Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Last Blog before the mast goes up... We hope!

When I was young there was a childrens' program called Mr Benn about a man; Mr Benn who would walk into a fancy dress shop and try on a costume.  When Mr Benn walked out of the changing room he would walk in to another time and place. The time and place of the costume in fact, and have an adventure.

We have felt a little like Mr Benn at times; not that we have been time travelling; but that we keep having glimpses of other lives. From metal worker, painter, hauliers, Fibre glasser, plumber, carpenter, the list goes on. Our current foray has been into the life of a rigger; like so many trades there are really cool toys to play with.

We opted to have mechanical fittings for our rigging wire and chose hi-mod. Once the wire was cut to the desired length using a thin cutting blade on our angle grinder, the wire is un-wound exposing the inner twist of wire, a former is placed over this and the wire is twisted up again, a crown is fitted to order the wire ends and the end is screwed on. It couldn't be simpler.  The most difficult part is to get the wire to twist appart as our wire is 5/16".  We've a few offcuts of leather to help us along and Ruth finds it helpful to use monkey or molegrips with this.

There has been a long list of jobs to be done before the mast goes up and we have been methodically plodding through them. We have assembled the new roller furling system that came with the boat which fitted together beautifully.

The crosstrees are now bolted on to the mast complete with copper sheaves for the shrouds.

One unrelated task has been gluing teak veneer to the the navigation station and installing some of the electrics; a task in which we found use for all of our now two lengths' of chain.  Who needs fancy clamps?

Not all carriage bolts are created equal and our quick job of 'just' bolting on the chainplates has turned into a few days saga. I had cut all the square holes for the carriage bolts using our old stainless bolts as a gauge for size. Turns out our bronze bolts are bigger but we only realised once we'd got one stuck, threaded it and had to cut it out; all in a confined area.   Argh! The chainplates in the head are particularly awkward to tighten the nuts on, Ruth was sick of sweating away over them and coming out with scraped fingers so in the end I unbolted some of the plumbing to make it easier, mindful that this could easily have become a new can of worms it worked out.

We are sealing the chainplates with butyl tape.  We are so pleased to have been recommended this stuff by Ivan as it's so much easier to work with than any caulking we've used before.  The clean up is simply trim the edges and pull it off rather than sticky messy chaos for hours!  We've no experience of it so lets hope it works.

Whilst completing these sizeable milestones, in particular the chainplates, which we had never thought would need replacing until we saw the cracks they had. We have had other smaller though also integral to the mast going up work to be completed. The collar which needs to be solid enough to have chock's drifted in between it and the mast at deck level has needed to be modified and have some means of attaching a water proof gasket to it. The deck has also needed enlarging; though the overall dimensions of the mast are the same the radius' are different. The old mast heel had to be replaced with the new one and new bolt holes drilled to accomadate it. Even the coins which will be placed under the mast have been chosen.


Of course as is so often the way, to do these jobs, lockers have to be emptied and the contents put somewhere. The saloon resembles a kind of perfect chaos currently, at first glance it looks like clothes, tools and books have been emptied in to it and then a path pushed through the middle, upon closer inspection one realises that each pile was once the content of some locker or another.

Finally, we have almost everything sorted and fitted.  We have dressed the mast short of a few extra halyards that will go on tomorrow.  We need one more run to Blackburns for a few odds and sods then we are in business.  The crane has been booked for three with the understanding that we will probably sit in the dock for most of tomorrow evening as we cut the wires to the correct length and attach the mechanical ends.  This should not be a problem as there was a holiday today, (Monday) the yard is quiet, everyone aiming to be on their boats for the holiday.  The extra time (delay) has given us some time to run some wires whilst the cupboards were empty  It is now our luxury to have two fans in our fo'c'sle; I woke up one morning last week with my ear full of water; it took a few moments to realise that this was sweat!  Texas weather is gaining on us!  So if all goes well tomorrow we will have the windscoop up which will make the cabin much more bearable.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Jazz Sundays

One Sunday several years ago I remember going to visit a friend who lived on a boat. We popped over to their then neighbour, who lived on an old Dutch Tjalk. He was listening to Stefan Grapelli and Django Reinhardt. I couldn't stay long, as I had a ticket to see Humphry Lyttleton at the Malbourgh Jazz Festival. He was brillant; as are Grapelli, Reinheart and living on a boat.
That weekend Jazz Sundays were born. That Sunday to be precise.

Life has been chaotic here; Jazz Sundays have struggled. Before the boat went in the water there were a hundred jobs that needed to be done. Since we have been in the water the chaos has persued. However, now the mast is at least within a few hunded feet of its home we managed to fit in a proper Jazz Sunday.

Jazz Sunday actually starts with the Archers Omnibus, and a lesiurly breakfast. 'The Archers' is a long running Bristish Radio Program. My Mother recounts whenever she hears the theme tune that she remembers dancing around her grandmothers living room as a child; its been going a while ( i know everyone in England knows this, just being inclusive!). Today we actually caught up. There was a point prior to Impetuous being launched that we were a month behind. Nothing like listening to the Shrove Tuesday episode During April fools.

So like an athelete capturing their stride after a tall hurdle we had a proper Jazz Sunday. Archers Omnimbus whilst i prepared breakfast then set the music machine to random Jazz and let it shuffle sublime. Topped with beer at lunch time. Perfick!!!

This week has seen us prepare the mast and, as we have already posted, move it. Now moved, the focus is upon getting the mast up. We're both very aware that once up, our things to do list shrinks to a 'things to do on our boat in exotic places list'. Lets face it; Texas is not exotic! The main track is on, as are the spreader boxes. The deck fitting piece has been made today. The cap rails with slots for chainplates are complete, on one side, almost... Soon, very soon we will start unravelling the enormous roll of wire and embark upon the rigging; but thats another day because today was Jazz Sunday.

Mast Deck Fitting re-shaped.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Mast Progress

Today we got our mast moved to the yard!

It was a bit of a surprise as we'd just finished readying the mast back in Dickinson where we built it. We called in on the rigger who has a suitable trailer yesterday and despite being very busy he jumped straight to the challenge and sent Brian and Travis to solve our problems.

Our first problem to tackle was attempted solo. Stix n Rign's trailer is 53' long and the mast was tucked away next to Roger's shop. This was therefore not so accessible by the trailer and truck totalling 70ft. The riggers requested that we make the mast as near to the road as possible and somewhere it would be easy for the trailer to be pulled alongside it.

We embarked upon our challenge Egyptian style around lunch time. We used wooden rollers (cut up broom handle we still had handy after moving 'Pip' the engine in all those years ago) and long timbers balanced upon the trestle tables. We simply rolled the mast to a more accessible position; inch by inch over the quite uneven terain. There was a lot of stopping and moving the rollers, trestles and timbers but the force needed to shift the mast along was pretty minimal.

We had no sooner finished moving when the cavalry arrived. Before long we had lifted the mast on to the trailer. Five sets of hands didn't quite make light work of it, but by pivoting it across, it was manageable and not too stressful.   Once strapped down, we were delighted to see Brian do a second walk around and double checking the straps... we relayed the story of our boat moving disasters with the formula 1 truck driver, and we were off.

A reversal of the procedure at the yard saw our beautiful mast laid upon the saw horses just a few yards away from the crane that shall soon lift it on the Impetuous.

All our rigging components have now arrived. We bought a VHF antennae this morning; possibly our first and only ever purchase from West Marine (Super expensive Marine Superstore full of Bling). As we were following the Mast down the road Blackburns (our marine wholesaler) called to say our wire had arrived; we have a 500ft spool to play with. We have an industrious few days ahead of us; then the mast can go up.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Brass neck leads to bronze turnbuckles...

There's no two ways about it, we've been plodding along in too much contentment to have any great news as yet. We've been lucky that the usual Texas summer weather has been very muted and pretty pleasant towards us thus far. 

We'd better get a wriggle on though, as this good fortune can not last. It's lovely living on the boat all the time, we feel totally at home and happy but this also means that we spend more time cooking, making mess then tidying it up and chatting. 

 I'm still plodding away at the toerails and hatch amongst frequent distractions, and Duncan has been making the spreaders and tidying up loose ends.

The Spreaders shaped and being epoxy cored and cut in the ends

Lots of varnish and then white paint to protect the tops from the sun.

The chainplates are all bent now after that big learning curve, here's Jason and Duncan working on the last two.

Life's too short to polish a chainplate but just look what happens if you do!

We originally sanded the raw bronze with our 6" random orbital (for days) however once we tried out the big grit polisher it was a revolution in speed!  We then went to town with the different grits of paper finishing with 1000 and then polishing and buffing...

We've been ordering all new rigging as none of our stainless ended up being trustworthy enough. We've chosen to use Hi-mod mechanical fittings which finally arrived today. 

 Here is what one thousand pounds worth of fittings look like! 

A most unwelcome expense but at least they are reuseable and will last a very long time.

As it happens our trusty local marine suppliers do not have sufficient wire to fulfill our requirements (430ft of one size) so we're still waiting for them to get new reels delivered. This isn't such a problem as we still haven't dragged ourselves back over to Dickinson to fit the mast track and a few fittings yet.

Duncan has been working on our electrics panel so we can have dials and gauges

Drilling holes in the tops of the chainplates for toggle pins; borrowing a pillar drill press has helped us massively.

One of the problems to consider post splash day was what to do with our old boat cradle (that rusty old big metal stand which Impetuous had sat upon for the last 18 years and that we got transported upon). We wondered if someone would want it. The un-relished plan was to cut it up with an angle grinder and take it for scrap if not.

We offered it to a few people and got a bite from local character (legend) Bob Marsh, to whom we suggested that when he pick it up he might bring along one of those bronze turnbuckles he has lying around his place (at this point we were still 3 short from our full compliment). He has a yard full of boats and can sometimes rent out cradles but at this proposal he left crying you limey's!

We heard nothing for a week, but luckily the yard didn't seem too anxious about it lying around in the way; they are remarkably patient and accommodating towards us. We heard a whisper in the fullness of time that Captain Randy was interested in the cradle; with this our ears pricked up, we waited for him to call. Lots of people call themselves captain around here. As far as we can tell it is nothing to do with the military, but some US coastguard qualification they wear as a badge of honour.

When captain Randy came by, Duncan was out shopping. Once he got the idea that he didn't need to keep looking around for a man to speak to, we were able to come to an arrangement. I said unfortunately it was promised to Bob in return for turnbuckles but that as he hadn't come to pick it up yet... Captain Randy interupted that he outranks Bob, therefore he'd take it and we can have turnbuckles from the resale shop no problem. I wondered if Bob would be disappointed, but the Captain said he'd call Bob and let him know the score.

A few days passed and we heard nothing, so we went to the junk shop (sorry 'boaters resale shop of Texas') and set aside our needed three bronze turnbuckles. These had been more highly priced than those we had previously bought up. We labelled them for the Captain to collect and amazingly he did! We couldn't be more delighted with our deal; rusty junk for exactly what we needed. Everyone came out smiling. Even Bob, who just yesterday brought us the turnbuckle we had coveted for nothing, so now we have a spare. He's taken a bit of a shine to us!

Yes maybe we took it to an extreme but for now they look pretty cool...