Sunday, May 29, 2011

Meanwhile, back at the boatyard...

I am out in Solomons, Maryland again, checking on the refit progress with Whispering Jesse, my 1980 Valiant 40. When I was here last October, the boat's hull had just been painted and the deck teak was being sanded. Since then, the teak has received some coats of Cetol and the cabin top has been painted and had anti-skid applied. The chocks that once held a hard dinghy in place on the foredeck have been removed and the teak handrails nicely reshaped where the chocks were joined to them. Aside from some additional deck and bottom painting, refinished hatches, and new stainless steel portlights, the exterior of the boat is almost starting to look finished.

The inside is a different story entirely. This morning, I borrowed a multi-meter from my friend John Simonton, who is back at Spring Cove Marina after a trip south to Hampton last fall, to see if I could figure out why the stove will not light. I had not been down in the cabin much the last two days because it is like an oven in there, but I figured if I got an early start, before the temperature climbed into the high eighties, it might be more tolerable. Well, aside from the general chaos of boat parts spread all over the interior, the first thing I noticed was a light dusting of mildew on almost every wooden surface. The dorades, which normally vent the boat, have been taped over for several months, as have all the hatches and ports, so the rainwater that came through the mast hole, where the duct tape had disintegrated, and pooled in the bilge has caused a nice growth. I ran my finger along it and it came right off, but it will be a big job with an anti-mildew cleaner and Murphy's Oil Soap to get the wood looking good again.

I moved some stuff out of the galley to get access to the propane switch and unscrewed its panel from the wall. I used John's multi-meter to verify that the fuse was good, but when I switched on the batteries and flipped the propane switch, the light next to it did not go on, so I suspect there is a deeper problem. Don the boatyard manager and I talked yesterday about what it is going to take to finish up the project, and electrical problems are definitely on the list. There really wasn't much else I wanted to do in the cabin knowing that within the next few weeks, the chaos down there will get much worse as Don and his team replace the Perkins diesel engine with a new remanufactured one. They are also going to replace the outdated radar pole with a new Scanstrut one that will attach to and run parallel to the backstay. Other projects, like replacing the manual windlass with an electric one, replacing the Webasto heater with a reverse cycle air conditioner, and installing a new chartplotter, are going to need to wait for additional time and money.

On Friday evening, when I first arrived, I picked up my friend Kevin and his girlfriend Beth at the Holiday Inn and went to have a look at the boat. Kevin helped me sail it down from Baltimore last May, and he was impressed by how much better the boat looked now with its repaired blisters and fresh paint. We also took a look at the rerigged mast, with its new Harken furling gear and integrated Forespar whisker pole. Then it was off to The Dry Dock for dinner, where we discussed Kevin and Beth's travails with trying to purchase a used Dana 24 sailboat. They had sailed with the owner of one for sale earlier in the day and were not impressed enough to pursue a deal. As a gift, they gave me a copy of John Neal's Offshore Cruising Companion. Kevin made a Bay of Biscay passage with the Neals a few years ago and knew I would appreciate all the good information packed into John's book. Thank you, Kevin and Beth!

I fly home tomorrow, but I will be back in late July with Nan, who will be getting her first look at the boat. Hopefully, the new engine and portlights and the refinished hatches will be in place by then and the chaos in the cabin under better control. After that, I am planning to return in September with a crew to sail the boat down to Savannah. There will be more about those plans later. In the meantime, there is still so much to get accomplished.


Anonymous said...

John, your boat looks great. That's a shame about the insides, but it sounds easy enough to resolve.
The Dana 24 is my dream boat (this is coming from someone that is taking his first sailing lesson this July). I've read a lot about them, and they sound amazing. Those and the Flicka 20's are what I always thought sailboats should look like. I know people have sailed those 2 in blue water, one guy all the way to Tahiti from California, but would that be something you'd be afraid to attempt in such a small boat? Just curious what you think, because I notice in a lower post, you said making a tricky journey in a 27' boat seemed harrowing. I have no frame of reference :-)

John Lichty said...

Thank you for your comments. I will address the "size" issue in an upcoming blog post.