12 December 2017

Baffling Dorades

Today was spent replacing the transmission control cable -- a fiddly job if there ever was one, and a job that required more contortionist skills than I imagined I had, to reach the nearly inaccessible shift lever mechanism. Helena and I got it done, but the job wasn't nearly as interesting as some of the other jobs we've done in the last few months...

I think I've casually mentioned working on our 'Dorade' vents several times. My first goal was to varnish the teak boxes, which had begun to suffer from exposure to the elements. Yes, teak is pretty resilient stuff, but if you abuse it badly enough, even teak will begin to rot. My boxes weren't that far gone, but they had certainly started strolling down that path.

Dorade boxes on the road to recovery
The solution? That lovely stuff called varnish. Not only does it look good, it's good for your wood. What is not to like?

I started by giving the boxes a light sanding, inside and out. This removed all the grey wood (just a thin layer on any piece of teak), and whatever finish (if any) that remained on the surface. In the photo above you can see an unsanded box in the foreground, and three in the background that have already had some TLC.

Then I started varnishing. This is usually a week-long process, because it's typical to have to wait 24 hours for a coat of varnish to dry. I'm sure this is why most people hate to varnish, and if this has been stopping you, I have the perfect solution: Alwgrip Awlspar varnish. You can re-coat after 3 hours, with no sanding between coats. If you stick to it, you can have your 6 or 7 coats of varnish done in a couple of days. Amazing stuff! It doesn't seem to have any UV protection, so I used a UV protected varnish for the last coat.

The results were great, but as I was slathering varnish, I realized that my Dorade vents weren't Dorade vents at all. They were just vents.

"Ah-ha!" I thought. "Maybe that's why they leak."

Yes, Helena had complained several times about the Dorade vent over her bunk leaking.

"Nonsense!" I'd said. "That's the whole point of Dorade vents! They don't leak."

"Then these drips must be my imagination," she'd said. "Lucky me."

I'd been wondering about that ever since, but now that the boxes had my undivided attention, the problem was obvious.

No baffles.

How Dorade's work.
(WikiMedia Commons)

To filter water out of the air, Dorades need to be a sort of maze that air can get through, but water can't. The air goes through the maze and down the vent into the cabin, while the heavier, less agile water just gives up and runs out the drains at the base of the box.

But my boxes didn't have any baffles. The air/water mixture could go through the cowl, and straight into the vent into the cabin below -- right onto my darling's bunk! 

Solution? Add baffles.

New baffles in place

In the photo above, you can not only see how great the boxes look varnished, but the new baffles installed. They are just a piece of plastic, held in place by two plastic brackets. All easily fabricated. These were made by Larry, Howdy's partner, before I could get the chance to do it myself.

The baffle top is level with the top of the box, but there is a small gap under the baffle. This is all that's needed to turn my vent boxes into Dorade boxes.

Dorade box with cover on

And that's what it looks like when reassembled. You can see that the air/water mixture can enter the cowl, then it has to run the gauntlet down under the baffle, and then up and over the vent into the cabin. Air can make it, but water can't.

And that, I think, is the way small maintenance jobs should be done on a boat. No shortcuts, no 'miracle' cures. Just fix whatever needs fixing so it stays fixed for a good long time. And if you can improve it at the same time, all the better.

As I have said before, easy is overrated.

And there can never be enough varnish in the world.

You can quote me on that.

Meanwhile, it is blowing like the Dickens tonight. 20+ knot gusts. Glad we are tucked up in a fairly protected spot. We've got our alcohol heater working, the cabin is toasty warm, Christmas lights lighting up our cozy cabin. My best friend smiling across the table from me... Yes, all is right with the world.

Next Up:

11 December 2017

Heading South!

I should have titled this post, "Heading South, Finally!", because it has been quite a long time since we arrived in Norfolk VA. August 22, if I can believe my own blog. In that time, we have ridden out at least 5 tropical storms, including Hurricane Irma, and painted Petronella from stem to stern.

And doesn't she look good?

For the most part, we had excellent luck with the weather during the whole restoration process, but once we hit mid-November, the weather turned iffy, and we had many weather-related delays. Just can't paint if it's wet or too cold.

But we finally lucked out with a string of clear days, and Howdy and his team were able to finish off the deck. As soon as it was dry, we launched!

This is how Petronella looked on launch day, with no sails, the Porta Bote still in the rigging, and practically every bit of deck hardware removed. That began a frantic week of putting things back together for Helena and I. I couldn't believe how many bits and pieces needed to be reassembled, but we finally finished.

Petronella afloat once again!
(And looking darn good!)
Actually, I am glossing over many, many jobs that had to be done before and after launching. I will try to catch up on some of the more interesting ones as I have time.

Howdy had us over to his amazing shop (club house?) for a going-away party with some of his other customers, including Jesse Martin -- who once held the record for youngest sailor to circumnavigate non-stop -- and his girlfriend Tina. They've got a new aluminum boat called Lionheart II that Howdy is doing some work on.

Party in Howdy's amazing shop
And then it was time to leave. Way past time, weather-wise. It was in the thirties this morning when we took these photos, just before departure. Ice on the deck! In Norfolk, VA. That isn't supposed to happen, folks! Freakishly cold weather for these parts. But we didn't think it would get any warmer!

My Brazilian wife looking cold but ready for anything.
I decided to wear my long, heavy wool watch coat instead of foul weather gear. Much warmer, and just as nautical looking, I think.

Now I know why these coats are so popular in the Navy
So we sailed just before sun up. The weather is supposed to turn really ugly in a few days, so we decided to poke on down the ICW while the wind howls outside. Hopefully when we get to Beaufort, NC, we can catch a weather window and sail off shore, but for now, we just want to start heading south.

We ran the gauntlet through the Norfolk naval base again, and had a nice cruise down to Great Bridge. The engine ran great the whole day (more on that later), but just as we approached the free dock in Great Bridge, the transmission refused to shift out of forward! WHAT THE HECK?!?!

That was my first reaction, but I soon gathered my wits and we just approached the dock at very low revs, then shut off the engine. Our momentum carried us the rest of the way to the dock, and we were soon tied up.

Minutes later, I was in the engine room with a flashlight, trying to figure out what went wrong. Had the transmission burned out? Impossible! I just checked the transmission fluid a few days ago, and it had worked perfectly smoothly all day. It must be the shift cable, I figured. 

Phew! Yes. That was it. The bracket holding the cable lost a screw somehow. The cable got out of position, and, just like that, it bent.

Bent shifter cable, and unbent throttle cable. 
Will have to locate another one ASAP. But man, were we lucky. It would have been a real drag to have this problem whilst approaching the Gilmerton Bridge or after entering the Great Bridge Lock. I don't want to think about it. Yes. We were lucky. And lucky to end up on a free dock in a town with lots of auto parts stores. Should be able to find a replacement cable tomorrow. 

Ah, the vigorous life.

Next Up: Baffling Dorades

09 November 2017

The Deck

We reached a significant milestone in our restoration of Petronella, our Joshua 40 steel ketch. The hull! It's finally done!

Hull painting complete!
How much paint does it take to completely restore the bottom and topsides of a 40-foot steel boat? Approximately 20 gallons, all told. That's off the top of Howdy's head. I will get the total when we are done, just for curiosity sake.

Originally, Helena and I planned to take care of the deck ourselves. I mean, how hard could it be? It's just paint, right?

But after seeing the quality of Howdy's work, and how fast his crew works, I realized that there was literally no way that we could do the deck work ourselves and achieve the same level of quality. Not only did we not have all the required skills, it would take far too long to do the work. We'd be lucky if we finished by spring.

Skills, you ask? Yes. Painting is a skill. Especially using the new epoxy paints. Having owned a wooden boat for nearly ten years, I thought I new how to paint. Let me tell you, compared to these guys, I know nothing. Seriously. I painted the insides of the four deck hatches, and I am embarrassed to compare my work with Howdy's. It's an order of magnitude difference.

And since we are here and have Howdy's attention, we are grabbing the opportunity to get the job done right. It might cost a little more (not sure about that, when you factor in all the costs!), but they are doing a much more thorough job than we would ever contemplate.

What kind of things are they doing? Just focusing on the big jobs...

How about sanding off the top layers of paint, including all the anti-skid. Two days on knees with a heavy rotary sander. I don't think I could even have done that! Here is the deck sanded, with the first coat of primer.

Deck sanded and primed
We liked the look of the white deck so much that we almost decided to go all-white, but Howdy convinced us that it would show the dirt too much, so we will be tinting the non-skid areas.

Another big job that really needed doing, but we probably would not have tackled ourselves was the whole cockpit/hard dodger area. Did I say big job? Big job.

Cockpit prepped for sanding
My part of the job was to remove as many of the electronics, floor boards, seats, and other bits of hardware from the area, to prep it for sanding. That alone was a big job.

Note that the old plexiglass windows are removed. They were so cloudy and scratched that they were nearly impossible to see through, even on a sunny day. Next to useless in the dark or bad weather. They have been binned and will be replaced. Helena and I are tackling all the cockpit teak, but will discuss that in a later post.

Can't wait to see how this sub-project turns out!

And then there were the Dorade boxes... We had seen some rust under them. Now it was time to find out where the rust was coming from. It didn't take long to find the problem.

Dorade vent, with box removed
The Dorade box (not shown in photo) was held to the deck by two stainless steel brackets, screwed to the deck. Unfortunately, these had not been re-bedded in some time, so the bedding compound was literally gone. Water got between the brackets and the steel, and rust began its insidious work.

Howdy's crew removed the brackets and repaired the rust damage. They will make sure the new brackets are bedded down well, to prevent future problems.

Bedding compound, people! As I have said before, it is not forever. Get out there and re-bed something on your boat today. I guarantee something is leaking on your boat if you have been ignoring this problem for several years. Particularly fiberglass boats. Don't be lazy!

Okay, rant complete. But seriously, every real problem on Petronella has been directly tied to old or missing bedding compound. Think about it. An ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure.

So, that is where we are. We'd hoped to be done with the deck work this week, but bad weather has held us back. Fingers crossed for some good weather!

Next Up: Heading South, Finally!

01 November 2017

More Rust Prevention Tricks

Everyone says that the trick to keeping a steel boat afloat is keeping up with rust. Obviously that is correct, but you'd be a fool if you didn't try to prevent the rust from occurring in the first place.

One place rust can get a start is when protective paint has been chipped or rubbed off. The most vulnerable parts of the boat are on deck, where paint has a very hard life trying to co-exist with pieces of steel chafing on it.

For example, where the standing rigging -- the steel cables holding up the masts -- attaches to the rail.

To give you an idea of what I'm talking about, here is the steel tab which had one of the forestays attached to it:

Forestay tab

Now, this piece of steel has been helping to hold up the mast for 40 years, and it still has plenty of life left. It's about a half inch thick and not about to break, but you can see that it's nearly impossible to keep paint on it. Thus it is a constant source of rust stains, despite everyone's best efforts to keep it painted.

To help solve this problem, Howdy cut the tab off the boat, and welded in a replacement made from stainless steel. The picture below shows the new -- unpainted -- SS tab with forestay attached.

You can imagine how difficult it was to keep the tab painted. Now we won't have to.

Stainless steel tab with forestay attached
We were tempted to take the same approach to the rail, where all the shrouds -- the wires that keep the masts from moving from side to side -- are attached. However, Howdy recommended a different approach.

He created some new stainless steel bushings which consist of a stainless steel tube, with a washer welded on one end. The tube is inserted through a hole in the rail, and another washer fits over the tube on the other side. I should mention that the whole fitting is embedded in 4200, so it doesn't move in place.

Once in place, the shroud fitting bears on the stainless steel, not on the paint.

A picture is worth a thousand words... Here is a picture of the bushings ready to receive the shrouds.

Stainless bushings for shrouds
And here is what it looks like with the shrouds installed.

Shroud attached to bushing

Sorry for the weird photo orientation. It was a bit awkward to get these photos!

I don't expect these bushings to eliminate rust, but I do hope they will keep the paint intact longer, and thus slow it down. It should be relatively easy to periodically (once a year) remove the bushings, repaint the holes, re-bed the bushings, and re-install the shrouds. I will post an update in a year or so to let you know how this has worked.

Another place rust begins is where anchor chain or dock ropes chafe on paint. John and Gill used a set of fire hose pieces to minimize this chafe, but I wondered whether it would be simpler to put the chafe gear on the boat, rather than the lines. We found some 5/8" water hose, split it, and found that it fight tightly on the rail. We may bed it down, just to minimize chafe and to ensure it stays on the boat.

It blends in so well, you might need to click on the photo to see the hose on the rail.

On Petronella, dock lines attach to the tall bit behind the rail, and run OVER the rail to the dock.

We are using more hose to minimize chafe from the anchor chain.

Water hose clipped onto rail
Finally, here are the granny bars re-installed on fiberglass pads which have been firmly bedded to the deck. Howdy believes it is easier to bed down the fiberglass pad, than the SS feet of the granny bars. This will again slow down the development of rust under the pad.

I really hope this lasts for a good ten years, because it was a pain to take down the ceiling in the cabin to get at the nuts under the deck! Again, we shall see!

Granny bars bedded down on fiberglass pads
Inevitably, rust will rear it's ugly head again, but the black paint on the rail will make it a little less visible until we are able to effect repairs to the paint.

The big news here is that Howdy and his crew have finished painting the hull! The tape is coming off today, and I hope I will have a great photo to share soon. In the meantime, here is the latest photo with tape still masking the boot stripe and black trim.

Hull painting complete!
I'm hoping they keep the space next to Petronella empty so that I can get a good picture tomorrow with the morning sun on her. In the meantime, this back-lit photo is the best I've been able to do. We are getting there!

Tomorrow, Howdy and the boys start on the deck, and hopefully we will launch in a week or so. Cobb's Marina has been great to us, but I can't wait to head south.

Next Up: The Deck

23 October 2017

Preventing and Eliminating Rust

To paraphrase the famous sailor, Eric Hiscock: "The price of the strength of a steel boat is eternal vigilance against rust."

As part of Petronella's restoration, we are re-bedding much of her deck hardware. The first project was P's main sheet winches, under which rust was beginning to appear. Howdy and his crew removed the winches from their steel pads, and added disks of Starboard, which is a wood-like marine-quality material that doesn't rot. I think it must be some sort of plastic or fiberglass. Anyway, they bedded that down well to the steel, and mounted the winch on top. That will prevent rust from developing under the winch in the future, or for at least a long time.

Winch re-bedded on Starboard pad
Unfortunately, no bedding lasts forever -- something that many boat owners don't seem to realize. Eventually, everything needs to be re-bedded if you don't want water intrusion. That includes fiberglass boats, in particular. Steel boats rust very slowly, but a leak in a fiberglass deck can quickly cause serious and expensive problems. A word to the wise!

The boys decided that P's granny bars needed to be-bedded, as some slight rust-stains were beginning to appear around one of the legs. Since the safety bars were through-bolted to the deck, that meant taking down the ceiling under the deck. They decided to give me that job (to keep me out of the way, I think!)

Petronella's ceiling unscrews quite easily, though it's a bit of jigsaw puzzle to put back up again. I soon had the required panels down, and that's when I spotted some rust developing around the vent hole of one of the Dorade vents.

Granny bars removed.
Dorade vent, above deck
Around vent hole, under deck

Under the vent, some water or moisture gathered around the vent hole, and made some rust. Now, this is slow progress... this spot has probably been rusting for many, many years. There was plenty of steel left, so no need for surgery, but as long as the ceiling was down, it was a good opportunity to stop the rust in it's tracks.

The first step was to remove as much of the surface rust as possible. I did this with a scraper, followed up by a cup brush mounted in my portable drill. That got 95% of the rust off. (A drop cloth plus dust mask and eye protection protected both the boat and me from most of the debris.)

The second step was to hit the rust with one of the many 'rust converters' on the market. These products chemically convert the iron oxide into a material that purportedly acts as a primer. You do not remove the converted rust. You just leave it on and prime over it. Howdy likes a product called Corroseal.

Rust converter
This is what you should see when the rust converter has done its thing -- a black coating, where there used to be rust.

Rust after conversion
Once the rust converter has done it's thing, you can prime right over it. In this case, with four coats of Bar-Rust 235 2-part epoxy primer.

After first coat of Bar-Rust
That's all there is too it. No voodoo or magic potions needed. When we re-bed the granny bars again in 10 years, we'll check to see how it looks.

Next Up: More Rust Prevention Tricks

20 October 2017

Back to Red

Lots of news to catch up with. Having done my own painting for... well, forever... I'm amazed at how fast a full crew of professionals can move. We've had a few down days for weather, but for all that, the progress is nothing less than breathtaking.

I will try to take you through the process. Last time I reported that Howdy and the boys had finished soda-blasting the bottom down to bare steel, and finished priming. They primed the hull with four coats of black Bar-Rust 235. "A high performance, multi-purpose, surface tolerant, two-component chemically-cured epoxy semi-gloss coating."

Then came a grey 'tie coat', also Bar-Rust, but a different color as a signal.

Applying Bar-Rust tie-coat, in preparation for anti-fouling
Once the hull was effectively barrier coated, it was time to apply anti-fouling -- five coats of ABC-3 bottom paint, an ablative paint much used on steel commercial boats, and the Navy. According to Howdy, and the data sheet, this paint is "Capable of 60-month performance". That's five years, folks. Of course, you need lots of material, which is why we went with five coats, at two gallons per coat.

Gulp. But if I don't need to paint the bottom for five years, I will be more than satisfied.

What is a 'tie coat'? Don't feel bad, I didn't know either. In this case, the tie coat was a coat of light grey Bar-Rust which was left to dry until just tacky. The first coat of ABC-3 was then immediately applied. Since the tie coat was not completely dry, the two paints mingled chemically, 'tying' the two paints together with both physical and chemical bonds. Pretty clever, right?

Prepping topsides
Here we see the bottom with several coats of anti-fouling paint already on, and with work begun on prepping the topsides. After testing the old green topside paint for compatibility with the new epoxy red paint, Howdy discovered that the two paints were NOT compatible, so off came the old green paint. In the photo above, the topsides have been primed with more Bar-Rust. With a bit more work, the topsides were fully primed, and the bottom paint completed.

Topsides fully primed

Sharp-eyed readers will have spotted an odd shape on the bottom, in the second photo, above. After blasting off all the bottom paint, Howdy spotted some pitting in the hull which had been hidden by 40 years of bottom paint.

Pitted section of steel
This corrosion came from the inside, of course. Petronella had a water pump that John, the previous owner, kept alive for many years by periodically re-building it. However, it leaked enough so that salt water collected against the hull in this specific spot, and gradually corroded it. A reminder, if one was needed, to cure internal leaks fast. I've got that one written on the back of my hand now. Thinking of getting it tattooed.

Anyway, Howdy cut out the rusted piece, and welded in a new piece. The photo above shows the patch playing catch-up with the painting cycle.

Though I would have been happy to pick up a paint brush, Howdy didn't seem to want a complete novice on his team (frowny face), so I had to find my own projects. One of them was a sadly neglected tiller.

Sad, sad tiller
I mean, the tiller only steers the whole boat, right? I think it deserved a bit of TLC.  Howdy looked doubtfully at this poor piece of wood, but I thought there might be something worth saving under all that peeling varnish.

After removing the old varnish with a heat gun, and a bit of sandpaper love, a nice teak tiller re-appeared. It's a miracle! Here it is after drinking in the first coat of varnish. Not a very good picture, sorry. I will supply a better one when it's done.

Restored tiller
I'm also building a new boat hook from an ash pole and a bronze hook, to replace the one that was stolen right off the boat. I started varnishing the pole alongside the tiller.

The tiller has some sort of fiberglass 'side cheeks'. Not sure what to call them, because I'm not sure what they are for. They are unpainted, but unprotected fiberglass will eventually breakdown under the hot tropical sun, so I'm going to paint these odd side cheeks white after I'm done varnishing.

Finally, today was the day I'd been waiting for -- the day for the first coat of red paint! It was a clear, dry, painting day. Perfect for restoring Petronella to her original color. Here are the boys rolling and tipping the first coat on.

The big day!
This bright color is, as mentioned before, a color called Rochelle Red. A color I like to believe was named after the original Joshua (now in the Maritime Museum in La Rochelle, France) which was the same bright red.

In prepping the boomkin, Howdy's team removed some rope work which revealed a patch of red paint.

Petronella's original color (on boomkin)
Author Les Weatheritt, Petronella's second owner, told me that he painted Petronella green because he got tired of the original red fading on him. If we assume the paint on the boomkin was faded when the roping was put on, then the colors look like a pretty good match.

While the first coat was drying, Larry -- who has worked with Howdy for 20 years -- started on the black trim paint. There will be a lot more of it before he's done, but it's a start.

Starting on the black trim paint
The more I think of it, the smarter I think the original Joshua color scheme. The red will make Petronella very visible at sea. She's already pretty visible in the boat yard! And the black will hide the worst of the rust stains, which tend to occur where the shrouds and stays attach to the boat.

So that catches us up with most of what is going on. There are several side projects that I am working on, but they will have to wait for another post.

The vigorous life!

Next Up: Preventing and Eliminating Rust

01 October 2017

The Restoration Begins

I haven't had much time for blogging lately, but that's not because we've been sitting around the yacht club bar. I'm happy to say that Petronella's 'restoration' has begun!

I put 'restoration' in quotes, because in the wooden boat world, a restoration would mean rebuilding. Petronella is in good physical shape, so there won't be much rebuilding; however, we are restoring her paint system in two significant ways.

First, P's bottom paint was in pretty poor shape. Before we left Florida, we had a diver clean it, and he reported layers of paint peeling off in certain places. That got our attention, and got us thinking about doing work on P sooner, rather than later.

Second, as discussed in a previous blog post, we wish to restore Petronella's original, historical 'look'. 

This is the kind of job Helena and I would have done on our own in the past. In fact, we did do it on our own with the Blue Moon. However, we quickly decided that this time the job was too big for us. 

Several reasons for this: P is much bigger than the BM, and it would take significantly longer. Frankly, we'd rather be cruising in the Bahamas, than scraping and painting all winter. Call that lazy if you want to!

But mainly because, to do it right, the job requires special tools and techniques. Since the last bottom job lasted 40 years, we figured it would be 2056 before we needed those tools and skills again. 

So we hired Howdy Bailey to do it, and even Howdy considers soda-blasting to be a special skill. He brought in a specialist to do the work. 

First, they wrapped the bottom to contain the dust. Here you see the blasting in action. The plastic billows out from the air being pumped into the enclosure. 

Bottom wrapped for soda blasting
And below is the result. The bottom paint is gone, including about 3 inches of the original boot-stripe. The waterline needed to be raised to eliminate the constant scum line on the boot stripe. An improvement that I will really appreciate.

Stripped bottom
Another view of the bottom. Special attention was given to the bow thruster, to ensure it was not damaged during the soda blasting.

Prepping for primer
The goal was to retain the original coal tar layer on the bottom, but this turned out to be impossible. Howdy had already discovered that water had gotten under the tar in certain places, which was causing it to delaminate. In the end, the tar was too far gone to keep, so we are back to bare steel again.

What a keel!
Bare steel can't stay bare very long, or it will begin to rust, so a primer coat was put on immediately. 

First coat of primer on.
I don't know about you, but I think she looks great. Before stripping, P's bottom had that cratered look many old boats have. Now, her bottom is as smooth as the day she left the Meta factory in France, 40 years ago.

So, excellent progress from Howdy and his crew. We are very excited about it. I will keep you informed as the work progresses!

Next Up: Back to Red

24 September 2017

Four Weeks, Four Storms

Well, here we are, still in Norfolk, having watched four major storms go by in the last four weeks: the tropical storm that drove us inland of Cape Hatteras in the first place, then Hurricanes Irma, Jose, and  now Maria, in their weekly procession.

The Chesapeake a dream cruising destination? Maybe, but not this year. The locals say it’s the worst hurricane season they can remember for a long time. Thankfully, none have actually struck this part of the US coast, that pokes so provocatively out towards the east, but each has threatened to do so, and then turned away to the east or west at the last minute.

(Maria is still threatening Cape Hatteras, as I write these words, but it looks like she will veer east in time to miss Norfolk. Finger’s crossed!)

However, we have run out of time for now. We want to have Petronella professionally painted before we head south again for the Bahamas. So, we have hauled her out again, and handed her over to Howdy Bailey -- one of the most respected steel boat builders in the mid-Atlantic region.

We are having her bottom soda-blasted down to the original coal tar layer, and then repainted with many coats of an ablative paint that should get us through two or three years at least.

And we are restoring her to the original Joshua colors -- Rochelle Red with black trim.

We discovered the name of the original red color by consulting with the Musee Maritime La Rochelle -- the museum in France that owns Bernard Moitessier’s Joshua.

(Is the ‘Rochelle Red’ color named after Joshua? It is Joshua’s color. And Joshua is located at the museum in La Rochelle... Coincidence?)

Here are some photos of the original Joshua, which will show what we are after. Unusual, oui?

The original Joshua's colors

The original Joshua on the water... love that mizzen staysail!

We are feeling a bit lost without our Petronella, but its impossible to stay on the boat while it’s being sandblasted and painted. More on our plans as soon as we make them!

Next Up: The Restoration Begins

28 August 2017

Still in Norfolk

We'd hoped to sneak out of Norfolk in time to beat the tropical storm moving up the coast, but between the weather and the two other pumps (foot pump for water in the galley, and hand pump to drain galley sink) that needed spare parts and fixing, we decided to wait until after the storm to head north.

Then we decided there was more for the grandkids to do here during their Labor Day weekend visit (Virginia Beach, big Navy ships to look at, Maybe Colonial Williamsburg....)

And finally, Helena decided she needed to visit her parents in Brazil for a week. So it looks like we will be here for awhile.

Sure glad we are tucked in a safe harbor, letting the storm blow by. With a gale blowing on the Atlantic, we are living inside a symphony of clanging, tapping, billowing boatyard noises...

Potential Tropical Cyclone Ten
Catchy name, eh?

Next Up: Four Weeks, Four Storms

25 August 2017

Real Boat Owners

Today Helena and I became a certified Real Boat Owners. How did this happen, you ask? Did we cross an ocean? Take a three-star sextant sight? Survive a gale at sea?

No, no, and no. 

What made us Real Boat Owners was much more difficult than that — a challenge dreaded and avoided by those who haven't yet made the grade, as if it were the plague. 

I must admit that I had avoided this test of courage myself for more years than I wish to admit. But sometimes you just have to do what you have to do, so today we grit our teeth, girded our loins, held our noses, and rebuilt Petronella's marine toilet.

And actually, it wasn't as bad as I expected!

The pump had been leaking a bit around the piston rod since the Caribbean, but coming up from Beaufort we'd been getting some back flow from the holding tank (see, this is difficult even to READ! Imagine doing it!), so I knew we had to fix something, pronto.

I did some reading on the Internet, ordered a couple of service kits and had them delivered to the marina we were headed for, and commenced dreading the job. 

Once we arrived in Norfolk, and were able to use the marina facilities, Helena, had the foresight to start flushing clean water, soap, and bleach through the system several times a day. So by the time we disassembled the pump, etc., this morning, the system was as clean inside as a whistle, except for the scale (mineral deposits) that had built up on the various parts. 

Anyway, with the right parts, instructions, and Helena's advance work, the job was easy as any other plumbing job (that is, not easy, but not gross, either.)

So if you have been avoiding becoming a certified Real Boat Owner, I'm here to tell you, it's not so bad.

We are still in Norfolk, catching up on repairs, hauling the boat out so Howdy could poke at the bottom, and otherwise keeping busy. We will be heading north as soon as we can — possibly tomorrow morning. Hoping for fair winds, or at least light winds. We have the mouth of the Chesapeake to cross next and want to pick a good weather window.

Fair winds! 

Petronella in the slings 

Next Up: Still In Norfolk

22 August 2017

Little Creek VA

Helena and I are now in Little Creek, Virginia, just outside of Norfolk. Before heading north into the Chesapeake, we have stopped to meet with Howdy Bailey, an experienced steel boat builder. Our goal with Joshua is to not only maintain her current excellent condition, but to improve her over time. The first project we want to tackle is a big one: peeling some of the many, many layers of bottom paint off, before painting the bottom again.

I'm pretty sure no one has ever REMOVED any of Petronella's bottom paint. Layers have only been added. After 40 years, that's a lot of paint. Naturally, over time some of the layers have lost their adhesion and have fallen off on their own, leaving a rather uneven surface. The previous owners did they best they could feathering the various patches, but the time has come to remove the unstable layers and get down to a smooth, stable surface. 

We don't want to go back to bare metal, because the bottom layers are coal tar — a very effective barrier coat, and one that would be hard to replace today. So the plan is to take off many, but not all the layers. This requires professionals with the equipment and know-how to do it properly, thus our meeting with Howdy.

We're having the boat short-hauled today so Howdy can see the bottom and give us an estimate. Pictures tomorrow!

But it's not just the bottom. We want him to give the same sort of treatment to the topsides. Take off unstable layers, and get down to a smooth, stable surface so that we can repaint Petronella in the original red Joshua color scheme. With all due respect to whoever painted P green, I can't wait to get her back to the 'right' color! 

I've seen some of Howdy's work, and the results are just spectacular. If he can make P look half as good as some of his other work, I will be very pleased.

Speaking of Joshua, McIntyre Adventure is building a new Joshua one-design class for the 2022 Golden Globe Race. So if you are interested in a new Joshua, they are taking orders! 

The new Joshua

Next Up: Real Boat Owners

20 August 2017

Norfolk, VA

We spent Friday night on the free dock just before Great Bridge Lock, then got an early start yesterday for Norfolk. The lock was Helena's first, and my first with Petronella, so I was happy that it was such an easy one. Seemed like there was only an inch or two difference in water level. I wonder what would happen if they just left the lock open?

Anyway, we arrive in Norfolk in the early afternoon, meaning to take a slip in the Waterside marina, which is right in the heart of the revitalized waterfront district. I almost lost my nerve when I saw how small the marina was -- we might be able to get in, but how would we ever be able to turn around and get out, I wondered.

After talking it over with the marina chappie on the radio, we decided to just stick our nose in and tie up alongside the wharf. Phew. We got a little more practice in boat handling, and are gradually getting more comfortable getting Petronella in and out of tight places.

Today we are moving 20 mile north to the marina we are looking at to get some work done over the winter. Looks like an easy run on a hot but settled day.

Waterside Marina
Three masted schooner

Next Up: Little Creek, VA

16 August 2017

Coinjock, NC

The last time I crossed Albemarle Sound, I got beat up by the daily round of afternoon thunderstorms, so wanted to get a nice early start. So it was still dark this morning when I crawled out of the aft cabin and started the coffee.

The smell of brewing Starbucks drew Helena out of bed too, and we were soon underway.

We passed through Helena's first swing bridge, which reminded me how excited (ok, scared) I was the first time I had to deal with a bridge opening, and then we maneuvered through the shoals that led out onto the broad Albemarle.

There was a bit of a chop with ten knot winds from the north, but much easier than I had it on the Blue Moon. We crossed without incident, and then made the long trip up the North River up to the North Carolina Cut, and the Coinjock Marina.

Looking forward to a shower, fresh laundry, and one of the marina restaurant's signature prime rib dinners.

Life is good...

Coinjock Marina

Our Location (blue dot)

Next Up: Norfolk, VA