Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Forward Progress

As you probably know if you’re a regular reader, our boat is on land now, waiting for the hull to dry out enough to apply new bottom paint.  And it’s humid summertime in the Chesapeake, and a thick-hulled old boat that has been in the water for many years, adding up to very slow progress.  We’ve gotten lots of suggestions for how to accelerate the bottom drying.  Some are really quite clever: making a tent of plastic below the boat’s waterline, blowing hot air on it, using a dehumidifier.  Some were meant in fun just to make us laugh (and goodness knows, laughter is needed right now): Put the boat on a truck and take it to Arizona! Get all your friends to save all those little desiccant packets that come with new electronics! The one that cracked me up the most came in an email from Tom and Karen D:
Karen writes:
Tom and I have some experience with drying out items; our eldest (and somewhat absent-minded) grandson often wears his clip-on cell phone right into the pool.  You could adapt our method to speed along the drying.  First, get a VERY big bowl and fill it with uncooked rice ... ;-P

Tom writes:
Ahem.  I have some reservations about the scalability of Karen's solution ...  although when you are finished you could throw a stir-fry party for the entire marina and then some.
Last winter someone decided they needed our extension ladder more than we did, so they stole it. We usually used that ladder when our boat is out of the water for service.  The marina loaned us this lovely set of stairs instead, one of many comforts making our life on the hard a little easier.  Every time I climb down these, I'm either the first female president of the US coming out of Air Force One, or a famous movie star arriving on location in some distant and exotic spot to film the next blockbuster.  What can I say?  I lead a rich fantasy life.
We really needed the laughs, because Monday was just a crash-and-burn kind of day, that ended with us sitting in the cockpit of our “condo on the hill” as our friends have dubbed our boat that’s still not back in the water.  We were sipping on (warm) rum and water, seriously discussing the possibility of moving off the boat until the project was complete.  The little air conditioner we’d bought to take the edge off the heat couldn’t quite keep up.  Our little fridge was too wimpy and too little – we were commiserating with friends Liz and Matt, who are also on the hard for an extended period of time waiting for their boat to dry, that after a while without refrigeration you just start craving leafy green vegetables - which of course are the hardest to store, and hence the first to go, without a fridge.  And granted the air was pretty warm so our water tank was too, but we hadn’t had actual hot water since early July.  Where would we go?  Probably some extended-stay motel, anyplace with fully powered air conditioning and a working toilet and the ability to take a shower without packing a tote bag with towel and shampoo and walking across the party pavilion area to the marina bathhouse.

Everything was breaking on Monday.

We were coming back from running some errands when our aging Audi stopped running.  Just right in the middle of the road, with no warning.  Fortunately, that loyal vehicle had waited until we were only about 100 yards from our home marina.  Dan was able to coast it in to a safe location, and we walked the rest of the (short) way back to the boat.  We’ve been hoping to make the car last one more year until we head out on our next cruise – when of course we won’t need a car – and replace it when we come back.  Were we asking too much?

The other thing that broke on Monday?  The holding tank.  Eeeeuw.  Not to go into too much detail, but the thing was meant to work on a boat in the water, not on land.  Without being buffered by the water, the temperature in the tank got too hot for the little enzymes to do their waste-digesting function; and without being agitated by the motion of the ocean, solids gradually settled until the bottom of the tank contained a thick layer of stinking sludge too viscous to be lifted by the pump.

But you know what?  None of that mattered, because we’d also had a long conversation with the marina service manager and a series of emails with the manufacturer’s rep for the new bottom paint, and our wait is over!   As schedules and weather permit – since it would hardly do to paint and then have an afternoon thunderstorm wash away the effort – we can continue with our bottom paint project and get back in the water.

PS: The problem with the car turned out to be the fuel pump, which we had just replaced last June.  The Audi dealer here in town, Criswell Audi, is replacing the pump at no charge, even though it was out of warranty – thank you guys for your integrity and customer service.  And John, the manager of our marina ship’s store,  suggested a great new product to address the holding tank issues.  So life really is getting good, here on the hill.

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  1. Congrats on getting back to painting! What's the final verdict? It doesn't have to be so dry?

  2. Thanx Phil! Their conclusion was that since it wasn't drying further, there would be no water exuding from the surface to interfere with adhesion. Also, we measured the "moisture" above the waterline at 8-10% by the meter. It is possible that the composition of the hull - the materials used in those days - gives a false positive reading. But I think the reality is that old boats with thick hulls just get wet and stay that way. Loss of strength would not be an issue: back in those days, they didn't know how strong fiberglass would turn out to be, so they just used a lot of it. Waaaay overbuilt.