Monthly Archives: July 2018

It takes a village. What’s that sucking sound?

After a decade of use and thousands of sea miles under her keel, it’s high time for Pandora’s rig to be checked out.  I had known that this was needed when I purchased the boat three years ago as I was pretty sure that her first owner had never removed the rig.  As evidence of this, I had to cut a new opening in the cabinetry to remove one of the fittings that held the mast in place as there was absolutely now way to get at it.   Based on that, I am pretty confident that the rig has been in the entire time since commissioning.   It’s time.

Pandora has rod rigging and it is recommended that it be replaced, or at least carefully checked after 30,000 miles, I think, so one way or the other, it’s high time.  Additionally, as Pandora’s heading into a paint shed this week for a new coat of paint on the hull, the rig needed to come out anyway, so out it came.

I spent hours taking the sails off and making sure that all the wires were labeled and removed in preparation for the job.

On Thursday afternoon Brenda hoisted me up the back stay to remove the SSB antenna wire.  I also loosened the shrouds so that when the crew boarded on Friday morning all would be ready for removal.

She looked pretty forlorn on the dock with the boom removed and sails off. It takes a village, or at least a small mob, to remove even the smallest mast and while Pandora is not a small boat, she’s not all that big.   Brian, the yard manager and default crane guy for the day was ready and looking, well, looking pretty bored, actually. Chris, the “up the mast guy” took his time to be sure that everything was perfect.  Up the mast to attach the bridle. I was very concerned that there was something missing from my prep efforts that would keep the mast from breaking away from the boat after a decade in place and that the crew would have to put the job on hold while I got the prep right.

But, after a few minutes of pulling with the crane, it suddenly lurched up, along with my heart, a foot from the step. The step itself looked terrible, with lots of corrosion.   All four bolts holding the step in place were badly corroded.  Looks expensive.  This one, in particular, also holds the ground wire.  What about using stainless guys, when you built the boat?  Hmm…Some of the hydraulic fittings were a mess.  What about using stainless here too?    There’s a number of these that are in very bad shape and I am told that the plated ones that were used are $10 and stainless, $100.  Oh, I get it…The tide was coming up fast and it looked for a while like we wouldn’t be able to get the mast high enough up to clear the deck.  But we did, barely.  If the mast looked big on board, it looked even bigger on land.  It’s remarkable how many guys it takes to pull a mast.   I can’t even imagine how much it would have cost if I had just said.  “Guys, I want to pull the mast.  Have at it.”  The hours it took me to label everything, pull the sails, run messengers for lines, remove electrical connectors etc…

So, off to Stratford on Monday morning, tomorrow, where Pandora will be hauled and put in a shed for the next five weeks.  I am looking forward to visiting  regularly to chronicle the process of getting her ready for her new paint job.

And, I’ll be able to put some new graphics on her hull and boom and get rid of the nasty ones that are there now.

It’s going to be odd to head down the river and Sound tomorrow with no mast.  Boy, I sure hope that nothing happens with the engine.   You never know…

As complicated as the process of pulling Pandora’s rig was, it’s nothing compared to the rig on a mega yacht.  Check out this short video of how complicated it can be when it’s the rig on a 180′ sloop.  They say that a boat is nothing more than a hole in the water that you pour money into and I’d say that it’s true.    At least I can be confident that my hole is a lot smaller than the owner of that boat.

Having said that, let’s hope that this process doesn’t prove to be any more painful than I expect.

“Wait, is that a sucking sound I hear?  Hey you, let go of my wallet.”

What’s it like to be at sea? Do you anchor each night?

When I talk to folks that have not made long runs offshore in a small boat, the most common question is “do you anchor at night”.  My answer, if I was a bit snarkier than I am, would be “Yes, we carry 15,000 feet of anchor chain and just let her rip.”   But no.  I don’t say that…

The point here is that it’s very difficult to explain what it’s like to be at sea in a small boat.  And yes, Pandora at nearly 50′ is small.  Especially when you are hundreds of miles from land.

To see a full moon rise at dusk with a single sail on the horizon…The growing glow on the eastern horizon as a raceboat crosses our bow.  
A Swan, with a hotshot delivery crew overtaking us on their way to Puerto Rico hundreds of miles south of Bermuda last fall. Hundreds of miles from, well, anything, and still, they came so close…A rainbow after a passing tropical shower.
Something as simple as a sunset is an event as it goes from blues and grays…To a fiery display…Sometimes there are others out with us to enjoy the majesty of it all.
More often, it’s just the broad ocean, as flat as glass.  “Bob, where are the ocean swells?”  Ok, no swells.  I’ll admit it wasn’t the ocean but I’m trying to make a point here so go with me on this…Sunsets at sea have no peer.Anyway, I won’t beat this to death “Bob, too late, you already have.” except to say that it’s hard to understand, unless you’ve been there.

To be at sea, day after day, alone.  Never sure what will come next.

Still don’t get it?  But wait, there’s hope…  This video, a time lapse movie of a month at sea on a container ship does a wonderful job of illustrating what life at sea is like.  Of course, minus the wave action on a small boat.

Sunlit days, making landfall and spectacular star filled nights…And no, they don’t anchor every night.

Life gets in the way.

It’s about this time every year that I being thinking in earnest about what our cruising plans will be like for the coming winter season.  In past years the question was easily answered as we had new areas to visit and a pretty clear idea of what the coming months would bring.

So, as I sit here, in my office, on the 4th of July, arguably one of the busiest boating weeks of the summer, I really have no clear idea of what’s coming this fall.

The problem is the classic problem of, “life gets in the way” with multiple “events” coming our way that will make it hard to know what’s in store.

The good news is that our son and his wife are expecting twins, perhaps at nearly any time now, and anyone who’s spent time cruising and had grandchildren, especially the “new” kind, know that their arrival on the scene can be really disruptive to the “cruising lifestyle”.

Additionally, Brenda’s been working on a book for some years now and feels that it’s “high time” that she get it off of her plate and off to the publisher.    The good news is that she has a publisher and knows what has to be done.  The bad news is that some of the materials that she really needs to complete it are not under her control so it’s tough to say exactly how long it will be until she can finally get what she needs and get the project done.

One thing for sure is that the publisher’s next deadline to receive the completed manuscript is this coming March.  So, if you do the math, you’ll see that this falls smack dab in the middle of the winter cruising season.

And, as I sit here on July 4th, it’s hard to say, what we will be doing this coming winter season.  I can say for sure that winter in freezing New England and winterizing Pandora leaves me “cold”, but I guess we will have to just wait and see how things develop.

In the mean time, after months of deliberation on when and where, I have arranged to have Pandora’s hull painted and she will be going into the paint shed by mid July.  I’ll be pulling her mast for a rigging inspection close to home in the next week or so and then will take her to a yard in Stratford CT for paint.

The most complex part of the job will be dealing with the rub rail which is wood and wasn’t ever properly prepared to hold a finish.  As a result, the paint on the rail has badly peeled, something that I am hoping to avoid going forward.  That part of the job, as minor as it appears is a big part of the overall cost.

The crew will also sand and paint the bottom, a treat for me as I have never hired anyone for this messy job and have always dealt with bottom paint since my very first boat back in the late 70s.   What a luxury.

Someone once told me that there are two colors for boats, “white and stupid”.  And, with Pandora’s dark hull, some think she’s black, she’s about as stupid as possible.  And, in spite of the fact that most boats are white, I don’t think that Pandora will look good at all with a white hull.  However, we do need to come up with an alternative as the dark hull color is tough to live with under the tropical sun and not only does it get hot down below, but the paint has not held up well since being painted less than five years ago.  Additionally, a dark hull shows every scuff and scratch, much more than a light hull and with a boat that’s used as much as Pandora is, she has plenty of “battle scars”.

Last winter, in Marigot St Lucia, we spied this lovely yacht Elfjie, owned by Wendy Schmidt, wife of Google’s chairman.   I mention this yacht as she’s painted a light grey, Columbia Grey, an unusual color for a yacht.  Most large sailing yachts tend to be painted dark blue or black so she really stands out.  Here’s a shot of her with Pandora in the background.  I wonder if in grey, Pandora would look like Elfjie in Columbia grey?  Probably not  but the color is  still nice. The key will be to choose a color that will be light enough to stay fairly cool and yet still provide enough of a contrast to Pandora’s white decks to retain her sleek look.   We are thinking that medium grey might work.

We’ll also want to revisit her name graphics which were designed for us years ago when we owned our last Pandora.   As this shot shows, or doesn’t, it’s hard to make out her name from any distance.  There’s just not enough contrast and it looks fussy to me in any event. On “old” Pandora we had a drop shadow on the name and I’m thinking that we should loose that affectation on the new color hull.  This is a number of options the designer suggested, shown on a grey background.  Which do you like?  None of the above?One of the problems with graphics location and scale on the hull, is that we have a hefty rub-rail.  That’s good for tangling with docks and pilings but not so great for fitting graphics.  I am also wondering if we should have the graphics sized so that the “tail” on the D goes above the rub-rail.  I also wonder about the “stars”.

One reality is that the aft portion of the hull curves under the transom so putting the logo down lower may not work as well as these treatments might suggest. Well, there’s lots to think about as I prepare Pandora to head into the paint shed.  The good news is that she will be there for about five weeks so there’s plenty of time to think about color and graphics.   As we think about the proper color of grey, I’d be interested in what color you’d choose.  From our way of thinking, the lighter the better.  We are also probably going to have them use a  product called Alexseal, it’s commonly used in large yachts as it is easier to fix scratches and dings than on a hull painted with Awlgrip.  The bad news is that it’s not quite as hard a finish as Awlgrip.    Here’s a link to the color chart.

I plan on photographing the prep and painting process over the time she’s being worked on and will be posting photos of the progress.  It will be nice to see the job progress without me doing the heavy lifting personally.

When she leaves the shed in late August the season here will be just about over so I sure hope that my next step won’t be to book winter storage in the northeast.

Well, as they say, “sometimes life gets in the way” and I guess all of that will just have to play out.

One way or the other, I’ll let you know…

P.S.  Almost forgot.  The reason that I am sitting around doing posts today and not working on that bath remodeling project is that yesterday when I was doing the demo and breaking up the cast iron tub with a sledge hammer, I was hit in the face by a good sized errant piece of cast iron, try 8″,  that flew up after I slammed the sledge hammer on it.  It struck me just under the right eye and gave me quite a cut, right down to the cheek bone.    Good news, the bone didn’t break.

After a few hours visiting my doctor and then off to a plastic surgeon I’m all stitched up but it will be a week until I can resume my project.  This delay, and it could have been a lot worse, will also keep me from dealing with Pandora’s mast removal.

When the surgeon asked me how it happened, and I told him, he said that I really needed to come up with a better story.  Well, I could call it “domestic violence”, and yet another part of life that gets in the way, I guess.   So, more time for blog posts, for now…

Any ideas?