Tuesday, May 31, 2011

What a great weekend.

In my previous blog, I made the comment that our three day Memorial Day weekend would be busy but that we'd get a few boat projects done, like cleaning the teak deck and sealing them with Thompson's Water Seal.   Yeah, that didn't happen. 

Saturday was an on water music concert in Stamford on a friend's boat.  Pam and I really enjoy music and the bands were really good, as was the food and beer.  
Sunday we took the T-Bird to a car show at Quinnipiac University with over 700 cars.
The Connecticut Seaport Car Club went up to the parade in a group and parked together.  The condition of most of the cars at the show was incredible.  Many looked like they just rolled off the showroom floor.

Monday was a Memorial Day parade in Fairfield. I zip-tied the boat ensign to the wire wheel on the stern of the car and we took up the end of the car club contingent. As we passed a Coast Guard float, I asked if the ensign was the proper size which got a big laugh after a short puzzled pause. After the parade, I got to shake the hand and thank both a Pearl Harbor survivor and a WWII and Korean War vet at a Memorial Day observance.
I'm thinking that I need to buy a flag pole socket and mount it on the rear bumper for future parades.  The flag looked good and we got a good response from parade spectators.

Nope, did nothing on the boat project list, but Pam and I had a ball.  How was y'alls weekend?

Friday, May 27, 2011

Lazy Hazy Crazy Days of Summer

Spring is gone.   The forecast for the coming week is hot, hazy, and humid with temps in the upper 80s.   You can see and smell it in the air.     This is a work barge leaving in the fog yesterday morning.    It's job building a new pier is done.

This sunrise this morning promises a hot and humid day.   Summer is here!

So no big plans this weekend.   I think we might clean the teak decks and seal them with Thompson's Advance Formula Water Seal since it worked so well on the flybridge deck.   I have a few minor things to do on the '56 Thunderbird.

So it looks like Saturday is boat/car projects, Sunday is a car show, and Monday we'll bring the T-bird to a Memorial Day parade in Fairfield and then veg out.   That's the plan.   Somehow, our plans never go the way we plan.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Teak Decks- a Love/Hate Affair

Like many boats, Drift Away has teak decks. 

Let me take a minute to explain something to my non-boating friends.  A fiberglass boat deck is a sandwich, with fiberglass on the "bread" sides and (usually) wood where the peanut butter goes.  It is very strong and relatively light which is why boats are built that way.  That's a good thing.  The top surface, where you walk, is either a rough diamond pattern non-skid molded into the fiberglass or teak.   Traditional boaters like teak because it looks yachty and they pay a premium for it.  Boat manufacturers like premium things because they make more money.  Money makes the world go around.  But here comes the good part.   Until recently, teak decks were screwed down.  Yeah and so, you say?   Well, the screws go right through the teak, right through the fiberglass, and into the wood core.  Please get to the point, you say?   Well, to prevent water from leaking through the screw holes and into the wood core where it would get wet and rot, boat builders would countersink the holes and insert (are you ready for this) a wood bung to plug the hole, and in between the teak strips they would apply caulk.   Perfect.

Needless to say, this didn't work.  Anyone with an ounce of common sense would tell you it was a very bad idea, but boat builders and boat buyers have no common sense.   Boat building and boat buying is a form of mental illness.   So, all screwed down teak decks leak.  Every single one of them.  Recognizing the problem and being quick to respond, after 30 years of screwing (read into that anything you want), boat builders decided to simply glue the teak down.   Modern teak decks are a thing of beauty.  Old teak decks are not.

The problem now is how to fix the problem.   A rotten wood core must be replaced.  That's a given.  The fiberglass sandwich must be cut open from either the top or bottom and new wood glued in and then the fiberglass replaced.  But what of the teak decks?   Many owners simply remove them, a laborious and tiring job, since all the screws must be unscrewed, teak removed,  and screw holes plugged and then decks painted over.  This is the most common choice.   Stubborn owners (that would be Pam and me) declare that we love teak decks and furtively attempt to replace missing bungs and sikaflex (that's the sealant in the groves between the teak boards).   Pam started doing this last year and has the foredeck almost done.   It's a laborious and tiring process though (most boat jobs are laborious).

Connecticut has had a lot of precipitation this year, both snow and rain.   Drift Away has teak decks on the main level and on the flybridge, which is over our main living area.  The leaks have made a mess of the teak paneling in the boat, which must also be replaced.  I needed to stop the leaks until we get to replacing the missing  bungs and recaulking all the decks.   First, I tried the obvious.  A blue tarp.   This worked well as long as the wind didn't blow it off, which it always did, no matter how much I weighed it and tied it down.  It's just too darn windy in Connecticut in the winter.   

Now, this is where it gets interesting.   ABOUT TIME, you say.  I've got a reputation for thinking outside of the box.  I decided to make a trip to Home Cheapo and buy some asphalt roll roofing to try on the flybridge.  Pam and I laid it down and it worked!   No more leaks!   Being very proud of my fix, I declared that asphalt roofing not only makes for good looks but also makes fine non-skid.   Pam gave me one of those looks.   Guys, you know the look I'm talking about.    Yep.  That's the one.

Well, the roofing worked fine until the wind really blew, and then it lifted and tore and began leaking again.  Time for a new approach.  I decided to coat the whole thing in Thompson's Advanced Formula Water Seal.   Their advanced formula is, I believe, nothing more than floor wax in a solvent.  You coat your deck with it, the solvent gasses off, and you have a fine coat of wax sealing everything.   When first applied, it looked horrible, but then the solvent slowly evaporated and what's left looks OK.    Not great, not yacht quality, but OK.

You can see from the photo above what we're dealing with.  Miles of thin strips of teak with caulk in between, much of it gone.  Hundreds of screw holes, and hundreds of missing bungs.   But I'm very pleased to announce that it also seems to have worked, at least so far.   We had a thunderstorm hit the other night and no leaks.   There is a thin film of wax on the surface, but I think this will quickly wear off.   The waterseal that penetrated down through the teak, out of the weather and UV, should last a long, long time.  

I hope.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Don't Mess With Mother Goose

Poor Chevy.   He's having a tough time dealing with Gertie, the ten week old Kitten of Death.   Look for yourself.  You can see the evil, the viciousness, the ferociousness.

Chevy has to constantly be on the lookout because if he drops his guard, Gertie will  be on him.  Sometimes Ruby also takes a great interest in the little fuzzy devil cat.

I think the dogs wonder what's wrong with the little cat.  Why is it running around like that?  That's not right.   Gertie was hiding under the sofa, behind the blanket, and lunging out at the dogs, which freaked them out a bit.

As of this morning, it looks like Spring is over.  Yesterday's rain brought down a lot of tree blossoms.

This is Pam's car.

We both commute from Stamford to Norwalk, up I-95 each morning.  It was fun following her, flower petals flying all over, showering all the cars behind her.  Kinda brought me back to the 60s.

But getting to the geese... The Canada Geese have had their goslings.

They travel like this, one parent in front and one in the rear, goslings in the middle, for protection.

J795 is a proud parent!  I wonder what numbers her kids are?

Anyway, Canada Geese are VERY protective of their kids.  The geese sometimes graze on the small grassy peninsula next to the marina, right by the gate to our dock.   Tonight, Pam had the dogs and was walking to the dock.   All of a sudden they both took off!  They had seen a half dozen geese that needed chasing!   Pam yelled at them to stop.   Ruby did.  Chevy didn't.  Remember, Chevy is fearless!  Pam yelled again.   Again, Chevy didn't.   It's fun chasing the geese, making them run and fly away!  Only what Chevy didn't count on was that the geese had goslings.   Quickly, the geese made themselves very large, wings flapping, beaks hissing, and they circled their babies.   One struck out at Chevy, nailing him good.  He now has a squinty eye to show for it.   I hope he'll think twice about charging geese in the future!

The End.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

20 Ounce Kitten vs. 135 pounds of Pit Bulls

I mentioned in my previous blog that we have a new kitten.  Our menagerie now consists of two pit bulls and three cats, plus three humans.  That's a lot going on if we lived in a house, but we don't.  We live on a boat.  Somehow it will all work out, I figured.   Maybe I figured wrong.   I didn't factor in the ferociousness of one of our critters.   If you think I'm talking about Chevy, our 75 pound male pit bull, you would be wrong.  If you think it's Charlie, our 16 pound three legged snow shoe siamese cat, you would be wrong.

Gertie is only ten weeks old, but she quickly figured out that she needed to assert her position in her new family quickly.  She attacked all the other animals one by one.  Smudge, the 20 year old cat, has seen this all before and decided to pretty much ignore Gertie.  One down.   Next was Ruby, our 60 pound female pit bull.  She decided to avoid Gertie altogether.   Two down.   That left Charlie and Chevy.

Here is Gertie about to smack Charlie.

Two seconds after this was taken, Charlie was scampering away for all he was worth.  Now, Charlie leaves Gertie be.  Three down.  That left Chevy.

Chevy isn't afraid of ANYTHING.   Not people, not big aggressive dogs in the dog park, nothing.  Except Gertie.  He's terrified of Gertie.  Gertie will arch her back and charge Chevy, hissing and spitting.   Chevy runs away, or tries to hide under the sofa, or runs downstairs to barracade himself in our stateroom.   Anything to get away from 20 ounces of certain death.

Sometimes, Gertie surprises him with a stealth attack.

Chevy and Ruby quickly got away from the evil devil cat...

Look at the horrible kitten of death, sure to strike terror into any pit bull's heart.  Chevy finally had enough and went on the offensive and charged Gertie, barking his fool head off.   Gertie stood her ground and an uneasy Chevy stood his, kind of.   He looked like he needed an exit strategy where he wouldn't lose face, so Pamela grabbed him and pulled him away.

Gertie wins.  Four down.   I would have given her a victory beer, but to a 20 ounce cat, that would be like giving me a 180 pound beer.  Hmmmm.....

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

1956 Thunderbird and a new kitten

I have a list of boat projects to complete that's as long as my arm, and I have a pretty long arm.  I should be spending every waking moment planning or working on projects.   Painting, recoring the foredeck, sanding and filling, installing a galley cooktop, and so on.   This weekend was beautiful, so what did I do?   No boat projects, for starters.

My dad retired twenty years ago.   For the first ten years of his retirement, he stayed busy traveling and playing softball.   When he hit  70 though, he could no longer play softball and he couldn't rent a car in Ireland anymore because of his age, so he sort of wound down.   My dad was a great shade tree mechanic in his younger years and I called him up one day and suggested that he consider buying an antique or classic car.  

"Oh no" he said, "I can't see spending money on something like that."

"Think of it as a different kind of investment" I replied, "What are you going to do, play on the living room floor with your stocks and bonds?"

Well, one thing lead to another and before too long he had a 1956 Thunderbird that he bought from a small Texas company that specializes in restoring "early birds", Thunderbirds from 1955 to 1957.   When I went to dad's house to see it for the first time, he had a grin from ear to ear.  He said to me, "Do you remember the 1956 Ford Fairlane we had?"  Sure.  "What I really wanted was a Thunderbird but I couldn't buy one.  Do you know why?"  No, no idea, why?   "Because the Thunderbird was a two seater and mom and I had you."    My dad was a great kidder.

He joined a Thunderbird club and had a ball with that car.   Then he bought a 1957 T-bird for his Arizona house.   He had a great time with those cars, tinkering and tuning just like in the old days when you could actually work on cars.   Dad passed away last summer.  He left me the 1956 and my sister the '57.  

So here is the car...

I thought about selling it since it really doesn't fit in with my boating lifestyle, but Pam wouldn't hear of it.  "It was your dad's car, and he wanted you to have it."    Yeah, she's right.   I can't sell this car. 

I had the car in storage in upstate New York all last winter, and this past weekend went up to bring it down to Connecticut.   We also visited Pam's mom for mother's day where we were rewarded with an 8 week old kitten ("I'm just going to keep it until I find it a home", Pam said, and then she gave it to Megan, who is living with us).

The three hour ride to Stamford was a ride in a time machine.  I had forgotten what it's like to drive a car with recirculating ball steering, rear leaf springs, four wheel non-power drum brakes, wind noise from the convertible top, steering wheel in your chest and elbows out, and so on.   At 75 MPH, it was a thrill.   Cruising down the Taconic Parkway at 55 though, the car was in it's element, a joy to drive.  Not surprisingly, it got many stares, thumbs up, and honks from passing cars.  It seemed like young boys and old men liked it best.  

I'm a boating guy, also an old car nut.  I've been distracted by boating for the past 40 years.  It's time to kick back and do a little of both.   The boat projects will get done, but just not as fast as I had planned.  It's time for my dad and I to spend some quality time together.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Morning walks

Early morning can be a wonderful time of day. Ok during the winter, not so much. But as spring rolls into summer and the warm, bright sun is beckoning me to get up, I have no problem rising and shining. Dave does a lot with the dogs so I have taken over the morning dog chore. Since there is a great park right across from our marina, I have started taking them for an early morning walk to the beach where I then let them off leash to romp a bit.

I love spring time. The flowering trees, the babies, and best of all the warm sunshine with a promise of a great day.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Getting Published

I enjoy writing.   It's a good creative outlet for me.   I've also dabbled in oil painting and playing guitar, but writing is much more fun.  Being a computer guy and a boating nut, I also frequent several internet boating message boards.  Several years ago, I posted about what I had learned on a sailing vacation in St. Vincent and the Grenadines on the Cruising World bulletin board.   I was contacted by the editor of that magazine who asked if he could use my post as part of an article on chartering.   I agreed, and to my surprise I received a check.  Since that time, I've written and have had published several articles in sailing magazines.  

Yesterday, I received an email from an internet friend who wanted to know if I was the same Dave Gibson who just had an article published in the May issue of Latitudes & Attitudes.  The names of my daughter and then wife matched.   Huh?  I sent them a couple of articles many years ago, but none had been published.  I'm a Lats & Atts premium member so I went online to look at the magazine and, sure enough, there it was, an article I submitted in 2004.   LOL!

If you ever get the chance to sail or motor your boat down there, or perhaps charter, I recommend it highly.   The Caribbean is a wonderful place and on my list of places to travel to on Drift Away.

This is Admiralty Bay in Bequia, a place I really like.   One day...

Anyway, getting back to getting yourself published- I'm hardly an expert, but it seems to me to write about what you know, keep the writing in an easygoing conversational style, and proofread your articles at least three times.  If you do all that, you should be able to earn anywhere from ten cents to twentyfive cents an hour, easy.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Loon in CT. Proof!

I got up this morning and, as I do most every morning, admired the sunrise.  There's something about living on a boat and sunrises and sunsets...   and there he was.   At first, in my groggy state, I thought he was a Cormorant, hmmm... why does he have white... IT'S A LOON!   QUICK, GET THE CAMERA!    I dashed to the camera place (everything on a boat has a place), snagged the camera, and ran back to the helm station and flung open the door.  

This is where he used to be.

Finally, proof that there are Loons in Connecticut.

We also have Swans.  Big deal.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Procrastination Day 3

Today was beautiful.  A gorgeous, absolutely perfect day.  Sunny, warm, and a gentle breeze.   Certainly no one can be expected to do boat projects when the weather is this wonderful, right?

So after a great Pam cooked breakfast, we headed up to the dog park.   The back side was busier than normal, no doubt because of the great weather.  All dogs love this park.   What a tremendous resource to the residents of the area.

We headed through the woods.  Over the hill, this is what we saw.

A car show!  Pam and I love car shows.   We put the dogs on leashes and headed to the show.

A 1953 Ford.

A 1914 Cadillac.  365 cubic inches, external cylinders, and a whomping 45 HP.  The car was perfect.

A 1957 Thunderbird.  I talked to the owner to see if there's an Early Bird Club in the area.  I've been thinking of taking my 1956 T-Bird out of the cow barn in upstate NY and bringing it to CT.  No, no Early Bird Club, but a great rod and custom club.  Maybe I'll join and bring my car down.

Back at the boat, Pam and I relaxed on the aft deck with a beer.  She left for the grocery store and I felt like I really needed to accomplish something.  Sanding the gunwales was out.  Too late, too messy.  

So I rewired this old lamp, declared victory, and had another beer.   A victory beer.

Procrastination part 2

Yesterday, I wrote about the difficulty in getting motivated to start boat projects.   Well, after the dog park I actually drove to the hardware store and bought a palm sander.  I had choices from $40 to $90.  I could see no discernable differences.  What's the big deal about a palm sander?  You clamp sandpaper on it and it vibrates.   Nothing high tech or tolerance critical here, so I bought the $40 one.

Back at the boat, I started sanding the gunwale.  This boat had been painted before with Awlgrip and it was peeling.  Also, a previous owner had varnished the cap rail without masking and had made a mess.

The 80 grit sandpaper, specially made for removing paint, was doing a good job of taking it down to the old gelcoat.  Still, it was work.  My back was getting sore from hunching over, my noggin was getting sunburned, and I was getting covered in white dust.   There has to be some way to declare the work day over and celebrate with a victory beer, but what?   Like a special dispensation on death row from the warden, the phone rang.  It was Rod and Patty, people I've known for at least a decade, meeting them on an internet message board.   Like most of my internet friends, I've only actually met them in person a couple of times, usually at boat shows.   Rod and Patty sold their Catalina 38, the one they sailed from California to Fiji, and were shopping for a bigger cruising boat.   They'd be passing by Stamford and would like to stop by for a visit.   YES!  SAVED!  Oh... and it would be good to see Rod and Patty too.

The cruising lifestyle seems to suit them well and they both looked great.   Chevy gave them a sniff and approved as well.   They had looked at a boat in Massachusetts and were on their way back to Annapolis where they had paid for ten days in a hotel.   Our visit was brief as they had to get back on the road, and Pam and I headed out to a house party where we enjoyed good food and beverages and listened to a couple of speakers.  

One was my boss who regaled us with the story of his 2000 OSTAR race (singlehanded from Plymouth England to Newport RI) where he collided with a fishing boat, breaking the bow off his boat.  He stuck the bow back on as only an inventive guy like Martin can do, and he finished the race and came in second.  The other speaker was just as fascinating, a captain of Green Peace's Rainbow Warrior and his tale of landing three inflatibles in the old Soviet Union to gather evidence of illegal whaling and then outrunning a pursuing Soviet warship.  Interesting stuff.

Back at the boat, I made the mistake of staying up for a half hour after everyone went to bed.   When I do that, this is what I have to deal with...

OK, someone is going to have to move.