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 . . . . .

 

Winter 18/19 . . . a few, wee projects on the go . . .

Ok, This is supposed to be the maintenance blog of the COLUMBIA III. I have been collecting a few photos over the winter and dropping them in this post for later assembly into a coherent, cogent, witty and illuminating wooden boat testimonial . . .

But now it is March and I am in the shipyard working on the underwater component of our maintenance schedule and as I start to assemble this blog I review the photos and edit the duds and the repeats and try to build a story . .  but I am exhausted. A few days in the shipyard, chasing welders and getting the hull ready for anti-fouling has left me weary. Today was a big day. I was out sanding the water-line boot-top and gumwood from 7-9 am and then the welders showed up to create a new stainless steel bow iron. That was almost 7 hours with the welders without a stop. I tried to suggest a coffee but they didn’t bite. “Just get us a glass of water . . .”

So here is a look back on the winter’s projects and I weary just reviewing the first steps we made last fall. There is nothing more “classic wooden ship” then digging into a potential Pandora’s Box when a fool (read “Ross”) decides to make some aspect of the ship a little bit more ship-shape.

The tale starts like this . . .

Last fall, my good friend, Mark, came for a visit and tied to my dock for a few days.

Ross, is there anything I can help you with?”
“No, no. There’s nothing really.”

“Well, If I don’t have anything to do then I am going to leave tomorrow . . ”

“Ahhh, It depends on what you mean by “helping”, Mark. If you mean putting in long hours of dirty grinding and sanding and wearing respirators and hearing protection then you can help. If you mean keeping your town clothes unsullied, then you will want to move to a quieter bay for tomorrow night.”

So Mark said he wanted to work . . . and here he is bringing a paint float into place for me.

I started the winter with a process of triage.

#1. The bow iron has been bugging me for years. It was rusty and perilously thin. Paint would no longer stay on it and I recoated it several times a summer to hide the ugly rusty bare metal.  So this was the winter to do something about it. I wanted to take a look in behind the metal early enough in the winter that I could allocate time for major repairs if I found anything scary lurking behind the plates.

So with Mark holding the paint float steady I beavered away with a cutting disc to remove the old bow iron. . . actually about 10 cutting discs . . .

I couldn’t cut off the metal below the water-line, but I could take off enough to see the gumwood bow stem was still in good shape. Sigh. Nightmare #2,334 averted. (You might gather that I am prone to 2am restless sleeps imagining the WORST outcomes . . .) But I didn’t need to replace the bow stem and I would budget extra time in the spring shipyard to get the metal replaced.

So . . . #2. “Mark, let’s now cut off the rusty, deck staining anchor roller off the front deck and see what we find . . .

Extra covering to protect our fine ship . . .

And it came as no surprise that some of the Douglas Fir decking that had been hidden for 60 years was rotten. We had never had a deck leak but I guess the metal plate was acting as a sealant.

With this new information, I decided to remove the anchor winch to see what was under IT! (It is handy having a steel framed shed over head for a lifting point!)

I used a second come-along to pull the winch over the boat shed walkway.

It was winter, daylight was short and I worked nights as well . . .

I used a tiger torch, scrapers and a heavy duty sander to expose the rest of the fore deck.

I almost melted my phone trying to capture this selfie!

And if we were going to redo the front deck, the forward hatch coaming had to come off too. Here I used a circular saw to whittle it down . . .

 

“Gee, the forc’sle just got really dirty and drafty!”

#3. Well, we didn’t seem to have enough joy in our ship-maintenance life so we thought we might look for more fun in our transom . . .  I have always been noticing that we had a hard time keeping the varnish on the transom looking perfect. It tended to get cloudy too quickly and we had been stripping the whole transom to bare wood every two years trying to keep it looking acceptable. Something was wrong and I wanted to find out.

As the stern was made of two layers of 3/4″ mahogany planks we thought we would remove the outer layer and see what was going on . . . This is were Luke jumps in with glee and I have to look away and kinda peek over my shoulder to see what he is doing. . . . POOR COLUMBIA III !!

And we found the problem. At some point in the restoration of the COLUMBIA III during the 1990’s, the stern was replaced, but the shipwrights erroneously constructed the two layers of mahogany without any ship’s felt or sealant between the layers. Water was therefore getting in and being trapped between the layers. Despite being above the water line, the boards in both layers were soaking wet. It was no wonder that we had trouble getting the varnish to stick . . . So, in for a penny in for a pound,   Luke and I removed the galvanized swim grid and got serious!

Wow! The lazarette just got so much more ventilation!!

I think Luke gets just a little too happy taking my boat apart  . . . I guess it does help him finance his winter!

So now we had our winter’s work laid out for us. Luke took on the reconstruction of the front deck and the transom and I went back to my usual invisible maintenance chores. I tend to do the more menial tasks and Luke takes on the jobs that require his fancy wood and metal working skills. As the weather stayed a chilly -3-7 degrees C, Luke alternated between the front of the boat and the transom. If something was gluing, he might take some time on the bow. If it was really cold, he’d retreat to his shop to prepare his materials or work on the new deck box.

So whilst Luke proceeded on the projects with clear objectives that he can budget his time around, i chip away on the smaller, fiddlier details.

#4 thru to 386 . . . We have always had difficulty with a pair of fresh water tanks under our #4 stateroom bunks. They would often air-lock, not fill completely or seem to not drain completely. A better venting system was on the long term “to-do” list.  Then last summer a very high pressure marina fresh water hose was used that split one of the two tanks . . . I managed a temporary patch for the last month of the season but the tanks needed replacing.

Here are two new tanks with new fittings installed on the dock. I carried them down and installed them under the bunk in stateroom #4. While I was in there, i added a new 3/4″ vent line magically snaked through the engine room and the salon and out the side of the deckhouse.

I didn’t like how the tanks where held in place so I used  “the-old-scraps-of-wood-and-glue-gun” technique for making some patterns and found some nice clear yellow cedar for a support system . ..

and the leather sofa, yes, yes the most comfortable place IN THE WORLD to have a morning coffee, was showing signs of wear and it seemed perilously thin. It would seem like a simple matter but it took a long time to find an upholstery expert up to the task of repairs.  Then all I had to do was shrink wrap a 110% water proof packaging and drive the 5 hours to Victoria from Sonora Island to drop it off.

and the ship’s emergency radio battery bank needed replacement and an ancillary 120VAC charger upgraded . . .

and two new maple cutting boards made for the galley as per chef’s request . . .

and install a new transmission pressure gauge in the wheelhouse in an unused spot on the panel . . .

and add back lighting for all the gauges . . .

and . . . .get the swim grid to Campbell River and borrow a flat deck truck and a helper from  the shipyard and get it to a sand blaster to clean it and then get it to the freight company north of town and ship it to Vancouver and get it re galvanized and get it shipped back to Campbell River and borrow the flat deck truck again and move it back to the boat launching ramp in Campbell River and bring it back to Sonora Island by skiff . . .      

Meanwhile, Luke kept working . . . We decided it would be best if he dissembled the front deck planks so he could make patterns if required as the pieces came off.

Here, the new clear fir starts to go back on. The deterioration of the decking thankfully did not transfer into the deck beams. The “bad” was removed and the solid deck beams were ready to receive new planks. As we still have left over 3 1/2″ silicone bronze #14 screws left over from refastening the hull, we used these to secure the deck planks.   

OH!!! These shots really warm my heart! Look at that BEAUTIFUL new wood that will be securely holding my anchor winch next summer!!! Gawd!!! Luke does nice work! . . . I’d stop by the front deck and gasp, “Luke! I love you!!”   I hope he’s used to having a weird father-in-law by now . . .

and a new clear yellow cedar deck hatch made in his shop and now bolted down.

When it came time to caulk the decks my Skipper and Mentor for the last 47 years, Dennis, came to demonstrate the fine art of cotton and oakum  . . .  Grandson Theo listened in too.

Although the two projects proceeded simultaneously, I have kept the photos in two separate threads here to keep you sleepy readers from blacking out in boredom . . .

Here the first inner layer mahogany plank is getting installed . . .

and for your sake, I haven’t included a photo of each plank as it went on but this process happened over about a 30 day period.

The last board is jacked into place with small hydraulic jacks.

and teak covering boards over the ends.

I am particularly happy with the results. We changed the construction method and screwed the first layer of planks to the vertical frames, but the second layer was COMPLETELY bedded with Sika Flex sealant and secured with screws from the inside of the vessel. This eliminated dozens and dozens of exterior screw heads that would have  required to be counter sunk and plugged. All the tiny plugs were a big source of water incursion in the transom before we started.

and of course, I gave the renewed swim grid two coats of epoxy primer to better protect it . . .

and drilled and tapped holes for holding on the new rubber bumper . . .  Now that was sticker shock! . .  20 feet of rubber . . . everything else was renewed, I may as well replace the rubber while I’m at it .  .    It was $60 per foot!

The final fairing and sanding commenced . . .

. . . adjustments to the swim grid pads . . .

One coat of varnish and we re hung the swim grid . . . This took about 4 hours for the two of us.

 

WOW! That looks spectacular, Luke!!

And the shipyard date was fast approaching and Luke was working long, long days to get the ship ready to leave her protective shed.

Yes, that is a lot of masking tape to ensure the sealant stayed where Luke wanted it.

Cotton, oakum and then sealant . . .  getting close!

Mixed in with all this, Luke welded up an new deck plate for the #2 anchor rode. I shipped it to Vancouver and it was also galvanized. I had the roller sand blasted and italso made the trip to the galvanizer in Vancouver. Here I am epoxy coating the pieces in a spare bedroom. My shop was too cold . . .

 

And Luke created new gumwood bedding blocks for the anchor winch with new stainless bolts

Yay!!! The new deck plate that started this whole restoration was finally back in place. Now, what is not wonderful about this!!!

Complete with a new stainless steel bolt tapped by a machine shop for an inset grease nipple and grease channel .

The anchor winch swings aboard hours before the boat is due out of the shed. Luke’s timing on the two month long project is down to the wire! Here Luke’s dad is helping out . . . The other Grandpa.

Then the gate swings open. Push Theo!

Now, Pull Theo!

A temporary spare anchor for the trip to Campbell River. The main rode is still lying on my dock.

And I woke up with the COLUMBIA III sitting outside my window ready to head to the shipyard. Whew!, That was some winter of laying around doing nuthin!

Later that afternoon, I pulled away from my dock, headed for the shipyard and that adventure! 

I guess my company name is “Mothership Adventures!”

All these wonderful behind-the-scenes, wooden boat maintenance ADVENTURES!!!