Wednesday, October 29, 2008 | Author: Julia
Monday, October 27, 2008 | Author: Jacob
Our planned departure date is just 35 days away!

December 1st

Today we are: Working (last week), selling a bedframe, selling a guitar effects unit, getting the boat measured for a trisail, getting our engine oil pressure sender switch replaced (another story), giving away a three foot stack of moving boxes, laundry (one of the last times with a free washer and dryer), buying zincs for the bobstay fitting (now underwater as Pisces gets loaded up), and a bunch of other stuff I can't remember right now.

Busy, but exciting.
Monday, October 20, 2008 | Author: Julia

It's an eerie feeling; to have an apartment full of stuff one day and the next day to have an empty apartment. The garage sale was a success, getting money for stuff we no longer want or need is always satisfying. But I'm still getting used to the lack of our everyday things. Sold the toaster and the drip coffee maker for one thing (put a major dent in my breakfast routine).
Once we get moved onto Pisces the lack of all our stuff will no longer matter, but this week while we're still in the house, it's very strange to wander around the house, seeing where things used to be.
This week I'll start on a major internal clean of Pisces and moving our stuff on board.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008 | Author: Jacob
Well, we've been in the yard for our final haul before heading out cruising. As any boat owner knows, a visit to the boatyard can be a trying experience, full of suprises. These surprises generally result in the use of boatyard labor, frequently charged at a going rate of ~$100/hr here in the Bay Area. It's a painful, albeit necessary, ritual.

That being said, we've had as good a time as possible with this last haul, in large part due to our hauling out at Spaulding Boatworks. If you don't know about it, I highly recommend you check out this piece of Sausalito waterfront history, the people there are honest, fun to be around, and true craftsmen.

We've done quite a bit during this haul-out, but a few things are interesting and are probably worth documenting in case it helps anyone else:

1) Bottom Paint/Barrier Coat Flaking Off!

When hauled we noticed some cracks in the bottom paint and after inserting a knife (I've decided that the universal boatyard survey is the pocket knife insert test) huge sheets started just peeling off! The sheets were up to several square feet at a time, and appeared to consist of several layers: Bottom Paint, Misc Greenish Gray (Primer?), Blue (Barrier Coat?), White (?), Pink(?). What was being left on the hull was white, which appeared to be a continuation of the topside paint, with places where another red layer below still showed (most likely the original gelcoat). 

You can imagine the sinking feeling this led to, as we watched our hull being peeled away...Michael, the boatyard manager apparently had never seen anything quite like this, which is not a good sign when you are talking about someone with around 30 years of experience!

Here's a picture of the 'finished' product on the port side:

It remains a bit of a mystery, the generally opinion (including that of an Interlux rep who came to take a look) is that it's a 'multiple failure' sort of thing, causing the barrier coat adhesion to fail. This left us with a couple of options: 1) Grind back all the places where it still adhered (expensive, and time consuming) 2) Apply barrier coat over the non-adhered places (medium expensive) or 3) Apply bottom coat directly over top, wait and see what happens next haul out (the 'out of sight out of mind' approach).

We went with #3, as everyone recommended we take a wait-and-see attitude. Very likely that next time we haul the remaining portions will also be peeling. Once we get it all off, we'll sand off the bottom paint and re-barrier coat. Not a fun prospect, but not awful.

2) Rudder Post Mystery

Since buying Pisces I've been a bit confused about how the rudder was attached, and given our cruising plans, now was the time to find out for sure. 

Pisces has a keel hung rudder, A large diameter SS shaft extends out of the top of the rudder, into a fiberglass tube that extends up to the deck level. This fiberglass tube is glassed in with supports to the hull. So far so good, a very standard arrangement. The confusion was that at the bottom of the hull where you would frequently see a massive pintle & gudgeon arrangement...there was....nothing...just more fiberglass. I thought that most likely we had a bronze fitting down there that had been covered with filler and faired in to the hull. 

To confirm this, and to confirm that the bronze fitting was in good condition, we asked the yard to do some exploratory surgery. So they started in with a grinder, deeper and deeper, but no metal...As it turns out, there is no metal at all, the heel of the skeg is actually just a fiberglass tube that accepts another length of SS shaft from the bottom piece of the rudder. This fiberglass tube piece was most likely made separately from the rest of the boat, then carefully lined up and attached with about 1/2" of thickened epoxy, and then the whole thing was wrapped with fiberglass all the way around the skeg. 

Here's a photo with exploratory hole:

If you look closely at this you can see (around the 3" mark) where the attachment starts. It's a slightly odd way of connecting the rudder, upside is there is no metal to corrode, distinct downside is that removing the rudder will require chopping this piece off. I think if we end up in a situation where we are removing the rudder according to plan, we will probably replace this set up with a more normal pintle & gudgeon with external metal fitting. In the meantime, it's not going anywhere.

3) Thru-Hull Madness

While all the above mentioned haul-out items managed to get our hearts pumping, only one thing actually deserves the 'scary designation'. Due to a redesign of our engine beds during the recent repower, the engine raw water intake was no longer easy to open and close. We asked Michael and Chris at Spaulding to take a look at whether we could rotate the seacock handle to provide better clearance. As part of this, they removed an external seawater strainer on the thru-hull. 

After doing this, Chris noticed that the thru-hull didn't appear to be sitting flush with the hull, instead having a 1/4" or so lip of sealant. A little further exploration (with a pocket knife again) led to the discovery that the 3 bolts which hold the seacock in place went all the way through the hull, but at some point someone had cut the heads off the bolts, and then inserted the current thru-hull on top of them, using sealant to fill any gaps. Essentially there was nothing substantive keeping these bolts from popping out into the hull, this would have allowed the thru hull itself to become loose, leaving a good size area around the thru-hull, and three 3/8" or so holes in the hull.

This is just scary. As a result of this, Chris glassed up the area, and moved the whole set-up a few inches further outboard, with a new thru-hull and no bolt holes...Finding that alone makes the haul-out worthwhile...

So, that's the bulk of it. We also spent a good bit of time working on a redesign of our electrical system (we highly recommend Malcolm Morgan if you are in the Sausalito area and in need of electrical help), plumbing, and storage. Another haul-out is in the books, Pisces is back in the water, and we have a new set of 'to-do's' for next time we haul...pretty standard all around.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008 | Author: Julia

Heading back down to our slip--the perfect relaxing ending to a wild washing machine day with all the boats greeting Maltese Falcon at the Gate.
Wednesday, October 01, 2008 | Author: Julia
I've been looking through cruising books looking for ideas, tips and tricks and handy hints on living aboard and storage. I've dutifully gone through all the classics including Beth Leonard, the Pardeys, Nigel Calder, Jim Howard and many more.

One thing has struck me about these books on cruising is that the writers all describe the item that one needs for cruising as the final product. By that I mean whole chapters will be devoted to the perfect plumbing system, the perfect storage system for the galley, the perfect anchoring system and so on.
In my experience the reality of designing a system or finding a solution to a problem is much less polished than that. Our method of designing a solution is to mock something up to see if the basic concept will even work. Then we make a trial design to check for any major flaws. Then we have a first pass at designing the system. Then we stop and assess any unforeseen issues. Finally we use the system for a few months and see how we like it. If it doesn't quite work, we take another crack at the design process. And so it goes.

The gap between the smoothly edited chapters on the perfect must-have galley plumbing system and the grubby reality of figuring out a solution that works for us is sometimes enormously large and it takes meeting another cruiser on the dock and hearing about their problem solving to remind me that everyone goes through the trial and error process, no matter how polished the re-telling of the process becomes.