Tieing up Loose Ends (November 2001)
I finished up my maintenance projects in preparation for our Thanksgiving outing.

Monday, November 5, 2001: A Thorough Deck Cleaning

Called Todd at Beneteau, and he sent me a Word document with cross-sections of every piece of trim in the entire boat. I picked out the one I needed, and he said he'd mail me a piece, pre-finished. Maybe this will be easier than I thought.

Went over to the boat, hosed off the port side, and scrubbed everything down with Soft Scrub. As previously, I attacked the remaining stains with FSR, but with little success. Fortunately, the stains that I left yesterday have already faded noticeably, so it looks like my theory about solar bleaching is right on target. Once I had the whole deck clean, I began to notice smaller scuff marks and spots, so I began prowling the deck with a can of Acetone to get rid of them. Three times I declared the job complete and hosed off the deck, only to notice some more spots that needed cleaning. In the end, I can truly say that the deck was spotless. Of course, the birds will likely take care of that by tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 6, 2001: Refilling the Water Tanks

Filled the freshwater tanks, topped off the water in the house batteries, cleaned the engine's water filter, checked the engine oil, and cleaned the grime out of the engine compartment.

Once the water tanks were full, I noticed an odd gurgling sound like water was still running somewhere. I pulled up the floorboards and discovered freshwater pooling on top of the starboard water tank and rapidly filling the bilge. I realized that the excess water that was backed up in the intake hose was somehow leaking out, so I opened the valves on the freshwater manifold to allow the excess water pressure to flow into the other tanks. There was a rush of water like a toilet flushing, and then all the noises stopped, leaving me with the pools of water. (At least I finally got the freshwater system completely primed!) I siphoned the water from the top of the tank into the bilge, then pumped the bilge dry and sponged up the remaining water.

The deepest water seemed to have puddled around the joint between the water intake pipe and the fitting on the top of the tank, so I suspected that the single hose clamp had been unable to take the pressure. I pulled the hose off and bunged the hole, noting that the area was covered with decayed silicone, like someone had attempted a repair in the past. I also noticed that the wood pieces supporting the floor over the tank were badly darkened, like they had been sitting in water for a long time, so I suspect that the problem has been ongoing and that I just never noticed it before.

Since I had already pulled up the floorboards throughout the boat, I dragged a hose down into the cabin and hosed out the bilge, leaving everything opened up to dry. Meanwhile, I fixed a couple other little things: the halogen reading light in the aft guest cabin and the latch on one of the panels to the engine compartment.

Wednesday, November 7, 2001: Charging the Batteries

Went shopping at West Marine to take advantage of $30 worth of coupons. Everything I bought was stuff we needed, but I did spend $10 on a courtesy flag for the British Virgin Islands. Maybe that will inspire us to take the boat there!

Started the engine to recharge the batteries, and spent some time experimenting with different engine speeds to determine the optimal rpms for charging. Higher rpms yield faster charging, but with dramatically diminishing returns. The optimum turned out to be around 1400 rpms on our boat, at which speed the alternator will replenish one amp-hour in about 45 seconds.

Reinstalled the starboard freshwater intake hose with TWO hose clamps. Used a neat product called Aluminox to putty the gap between the old and new pieces of toerail, and it finally looks finished. Cleaned the floorboards and put them all back in place. Rolled up the last pieces of carpet in the main salon and cleaned up all the dirt and sand that it spewed out. I've decided that if you don't keep your carpets clean, you're better off getting rid of them altogether; otherwise, the sand gets down between the carpet and the cabin sole, or between the floorboards and the hull, and grinds nasty gouges into your floorboards.

Thursday, November 8, 2001: Waterproofing the Bimini

Hosed off the bimini again in an effort to get rid of the white streaks, but apparently they're not soap scum but rather areas where the dye has come out. I suspect that the dye may have been damaged by the silicone spray that I ignorantly used on the bimini back during our ICW trip. (Sunbrella vehemently cautions against using silicone sealants.) Once the bimini was dry, I sprayed it with the Sunbrella-recommended 303 High-Tech Fabric Guard, which is supposed to properly recondition the Sunbrella so it's waterproof again.

I also hosed the bird-berry poop off of the deck again, then tested my repair on the starboard freshwater intake hose. The repair was perfectly sound, but imagine my surprise when I saw water seeping out around the top of the tank! It looks like I'll have to either recaulk the seam or go all out and reseat the tank's lid. That will require removing the salon table and the air conditioning, so I'll probably try the caulk first. Dad suggested something called PC7 that he has used in the past to seal holes in pressurized water tanks.

Friday, November 9, 2001: Waterproofing the Bimini - Take 2

First thing in the morning, I tested the bimini by pouring a cup of water on it, and I was disappointed to watch the water soak right into the fabric. In all fairness, though, the 303 directions stated that two coats were necessary, and I had only put one on each side. I figured that as long as I was doing the job, I should probably do it right, so I drove out to West Marine and bought a second bottle of the stuff (at $13.95 a pop). I applied most of that bottle to the top side of the bimini, then left it overnight to dry again.

Saturday, November 10, 2001: Feaux Steam-Cleaners

I tested the bimini again first thing in the morning, and the water beaded off beautifully! It's fairly impressive how well the 303 works once you get a proper coat into the fabric. I carted the bimini down to the boat and put it back on. Finally, some shade in the cockpit! In what's becoming a daily ritual, I hosed the bird poop off of the deck again.

Meanwhile, Theresa bought a miniature "steam cleaner" at K-Mart with the intention of cleaning the boat's carpets and upholstery. She quickly discovered, though, that it was little better than a Dustbuster with a spritzer attached -- it didn't actually produce any steam. Theresa took the thing back and exchanged it for a full-size upright carpet cleaner called a "Quick Steamer". Once she got it back and we got it assembled, though, we discovered that it wasn't actually a steamer either, despite it's name! In fact, it was really just a bigger, more expensive version of the device she'd bought before. Now that's annoying.

Sunday, November 11, 2001

We returned the alleged "steam cleaner" to K-Mart and decided to see if we could rent something instead. As luck would have it, we happened to stop by Eckerd Drugs on the way back, and we noticed that they rent Rug Doctors. These are, at least, real steam cleaners. The Rug Doctor is no Stanley Steamer, of course, but it should get the job done, so we'll probably rent one next weekend.

We went to see Monsters, Inc that evening -- a really delightful movie. No wonder it's on the top of the charts right now.

Monday, November 12, 2001: Buried Treasure

I spent the rest of the day going through the locker in the main cabin where I'd dumped all the spare parts when we first bought the boat. I discovered that we actually have a spare freshwater pump and a spare saltwater pump for the Cruisair system. That's probably $500 worth of spare pumps that I didn't even know we had! I also found a set of standard spare parts for the engine, in addition to the set that I bought before our ICW trip. Lastly, I found three spare screens and some spare gaskets for the ubiquitous water filters. There were also a bunch of odds and ends, like hose clamps and spare fuses. Odd that I never inventoried all this stuff before.

Tuesday, November 13, 2001: Stripping the Cockpit Teak

I've decided to try to finish the cockpit teak before our Thanksgiving outing, though I only have a week left. (The teak is currently in really bad condition, with bare spots and some areas that are weathering fairly badly.)

I started with the hard part: removing what's left of the original varnish. I had purchased some Amazon Stripper at West Marine, so I applied some to one of the panels, but then I noticed that the directions said it would take "from 1 to 24 hours". That's quite a range! I figured I would do the remaining 6 panels with a sander, and then see how the Amazon was faring afterward.

I broke out my orbital sander and managed to cut through the old varnish fairly quickly with 100 grit sandpaper, though I would rather have had 80. I saved my one sheet of 60-grit paper to do the ends and edges by hand. The 6 panels took several hours to complete, and then I turned my attention to the panel with the Amazon on it.

The old varnish was supposed to lift off easily with a putty knife, but only the topmost layer seemed to come off. Apparently, you have to leave the stuff on overnight for it to do anything useful. By this time, it was getting a bit late, and there was sawdust everywhere, so I hosed everything off. (This is by far the easiest way to get rid of the excess sawdust, though I guess in hindsight that it might be more environmentally friendly to sweep the dust up first. The Amazon, at least, is biodegradable and environmentally safe -- probably the reason it doesn't work too quickly.)

Wednesday, November 14, 2001: Final Prep-Work

The cockpit teak was dry when I got to the boat in the morning, but I still needed to sand the one panel on which I'd tested the Amazon previously. I also noticed that I'd missed some spots of varnish on the other panels, so I had to sand them too. When I was done, I hosed off the sawdust and cleaned the teak with Starbrite Teak Cleaner and a Scotch Brite pad. That seemed to get a lot of dirt out. I followed that with another good hosedown, then brightened the teak with a bit of Clorox solution. Once I hosed that down, the prep work was complete -- I just needed to wait for the teak to dry out thoroughly.

Thursday, November 15, 2001: First Coat of Varnish

The day was overcast and windy, but the weather forecast seemed to think it was "partly cloudy". I figured this probably meant that it wouldn't actually rain, so I went ahead and started the varnishing work. I sanded a few last little spots that I'd missed, then masked off the cockpit seats and put a first coat of varnish (actually Boat US One-Year Teak Treatment -- not really a varnish) on the teak.

Friday, November 16, 2001: Second Coat of Varnish

Put a second coat of varnish on the cockpit teak. The first coat was still a bit tacky from yesterday, so I folded the bimini back to allow some direct sun.

My new C-Map cartridge arrived, so I played around with the chartplotter some more. Neat toy.

The wind was blowing a steady 10-15 knots out of the west, and the mast was pumping again. I researched the problem online and found a good explanation of Karman vortex shedding. In the absence of any further guidance about how to fix the problem, though, I was largely forced to guess. I figured that the problem was most likely caused when the guys at Salt Creek Boatworks took the backstays loose to haul the boat, and there's some evidence (in the form of shiny threads on the turnbuckles) that the backstays used to be much tighter, so I tightened them some. I finished the job around dusk, though, and the wind started to die down, so I couldn't really tell if it helped.

Saturday, November 17, 2001: Third Coat of Varnish

Put a third coat of varnish on the cockpit teak. It's looking pretty thick, so that will probably be my last.

Theresa rented a Rug Doctor, and we cleaned all the carpets from the boat. Since we had the machine for the day and we still had a lot of solution left, we went ahead and cleaned most of the floors in our house too. Neat machine. Wish it could do stairs too.

Theresa also finished washing all the pillows. We're going to bed early tonight so we can get up before dawn and go see the Leonid meteor shower. I sure hope it's worth the effort!

Sunday, November 18, 2001: Leonid Meteor Shower

Theresa and I got up at 4:15am and drove down to Ft. Desoto Park to watch the Leonid Meteor Shower. We took some lounge chairs and a blanket, which proved critical, since the wind was blowing about 15 knots and the temperature was in the 50's. The sky was partly cloudy when we got there, but it slowly cleared up.

We started seeing meteors even before we got all set up (just prior to 5:00am), but only at a rate of 1-3 per minute. Sometimes a couple of minutes would pass with no flash at all, but sometimes we'd see two flashes close together. Around 5:25am, the tempo picked up a bit, and we started seeing simultaneous flashes. At one point we even saw 6 bright meteors within a space of 5 seconds. I'm not sure to what degree this greater rate was due to the fact that the clouds had, by that time, almost entirely dissipated.

We watched until the pre-dawn light started to wash out the stars around 6:00am, and the flashes seemed to be slowing down again. All in all, I'm glad we went out to see the show, but I've got to say that the storm did NOT live up to the hype. We probably saw around 800 meteors per hour, and some scientists were predicting rates ten times that. I was expecting much more fireworks. (A meteor "storm", incidentally, is a shower with rates of over 1000 meteors per hour, and now they're not even sure if this one will qualify.)

Monday, November 19, 2001: Dabbling in Wax

Against everyone's advice, I waxed the cabin sole before putting the carpet back down. The floor didn't seem slippery when I was done (and most of it is carpeted anyway), but things may turn worse when it gets wet. Still, it looks great, and I'm less anxious about it getting so torn up that I have to refinish it. I also found some fiberglass wax left by the previous owners, so I waxed the seats in the cockpit too. The stuff really does make the fiberglass look like new -- I just wish the varnish would hurry up and get hard.

Hosed off the deck and went home to meet Dad.

Tuesday, November 20, 2001: Final Preparations

Dad and I went over to the boat in the morning to do some work, but there really wasn't much left to do. We folded down the bimini so the varnish could get some sun, and I put some rigging tape on the lifeline shackles at the bow. We then decided to fill the forward and port freshwater tanks, but this soon turned into something of a disaster.

Once the tanks were full, I went below to check the bilge (just as a precaution), and I discovered water seeping under the floorboards. I figured that the port tank had somehow overfilled just as the starboard tank had the previous week, so we pulled up the floorboards to see. Sure enough, there was a pool of water on top of the port tank, complete with a mess of dead cockroaches. Disgusting. We pumped the water into the bilge, then ran some water out of the tank to stop the leak and cleaned up our mess. We left the floorboards out so that everything could dry.

That evening, we all went to see the new Harry Potter movie. It was really good -- very true to the book.

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