This week progress on all the boat projects continued to increase which is a very good pattern to see. The weather continued to cooperate all week with the daily pattern of very hot days that led to thunder and lightning storms in the late afternoon which brought rain with them but not usually till after the crew finished at 5pm or later. It would sometimes rain during the evenings but not all through the night and so it was usually all dry by morning and the pattern repeated itself. Today (Sunday 22nd) the weather is changing and looks like we are going to be in for quite a bit more rain that will stay for a while. We’ve been under a “cyclone watch” for over 2 weeks now as there is a set of conditions way over to the East of us, on the other side of Tonga, that are ripe for the development of a cyclone and so the weather prediction algorithms keep showing that one could form in about a week but that’s been the situation for almost three weeks now. So it is obviously something I keep an eye on but so far all is well and nothing has actually formed. These same weather programs (GRIB files in my case) are showing a low that is sitting off to the SE of Fiji and this is now bringing more rain our way and looks like we may not be able to get at much done this week. But weather is not something any of us can do anything about or even predict with much accuracy so I’ll continue to practice my model of living with no expectations and very high hopes and we’ll just get as much work done as the weather will allow.
The focus and progress this week has been in three projects; welding in all the new steel on the hull and preparation of the topsides and deck areas for their full coats of primer.
The steel work on the hull has gone extremely well. We finished welding in all the new steel for the patches that I had cut out and you saw last week. There was the long thin strip right up at the bow on the port (left) side, a small patch below the bow thruster tube on the starboard side and then four large sections, each one being about 40cm/18in square on either side and fore and aft of where the prop shaft exits the hull. All these now have new new steel (6mm) welded in place, ground flat and primed.
Whenever I’m doing repairs I always try to not just fix the problem but also do some related improvement and so as I was figuring out the solution for the hull problems I decided to add an additional layer of steel at the bow and aft sections that would provide added strength and security in these areas.
Guiding my thinking and design was the ongoing curiosity I have about doing what is usually called “extreme latitude” sailing, essentially sailing routes near the two poles. Given the danger of having ice form all the way around your hull or the ever present danger of icebergs and smaller chunks or “growlers”, steel boats are particularly well suited for these kinds of sailing adventures. I’m not at all sure that I’m going to do this as I’ve become such a warm weather “wimp” over the past four years and can’t really see myself leaving the 20/20 belt (20 degrees N/S of the equator) or living in any thing less than tropical climates, but I am attracted to the adventure of it all, the amazing beauty, the nature and the people of these areas.
So I figured I’d turn this “bug” of the hull repair into a “feature” and weld on an extra “ice breaker” layer in the critical areas of the bow and behind the keel. With new steel welded into all of the sections I’d cut out, we made templates and cut out much larger steel plates that would go on either side of the bow from just above the waterline back about 1.5m/5ft to protect the front end of the bow that would be the first to hit any ice while underway, and then we did the same for a much larger section that starts just before the aft end of the keel and stretches aft for over 2m/7ft and about 50cm/20in on both sides of the centerline. The keel itself is huge, almost 20 feet long and extremely strong so that protects most of the “belly” of the hull and these fore and aft sections now look after the areas in front and behind the keel.
It was quite an exercise to get these new plates of 6mm/ 1/4in) steel plate fitted up tight against the hull as these are all compound curves. The technique we came up with was to tack weld the straightest edge to the hull and then I had several hydraulic jacks on board and so we cut some large timbers to be the right length that we could wedge them and a hydraulic jack up against the plate and press it up tight against the hull,tack this spot in place and hammer it smooth. We kept working our way along the plate about 6in at a time and over the course of a few days we had a full 4x8ft sheet of steel plate added to the hull and LTY is now all ready for extreme latitude sailing should that ever call my name loud enough. For now it just feels good to have the hull stronger than when it was first built and restore my full confidence in my boat.
Meanwhile work continued on the topsides and the deck with the seemingly never ending process of finding spots that were not smooth and even, sanding them, filling them, priming them and doing that over and over. All this is in preparation for when we will soon spray the entire surfaces with sandable primer/filler and then start sanding the whole surface down to perfect smooth flat surfaces and ready for their final coat of gloss polyurethane paint. We also managed to get one coat of white epoxy on all the insides of the storage areas behind the seats and the large storage area beneath the transom steps at the aft end of the boat. Both of these were a real mess when we first started as they are very difficult to get at, lots of rough surfaces, nooks and crannies and foam. The crew have been great at helping me over the past few months to carefully clean these all out, remove all the rust with sandblasting where possible and pneumatic needle guns, wire wheels and chipping hammers everywhere else. This shot on the left is from back in October when they were first cleaning out the storage area under the steps by wedging themselves inside. We took turns at this “fun” activity!
Last week, and with Commodore Ruby’s full supervision, we were finally able to get a good thick coat of epoxy primer on all these hard to get at areas and this week we added the first coat of white epoxy so they now look VERY nice! It will be such a treat to have these storage areas all clean and be able to keep them that way.
It is now Monday and it’s been raining pretty much non stop since Sunday morning so as predicted the weather has turned and looks like we are in for a week of mostly rain and so the work crews won’t likely be here too much. Of course I have a VERY long list of things that need to be done and can be done inside so it will still be busy for me but I’m taking advantage of a very rainy morning here to finish typing this up and post it. It would be very helpful if you could send me your critique of these weekend updates to help give me a sense of how interesting they are, too much detail or not enough, what’s missing, etc.
Wow, the first month of 2012 has already raced by, at least for me and so it looks like time continues to seem to speed up. However the “density” of my experiences which I wrote about several years ago in my postings on “Exponential Learning Density” that you can read if you’d like, also continues to increase and so my life continues to be a charmed one that is filled with more and more great experiences and adventures. I wish the same for you as well and will be back with more for you next weekend.
Wayne & Ruby the Wonderdog