Monthly Archives: July 2013

How big is your boat? Actually, that’s a good question.

Yes, the most common question that I get from non-boaters when they learn that I have a boat is “how big is it”.  I imagine that if I were to say “well, it’s about 100′ long”, they would not know any different than if I said that she’s 43′.  Perhaps size is a relative question after all.  And, I am beginning to wonder just how big Pandora actually is myself.  

Let me explain.

So, what’s this discussion about how big Pandora is, have to do with anything? Actually, it has to do with how she seems to be growing nearly every day as I sand away on her bottom.  When I get home after a few hours of sanding, in the awful heat, (Have I mentioned that it’s been really hot?  Thought so.) ” Brenda asks “so, how much do you have left to go?”.   For what seems like days, if not weeks now, my answer has been a steady “I am about three quarters done, I think?”.

So, how can I have about 3/4 left to go after days and weeks of sanding? I am not sure.  Not sure at all.  Perhaps it’s because Pandora is growing.  Hmm…

Honestly, it does seem that the more I sand, and I have sanded a lot, I just don’t seem to be getting all that much closer to the end.  I have been at this FOR EVER and there is still more to be sanded.  Sure, I am making progress but a week later I think I am still about 3/4 of the way done.   Having said that, the shady side, starboard, is done, mostly.  Yippee!!!  The sunny side, not so much… Besides, it’s hot on that side.  Yes, a bit more near the waterline up toward the bow, but even the keel is completely done.  However, there is still some left to do on the port aft quarter.

Pandora is getting bigger.  A few weeks ago I took this shot of Pandora with my little BMW next to her.  Pandora looks pretty big next to my BMW but not too big.However, a week later with about a quarter of the bottom remaining to be sanded, look how much bigger she looks next to our SAAB, a much larger car than the BMW.  Hmm…    I think that Pandora really IS getting bigger.What’s happening? The more I sand, the larger Pandora becomes.  Hmm… Pandora IS growing.  I hope that the folks in the yard don’t see this as they will likely get out a tape measure to see what’s going on.  Of course, they will likely charge me more.

Setting aside the “magical expanding yacht, I am still clinging desperately to the belief that I can finish the sanding in a few days.  Let it be so, please let it be so.

Along the way I also decided to pull the rudder and upgrade the bearings.  There is a little play in them, making the rudder clunk in a seaway, so now I will install a new lower bearing with a waterproof seal along with fitting a bit snugger.  The addition of a seal, along with the new bearing, should quiet things down and also keep out the small amount of water that seeps into the boat when she is full loaded, and these days she’s always fully loaded.  

The stern looks odd without a rudder or a prop for that matter. 

And, you can see that pesky 1/4 of the boat that remains to be sanded.  Yes, bigger.

The rudder looks enormous out of the boat.  The stock is 4″ in diameter.  Pretty hefty.  From top to bottom it’s over five feet tall and really heavy.   Good thing it’s solidly built as if it were to fail that would be a very bad thing, yes bad. With all the things that remain to be done, and a few parts on back order, Pandora won’t be ready to head back to the “briny deep” for a few weeks.  I HOPE she will splash by mid August.   I’ll admit that it’s been nice being home for a while but I am getting a bit homesick for being underway.

Homesick?  Essex is home.  No, Pandora’s home.  No wait….  I’ll take both, thank you very much.   Besides, if I keep sanding long enough perhaps Pandora will grow to the size of our home.  Yes, that’s the ticket.  Keep sanding and before you know it…a mega yacht.  “Only in your dreams Bob, snap out of it and get back to work, sanding.” 

Actually, having Pandora in this yard, sanding and all, is a treat, in a sick sort of way, as it’s the most scenic boat yard I have ever seen.  There’s even a steam train that serenaded me as I headed home the other day.  Very nice and the train is way bigger than Pandora.  For now at least and that’s good. I almost forgot, as soon as I finish sanding her I get to enjoy putting on four coats of primer and bottom paint.  Oh boy…

So, just how hot is it sanding Pandora’s bottom?

How hot does it feel to be out in 90 degree heat and sanding the bottom of Pandora?  Let me tell you, it’s hot, really hot.

I try to head to work on Pandora most every day and hopefully, before it get hot. If I get there around 7:30 in the morning I can usually get a few hours in before it becomes unbearable.

The plan is for me to sand off all of the paint so I can begin fresh with a new type of paint that hopefully will work better over the next few years.   For now, the goal is to sand off all of the paint back down to the bare hull.  In some cases, like the keel, that means taking off many layers that have accumulated over the years.  Fortunately, much of the hull has only a few layers of paint and some areas have little or none.

Having said that, the going is still very slow.  This shot shows what I accomplished after several hours.  Not too good.Now that I have been at it for several weeks, this is what it looks like.  This side, starboard, is in the shade more of the morning so I have favored working on this side.  I like shade although I still sweat like crazy.  Making progress.   Notice that even the keel is mostly cleaned up too.  

Port, not quite as far along.  Along the way I decided to pull out the rudder so I can put in new bearings.  The current ones were getting a bit sloppy.   We wouldn’t want the rudder to fall off, would we?  Actually, not much risk of that but there was plenty of clunking of the sloppy bearings.

Friday they will pick up Pandora with the crane so I can lower the rudder out of the boat.  I spent several hours today and yesterday removing the various pieces of equipment that steer the boat and attach to the upper rudder post.  After 15 years some of the bolts, no make that all of the bolts, were tough to get off.  I was successful in getting a few off and several broke.  Looks like there will be a bit of work on the bench cleaning things up prior to putting things back together.  Not a simple job. 

I am also having some work done on the engine as it’s not had a through going over since I purchased her.  Good thing as the mechanic has found a few “issues” that need to be resolved.  Glad that I had him on board.  I like to do much of the work on Pandora myself but major engine work is a bit above my grade.

Hopefully, the heat will break in a few days, but for now I’ll just be sure and drink plenty of water in an attempt to stay on my feet.  Sure I could hire the yard to do the grunt work but at $100/hr, that’s a lot of hours.

Besides, when I am done, I will be able to say “I did it myself”.  Yes, that’s Yankee for “I am too cheap to hire someone”.  Besides, the more work I do, the more  I ice cream I can eat as long as I wash it down with a gallon or so of water.

Quick, pass me another bowl of heavenly hash.  Hmm…

I just wish that my arms weren’t so tired from sanding that I didn’t have so much trouble holding the spoon.   Don’t worry, I’ll find a way to adapt.

Yes, yes, a terribly boring post.  But that’s life and sometimes it’s just a grind.



Classic wooden boats in Essex bringing balance to work on Pandora.

It’s just great to live in an area that is so focused on the water.  After being far from the water for so many years, when we lived in NJ, it’s just so much more fun to be less than a mile from the water now.  With all of the risks of living on the water, I personally like to be “near” verses “on” the wet stuff, with our land home, that is.  For Pandora, being “on” is definitely better.  Unfortunately, she remains high and dry as I finish up projects including sanding and scraping off all of the paint on her bottom.

Working on her has been a challenge with the 90 degree heat that we have had over the last few weeks and early morning visits to the boat yard, when it is cool, is the only way for folks like me with our “delicate” constitution, to get anything done without wasting away.   Being under the Pandora with my respirator and hearing protection while sanding away with the sander and vacuum blaring away is not fun at all and especially so when the sun is higher and heat is really up.    It’s hard work but to pay the yard $98 per hour to do this, hour after hour, doesn’t seem to be sound fiscal planning, in my book.  So, sand away I will.

Here’s about 6-8 hours of progress.  Pretty depressing with only about 1/4 of the boat done.  It looks like more but don’t forget that the bottom is very narrow at the bow, and shallow.  The best is still to come. The good news is that the other side is done to the same degree.  
The reason I am taking off all of the paint is that I plan on changing bottom paints and going with a combination of hard and ablative paints.  I won’t bore you with the details but it is sufficient to report that sanding is the pits and has to be done. 

While I am at it, why not post a photo of the damage done to the front of the keel by that rock I tangled with a year ago May.  Pretty nasty.  I am impressed with the strength of the boat as I hit pretty hard and only have this “little” dent to show for it.  No damage to the hull at all.  That’s good, very good. After months of looking at this dent underwater when I was cleaning the hull or was just swimming around, it’s good to see it for real.  And, don’t forget that everything looks larger underwater. Imagine how nasty, and big, this dent looked when Pandora was in the water.  It was pretty alarming, trust me on that.   However, it’s nothing that a bit of epoxy putty won’t make right.

So, what’s a boat husband to do when it’s too hot out to sand the bottom?  Look at boats, of course!!! Yes, the perfect diversion. 

Over the weekend there was a rendezvous of classic mahogany powerboats at the CT River Museum.  It was great fun to take a look at all the varnish and perfect finishes on display.  The group putting on the event call themselves “Mahogany Memories”, a chapter of the Antique and Classic Boat Society.  This was just one of the many events that the group puts on each year.

I always enjoy looking at beautiful woodworking and what better things to make from wood than boats?   Here are a few of the boats on display.  Amazing stuff.

It seemed that there was varnished mahogany everywhere.  This one was one of the few boats that were actually new.  Beautiful!Some were much older but look new, like this lovely Garwood.All weren’t varnished.  I understand that this one was painted black when it was built, years ago, and is the only Garwood that was ever painted this color.  I guess if Darth Vador had a nice runabout, it would look like this.  “Luke, I am your father…Want to go for a ride?…While most of the boats on display were of the “go fast” persuasion, this lovely was clearly not in a hurry. I could just imagine the captain sitting in the cockpit sporting a straw boater.  Very classy.  “I’ll take another G&T please”. Her beam is very narrow.  It doesn’t take a lot of HP to move her along, I am sure.Perhaps my favorite boat of all was this sweet Old Town Canoe with her 1 1/2 HP inboard.  The owner told me that this was a popular option way back when and some years they sold upwards of 100,000 of these power conversion kits.  Actually, the motor, a two stroke, was the same engine as the outboard from Evinrude, but turned on it’s side. Note the pull cord on the flywheel to start it.  See the resemblance to an outboard?Pretty slick. What a great little motor.  Amazing how nice plain old bronze and brass fittings look when they are polished up and shiny.Love the brass rudder and prop.   I just love, love, love it.   And, a wonderful paint job complete with a gold leaf stripe between the light and dark green on the hull. Not all of the boats were “big”.  How about this little remote controlled tug? Wouldn’t this look great on a shelf in our home?  Yes, I want one.   It would be a pretty big shelf as the model is nearly 4′ long.  So, that’s a good example of what I am up to when I am not sanding away on Pandora.  I prefer strolling around the waterfront looking at boats verses holding a buzzing sander…  Alas, everything in balance, Bob.   Think balance…  I am thinking that I still hate sanding.   It will be over soon, I hope.  Then I can go sailing.  Yes, that’s good.

Pandora on the hard, finally, and a UFO of sorts.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been more than a month since Pandora found her way to Essex and into “decommission mode” at the boat yard.  While sitting in the slip, she remained unused, waiting the word to pull her out for some work on the hard.

After months of being aboard when the morning would come and go with little done but reading and enjoying the scenery, it’s been hard to get back to my “frantic, let’s get going, self”, fine tuned over the years.  Now that I am back on shore, for a while, all I want to do is to enjoy the moment…  Alas, that dreaded “honey do” list hangs over my head.  Perhaps I’ll have another cup of coffee.

The yard has begun work on the engine to be sure that things are in tip-top shape after 3,000 hours of use over the years.  I don’t know what has been done to the engine prior to my ownership but, while I have done regular oil changes, not much else has been done to the engine during the 1,000 hours I have put on.

Sure, prior to hauling, I have done plenty to her including interior cleaning along with re-bedding some of the ports with the hope of solving the admittedly minor water leaks that have been vexing me for years.  Happily, all of those leaks are behind the cabin liner and don’t find their way into the interior, but I’d love to keep all water, behind the cabinetry or not, from entering the boat.

Happily, after months of trying to find the leak in the domestic water system, I can finally say that IT’S FIXED!!!.   After tearing up the cabin sole numerous times, I finally found a very minor leak under the sole in the galley.   I also replaced the water pump with a lower pressure unit and now all is well.  What the actual fix was is still unclear, but it’s solved, for now…  We’ll see.

When non-boating folks hear that I have a boat it seems that the first question out of their mouth is “what kind” quickly followed by “how big”.  My answer, a SAGA, is often greeted with a blank stare, as they have no idea what that is.  I guess they think that a SAGA is something that Hobbits do.  Not knowing what a SAGA is  makes sense, setting aside the Middle Earth thing, as there were not many made, only about 50.  For the second question, “how big”, my answer is often, “well, it depends how far from the dock I am”.   Far out to sea she feels really little.  Close to a dock or something else hard and she looks a lot bigger.  This shot of Pandora in the boat yard gives a pretty good feel for what “big” looks like.  Out of her element she looks enormous, to me anyway.

Note how much bottom paint is showing on the keel as she was coming out of the water. Pretty thin. It seems that much of the ablative paint, well, ablated over the year she was under way. I have to settle on a better paint going forward.

In any event, there’s plenty to do to get Pandora ready to be put back in the water by late July so I’d better get cracking.

Meanwhile, following our SSCA gam we had two couples visit us here in Essex. Both had hoped to get here in time for our event, but were delayed by weather. Have you noticed that it’s been raining? Yikes! It seems that it’s been weeks, since we have had a stretch of dry weather lasting more than a few hours.

Peter and Helga aboard Twiga, whom I had met in Little Harbor Abaco, in the Bahamas back in May, are on their way around the world, beginning in Cape Town South Africa. Their boat Twiga, is a catamaran and it will be their home for the next few years as they make their way around. Peter is from Germany and Helga from Austria. They purchased Twiga in Cape Town, ran over to Brazil and up to the Bahamas, where I caught up with them. Brenda and I were thrilled to have them visit us here in Essex.  From here they will head to Nova Scotia, down the coast from Maine, to Florida and on to the Panama Canal.  After that they will head to the South Pacific.  Sounds like a great trip.  Hmm…  Hope Brenda doesn’t read this post.

They are a very nice couple. That’s Brenda in the middle after a nice dinner. Happy group. Twiga is a bit unconventional by staid New England standards. Catamarans are becoming more popular every year and are down right pervasive in the Bahamas where the water is skinny.   Peter and Helga keep a website too and it’s worth checking out.  Great news, some of it is even in English.  

Speaking of “unconventional”, this UFO, as it was described by a cruising friend who passed it on their run down the Delaware River a few weeks ago, is actually a solar powered boat, Planet Solar.   Pretty wild and clearly “unconventional”.

This “boat” is run totally by solar and has gone all the way around the world. Imagine how big the batteries are. Actually there are several tons of them on board. The panels that power the boat are very similar to those on Pandora but there are many, many more. On Pandora folks are amazed at how much solar we have with just four panels. This boat has hundreds. Pretty amazing. You can learn more about Planet Solar on their website. Pretty interesting. You can even see where they are right now by clicking here.

So, how’s that for a post with a bunch of unrelated elements?  Well, all this blogging stuff isn’t getting Pandora ready to put back in the water so I’d better sign off for now.  

Perhaps a cup of coffee first…