Getting the mast out of the way

by Chuck February 14, 2005

Tried to get some work done on the mast today, but it just wasn't in the cards. Dana wanted to run some errands, so I went along with her, and then in the afternoon the weather turned nasty and it wasn't very much fun to be outside. Or even in the alley of the barn.

But there were a couple of jobs I had to take care of today. The horses needed water and the mast needed to be moved out of the middle of the alley. See, tomorrow the farrier is coming to trim the donkey's feet, and she likes to work under cover a lot more than she likes to work outside in the rain.

The mast takes up an amazing amount of space for something 4"x6"x26'. The alley in the barn is 32 feet long and 12 feet wide, and the mast seems to take up most of the space, between the stick, the spreaders, and the stays.

I got out some more sawhorses and set the mast up on them, the spreaders vertical against the wall. With it scootched as far toward the back as it will go and still stay in the barn and pressed against the wall, Dana will be able to bring the donkey in tomorrow and use the cross ties.

Of course, the farrier is going to tease us, again, because the barn has yet another non-farm project going on in the alley.

I did get a little work done on the mast today. I got out the rubbing compound and rubbed out the whole mast. It takes a long time to dry when the air is only 40 degrees, so I won't be able to buff and wax the mast until tomorrow night.



Wisdom of the Web

by Chuck February 12, 2005

When I re-rigged Odyssey a couple years ago, I used an assortment of wire rings and cottor pins to secure the clevis pins on the turnbuckles. I figured one must be better than the other, so I asked on the SailNet Pacific Northwest Sailing mailing list. There is more experience and more opinions on that list than just about any where else.

In this case, however, they were pretty much in agreement. Use the cottor pins.

So I will.



Mastless in Monroe

by Chuck February 11, 2005

Tonight after work I started my project to replace the halyard blocks at the top of Odyssey's mast. The first step is to unship the mast and move it to my work area.

On any other sailboat, "unship the mast" would mean a huge undertaking, involving cranes, great big mast bolts, and probably a team of professionals to make sure nothing went wrong. On Odyssey I just undid the turnbuckles for the backstay and the side stays and slid it over her side and onto the ground. Yet another advantage of a trailerable sailboat.

After I had the mast off the boat, Dana came out and helped me carry it down to the barn. The 26-foot mast takes up an impressive amount of space in the barn alley. I laid it on the floor to start with, but when I work on it I lift the part I'm working on up to a sawhorse.

The first order of business was to remove the old blocks for the main halyard, the jib halyard, and the topping lift. While I was there, I went ahead and took off the block that is shackled on for a spinnaker halyard, since it will be a few more years before I can afford to buy a 'chute.

The spinnaker halyard block came of the easiest. It was attached to a padeye on the mast with a clevis pin. I just removed the split ring and the clevis pin slipped out and so did the block. The block is in pretty good shape, so I'll keep it around for a while and see if I can put it to use.

The jib halyard block was next. The bolt that holds the forestay to the mast went through a hole in the block, so all I had to do was undo the lock nut, slip the bolt out of the block, and re-tighten the lock nut. Again, simple, once I'd found the right tools. It took me longer to find my 7/16 socket than it did to take the block off.

Finally, I removed the cheek blocks for the main halyard and topping lift. I had to drill out the rivets that hold them in place. Not hard, the rivet heads popped right off, but the rivets remaind proud of the mast body and I can't figure out how to get them the rest of the way off. I figure I'll post on the Cascadia list, someone there will know.

All told it took about half an hour to get the old blocks off. Tomorrow I'm off to Harbor Marine, Popeye's and West Marine to find replacement blocks.



Drowning on dry land

by Chuck November 6, 2004

We call our farm "Puddlehaven1" because dealing with rain water and the runoff during the rainy season is takes up most of our time in the fall and winter around here. Some day I'll get my small farm Web site up and running, and you can read about the joy of shoveling 46 yards of hog fuel every fall.

Anyway, I put a tarp over Odyssey this fall to try to keep some of the detritus of the winter off. Unfortunately there was a puddle of water trapped in the tarp after every rain storm. The tarp would sag down between the mast and the lifelines, creating a well that held about 40 gallons.

After taking an inadverdent shower after the last rainstorm, I decided the best way to avoid another ice cold shower was to take the lifeline stanchions out of their sockets.

It's amazing how easy it is to keep water from ponding up when you don't block it from running downhill. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go dig a ditch to keep the water moving downhill from the paddock out behind the barn...

1We used to call it Puddlehaven. Now we call it Brambly Hill. An altogether better name.



A day at the woodshop

by Chuck July 18, 2004

Today I took the half-finished rudder to Ron's house. We managed - in only 5 hours - to finish shaping the rudder and put on the first coat of polyurethane.

I left the rudder with Ron, he'll put on more coats of poly, and then I'll need to test fit the rudder on the boat and the tiller on the rudder, but it looks good, real good.



A minor setback

by Chuck July 15, 2004

I started to sand on the blade again tonight, but the 50-grit belt broke, and I don't have a replacement. I'm shut down until I can get a new one.



Spit and polish

by Chuck March 23, 2003

Odyssey sat outside all winter, and she is showing the results: her entire hull is covered with a dingy greyish green coat of scum. There are pine cones in the cockpit, needles in the scuppers, and in one place there is actually a tiny little tree growing in the rub rail. Clearly, it's time to clean up.

On the 23rd, Joey and I pulled Odyssey out of the barn and hauled her over by the arena where there is a hose bib and a slope so the dirty water runs away. We got out the scrub brushes, the hose, and some rags and went to work, using a scrub brush over her entire hull and deck.

It was a typical early spring day in Pugetopolis. The sun was shining when I started, but in the hour and a half we washed on the boat, we had: Sun. Rain. Hail. Wind. Clouds. At times we had all 5 at once.

When we were done, Odyssey looked a lot nicer. Gone was the dingy green look, replaced with white and blue that looked like someone cared. There are a few places that I missed, like the inside of the cockpit, but overall it's a big improvement.

The best part of the whole afternoon was working with Joey. He's reaching that point in a child's life where they stop being a drag and actually start becoming helpful little workers. He worked for almost an hour before getting bored and distracted, and even when he stopped scrubbing he didn't make the job harder.

With all the grime washed off, I put Odyssey back into the barn so she'd stay clean. Next, it's time to shine her up.



That @&%^ transom

by Chuck March 8, 2003

The big project on Odyssey this weekend was filling the holes on the port side of her transom. This is the first time that I've repaired holes in fiberglass with epoxy putty, so all in all it's a learning experience.

I bought an epoxy kit from West Marine, it comes with 5 or 6 packets of pre-measured epoxy, some fillers (microballons and colloidal sillica), pots, stirring sticks, etc. I look over the directions, but there's no mention of which filler to use in which situation, so I'm on my own. I know that microballoons are for sanding, so I decide to use the sillica.

The kit comes with a pair of surgical gloves, so I put them on. Joey asks me why I'm doing that, I tell him so I don't get any chemicals on my hands. Joey climbs into the loft of the barn, he doesn't want to have anything to do with chemicals.

My first challenge is mixing up a pot of putty. The wind is blowing through the barn and that darn filler is light and doesn't want to get out of the cup it came in and into my mixing cup. I move to the tack room and now it pours fine. I mix some filler in, then some more, until I have a putty that looks pretty good.

Back out to the boat. I use one of the stirring sticks to trowel the putty into the holes. It's too thin and starts to slump. I dig most of it back out, put it back in the pot and add some more filler. Now it's looking really thick. I trowel it and and it works. Maybe five minutes later all the holes that I'm filling in this session are done.

So, once I'm done, there is some extra filler outside the holes, smeared around the transom. I'm not looking forward to it hardening, so I think, "Hey, let's try acetone. That might clean it up." So I get out a rag and some acetone and try rubbing it on the extra filler. To my delight, it appears to be taking off the extra. I clean up all the extra filler on the transom. (While I'm doing this, Joey asks "What's the awful smell?" "Acetone" I reply. Joey climbs down from the loft and goes to play on the haystack where he can't smell the acetone.)

That's all for Saturday. I clean up the mess, tossing the used cups, stirrer, gloves (need to get more gloves) in a plastic bag and putting the plastic bag in the garbage.

On Sunday I walked out to check and see how things were going. I learned two new things:

  • Epoxy that goes off in 20 minutes at 70 degrees is still tacky after 12 hours at 38 degrees or less. Working in these cold conditions does wonders for the pot life of epoxy.
  • Cleaning up the overspill with acetone didn't work as well as I'd hoped. All the extra filler was gone, but the hull is now stained with an orange color that I can't figure out how to remove.

That's how things sit today. On Wednesday (the 12th) I got a chance to go out and poke the filler, it's hardened up now. (Why so long? The farm. The weather. Little League practice. 4H. I'm lucky to get an hour or so a week to play on Odyssey. Next I have to figure out how to take care of the delamination and how to get rid of the orange color on the transom.



Fixing a mistake

by Chuck August 6, 2002

I had a little time this afternoon before we went off to get the kid's pictures taken, so I did a little puttering on the boat.

When I replaced the through deck plug for the mast wiring, I wasn't 100% sure I connected the masthead light so it would work. The plug has a large pin for an index, and I used that one for the ground, but I've never been sure that I connected the positive wire so that the light would come on. I've never used the lights, but I'd like to have them in case I ever need them.

Today I pulled the deck fitting and the plug apart and moved the white wire for the masthead light to the pin opposite the fat pin. There's only one of those, and I'm pretty sure I got it on right. Tonight after dark I'll go out and turn it on and make sure it works.



Maintenance and little dreaming

by Chuck August 4, 2002

After a long day at work I needed to spend some time relaxing, so I grabbed the portable radio, my West Marine catalog, and a Diet Pepsi and headed out to the boat for some sailboat therapy.

I tried tuning in the local classical station, but they were playing something with way too many violins, so I switched to the jazz station, popped the top on the Pepsi, and started to putter.

One of the first things Dana bought me for the boat was a little whisk broom and a dust pan. I used it to clean up the pine needles that had migrated into the cabin, and pick up a few Fruit Loops that had snuck out of the kid's treat bags and under the seat cushions. That only took a couple minutes, so I swept the pine needles out of the cockpit too. There is always a little condensation in the runner trough for the sliding galley, so I toweled that out.

20 minutes or so, and the clean up work was done.

I stretched out on the port cabin seat and pulled out the West Marine catalog. I want to put "yachty" cabin lights in, instead of the cheap RV-style lights that were one of the first things I pulled out of the cabin when the boat came home.

The first time I told Dana that, Katie asked "What does 'yachty' mean?"

"Expensive." Dana is quick.

There are a few surface mount lights I think would look great. I'd like to get aimable halogen lights to make the most use of the electricity they take. I also want to get one candle or oil light to hang on the forward bulkhead when I put it back in. I'm a romantic, and I don't think there is anything more soothing than the light of a candle on a boat at night. (Yes, I know it's an open flame. People used them for years before electricity.)

Joe came out to help me hang out on the boat. He sat, mostly quietly, and looked at the catalog with me. He had a few questions, but surprisingly few given how talkative he normally is.

After half an hour or so, it started to get too dark to read comfortably, so Joe and I closed the cabin up and headed inside. No water, but Joe and I got a few quiet minutes together anyway.



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