The Mother of All's been a VERY busy couple of months! So, where were we??? Rudder re-install. Seems like so very very long ago. Replacing the rudder was straightforward. With help from one of the sailors who'd been volunteering on Ocean Planet (Bruce Schwab's Open 60 being refit at Portland Yacht Services... here is their DRAMATIC launch:)

 Neil got the rudder shaft into the shaft tube. The rudder has a massive web inside and weighs about 210 pounds, so getting it up there was no mean feat. We put a floor jack and several pieces of blocking wood under the rudder and levered it into position (as you can see in the photo.) Replacing the rudder shoe and bearings inside the boat was remarkably easy, which Neil was not expecting. It's always great when a project you think is going to be really difficult goes so easily! (Makes up for the times when a 10 minute simple project takes all weekend!!!)

After the rudder, we were in the WHIRLWIND of pre-launch craziness. I doubt we can remember everything we did, but we'll give it a shot:

Installed prop and zinc. Serviced all the through-hulls. Last minute cabinetry projects. Our good friend Dave Fields had finished the gorgeous interior doors he'd been making and I varnished them; Neil was working on buffing and waxing the hull into the late night hours right up until the launch (THANK YOU to Rodd Collins for putting in the hours and sharing his tools and expertise to help get that huge project done!). 

We got the name decal back and I started applying it on Friday night (launch was scheduled for Tuesday). The two colors (dark blue outline and gold letters) came separately, I applied the blue and then started on the gold. Following the advise of the signmaker, I cut the letters apart to apply separately, to get the closest alignment. I began with the "Z". It was nerve-wracking, trying to align the letter perfectly with the blue underneath....I stuck down the top of the Z and then: yikes! the rest of the letter did not match up! I was so mad, I thought that they had made some error in the printing. It was Friday and I could do nothing until Monday morning. On Monday, I called the signmaker and they sent someone over with a new batch of gold letters. Turns out (DUH!!!!!) I had applied the Z upside down. Boy did I feel stupid! Anyway, the name came out beautifully in the end.

Over the weekend, tons of things got finished. One thing we needed to do was to plumb the bilge pump and the engine exhaust. Neil tackled the engine exhaust with the help of a fellow cruiser named Stewart (at the docks with his Australian family in their awesome steel boat Vladvark: Liv made fast friends with their daughter!) It was straightforward until we reached the transom. Mariner had recessed the area of the hull where the exhaust outlet fitting was, making it impossible to put a hose clamp on. It was also very difficult to access: Neil was on his head upside down contorted under the aft berth for hours. Stewart gamely spent his evening under there as well. After several hours and 10 beers, Man triumphed over Machine.

Similarly, Neil and Tony (of s/v Sea Muffin) fought the Battle of the Bilge... Rule, the most popular maker of bilge pumps, supplies their 2000 model with 1-1/8" outlets. In order for the pump to be most effective, you must use 1-1/8" hose. The problem is, it is nearly impossible to find fittings and adapters for that obscurely sized hose. Several days before, Neil had plumbed the vented loop for the bilge pump; the hose passes under the sole through the stringers and up the side of the water tank (a very tight fit) to the loop and exit in the side of the hull. The hose was not long enough to reach the bottom of the bilge. We could not find a 1-1/8" straight hose-to-hose adapter to add on another length, so we decided to change the entire length of hose out for one continuous length. We were using the dreaded white sanitation hose (highly rated but a total bear to work with!) Changing the hose SHOULD have been straightforward, but alas it was not to be. The new hose wound up feeding itself into an ever-tightening crevice between the water tank and the bulkhead. Like the Chinese Finger Torture, it would not come out under strain, only tighten more. What started out as a fun project with Neil and Tony talking like the Hulk (don't ask...) became a grueling three and a half battle with one piece of hose. Tools tried: prybar, various pliers and wrenches, silicone spray, Bacardi Gold,  hacksaw blade (they finally decided it wouldn't move so must be cut out.) The final victorious tool ended up being the mighty Fein Multimaster with a radial blade. Neil was able to slice the hose and splice it to another piece with a piece of 1" copper tube as an adapter. It took another 2 1/2 weeks for Neil's forearms to heal after this epic battle. Hulk sad. Hulk smash.

Meanwhile, our insurance survey was scheduled for Monday morning, so all weekend we were tying up projects to get the boat ready to be surveyed. Tim Lackey, who has done amazing restorations of his own boats, did our survey for us and we got it to the insurer in record time so that we'd be insured at the launch the next day. During the survey we had Bubba's Fuel Polishing clean our tanks and polish our fuel. Neil was moving boxes and supplies around between our various storage locations so we could load as much stuff as possible onto the boat before the launch. Actually the day is a total blur. I am sure that we were ridiculously busy all day long but I can't remember what we actually did!!!


We were scheduled for a 2:30 pm launch on Tuesday. We were busy all morning getting last-minute things done, and were relieved when the boat hauler, Bucky, informed us that we'd be a little bit later than that: it gave us a little more time to complete things.

Meanwhile, many friends had shown up for the launch, including some from rather far away, Leo Corsetti from Boston and Al Schober from Connecticut, both of whom we knew from our days as Tartan owners. Al had incredibly generously brought us 250' of anchor chain from Defender where he works; he'd collected donations from two other members of the Cruising World Bulletin Board, Mike from s/v Sannyasin and Chris Cardin in Washington state, and it was a very much appreciated gift! Al dragged it up to Maine in the back of his car and we loaded it up using the new windlass on Tuesday morning.

Olivia and I made a wreath for Zora's bow out of mostly wildflowers we picked in Portland Yacht Services's "Back 40"... (now some of you who read this will think: Why waste your time on something so frivolous? Just go sailing!!.... but it made us very happy; we continue to add beauty and joy to our lives every day and isn't that what it's all about?)...

We put out a celebratory picnic and drinks for our friends and all the great Portland Yacht Services people.... and waited for Bucky to come launch the boat. I was so excited: the whole thing just seemed so totally surreal. It was almost beyond my comprehension that Zora was going into the water. Our lives for so long had been all about working on the boat, just working on her, and it was really hard to shift my mind to seeing her as an actual BOAT rather than as this colossal job we had to do.

So we waited some more. We could not reach Bucky, who had gone to launch another boat at an inland lake. The lovely sunny day was clouding over and it started to rain. We moved inside the big, cold, damp building and worried. The yard was saying we were losing our water: it would soon be too low tide to launch. It looked like we weren't going to be able to launch that day.... some tears were shed. At one point, when the thunder and rain started and we were still a little bit hopeful that Bucky would get there in time, one of the yard employees came up to me and said, "Well, you're not planning to launch today, even if Bucky shows up, right?" huh???? "It's real bad luck to launch at PYS in a'll regret'll have all kinds of problems....." That really put me over the edge, I must say. Yeah, I am a little superstitious about boat things, and that was just NOT what I needed to hear tight then on top of everything else that seemed to be going wrong!!!!!

4:30 came and went and the yard folks all went home. We were about to give up, when suddenly there was the rumble of a big truck and Bucky arrived! At the same time the rain stopped and the sun began to come out: we were on!!!!!!!!!!!

There was a frantic scramble as we rounded up Olivia and the champagne for the launch, and climbed aboard....

As we rolled out into the sunlight we looked around at our beautiful boat: we'd never seen her in the natural light before, and the paint and varnish looked gorgeous...

Bucky backed us into the water a bit, then stopped and turned off the truck so that Liv could read the re-naming ceremony. With the proper reverence and libations offered to Poseidon and crew, we christened her Zora...

And she was launched!!!!!

Although we hadn't planned on it (honestly I had not been able to think past the launch itself!) Olivia insisted that we sleep aboard that night. The next morning we awoke to our beautiful boat...... and the start of our dream cruise..... Our sincere and heartfelt thanks to all who helped us make our dream come true...

Posted on August 21, 2004 .

Launch scheduled! Sole varnish, buffing, name & hail...

The launch is definitely scheduled for July 20th!! We are in a whirlwind right now. My mom is moving out of her house TODAY, so last weekend we had to move all of our stuff, household and boat, that we've had with us while we've been staying with her. Now we are kind of nomadic.... living out of the back of the car, sleeping at my Dad's place in town, but mostly spending all our time at the boat working feverishly. Neil's last day of work is next Friday the 16th; he can't wait. 

It's scary to be so close yet still have such looooong lists of stuff to do. We've pared down the lists to "must be done in order to launch", "would be great to get done before launch", and "can do after we move aboard". My only real reticence to having a long list of projects to complete aboard is that we've been promising Olivia for so long that once we leave on our trip Mommy and Daddy will not be working all the time! And some of the stuff we'll need to get done right away, like replacing the gasketing in the hatches and ports (otherwise wet cushions!) and replacing the port screens (still some mosquitoes around!).

Last week was a truly grueling one. I put in 12-14 hour days all week long doing the interior varnish and sole. Built up Epifanes gloss and then topped it with Epifanes Rubbed Effect. On the sole we used a new product called Ultimate Sole. It is a polyurethane and, like a gymnasium floor, has a really "grippy" non-skid quality while being very clear and glossy to look at. It went on beautifully, a joy to work with, and it looks truly great. It was really weird when I'd finished the varnish and we peeled off the masking tape: she looks like a new boat inside! Now I can't wait to bring in the cushions and curtains I've made and see the full effect!!! I'm waiting until we finish the last few grubby jobs, though. Don't want to get them dirty before we even leave! Here are pictures of the varnish at the Gloss stage, and one of some of the seemingly thousands of loose pieces I varnished off the boat:

What else? Our new trysail and mainsail arrived. Exciting! Neil repaired the mahogany mast step, coated it with epoxy, cleaned and painted the shoe, and re-installed the lot. The drive shaft is back in with its new cutlass bearing and PYI dripless shaft seal (you don't even want to know how many swear words were uttered in the hours and hours it took Neil to get the old cutlass bearing out!) Here's the massive step being epoxy-coated, and the old fasteners showing the crevice corrosion. Obviously we got new fasteners!

We installed our Fleming windvane on the transom (working out the rigging for it will be a project for "later"!) It is such a gorgeous piece of hardware. We ordered our name/hail decal. I used the last few hours at my Mom's house to stitch up some fitted sheets and mattress pads for our berths. Neil made some truly fantastic access doors for the storage behind the settee seat backs. We'd looked at many other boats' solutions at the Newport Boat show a few years back and this is really the best I've seen. The plywood panels with radiused corners fit flush with the seat back. two vertical battens are attached to the inside edge of the seat back bulkhead; one horizontal batten is attached to the inside edge of the door itself. An ABI flush pull-ring-latch is installed at the top. To close the panel, you simply hook the bottom batten into the lip, and shut the latch. To open, you pull the ring to release the latch, and lift out. They don't interfere with comfortable seating, and they won't spill their contents on a windward tack. Cool. Here's our "sketch" of the name, and the seat-back doors (they'll be painted white soon):

Posted on July 7, 2004 .

The countdown...

Okay, just a really quick update because we're so busy!!! Our countdown is serious now.... aiming for a July 12th launch date (though within a week will be miraculous, I think.) We need a place to live once my mom moves in early July, so we decided to get the boat all set minus rigging, launch her and move aboard for the final few weeks while we complete the rigging stuff. So we'll be a powerboat for a while, at least we'll be aboard (although we still need to find a slip space in Portland for a few weeks...anyone know of one we could borrow?)!!

So: Neil's finished with the interior cabinetry and it looks wonderful. Now he's working on the sole (that's the floor for you non-sailors): all the cleats or whatever you call the wood that holds the sole access hatches in were rotted: he's removing them all and building new mahogany ones (originals were plywood) as well as fixing a soft area  in the aft cabin. Then he'll install the brand new sole in the areas that were really badly damaged, which we removed over a year ago. As soon as he's done, I'm ready to swoop in with the varnish. I'm counting on 8 or 9 days to varnish the whole interior, while Neil works on modifying the salon table to fit the new space, the engine, prop, cutlass bearing, rudder installation, and more.

This week: our friend Fred is buffing the hull, my brother Chris and I are installing a new stainless rubstrake, and I'm finalizing the name and hail designs. It's very convenient to have a dad with an architecture office where I can print out the name full-size to try on the boat. it looks so different in real life than on the computer screen! My first attempt was waaaay to big. Back for round two tonight. I'd really love to have it hand-painted but my hand just isn't good enough and the pros charge too much! So it'll be a vinyl decal for us. Here's where I am with it right now:

Posted on June 18, 2004 .


I'm having a hard time imagining how we're going to make it through the next month or two until we are ready to leave! We're working SO hard and SO frantically on our final projects, and although we're getting tons done, and the boat is looking great, the sheer amount of little (and big!) things that there are left to do before we can launch is just, really, mind-boggling. On top of the actual boat work that needs to be done, a good deal of which is in Neil's hands (spars, engine, rudder, prop), there is an immense amount of not-so-tangible work that I need to accomplish before we can leave. This includes researching and deciding on health insurance and yacht insurance plans (you cannot imagine how unbelievably complicated the insurance plans are!!); making sure that our finances are set up correctly (we need to apply for Visa and MasterCard, since we don't have any, give my mom Power of Attorney, set up automatic bank transfers for our monthly "kitty" amount: $750 per month- I hope we can make it on that!-, make sure we have notified everyone of our new mailing address, etc.); make sure everything is OK with our house and renters (make and install new pickets, fix a light); make sure we all are up-to-date with shots and medical exams, and that I have  copies of all our records with us; collect all the meds and supplies we're taking in our medical kit; find out how to get our absentee ballots (we MUST vote this year in the Presidential election this year!); gather up all the school materials I'll need for Olivia for 2 years; get our HAM licenses; register with the FCC; try to squeeze in a refresher First Aid class; set up our SSB and email system- yikes!-; figure out what to do about selling or junking the car; make sure our drivers' licenses aren't going to expire.......... the list goes on and on. PLUS: sand and varnish the entire interior of the boat, measure for and order our new main sail, design and buy parts for the trysail track, running backstays, lifelines; research and buy an EPIRB, and do all the sewing projects: cushions, sail covers, etc!!!!!!  And then start stowing and provisioning!  Whew! 

We're wondering how we're going to make it through all that, and then also how we'll feel once we take off and there's nothing left to do. I mean, psychologically it must be a shock to go from super-stress-overload to suddenly having nothing to do. To that end, we're making sure that there are plenty of small projects left to complete once we move aboard. For example, adding shelves to the hanging lockers and building a spice rack are not "must be done before launching" things, and we'll probably have a long list of such projects that we can tackle at will..... so if our minds and bodies are just not ready to be shocked into total relaxation mode, we can work on these things. It may also work out that we need to study for our HAM licenses after we leave, and stop in someplace this fall to take the tests. We've been putting it off partly because there are rumors that the Morse Code requirement may be dropped, which would certainly make studying for the tests a lot easier!

In any case, we're quite overwhelmed right now. I've heard other cruisers describe this, so it must be normal. It's just that sometimes it all seems so surreal. I'm quite certain that neither Neil nor I have ever worked as hard in our lives as we have on getting this boat ready and scraping together a savings account so that we can take this trip. Sometimes I still feel like it's not going to happen. I had some chest pain for the last couple weeks and although I knew the chances that it was the cancer again were slim, a part of my mind thought, "Well, there, you see? You knew you were never really going to get to go on this trip!" But my doctor ordered a CT ("cat scan") and thankfully, everything was normal. You can't imaging my relief!

Okay... I'm wasting time! Must go work on the boat!

Posted on May 28, 2004 .

Name change! + Bottom paint, interior carpentry...

We changed her name! Namaste is now Zora. Here's the story:

A couple of days ago, Neil and I went to the storage space to get the old cushions (I'm sewing the new ones now.) One of the cushions was covered with cat hair: it had been the favorite perch of our Siamese cat, Zorra, at home. We'd always assumed  that Zorra would come on this trip with us, but it was not to be. She was old, and suffering from kidney failure. She died this January. She was so much a part of our family: it was very hard on us. So when we saw the cat-hair-covered cushion, we both sighed and one of us said, "We should have named the boat Zorra!". Then we thought, "Why not?" We'd never sailed the boat under the name "Namaste", so she hadn't really become that name to us yet. And as much as we liked the name, it wasn't really totally personal and meaningful to us all. We loved Zorra, and here was a way we could honor her, and a way that she could still come on the trip with us. It just felt right.

Zorra was named because she looked like a little baby fox when she was a kitten, and zorra means female fox, or vixen, in Spanish. Unfortunately, what I didn't know until I started researching it for the boat, is that "zorra" also has some rather negative secondary slang meanings in many Spanish-speaking countries, "prostitute" being the most polite! We weren't sure we wanted to name our family boat something that might offend people in the countries we plan to visit. On further research, we found that by spelling it "Zora", it fit on our transom better, and is a Greek/Slavic name meaning "dawn" as well. Perfect. Zora she is!

Lots of Progress!!!!

Meanwhile, Neil is 3/4 of the way through his vacation and SO MUCH is getting done. You almost wouldn't recognize her. Her new boot and sheer stripes have been painted, and Neil just put the final coat of epoxy barrier coat on the bottom. tonight the first coat of bottom paint will go on. The interior is looking wonderful. Neil built the galley storage and there's so much of it!!! We were able to use the space where the old "beer locker" was to build a perfect dish locker with fiddles and pegs that hold our new dishes and glassware. The galley seems huge now, and I am so excited to start cooking in it! All the rest of the interior is coming together, too. We began the puzzle of replacing all the original trim which we'd removed 2 years ago: piles and piles of it. Most of it has already been sanded and coated with 3 coats of varnish to cut work on the interior varnishing project. Neil's adding the new V-berth and aft cabin storage units today, and we'll continue trimming it all out. We hope to have it all done and bunged soon, so I can be varnishing while he works on the spars.

Okay, I really have to go work on the boat! Things are really getting to a fever pitch as we look at our (hopefully!!!!!) last 2 months before leaving. I'll try to write more and post some pictures soon.....

Posted on May 12, 2004 .

AC Electrical, Boot stripe, Rudder repair

We're working hard! We are determined to get Zora launched and move aboard in June. Things are getting done....... she still looks like a construction zone but we can see that we're making progress.

When we were moved back inside, we totally washed down the decks for the first time since they were painted last summer. How pretty!!!!!!

We're hoping that all of the interior carpentry will be finished by the end of the first week in May. Then Neil will start working on the spars and rigging, and I, in relative cleanliness, will get to work varnishing the interior. To that end, we're concentrating on interior projects. Neil's building the enclosure for the 120 volt (A.C.) panel, LPG panel, and engine controls, and the A.C. system will be in place within the week. Here's the beginning:

We've also made some good steps towards fun "finish" projects: the bottom is totally sanded smooth and white, the barrier coat (Interlux "Interprotect") is ordered; the bottom paint (Trinidad SR in green) is ordered; the boot stripe paint is bought (Brightside in Flag Blue). The April issue of Cruising World magazine had some very timely articles for us, including one on marking and painting boot stripes. We used their idea for making a marking system, and it worked well! We're raising our waterline several inches: it had already been raised a few inches so, in all, it's about 6.5" higher that the "designed" water line. It isn't as pretty, since it wraps the transom, but it will allow for all of our cruising gear, hopefully. So we used the top of the existing boot stripe as our constant, and measured up and down from there for our new stripes. The boot stripe is not a constant width on the hull, it is much wider at the bow and especially the stern to compensate for the large change in hull angle there (although visually it appears the same width when you look at the boat from normal viewing distance). So we made a tool out of a torpedo level, some wood cut to the correct thickness, and rubber bands.  After leveling the boat on her stands, I painstakingly went around the boat marking the hull every 6" or so. The leading edge of the middle piece of wood is placed on the existing stripe. I taped a pointed splinter of wood onto the top edge of the level to show where to mark the top edge of the  new boot stripe. The leading edge of the bottom piece marks the new waterline.  As you go around the hull and the angle changes, you slide the pieces till they touch the hull when the torpedo level is leveled. Next step is taping!

Meanwhile I've set up my sewing table and am awaiting the delivery of the foam and zippers: next week I start sewing cushions!!!

I want to take a minute to thank a few folks who've been so generous in the last couple of weeks. Mike Faulkingham has kindly loaned us his great inflatable dinghy and outboard for our trip: that is such a huge help! And, at the Sabre owners' "yard sale" last weekend, Bob and Suzy Martin gave us a new fresh water pump (with spares!), boat hook, and chart holder. Thanks so much! A very nice person who saw our web site has offered to build our cockpit grates for us, since he's recently built some for his own boat, thanks so much Stan Murphy!!!!! We've also gotten some help recently from the incredibly nice folks at Sabre Yachts. I had been looking for small, sturdy puch-button latches and saw that they use just the ones I wanted. I emailed them and they offered to sell me some. I even got a tour of the factory and hands-on advice from the builders. Lyman Morse boatbuilders have also helped us out by supplying the refrigerator gasket we need: thanks guys! It's really great how open and helpful the boatbuilding community is, especially here in Maine.

Also started painting our boot and cove stripes; reckoning with fish-eye problems. Even after careful prepping with degreaser, acetone, denatured alcohol, the "correct" Interlux thinner, and Awlprep, still some fisheye problems. We'll have to fill and fair between coats. Just another one of those projects that was supposed to take couple of hours but ends up taking a week!!!

Neil's started his vacation! The last vacation he'll ever take from his job.... he's got two weeks to work at the boat day and night. Already the interior is coming together quickly: the cabinet over the stove is nearly finished and he'll start on the dish cabinet tomorrow. He's hoping to have all of the interior cabinetry finished, trimmed and bunged (with the exception of hanging the doors, which our friend Dave is making for us), and the sole repaired, by the end of these two weeks. That will mean that I can clean the heck out of the boat and start varnishing the interior while Neil works on the spars. We're still hoping to launch in June, although of course we keep losing time: we're already a week behind because Neil got sent to Texas last week and had to postpone his vacation: argh!

We have made some huge decisions recently, things that have been hanging over my head for 2 years! The liferaft..... we've ordered a self-righting Viking RescYou Pro. It was fully $600 more than our other choices, but we just felt more comfortable with it. Of course, we'll probably  -hopefully!!- never use it so it'll be a non-issue, but I do feel better knowing we have a good raft. It's not the super top-of-the-line SOLAS $7000 deluxe, but, hopefully, a robust raft with adequate supplies. We like the self-righting feature (it'll flip upright if it deploys upside down) and it has two big access doors, and inflatable floor, double arches, and other good stuff. It also has a lovely canister (Danish design, what do you expect?) which is nice since it's a BIG thing to have on the aft cabin top. 

Posted on April 13, 2004 .

Refrigerator, Galley, Dodger and More!

Hi again. Sorry we haven't updated the site in so long! It has been a busy month. First of all, we're house-sitting at a house on the mainland, so we had a week of packing and moving. Although there are things about living on the island that I miss (one day last month on our morning commute we saw a bald eagle attacking a baby harbor seal on a small ice floe right next to the ferry! Not something we're likely to see on Portland's West End!) it definitely makes daily life easier.

Also, like last year, the boat yard has shrink-wrapped Zora and moved her outside for 3 weeks while they set up and hold the annual boat show. We had to spend a few days cleaning up all of our stuff under the boat and getting her ready. It feels good to be all organized again, though. We're feeling ready to jump into the last few big projects when we go "back inside". In the meantime Neil is planning to work on cabinetry he can build off the boat, build the refrigerator lids and rebuild the heads off-site, things like that. Zora is now closer to the water than she's been in almost 2 years! We're right next to the water at the edge of the yard. If you look out the zippered door in the shrink-wrap covering, you can almost imagine you're afloat! Here's our current view:

OK, here's an update on February's events and progress...... Neil took a week of vacation and did a bunch of boat work. He also brought his radio-controlled sailboat over from the island to sail off the dock:

We tied up a lot of loose ends on projects around the boat. We installed the new vanity sink and faucet/shower fixture and soap dispenser in the aft head. This was one of those aggravating projects that you think is going to be simple (replace the old sink, replumb...) but ends up taking two days (old sink too warped to fit right; new one too big; new hose won't bend enough, etc.) But it's finally in! The white disk in the photo is a "blank" that covers up an old hole. There used to be one faucet each for hot and cold water, and we replaced them with a single-hole mixer.

Neil also built the rest of the refrigerator. Here are pictures showing some of the steps involved. After getting the box liner in place and trimming all the insulation around it (being oh-so-careful of those fragile vacuum panels!) He built a teak cabinet around the box. The countertop is built of 3/4" marine ply and has a large oak brace between the two openings to strengthen the countertop, since it's also our companionway step. He then milled mahogany to create the lid frames, and sealed them with epoxy and installed them in the countertop, insulated with foam. When it was time to put it all together, we made a novice mistake. After clamping the inner box liner top to the frames with 4200 and fastening down the countertop unit, Neil went around with expanding foam to spray into holes he'd pre-drilled to access voids inside the unit. Unfortunately, the foam expanded so much that it pushed right through the 4200 in some places, making a big mess of drippy 4200-and-foam in the boxes! Yuck! So now we'll need to seal those edges with epoxy to be certain they're watertight (although they're at the very top of the box). Here is one of the hatch frames:

Here they are attached to the countertop piece and ready to be installed:

During installation:

The view of the whole counter. The stove will go where the microwave is sitting (we won't have a microwave). The bin against the hull is dry storage, with a cutlery drawer and trash locker between it and the refrigerator:

Next Neil installed the white Formica on the countertop. It'll be on the backsplash as well. Now we're finalizing the design of the dish and food storage lockers to go behind the stove and over the counter. Last weekend we mocked it up out of cardboard ( a COLD job since we're too far away from the electrical outlet to run our heater on board!) and, hopefully, Neil will soon be building some of the pieces:

Finally, some random pictures from February..... here's our solution to the anchor locker drainage. It used to just have an opening cut out that drained to the bilge right through the big locker under the V-berth. Since that locker is essentially our only sail storage space, we didn't want it wet! We added a plastic through-hull fitting with a hose attached that runs all the way through the "sail locker" and then under a part of the sole with no access. That section had previously gotten very wet due to clogged limber holes and we hope to avoid that with this hose set-up:

Scenes from a weekend: Olivia, "Working on the boat is SOOOO BORING!"; Neil and my Dad working on the pedestal; Stacey the morning after spending the night at the boat ( it was the 10th anniversary of the day we met so we had a "date" in town...Neil brought champagne and roses to the boat and we went out to dinner at the place we met!); and, finally our new dodger!

Posted on March 9, 2004 .

Pictures of refrigeration installation & other projects

Okay, pictures!!!! Here are pix of projects we've been working on...... first, here's the cockpit manual bilge installation. Originally, the pump was mounted so that one had to open the cockpit locker lid in order to operate it. No good. We turned it sideways and installed a Whale through-bulkhead fitting for the handle. Now it can be easily operated from the helm. This shot is looking down into the cockpit locker with the lid open. And the second picture is of the nifty cover. (For you Cruising World Bulletin Board-ers, that thing next to it is- gasp!- a cockpit light!!!!!! One of these days I will post a pic of the cockpit speaker installation that y'all got so riled up about, too!)

Here are the lovely new coaming boxes Neil built and that we just finally installed. There are two locker boxes, and a shower box:

A few more random shots of projects coming together: here is the back of the main house battery switch, with it's lexan cover (we made similar covers for the main negative buss bar in the engine room, lighting busses, and the back of the main breaker panel.) Here's a shot of the back wall in the engine room, showing the washdown pump installation, some of the Whale hot/cold tubing, the blower, and the cockpit drain and manual bilge pump discharge. The manual pump  and the small, secondary electric pump share one of the two large (2") cockpit drains; the large electric bilge pump will have it's own through-hull.

Our biggest current project is the refrigeration installation. You might recall that Neil's had the basic box liner built for quite a while now. We painted the interior with Interlux Brightsides and installed the shelving system (aluminum L-bracket pop-riveted to the sides which holds clear acrylic shelves and sliding baskets); the floor grate ("eggcrate" material meant for fluorescent lighting fixtures, held up off the bottom with small stand-offs to allow air circulation; the circulation hole and shutter between the freezer and refer side; and the custom made evaporator panel. The panel, of course, didn't fit, and we had to carefully rebend it to work.

Next, Neil sealed the top (he'll cut through it when the hatch frames are in place) and - after carefully sanding and fairing any bumps or burrs - installed the VIP vacuum panels and foam board insulation. It was a frightening moment when we manhandled the box up the steep ladder and held our breath to see whether it would fit in the companionway. It just made it, and with no damage to the delicate VIP panels or coiled tubing... hooray! Here it is just set in place; and a close-up of the insulation:

Feeding the tubing into the hole sawn in the 6" of foam under the box, through the sole, under the sole (with only some very inconveniently placed access panels to reach into, and up under the nav desk where the compressor lives- all without damaging or kinking the tubing- was not easy.

Finally, the cabinetry panels being dry fit.

Of course, during the construction of the box things got out of skew a bit, so it was not a perfect fit into the available space. Luckily, nothing on boats is ever perfectly square and true anyway, so small discrepancies do not stand out. With some careful measuring and cutting and judicious filling in of voids with spray foam, it's looking really great (more pix to follow soon...)

A few other odds and ends: I am painting all the berth tops (formerly just raw plywood) with white brightsides; here are the lids. Also here's a big pile of interior trim that has 2 coats of Epifanes gloss and is sanded for the next coat. It was so sad to sand them, since it WAS a big pile of gleaming, beautiful, varnished teak only an hour before!

Meanwhile, it's been COLD out here. Sea smoke many mornings for the morning ferry commute:

Posted on February 16, 2004 and filed under Zora Refit - Phase 3.

Phase 3: The home stretch!

Feeling like we're in the home stretch now! The lists are much more complete and contained, although still dauntingly long. We've actually made a timeline/schedule of our best guesses at how long things will take and when we might be able to launch. of course, we made the schedule in early January, and, only a month later we've already had to revise it by 3 weeks since things are, as usual, taking longer than expected. You'd think we'd know better by now how to estimate time for projects, huh? Anyway, at the risk of jinxing it further, we're hoping for a late May/early June launch.

Although it was certainly predictable, given the way boat work goes, we're disappointed not to be able to move aboard sooner. There have been some unforeseen crises in our family and our daily living situation is anything but ideal. We're quite anxious to move aboard and start settling into our new life. To that end we are working harder than ever and really scrambling to pull things together as soon as possible. If anyone is dying to help out, we'll be having plenty of projects upcoming -skilled and unskilled alike- that we'd be happy for help on!

Projects are coming together quickly, now. Things that have been ongoing for months or years are getting tied up and crossed off the lists. Our dodger was delivered and installed. It felt like the boat was getting a new prom dress: so fancy and dressy (and expensive!!!). The new cockpit coaming lockers and shower box are finally installed. The DC installation is 99.9% complete. Plumbing is 99% complete (just waiting for the heads to be rebuilt and re-installed so we can plumb them in. We're hoping my Dad can help us out with that projects, since Neil rebuilt the heads for HIS boat during his big refit several years ago!) Our batteries should arrive next week. Neil is installing the new refrigerator, which was the last big engineering project hanging over our heads. I'm about to order the foam and fabric for the interior cushions.

We've taken a bunch a photos but I can't find the cable to download them to the laptop.... we'll post them as soon as I find it! I did just update our "LIST" today....

Posted on February 12, 2004 and filed under Zora Refit - Phase 3.

Making progress! Electrical system test, headliner

We are continuing to make progress, despite losing a lot of boat-work-time over the holidays. We had a couple of psychologically important days this past week. One day we put up the new headliner in the salon! It was a job we'd been dreading: would we be able to stretch the material as neatly as the original had been? Would the stuff we bought look decent and did I order enough? Turns out it wasn't so very hard to do, and it looks GREAT. Although it was a very small project in the scope of things, it really makes the boat look as though we've come a long way. No more raw fiberglass and plywood overhead! She looks more and more like a "real" boat... We put a couple of sealer coats of varnish on the trim pieces and replaced those (or those that we can find: still missing one long piece and a couple of small ones!) and the effect is just wonderful. For the full effect, take a look at the before and after shots:





Another banner day was when we brought a 12v battery up the ladder and hooked up the electrical system for the first time. Now, you have to understand that I had absolutely NO experience as an electrician when I started. I studied and studied and did everything by the book, but still, I was nervous when we hooked up that battery, turned the battery switch to "on", turned the house breaker to "on", and flipped the starboard interior lighting circuit breaker...........Ta Daaaaaa! Lights! Not shop lights plugged into extension cords, but the boat's own lights! Triumph!!!!!

We continued to cross items off the list of "projects to finish before starting another big one" and soon Neil felt ready to begin to tackle the refrigeration project. We unpacked the new custom-bent evaporator (which we had already sent away to be charged with refrigerant) and found, to our dismay, that it did not fit into the freezer compartment of the box liner. We weighed the expense and trouble of either building a new box liner (and losing refrigerator volume to accommodate the bigger freezer needed to fit the evaporator) or trying to rebend the evaporator and possibly -probably, I thought- ruining it and having to have a new one made and charged up. We decided to try rebending it. Neil found a heavy pipe of the correct radius, we wrapped it in foam, carefully unbent the panel, and rebent it gently around the pipe. It was nerve-wracking, to be sure, but it worked!! Here is a picture of the box liner Neil made last spring:

We then spent some time discussing how to put it all together. We needed to mount the evaporator panel and make cleats and supports for the shelving, while maintaining a very smooth outside to the box so as not to damage the vacuum panel insulation when it is all assembled. We also had to figure out how to make the shelving in the refrigerator. We spent some time at the hardware store and are pretty pleased with what we came up with. The evaporator panel will be mounted with 1" nylon spacers and through-bolts which will be faired over on the back. The shelving will rest on aluminum "L" (angle-iron?) riveted to the sides. We've designed the refrigerator so that each level is divided in half: the back half is a fixed (though removable for cleaning) shelf, and along the front are plastic perforated baskets which slide back and forth out of the way so that you don't need to remove them to access the next level down. We're thinking of using plastic "egg crate" material (meant for fluorescent lighting fixtures) for the shelving. Now, this all looks great on paper but we are going to build a mock-up of the shelving and the actual countertop and lid openings so that we can make sure it will work in real life before we build it! Here are some of the materials for the refrigerator:

Posted on December 29, 2003 .

Moved out of our house; windlass; electrical

Well, we've finally moved out of our house! Major production. We're still settling into our new semi-nomadic lifestyle: Olivia and I stay nights at my parents' house on Great Diamond island in Casco Bay and most of the day in Portland, Neil splits his nights between the island and town, sleeping at friends', friends' boats, or our boat.

Although we had a couple of weeks where we didn't get much boat work done due to the move, we're getting back on track now. Just after the move we spent two days re-organizing the work space at the boat and setting up a makeshift galley. The first project after that was to install the inner forestay chainplate and fitting. Neil had consulted with Jim Plaegenhoff, a rigging expert, and designed a deck fitting and stainless steel reinforcements to the underdeck bulkhead in the forepeak. We had the fitting made by our guy Jeff after first making a mock-up out of wood to be sure it would fit! Installation was straightforward; the only difficulty was getting it centered on the deck from the underside. After drilling the holes for the bolts and back-filling them with epoxy, we simply bolted everything in place using 3M 101 on the deck side. Neil's brother Stephen came to help and got a glimpse into our lives as it took him an hour to clean off the sealant overflow after the installation!

Next came the windlass. This is very exciting since it was one of our very first purchases for the boat, over a year ago, and it's been sitting in its box all that time waiting to be installed. It is a Lofrans Progress I vertical windlass. Using the template supplied we marked out the holes and drilled through just the top skin of the cored deck. Next we emptied out all the coring and used an allen wrench in an electric drill to remove more coring to make more space to fill with epoxy for a good solid base for the windlass to be mounted to. This is ordinarily a simple process but since we had repaired the deck in this area previously this summer, there were several areas of solid epoxy in our way. As is always the case with boats, it took considerably longer than planned! We filled the large holes with a combination of West System high-density filler and plain old chopped strand glass. After that had kicked we drilled out the holes all the way through (that was really hard!) and put the windlass in place with the big 3/4" high-density plastic backing plate we'd made. Ta-daaaaa!

Meanwhile Stacey's been working on finishing up the DC electrical installation. The new cockpit electronics box has been wired, a very satisfying job. A few more small odds and ends need finishing on the 12 volt DC side, and then we'll move on to the 120 volt AC installation. The AC system is designed to be extraordinarily simple, since we don't foresee long periods of time hooked up to shore power. There's a battery charger, the hot water heater, a top-quality galvanic isolator, and one AC outlet. That's it.

Posted on November 12, 2003 and filed under Zora Refit - Phase 2.


Oh, wow. We rented our house! We have to move by November first!!!!! This is a pretty exciting step towards the trip. It's not going to be easy now, though. The last ferry boat from Portland out to the island my folks live on (where we'll be staying) is at 5:45 most nights. So Neil won't be coming home much, since there's still so much after-work boat work to do. But the adventure continues!

Just a quick note to apologize for the lack of web site updates lately. We have not done any boat work in weeks (which just feels so wrong!) since we've been packing and moving. We're in the final 3 days now, cleaning, cleaning, cleaning, finding homes for the houseplants, taking car-loads of boat gear to storage.... very hectic. Hallowe'en is our last day in the house.  Olivia wants to go Trick-or-Treating here in the "old" neighborhood, so we'll get her all costumed up in the empty house, and then take the late ferry out to the island Friday night, with Zora the cat and Caddy the fish in tow. It's very weird to be leaving our home. We have gone through so much here in the last 6 years. We bought an old, dilapidated house and worked really hard to make it into the lovely, comfortable home it is now; we went through my cancer diagnosis and treatment here; Olivia has spent most of her life here. Of course we're excited about the next adventure, but it does feel weird to leave (I think if we were moving right onto the boat it would be easier, rather than this sort of interim homelessness we'll have for 6 months or so). Happily, the renters we found seem just perfect. I'm sure they'll take good care of our house and enjoy living here. I am still nervous that some problem will arise and new tenants will have to be found while we're abroad, but I'm trying not to worry about that now! And it will be fun to be able to spend more time with my parents than we usually get to do. It's so generous of them to offer their home for us to stay in while we work on the boat.

Although our day-to-day life for the foreseeable future is going to be logistically difficult (due to the ferry schedule we won't see Neil much, and he'll have to find couches to sleep on...) it is very exciting to be making such a concrete step towards our departure. I can't wait to get back to work on the boat once the move is over and we've worked out our daily routine in the new living situation. I'm hoping that I will have a lot more time to spend at the boat now, and that I'll be able to finish up the 20 projects that I've had ongoing all summer...

Posted on October 20, 2003 and filed under Zora Refit - Phase 2.

Checking the rigging

We're continuing to get things done. Neil's rebuilt the cockpit coaming boxes and the teak mount for the cockpit shower box: they look great! Yesterday he got things ready so that we can install the new headliner material in the main cabin. It was quite a search for a reasonable match for the headliner that is still in the rest of the boat; it's a foam-backed marine vinyl. Most places only had the perforated type, with big polka-dot holes in it. No good. Finally found some from a company called Redrum Fabrics. It's been treated against mildew and is meant as marine headliner. It's a very slightly different texture, and, of course, is a brighter white than the old stuff, but hopefully it'll look OK.

I spent the day with the Magnaflux dye kit. I took all the standing rigging outside, cleaned it off, and laid it out on a long roll of builders' rosin paper to keep it off the greasy parking lot. Then I started playing around with the Magnaflux stuff. There was a bit of a learning curve as I tried to figure out how much to spray of each component, how long to let it sit, etc. The first step is to use the "cleaner/remover" to degrease each piece (I finally realized that you really need to disassemble each toggle, turnbuckle, eye terminal, etc. to get good results). When it's dry, spray it lightly with the red penetrating dye. After a while (the instructions said 1-30 minutes; I waited 5 or 10) wipe off the dye with a rag, then very carefully wipe it all off with a clean rag wetted with the cleaner. The object is to not see any more redness. This is impossible on the threads, though, and in the grooves between parts of the Norseman fittings. Finally, you lightly spray the "developer", a powdery white coating, on it. Anyplace the dye penetrant has penetrated, a red line appears. As you watch, if it's a deep fissure, the red line deepens and spreads, leaving no doubt. This was plain to see at the joints on the Norseman terminals, and gave a good indication of what to look for. On bronze pieces, because of the porosity, they developed a very slight overall pink hue: according to the directions and the local rigger nothing to worry about.

I intended to test the rigging wire as well, but testing it was a lost cause. It was impossible to remove all the penetrant from the twists of wire, therefore it all turned red when the developer was applied. But that's okay. We did find that one of the upper shrouds had some un-twist action happening. I'm sure there is some proper riggers' term for this, I don't know it. All along its length, at intervals of 5 feet or so, you could feel that one of the outer wires had slightly bumped out from the rest of the lay. In most places it was barely noticeable, but in one place, if you looked closely, you could actually see into the core. SO, we decided to replace all the main pieces: the forestay had already been replaced along with the new furler recently, but we'll replace the backstay and both uppers. If we can get a good deal on a bulk spool we might do the lowers, too, although they look fine.

As far as the rest of the rigging goes, the only other things that need replacing are two clevis pins that had slight corrosion pitting starting. All of the turnbuckles are sturdy bronze Merrimans, and although it was impossible to test the threads, they otherwise tested perfectly fine. And all of the Norseman eye terminals are fine as well. We also tested all the tangs and spreader mounts that we'd previously removed from the mast: all fine. So, assuming we can open up the Norseman terminals without wrecking them, this turned out to be a fairly inexpensive project. Sure, it would have been great not to have to replace ANY of it (since we didn't budget anything for this!) but it also could have been a LOT worse if we had to replace turnbuckles and terminals. As it is we spent $80 on the Magnaflux kit, probably $250 on the wire we'll need, and maybe fifty or so bucks for Norseman cones, clevis pins and new cotter pins.

Posted on October 14, 2003 and filed under Zora Refit - Phase 2.

We got a lot done this month!

Finally some pictures!

Neil's vacation is over but we're hoping to keep up the momentum we gained during the last couple of weeks. It's so great psychologically to see such tangible results to our efforts. As each piece of hardware and trim goes back on the deck -either all cleaned up and shiny or else actually new- Zora looks more and more beautiful and whole. She actually looks like a nice, real boat now, not just a shell....

It took a lot longer than anticipated (OF COURSE!) to get everything ready to rebed. We used the ubiquitous 5-in-1 tool and lots of Adhesive Remover... here are a few of the deck fills almost ready to go back in:

Here's a picture during the installation of the genoa track. We used miles of masking tape and 3M101 bedding compound! Note how shiny the coaming sides are! Nice Awlgrip job, Neil!!

Here's a "during" shot from the hatch and port installation. These were the first things we replaced, and we probably should have started with something smaller as we perfected our bedding technique. We used 3M 101 and did the 2-step process where you tighten down almost all the way, let cure a few days, then tighten the rest of the way. Heeding Don Casey's advice, we masked the ports and cabin sides well and intended to clean up the bedding "sploosh" overflow by slicing around the ports with a utility knife after the bedding cured and pulling it off with the tape. Unfortunately this doesn't work as well in reality as it sounds like it will. The 101 cures at different rates depending on how thick the "sploosh" is, and even after letting it sit for 8 or 9 days there were still soft, messy spots. On later hardware we learned to use a small plastic spatula to scrape up the big, wet, messy splooshes immediately, then carefully peel up the tape and clean up right away with denatured alcohol. This allows for a much neater "bead" anyplace theres a wide area of bedding compound (which was really only an issue on the ports!) and is just neater and easier all around. Any extra small splooshes that occur -from the final tightening down of the fasteners after a few days cure- are easy to clean up with alcohol if you do it immediately.

So we let it all set up and then it was quite a job to remove all the tape and overflow.... oh, well, it's all off now! Stanchions and deck fills are back on (Neil had quite a time straightening the 4 bent stanchions, but they are nearly perfect now.) We also put on 3 of the 4 new handrails. We really lucked out on the forward ones. They are over 12 feet long. We searched and searched and none of the manufacturers/importers carry new teak rails that long. We were afraid we'd have to use shorter sections, which would not have been as pretty. Then we found that Defender had some older ones left over from when they used to make them. They had only a few left. We paid for 2 by phone, and then had to figure out some way to get them to Maine, since they are way oversized for UPS. We put the word out and through the generosity of the sailing community on the internet, found someone who lived near Defender to pick them up for us, and someone else to pick them up from him and bring them to Maine. Thanks guys!!!!  So now we have perfect, new replacements. Here they are installed with the first couple sealer coats of varnish applied.

On the aft cabin we only installed one. We'd matched the old handrails to the new to drill the holes but the new ones are a tiny bit shorter. On the starboard side it was fine, but on the port side the base didn't entirely cover one of the existing holes in the cabin-top! Go figure! So Neil has it back down on the workbench and he's epoxying a chunk of teak to that section. He'll shape it to match as well as possible while enlarging it enough to cover the hole.

He's been working on a lot of teak projects lately, and says it's so much more enjoyable than fiberglass work! He's built a gorgeous box for the instruments in the cockpit. We wanted to mount them over the companionway so that they're easily readable from the helm or anyplace else in the cockpit. Another Mariner owner had built a similar box over the companionway and it seemed a good solution. We needed to route the wiring there, so, while the headliner is down, we cut an access hole in the plywood support to allow us to reach up into the molded coaming that curves up to form the forward part of the cockpit. However, the area over the companionway is a seperate piece of fiberglass molded to form a spray hood, which gets bolted to the main cabin mold. Neil came up with a great solution: he installed a plastic through-hull fitting into the cabin side of the coaming, to which he attached a piece of tubing which attaches to another through-hull fitting in the spray hood behind the new box (below you can see it before the spray hood piece was fit).

The box itself was quite a little project. Since both the back and the bottom meet curved surfaces, it was not at all straightforward. The bottom was carefully carved to fit with cabinetmakers' tools; the back was kerfed and bent to fit. the box was seated in black Lifecaulk (like the bead around the toerail) and fastened with screws. The front panel will be white Starboard.

Attaching the spray hood was not straightforward, either! We knew it was going to be difficult, since removing it had been a bear. It was somehow stuffed into the space and was under tension: we could not set it back in place after removing it. So we got out the grinder again and ground down the edge little by little until we could tap it into place.

The last thing we did Sunday afternoon, to wrap up two weeks intensive boat work, was to reinstall the cockpit coaming cap rail. The long teak rail on the port side had broken and Neil shaped a new piece out of teak. A couple of sealer coats of Epifanes and the teak looks great. This was a very gratifying afternoon's work:

Meanwhile, Olivia has turned the cockpit into a Barbie vacationland! (This picture was taken before lunch, when Barbie and Ken went to Neil & Olivia's Tattoo Parlor and got Sharpie marker tattoos!!!)

Posted on September 30, 2003 and filed under Zora Refit - Phase 2.

Oh joy!

Oh, joy! She's starting to look like a "real boat" again! Neil's vacation started this weekend, and we started putting back in the hatches. As usual, it ended up taking a lot longer than expected. You forget all the little things like taping up the deck and the hatch edges when you're estimating how long the job will take! But by now we've replaced all the hatches and ports, and are starting on the deck hardware. We are using 3M101 as the bedding compound, and it seems to be working well. We're using a lot, allowing for a good amount to squish out the sides to ensure a really good seal. (One of the reasons that the interior was so water-damaged is that this was never done correctly in the beginning!) Today we'll go around and tighten the screws down the last little bit, and in a few more days we'll slice off the extra hardened goo, peel up the tape, and hopefully not have too much clean-up with 3M Adhesive Remover to do!

Also, it looks like we're staying inside for the winter, which will make getting the work done SO much easier. It's a great relief to have that decision made.

Well, off to the boat yard!

Posted on September 17, 2003 and filed under Zora Refit - Phase 2.

Little projects take a long time.

Well, things are getting done...

We're in the process of cleaning up all the ports, hatches, and deck hardware prior to replacing them, and working away at the final plumbing and electrical projects.

In the last several weeks we've used lot of 3M Adhesive Remover and scrubby pads. Every bit of deck hardware needs to be cleaned up before rebedding it. First we scrape the big chunks of bedding compound off with a chisel or the wonder tool, a regular painter's 5-in-1 tool. Then some Adhesive remover scrubbing for the rest of the hardened goo, and WD40 for rust and dirt. Nice and clean! For things like cleats and toerail chocks, I'm also using a polishing mop on a bench grinder and shining them up a bit. I'm not going crazy and getting them perfect, but they do look pretty nice. The water and fuel fills were particularly satisfying. They were terribly cruddy and the water fills (solid stainless steel) even had some rust on the insides from being closed up tight for so long. We soaked them overnight in a strong Zud and water mixture, and the rust and crud came off. I polished them on the grinder and they look brand new! Replaced the rubber O-ring seals and ball chain that was broken, and for a very little effort we have perfect fills.

Neil reglazed the three large Bomar hatches, and we've cleaned all the old bedding compound and varnish off the ports and hatches in preparation for replacing them. Neil also sealed the edges of the port cutouts (in the new plywood behind the Formica liners) with epoxy to prevent water damage.

All of the stanchions are getting a once-over, and their backing plates (all of the deck hardware's backing plates) are getting cleaned. These are 1/4" aluminum, and some have been pitted with corrosion. Using "Corrosion Block", which dissolves corrosion, and a wire wheel on a drill, wire brushes, and the good old 5-in-1, we're removing the corrosion down to bare metal. On the plates that have a lot of pitting, we'll turn them over so that the good smooth side is towards the underside of the deck. We're debating right now how to do the installation. lots of folks, including Don Casey, of Good Old Boat fame, recommend using nothing at all between the deck underside and the backing plate. This is so that any leaks are more readily noticed, theoretically. However, all of our backing plates are behind liners or cabinetry. The other option is to bed them. Bill Seifert, in his book, recommends bedding in something that is really solid, like marine Bondo or thickened epoxy. he says this spreads the load much better as well as being more leak-proof. Nobody recommends using regular bedding compound, which can compress and cause uneven loading, as well as trapping water for more problems later on..... In any case the jury is still out on this one. We need to decide soon, though, since we hope to be rebedding stuff by this weekend!

We also removed the pedestal from the cockpit. Neil REALLY did not want to do that, since he thought it would be really hard to do. He'd planned on repainting it in place. But the engine room sound-proofing insulation that we applied to the overhead there with adhesive only (hadn't put in the screws yet) began to fall down, necessitating re-doing it, and we wanted to reckon with the pedestal bolts before tackling that projects, since they were more exposed. It was clear from some rust that the pedestal bolts were leaking a little, and we wanted to rebed them. With some trepidation, we tackled removing them. Not bad at all. A little pre-spray soaking and they pretty much came right out! So, we took the pedestal off the boat and repainted it (Interlux Brightsides with it's primer)...looks great! (We did the aluminum mast collar at the same time.) Edson is even sending me a new sticker so it'll look really spiffy. And we have our refurbished compass ready to reinstall as well.

Meanwhile, a bunch of those "little" projects that are supposed to take 15 minutes each, blossomed into big, messy frustrations. Item on list: -remove old hoses from forward head and replace with new. Sounds easy? No way. Apparently the hoses were installed BEFORE the cabinetry in the V-berth was installed. Also, it was old black water-heater hose, which is infinitely more flexible than the new, top-of-the-line Sealand Odorsafe sanitation hose we spent a fortune on. There was just NO WAY the new hose would make the same bends, despite several evenings of trying. Finally we had to build a sort of roller coaster of plumbing elbows, nipples, and adapters to make it work. We definitely did not want to use the (cheaper!) nylon parts, since the inside radius is a very tight 90 degrees, sure to clog!!! We spent 4x as much for bronze, with a much gentler bend. I know that you're supposed to have as few bends as possible in waste outlet hoses, but  there was really no option. Besides, it's just about the same as the original, which didn't seem to have any problems. We'll keep our fingers crossed. Even the intake hose was a problem. It passes through the bulkhead between the head and V-berth with a ball valve on the head side, which is a great design since it makes it SO easy to keep it closed there when not in use. But they installed that piece before they put the V-berth cabinetry in, and the old hose was bent to 90 degrees by the drawer cabinet behind it. Neil had to cut a big chunk of that cabinet away to even access the hose attachment (luckily it's inside the cabinet, not visible). It didn't seem right to compress the hose so much, restricting the water flow, so he added a plumbing elbow there which redirects the hose to a more appropriate place.

Other little projects that were so frustrating: removing the old brass drains from the vanity sinks (I wanted to put new stainless ones in.) It was enough of a frustrating project to even get them out, but when they were out, of course, we found that the cut-out hole is a non-standard size (1.5") and nobody makes drains for that size!!!!! Jeez. So, back to Plan B, and cleaning up the old drains and rebedding them.

And so it goes....... Neil is taking his 2 weeks vacation starting next week, so Saturday marks the start of an intensive boat work period for us. We're thinking we'll probably be moving the boat outside soon (just can't afford inside storage again) so we need to do the projects necessary for that move first. To that end, we'll start by rebedding and replacing everything we can on deck, filling up all the holes so no rain/snow will get in (though we'll be shrink wrapped). Then probably we'll tackle refinishing the mast and boom. We'll just have to see how far we get with all of this. Hopefully there'll be time to accomplish more, but at this point I've learned (I hope!) not to be too optimistic about what we'll get done in a given period of time. It's just too depressing when the things aren't ready to be crossed off the list when you expected.

Posted on September 7, 2003 and filed under Zora Refit - Phase 2.

Whining and worrying.

Money, time, perfectionism, adequacy, safety, reality......

It is such a conflict.

(Forgive me this self-indulgent whining. Sometimes it helps to write things down and clarify them: also, I know that a lot of people doing boat renovations have these moments and it may help somebody out there to commiserate a bit!)

Each time we face the reality of delaying our departure date it breaks my heart. There's a part of me that wishes we'd taken the "Go small, go now" philosophy at the start: we might not have been as comfortable or safe but we'd be out there by now. Instead we set about this renovation and wanted to do things "right". Consequently, at this stage in the refit, there is little we can do to cut corners, either time- or money-wise. For example, in the beginning we might have made the decision to forgo refrigeration. Instead we decided to make a really good, super-insulated system. So we made the plans and purchased the parts. Now, even though we are desperate to save money and time, we can't very well just say, "forget the refrigeration!" because the cabinetry is half-built and all the expensive parts are waiting in their boxes.

When we first began this adventure, in fall of 2001, we thought we'd find a boat that was "ready to go" and we would depart the next fall 2002. When we purchased Zora  (spring 2002) with the full realization that she needed work, we were still hopeful we'd be leaving fall 2003. Several months ago we realized we needed more time and pushed the departure date to April 2004. And just now, we are realizing we probably won't even make THAT departure date! It is a crushing realization.

One of the big reasons we wanted to go on this trip was so that we could slow down, relax, stop being so stressed (something I believe is really crucial for beating cancer), have time to spend with Olivia..... and because of the cancer, I feel it's important to do this stuff NOW. I know folks don't like to hear it, but I still have a fear -one I try not to dwell on- that I may not have all the time in the world..... We're doing this trip on the shoestring budget we are precisely because we didn't want to put it off, didn't want to wait until we had saved a bunch of money, didn't want to wait at all.

And yet: because of time and money constraints we find ourselves postponing, postponing, postponing. My biggest secret fear (well, not so secret now, I guess) is that just when we are almost ready to go, I will get the Bad News from the doctor.

And, worse, not only are we postponing, but our lives are unbelievably stressful. Neil goes to work in the morning at his already-demanding job, and from there straight to the boat. I'm already asleep by the time he comes home. Meanwhile I am scraping for pennies however I can, doing boat projects myself, not spending quality time with Olivia, and stressing out over our increasingly dire finances. We are both utterly exhausted and we never see each other! Our daily lives are 100x more stressful than they used to be, and every time we postpone the departure date we prolong living in this stressful state.

Why must we delay departure? For one thing, because we won't be finished with the boat. Everyone says, just go now.... but what they don't understand is that the boat is literally in pieces. Everything needs to be put back together. And we have made modifications in some areas that preclude simply throwing it all back in quickly. For example, the old cushions won't fit now that we've modified the berths, so I need to sew new ones. The galley is only half built. We ARE assuming we will leave without every little thing done: for instance, we will probably be bunging and varnishing the interior for a year after we leave!! We've pared our list down to the absolute bare essentials, but there is still a lot to do. And since we can't afford indoor storage again this winter, we'll be outside under shrink-wrap in the cold, which will surely slow our progress even more. Second, we don't have the money we thought we would yet. Our plan is to take off with enough for 15 months of frugal cruising (@ $1,000/month). We're hoping we can pick up a bit of work along the way to extend this to two years. It hardly seems worth it to do all this work and live like this for so long if we can only go out for less than a year, does it? But, of course, all the surprise projects have cost more than we expected, and we're way behind in our savings. Sigh. The purchase of salmon or chicken for dinner, or a bottle of cheap wine, is an extravagance I feel guilty about all week! I am already worrying what we'll do at Christmastime!

I know, I know, this is part of the adventure. I really wish I could just relax and enjoy it. I guess if I did not have this awful feeling of time slipping away from me then it wouldn't be so bad. If I could just say, "oh, well, so we won't leave for another year or two, no big deal..." . But I just can't do that! My health, spending time with my daughter and my husband, these things are so important yet the way we are living now jeopardizes all that. And the other argument is, "Yeah its a sacrifice but how bad do you want to go on your trip?" Well..... sometimes I just wonder if its worth it! (Shame on me, right?)

I KNOW it will be worth it. And I KNOW there is really no alternative at this point but to keep on going like we're going. Whining and worrying won't do any good, I know. But, some days, I just can't help it.

Posted on August 17, 2003 .

Nonskid paint: almost finished with the deck!

The deck proper is finished!!! (Neil's still working on the spray hoods and locker covers.) It looks like a BRAND NEW BOAT up there. The non-skid (Epifanes in #1 Cream) went on beautifully, so easy to work with. But when it dried it looked the most hideous color! I got all upset about it, but then we took the dried paint pan outside into the daylight and it looked just fine. It's these gross fluorescent lights in the building. They make our skin look like pallid grey-green ghost skin, and they make perfectly good deckpaint look awful, too! Here are some pix along the way. First, the tape and masking paper from the previous steps was removed and I carefully retaped on the new Awlgrip to mask for the nonskid. I used a can of spray adhesive as the template for the radiused corners, since it matched MOST of the original corners.

Then we just rolled on the Epifanes. Two coats, a day apart.

The finished product!!!!!!:

Posted on July 31, 2003 and filed under Zora Refit - Phase 2.

Argh!!! Back to the sanding...

deck 005.jpg

Well, we THOUGHT we were ready for finish coat! Everything looked and felt fair. Primer looked good. But when the first coat of Awlgrip went on the coaming sides: UGH! The areas we'd repaired there (on a large, smooth, unbroken expanse) showed that they were in fact not fair at all. The glossy paint showed it like a topographical map with peaks and valleys. Poor Neil!!!!!

So, back to the fairing and sanding. This time, with a dusting of spray paint to show the valleys, and with a long sanding board. Neil's vacation is over, so it's back to after-work working, and this is adding a whole another week to the project. BUT it'll be done right. Another coat of fairing compound tonight, then maybe we'll be ready to reprime those areas tomorrow and paint this weekend. On the plus side, the deck areas look great with their first coat of Awlgrip. It's going to look fabulous when finished.

Posted on July 10, 2003 and filed under Zora Refit - Phase 2.

How I spent my summer vacation: grinding, sanding, fairing the deck

Neil took his vacation this week.... and he's spending it working on the boat! It's been such a hectic and exhausting week so far, I am not sure I can recall everything we did. But I'll try! First, we removed everything from the decks and taped up all the hatch and port openings with plastic. Then we began to wash the deck with TSP. There was so much dirt and grease on the decks from a year of construction in a greasy warehouse, it was amazing. Took both of us all day long. Halfway through, we realized that everything underneath the boat was getting soaked. Neil had thought the cockpit drains would miss stuff, but that wasn't the case. So we took several hours and completely organized all the parts and supplies, which actually felt really good to do.

Once the deck was clean (I mean it was IMMACULATE!) we put up a big "No Shoes!" sign on the ladder. Then Neil wiped the entire thing down with Awlgrip Bottomprep Dewaxer. I masked off the non-skid areas, inside their borders, and he began working on the foredeck repairs. There was a poor repair job on the foredeck where an old windlass had been, and he needed to fill the holes from removing the windlass that came with the boat, as well as one of the chain pipe holes. The windlass we bought (a Lofrans) has a different footprint so we'll need to reconfigure the foredeck. Large holes are filled with a foam coring material and faired with West System epoxy with 410 microballoons.

The next few days were itchy and scratchy with lots of grinding, sanding, and sweating. We ground out any areas with large gelcoat cracks: there are a lot in the cockpit, mostly at corners. Then we went around with a Dremel too (what a cool tool!) opening up small cracks somewhat. Some of the gelcoat cracks are stress cracks, like at the forward edge of the cabin. These are really small and will only come right back, so we're leaving them alone. Here you can see some of the worst of the cockpit cracks bsing opened up with the Dremel.

Next everything gets a first application of fairing compound. This is kind of a fun job. You are racing the clock, trying to get it on before it kicks, yet not miss any spots or make a huge gloppy mess you'll have to sand off later!

We also opened up the deck on the starboard genoa track where we knew there was some moisture. We were happily surprised to see that the wet core was only about 5 inches square. It's fixed now!! Neil's friend Fred came over one night and helped us grind. That's fiberglass dust swirling in the air: yuck!!!

Posted on July 3, 2003 and filed under Zora Refit - Phase 2.