Constructing the Arch (Mast Project)

The last post was about forming the patch at the top of the arch.  I got stymied when I couldn’t lever it into position.  Well, I cut the piece out and made this work. As you can see, I’m trying to protect our living environment.  The plastic sheeting makes the cleanup easier, but it also keeps us from having the sanding dust sift into our sheets, where we won’t see it.  I’m not even sure if we feel it, really.  Directly, I mean.  It’s just, well, creepy. The patch in the picture above isn’t fitting quite right, and the arch isn’t cut into it.  In order to shape it, I pulled out the following tools. You can’t see the chisel, but it was in the mix somewhere.  I didn’t get pictures of the process, because working, right?  But basically, I fucked it into place and slipped the other piece under it.  Voila! By the way, we were given this wood by a man named August.  He had a bunch of marine plywood left over from a project and gave it to James. It’s rough, but the next step is structural filler, epoxy, and fiberglass.  Once those are all applied, we’ll be ready to do some finish work. As usual, clean-up was a long process.  It involved more sawdust than fiberglass this time (yay!), which reminded me of one reason wooden boats are wonderful.

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Very First Reconstruction (Mast Project)

Last thing we wrote about the mast project, we were going to hang tight through Irene and then get back to it.  As we posted, the hurricane wasn’t so bad up here in Fells Point.  When I got back to work, I pulled out the grinder again. I wish I’d gotten pictures of it, but…I taped thick plastic sheeting all around my work zone, trying to contain the fiberglass dust I would create.  It was not a complete success.  Three straight lines with the grinder = 5 min.  Set up and clean up = hours. Fiberglass dust makes you itch – it irritates your skin – it hurts!  So I filled a bucket with water and wiped down every single surface that got dusty, from the cabin top to the cabin sole.  It was far more of a cleaning than I felt like doing, but I made the mess. The whole reason I made those cuts?  In the picture below, you can see that I had chiseled the lower part of the plywood.  I got up to the fiberglass tabs that fix the bulkhead to the cabin top and wow.  The wood wasn’t rotten enough to come out! The wood is obviously not in the pink of health, but it was too strong for me.  The arch is the part I removed with the grinder. And then I chiseled.  Oh my.  I kept turning away, thinking there was a quicker way.  If there is, I don’t know it, so I turned back to the job and got it done. And then I cut the piece that would replace the old plywood.  I made patterns of the front and back, transferred those to a piece of plywood, and got out the jigsaw.  I love the jigsaw.  It makes such disciplined cuts,[…]

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Deconstruction 2 (Mast Project)

When last you saw us, we looked like this: Once the mast was secure on the dock and the storm passed, it was time to remove the mast step.  In order to do so, we first had to remove the compression posts below decks. In the picture above, the compression posts are the pieces of wood standing vertical.  They have a curve to them that makes them wider at the top.  Note the bar sitting across them at the top.  The mast step is bolted to the deck via the holes you can see (sort of) in the picture, but two of the bolts come through the mast step, through the deck, and through the compression bar, where the washers and nuts appear.  Of course, you can’t see that, because the compression posts are right underneath those nuts.  This is the whole reason we have to take everything apart – because we couldn’t tighten the bolts from the top and we couldn’t get to the nuts from below. The compression posts are well supported by the bulkheads (one of which is cracked, remember?) and so we commenced to scraping paint away where we thought the fasteners would be.  Then we dug out the bondo-type filler someone had packed on top of the screw heads.  Then we tried to move 50 year old bronze fasteners in damp, swollen wood.  Every fastener was an adventure. Turns out the compression posts were attached to the bulkhead, but also to the door frame for the head.  We ended up struggling 24 of these fasteners out of the two posts. Once we had all the fasteners out, the posts creaked their way free.  First the aft post… Note that the wood is darker at the top – that’s where water has been leaking in.  The[…]

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Deconstruction (Mast Project)

See how happy I am?  Why am I so happy?  I don’t think this post will really answer that question…so it must be because I love the photographer. What is that, you ask?  Why it’s the crack in the bulkhead under our mast.  I uncovered it a little while back when I took the veneer off.  That’s the forward side.  The aft side is no better. That is also the reason for this post. Remember way back when?  When we got knocked down and broke the port side forward lower chainplate right in half.  Weeeeelll, that also had the effect of pulling loose the bolts holding down the mast step.  We tried tightening, we tried loosening.  We learned that two of the bolts were installed between the horizontal and vertical parts of the compression system. Invisible. And untouchable.  In order to re-seat the step, we were going to have to take apart the compression system.  Which you don’t want to do with the mast in place. So we researched getting the mast pulled and every yard we talked to quoted megabucks.  The last quote was such an insult that we left the marina we were berthed in, in order to get away from the madness. Then we read about and discussed pulling the mast using a buddy boat (I’d do it with two boats, but our one “buddy” wasn’t really an option).  And then it was all about building an a-frame mast tower on the deck. There are plenty of resources about doing this already on the web.  Suffice to say, we went and bought some 2x4s and a bunch of big ol’ bolts. And we cut and we bolted.  After wrestling this contraption onto the deck, we attached the mainsheet rig to the apex and prepared to haul it[…]

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Of course I ran aground in Fairlee Creek!

Puff chasing, we made our way from Frog Mortar Creek out to Middle River and down to Hart-Miller island.  The wind died altogether as we rounded Pooles Island and, on glass, we motored to our anchorage for the night. Fairlee Creek is known to be a tricky place to enter.  There’s a nice big red marker and then a flurry of small red and green cans that end just before the pinch.  The pinch being a 90 degree turn into a shallow spot between two beaches that are 20 feet apart.  That part?  We get to figure that part our ourselves. This is the narrowest entrance that we’ve been through, and we didn’t go through without a small amount of travail.  We bumped, we grounded, and then a nice man waded out to us and asked, “How much water to you need to float this boat?” Dena’s response was, “Oh, honey, you are so sunburned!” The nice man was unphased by that comment.  He seemed inured to the pain of red skin.  Perhaps it was a permanent color rather than a summer thing. He shoved and shoved, and lo and behold, we floated right off that shoal.  Motoring gently, we entered the beautiful bay of Fairlee Creek, where the depths range between 8′ and 5′. We set the anchor about mid-way through the main bay, maintaining some distance from the black Rinker from which issued cheesy music and screaming kids. The hot, still air called for swimming, and I was not to be stopped.  When I realized I was starving, James helped me out… And then he jumped in as well! We floated around, swam, and watched the boat turn with the tide.  Happy with our holding, we launched the dink and James rowed us to the spit that hooks[…]

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