Owning a sailboat, is like living the ultimate RPG

I spent most my childhood in front of a screen, fine tuning my skills and gear in Final Fantasy, and other Roll playing games. Endless hours in upgrading cars in Gran Tourismo, getting the smallest tweak here and there, lighter flywheel, better clutch…

 It was expensive with the fictional money and gold that you earned I remember.

 It’s also pretty bad in real life too…

I now get a sick feeling every time I tap my Visa card. Very different from a year ago, I loved the ease of it all, and racking up the travel points was a bonus for my annual Thailand winter holiday.

Thats all changed now, as everyday I’ve been hitting store after store, for bits n bobs, stainless this and adapter that. Valves, paints, tools (oh god  the tools)…It’s a bit ridiculous… The depth at which one can go while working on a boat is actually, never ending.

I just realized this the other day, and there in lies my love for it all. 

Micro managing, improving, tweaking, strengthening, learning new skills everyday and practicing them.

 I’m up to level 3 epoxy work now muhahaha. 

Finally, my water tanks are finished!
I remember it was fun playing mechanic in the marina, but here with lots of free time, a good budget, it’s even better. I’m making good use of my time, everyday I try to start one task minimum- and on a good day, I actually complete some. 

As our instructors repeated over and over “(in the marine field) anything is possible with enough time and money”. 

I believe it too. Fiberglass and epoxy seem like magical things.

 Endless possibilities in modifications in every system, plumbing, electrical, rigging, comfort, entertainment, head, stowage…  and every piece has an addendum. Every system is made up of subsystems of parts, screws and fittings, which are made up of different qualities in materials, and good luck finding what you need. It’s an absolute mission some days getting what you need. I had to drive to the states just to get a special epoxy last week.

Tomorrow however I have been promised my main sail with extra reefs and re-stitched. My full enclosure should be complete soon also.

 Then I’m free to escape the daily hardware store runs and hotdogs at Costco. 

I’ve finished the water tanks, and today replaced most of the water lines in the boat. That, was a brutal yet satisfying task.

The main port window was leaking a bit, so I found a gutter system that RVs use… Looks like it’ll work, and I’ve heard good things! 

I’ve wired in a 12v horn and bus bar into the mix. No more air horn for me! Princess Auto $20 special and it sounds great, but I need to fabricate an enclosure for it… Tried fiberglass but it didn’t look too good, so tomorrow I’ll try a melting a Lexan sheet into shape and hope for the best.

My first fiberglass project… Functional but ugly, I’ll try Lexan next
The decks been cleaned and looks nice. I’m looking at painting the interior a bit, lightening things up from the dark teak wood, but I’m no good with these choices… This is when I need a wife to help out, as I’m fashion blind in all things decorative.

Storm sail. Same with the wife, I don’t have one. 

Tomorrow I go up the mast to tinker on a few things, but also to look at installing a block at the top to run a line for a dedicated storm jib. It will be designed to be raised over the fureled jib, with large sail cloth “Hanks” that slide easily over and give the proper shape. In theory…

Lots more on the go. Hopefully soon it will be the boat, going south for the main quest in this game. 

There’s a wizard in every great game…

My response time from when the knife slips to putting on bandaids is instant. Too much practice

Everything will give you cancer. This stuff just might take a bit longer than the other sealants

This week’s projects

I’ve thrown in some fun ones this week to balance out the workload.

Reliable drinking water from my tanks has always been something I wanted for this trip, but a 40 year old tank is kind of gross. 

Bleaching, flushing and filtering however wasn’t enough and I still got sick from drinking it. So this past week I cut into the side and main water tanks to find slimy yellow grim coating the walls, and an already compromised lid. It had been leaking, but I didn’t realize it was also saturated and smelled rotten.

I decided the only proper solution would be to completely remove the old wood and sealant. An Epoxy coat of the tanks and new plywood lids, made up with potable water epoxy, and then to re-seal it all with a 6” cleaning port installed in each. 

An absolute pain to remove this sealant, i tried everything…

The bum slam…
The “its really hot, and i’m loosing patience” tactic…
Eventually tried reasoning with it, which worked much better
Ah, that was easy!

Potable water epoxy is rare to find for tanks under 600 gallons, expensive, and is only shipped within the states, so this has turned out to be quite the task- but it’s almost complete none the less.

My work crew

I used all the math Sue taught us in Marine Tech…
Perfect fit! When does that ever happen?

While I wait for the extra reefs in my main sail, as well as the new full enclosure to be made by the local Sail Maker, I’ve gone onto a few fun little projects to add to my comfort aboard, and keep me busy.

Not being able to have my windows open on a hot, humid, rainy night sounded like torture to me. Opening them up after a storm, the water collects in them just waiting to come splashing in and ruin my new foam an upholstery I worked so hard on replacing.

The best idea was draining windows, but they still couldn’t be open during a rain, I needed to cover them somehow, which led me to discover rain shields.

$50 US each to buy (x6 = silly expensive in Canadian $)

I wanted to see If I could make them instead, and it turned out to be a fun day project. I bought some plexiglass sheets, $7 each, cut with a small jigsaw and molded them each by hand into to shape with a heat gun. Fit to the ports and drilled tiny holes, held tight with stainless wire for easy removal. A light rain and nothing came in my boat! However when I took the hose to them simulating a hard rain, they failed. The fix was to remove the shields and apply a bead of silicone to the lip of the frame, and now it is completely water tight and still removable. 

The Flopper Stopper. A kinky dress or a device fishing trawlers boom off to the side to stabilize their boat in heavy wake or waves while at anchor. This is the first design I’ve tried, a bit small, but it does work, reducing the wobble of the boat by 30% compared to my neighbours. The next design is in the making, but a boat should have two- one on either side for them to truly be effective. 

Milk Crate $5, scraps of plywood $5, scraps of steel for fast reponsive sinking, and zip ties. Can be used as a storage device while underway, which gets bonus points from me! Thanks for the design Dino!

Making good use of the Spinnaker pole, less wobbly as those speed boats fly by
This next one is just a weighted triangle, larger surface area, simple design, flat for storage. Easy, but untested yet.

I’ll be sawing into my forward hatch next week to install the new solar vent, epoxying the new tanks, and finishing off the exterior wood. By then the new halyard, enclosure and sail will be ready, and in theory, so will I. 

The plan is to live out on Grand Lake for a month, continue racing with the new crew, sail my boat, get familiar living on anchor and learn navigating. As of yet, I couldn’t navigate my way out of a paper bag without my GPS… 

Which reminds me, i have beer in the fridge!