January 2006

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Feelin’ a little bounced around lately… maybe it’s the homebody Cancer in me, wanting to be settled down. Still, this routine has had it’s advantages; house-sitting for four different people has meant that i havn’t paid any rent in a little over 8 months. This bodes well for the pocketbook!
Continually moving has made me aware of all the excess crap i’ve picked up here. i moved to the islands with a seabag, daypack, and small bundle of books. It’s now grown to be more than i can fit in a single carload! Once i bought the boat, i really had to pare down; the Belmont girls got my large TV, Clive & Gillian got the blender, and Cathy now has reluctant stewardship over my convection oven. A year’s worth of new t-shirts (from every boat i crew on and/or regatta i race in) has doubled my clothes collection; i’m converting many of my old “good” shirts into “work” shirts, and finally retiring a few of the worst. Thank goodness Centaurea has plenty of stowage!
All in all, it’s been an interesting year,housing-wise. i must admit that it’s been a bit of a headgame re-adapting to living in a small space, what with the previous string of large airy houses behind me. Still, it’s what i most want, and what personal experience has shown me to be most secure with. i’ll be alot happier when the girl is in the water, with a few of the sailbags out of the salon, and the bugs blown out of the works.

digging in

Got into the hull this weekend… Being a one-time hurricane write-off, i knew there were repairs to be checked out. After sounding the hull with a hammer, it looked like there was only one area that was showing any cause for concern. The whole bottom had been barrier-coated and bottom-painted, but on the starboard side of the deadwood some of the bottom paint was looking a little crackly, so i suited up and ground off all the paint with a 40-grit softpad.
Having done this on cars and boats before, i wasn’t too shocked to see the usual multi-coloured patchwork of fillers, fairing compound, and patches. After all the paint was off, i dug further with a chisel, chipping off any areas of filler that looked at all loose. There are plenty of dents that were filled, and my impression is that a few were not sanded or prepped well enough before being filled/faired. There are only a handful of spots where damage actually got into the core; the core in these areas was repaired well enough, but the fill and fibreglass mish-mash they used to fair out the damaged outer skin in these ares was too dry. i think this must have been from a single batch of poorly-mixed epoxy; the questionable area covers about one batch’s worth of goop.
The dents can just be froperly faired; the skin is still intact, and the underlaying core foam is solid with no signs of delamination. The fill areas over the patched holes will need amore serious treatment: i’ll grind them back a little more, tapering them into the surrounding skin, then apply a few layers of ‘glass patches to assure outer skin integrity.

Every day on Centaurea, i plan to make a proper big “to do” list, and each day i fail to. At leat i know which “big things” need to be completed before launching, which is essentially my sole short-term goal. In the meantime, when the “big things” can’t be gotten to (time and money, folks…), i just try to make sure i accomplish one little thing each day.
Yesterday, i ripped out the over-complicated head system and diminutive token holding tank. 54 freakin’ hose clamps! 54! Enough said… Last night, i made rice for the second time on the Optimus, and learned several valuable lessons. First, tank pressure must be well below the operating “green zone” on the dial, or you just can’t simmer. Boil like a demon in a lake of fire yes, simmer no. Second, i learned that attempting to simmer usually results in either clouds of noxious asthma-inducing kerosene vapour, or pillars of fire that threaten to singe the curtains (all the curtains, at that). Today, i made noodles and chicken dogs for lunch, two dishes which are happy to cook at one of the two standard Optimus cooking temperatures, namely, Magma or Lava. Needless to say, i’m developing an interesting relationship with good ol’ Opti Prime; it remains only for me to learn all of it’s secret ways…
It rained last night. Oh haha, so funny to watch a naked man (me) squirm out of foredeck hatch to disentangle a windscoop. Slippery hitch my eye! Hatch closed, i soon was exposed to two more interesting lessons: A) the prism in the foredeck hatch leaks, and B) sleeping under a leaky prism is just this side of Not Much Fun At All. Funny thing is, in all this time spent inspecting the boat, keeping it aired out, and occasionally bailing her dry, i’d never actually been aboard during a rainshower to see where all the water comes in. Now i know; it comes in right wherever i happen to be. Saw that one coming, didn’t ya?
So, naturally, the task of the day has been to re-bed the foredeck hatch prism. All in all, i really like the design of the Laurin fordeck hatch. There’s a 3/4″ upward-projecting lip molded into the flush foredeck, and the 1/2″ thick solid fiberglass hatch has a matching overlapping lip that smoothly caps everything when closed. Positive screw-action dogs make sure the compression gasket seals well. Light comes from a 5″ Fresnel-lensed glass prism in the center of the hatch, which i daresay doesn’t let in much less light than a full-sized scuffed/smoked/hazed lexan hatch.
The chrome on the bronze prism ring was a little flaky, so i tried to take it all off with a sander, wirewheel, grinder, and vehement cursing. Now i have a ring that is half bronze, half chrome, and polished all over. Yay!

Rather than get into the next phase of my head-tearout on Centaurea(the half-full holding tank and associated lines/valves), i took a break from greater responsibility this afternoon, and tended to Ripple instead. Shortened up the two-blocked after lower shrouds, and got the mast into a better position, then went for a fun little turn around the harbour. Pretty light winds, but good fun; great to blast out of the hole on every minute puff. Tourists motoring alongside for the obligitory photos (really, the boat is that damn cute), and just generally enjoying the hell out of life.
A final footnote, as i made my way back to the dock; a pair of dolphins coasting alongside for a few boatlengths, nearly close enough to touch…

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