Just prior to Hurricane Florence last year, I made an error on leaving my solar panels and bimini in place. Well, sort of an error. I knew that the windage would be high and the bimini was mounted under the solar panels, and the posts holding the solar up went THROUGH the bimini. I also realized how damaged and aged the bimini was.
Leaving it up was a recipe for disaster if things got bad. Taking it down was a recipe for disaster because of age.
I left it up. We “lost a solar panel” off the top. The wind ripped it loose and dropped it, fortunately, on the deck of the boat where it remained until I returned after the hurricane in October last year. I easily repaired the small amount of damage and observed the bimini wasn’t in great shape, but survive. It had a couple of small tears in it.
This time, as Dorian approached, I removed EVERYTHING from the deck. We pulled Adventure into the marina, deep inside up near the containment bulkhead and positioned her inside a shallow slip at high tide, so we settled into the mud when the King Tide fell off.
Dorian hit with a whisper of winds (40 knots perhaps on shore here), the eye wall missing us by a good 30-35 miles. Adventure came through fine. The bimini however, as well as the dodger have seen better days. So, I never reinstalled it.
About a month ago, I ran into a canvas guy, David from “Custom Canvas” out of New Bern. He gave us a quote for lowering the bimini, creating a new bimini and dodger (no enclosure this time) and adding a few extra pieces.
The steel was lowered at one visit. Another visit resulted in several more measurements, some grab rails and the bows over the top of the bimini top on which to mount the solar panels.
David was here a few days ago, installed the bimini, and subsequently, I installed the solar panels in a preliminary location – which, might move slightly back soon. I am not sure I like them exactly where they are, and I want extra room for the boom to swing by the top of the bimini. I’ll work that out later.
He is returning today, to bring the dodger, which for the uninitiated is the part that covers the front of the cockpit, and “dodges” the spray and waves that can wash over the front of the boat at times. We had the top of the dodger lowered as well, so that I can now re-learn climbing in and out of the companionway getting whacked in the head. But, the point was to allow JoAnne to actually see over the TOP of the dodger now.
Before, when driving the boat, she could never get a clear view in front of the boat. She had to duck down and look through the dodger window, or stand on her tiptoes to see above it, while leaning over to see past a sail. Not fun for her, I assure you.
We dropped it down about 5-6 inches and had her stand behind the wheel. When she was happy with the height, we stopped cutting. I’m concerned I’ll have a few knots on my head, climbing in and out in the next few days once installed, but eventually, like Pavlov’s Dogs, I’ll learn.
Sand and Varnish:
Over the course of the past months, I’ve spent roughly 30 hours sanding wood, washing it, and varnishing. I have about 90% of the teak done – on the top of the boat. I haven’t touched the rub rails, or the plaques on the boat topsides yet. And I haven’t done any varnishing to the aft deck (the whole aft of the boat is a raised, teak platform which covers a large storage compartment, containing our propane tanks and extra “stuff” we don’t want to leave on the deck, like pumps, parts for the emergency tiller, etc)
That deck will likely take a third of a quart of varnish alone for a single coat. I’ll likely finish that first coat today or tomorrow. After it hardens, I’ll be hitting the wood all the way around the top of the boat, once over, a complete boat wash, taping and varnishing the second coat. I plan, if time and weather permits, to get some of the deck paint done and to fix a couple of leaks so the outside of the boat should be ready in less than two weeks.
Given the heat of the day, and humidity, I’ve tried to apply varnish in the right time of day, temps and humidity, but I’m here to tell you, this is an impossible task unless the boat is moved inside a building in a controlled environment. So… it’s called “going with the flow” (of varnish, which flows off things, down tape, drips everywhere and is constantly being cleaned up).
After all that work, the boat looks amazing though, and in the end, it makes JoAnne smile at how pretty the boat is. I makes my muscles ache when I see it….. But, I still like the varnished wood.
I plan to get about five coats on if I can, with fine sanding in between, and then do “touch up” coats after a few months to keep it looking nice. It’s less work to do that, than to let it get down to bare wood.
Someone asked me the other day about sanding the boat and then varnishing it, then sanding again. They have an all-Clorox-Boat, so I explained that it is supposed to take down the bubbles or ‘nibs’, and raised rough spots, and give the next coat something on which to cling. They were impressed I knew so much about varnish (HAHAHA, little do they know, I just had to look it up to explain it to them!)
Side Note: Our friend Jason has also been sanding and sanding and vanishing and washing and sanding and varnishing as well. I believe he completed his last coat last night. The boat rails look amazing.
Storage Locker and Provisions:
We have a storage locker. I pay for it a year in advance. It’s due in November I think, so I’ll be going over to write them a check for another yet, and going through my locker to pull out a few things and bring to the boat, as well as remove a few more things from the boat we won’t need. I want ‘parts’ that I can use to repair things, even if makeshift if necessary, and I want heavy things off the boat I can’t use while under way (certain electrical tools). We have little A/C power available except for the generator during cruising, and I’ll reserve that for the water maker most of the time, but will bring my battery drill, a saw and my small electronic tools, and the engine tools.
Also I have a sail in storage I need to bring back, and we need our water, diesel and gas cans back on the boat. Need a way to carry extra water if we can’t make it or catch rainwater, diesel because I HATE docking at fuel docks and gas for the genny.
In a few days we will need to being picking up food to provision the boat. We’re going to get a month’s worth of things, mostly long term storage items like canned foods, along with perhaps a week (whatever JoAnne decides can work for us) of fresh items and we will refill things as we go down the coast this time, instead of having six months worth of stuff on the boat this time. Before we hope to Bahamas we’ll do a big food, beer and soda run (yes, we drink soda!) and stock up on things that are expensive in the Islands. (Toilet paper, paper towels, etc)
We don’t use many paper towels (instead we buy cheap white cloths from the hardware store and reuse them) and tend to use the marina heads when we stop in them instead of the boat, but offshore… well, anyway….
JoAnne had her medical check up on the 9th of September. We’ll have to work something out for one in December, and I think we’ll be calling back to her doctors here in NC to get advice on that subject when we get closer to the time.
My last obstacle is the Borg-Warner Velvet Drive Transmission. Over the past couple of years, it’s given me fits. Seemingly it stops “working” and then “works”. We have determined that its simply a lack of transmission fluid, but where it is going, we’re unsure. It’s not in the bilge, and I don’t think it is mixed in with the few drops of oil in the catch pan under the engine.
Someone suggested it is going out under pressure in the heat exchanger perhaps, once the engine reaches temperature. I tend to agree since I’m not finding leaks anywhere else. If so, then the solution will be to remove and replace the heat exchanger that is connected to the transmission. I’ve identified the unit, and the hoses, but am not sure it there is a way to “test” for leaks at this point. Meantime, I need to keep extra transmission fluid on the boat.
I’m sure I’ve missed something. I usually do. But, that’s ok, I’ll figure it out when I come to it.
In the mean time, I rarely if ever do this, but I want to remind folks that I’ve written some books and I’d love it if some of you would take the time to read and review the books on Amazon. I’ll drop the links at the bottom of this page. One book is a couple of years old, and is about “Survival and Communications” and is a primer for people who don’t know much about radios and radio communications. Call it a “Prepper Book” if you like. It’s in Digital Format ONLY and I won’t be doing it in hard copy because it’s simply too expensive. And if you’re a Prepper, then you know you’re NOT going to grab 200 of your favorite books and stuff them in your bug out bag. You need to KNOW the information, knowledge is power. Don’t carry a book, carry your brain around with the information inside.
The other book is a SF Adventure/Thriller, “Aftermath’s Children” set in the not-too-distant future, and you can read the description online at Amazon. That book is in both digital and hard copy formats. You can find all three versions of the books at the link below.
I invite you to buy it, read it, review it and if you get the hard copy, and we pass by, I’ll sign it for you. The second book in the series is being completed soon. Please, drop me a line at Adventure.Rick.JoAnne@gmail.com or firstname.lastname@example.org if you buy a copy! Thanks!!!