Saturday, August 29, 2015

Making more room for wine...

Our rusty a/c compressor--outta here!

On our survey, the a/c didn't work (dang).  Then, miraculously, it did work (Yeah!).  Then it quit again (Dang!).  As you may recall, we gave in and bought a window a/c unit from Lowe's in Charleston.  Since then, it has been improved with insulation, a canvas cover and modified ducting (new piece of cardboard).  It will also run off our portable generator, if needed (the boat's a/c wouldn't).  So when our dock neighbor's a/c went out, so we didn't hesitate to give them our a/c water pump.  We've discussed removing the boat installed a/c unit since the window unit seems to work fine.  (If it quits working we chuck it & buy another one for $100.  Our boat a/c controller would need to be shipped into the manufacturer, who will probably tell us we need a new one.)  There was talk of putting a water-maker in it's place (under the settee) or at least making room to store the portable a/c unit when underway.

Our current hatch/window a/c unit

Port bow anchor locker, before (compressor in under the lower access panel)

(I apologize for the poor picture quality.  The Captain won't stop projects to wait for good lighting.)
SO one lazy morning, the Captain got to work.  The compressor was in the primary anchor locker (port bow).  When he attempted to loosen the attachment bolts, he was surprised to find it was no longer attached to anything!  Apparently, the wooden base had disintegrated (this immediately brings some 3-4 ft/5 sec interval, bow pounding on the Chesapeake Bay to mind).  Another bonus will be 50 lbs less weight in the bow (more chain for the anchor!  Whoo hoo!)  He was also disappointed to see the "marine quality" condenser was rusted through.  ("How can they charge extra for marine quality when it's rusted through?  You might as well buy it at Home Depot.")  While there, The Captain also rerouted the water line that cools the fridge condenser coils to the a/c's previous drain hole, since it's above the waterline (so we can monitor flow).  Wiring was rerouted from the forward hull and aft storage compartment (a/c circuit breaker) for a new GFCI electrical plug installed in the settee for window a/c unit.  It runs to a separate breaker, in case the shore power goes off line (previously, the window a/c unit continued to run and could ruin our beautiful, new batteries).  In the middle of all this, the propane quit working.  Good times.

Rerouting water lines & electrical wiring
The A/C panel if the port aft storage

The rest of the a/c (evaporator and fan) was removed from under the settee (First Mate and cat ejected AGAIN!)  I'm beginning to envision a wine locker...
Under the settee...

The anchor locker was cleaned, repainted and dri-dek was put down.  Some line hooks and a new Mantus chain hook was installed.  Chain was flaked back into the locker.  Our anchor locker is pristine (clearly we've been in a marina too long!)
Painting the locker.  I'm told sweating onto the fresh paint made this task more difficult.
New Mantus chain hook

All done :-)

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Special Report: What the heck is a perigean spring tide?

(corrected text, because I was informed I didn't know what month it was!  Thanks, Pat.)

They dropped this term on The Weather Channel this morning.  Dang, we had to look that up!  The moon has something to do with the tides, right?  (Go ahead.  Look it up.  I'll wait.)  During the full moon (twice a month), the tidal range is greater (or high tide is higher and low tide is lower)--that's called spring tide.

When the moon is closest to the earth, it is called a lunar perigee.  The gravitational pull of the moon is the strongest.

Three to four times a year, the lunar perigee and full moon coincide.  This is the perigean spring tide (or unofficially, the supermoon or "king tide" in New Zealand) and can affect tides up to 20 percent (usually just a few inches).  Apparently, we experienced this once in Annapolis--when it's perigean spring tide, wind blows onshore from the bay and it storms (barometric pressure drop), they get flooding downtown.  

If you're still reading this, the next perigean spring tide in August 29th (this Sat), and it coincides with the possible arrival of Hurricane Erika on the Atlantic coast.  Yikes.  The Weather Channel specifically mentioned Charleston.

Here's more info:

Don't get me started on neap tides and apogees.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

3 Days in the Hole

A beautiful morning to sit out on deck.  Anybody seen my husband?

Thankfully, we're past running to West Marine every couple days.  In fact, now we only buy the occasional tool or part from the hardware store.  However, there are still plenty of things to keep the retired mechanic busy.

Sewing machine "inspection"

After the constant use over the last month, the sewing machine was starting to make weird noises.  Time for the 100-point inspection ("Yes, there's a manual.")  Also, it is now referred to as a "power tool."  To my friend that noticed the knife in the pic, it's not mine.  That thing scares the crap out of me.  I'd lop a finger off for sure! 

Bicycle tune-ups
Bicycle maintenance:  The Captain's shifter broke (wore out!) so it needed to be replaced.  The part wouldn't arrive for 5 days (seems to be a theme), so he switched his bike seat with my bike seat and locked it into third gear (my sweet spot).  At some point, I became confused about the problem (because at the time, I wasn't listening.  "(His) bicycle.  Mechanical thingy.  Blah, blah, blah.  Ordered a part."  Didn't see how that affected me.  SO meanwhile, he would switch bike seats back and forth, based on the current day's need--he's riding to the hardware store/I'm riding to the grocery store.  I'd hop on to ride to the office & it would be in 7th gear (at least I got a workout) with the seat so high I couldn't sit down!  At one point my/his(?) chain fell off altogether and had to be safety-wired back in place!  "Which bike is this?  No originally."  I sense a bait and switch...

On a boat, it's only a matter of time before you have to spend a few days in a hole.  Those days had come. (I had money on it being the head/holding tank).  One lingering "squawk" from our survey was: the wooden shelf underneath the aux water tank was rotted.  We didn't consider this urgent at the time.  However, as we discussed our future water needs for the islands, this project come back onto the radar.  When I suggested cleaning, refilling and exercising this tank, the Captain decided it was time to pull it out and replace the shelf.  
BEFORE:  Aux water tank in aft part of starboard anchor locker

BEFORE:  Forward part of starboard anchor locker (secondary anchor & rode)

Day 1:  The aux water tank in the forward starboard hull anchor locker was removed (you can read that sentence again.  Got it?  Here we go).  There is a hose that passes out through a bulkhead and into the interior.  It had to be cut to get the tank out.  "No problem.  I'll replace the hose."  He spent the rest of the day scraping the rotted wood off that had been glued to the fiberglass shelf.  (And here lies the problem.  No drain holes.   Nowhere for the inevitable water that can enter a deck locker to go.  The aux water tank wasn't a standard installation on a PDQ, so perhaps this was installed without much engineering forethought.  I was assigned the task of dragging the aux tank down to the dock and washing the exterior (interior was surprisingly clean).  I helped!
Scraping the rotten wood off of the fiberglass shelf

The mess on the forward deck, part 2.  What happens if I close the hatch?  "You'll go for a swim."

Day 2:  The Captain rode his bicycle to the hardware store to get new wood.  Between rain showers it was cut, treated with CPES (Thank you, Bequia Chief) and installed on the shelf.  It was allowed to dry (drink beer) and then fiberglassed with West epoxy & glass cloth.
New wood

Drain holes and paint

Day 3:  Bicycle ride to West Marine for bilge paint and more hose.  Drain holes were drilled and the shelf was painted.  (I need to pay more attention to The Captain when he says things like, "I'll just replace the hose."  In fact, I would usually say something like, "What does that involve?"  This time I didn't.)  I headed towards our berth and found this: 
Running the new hose from the hull into the cabin
When I asked what he was doing, The Captain said, "Replacing the hose (silly)".  And that runs all the way up to the salon?  "Yep."  I know where this is going--see "Checking In" (propane sensor replacement)

Old hose.  New hose.

The vent and water hose were replaced from the forward hull through to our berth and spliced (taking it all the way up to the settee in the salon deemed PITA.  This section of hose seemed in good shape and insulated well.
AFTER:  Aft locker, Aux water tank

AFTER:  Forward locker, new paint

Technically, this project was done.  However, "While I'm at it," involved the rest of the interior of the locker being cleaned and painted (Paint on feet.  Foot prints on deck.  La, la, la, la, la.  Silly boy.  I'm not in charge of swabbing the deck!)  Just as the rain rolls in--"Need a little help here:"

Mess on the forward deck, part 3.  It's starting to rain...

"Detailing the anchor locker is a bit over the top."  It looks great honey!  Here's a beer.

Lazy cat

Amelia did not help at all!  "I hate it when you wake me up to take pictures, Mom."

In the interest of full disclosure, this project ran into day 4 (but I'm not changing the clever title).  I walked (back) to West Marine because the Captain decided to put in some Dri-Dek.  When I got back, the spinnaker (in the sock) had been hoisted to the top of the mast to air out.

Spinnaker sees some sunshine

Project complete:
AFTER:  Starboard (secondary) anchor locker

Monday, August 17, 2015

The First Mate Sewing 101

Left:  Hatch cover #6.  Right:  Hatch cover #1

OK, so a lot of the big projects have been completed by my hero, my Captain, oh Captain.  However, I'm also slowly learning the machine and between the two of us, we're dangerous.  I'm a slow, contemplative artist.  The Captain plows in and gets it done--it ain't pretty, but it's functional.

If you'd told me two years ago I would be writing a blog about sewing, I would have rolled on the floor laughing!  However, I'm sure a few of my Aunt's (and probably my Mom, by look of me in a childhood pic sporting a denim jumpsuit that, hopefully, was homemade) would be proud.  Actually, this blog is for my sister, who used to specialized in upholstering antique furniture.  I used to explain away my lack of home decorating skills as, "My sister got all that."  So here's one dedicated to my sis (who was impressed with our new toy) and those Aunt's who gave me handmade pillows that I didn't fully appreciate at the time:

Our newest power tool, a Sailrite LSZ-1
My first project was hatch covers for the 8 (yes, you read that right.  EIGHT) hatches on our boat.  They keep sun out and protect the plexiglass.  In retrospect, this was not a good starting point.  I had planned to make envelope pillows, but too intimidated to change the needle & thread, I plowed into a project that would use canvas.  I used Sailrite's video as my guide:  Sailrite YouTube "How to make a hatch cover".  The pic above is the 6th hatch cover which was deemed "perfection" by the boss.  The one on the right is the very first one, which was too small and the white thread shows how terrible my hemming was when I started.  It's appropriate they are side by side.  It makes me appreciate progress.

Here's a pic of step 1.  I still scratch my head while I'm doing this, so I can't believe this made any sense the first time.
Hatch cover step 1

I ventured off on my own when it came to the corners
When it came to the corners, our hatches are rounded and after taking the canvas out and attempting to "mark" the corners, I could tell they were all going to be different.  I did some calculations that averaged everything out and made them uniform.  Pretty impressive, really.

My favorite tote bag & sewing project

I also relied heavily on the Don Casey book, "Canvaswork and Sail Repair."  Again, I couldn't start at the beginning!  My first project is the One-Piece Tote Bag.  It's a 12x12 bottom, but I made it slightly taller (14") with a longer handle (14" drop).  It's one piece of canvas with box corners and one continuous piece of webbing for the handle (The Captain's fav part).  This is now my primary "tote-laundry-to-the-laundry-room-on-the-bicycle" bag.  I love it.  I've tried to improve on this design, but the first is still the best.  I'm still scouring Lands End, Sailor Bags and Pinterest for ideas.

I finally got around to the envelope pillows.  I used this basic pattern, but measured for center instead of eyeballing and pinning:  acuriouslychiclife diy-pillowcase

Outdoor pillow forms with Sunbrella outdoor fabric

At this point, the Captain was hogging the sewing machine most of the day for the dodger, so I did quick projects in the evening.  Another Don Casey project is bolster pillows that can be stuffed with all the stuff you don't have room to store on a boat:  spare sheets, blankets, winter sweatshirts...  I dreamt of the guest berth covered in pillows.  I made at least 3 of these from blue canvas.  (We're gonna need an inventory list.  I've already been informed, "I wanted a blanket, but I didn't know which bolster it was in...")

Small lumbar bolster that hides a queen-size fleece blanket
Then came the sleeping bag bolster!  This is body pillow-size.  (It fits nicely at the end of our queen bed, but I don't think the boss would have approved of that.)  I wanted to use velcro instead of buying a HUGE zipper.  Also, sleeping bags are tricky to roll, so I wanted drawstring ends instead of them being sewn on.  I based it loosely on these two blogs: Sailrite Bolster
The "over the top" bolster that holds a sleeping bag.

I found myself without a project and some scrap fabric, so I made a rag bag to replace the plastic grocery bag.  It's from the Don Casey pattern, "Two-piece duffel bag"--which was the project before bolsters.  Can't.  follow.  directions.

Rag bag, because boat's are dirty!
We had pillow shams on our bed, but discovered the goose down pillows were starting to mildew.  So in need of a replacement, I made a "reading wedge pillow" (and officially cleaned out the linen bin I brought!)  I was skeptical, but this YouTube video worked out perfectly (download the written dimensions below the video before you start.  She does mis-state one dimension in the video, but the link is correct): YouTube Book Pillows to help you read longer in bed

First Mate's Book Pillow full-o-sheets

There's a sailor duffle in here somewhere, that is still under construction, ie. need to seam rip & redo the bottom.

My latest and first original creation:  an iPad messenger bag.  Surprisingly, I needed this.  I have a small purse/shoulder bag that holds my kindle and a computer bag but nothing mid-size.  After quite a bit of Pinterest browsing, I found everything was multiple pieces sewn together.  This is one-piece, similar to the one-piece tote.  It's leftover outdoor fabric that didn't become a pillow and lined/stiffened with leftover canvas.  It's supposed to have a velcro closure, but that should have been sewn on first :-(

An Odin original design

You can keep up with my project ideas on my Pinterest page or YouTube playlist:

Odin Sewing on Pinterest

YouTube Odin Sewing

Don't worry.  The Captain is taking boat things apart as we speak.  Boat projects will follow...

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Checking in

Another beautiful sunset off the end of our dock
We've officially decided to stay another month.  We're eager to start wandering again, but we're in the most logical place for hurricane season.  The weather is hot, but not the worst we've experienced (air conditioning is still appreciated).  The average high is 92F with a breeze off the water and humidity levels somewhere below the sauna we're used to in Missouri.  It gets down into the 70's most evenings which is nice.  We're still getting projects done, with lots of shopping within a bike ride.  

Last week's boat project seemed the most extensive yet (from a whole-boat-torn-apart perspective).  Two weeks ago, our propane sensor went on the fritz.  Our stove is propane.  Propane sinks and can sit in the bilge and be ignited with a spark.  Therefore, we have a propane sensor in each hull.  Suddenly, we started getting dual false propane alarms--ie. not cooking and both going off at the same time (suspect).  The first few times we opened up the boat to air it out, but then it started to rain.  The spare sensor was hooked in and thrown out into the cockpit and it was still going off (that's weird).  Sounded to me like we needed a new control panel.  Captain ordered a whole new system (cheaper), but it wasn't going to arrive for 5 days, ie. no stove!  Another bike ride to the grocery store for things that could be cooked on the grill  (PS cooking hamburger in a skillet, then grabbing the handle will burn your hand--I've heard...)  Finally, the new control head and sensors showed up.  The Captain decided to replace everything since the stamp on one sensor said 1989!  The beauty of being able to buy the same unit, was no drilling.  WRONG!  When the drill came out (from under my side of the settee) I moved into our berth.  More tools were dug out of our berth.  Then he opened his side of the settee to get at the wiring, then down into the port bilge to replace the sensor, then over to the starboard bilge.  Suddenly, Amelia cried out like she'd been stepped on--Daddy had woken her up from her nap to get at more wiring under the settee.  He brought her to me, but she wasn't having any of that.  I tried to coax her with cuddling and a nap--even blocking her in with pillows and my body, but she acted like she was going to pee on our bed so I let her out.  She promptly stepped down into an open bilge (because her vision isn't very good & not familiar with holes in floors!)  At this point we were thrown out into the cockpit (with the "look"--you're in the way.)  It took most of an afternoon, but the stove is functional again.  The Captain departed to the clubhouse to get a beer.
Following the wiring under the settee & through the salon

Starboard bilge sensor

Port bilge sensor

Digging out more tools from under the settee

The Captain made it through his tooth problem.  After a quick dental visit, that resulted in being referred to a specialist, he went back for what turned out to be a root canal.  (Either he chose not to tell me this, he didn't understand what the dentist told him, or he was in denial).  The specialist was excellent and he experienced very little discomfort during or after.  The total cost was $2500 with less than $30 in prescription medication.  (Whew!)  He went back for a follow up, that turned into more drilling "because he couldn't get it all last time."  Again, he claimed he didn't know that coming.  All healed!

Amelia the Cat gave us a minor scare.  Suddenly, she seemed to be having trouble getting around--stumbling and or limping.  This is a problem because it's 3 steep steps down to her food & litter pan and a decent jump up onto her favorite sleeping spot on the settee (she only comes into our berth when we carry her).  Two other friends were having problems with their elderly cats at the same time, which was feeding our fear.  After some research, we reintroduced moist food back into her diet and she seemed to improve (Dehydration?)

On a side note, it's been suggested to me by the boss, that perhaps I should wear oven mitts.  I made it through the introductory stages of living on a boat with minor bruises and toe stubbing.  However recently, I've injured my "paws" several times.  First I cut my hand chopping vegetables.  I should point out that I've NEVER done that before, and yes, I've been warned that it is dangerous on a moving boat, but we're at a marina!  Next was a minor burn on the grill (see above), but the worst I've ever had.  (The Captain assured me that was his "sympathy" face but looked remotely similar to "you're-being-melodramatic" face).  Then I tore a nail below the cuticle while docking (which seems to make even grown men wince).  Finally, my first sewing injury--I jammed the needle below my nail while doing something stupid--I don't even remember how I did it.  (We are both mildly concerned about the hotknife I ordered for cutting canvas!)  Of course, you continuously bump all of these injuries and band aids are impossible.  "AWHHHH, poor thing."  Thank you.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The Captain sews Part 2

First mate sneaks in a few weather-proof pillows with outdoor fabric
Day 5:  I head out with the Captain as he bikes to the dentist (for what turns out to be a root canal) and I continue on to Joann's Fabric (more duck canvas & flag supplies while they're on sale).   Upon return, The Captain takes it easy, but manages to hem a few rolls of trim.  First Mate makes a bolster pillow that cleverly conceals a fleece blanket.

Bolster pillow stuffed with a blanket.  I picture the guest berth covered in pillows full of our spare clothes, blankets, sheets, sleeping bags...
Black webbing hem on the aft cockpit sun cloth we put up in Oriental, NC
Day 6:  First Mate hops on the machine because The Captain doesn't have anything he can sew today (doesn't want to remove the windshields because it's supposed to storm on & off all day).  Before I can cut out and sew the first seam, I'm booted.  He's on a roll!
He sews the starboard center windshield piece and then puts a hem on our sun cloth with 1 1/2" webbing.  First Mate completes a second bolster pillow for the salon (stuffed with spare towels).

"The plastic is here!  The plastic is here!"

 Day 7:  Plastic arrives!  It's quickly traced and cut (too quick.  I feel nauseous!).  It's easier to sew with two people, one holding the weight and the second sitting at the machine.  It takes most of the day to do the initial hem, then exterior trim, interior trim and zipper (first casualty.  First Mate orders another zipper).  Starboard side temporarily in place by sunset.  (The wrong dacron leech line was shipped, so no hatch covers for the First Mate until next week).
It's a handful, sewing something this big & heavy
First Mate's side.  Looking good!
 Day 8:  Repeat of yesterday.  The Captain spends the morning, securing the starboard piece then moves to the port side plastic.  (We ride our bikes less than 1/2 mile to the pub in town for lunch.  Neighbors ask if we got our exercise.  "If you consider riding a 1/2 a mile to eat a cheeseburger EXERCISE?!")  Again, temporarily in place by sunset.

Can you tell the difference?

Day 9:  Starboard windshield in place!  I sat in the cockpit as he put it up, and immediately saw a flaw in the plastic right at eye level.  Did we do that?  We tried polishing it with the new cleaner.  "Maybe it will be better after it sits in the sun for awhile?"  Nope.  The Captain will roll out more of this roll tomorrow and discover the flaw is throughout the roll.  It's going to drive us crazy.  A call into Sailrite.  Meanwhile, work stops on the dodger.

Day 10:  The Captain moves back to the main sail cover.  He successfully sews the first zipper, but somehow ruins his second zipper.  "I'm done for the day."  Harry Potter marathon.

Copilot's windshield on hold

Day 11:  After breakfast, I head out for a walk/grocery store run as the Captain starts the last piece of the dodger/windshield for the First Mate's side.  This is either the easy part or the tricky part.  It has to zip on 3 sides, SO it will be modified from the original to make that happen.  As mentioned above, the Captain rolls out more plastic to cut the last piece of the dodger/windshield and sees the flaw repeated throughout the roll.  He could turn it sideways, but then he won't have enough for the side extensions he was going to fabricate.  Work on the dodger stops & I call Sailrite. 

(While washing dishes, the water tank runs dry, so I run out to fill it.  A first for me, I'm proud to learn how to maintain my boat or, "Now-he-knows-I-know-how to do that!")  The Captain heads out with the roll of black Phifertex to contemplate the salon "eyebrow" windows.  While discussing if he should cut lengthwise or widthwise, he unrolls the fabric to discover we only got 1 yard instead of 3 yards.  Another 4 day delay :-(

Day 12:  First Mate is assigned to clean and polish the new "strataglass".  First, I have to ride to West Marine and purchase it.  Dang it!  (I dawdle on the way back, stopping a the coffee shop for an ice coffee & cranberry muffin for the Captain, then a swing through the new-used bookshop).  The Captain has two of the three zippers on the First Mate's front windshield (he's modified it to be permanently affixed at the top, since we usually fold it in and snap it up).  The Captain is still contemplating this windshield piece, so we go to the clubhouse to watch the final stages of the Tour de France (First Mate squeezes in some laundry).

Traveler sheet bag, before
Traveler sheet bag, after
Winch sheet bag, before

Winch sheet bag, after.  Enlarged & with a dedicated winch pocket

Day 13 & 14:  There's a side trip into sheet bags using black Phifertex with leftover plastic to reinforce the back.  The Captain stays with the same basic bag so he doesn't have to redo the snaps, but does some refinements.  First the traveler sheet bag, then the port winch sheet bag with a separate slot for the winch handle.  Each one takes him a good half day, which resulted in a lot of head scratching & then a log nap.  He stopped short of saying it made his head hurt, but "more thinking than I want to do in one day."  He runs out of Phifertex.  

Day 15:  Copilot calls first shift on the sewing machine & cranks out 3 hatch covers.  Getting faster!
Another hatch cover...

Day 16:  We didn't receive any help from Sailrite about the flawed plastic.  They said to leave it out in the sun a few days.  That made it harder to see, but it's still there and will probably drive us crazy--especially because of how much we paid for that roll!  (If we'd known, the flaw could have gone in the side pieces instead of the front.  At least it will be "up" most of the time.)  Finally, the Copilots plastic is up, but The Captain runs out of Tenara thread before he can get the last zipper on.  Dang it.  We're 7/8 done (main sail cover zipper, one dodger/windshield zipper, 2 sheet bags to go).
First Mate's side waiting for another zipper...