Monthly Archives: May 2014

Getting Close!

So the big day came! The COLUMBIA III came out of the shed, one step closer to being ready for our up coming season. The kayaks that hung out of the way all winter in the rafters of the shed get lowered on to the mothership.IMGP5925

A little gymnastics . . . IMGP5929

The emergency towline was reloaded into the clean and freshly painted lazarette. . . .IMGP5930

The life raft loaded back into is rack after a 3 week visit to Victoria for its annual inspection . . . IMGP5931

The gate was opened . . . IMGP5933

and out she went!IMGP5935

After all the dust and sticky wet paint and varnish, grandson, Theo, is finally allowed back aboard.IMGP5936 IMGP5941

Auntie/skipper/cook, Farlyn and papa/skipper/lead kayak guide/son-in-law, Luke  assist the “exit strategy”, with Theo directing.tavishcampbell-3882


” Boy oh boy! These are big ropes!”tavishcampbell-3900

I am told by previous guests that I don’t have enough photos of Theo on this post . . . so here is my obligatory grandson shot.tavishcampbell-3902

And a new stage of labours begins. The bedding and books and lifejackets and mattresses and towels all make the journey down form the house to the dock.IMGP5950

And the masts are winched back upright.IMGP5952

And the rigging re-connected.  IMGP5953

Here is a “boaty” little detail. We had 1″ diameter steel rods as “stairs” up the midship shrouds. These silly bars dripped rust on the decks despite being sanded and painted every year. I finally “bit the bullet” and bought some 1″ solid brass bar to replace them with. I think I should have bought them years ago! Even at $2.50/inch, the 16 feet of brass could have paid for itself over the years. Tavish lashed these on very tightly to prevent them from slipping down.IMGP5955


and a shot from the water of “home”.IMGP5961

and one from the kitchen window.IMGP5966

Then we were off to Campbell River for inspections! The ship gets its propane system inspected, and its engine, and its fire extinguishers, and its engine room fire suppression system, and its emergency radio system is inspected by the Canadian Coast Guard.IMGP5967


We also had the new radar installation completed by the technician and powered up. “Oh goodie! A new complex addition in the wheel house to learn about”  : Heads-up, north-up, AIS and GPS enabled.


And all of Fern’s recipe testing and menu building and food ordering results in LOTS of food stuffs arriving by truck to be loaded onto the boat and stowed in crazy corners of the ship.IMGP5972  IMGP5979 IMGP5982

And finally our big day, the Transport Canada Ship Safety inspection. I bring out all the safety gear, have the fire hoses unrolled and the nozzles lashed to the stanchions so I can demonstrate the pumps without showering the yachts in the next slip with salt water. I have out the flares and pumps, and emergency tiller and first aid gear. I even have all our required paperwork displayed.

And we did get passed. Whew! That was a close call.IMGP6019 IMGP6020 IMGP6021 IMGP6022 IMGP6023

And now the last night at home for the COLUMBIA III for the next 41/2 months and I have a million details to attend to.

S&W&P, S&W&V, Re & Re ! Spring ’14

For a new reader to this fascinating blog . . .  the title refers to a great deal, a really great deal of Sanding, and Washing, and Painting and Sanding and Washing and Varnishing, and Removing and Repairing and Replacing.

Despite a winter of mucking about with the COLUMBIA III, the real work starts in earnest April 1st with Farlyn and Steve and Luke showing up for work at 8-9am and I have to have something for them to do.  This year I upgraded to a dry erase board to ensure they never stressed for lack  of gainful tasks. This board was upgraded hourly . . . for the month of April.


So first things first,  the “crew” and I walk around the boat and determine how much time we have, how much money I have and what we think is the most pressing areas of the boat. There are always areas that  we worked on diligently last winter and only require a reasonably quick S&P. . .  and there are always, (always!) areas on a +50 year old wooden boat that need extra work. We try to strip some sections of the boat down to bare wood each year to prevent the paint from building up too thickly. A really thick coat of paint holds the moisture in against the wood and causes rot. And, its just too much work to strip the whole boat down to bare wood so we just do some of the boat each year. This year it was decided to work on some areas of the bulwarks. We use heat guns and (sparingly) propane torches for removing the paint accumulation.IMGP5768

Its nice to see the clear yellow cedar on the bulwarks still perfectly sound after all these years.IMGP5763


Then sanding the bare wood.IMGP5776

And then lots of sanding on the sections of the boat that didn’t get stripped.IMGP5766


Farlyn and Steve emptied the lazarette for cleaning, painting, upgrades and re-inventorying the supplies kept there.  And I do keep a lot of spares . . .IMGP5772

And the brightwork gets hand sanded . . .IMGP5784


And finally we scrub the WHOLE BOAT . . .  to get rid of all the paint dust.IMGP5780 IMGP5781

We work in the shop  on other components to let the boat dry after washing.IMGP5797 IMGP5798

And the boat dries and finally the paint starts to go back on. Yay!IMGP5814


vIMGP5802 IMGP5805

I seem to spend a great deal of time running errands for the crew; finding the right paint, or more sand paper etc, etc, but still I have my own list of dedicated tasks. A fairly major project this winter was the installation of a new primary radar. The old one was just getting too weak and it wasn’t worth further investment in repairs. But cutting all the wire bundles to remove the old radar and installing the new radar put the wheelhouse into a “tizzy”. With the new radar being connected to the GPS, the AIS, the heading indicator in the lower reaches of the boat as well as the ship’s computer and the radar antenna on the roof, I had all the floor boards and wire bundles cut loose to restring the appropriate cables.IMGP5778

The area under the wheel house driver’s seat is a busy hub of wires to keep up with modern navigation equipment.IMGP5809

Unfortunately, the new radar came with enough cable to reach the mast top of a sail boat so I had to shorten the cable. As I am only a casual electrician, I ccccaaaarrreeefffullllllyyyyyy cut all the wires and respliced the cable. I did this after the regular work day ended so I could work without interruption.   IMGP5811

From chaos arises  . . .


a phoenix . . .  the finished product. Note all the tidy little heat shrink solder joints.IMGP5813

. . .  and many days later, the wheelhouse returned to normal! I hope it works when we push the boat out of the shed!IMGP5842

Miscellaneous  engine room and lazarette floor boards, S & P . . .IMGP5825

and cabinets, S&P. . .IMGP5819

Another Ross-project. Removing the anchor winch hydraulic motor for overhaul in Victoria and cleaning, replacing the gear oil, reinstalling the motor with new hoses and painting . . .IMGP5788




Our son-in-law, Luke, has a special skill set which I shamelessly employ. Besides the usual sanding and painting, I use Luke for projects that require that extra measure of care and quality woodworking. So as the team proceeds with the general S&W&P&V, I create a list of projects for Luke. When we were in the shipyard for the refastening, we had to cut a hole in the floor of one stateroom to gain access to the cooling pipe attachment bolts. So Luke was tasked with creating a new floor hatch to match those already existing on the CIII.IMGP5832

. . . and Fern wanted better ventilation in the aft deck food locker so Luke created a sweet little louver to insert into the door.  (Oh! This took two days!!)IMGP5876

. . . and he is annually tasked with varnishing and polishing our “signature” salon table.IMGP5879

I missed the polishing action as I was in town on errands, but here the brass guard strip goes back on the table. The polishing is pretty messy, so we remove the table to the workshop for the actual polishing.IMGP5901

. . . and the lazarette needed some better floor boards so Luke designed ones that would fit through the narrow deck access hatch.IMGP5905

Meanwhile, the painting continued. Three coats on the bare wood.IMGP5837

And the roof gets a new deck coat after all the fussy, messy bits (funnels, masts, vents, and trim) are completed.IMGP5833

Sanding and painting the aft deckhead is never a nice job. Steve never complains, but his neck is pretty sore at the end of it . . . and a beer waiting never hurts.IMGP5848


We often paint in a team of 3. The roller, the “cutter” (brushing the tricky bits) and “tipping” (brushing with even steady strokes to remove the roller stipple and to leave a uniform finish). Here the team start the starboard hull.IMGP5857

I like it when I can see reflections on the hull.IMGP5861

We always remove as much hardware as is physically possible before we paint. It just makes for a much tidier job. But it feels great to see the brass door handles, catches, and hooks going back on again. The boat starts to look like a beautiful heritage vessel again. Here the bell  gets screwed back on . . .  things are starting to look “shiny”. This is a good thing!IMGP5867

The deck hatches, caps, guards and hand rails get hand scrubbed with scotch-brite and a coat of clear marine gloss Cetol is applied.IMGP5870



The last deckside jobs are to paint the bulwarks and decks. We carefully scrape and pick clean small paint drops that fell from above, and make a final sweep and wipe with paint thinner. IMGP5888


Another of my jobs was to create a new shower grate for the chapel shower. The old one was getting just a bit too tired. Here is the epoxy coating curing in the shop.IMGP5906

I redid the bottom half of the shower stall as well. It’s sort of cheating to do only half, but the painting last year didn’t adhere as well as I wanted near the bottom, so I got lazy and only redid that section.


More “shiny!

And finally, the decks get recoated.IMGP5897

Holy! The boat is starting to look sharp! It’s quite a transformation from the shipyard in February.


And I did the annual engine room scrub with soap and water and polished the old Gardner engine for good measure. We must be getting close to being done!IMGP5918

There’s a few shots for the curious. Of course, 3-5 workers for the month of April do a zillion small and large jobs. Food lockers are scrubbed and painted. Chipped paint in the galley gets repaired. Main engine filters are changed. Fern works on menus, recipes, cook books and huge food orders. Deck chairs are refinished. Staterooms are cleaned and smoke detectors are given new batteries. This is a “detail intensive” business. Marine medicals are renewed. Crew are sent out for marine training upgrades. A kayak guide gets a Bear Viewing Assistant Guide training.

16′ 6″ feet wide x 68′ long. And a whole lot of energy poured into a small area!