Thursday, July 31, 2008

Nothing like a little fiberglass dust.

Spent the late afternoon cutting out bulkheads and tabs (fiberglass attachments to the hull) with my trusty Makita grinder. I use a metal cutting disc on the thing and it slices through the glass and resin pretty fast and clean. If there's wood underneath the glass, I use a regular electric saw to cut the wood.

In order to cut down the amount of dust blowing around inside the hull, I use a water hose set to a fine spray to knock the dust down and flush it into the bilge. The problem isn't just the dust that the grinder kicks up, it's also the piles of dust that accumulate in corners, etc. A breeze will lift that stuff up, swirl it around the hull and then it lands on me, finding it's way into my armor and makes my life miserable for a couple of days (and nights). I also use the hose to wash down my body after the work is done- strip to just my shorts and hose off the glass dust before it gets imbedded in my skin. The photo shows that there's only two bulkheads remaining on the starboard side, and those are holding up my shade and crane attachments. The bathtub with come out this week, but right now it's holding a battery bank. Hmmm, this boat is starting to look bigger.

Diesel Electric system for the FLASH

How this photo is not related to the title of this blog: I spent all of yesterday cleaning up the workyard, hauling boat parts off to the dump, and whacking down weeds (some small trees!). Didn't see a single rattlesnake or scorpion, by the way...

Now about the title of this installment: I think I may have found the major component for the FLASH's new propulsion system. I located a 15 kw Westerbeke marine diesel generator in Michigan for $1800 plus shipping. Here's the description: "Westerbeke 15 kw running take out. Removed from yacht. Generator runs excellent, needs nothing. Has gauges, filters, manuals and stainless steel exhaust, Fresh water unit approx. 3000 hours. $1800." I sent the guy an email and he replied that he still had the unit and left me a phone number to call, so this morning I called him to discuss the generator. He told me the unit was part of a package deal- when he bought the engines from a repowering of the Lake Michigan yacht "Pilgrim" the generator was included. Turns out that the yacht had belonged to none other than John Wayne.
Synchronicity: Two days ago, I was talking with my landlord, Daniel, who owns and is president of one of the largest import/export/NAFTA companies in Mexico. He asked me if I could pick up a new guitar amp for him if it was sent to one of his warehouses on the border (he really likes the one I just bought). I told him I would be bringing some stuff into Mexico for the new boat, too, so he gave me the address of the warehouse. It turns out that I drive right past it on my way to and from the US. So, it looks like things are coming together.


I have to go out to the anchorage and move the BLISS boat to another mooring( again) this morning. I'm told the one I'm on isn't ready for hurricane season (which started in June).

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Building a carpentry shop,
one workbench at a time

I know that as I get further into the project, I'm going to need some sizable workspace as the pieces go on and off this boat. Hence the 6 ft wide, 14 ft long workbench. It has a steel frame and I'll box the whole thing in with hinged doors to store tools and material. Right now I'm using the trailers for that, but I'll need them for bringing in resin, glass, rigid foam sheets (a product called PrecisionBoard(PB)... it's strong and light and you can glue it together and sculpt it into the shape you want easily [I hope] and then cover it with fiberglass and resin or epoxy). It's also expensive (4x8 ft sheet one inch thick is about $180 plus shipping). Then there's paint, adhesives, plexiglass, and more plywood.

I did all of this today... but after getting up at 5, going out to the anchorage and moving the BLISS boat to another mooring, taking the First Mate shopping and to pay the electric bill in Guaymas.

I had some catching up to do because Saturday I bought the plywood and took it to the yard, Sunday we rehearsed all day in preparation for a performance at the Captain's Club from 4pm 'til 9 or so, and Monday was spent working on the business website. Add in some time eating, sleeping and throwing the ball for Chica, writing to my sister in New York, and minor house repairs, getting drinking water, etc. and I've been pretty busy.

I believe I promised the First Mate we would hit the tiangus in Guaymas tomorrow morning. I want to look for attachments for my nifty new bench grinder.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Monsoons are here

Over the past week it has rained three days... for the desert, that's a lot... and the road crew has been laying in a new road for us out in front of the house. Now I can walk outside in my bare feet (I hate shoes) to fetch the dogs. The heavy equipment used to level and fill the low spots is long gone. The road is interlocking concrete brick, and instead of a muddy lake for a front yard, we have this. There's now a gentle slope running to the adjoining street to carry away the monsoon. Hurricane Dolly just came ashore near Brownsville and is pushing a lot of clouds our way. That's all we'll get from it. It's too far away.
In other news, I have a dinghy tied up to the dock
that is slowly (sometimes quickly) filling with rainwater and I need to go bail out that thing every couple of days even though it won't sink, but the stuff in it will float away.
I want to buzz out to the Flash today and start clearing the work yard of boat bits, get some plywood hauled up and get a workbench set up in the boat. I won't get all that done, but it will be cooler today with the overcast and light rain we have now. Humidity? 100% (It's always 100% when it rains, I'm told.)

The crane and pulley doing the job.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

It takes longer than you think

You see this little pulley? I spent the entire day putting this up. Of course I had to install the steel crossmenber for the pulley too... but all day?
It's through-bolted on the steel beam, and I wanted it to swivel so I had to design and make that part, too. It's designed to handle steel cable going through it, so I can start using the electric winches to bring stuff to the work area inside the boat... and it's also designed to handle fairly heavy loads- up to about 500 pounds. So I guess I didn't do too bad today. Also it rained twice and that felt great...

I noticed a gold car cruising past the Flash a couple of times and it was sitting at the intersection as I was leaving for the day. I thought it was suspicious... so I caught up with him and started taking his picture. There's a few things I wouldn't want to have to replace
out there... here he is.
If you see this car cruising your neighborhood, you must be in Mexico too! Carumba!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A day out of the sun, time for design

Click on the drawing for larger version
This is the direction I'm headed on this boat.
I know it has a lot of windows, but I plan on using Lexan- the bulletproof plastic they use in limousines and bank windows, etc.
The First Mate has a thing about cramped, dark places and so do I. The drawings, are by the way, pretty close to scale. Comments welcome.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Progress of sorts

The larger the boat, the larger the infrastructure required to work on it.

I've been splitting my time between actual boat work and improving the working conditions... and sometimes these two dovetail nicely. Today I tore off part of the deck that covered the chainplates (chainplates are heavily built stainless plates used to anchor the wires that hold up the mast). These are bolted to bulkheads using eight 1/2 inch steel bolts (each) through two plates about 3/8 to 1/2 inch thick (each) with the bulkhead sandwiched in the middle (2 inches of marine plywood). They're really strong, 'cause they have to be.

So I took some structural steel I bought at the local scrapyard and bolted through the chainplates. They are the vertical beams in this photo. These will hold up the shadecloth and provide attachment points for cranes used to A) lift materials onto the boat B) move stuff around once it's up on the boat and C) maybe support a corrugated steel roof if the shadecloth doesn't give me enough protection from the sun. I should mention the top edge of the hull is about 12 feet off the ground. It requires 2 shadecloths to cover it- each one is 16 feet wide by 24 feet long. The blue tarp over the workbench area is 20x10 feet. I still have another steel scaffold to build, and will split my time up on that project too.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Resistance is Futile

Back to the GREEN FLASH to remove the coaming/cockpit this morning. Cheese croissants only a faint but pleasant memory.

This is a picture of the wireless controller for the crane on the back of my pickup truck. The 5 peso coin is there to show scale... (you don't know how big a 5 peso is, eh? (evil chuckle) OK, then... A 5 peso coin is the same size as a US quarter. I just don't have any US quarters here because nobody takes US coins for payment in Mexico (although I've seen beggars asking for them). I keep all my US coins in a 55 gallon drum on the other side of the border. As I drive across the border I throw whatever US coins I have accumulated into the barrel. Nobody can lift it so I'm not worried about it.

Back to the FLASH- I hoisted up the old cockpit onto the starboard side of the boat until it teetered there, then I propped it up with some 2x4s so I could disconnect the hoists. (I didn't want this thing to pull the entire boat over because it was still attached to the boat by way of the hoists).

The one remaining line was connected to the electric winch on the truck, so I could stand up on the boat and control the process using the remote.

I found I could edge the thing over an inch at a time by just tapping the remote... so everything kinda went in slow motion before it fell. And fall it did... so now I can concentrate on getting some serious shade on the FLASH, get all the junk out to the junkyard, and get the small bits of rotted boat cleaned out.

Feels good to be this far along right now.

And I gotta' thank Mike and Cynthia (see First Mate blog) for a great dinner at Los Barcos last night. The shrimp tacos were wonderful. We were squeezing Italians into our little car and tried to thank them before we drove off, but the moment was a bit chaotic.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Pastries and heavy lifting

I'm not ready to start bringing workers onto the boat yet... I am dismantling the previous owners' work on it, cutting off rotting decks and cabin tops. This stuff is really heavy- about an inch of plywood with a half inch of fiberglass & resin, plus framing and hardware. So I've been using a series of hoists, and rope and pulleys to move it around. It's too heavy for me to lift so I need the mechanical advantage of levers and blocks. Today I had hoped to remove the remaining cabin top/coaming from the FLASH. The piece is large and no longer attached by anything but gravity. I propped it up with 2x4s and attached the crane from the pickup to one corner with the idea of rolling it off the boat.
Everything was lined up perfectly and then just before I pressed the button on the wireless remote for the crane, the First Mate drove up with a bag of cheese-filled croissants. My concentration on the pastries, I hit the button and the cabin slid sideways into the boat.
With the croissants in hand, I locked up the work area and headed home for a cold shower and air conditioning and ice water... as Arnie would say, "I'll be BOCK!"
BTW, it's too late for pictures of the croissants.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The work goes on...

We are getting into the real heat of Mexico summer. The First Mate took my photo as I was leaving for the Green Flash... here's the summer fashion for this morning: cut off sweat pants, tank top, cheap but sturdy sandals, iPod, kerchief headband to keep the sweat out of eyes, super-dark sunglasses (prescription). What you can't see is the sheen of spray-on sunblock by Banana Boat (great idea), but you can see the sheen of sweat already starting at 6 am.

The sun comes up early here- we're on the eastern edge of the combined Mountain/Pacific daylight savings time.

Over the past couple of days, I've been putting up more vertical supports and using them to haul the cut-up deck sections off the FLASH using block and tackle systems. I also built a frame for the front gate to the area.
Later today I'll haul up four deep cycle 6 volt batteries and build a battery bank in the bathtub. I'll rig the wind generator to this bank and run a 2000 watt inverter to power my electrical tools and lights if I should need them. I also have an Onan 4kw generator and a Honda 2000, but if I can work without the noise and the cost of gasoline, I'm happier... plus I can hook up my stereo and listen to my favorite music if I want. Hmmm. Maybe it's time to get the 12 volt fridge fixed?

Yet another "Before" picture of the GREEN FLASH. The bathtub circled in red.

Friday, July 11, 2008

1st Mate's BD

Today is the First Mate's birthday... so if you have her address, send her a comment, a greeting, a card, some cash, etc. We're going to take Chica for a walk and get strong coffee beverages. More later.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

An email from a legend.

Today, as I was surfing the net, I came across a quote in google that "Nelson/Merek did NOT design this vessel..."

I had seen this come up in a forum before, and hoped to get to the bottom of it. So, I found Charley Morgan's email address in Florida and posed the question. Here's the copy of the email & reply a couple of hours later:

From: Jim Cochran []
Sent: Tuesday, July 08, 2008 12:17 PM
Subject: The 43 CC mid to late 80s

Dear Charley,

The 43 CC mid to late 80s
I am restoring one of these boats.
There is much discussion about who designed this boat. Could you clear
up this issue?

Jim Cochran

proud owner
33 O/I 1973
43 CC 1987
San Carlos, Sonora, Mexico

Subject: RE: The 43 CC mid to late 80s
Date: July 8, 2008 11:51:10 AM GMT-07:00


The model is not my design.

It has always been my understanding that the design was by Nelson & Merrick, but since I was long since retired from the scene, I cannot be certain. Nelson & Merrick was a top-flight design firm.

From first hand accounts by those who delivered some of this model to the charter fleets, they were fast, seaworthy and well behaved. I believe that Catalina made a variant or two from the basic design.

Hope this is some help to you. Cheers and smooth sailing ~ Charley Morgan

Charles E.(Charley) Morgan

And although I didn't get an absolute answer, I feel like I'm closer to the truth than the guy who keeps saying this boat wasn't... etc. BTW, this person never does reveal WHO he thinks did the design. I know that the same hull was used for the Morgan 44, and that N/M did design the Catalina 42 (Catalina had just bought Morgan Yachts around the mid-80s), of which there are over 1,000 hulls. I wonder if N/M will answer this question? Check back.

From the desk of Bruce Roberts

Bruce Roberts is a yacht designer who has the same vision as I. He likes big, fast, roomy yachts. Although I hadn't spent a lot of time familiarizing myself with his work, I found that a quick jaunt to Bruce Robert's website provided a number of drawings and photos of features that I like for the FLASH.

The "poop stern" offers volume and easy passageways below. I also want a deck saloon. The FLASH version of this design would offer a sugar scoop transom and a hydraulic swim platform/dinghy storage (more about this later).
One design element I really like is the small twin chair/table setting in the deck saloon...

Here is an unfinished hull/cabin done in aluminum. It's his "DS 495" and what I was looking for in a design for the FLASH. I'm willing to give up the wraparound windows (note to Rob) because this look works so well.

Starting to get excited about this again. OooooWeeeee.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Saloons, boats and bars

The deck saloon design is the one I'm favoring right now. Wraparound, reinforced, tinted windows. This design suggests the raising of the stern quarters to add volume below and easy passage from the saloon to the masters cabin astern.
By the way, some people may chuckle at my use of the word saloon. The truth is back a couple of centuries ago, a bar owner in Colorado (I believe) decided to furnish his bar like the interior of a yacht to attract high class customers. He borrowed the word saloon- the main cabin and social gathering place on a yacht- and soon, many tavern owners followed his example.

Friday, July 4, 2008

It can't be tarps...

Spent a morning hoisting up a tarp over my work area just before I left for Errorzona. This is what it looked like.

Now it's lying on the ground, shredded along the edge where I had tied it with cordage. Tarps just won't do it. If I'm going to have shade, it will be more than a tarp. I'm thinking of beefing up the vertical 2x4s and adding cross members for wood or metal roofing.

There was a big blow here with rain, so now the boat needs pumping out... but not today.
We drove back last night and it seemed to take forever. There's road construction all the way up and back... they divert traffic from four lanes onto one each way and prohibit passing- for 300 miles! You can't go faster than the slowest vehicle in front of you... so the trip took seven hours instead of the usual four-and-a -half. I need a siesta.

I'll go out to the Flash tomorrow and restart the work. It'll be cooler, now that the monsoons are here.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

I wanna go home...

Today is my second day in the US. We drove up yesterday from San Carlos in order to appear at the muni court in Sahuarita, Arizona over a ticket for expired license plates. In Arizona, if your auto insurance isn't renewed, they suspend your registration and hand out tickets. Then they tell you they want you to commit to a 3 year car insurance policy... all for a car that may spend a total of one month in Arizona over the 3 year period. Arrrg..
We got it sorted out when we showed up and paid a fine of $143, got the state of AZ to accept our Mexican car insurance as proof of financial responsibility, re-registered the car, jumped through several hoops, and groveled at the feet of Authority.
I want to reduce my trips to the US. I'm going to start planning the "Stuff in America Reduction Act."
The US is a nice place if you have to have everything really organized and you want your life structured and predictable, and it's OK to have everyone have a say in about how you conduct your life... then the US is a good place to be. But I wanna' go home to Mexico.
I think I would like to go to Turkey some day. I read the Ferroever blog and I've met other people who loved Turkey. Folks who have done circumnavigations in small yachts.
Sounds like a cool place. I might make it if I don't get too many more tickets in the US.