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 . . . . .