Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Mid Winter Check In

Working on an old sailboat has  become our major extracurricular activity.  Some might say our only extracurricular activity. And it feels that way sometimes although it's not totally accurate either.  It's been like this for quite a while now.   We keep finding things on the boat that require repairs or replacement.  There are little things and big things and little things that could turn into big things if left on their own.  Well one upside of all of this is that we never have to ask each other "What do you want to do today?" any more.   The answer to that would usually be to just finish our coffee and head to the boat. We're working toward the day when our morning coffees will once again be brewed on  board s/v Twisted Sheets  instead of at the house. We're getting itchy to do some coastal cruising.

By now I suspect that you've realized that  this is going to quickly degrade into yet another of these DIY-old sailboat-fixing posts.  I'll try to fit in some tropical scenery to dilute the boat stuff.  That's why I threw that photo of the coffee cup in there.  Well, it was taken at sunrise.  We just didn't have any horizon that morning.  We're feeling guilty after watching the Boston weather this morning.  A blizzard.   Not for us, thanks.  Been there, done that, didn't buy the t-shirt.

My son Jacob has been visiting us this month from Massachusetts and that's why we're paying attention to the Boston weather at the moment.   And he's definitely not wishing he was on Cape Cod right now.  He and his step-mother have been out cruising around  on the paddleboards quite a bit this week.  This is our version of winter sports.

They like to paddle out to one of the Five Little Cays and loop around it.   I handed him my camera  to snap some photos. He's not fooling me.  I can tell by the angle on this one that he was sitting on the board.

I think maybe he forgot to mention that La Gringa led the way around the island, with a dog on board.  I wasn't there for this, but can tell from the photo that this is the seaward side of the little cay, as they rounded it heading back toward Providenciales.

The ocean water is simply disgusting here, isn't it?    Would it help if I reminded you that this is really just melted snow and that I'm sure this water has all been prominent in a New England storm at some point in the past?  And will be there again, in good time.

Dooley wasn't stuck on the board the whole time, either, by the way.  He gets plenty of swim time in on these excursions.   I entertained myself by roaming around taking photos of the shore area while my entire immediate family was off floating around in the ocean. On third hand fiberglass planks.  Without life jackets.  In shark infested water. I thought this rock formation had some potential from a photographic standpoint.

I held the camera near that hole in the rock to see what a video  would look like.  What do you think?:

I guess Dooley's returned from the paddleboard trip.  Our own personal Tropical Disturbance, in action.

Jacob is another inveterate beach comber, and takes a camera on his walks here.  Having visitors here from the US reminds us of how different this little island is from places like Cape Cod.   After ten years here we've gotten jaded.  This all actually looks normal to us.  This is our day to day life.  Not his. He sees the differences.  He tells me that he's never noticed a bug like this on Cape Cod, for example.

And for some reason I like his photo of the last days of a sand dollar as it gently blends back into the earth which formed it.   There's just something about that thought that this photo seems to bring back to me.  Makes me remember that life is short.  Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. An organic version of turning to rust.

It also reminds me that it's time I got back to work on the boat.  How's that for a segue into what I really wanted to talk about anyhow?   Hey, I DID put some tropical photos in here.

If you can remember back to the previous blog post,  you might recall that I put up a photo  of the mast while we were out sailing.  This photo, in fact.

My son took that photo and what was of interest to him was the sail and the boat logo.   I look at the photo and see the cause of a definite problem and a passel more DIY jobs.  At least.  There might even be two passel worths.   The DIY jobs that leap out at me are replacing the VHF antenna  and removing the lightning damaged junk from the top of the mast, and running a flag halyard up to the starboard spreader, and removing the fried radar antenna, and installing a speaker, and repairing the spreader, anchor and deck lights.   Oh, and the Catalac logo needs repainting.  Sigh.   Lets make that a series of sighs.  Tapering off into low sobs.  This boat has definitley been keeping us tied up pretty well, lately.

I'll explain what caused the problem for us, too.  Look at the halyard that's tucked behind that second mast step  down from the top on the right side.   "Halyard" is sail boat talk for the ropes that run up to the top of the mast and back down to the deck.  They are used to raise and lower things like sails and booms and dinghys and salvaged treasure when it's too heavy for us to lift on our own.  Ha ha.  

Actually, we're about to use one of those halyards to haul me up there to do some of these repairs.  Not that I'm any treasure.  Look at the rope that goes right to the top tip of the sail.   We have roller furlers on our boat, so we don't use as many halyards as most boats, but we have a bunch of them installed on the mast. And from time to time this conglomeration of lines causes some issues.   Usually the halyards are just loose and making that annoying slapping noise that sailboat halyards make in the wind.  Anyone who has tried to sleep in a marina full of sailboats in the wind most likely knows what I'm talking about.  I've long thought that "The Slappy Halyard" would be a good name for a marina bar.  Anyhow,  In this case, that loose halyard became snagged on the top of our main sail roller furling, and we didn't notice it at the time.  You can see it in that photo if you know what to look for.

Late in the day when we were finished sailing and  trying to roll the main sail back up we ran into problems.  That snagged halyard prevented the roller furling from  rotating as designed.  The problems were that I cranked entirely too enthusiastically on a  winch, and tore the sail and overstressed the furling hardware.   Getting the sail secured in a 20 knot wind was  quite invigorating. Especially since we hadn't been sailing but once in the past year and were way rusty and not all that clear on the proper sequence of events as we remembered it. Differently.

We got all tangled up with the furling line jammed on the winch. It involved cutting lines and  a fair bit of improvisation.  When we returned to  the marina, I discovered that one of the mast fittings for the roller furler was bent and about to fail.  I think one of the previous owners of this boat must have constructed this piece from heavy stainless steel wire.  I don't think it looks like it came from a marine chandlery.   And I'm sure you can see that one good tug and this thing would be coming loose from the mast.   I realize that not everyone reading this is familiar with sailing activities, but in general it's bad news whenever hardware comes flying off of whatever it was supposed to be attached to.  

I could see that this little bent wire t'ingum was going to become a problem with the next big tug on that line. And after looking at the local marine hardware options several times, I came to the conclusion that the only way I was going to get this repaired in time to go sailing again next weekend was if we just fabricated a replacement ourselves. We do a lot of that here. Also, we noticed that the block (which is a nautical term for a pulley) was putting the line (rope)  down low on the furling drum (which is that spoolie thing with the red rope wrapped righteously round it) and this was something I wanted to fix, too.  But the whole point of this photo is to show you how precarious the grip of the pop-riveted wire was to the mast.  Whoops.

Having never fabricated a piece of mast hardware before, I was a little unsure as to what was going to work best.  Here's a photo of what I came up with.   The first object there on the left is that bent piece from the photo above.  I hesitate to call it original, as I'm fairly confident that this wasn't a professionally designed and manufactured piece.  It was failing anyway so it really doesn't matter.  I removed it to get the dimensions I needed to duplicate and I also wanted to see if perhaps I could just simply fix it by re-bending the eyes.  This is a good, time-honored lazy way out of a job I really didn't feel like doing in the first place.  I've gotten pretty good at that over the years.  But at some point this annoying sense of responsibility kicked in and  I decided that rebending the steel would  weaken it.  I also felt that this approach left something to be desired from an engineering standpoint.    I do not think that using rivets with that bent wire was the best idea.   I mean, a bozo like me just bent it, right?  I also thought it just basically looked ugly and unsuitable and that alone was more than enough justification to do something about it.  I didn't want someone looking at this and thinking it was something on the boat that I approved.  Know what I mean?  

That piece in the middle is my first attempt to copy the function of the  bent wire "original"  on the left.  I basically just mutilated a  perfectly good  piece of stainless rod that started out as salvaged rigging from a shipwreck on West Caicos. I heated the ends with a propane torch and then wailed away at it like a maniacal drooling blacksmith  with a claw hammer and a cheap bench vise as an anvil.  I think the hammer marks give it an air of hand wrought authenticity, like I just screwed up a miniature horseshoe.

After it was all said and done  I was a little nervous about the thin material around the eyes.    And yes, I know it's even uglier than the piece I was trying to replace.  It's perfectly okay if you want to tell me these truths.  You won't hurt my feelings.  I'm a big boy, and  I knew my creation was hideous when I heavily hammered it hairless.  I realized it,  I cried, and moved on.  We just have to try to use these little failures as stepping stones to our next little failures. Which is at least a change of scenery and a chance to wash up and get some sleep. Or something like that.  The really important part of what many call a failure is to consider it just a learning step in the process of getting it right.  Failures can be very useful with the right attitude.  At least that's what I told myself after hitting my thumb with the hammer and screaming until my own eardrums hurt.  Time to move on.

Now that third piece of metal  in the photo of the DIY mast pieces, the one on the right, is the result of  taking a Dremel tool and cutting a 15mm wide strip off the stainless holding tank that we also salvaged from that a wreck on West Caicos.  We sure got a lot of mileage from that wreck.  I wish I knew who owned that boat.  I'd like to contact them and tell them their old boat was living on, and parts of it were sailing again.   I know I'd be tickled to hear that if it was me.   And I think this second attempt looks almost like it was intended for the application, if you squint your eyes just right and suspend most of your standards for a moment.

I think this is a better application for the rivets, for sure.

I also made the replacement just a few millimeters shorter than the one I destroyed, er,  replaced.  This should do a slightly better job of feeding the furling line onto the drum in the middle so that it doesn't clump up in one area and cause hard feelings amongst the sailors.    I know it's difficult to see what I'm talking about from these photos.  And I notice it looks better from a distance.  So much so, that I am expecting that looking at it from the distance of a couple years will make it look even better yet.  We'll see.

In the early day of stripping this boat I  never realized that I would ever get  this far into it.   I thought I'd  just take a quick look behind the vinyl and find the places where the rain was leaking in, and that would be the end of it.  But no, it's gone much deeper than that.  I don't know if this has become a challenge, or an obsession.  But I've noticed a change in my attitude as this whole old-boat-refurbishment thing has progressed.  I noticed it again just yesterday, in fact.  We're working on stripping the forward cabins in preparation for painting and installing the new hull liner.  The ventilation could use some improvement, and I decided to take a break from stripping old glue to install a new 12 volt fan.

I know this doesn't look like much, but it represents something to us.   This is something new being installed on the old boat. I wish I had taken photos of the old, rusty, cheap  discount store fan that I removed, but that's long gone to the dump.   And there was something satisfying about putting those two new stainless screws into the wood.  So many of these projects have been done in the past using whatever hardware was available.  We've thrown an amazing amount of rusty steel away so far.   But now, things are starting to come back together.  And  wherever possible, it's being done right.  I used the right sized screws.   The right length.

The fan is a good one.  Designed for use on a boat, not plugged into a cigar lighter designed in 1950 for an automobile.    There is a feel about a good product.  A heft to the motor.  A solidity to the parts.  It's clean and white and new and if nobody was looking I'd probably fondle it for a few seconds before installing it.

We hadn't put up the new hull liner at this point.  We were working in the cabin to clean the rest of the old glue and foam rubber from the fiberglass.   We were using solvents to loosen up the glue.   It was decided that installing ventilation was probably a good idea.   We'll remove it to install the hull liner under it when we get to this part.

And there we have a new, marine grade, functioning fan that works just great.   I realize this doesn't sound like a big deal to most people.  They'll figure "what's he on about?  It's just a little fan."  And yeah, that's accurate.   That's all this is.   The first of six new fans.   What makes it a little red letter nanosecond for me is that finally, things are being installed back on the boat at a good clip.    The destruction phase is over.  Now, we rebuild with good stuff.

Jacob has been working on the interior of the forward cabins for us. An extra pair of hands is very welcome, as there is a huge amount of boat work yet to be done. He's learning a lot about old English catamarans on this vacation.  For example, he now knows that the  hatches over the bunks double as emergency escapes.

We've been organizing lines, sorting them by size and application and getting rid of the old and worn out ones.  This, too, has become satisfying in some strange way.

I wonder what kind of a manuscript we'd have if we'd logged every little repair in the two and a half years since we bought this boat.    I don't put all of this stuff in the log book for the boat.  It would take up way too much room to talk about all the little things.  I do list the important stuff, like major changes or engine repairs.  But we don't bother listing every stitch to a parachute drogue, for example.   We do have a sewing machine on board, but sometimes the old ways are more convenient.

Like with a curved needle and 40 lb. test monofilament.  And these stitches don't come loose.

We've got a big roll of hull liner, which we've also heard some sailors refer to as "mouse fur carpet", in our living room for months. We're pulling the old stuff off the boat and taking it home to trace and cut the new pieces. There is a huge difference in smell between 30 year old hull liner and new hull liner, by the way.  Just in case you wondered about that.

We're spending as much time at the marina as we can get away with.  The boat is functionally just about there, awaiting only a certain yellow bellied captain to climb the mast and fix a bunch of already listed issues there. I would have done it today, but I dropped a socket overboard between the boat and the dock, and well, I believe in omens.

Can you believe that the water is 12 feet deep there ?   Or how I changed the subject from me climbing the mast?

I can't avoid it much longer, so I'll be up there as soon as this dreadful wind abates a bit.  Or something like that.  In the meantime, we're still here on the south side of the island of Providenciales, dreaming of casting off the lines and heading out for some new adventures.   The 'cruising season' is just starting up here, and we're starting to see other sailboats coming through South Side Marina.  

Speaking of South Side Marina, recently I was finishing up  another of my latest little projects-du-jour and looked up to notice a decent looking sunset.  Not that they're all that rare here.  I looked around  and noticed that my crew was gone. I was on the boat alone.   

This is usually their subtle signal that it's time to gather up at the bar.  So I went up to take a look. 

Yeah, it's a much better view from here.  

Tuesday, January 13, 2015


It's been a while since the last post, but I think we're finally back to a stabilized condition for a while.  We spent the holidays in the Rocky Mountains.  We are firmly back in the islands at the moment. And I can confirm that Providenciales and Boulder are two completely different universes in late December.  We didn't see any sunrises like this up a mile above sea level, for example:

We did get some good ones over the Rockies, but I well know y'all come here for the tropical images, and so  meanwhile, back at the ranch.. er, Caicos Bank:

A different kind of 'rockies' entirely.  Happy New Year. We have an excellent view of about a dozen good fireworks displays above the resorts across the narrow island.  The places on Grace Bay seem to compete with each other every year for fireworks.  Club Med refuses to observe Daylight Savings Time and launch their fireworks an  hour before everyone else.   That's not uncommon here, by the way. Pine Cay also has stood with one time over the years.  And now the word being reported in the local newspapers is that the entire country is going to permanent DST next November. They're setting the clocks to the Caribbean Time Zone during the usual Spring Forward in March, and leaving it there.  This means that during the busy season in coming years, the Turks and Caicos will be an hour ahead of New York, Miami, and the entire eastern US. This has the potential to be fun to watch. I'm basing this partially upon personal observations of the nations only four way stop sign intersection. And please remember anything I say is filtered through an accused but un-convicted curmudgeon.

We were out cruising around the Blue Hills area of Providenciales recently as we do from time to time. We noticed that another restaurant has opened on the island.   This happens frequently in a tourism driven place like this. This one is right on the beach in Blue Hills, on  a very nice spot of beautiful beach that was previously occupied by an establishment known as Horse Eyed Jacks. The name of the new place is  Kalooki's.  We're always happy to try out fresh beach grub options so we boogied on over one afternoon to check it out for lunch.  I also figured you guys might like to see something in this blog other than aerial photos of marinas and our old DIY sailboat projects.   So here's a little description of our trip to Kalooki's.   And if you landed on this website by mistake while trying to find  a restaurant review  I can save you some time by just stating up front that we really enjoyed the place and the food was terrific. Our recommendation is that you Go. Enjoy.

We had been to this same Blue Hills location at least a dozen times in its previous incarnation.  It's a stupendous location for a beach restaurant, located in a nice grove of Casuarinas trees right on the sand.  And this is one of the nicest little beaches on Provo for a leisurely meal while contemplating the sky, the reef, and the deep blue sea. I think one of the real challenges in running a restaurant here is the competition.  Da Conch Shack is literally right next door.  Getting here is as easy as heading out for Blue  Hills and looking for that Kalooki's sign.  There's also an old panga style conch boat hull sitting out front.  The last restaurant here had a pickup truck sitting out front.  For a while.   Pickup trucks don't tend to sit near the beach here for very long, in the geologic time scale of things.  I realize it's meant to be decorative, but it's actually not in all that bad of a shape, compared to some of the boats running around here.   I'm surprised this thing doesn't have an outboard and two conch divers on it.

I always get a kick out of these sign posts that show me how far we're standing from a bunch of places where we'd rather not be.   I'll be the first to admit that we're most likely biased against cities after after living on a small tropical island for ten years.  And that's probably why I consider this one grump's version of a list of good places to be from.

We met the owners of Kalooki's on this visit.  This is Tory and Mal Williams, the justifiably proud owners of Kalooki's,  They're standing next to their very distinctive logo.   That's going to look great on t-shirts and hats.

Their logo looked vaguely familiar to me when I first saw it, this whimsical figure playing a conch trumpet.  It took a while until I realized that it's a tropical version of the Hopi and Pueblo Indian's Kokopelli, the mythical flute player in the US desert southwest.  Playing the native music. I like it. This should be a great spot to hear some Rake and Scrape.  We'll have to come back at night and check it out.

The restaurant has been repainted in a very attractive and colorful tropical style.  It's good to see something other than the usual whitewash.   I'm probably pretty picky about these things, but I was also glad to see that it had all been repainted top to bottom.   That's because it means it was probably also cleaned from top to bottom first.    I'd say this is a good sign in a new restaurant.

We enjoyed the laid back atmosphere and decor. I don't know if it was the relaxing colors, the quiet afternoon, or the lulling sound of the ocean just a few short steps away, but the place has that same quiet beach quality that lends itself well to  thoughts of palm trees and hammocks.   It blends in well.  The thatched roof doesn't hurt the ambiance, either.

I think it looks like the kind of place that could use a couple of parrots in a cage behind the bar.  A war canoe. You get the drift.  Corona could easily use this place in a promotional video.

And the beach here is one of the prettiest on the island.  On most days the prevailing trade winds will be blowing from the island out toward the reef.  With the strength of the winds down here, this means you don't typically get sand blasted or salted during a meal. Not too shabby.

(The owner) told us that they have plans for a t-shirt and souvenir shop in the restaurant eventually.   They've already started with a small display on the beach.

I hadn't intended for this post to turn into an ad for Kalooki's, and we have absolutely no stake in the place whatsoever, but we know that some people are going to stumble across this blog post when they start Googling Kalooki's on vacation, and we may as well show y'all what our early lunch experience was like.   

Those bamboo mats are menus.      I hope you can read these selections.   Some good ones.   If you can't read them here, there's a menu on their website.

We noticed that the place is off to a rousing start in the local beach restaurant business.  And here, beach restaurant is what people come to the islands for.  Kalooki's has been winning first place awards in the local competitions already. Something tells me that this ain't their first fish fry.

We were on a committed schedule that day and had to have an early lunch. This had some benefits.  We were the first customers of the day and got to choose our table.  You might have predicted that we'd go for a shady table under a coconut palm with a nice view of the beach, the ocean, and the reef.  Right?

There was a fair bit of cloud cover that day, so the photos don't look as sunny as yours will, but on an average day here we'd  actually need the shade.

We met one of the servers at Kalooki's named Aysha.  We were discussing the restaurant and the art they had displayed on the beach when she told us that she's an artist, and some of the paintings here are hers.   We asked her to email us some examples of her work. She did, and here are a couple that fit right in with this post.  This scene is looking very familiar, come to think of it.

Devon is visiting from Canada.  We met online because he saw a photo of our boat next to his in storage at the marina. We've been corresponding for over a year, and finally we met.  He's got a completely equipped steel monohull sailboat here in the yard, for sale if anyone reading this is interested.  It would be a great project for someone who likes to weld.  Devon's taking a break from sailing to raise a young family for a while. There's a photo of S/V Sea Munchkin in this blog post, the second from the last photo.  

And thats the artist Aysha with the big smile and her eyes closed and she's not going to like this photograph.  We'll have to go back and get another one.

La Gringa Suprema started out with a bowl of the award winning lemon grass flavoured seafood chowder. This stuff looked pretty good from the start.  Even  back when that cherry had a couple inches depth under it.

This photo is going to look upside down but that's only because La Gringa was taking these and she just leaned over and snapped a photo of Devon's first course.  He tried the conch ceviche.  He also said it was absolutely delicious.

Here's another view of those appetizers, along with some colorful tropical drinks, of course.  I mean, what's a beach restaurant experience without some tropical drinks.  It was too late in the morning for breakfast beer, right?  We attempted to hit this place like we were on serious vacation, by the way. Notice that one has a lime in it.   Don't try this at home.  Not if you have to go back to work, anyhow.

La Gringa was in love with this place by the second spoonful.  There are seafood chowders, and then there are Seafood Chowders. This one hit all the wickets.

I disappeared that piece of garlic bread about ten seconds after taking that photo. Oh man.  Do you like garlic bread?  I bet you'd like this.

Then we got the main courses.  No kidding. I was glad I'd skipped the first one, but that was because I went for the cracked conch.  Yes, battered and fried and accompanied by a heaping pile of fried potatoes.  I mean, this is my own personal gold standard when it comes to local seafood.  How tender and flavorful is the cracked conch.   I used to be the same way about Key Lime Pie.  I had a standard set in 1986 in Key Largo, and compared hundreds of key lime pie samples to that original benchmark  for many years.  Nowdays I compare cracked conch.  It's a staple when it comes to judging competitive dishes here in the islands.

This was some of the best cracked conch I've had in a long time. It's easily competing with the best I've had on this island.  And you know what a grump I am about these things.  No complaints here whatsoever.

Devon went for the jerk chicken, another award winner.  This is some seriously good stuff, too.  There was hot sauce on the table.  I noticed he didn't reach for it.

La Gringa thought she was going to end up with a light lunch by ordering a fish taco after the chowder.   This turned out to be a substantial lunch in itself, and just as tasty as everything else the three of us tasted.   This is the only photo I have of the fish taco plate, there on the right.  And she'd already been scarfing on it before the photo was taken.   I'm going to blame that green stuff.

Okay, that's enough about Kalooki's.  Except to say that there were so many interesting looking things on the menu that we plan to go back and try quite a few more.  This is a nice place. We're sure glad to see another good option here.

Back in our little mundane day to day world we've gotten back to work on the sailboat after the holidays.  We launched her and have put the sails back on. Here's Dooley the Demented watching us do all the work.

La Gringa met a cruiser named June on her way south, and they discovered that they're both members of the same women's sailing group.  We do love the mountains, but it's sure good to be back at sea level, too.

I guess this is a good spot for the DIY notification.  The rest of this post is pretty much about some of the stuff we've been doing to the boat recently.

We discovered that we had a huge leak in our freshwater storage system.  We also had a leak in our raw ocean water compressor cooling system but that's another story.  This is already a fairly long post, and so I'll just concentrate on one little DIY here.  For now.

What was happening was that when we filled up our fresh water tanks, we started noticing that the left hand hull was needing to be pumped out more than usual. We isolated the culprit to this old stainless tank under the deck in the galley.  Or  under the floor in the kitchen if you prefer cowboy terms.

The source of the leak was pretty obvious once we could look at the underside of the tank.  The welded edge under the inlet pipe was covered in epoxy, which had let go of the steel, and the water was leaking out and dripping around the edges of the old fiberglass.  There wasn't much cloth in the repair and I think it was polyester resin.   Hey, finding the problem was the first step forward here.   And after removing that rotten old holding tank last year, this was a walk in the park. This thing has only ever had fresh water in it.  Whew.

Of course my first inclination was to replace the entire thing with a plastic tank.  Then I priced that out with two different plastic tank companies.  $850 per tank.  We have four of these.  Then shipping and custom, and well, you've read it all before if you follow this blog.  The high price is because these are custom fitted to the hulls.  See where it's triangular?   We could go with stock, rectangular tanks for a third that cost, but we'd lose over half our storage capacity.

So of course you know what happened. Being somewhat of a parsimonious  bent, I decided to try to patch this up and see how it works.   It's not like I really had much option.  I thought about trying to weld the stainless, but it's already brittle and I'm lousy at fine welding.  I could stick half inch plate  together pretty good but trying to weld thin steel takes more of a touch than I have yet developed.  And better equipment.  And it would be adding another alloy to welds already gone brittle.  I figured it was as good a time as ever to reacquaint myself with fiberglass.   This should be a handy skill going forward, on a fiberglass boat.

For you fellow leaky tank fixers out there, I first sanded the old goop down to shiny steel.  Then I molded in JB Weld's marine steel expoxy putty.  I used this to fill and level every suspicious looking crevice I could find.  On the tank, I mean.

After running  strips of cloth along all seams,  doubled on the bottom and tripled around the fittings, and glassing it, we did a little water test.

It was nice to see it holding water for a couple of hours, and that it only drained where it was supposed to drain when I pulled the stopper out.

I think it looks a whole lot better than it did when we drug it out of the boat several photos back.  Now we'll re-install it and keep an eye on how it holds up. If that last patch job went ten years.... we're good to go on this one.   With three more tanks the same age still in the boat.   My total out of pocket costs to repair this will be something like $ 50.  And I'm feeling a lot better about taking on some glass and gelcoat fixes on the boat now.  I hadn't done any fiberglass seam work since building surfboards in the '60's.  And who the heck remembers the 60's?

Some components of a boat can be repaired, and there are some that are likely frozen in a state of destruction forever.  That prop makes my measly fifty bucks worth of fiberglass seem pretty silly, doesn't it.  That thing  probably cost more than our car.   And I'm pretty sure that no amount of JB Weld and fiberglass is going to help it.

I'm going to clean out a few other DIY photos here, and I'll try to keep it brief.  Like, for example, while hooking up the LPG solenoid for the boat's stove I discovered that the corkscrew on a Swiss Army Knife is good for cleaning Teflon tape out of pipe threads.  See?  Useful and brief.

And I wanted to say a word of gratitude to Brenton and Randy at the Benjamin Moore paint store here.  I went looking for them and found out that they had moved locations, and expanded into new quarters.  These guys consistently stock the best quality tools and paint and supplies that I can find on this island.   And when I want an experts advice on paint or prep, they know their stuff.   Here's their new place.

Life in the marina is starting to show the seasonal flow.  We're seeing cruisers coming through, staying a few days and moving on.   Recently Bob re-furbished and installed some fresh channel markers at the entrance to the marina.

Okay, I can't stand it.  One more little DIY project for the boat.  I figure the only people who have read this far are interested in this stuff anyhow and the others are long gone by now.    Anyhow, this DIY has some historical significance to this blog.

Remember that sheet of Starboard we salvaged on West Caicos several years ago?  This week I finally used the last major bits of it.  Nothing left now but scraps.   What happened was that I needed to come up with some way of mounting our light fixtures to bare fiberglass.  They were screwed to thin sheets of plywood before we ripped all that out of the boat.  The plywood was a spacer, and the wires ran behind it.  Now I had to space the lights out away from the inside of the boat until we figure out what we really want to do here.  So I cut some spacers from the remaining piece of Starboard.

I used a circle cutting attachment with a heavy duty rotary cutter.  This is like a Dremel on steroids.   After cutting circles to match the diameters of the light fixtures, I cut the inside out with a Forstner bit on the drill press.

These actually look pretty cool in the boat.  The light shines through the plastic, and there's a glowing ring around the base of the fixture.  I'll try to get a photo for you.

Well, that's it for this post.  We've been trying to put a very hectic holiday season behind us and get back in harness here, and finally we're making progress.  This photo was taken two days ago.  This is progress.

I'll save the rest of the first sail of the year photos for another time.  We all leave our little tracks across this earth, some of them bigger than others.  We're glad you like to read about our own little trails through life.  We keep thinking that it's about to get a bit more interesting now that the boat is imported and functional again.   I was thinking about that when I drug out this old photo taken on Pine Cay some time back.   It's been a real struggle to get to this point, but maybe, just maybe..he who tracks last tracks best.

We should have some new sailing and tropical ocean photos any day now.  In the meantime, keep smiling.  Winter's temporary.  And there are places like this to escape to.