Life on the Hard.

I apologize for the long delay in updates. I promised some of you that I would update soon, and that was a while ago. But I really do feel guilty when I’m not working on getting the boat back in the water as fast as possible. And, updating the blog is not getting the boat back in the water as fast as possible.

Not that I’ve been working every waking moment. I do go to the Sunday potlucks with the other boaters in the Marina and have been invited out to dinner by several of the neighbors here in ‘the dreaded hard stand.’ That’s one of the terms used to describe the dry storage yard. As Eileen Quinn says in one of her songs, ‘life on the hard is hard.’ Or something like that.

It is by no means terrible, at least not all the time. Many of the jobs I’ve had to do since returning to the boat, I definitely do not want to ever have to do. However, they are jobs that come with the territory. And I very much want to live this lifestyle, so they are the dues that one pays. I will get into more detail later.

I’m not exactly sure precisely what has happened since I last wrote, not that it matters. I have made a lot of progress on the seacocks. When we were building the boat, and many times since then, we have used a product called “Boatlife, LifeCaulk”. It’s one of a large galaxy of sealants, but designed for marine use. They don’t usually carry it at Home Depot. We have been very pleased with it, and many of the things that work fine in your backyard let you down mightily on a boat. So, when we find something that doesn’t let us down, we tend to stick with it. I realize that most of your are aware that I am not afraid to experiment, and think outside the box. Which often bites me in the butt. But when you tried quite a few products that don’t work as promised and find one that does work, perhaps better than promised, I have a tendency to be faithful to it.

So, when I knew that I was going to be reinstalling the seacocks. And I wasn’t exactly certain just what method I was going to use, and therefore not certain exactly how much to get. And I knew that it would be essentially impossible to get once I left the US. I kind of ‘threw money at the problem’ as they say, which is usually not my style. But, I was trying to solve a bunch of problems in a very short time. It just seemed like the best compromise. I bought a lot of it and brought it back with me.

In spending far more time than anyone thinks I should have, on analyzing exactly what went wrong, and how to do the best possible job this time. I decided that the main problem that we had was that the other sealant that we used in the late 90s (LifeSeal, not LifeCaulk) had never bonded properly to the bronze seacock, and after about eight or nine years, it started slowly leaking. Not enough to sink the boat, but in annoying amount. And on several seacocks.

You could see salt residue accumulating on various parts of the sealant around the edge of the seacock. Something was clearly wrong and needed fixing. So in April 2010, I went to a great deal of trouble to remove all 5 seacocks. Even without a completely perfect bond, they are still quite thoroughly stuck down, and hard to peel off. Then, as I’ve said, Mike Cross took it upon himself to help me ‘get the job’ done, which in this case meant doing 99.99% of it himself. The job was to completely rebuild all of the seacocks, to better than new condition.

He also tried hard to think of a better than new installation method, since he knew that I was not happy with the way that they had been done in the past. To get to a point here, I found out that we were supposed to use a special primer on the bronze in order to get adhesion. In my defense I would mention that the special primer is advertised as being used for oily woods like teak, but in any case I was not aware that it was needed on bronze. So I did not use it. So I had a problem. Which is all consistent with the theory that ‘one needs to use the primer.’

But the immediate problem is that I’m in Turkey, and getting things shipped here is slow and expensive. And the special cleaner that is supposed to be used before you put on the primer, is considered a hazardous material in that it is flammable, and so shipping goes from expensive to extremely expensive. And takes quite a while. And I’m kind of in a hurry.

I would guess that 95% of the cruising boating community uses a product called Sikaflex 291, at least around here. Another surprise that I had encountered after getting back to the boat, was to find out that lifecaulk takes two weeks to cure to a depth of one quarter of an inch. Due to the design, the sealant would take many months to fully cure. Not that it must fully cure before launch, but as a minimum I would need to wait two weeks after waiting for several weeks for it to arrive. (They make a two component similar product that cures in just hours, which is what I clearly should’ve bought.)

So, I decided to change horses in midstream and researched Sikaflex 291. Funny thing, it too needs a primer and a special wash before you put on the primer, but they do sell them in Turkey. On Wednesday, April 17 I was told that they would have them by Friday, April 19. I was not shocked when they are still not here on Saturday, April 20, but I assume that they will come in early next week. Also, Sikaflex 291, cures in just a very few days.

There are two official chandlery’s near the Marina and several hardware stores about a half a mile away that have a surprisingly good inventory of boat related items. None of them had what I wanted in stock, but this is partially because Sika makes a bewildering assortment of products for boats, construction, and who knows what all. Sika also does not explain very well which product you need for a particular job. So it took me several days of research to decide on what I needed to ask for. I actually felt that I’d quite clearly decided on a different combination of products a couple of days before. And was naïve enough to think that, “I have that solved.” But, happily, I noticed a reference to a different primer and series of products, and was able to verify that they were correct and I had been previously wrong.

It also deserves mentioning that of the several people, very experienced cruisers all, that I have talked to about needing these special primers, have never heard of such a thing, and of never use them. That would be one reason that the marine chandlery’s don’t stock them. The other is, in my opinion, that there are probably tens of thousands of parts used on boats. ‘Boat bits’ as a friend of ours living in New Zealand calls them. And neither of the chandlery’s are anywhere near large enough in their annual sales that they can afford to stock more than the most common items that are asked for. You just can’t have a lot of money tied up in something that someone only asks for every five years. Especially since five years from now, there will be some other product and that old product will become the eight track tape of the marine world.

That’s where being able to order stuff on the Internet in the US really helps. You come very close to having an infinitely large chandlery, that not while next door, is pretty accessible, and the shipping is pretty reasonable. It all gets much more complicated when you move to another country Even though international law says, that we are foreign vessels in transit. That is the things that we have shipped to us here in Turkey, or whatever country were in at the moment, are not going to stay in that country. They are just being delivered to a citizen of the world, who is about to export them, in a manner of speaking. Most countries recognize intellectually, that there should be no duty on such items. However, in my experience, most countries have a small percentage of customs agents, that are driven crazy by this heresy! They are just compelled to hit you up with a large duty, to justify their existence. Like the 50% duty on my shoes. And having to spend all day riding the train over to a distant city to pick up my shoes, and then to return to the boat. And even then I had several long arguments with the customs agent, to be able to even do that. That was in Portugal, where the official Portuguese customs agent, that worked three days a week at an official Customs office right in the Marina that we were at, fought long and hard to get them to leave me alone. I was a foreign vessel, that was just passing through Portugal, and the items were not staying in the EU. The good news is that most of the things that we had sent there came through without a hitch. But that was because both we and the resident customs agent spent a lot of time trying to do each shipment the best possible way. Actually, I have not tried to have anything sent here, but I hear enough for stories from others who have, that I’m not eager to explore those waters.

Also, when I arrived, the boat was really dirty. Pretty much any place on the planet, things outdoors tend to collect dirt. But, it is been our experience in the Mediterranean, that a significant number of the rainstorms, perhaps a third of them, are mud storms. It literally rains red mud. It is also in your best interest as soon as it is over, to get out and wash it all off, otherwise it tends to stick. I’m not talking a little bit of reddishness on deck.

I am talking about large quantities of red silt that collects in any place that the water slows down a little bit as it’s running off of the boat. When we were in the Spanish islands, the soil there is exactly the same color red. And so I was skeptical when people said that this red mud was rain filled with dust from the Sahara.

It looked to me like the local growing practice for the olive trees and orange trees, was to completely defoliate the ground except for the trees. Zero groundcover. Just the trees. Talk about erosion!

They are in the business. What do I know? And it is possible that one of you out there thinks that anybody who has been living on a diet of rabbit food alone for the last 40 years, is demonstrably nuts.

I post the following links not to try to convert anyone to my brand of lunacy. But, to be more like a short explanation of what some weird religion entails. Not designed to convert anyone, just to let them know where I’m coming from. So go ahead and click on them. I promise you that you won’t be corrupted. But, you might have a better idea of how I think.

For several years we have been on the mailing list of Dr. Mercola. To many people he is the king of all nut jobs. I certainly agree that he’s different. If you get on his mailing list, you will find that he has a prolific writing staff.

Everyday he sends 1 or 2 of these. They tend to be “The Sky Is Falling!!!” but are usually true and I enjoy reading the “Story at-a-glance”. I find that usually his claims are true, if perhaps presented in alarming terms.

According to the actuarial tables I will not need to worry so much about the rape of the Planet that we are seeing, but younger people are in for a wild ride. I wish the good people well. The rapists, well, we have some openings in the Organ Donor program. Just fill out this form….

In today’s email from Dr. Mercola, he sent these two links.

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/04/20/ecosystem-restoration.aspx

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/04/20/conventional-farming-method.aspx

I confess that I have not seen any of the videos in those two links. The Wi-Fi here at the present time just barely works for email. Videos or Skype are out of the question when it takes several minutes to download a simple webpage that you can get to see before you have your finger off the mouse button. The Internet stops working altogether several times a day, sometimes for a whole weekend.

So I’m basing my favorable impression on the text of those two pages. I’m assuming that it has to do with that as yet forgotten and largely undiscovered science of making things grow the way nature intended. I’m extremely aware that several of you out there have already been doing this for many many years, but, I think you will agree that it is almost unheard of. On what I believe to be the same subject, have a look at a webpage by one of Janet’s cousins and the outstanding work that they’re doing in Oregon making gardens ultra fertile using simple but ingenious techniques. Naturally all organic and extremely low cost. I had some comments that I thought were relevant and they asked me to add them to the bottom of that page. So I put them in as three separate comments, since they were somewhat three separate subjects. I think you’ll agree that they apply to the situation.

http://thesharinggardens.blogspot.com/2013/03/grass-clippings-and-leaves-for.html

As I explained in the comments, and as I think any gardener knows, not all land is very fertile. And it is extremely easy to screw things up so that even fertile land becomes sterile. What I think is less well understood, is that clever gardeners can create superb, fertile ground, under even extreme desert like conditions.

Well, I got distracted talking about saving the planet. But what I was leading up to was in the last few days I spent two long and hard days washing the boat and she looks really good.

Also, Janet has always my hair since about 1976. So I had to discover how barbershops work nowadays. I was a little nervous because I’ve had some bad experiences in the past. I had what I thought was a very nice haircut in Reno, and got another one before leaving town to head back to Snohomish. I was going to get another haircut just before flying back to the boat, but just did not have time.

My hair has been getting pretty long, but I was concerned about getting the kind of haircut I wanted when I don’t speak the language. Happily, it all worked out just fine.

You’re probably wondering what’s the big deal. Well, one thing that they have done to some of my friends is they think that your hair and nose hair should be kept to a very minimum. The first story I heard they use wax, like women would use to take hair off of their legs. As I understand it they apply a special wax that hardens and is aggressively sticky and then rip it off with a hairs embedded in it. Not for the faint of heart. S&M anyone? I’m surprised that they allow it on airplanes. It seems much more dangerous than tweezers.

Well, my friend felt the pleasantly warm sensation in his ear, but then as soon as it had cooled the right amount it was yanked out. He just about flew out of the chair, and he was not reassured by quickly figuring out that, ‘OMG, they’re about to do that with the other ear.’ I understand that they have a similar process for your nose hairs. Nervous yet?

However, this barber used the other technique. He had a wire with a cotton ball in the end of it that he dipped in, probably alcohol, and set it on fire and then flicked it repeatedly at my ear to burn the hairs and fuzz off. It worked fine and was no problem. He did not set my hair or beard on fire. It was totally painless.

Fortunately he did not attempt it on my nose, as I was a little concerned that my mustache might never be the same.

All in all it was an excellent experience, cost less than six dollars US, and I plan to go back again to him as needed.

Those were the two pieces a good news from yesterday. But, while washing the hull, I had the use of a special platform, that makes standing up high and right next to the boat much easier. I thought I would use it to change the batteries in the man overboard equipment. We have a pole and lifejacket and a collection of flashlights and flares and a survival mirror, that release and drop into the water when a string is pulled. It can be released from someone in the cockpit, and whenever appropriate, bad weather or at night, we trail a very long floating line. The idea being that if someone falls over if they just swim in the direction that the boat used to be. That is, cross the path that the boat has followed. If they do it quickly they should encounter this floating rope. If they pull on it it sets off a Freon horn inside the boat to wake up people that might be sleeping and also releases the above-mentioned survival gear. The line remains attached to the boat if the boat is traveling very slowly, 1 1/2 mph or less, you can hang on and be dragged along. But if it’s going much faster the force of the water is just too strong.

It has batteries that had not been changed since 2009 and they do leak after time. We insist on Duracell because they have always paid to replace whatever they’ve ruined. And there been quite a few times that we’ve had them have to do that over the last 40 years, because we use a lot of batteries, and the hot weather seems to make them leak. Happily all the batteries were just fine. They had not leaked all and changing them was very easy to do compared with previous years.

Until I was putting everything back together.

It was then I noticed that the heavy lead weight on the bottom of the man overboard pole was now hanging down at an angle. The large plastic pipe that makes the body of the pole was bent dramatically. This can’t be a good sign I thought. I quickly discovered that something had shorted out inside the pole and the batteries had gotten so hot that they made the plastic very soft and the weight on the end caused it to bend. This could have conceivably caused a fire. So things could’ve been a lot worse, but it was really disheartening. I checked the inventory and I believe that I have a long enough piece of the special plastic pipe that is needed to repair the pole. But I remember rebuilding the pole in about 1996 and it is a lot of work. It is not going to happen until after I get back from Greece and have more time. The other problem is that I had decide in the pieces to get the batteries out and stop the fire danger. So, I now have to keep it indoors and things were already far too chaotic with too many things being stored indoors. It is a great long pole. I found a reasonable place and it will keep.

Well, this is gotten way too long. I hope I haven’t put you to sleep. Writing these as part of my therapy, in case you hadn’t noticed. Please, no emails about, “Dave. Obviously the therapy is not working.”I figured that out on my own, but I do it anyway.

Dave

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3 thoughts on “Life on the Hard.

  1. LOL – I just look at them as long boat love-letters! Can’t wait to see some pictures…. and I’m having a real visual of your nose hairs and beard on fire! ha ha ha

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