Category Archives: Spring Maintenance

Spring 19 Regular preseason S&P&V and . . . .

Come April 1st, Sam and Robin and Farlyn and Luke and Steve arrived to begin the annual spring sanding, painting, varnishing and cetoling. Tavish arrived a few days later.

There are hours and hours of dust and sand paper, but mixed in are a crazily disparate list of tasks needing completion. This year seemed especially hectic for me and I didn’t take enough photos, but here is a sampler of the month’s activity.

The usual fun begins with sanding the ship’s exterior . . Here ace kayak guide, Robin Humphreys gets to work . . .

and Luke leans into a special sanding tool he made to clean out the seams on the hull. Bystanders often think our hull is fiberglass and are surprised that it is original wood.

And skipper/daughter Farlyn working away . . .

And another Ace kayak guide, Sam Lam, decided to see what all the excitement was about in April . . . “Here’ this is a wire wheel. Clean my engine room floor boards.”

One of the consequences of redoing the front deck is that the underside of the deck is the ceiling of the forward stateroom and toilet. This might sound like a small detail, but it wasn’t. Number one, ALLLLLLLL the debris, (read rotten wood, shavings, sawdust, rusty bolts and drippy hydraulic oil) fell through the deck beams onto the bunks, toilet, vanity sink and floor below . . . And Tavish had meticulously resanded and painted and varnished this state room only two years ago . . . So I cleaned the room repeatedly to keep ahead of the debris and finally made new ceiling panels using the old ones as patterns. These were then painted and finally reinstalled, plus the hydraulic lines, water lines,  electrical connections and  ceiling lights . .

And the first exterior paint gets applied. We start on the top of the ship and work down . . .

The lazarette was completely emptied, vacuumed and painted. Here the removable floor boards are sanded and painted.

After much sanding the Cetol oil finish is applied to the gumwood . . .   

And whilst the sanding and paint of the ship proceeds, there are numerous side projects that get attended to . ..

Here Steve makes a replacement box for our spare life jackets . . .

I modified a book shelf in the salon to add critical library space aboard . . .

And I was fed up with replacing expensive waterproof kayak lifting winch controls that leaked and failed  . . . .so I designed my own controls out of mahogany and brass that are easy to maintain.

If anyone ever wonders why my tours are so expensive this photo might help them understand . . . The diesel fired water heater has three small sensors that regulate its operation. I goofed up and “blew” one of the overheat “fuses” and so when I ordered a replacement I thought I would get “spares” for the ship’s inventory . . .  2 of each, 6 total. . . .

You guess . . .        Well, it surprised me at $700.00 for the 3 little baggies!

And FINALLY the transom is DONE, DONE, DONE!!!!  Sanded, stained, 5 coats of varnish, new stainless steel ladder and crisp new name decal . . .  Now that was a lot of work. Phew!           THANK YOU, LUKE HYATT!!!!

Ah! The annual joy of getting the life-raft winched off the roof of the COLUMBIA III, transported to Victoria for inspection and returned to Sonora Island a month later. Here Steve meets me at the end of the road with my skiff. The sheet of plywood acted as a bridge between my truck backed into the water and the skiff with its special rack made to hold the life-raft . . .

Every two years, (if we are lucky and the guests have been behaving . . .)  Luke removes the salon table from the boat and takes it to his shop to refinish. Usually it only needs sanding, a couple of new coats of finish and a good polish to ‘shine’r’ up. Here the finished table travels across the bay by water . . .

Gets off loaded onto my dock . . .

and bolted back in place. I advise my passengers at the start of every tour to “Please treat the bright-work like it’s your Grandma’s coffee table!”

Every 12 years our CO2 cylinders need to be hydro-statically tested. That is easily said, but not easily done. The two cylinders weight over 150#s!!, have no handles and must come up a spiral staircase, go over the side of the CIII, onto the dock and then into a skiff that transports them by water to my truck waiting at the waters edge on the beach. Then they are loading into my pickup truck and driven to Campbell River 2 hours away and unloaded at the inspection depot. 2 weeks later, reverse the procedure . . . 

and here is a funny one . . . A wooden boat colleague recently retired and inquired if I was interested in his accumulated supply of edge-grain clear boat lumber. Unfortunately he forgot to confirm our rendezvous so I awoke to the sound of his text saying, “see you in two hours!”

“What!! The herring skiff was fully loaded with a pallet of cement and lumber for Steve’s construction project . . . So we scrambled to get the skiff unloaded and zip to Brown’s Bay where we meet the trailer of lumber precisely on time. Here Steve is lounging on the return home.

And into a shed for dry storage.

I need to accumulate good boat lumber when and where I am able.

Another little upgrade . . . we use a boarding ladder to climb aboard the COLUMBIA III at dockside. But we never had a real designated place to store the ladder whilst on tour. So I moved our EPIRB and created a spot and Luke created a custom ladder holder. Now the ladder is stowed and lashed and ready for inclement weather.

 

And yet another little project . . . two years ago Transport Canada asked me to move my 2 big CO2 cylinders into the engine room as a precaution against inadvertent leaks into the passenger accommodations . . .  but then TC contacted me to request I upgrade the protections on the system now located in the engine room. So after deep and ponderous thoughts, I found a CO2 detection system that could be modified. Now if my CO2 systems leaks CO2 into the engine room there is a warning (audio and visual) that alerts the crew and an exhaust fan is automatically triggered to vent the engine room too. But as Farlyn pointed out, I also needed to be able to disarm the system when I actually wanted to  fill the engine room with CO2 in the event of a fire . . . So a new switch and placard and updated Standard Operation Procedures Manual.. Here is my rough schematic. . .

And one of the displays located outside the engine room compartment.

And the real sign that we are getting close to being done is when the decks get refinished. No more dust or paint drips or even shoes are allow now!!!

And the biggest day of the year when the ship comes out of the shed, polished, painted, sparkling and glinty into the bright light of day.

WOW!!!!! YAY!!!!!!!!!! PHEW!!!!!!!!

And the masts go up, with Tavish in the rigging . . .

There she is!

And another project!!! I added a new weather station sensor, a new anemometer and a transducer that reads sea level temperature. These were then tied into the main ship’s computer for display on the navigation program. The photo below shows my wiring of the various components. Projects like these take a lot of time as I have to learn the system requirements, figure out what is needed and then try to squeeze it all in somewhere in the wheel house in a logical, tidy manner . . .

The weather station sensor.

Once the ship is painted and cleaned, all the mattresses, bedding, towels, books and kayaking supplies move from my house down to ship. When we start making beds with quilts and pillow cases we know we are getting close!

And the annual emergency flashlight battery replenishment . . .

Here some of the crew are engaged in the annual spring recurrent training. There are usually several upgrades to procedures and the Standard Operating Procedures manual to review.

Before our annual Transport Canada dockside inspection we test all the safety equipment including the fire fighting pumps and hoses.

We must be getting close to completion. Three copies of my “Pre-Dockside Inspection Report” are finally completed.

And finally the ship is PERFECT for the arrival of our Transport Canada Inspector. I try to get everything ready for him. Here is the wheel house waiting for his inspection. Important documents laid out and the contents of our Abandon Ship bag on display.

Essential gear ready for easy inspection in the tender as well.

And yet again, despite lazing around all winter, despite completely neglecting the COLUMBIA III in the off-season, despite financial neglect and inattention to detail, our Transport Canada inspector begrudgingly issued a safety inspection certificate for another year . . . Phew!.  Scraped by for another year. I guess I should try harder to maintain the old girl.

Maybe next winter I’ll get around to doing some maintenance on her . . . . .

Shipyard. Spring 2019

Ok Ok, Trying to get the ship ready for the season AND write about it is kinda crazy so this is going to be quick.

The COLUMBIA III comes out of  the water every year for at least a minimal wash, inspection, anti-fouling paint job, and replacement of zincs. In boater talk this is called “a shave and a hair cut.” Other years require more in-depth procedures like pulling the rudder off and drive shaft out for Transport Canada to inspect. But this was an “off year” and therefore a smaller work load for me. Except, that is, that I cut my bow iron off.

As I say every year, I NEVER like seeing the COLUMBIA III lifted high out of the water, “It just don’t seem NATURAL!” And I never really relax until she is safely back in the water again.

Here she comes out and I have my first peek at her undersides since last May, 2018.

 

The first order of business was for me to sand the water-line gumwood. It seems like the ship is 150 feet long when I am holding a heavy sander up on the top of a step ladder. Add the poor visibility of a face respirator and you have all the makings of a fun few days!  

Here’s a quick step back in time . . . another project was to make a mount for a new transducer for a second sounder. This will enable me to have sea water temperature readings in the wheel house. Cool and useful for research tracking for the local First Nations . . .

and here is the finished product. I think this particular job required at least 87 trips between the chapel bilge on the INSIDE of the vessel, up the internal stairs, out the door, along the side deck, down the 15′ shipyard staircase and crawl on my hands and knees to the point on the OUTSIDE of the hull where the new transducer was going to go . . . . only to realize I’d left the wrench I needed back inside . . .  it’s good exercise working without a helper on the INSIDE.

 

and then new bow iron . . . .  It is always good to remain flexible . . .

I had planned on having the bow iron made out of regular steel. This would require the iron to be fabricated in place on the ship, then removed and shipped to Vancouver to be galvanized and then reinstalled on the ship . . . But after a whole day with two welders attempting to make the iron in mild steel, the welders vetoed my plan. They felt there was no way to make the iron in place that would not cause it to spring inwards upon removal for galvanizing. They felt I would never get the iron back onto the ship. So they suggested I switch to stainless steel that they could form and secure in place on the ship. So, on day two they started again. Here they ran a new SS bar down the stem and tacked the side plates on.

There was much bending, prying and trimming before I added many, many tubes of Sika FLex  sealant to the hull before the plates were welded into place. I was able to locate the forward most oak rib in the for’csle and I ran 1/2″ SS bolts thru to pull the side plates against the hull. It was satisfying to see the sealant squeezing out along all the edges. These bolts were then carefully welded in place and the nuts cut off leaving a flush but secure fastening. The 1/2″ x 5″ SS lag screws that hold the bar against the gumwood stem were also welded in place and ground off flush after.

The existing portion of the bow iron that was well below water-line had not deteriorated and the new SS sections were welded into the lower portions of the existing iron.

And the boot top!!! . . .  The shipyard  crews were supposed to do the waterline detail but they were too busy . . . . so I did it myself. I do love working on the tippy top of a step ladder . . . Here’s a dusty me, getting the water line ready . . .

and taping the waterline . . .

and painting the black boot-top stripe . . .

Getting pretty shiny!        

I also painted the draft marks carefully. . . . very carefully!      The gumwood was sanded and refinished as far up as I could reach standing on the top of a step ladder. The rest can be done from a paint float in the boat shed. Starting April 1st.     

Oops! . . . . how did this picture of my grand-daughter, Maeve, slip in here  .. . . .?

The new bow iron in all its glory! The best part about the new stainless steel bow iron is that now, when the swinging anchor bumps the bow iron, it will not chip off the zinc coating and it will not rust!!!! YAY!!!!

And one week ahead of time, (because I didn’t need to ship the bow iron to Vancouver to get galvanized) the COLUMBIA III slipped back into the water.

The new bow iron gets wets!

And I am finally home. Shipyard alone is a lot of work for me. Now to get ready for the REAL work to begin with the crews, April 1st!  But that’s the next post . . . . .

 

Wash and Sand and Wash and Paint and Varnish and Cetol and . . . .

OK! OK! The COLUMBIA III  season has begun. She is already up the coast with guests aboard. Farlyn is skippering and I have a few days to finish this spring-painting blog before it all gets too stale in my mind . . .  One last bloggy push at the keyboard. Hang on to your hats, more super boring, behind the scenes wooden boat invisible magic . . . .

So the boat returns to the shed after the ship yard stint. Now the real fun begins!

The general plan is to start on the roof and work down.  We sand all the  painted surfaces and then wash. We do not sand the brightwork surfaces at this time as the fine paint dust seems to get embedded into the brightwork if the paint dust lands on the sanded varnish. So we sand the painted areas, then wash and usually paint before we even touch the brightwork. It is best to have the boat all freshly painted and clean before we take on the brightwork. We then clean the decks and do them last after we are done dripping and spilling.`

It is never good for finishes on a wooden boat to get too thick. Actually this is a very common mistake. Heavy layers of paint actually lock the moisture in the wood and hasten rot. Therefore we have a loose system of stripping some portion of the boat to bare wood each year. 2018 was the year to do the inside surface of the bulwarks on the forward 2/3’s of the ship. We did the aft 1/3 a few years ago and Luke had already been working on the bulwarks so this was the natural time to torch off the old white paint . . .

This is also a great way to check for deteriorating wood. Here you can see some staining by a hawse hole ring. The wood is still completely sound but that dark stain needs to be watched closely.

And the hull gets its annual S&P.

Ace kayak guide Robin Humphreys decided to learn more about the process that keeps her mothership looking so shiny!

Last year we experimented with trying to get two seasons out of the wheelhouse paint job. It worked well enough, but now we had to do the entire wheelhouse again. Hopefully we won’t do the wheel house white again until 2020.

The 60+ year old “smoke stack” had some crummy rusty spots on the metal so Luke ground them out and filled the area in with epoxy. The “stack” is an aesthetic accouterment.

Many small components are transferred to the workshop for sanding and refinishing. In the first weeks of April the  3-6 degree C outside temperature in the boat shed can mean slow drying times for washing, filling and painting. Its good to have some projects in the shop . . . beside the wood stove! Here Farlyn and Robin try to look busy when I walk in with the camera.

Hatches, cupboard doors . . .

stairs, running light boxes, hand rails . . .

more back-deck cupboard doors . . .

life jacket boxes and fire bucket boxes, freezer box lid . . . .

kayak life jacket racks . . .

Aft deck drawer fronts . . .

. . .  ship’s lettering . . . See the toy tugboat on the shop window sill! I made that for Miray in 1984 when she turned one. It’s in for an “overhaul”.

And then the first paint starts to go on!!! No more dust!!

This and Robin and Steve with their “It’s almost quitting time!!” smiles . . .

Even Skye wanted part of the fun . . .  it is always good to share . . .

Hey that Brightsides green gloss paint is pretty darn shiny!

. . . . and the white . . .

Of course the “office” never sleeps! Steve, Farlyn and I are up for lunch and Miray stops by to help keep ahead of bookkeeping, parks permits and emails . . . ..Yes, I know we don’t always return emails as quickly as we might!

The guard rails get scuffed by tie up lines and fenders. So, despite crew protests, (“Dad, they look fine for another year!” ) I forced the crews to strip the guards to bare wood, re-sand, re-stain and re-finish with 2 coats of Cetol marine gloss clear.

  

Of course I was NOT loafing. The finishing touches when into the C02 cylinder relocation. . .

These are high pressure hoses that needed a hydrostatic test to ensure they were still in good working condition.

Another little upgrade. A tank level monitor for fuel and black water . . .

And I had some rewiring in the main AC panel to make the #1 inverter easier to remove for maintenance . . . ie the wires were too short when I installed the new inverters last spring and it bugged me!           

The continuing saga of the blackwater system upgrade. Here the tanks are getting re-installed.

New work bench matting as the fittings on the new tank ended up in just a bit different places . .

matting installed . . .

Small project # 445283. I installed a new aft kayak hoist and upgraded the control cords. I think 96.3% of all tools in the engine room are used on every project . . . but I always bring them up one at a time!

And as the painting gets completed (ie no more dust) we can sand and varnish the exterior bright work.

The galley is a very high-use area. It takes the most wear and tear of the inside of the ship. Here, Robin and Farlyn strip wires and shelving and sand a portion of the galley walls.

When the bulk of the drippy painting is done, the decks get “de-specked”, vacuumed and masked off for the non-skid coat. We re-do the non-skid every two years. The decks get too slippery if we leave it for three years.

Here one crew rolls, one cuts the edges and one sprinkles sand onto the fresh finish.

And then 2 days later the decks get done again to seal down the non-skid sand.

With winch painted and the decks done, Farlyn and Steve roll the cable and chain rode back onto the anchor winch drum.

Just to add to the mayhem, Nick on the research vessel ACHIEVER came for a week to use our shop and tools. It was our small way of helping support  the Raincoast Conservation Foundation.

The Achiever pulls out of Diamond Bay with a few improvements to help them meet Transport Canada compliance.

Our salon table gets refinished and re-polished almost every year. Last year we tried a new epoxy finish designed to last YEARS on hard wood floors. Tavish and master table refinisher, Luke Hyatt, inspect the table closely for signs of wear and unsightly tear. This cracked team of experts concluded the table refinishing could wait until next year . . .  then they quit for the day . . . .

Well, perhaps Luke went and finished installing the new cabinet he made to fit the spot the C02 cylinders occupied for the last 30 years.

Another skipper-behind-the-scenes project. The galley faucet was getting loose and worn and I decided it was best to replace it now rather than at some awkward time mid season. But of course the exact replacement faucet was new and improved and its dimensions were different . . . So I spent quite a bit of time IN the sink cabinet chiselling wood and “stuff”.

And every year I lift the engine room aluminum floor plates and vacuum and hand scrub the bilge. It’s a good time to check for wear and tear . . . . You can see one of the lighter coloured planks we installed a few years back.

The tender is painted and lowered back into the water to make room for the COLUMBIA III to leave the shed.

Oh this is EXCITING!!! we are getting down to the little details!!

And the gate gets opened . . . .

ALL HANDS ON DECK !!!!!

THE COLUMBIA III IS COMING OUT OF THE SHED FOR THE NEXT 5 MONTHS!!!!

(God willing, as my mother use to say!)

Pull THEO!                           56 tons vs 56 pounds . . . .

“Grandpa!!!! I can’t hold it!!!”

AHHHHH!!!!!! The boat is finally out of the shed! This is HUGE! This is AMAZING! I feel like crying and laughing but I just gaze down from my window and sigh . . . “What a lot of work . . . ”

Of course, we’re not done. Just the projects are less dusty. Hundreds of little details to attend to. Here Theo, assisted with a small bowl of raisins, is learning how to lash kayak paddle racks onto a stanchion. Tavish does the neatest lashing so he has become the “go-to” man for all the lashing.

All the emergency flashlights (with glow in the dark markings) have the batteries preemptively replaced at the start of every season.

Here’s a make work project. I noticed a small kerosene leak under the roof top day tank. This supplies the cozy “fireplace” with fuel. We keep this stove going 24/7/365. I erroneously thought a fitting was loose . . . but upon removing the tank to investigate I found a small corrosion pit in the aluminum side wall of the tank . . . . oopsey! My screw driver pushed right through in several spots! The 1/4″ thick aluminum was shot.

So I sketched up a plan to give a metal fabricator in Campbell River . . . .

Fitted out with the appropriate bits . . .

Raised onto the roof and . . .

. . . magically installed back on the roof.

And Theo hands Steve screws, one at a time . . .  The final brass rub strips go back onto the guards.

I spliced new hand lines on the tender . . .

A season’s worth of wine is stored . . .

3 new double kayaks to keep our fleet in top form . . .

. . .  and a final inspection by Transport Canada. The boat shiny and all safety gear was on display . . .

So this blog post draws to a close . . .

Here’s a cool shot. This is taken from Miray’s living room window.

All of time is a river, and paths cross and uncross. This is one of those note-worthy intersections. The fish boat in the foreground is my skipper, Dennis’s. At 83, Dennis is Theo’s great grand uncle. The next vessel is Luke’s dad’s sailboat, Theo’s other grandpa. The next boat is Uncle Tavish’s and then the Columbia III sits ready for the 2018 season. What are the odds that Theo might end up with a boat in his future??

So the COLUMBIA III is ready for another season. We do not own the COLUMBIA III. We are her custodians for this portion of her existence. We hope she will be sailing long after I have retired and gone to the happy Sea in the Sky. Here Farlyn leaves Diamond Bay on her own with the COLUMBIA III. If all goes well the ship will not be back home until mid October, almost 5 months from now.

As Farlyn is skippering the first tour of the season I am home alone. I awoke that first morning with a start looking down from my bedroom window.

Where’s the COLUMBIA III ?????”

Ahhh, off with Farlyn. All well.

May our 2018 season be safe and fun and viable for all: Guests, Crews, Ship, and all sundry folks and boats that cross paths with the COLUMBIA III this 2018 Spring, Summer and Fall.