

So I go to our refit list and it tells me coldly and objectively that most of the jobs really are done, except for a few over which I have little personal control. The few items that are left are dependent on the mail delivery or the marina.

Most conspicuously is the mast. The riggers at the marina are waiting for parts to arrive this week that will allow them to finish the repairs. Begonia still has no mast, no boom, no sails, no crossbeam and no trampoline. These are big, obvious jobs, so for a boat that is almost done, she still looks half taken apart, or half put back together if you like.

The only interior job left is to finish the heating installation. While somewhat invasive, it doesn’t require the whole boat be torn apart, so I’ve been able to reclaim some areas to do some reassembly and get those spaces organized into eventual cruising mode.

Although the refit as been mostly exhausting and unpleasant, it hasn’t all been bad. While my day-to-day experience has been a lot of hard, sweaty work, in the larger sense I think the experience has made the boat mine in more than the financial bill-of-sale sense. I’ve repaired engines. I’ve worked on every system on this boat. I’ve been in every living, machinery and other space on the boat – even the claustrophobic space between the cockpit floor and the bottom of the bridgedeck. I know how every wire, pipe and cable gets from one end to the other. I’ve taken things apart, modified them and put them back together. I’ve drilled holes. I’ve plugged them up. I now know this boat. I know how she’s built. I know what she’s made of. She’s mine now. I no longer feel like I’m intruding on somebody else’s space, fumbling my way through.

I’d still rather be sailing, though. It occurred to me this morning over coffee that most of the time we have owned Begonia, she’s been in pieces and our connection to her has been through the work we are doing. It seems strange to think there will be happy days spent sailing, swimming, exploring and relaxing instead of just hard, sweaty work. In spite of most of the work being done, progress has not been noticeable on a day-to-day basis. Our chartplotter, for example, is really cool, but we haven’t been anywhere, so apart from testing it out to make sure it works, we haven’t used it. Most of the refit is like that. The boat was in pretty good shape to begin with. Most of our modifications are stuff that will make cruising better, but we’re not cruising, we’re refitting, so it’s hard to notice them yet.

It helps to think there will be a time soon when things will be all done and we’ll have a great new boat with which to go out and explore and relax, including the occasional three o’clock glass of wine.

[Maryanne]I haven't had to work nearly as hard as Kyle has on the boat, but I do promise to help out with that 3 O'clock wine - any time. And almost as much as Begonia, I'm looking forward to sailing with our new Portland Pugdy someday soon.

Actually much of my efforts have recently been with organization, chasing up, and shipping items for return or repair; I've been promoted to project administrator I guess, while Kyle does the nasty, dirty, hard work.

I've also wasted several days of 2 steps forward and 10 back on a project to put a zipper in our sail cover. Eventually I had to agree that my sewing machine just isn't up to the job: it will neither handle the extra stiff threads used for outdoor projects without jamming, nor some of the extra thick patches of folded materials that need sewing.

Since this was my mother's sewing machine I was especially keen for it to work and spent many hours attempting work-arounds. Eventually, and with some regret, I conceded defeat and purchased a old but beautifully refurbished singer sewing machine from the same Canadian e-bay seller that I'd used before (and he remembered me). My new machine is being shipped to the marina, and that pretty much dictates my weekend I guess. Since we hope the mast to be re-stepped next week, I had better do my best to have the sail cover ready!

Kyle has the boat upside down with multiple projects, while Maryanne has the apartment converted into a sail loft

So soon it really will be all done, and we'll be able to host guests and break out the wine. I had one friend who was brave and kind enough to join me for a weekend of hard work in high humidity (thanks Liz), for the rest of you, the coast is almost clear of work, so when are you coming to visit?

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