07 April 2010

Most Important Factor

About once a week, I look at a tool or a trick that seems totally cool and indispensable, and for that week, that tool seems to be the most important tool or trick for boat building.

Of course, none of these are 'the most important'. It would be hard to build a boat without many tools, including things as ordinary as a good paint brush. But I seem to be addicted to such facinations.

However, this week I realized what really is the most important factor for building a boat (or even for just owning one). That factor is a supportive, enthusiastic, and energetic partner...

Helena, scraping old paint off the Blue Moon's deck

I think Helena is the most supportive, enthusiastic, and energetic wife in the world. You might disagree, but I'm willing to fight about it :-)

After driving down to FL, the first order of business was to paint Blue Moon's deck. The paint over marine plywood deck was in pretty good condition, except on the side that was most exposed to the intense FL sun. After dithering a bit, we decided to scrape it all off, reprime, and then paint.

The other reason to paint was I really didn't like the sage green color that the boat had aquired at some point in it's history. As we discovered by scraping and sanding through several layers of old paint, the original color was Bristol Beige -- the color already painted on the rail.

The combination of blue topsides, and white/beige deck, seemed more traditional to me, and a more 'New Englandy' look. So that's what we aimed at.

Besides sanding and scraping, there were a bunch of dings that needed filling to fair out the deck. As usual, I wasn't aiming at perfection, but at 'good enough'. (Perfection takes too long, and costs more than I can afford :-)

This kind of work can be a real drag, but not if you have the right partner, working along side you.

The work on the Blue Moon attracted a lot of dock-side interest, including a nice guy who wanted to know all about Cabin Boy, and the Blue Moon. When I mentioned that I intended to sail home, he looked at the state of the boat and asked "When will you be done? A month or so?"

He looked skeptical when I said a few days to a week, but an extra pair of hands really made the work go fast.

 Scraping the paint off the starboard deck really paid off. It came out nice and smooth. And the ugly green was gone!

One feature that I really like in this Tom Gilmer design is the unique, sunken foredeck. You can sit on the foredeck, with the massive Sampson post to hold on to, and really feel secure while setting the jib, or pulling up the anchor. It's surprising to me that more sailboats don't have such a nice, safe feature.

Another feature I appreciate is the large, but seaworthy, cockpit. If you were ever pooped on this boat, the two large scuppers at seat level will quickly drain most of the water. The two large drains in the small footwell will take care of the rest. The high bridge deck and small companionway would help keep water out of the cabin.

Besides painting, there were three (count them! Three!) missing halyards. That meant several trips up the mast.

I had put together a 6x block and tackle, using 3 sheave blocks with beckets, and had built a bosun chair following the design in Brian Toss's "Rigger's Apprentice". Combined with a safety harness around the mast, the combination made going up the mast pretty easy and safe.

I went up the mast first, and I guess I made it look easy, because Helena ended up feeling jealous that I was having all the fun, so up she went.

And that is why the right partner is the most important factor -- at least in my book!

I'm sure my readers will forgive me if I say, "Thank you, Helena, for all your help!"

Next Episode: Fair Winds


  1. Anyone who likes you enough to scrape paint is very special! ... and a rigging monkey to boot ...

    Life is Fine!

  2. You are so right. I, like you, am lucky enough to have a partner that put up with both my wood working and my boat. Moreover she works beside me as well. You are one lucky man!

  3. I so know what you mean about having a "partner", John. I lost my Pop abut 6 years ago and he was such a part of everything I did it's only now I'm coming to terms doing things by and for myself alone.

    Here's to you and Helena!

    May God's blessings for health, wisdom and fortune stya with the both of you all your lives.

  4. That is one beautiful boat. A job well done!

  5. Totally agree!
    Beautiful boat!
    I am concerned that your starboard deck while "shiny" and beautiful may become slippery and dangerous after it gets a little salt spray on it. Have you considered non-skid, life lines or tethers? If you intend to go down the west coast of Florida and around the southern tip you will encounter some seas. Have you considered the Okeechobee route (may be marginal with your draft)? Be careful as you will be in open water immediately, never a good thing with a "new to you" boat. Keep blogging, I and others care for you and will follow yur experience closely.
    Fair winds and calm seas.

  6. Hurrah!

    It's good to see Cabin Boy trailing along nicely. Both projects are dong very nicely.

    Fair winds and safe travels.

  7. Thank you for the ride. I love you too :)

  8. I'm sure you've heard it before but I gotta tell you, I am enjoying your "trip" and am inspired. I have a lifetime of experience with tools but become shy when contemplating building a boat. I think you have given me the kick in the pants that will get me started. Thank you in advance.


I'd love to hear from you. Please comment!