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Old 20-07-2020, 13:07   #1
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The New Chapter (Covid Edition)

Where do I begin?

I guess I'll start where my sailing career started. It was 2005 and I had convinced myself and my new wife that "sailing in Tampa Bay with my dad when I was a kid..." was qualification enough to buy the Lancer 36 I found listing on Yachtworld in Honolulu. I was recently stationed on Oahu, and as a too-young/invincible military pilot I was eager to get out on the water. Somehow I managed not to kill myself in that phase of my life, but I made and paid for every mistake imaginable. I spent 4 years sailing behind the leeward side of Oahu and managed to successfully sneak over to Molokai a couple times. I sold that boat to a nice fella who paid cash and was looking to live out his dream of living about a boat in Hawaii!! 2 nights before I was to leave the island, I got woken up by a call from the USCG. He sunk the boat off Waikiki (with no insurance). Lesson learned during that phase of my sailing career- there's nothing to be gained by overestimating your sailing abilities... and buy good insurance.

I was stationed in Virginia next. My few years of daysails had grown in my mind to "4 years sailing the Hawaiian Islands" (sounds a lot cooler to those who haven't lived there). I found a nice little Catalina 36 and enjoyed 3 years snagging every crab trap marker in the lower Chesapeake Bay. Before I knew it, my Army time was up.

I decided to put my impressive sailing resume to good use and sail the Catalina from Hampton, VA to Tampa, FL (did I mention my time as a Hawaiian Island cruiser??). In June of 2010, I motored down the ICW to Beaufort, NC, was met by a friend and started the quick run South. I was quickly reminded that my sailing resume didn't contain any multi-day passages, and there was a reason (beyond it being hurricane season of course) that no one makes this run in summer. The winds, when there were any were directly from the south, so we had to tack our way south. We spent 3 days making essentially zero southing tacking back and forth between the Capes and the Gulf Stream (I was too afraid to rely on the engine for fear of running out of fuel). Upon making Charleston, I decided my schedule wouldn't allow for a water-borne completion of the trip, so I had it hauled out. It sat for a few months and I got it trucked to its new home in Tampa.

Once I began sailing in and around Tampa Bay and the Keys, I really started to find my stride as a sailor the over the next 3 years. I upgraded to a late model Beneteau, sailed it for a few years... until I ran aground in the keys and lost my rudder and quadrant. Lesson learned- Do NOT try to race in to a "safe harbor" (especially one you've never entered before") to escape a storm- even if you have a 6 year old girl aboard. You're better off weathering the weather where you can't bump into stuff.

Undeterred by the crappy turn of fortune, I finally caved into my wife's persistence and bought a 3 year old, 38" motoryacht. I actually had to pull the factory installed plastic wrapping off of the mattresses down below; it was essentially a brand new boat. The amenities (generator, air conditioning while underway, 10' headroom in some areas, a bed that actually looked like a bed in the master stateroom, the list goes on) changed everything for my wife's relationship with the boat life. We sold our house a few months later, moved aboard, and for the first time I successfully accomplished my first long-range passage. We spent a month and motored from Tampa to Boston. We lived aboard in Boston (made for some interesting winters), I very quickly grew tired of the cold, and decided to move back down to Florida. After another successful trip from Boston back down to Tampa, and with a baby on board, I sold the boat, bought my piece of the suburbs and swallowed the anchor. The lesson for this last chapter of my boating career: Passaged are a heck of a lot easier when you wake up at 8am, motor for 8 hours, pull into a marina for dinner and sun-downers, wake up and do it again!!

And with that, 2016 marked the end of my boating experience.
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Old 20-07-2020, 13:35   #2
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Re: The New Chapter (Covid Edition)

Sorry, for the misleading thread title, that was actually the old chapter. Well, most of it anyway. The conclusion of that one could serve as the prologue to this new one which is now beginning to write itself.

I mentioned in the last one that I was a military pilot. Given that my story starts back in the early 2000s, you could imaging that the period of my life I summarized was interspersed with work-related travel to the Middle East. I had survived several deployments to both Iraq and Afghanistan, and racked up a lot of flight time and experience. I also picked up recreational flying.

A few years after my boating chapter ended (or, put another way, late last year) I was flying myself home from a work trip up north and my engine gave up the ghost. Troubleshooting did not do the trick, and with absolutely no suitable landing areas, I got to ditch the aircraft in the woods. The takeaway for the group: when aluminum and trees meet at 90mph, it's best to not be in the mix. I did die, but was revived. I shattered a few vertebrae, suffered a little spinal cord damage, shattered one of my ribs, but the biggest emergency had to do with the bleeding in my abdomen. I took 9 pints of blood that day.

*Queue the medical recovery montage*

Present day, and the beginning of the new chapter. Life hasn't been terrible to me, although I have ridden the typical ups and downs. Having survived that episode, I still suffer with some residual effects, but most of my marbles are still where they used to be, I can walk, run, climb, and jump (with some pain and stiffness obviously). To look at me, you wouldn't know the difference, although I do have some less visible struggles. The problem is, I don't know what those residual struggles will turn into as time goes by. Will the gains I make with the nerve damage recovery last a lifetime, or will I relapse at some point? Do I still get to enjoy a normal lifespan, or am I so messed up that I'd be lucky to see my 65th birthday? Obviously those questions will only be answered in time. I have no intention of letting that time be uneventful.

So with that, I bought a boat, and I'm picking up my lifestyle of choice all over again. Whereas the boats of my past have largely been compromises (liveability, comfort, speed, or some other criteria), this is the boat that I want for myself. It's a project boat. It's fundamentally a very well found vessel. The construction is top notch, the hull, deck, rigging, engine, and primary systems are all very acceptable. There is plenty of deferred maintenance, and plenty of room to make upgrades that I want, but as far as I'm concerned, that's half the fun.

Much much more to follow as I'm sure you'll be seeing me in the different sub forums. I was surprised at the sad state of the other sailing forums since I've last been involved, but I'm happy to have found such a thriving community here. And with that, hello, and I look forward to joining the cruisersforum community!
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Old 20-07-2020, 14:00   #3
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Re: The New Chapter (Covid Edition)

Great story, Creedence, and well told... so a big welcome to CF. I look forward to some more tales as your project unfolds.

Please fill out your personal profile when you have a chance. You have already filled us in with many of the details in your post, but when later communications arise, having such info easily at hand makes for us being able to better help you.

And of course, we all want to know what sorta boat your project involves...

Good luck with it, and again, welcome!

Jim
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Old 20-07-2020, 17:28   #4
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Re: The New Chapter (Covid Edition)

Jim, I appreciate the warm welcome.

Iíll update the profile, thatís a great suggestion- especially as Iíll be here in the market for a lot of advice and feedback. (Hopefully, Iíll be able to dispense some hard-earned experience of my own as well).

The boat was one Iíd never heard of before, though Iím sure some here are familiar with them. Apparently they produced only 60 of them under ďmyĒ manufacturerís name, Spindrift Yachts (what I understand to be an importer in California back in the 80ís). Itís a cutter rigged sloop, the Spindrift 43 (built in the Formosa yard). The thing is a teak fortress down below and retains some of the hand-carved goodness endemic to the original yachts while also carrying a 3 inch solid fiberglass hull. Much has been upgraded over the years, and much has NOT been upgraded over the years.

That said. Olí Girl (yet to receive her new name) is the most Ocean-Capable vessel Iíve ever been on (the majority of my boat experience, with the exception of a short time in the Army driving landing craft is captured above).


Much much more to follow on her, to include pics!
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Old 21-07-2020, 07:21   #5
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Re: The New Chapter (Covid Edition)

Well if you've managed to navigate the many annoying typos interspersed throughout my story (haven't figured out how to go back and edit those out yet), I'll reward you with some pictures of the boat.

I had the survey done last week, and I'm happy to say there were no nasty surprises. The seller seems to have made a number of thoughtful upgrades, but (as with any old boat) there's plenty that remains to be done.

I just got scheduled with the yard, and I'll haul it out at the end of August. I'm not going to go crazy right out of the gate, but this is still going to be a substantial haul out. Cutless bearing replacement and drive shaft packing gland replacement first, the rudder shaft packing will get replaced, then the bottom job, followed by a desperately needed compound/polish/wax. Once I'm a good $10k poorer, I'll splash and bring her to her new home in the Manatee River. That's when the real work get's started- a few years of steady projects to slowly get her where I want her to be.

Interior: We'll gut out all of the storage areas, clean all the interior teak the hard way (with the two-part acid-based cleaner) then a couple coats of lemon oil. The water pump was removed, so I'll install a new one, there's no shower sump, so I'll see what I can do about that, throw in a new inverter, replace the non-functioning air conditioning unit, replace the cushions and mattresses throughout. I'm also considering a genset, but we'll see how that shakes out.

Exterior: Get all the stainless hardware cleaned up, install roller furling, replace all 3 sails, jimmy up the mast and get a radar and wind instrument installed, and I'll want to figure out how to get a reasonable chart plotter and wind/depth displays at the helm. As usual with a newly-purchased old boat, the canvass is also on the punch list.

Long term goals: Get it configured for Caribbean cruising!! If I didn't go the genset, we'll get the solar panel and possibly a wind generator, and she ought to be good to go.
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Old 21-07-2020, 16:29   #6
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Re: The New Chapter (Covid Edition)

G'Day again,
That's a pretty comprehensive refit list, one that will morph as you go along. Your ideas about what needs to be done will surely change as some experience is garnered.

I do have one caveat for you: I wouldn't use any strong teak cleaner below decks (I think that is what you are contemplating). Those systems are well known for damaging teak more than helping it, especially by eroding the softer parts of the grain, leaving the harder bits standing proud. This is bad enough on deck, but below decks it would be a disaster.

We have successfully improved dull and grungy teak trim below by CAREFULLY scraping the soft old varnish or oil off, followed by CAREFUL sanding it down to clean wood and then building up the requisite coats of varnish. And yes, below decks we've found that varnish lasts for decades with little to no maintenance other than cleaning, while oil finishes require regular additional work and never really looks as good.

Enough pontificating... hope your haul out goes well, and that you can get some sailing in before becoming immersed in the refit.

Jim
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Old 21-07-2020, 16:36   #7
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Re: The New Chapter (Covid Edition)

Jim,

As with your welcome, your feedback/caution on the interior teak cleaning is well taken. I based that plan on the Don Casey book I used to subscribe to on sailboat maintenance, but perhaps before I break out the big guns, Iíd be well served to try a less caustic approach first. Perhaps the detergent, bleach, and a water mixture may get me where I want to be.

Iíll try the milder approach and will report back when the time comes.

Many thanks again!
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Old 04-08-2020, 12:36   #8
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Re: The New Chapter (Covid Edition)

Well today you can call me the dog who caught the truck. I had been so set on closing this deal, now that it's done I've got that big lump in my throat. Where the h#!! do I even begin with this thing?! The enormity of the project I just bought is starting to feel real.

I know the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time, but this is a 30,000 lb elephant. I guess the first order of business is to clean out the storage areas and cabinets, then scrub them out so we can start moving stuff aboard. The wood cleaning project throughout the cabin is going to take weeks based on my availability and the sheer amount of teak down below.

The real problem we're facing now is that the old air conditioning unit apparently broke some time ago, so it's been disconnected. A new unit is going to run ~$2000, and I'll have to see if it's something I'm capable of installing myself. Because it's impossible to finance an older boat these days, I paid for this with cash, and it's going to be a good month before I'm back on track and can buy the a/c. I'll be using two terribly under-powered window units while cleaning down below. They managed to bring the interior temp down from a balmy 95 degrees to a cool 91 yesterday. It's going to be a rough few weeks trying to accomplish anything at all down below in the oppressive heat... What can I say beside: It's good to be living the boat life again!!!

As long as no one minds, I'm going to post the occasional update and pictures here as I get this boat back into fighting shape. I look at this as a bit of a running introduction. That, and I don't want to clutter the other forums with my story, but I figure it might become mildly interesting at some point.

Much more to come!
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Old 04-08-2020, 13:47   #9
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Re: The New Chapter (Covid Edition)

Congrats, and wow what a life so far! I enjoyed reading that.
First thing to do is empty the entire boat, and I mean everything! It will show you what is hidden in there, allow an inventory, and teach you where all the hidden cubbies are(you will still find more down the road)
It also allows you to really clean everything well and efficiently.
Then you can sort through what goes where and what doesn't go back . guaranteed there is a lot of crap you dont need, or even know what it is. It will take some time to figure that stuff out.
Then the boat will also feel like yours, and the next step will be obvious. As will the next and the one after. Pretty soon you are fixing the next thing anchored in a pretty little tropical bay. And at that point you will really enjoy the taste of that elephant!
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Old 05-08-2020, 16:33   #10
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Re: The New Chapter (Covid Edition)

Chris,

Thanks for that. I dragged the family down to the boat today, and despite the air conditioning issue being the biggest factor again, wife and daughter really had a great time. I can't remember a time when I've ever been the first to ask to leave the boat, but that's what closed out our day there today!!

Based on your solid recommendation, today's mission was to begin gutting lockers and drawers. This exercise leads me to believe the seller (now PO) was super human. Beyond the most impeccably kept records of equipment and boat data I have EVER encountered over 5 used boat purchases, he went through every. single. storage. space. and cleaned it out. I have drawers of tools, and few cabinets of bottled water, one of towels, etc, but this guy gutted the entire boat of the non-essential contents. I have NEVER seen anything like this with a sale.

Given that (unlike my previous boats) this is an ocean-capable boat (that is to say, a purpose-built ocean cruiser), there is storage absolutely everywhere, it will take me time to go through and clean (with wood soap) all the storage areas, but he certainly did get me started out well. As of today, I nominate him for sainthood. Having said that, as a buyer of many used boats in my day, I'm sure I'll ask to retract his nomination for canonization as soon as I discover some shortcut he applied to an on-board system! Time will tell.

She's a hell of an elephant, but so far tasting okay!
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Old 29-08-2020, 07:22   #11
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Re: The New Chapter (Covid Edition)

As mentioned earlier, I'd like to toss the occasional update into this thread by way of a running intro, as well as to capture a bit of an archive of the boat as she evolves into MY boat.

I tried to clean the cabin sole as it was pretty badly stained from past oil spills and some light water damage. Gentle cleaning didn't work, two part cleaning helped a little, but I ended up caving in and breaking out the big guns. I sanded off any and all surface treatments that may have been there. I then put on several coats of lemon oil to feed the newly exposed teak. I'm reasonably happy with the face lift, and hopefully that treatment will provide good protection for the wood. I also applied lemon oil to all other exposed teak in the cabin, and that was an immediate face lift. Not to mention it improved the smell down below. The nice thing about lemon oil (not lemon scented furniture polish by the way) is that it also kills mildew.

I removed all the berth cushions- I think they were original to the boat. They're getting replaced with memory foam mattresses which I'll cut to size (and shape). I ordered those little modular spring things to help prevent moisture and mildew under the mattresses. Pulling the old cushions out also helped freshen up the smell in the cabin.



Big week for the boat coming up. I have an engine guy coming in to perform a comprehensive engine service (oil change, transmission oil change, zinc changes, and heat exchanger cleaning). All the engine hoses are getting replaced as well.

And the most important update next week- the new air conditioner is going in!! This boat is a D@#$ oven right now. I have a 14,000 btu mobile unit down below right now which takes the edge off a bit, but I'd love it if I could get it below 85 degrees down below. I have a Dometic 16,000 btu unit going in for now, then I'll add a second unit forward in a few months once I feel like becoming $5,000 poorer.

And last but not least, the new name is going on. I sanded one of the two names off the stern yesterday and applied her new name. I'll get the second one done tomorrow and will finish both name plates with a few coats of Gloss Cetol.


Much much more to follow in the coming weeks and months. Haul out planning is underway. I was going to haul it in September, but I've decided to get the topsides painted (it's in desperate need), and as that will add many thousands more dollars to the yard bill, I'm going to push it back a few months so I can save up enough money to get it done.
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Old 29-08-2020, 07:33   #12
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Re: The New Chapter (Covid Edition)

And one little bonus story...

When the previous owner was removing some tankage down below, he found a small medal that had been placed under the tank before it was installed back in 1984. He took it to a Chinese restaurant to get it translated, and they told him it loosely translated to "Good Luck."

I'm told that the hull and decks on these boats were made, and the empty shell placed in the yard in Taiwan. A wood worker would then built a small shanty under the boat and would move his family in it. They would live there, and each morning, he'd climb into the boat and build out the interior. I can only guess that the hand that made this boat placed that medal down below to ensure her well being.

It is now epoxied to a bulkhead in the cabin, and after a good 20 minutes of polishing, I got the 36 years of gunk off it.
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Old 02-09-2020, 17:07   #13
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Re: The New Chapter (Covid Edition)

Yikes! Looks like absolutely NO deck hardware has been insulated with epoxy where it passes through the deck. The survey did highlight the spongy deck, but the moisture readings were pretty surprisingly low. The moisture dried out over the years leaving a delaminated mess.

I’ll be able to take care of it all, but the first step is sealing the deck hardware. Thickened epoxy around the perimeter of all through deck fittings.... one at a time. I did 4 deck prisms over the past 2 days. Hatches next, then I guess bollards (can you believe I have ZERO cleats??!!!) next.

I’ll be at this for a couple weeks yet. Buy your 3M stock now!
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Old 02-09-2020, 18:15   #14
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Re: The New Chapter (Covid Edition)

Temporarily block off those pilot house windows and all hatches with some taped on insulation or at least dark cloth.

It’ll give your air conditioning more of a fighting chance until you get the real unit.
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Old 02-09-2020, 18:34   #15
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Re: The New Chapter (Covid Edition)

Hi, Creedence,

Welcome aboard CF, lots of opinions here.

Two things, totally unrelated to each other. One, I had nerve damage from my spinal fusions, the recovered bits have stayed the same for about 50 yrs, but took almost 5 yrs. to become complete.

We had deck prisms on our previous boat. They were secured with 3M 5200. Difficult to remove to clean up and re-install, but we won out eventually. All deck penetrations need to be epoxied and let set up, before you start with caulking of any kind.

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