Friday, July 22, 2016

Battening down

The Work on the Boat continues:  In keeping with the Vardo theme of our shantyboat, we've been painting and cutting battening strips to hold the new side membrane in place.

Batten boards cut and primed and ready for paint.

We decided to go with bright Caribbean colors for the sides..
Of course, screwing them onto the side of a floating vessel from ANOTHER floating vessel is rather the ultimate core exercise, but we got the bulk of the Larboard side done this morning before the direct sun and temperatures in the 90's drove us into the shade.

Island colors on a floating Gypsy wagon. . .we are nothing if not eclectic!

Most of the battens in place.
Now we just have to do the bottom ones and a couple of cross members. . .

.. . .and the windows. . .

. . .and the entire Starboard side. . .

Oh, well.  It's a boat.  It's what one expects.

More stuff at Life, Art, Water, check it out.

More later.  Time for shade and a cold drink.


Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Larboard Side

Started earlier today to avoid heat and some winds that were supposed to kick up in the afternoon.  Spent part of the morning ripping away wet, delaminated wood.  The stuff is like tearing into dried leaves.
Literally, cardboard would be stronger.
Then we spent the next two hours getting the remaining membrane up on the port side, cutting the windows through, etc.  Now we just have to cut and paint the battens and get them on and that'll be done.  The Starboard side isn't quite as bad, but we'll probably tie into that next week.

Larboard side with the membrane all in place.  OOooOooohh, Shiny!
So now it's off to shopping and then awaiting our ritual afternoon thunderstorm, which is apparently the new normal around here.

More later,


Monday, July 18, 2016

Side Repairs Begin

Let's see, where to begin this.  You may remember--at least those of you who have been with us from the first (looking at YOU Jarm)--that the exterior of the boat was originally a waterproof okumi plywood, very thin, and dressed with stain and four coats of spar varnish.  We really loved the look.

Siding during the original construction in 2014
It was rustic and steampunkish and pretty.

The Floating Empire just after launch.  Nice, hunh?
The trouble was, the stuff didn't hold up worth a damn.  By six months in we had done a FIFTH coat of spar varnish, and then tried exterior fencing preservative.  Nothing seemed to work, and the boat looked like hell.

By the end of the first winter, the wood was already breakiing down.
In desperation, we painted the outside with a satin finish exterior housepaint, which bought us another year and stopped the thing from looking ghastly.

Heartbreaking to paint her, but we really had no choice.
Ultimately, though, even a quality latex house paint wasn't enough to stop the crappy supposedly waterproof wood from deteriorating.  We wound up dutch mending portions of the sides (painting down pieces of muslin to seal parts of the surface), but finally even that became useless.  We were kind of at a loss as to what to do, save rebuilding the whole exterior of the boat.  Going back over my notes, I remembered that one of our original ideas was to bring the membrane all the way down to the water line.  So we checked online and found some membrane, a bit lighter than the ultra durable stuff we had on the roof, but still UV resistant.

The sides.  Literally, you could push your finger through it.
The bad wood stripped to the insulation.
So, of course, in 109 degree real-feel temperatures, we launched into it, ripping out the shredding wood, tucking the new membrane under the edge of the roof membrane to form an overlap for rain, and stapling the new stuff in place.

The new membrane with the window cut through.  Molding will go over the top to hold it down.
We had hoped to get at least one side done today, but it was harder than we'd anticipated, and the heat was killing.  So we got the worst of it covered, and will attack it earlier tomorrow.

Sigh. . . .getting there
Not as elegant as the original, surely, but it'll get us a couple more years of waterproofing.  Now if this heat wave will just break at bit. . . .

More shortly.  Hey, some new book promotions coming over at Wild Shore Press on my stuff, check it out.

More shortly.

M the overheated

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Insane About the Membrane

Or:  Occasionally I get things right.

We got clobbered here on the North Chesapeake yesterday, I mean really clobbered.  The forecast said, as usual in summer, that there was a "possibility of a thunderstorm."  Nobody, NOBODY predicted what was about to happen.

A thunderstorm cell came out of the SW and then just SAT over the warm water at the mouth of the Middle River.  It just kept getting bigger and higher, and just before it let loose, we were treated to a chorus of small craft, severe thunderstorm, hail, and lightning warnings, all of which proved to be true.

It was the weekend, after all.  Lots of folks were out toward Hart-Miller island playing in the water.  The wind came up suddenly from the rapidly growing supercell.  Hail pelted the boats, lightning struck everywhere.  Our slip mates who were out in it described hail hard enough to crack hatches and leave quarter sized welts on those in open boats, along with whiteout conditions and six foot waves.  Boat's anchors dragged.  Some wound up on the rocks around Hart-Miller Island, destroying props and rudders and fiberglass.  Lightning hit one of our neighbors boats, destroying both his bimini top and all of the boat's electronics.

If you think what the lightning did to this bimini is bad, you should see what it did to their radios.

About this time, some of you may be remembering that we have a soft vinyl membrane over our boat, leftovers from a sports dome.  The membrane took the full force of the hail.  You know what happened?  Mercifully, nothing.

The membrane being installed

During construction from underneath

Yeah, I know, looks like a covered wagon.
We had water leaks from all the windows (working on that) but the membrane, through all the wind and rain and hail, remained inviolate.

The membrane today, still watertight.
So if you had any questions (I did) about the durability of this form of construction, I think going on three years of high winds, snow, hail,  and rainstorms have pretty much proved it's worth.

Occasionally, I win one.

More Shortly


Tuesday, July 12, 2016


This just in:  I just got a robocall from BGE (Baltimore Gas and Electric) telling me that, due to saving more energy on July 8 this year than I did last year, I had earned $.13.

We'll be moving to the Bahamas shortly.

Since we generate almost all of our own power from solar, that may give you an idea of our power consumption footprint.

But hey.

Thirteen cents is thirteen cents....


Friday, July 8, 2016

More Foraging

 You know, one of the great joys of this place is the rather surprising amount of. . .well. . .food that is just laying around the Marina and environs.  Obviously, before the intrusion of ugly, plastic-sided condos, there were homes and farms here, and those folks planted all manner of crops that have now normalized and become permanent residents of the neighborhood.  There are black walnuts and crab apples and, this time of year especially, there are droves and droves of ripe red raspberries for the taking.

All over the place. ..naturalized plants tend to spread along roadways and paths.
Caution is advised:  the bushes are prickly things, and tend to hang out among stinging nettle.
So it's fresh berries on good vanilla ice cream, and berries on morning cereal for the next few weeks, until the goodness stops, until the plants are picked bare.. . .it's okay, the crabapples are coming, and the farmer's markets are now starting to fill with early corn and greens and fresh tomatoes.  Oh, yes.

It's been hot here lately, with heat indexes in the low 100's some days.  We do have a solution of course:

Summer fare
Company and conversation and drinks under the drinking tree.  Yep.  Summer.

Another Gin and Tonic?  Um. . .sure.
Stay cool, folks.

More shortly,

Friday, July 1, 2016

New Sprit stuff

So today we got the new sail up and a new sprit cut.  The sail is laying much better.

MUCH better.
Now I just have to redo the block at the stern that controls the sheet, and we're set.  As it is, she's REALLY quick on the run.  Pointing needs some work.  Stay tuned.

Tomorrow night we have the fireworks on Middle River.  We'll probably go out into the absolute zoo of boats to watch them set off from a barge down by Sue Creek.  Should bee a fun evening if we don't get rammed by a boatload of drunks.

Pictures posted if survival successful.

More later