“Rust never sleeps,” is the saying around the coast if you own a ship of steel construction. If one owns a wooden vessel it is, “Rot never sleeps”. But now I have a new menace lurking in the dusky corners of my consciousness, creeping like a damp fog into each spare or leisurely moment I snatch from the jaws of my self-employment. If I ever relax for even just a moment the guilt wracked thought strikes me, “The blog! I haven’t written in the blog!”
A few days ago I transported a new generator home in the back of the skiff. It was balanced precariously as Tavish veered through the whirlpools crossing the mouth of the fearsome Hole In The Wall rapids . . . Now that was blogworthy! But I was hanging on too tightly to even think of my camera until much later. Actually, after wrestling the heavy and expensive load out of the skiff after 5 days of travel to Victoria and Vancouver for meetings, I finally collapsed into bed, pulled the covers over my head and was just drifting off to my well earned sleep . . . when the thought hit me like an icy gale, “The blog! I should have taken a picture for the blog”. And the corollary,
“The blog never sleeps!”
So here is my winter’s blog. It is malnourished and underfed. But heck, I do have a few excuses up my sleeve. It’s up to you, the Reader, to decide if my excuses hold water, so to speak.
Therefore I commence:
After a punishing winter last year of way, way, WAY too much work on the COLUMBIA III, and then a totally grueling summer on the water with, well you know, great guests from around the world, and well, great food, and certainly great wildlife and great paddling and yes, hanging out on the coolest boat on the coast, (I know you can feel my pain) . . .
Well after such abject hardship I really thought I needed a holiday. I had this image of what I deserved and how much I deserved it, and it went something like this:
I was going to go home. I was going to park the COLUMBIA III in her shed and totally ignore her. I was going to leave my dusty, glue crusty coveralls down in the workshop and I was going to sip coffee, curl up with a stack of good books, and watch the world go by my seashore window . . . . wow, that would have been so nice.
But our daughter, Farlyn, stopped by before I had my first sip of coffee. I was actually just making my first pot upon arrival back at Diamond Bay with the COLUMBIA III at the end of last season when she “popped by” to say “hi”, catch up on the news and drop the daughter-bomb:
“Hey dad, now that you’re finally home, and I know you don’t have much planned, I could sure use help finishing the spiral stair case Jody roughed in. You are such a good wood worker, Daddy Dearest”.
You know the routine, smiling daughter, ego-puffed dad . . . Just a few weeks of measuring, planing, gluing, sanding and installing later:
(Funny, where did that really nice, clear old growth boat lumber go?)
“And Daddy Dearest, we really don’t have any place to put our dishes” . . .
“Or our cups . . . “
Or our pots and utensils . . .
To be fair, I offered to help Farlyn that first morning – the one before I had a chance to sit quietly and gaze wisely out the window. I’m just trying to use Farlyn as an excuse to have a break from the COLUMBIA III. Plus, what dad doesn’t want to hang out with his daughter in his workshop on either side of a roaring thickness planer??!
Then the COLUMBIA III was really calling me.
“Ross, I’m feeling neglected”.
But then granddaughter Maeve turned 1 and she really, really needed a wooden pull toy. And no, I have no idea, except it looks like a chipmunk head stuck on Ogo Pogo.
But you know family dynamics, just as I was getting ready, really ready to knuckle down to working in the COLUMBIA III, Farlyn’s older sister dropped a few pretty clear hints to me that she had her nose seriously out of joint because I was helping Farlyn so much. Naturally, the only clear solution was to make something for Miray to get myself back in the good books of Mothership Adventures’ office manager.
Here is a new hat and mitt trunk for Miray and Luke’s entrance way.
Selfie in dusty, glue crusty coveralls in sub-zero temperatures making the corner posts for Miray’s trunk.
Fancy “slow close” pistons to keep wee grand children’s fingers safe.
“Gee, I seriously thought I had more clear boat lumber in my shop. Where is it disappearing? . . .”
But you know how it goes . . .
I seemed to be in the shop quite a bit so it was “only natural” that I give April a hand with a “few” new shelves for her sail boat:
I am a hack wood worker, but I seemed to be able to wow April, which was pretty fun.
35 years of making stuff in this 20’x36′ shop I built before Miray was born.
And a nice little fir table for April.
But despite my modest philanthropy, I did keep the COLUMBIA III projects inching forward. (Well, late at night after everyone else was asleep. Long hours, brutal conditions, heroic stamina. All the manly grit required for a Post Doc in Marine Voodoo).
Here is one little project I worked on this winter: I decided the ship would be safer if I was able to remotely shut down all electrical power. This might be a really good idea if there was an electrical fire in the engine room. To date, the Master would have to run into the potentially smokey engine room to manually shut-off the 4 battery switches. A much better and safer solution was to purchase and install 4 remote battery shut-off switches.
But, if one shuts off the power the ship will also get really, really dark as all the lights go out! Mmm . . . Maybe it would be a good idea to have a relay sense this power-loss and automatically illuminate a string of emergency lights located at strategic locations like companionways, stairs and Muster station . . . Gee, I wonder how Dr. M. Vodoo could arrange that?
Well, a little head scratching, some research, and homespun electrical schematics:
And then just gathering a “few” supplies (brass plate, remote battery switches, painted backing board, wire, circuit breakers, emergency lighting control relay etc) and just a little bit of work at the kitchen table (read: not cold boat shed)
. . . and it’s ready for installing on the boat.
Here it is, installed, wired, labeled and protected with a Lexan shield.
But the wheelhouse is a long ways from the engine room and I had to find space for a bunch more wires and a small control panel in my densely equipped wheelhouse. A second pipe was installed (and painted two colours) to bring in the new wires . . .
Which wire goes where?
And finally equipped with the 4 new remote battery switches.
Remember I still needed 6 new LED emergency lights installed throughout the ship. But the COLUMBIA III can’t just have fancy brass dome lights. No, no, no, the new lights have to match the existing lights, and they have nice shiny smooth and curvy varnished mahogany bases, of course . . .
Here is the Chapel stair case’s new and automatic emergency lighting.
And the aft companion way emergency lighting illuminating the evacuation plans and the exit stairs. The new lights look pretty simple unless you think of the 200 feet of wire I Houdini’d invisibly throughout the ship. (or is it Voodoo’d?)
At least the work in the shop was broken up by relaxing and fun (read hectic) trips to town with my shopping list of boat errands . . .
Working nights between daughter projects . . .
Here is another little “Ross Project” that is also a safety upgrade.
I had previously installed a propane shut-off switch in the galley to ensure the propane was electrically shut off at the main tank at all times unless the galley stove was in use. But I like things that shut-off when they get too hot as well. We have heat detectors to sound alarms if anything gets out of control, but wouldn’t it be better if the stove sensed the overheat condition and shut itself off?
Ok, you get the trend. Another schematic got sketched and more Google research for a suitable thermal switch . . .
I had to use a drop sheet to cover the big galley range to catch the stainless steel shavings from the modifications, have a placard made and install the new panel . . .
Now this is pretty cool, even for a Dr. M. Voodoo like me. If the galley range gets too warm it shuts off the propane before the alarm sensor has a chance to wake up!
And when I wasn’t in my shop or on the COLUMBIA III, I was attempting to keep the office “afloat”. I apologize if I was slow to reply to your email . . . .
And here is a HUGE fir log our licensed beach-combing daughter Farlyn found . . . more boat lumber!
Oh ya, and I installed two new inverters in the engine room to replace the 20 year old units that I inherited with the ship. Of course these required a new brass plate to hold the digital control panels and a bunch of drilling, cutting, wiring, and zap strapping cable bundles.
By this time, Spring is now just around the corner and I am getting ready for the real work to begin on sanding and painting and varnishing the COLUMBIA III.
I thought it was time to make the shed more efficient. New storage shelves, tool bench and tool box area and 260 feet of Tech cable to have 120VAC outlets more accessible for the sanding tools around the ship.
But just when I started to despair with my work load, Tavish amazingly volunteered to strip, sand, paint, repaint, varnish and reassemble 3 staterooms. Really, he volunteered! A very, very dusty, smelly, tedious, finicky job. “Go Tav Go!”
With the COLUMBIA III, we try to keep her looking really “top drawer”. But for this to be maintained, we need to repaint areas that don’t really look that bad. We never want someone to say, “Well, that needs repainting” We can’t have the ship look that bad. So we refinish things that don’t look like they need refinishing. Cool!
Tavish sanding the forward stateroom.
And painting . . .
And the ship gets pretty messy . . .
The staterooms have an immense amount of surface area and facets with all the exposed deck beams and trim detail. Tavish is certainly the guy for the job as he has very high standards.
Here April caught Tavish in a contemplative moment.
And as I was headed to Victoria for meetings anyhow, the liferaft joined me for its annual re-inspection.
And here is the new generator waiting to get installed. You know the one. The one that I didn’t take a photo of as we negotiated the whirlpools . . .
The old generator being uninstalled . . . Not quite as simple as hitting the “Uninstall” button on my laptop.
The old and the new generator weigh 320 pounds each and it takes a lot sliding, come-alonging, winching and back-straining shuffling to get the old one out and the new one in.
And now a bunch of wires, hoses and stuff to get it up and running . . .
And just to add to the fun, Nick and Yas showed up to help Tavish de-hardware, sand and varnish the salon. Wow! Three people can sure dismantle my ship with alarming speed.
Lots of bits and pieces to sand and varnish.
But the varnish is going back on! It looks very, very shiny.
And I stayed out of the way in the engine room working on small projects: a new hour meter on the water maker . . .
An upgraded control panel for the diesel fired water heater:
Plus the new panel installed:
All the while the salon got shinier and shinier!
Phew! That’s enough typing for one night. Enough already . . . . But . . .
Hey! There are those same dusty crusty coveralls. I think I had them on most days this winter. (Not Christmas dinner). I think the fashion is catching on. Check out Tavish.
But never get me wrong. I love dusty crusty coveralls, my shop, my boat, my business, this coast
and my family.
Next stop is the shipyard, and then, well then, we can start to really get down to the business of ship’s maintenance when the April 1st crews show up.
Someday I must sit at my window and read a book. That sounds so cozy.