Price Sheet Nostalgia.

Finally scanned and uploaded the photocopies of the original, 1963 price sheets I found onboard after I bought Sine Metu in 2010. I wasn’t sure if I should post them or not, as the prices are certainly wistful, but it gives me comfort to know that she’s certainly holding her value!

…the cost of a thing is the amount of what I will call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.

Henry David Thoreau, Walden

 

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Leaks, let me count the ways…

It’s raining here in San Diego, which sounds unusual, I admit, but we do receive, what, 8-inches of rain a year? It’s at times like this that I play either Enya or Loreena McKennitt on an endless loop, smoke cigars and drink single malt whisky and place otherwise unused coffee cups, mixing bowels and assorted, mismatched glassware under every known downspout that appears inside the cabin. It’s a boating thing that it doesn’t phase nor surprise me none the least just as I am sure it doesn’t surprise my fellow liveaboards.

It’s 57° F, the barometer has dropped two-points to 1010mb and the wind is up to 10.3 knots out of the south west. For Southern California, this is a good storm, not damn-big, but damn needed. It’s raining about a tenth-of-an-inch right now, and there is a chance of 25-knot gusts and thunderstorms later tonight, New Year’s Eve.

I escaped down to Sine Metu this afternoon so that I could enjoy the weather, a cigar and said single malt whisky. Other than the last two weeks, rain is a rare event here, so I grab up as much foul weather time as I can. I enjoy escaping from everyone as I really, really need the alone time from time to time. Let’s not talk about the holidays and leave it at that.

Anyway, I am cranking the electric heater and running the cabin fans to circulate the dry air a little before I leave: I will turn everything off and disconnect the shore power before I go as an electrical fire is my biggest fear while I am away. With the boat safely tied to the dock these days, projects are easy to put on hold while I go off and do other things…

Damn, I really need to cut the dock lines and go offshore for a day or three!

The Cabin’s Sole.

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In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.” J.R.R.Tolkien – The Hobbit 

If chance favors, and an invitation to come aboard Sine Metu is gladly offered, then a trip down into my cozy cabin would mean that a first impression is about to be experienced. When you first view my little 1963 Columbia 24’s interior, it should be a surprise, a pleasant surprise, I hope. But, when I first bought her for $800,Baring my sole that experience could only be seen through my eyes: Covered in a mosaic of glued-down, beige vinyl tiles from the late ‘70s or early ‘80s, and covered again with a cheap blue carpet and covered still yet again by a beige throw rug, too! Thankfully, I don’t have any photos of that visual cacophony, but this is what it looked like when I ripped all of that out and threw it away as fast as I could.

Teak and Holly Lonseal     In my mind’s eye, this is what I envisioned the cabin sole should and determined to look like (click on the photo for a link to Defender.com):

It was an expensive investment as I had to buy a 7-foot long section to get the length I wanted, but as they only sell it with a width-wise pattern 6-foot wide, I have a lot left over to this day. So, out of 42 square feet bought, I only used 15.75 sqf. The rest I am thinking of using in other locations, including on deck and exposed to direct sunlight and weather. I did have a large piece covering the top of the old foredeck hatch for about a year, and it held up without issue, but in the lifetime of a 53-year old sailboat, that was just long enough to cut my teeth on the idea.

Working on my sole     So, with Stephen Covey’s second habit in mind, I went about rebuilding the cabin’s sole — which was appropriate as I’ve been rebuilding the sailboat from the keel up since buying her. The first thing I did was to rebuild the cabin sole’s foundation and to widen the bilge access for a new hatch. The original lip being dry rotted, wobbly and unable to be secured down. Cutting along its circumference, about an inch in, revealed good, solid, wood, which I then heated with an electric cabin heater and applied epoxy resin. A friend told me that, as the wood cooled, capillary action would absorb and draw the epoxy deeply into the wood’s grain. Which, it eagerly did! I then went about drilling small holes just into, but not through the sole, and applied the same alchemy to the rest of the cabin floor.

A sole takes a lot of work!     A couple of days after the epoxy had dried I painted the bilge, the empty engine compartment and along the cabin’s edges (to cover up the old paint that was there). I also painted inside of the lockers.

It was then time to cut a template of the sole, which was kind of fun I have to admit. Lots of brown paper, a straight edge, scissors, a razor, tape, and a Sharpie to scribble all sorts of notes.

Next, I unrolled the Lonseal on the dock and carefully lined the template up knowing that if I got the angles wrong, the teak and holly pattern would be skewed off to one side or the other and not be parallel with the rest of the cabin. Not wanting to go for a psychedelic experience, I spent a significant amount of time getting the pattern lined up as perfectly as possible. Finally satisfied, I installed a brand new razor blade in the box knife and commenced to committing myself to the task.My new sole!

Satisfied with my tailoring, I dry fitted  the flooring and trimmed off some of the extra material I left along an edge or three.

Finally, it was time to apply the Lonseal adhesive to the floor. I did the port side first with the material rolled width-wise. Working from the middle to the far side, I troweled on the adhesive, making sure to use the proper grooves so as to spread the glue thoroughly and evenly. Then, after letting it rest for the appropriate amount of time, as per the instructions (yes, I do read those from time to time), I slowly unrolled it and wiggled it into place. I then repeated the process and did the starboard side.

Making sure things stay put.     I then covered the floor with a multitude of hardcover books and other weights to press it down. I wish I had a picture of that process because it amused me to no end to  see all of those James Patterson, Stephen King, Robert Ludlum, Dean Koontz, John Grisham, Clive Cussler, Ian Fleming, and Tom Clancy books radiating out from a centerpiece of J.R.R.Tolkien and Henry David Thoreau. “Did I do that by accident?” I had to ask myself as I sipped some well deserved single malt whisky. A Glenmorangie port wood, now called the Quinta Ruban, if I recall.

In the end, I’m proud to show off Sine Metu’s interior as I think even a Hobbit would feel comfortable having a bite to eat and relaxing in the main cabin. Yes, it’s a small cabin, but it’s my cabin.

My dwelling was small, and I could hardly entertain an echo in it; but it seemed larger for being a single apartment and remote from neighbors.” Henry David Thoreau – Walden.

My Hobbit-hole

Quick results on the electric drive system.

Quick results on the electric drive system.IMG_6155

Used the electric drive for 10-minutes to get out of the slip and out on the fairway, then raised sails and enjoyed the 12-15 knots of wind out on San Diego Bay. As we were sailing at 6+ knots most of the time the electric drive was able to regenerate and recharge the batteries a bit. On the way in, we motor sailed for about an hour instead of tacking about half a dozen times to round Shelter Island. Net Result, we ended up arriving back at the dock with 0 (zero) voltage used! Still at 100% after a day’s use. I don’t think my solar panels will know what to do with the time.

I mounted a couple of pieces of King Starboard inside the starboard pilot berth’s storage area and used that to mount both the 12 and 48 volt distribution systems.

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Above: The 48v Pos/Neg BlueSea BusBars. Below those, and in the forefront of the photo is the raised mount for the eDrive’s Class-T fuse and capacitor. I wanted them to ride above the bundle of 2 AWG battery cables, but below the BusBars. I also ran the system’s On/Off switch to the panel’s cabin-facing side (see below).

 

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Electrical system’s vertical home. From left to right; Fusion stereo, Sevcon 48v/12v DC/DC converter, 12v fuse hub, 12v BusBars, thermal fuses, the 48v BusBars and, finally, the 48v, 18A, Delta-Q QuiQ charger.

Here is the heart of the electric drive’s 48 volt distribution system. Banks three, two and (to be installed at time of photo) one for left to right on both positive and negative sides, with the various charges and taps. The fourth spot is the eDrive’s power feed (to the 250-Amp, Class-T fuse — then the On/Off switch — then the capacitor that feeds the 3.8klw electric drive system itself. 

DSCN0563And, finally, the simplistic eDrive meter and On/Off switch located behind the seat cushion. There is another, programmable eDrive control mounted on the pivoting electronic’s panel.
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Let there be wind!

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I could watch the motions of a sail forever, they are so rich and full of meaning. I watch the play of its pulse, as if it were my own blood beating there.

Henry David Thoreau

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Columbia 24 Sail Plan.

All of the new sails are in from Ullman Sails San Diego and I am starting to get them dialed in!

After installing the four battens (top one being full length, then three standard) I raised the sails to their various hoists one windless morning; to start setting up the slab reefing lines and to fine tune the Lazy Jacks.

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Mainsail at full hoist.

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Mainsail sail at reef No. 1.

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Mainsail sail at reef No. 2.

Mainsail without the battens; setting up the lazy jacks.

Here is the first of many shakedown sails out on San Diego Bay. According to Predict Wind’s Tracker App, I averaged almost 4.5 knots in soft, 8 to 12 knot winds.

First shakedown sail in light, Force 4 winds.

First shakedown sail in light, 8 to 12 knot winds.

 

 

 

In Harmonia Progressio!

I am making progress, finally, and it is true harmony!

For three months the mast was down and the boat was a work in frustration, sweat and expletives. And bloIMG_3013od. Lot’s of blood. My blood. From where I smashed my thumb with a hammer, to when I almost drove the Dremel blade through my hand, to the too many to count cuts, scraps and no-clue how or why I started bleeding from a random extremity… I have literally shed enough blood to make Sine Metu a relative!

From the new teak and the refurbished bronze stemhead to new 316 stainless steel chainplates anIMG_3018d duel lowers, to massively overbuilt backing plates made from 3/8″ thick G10 plates, epoxied into place, the new standing rigging is solid.

The electric drive system is fully installed and, so far, I have about eight hours of time running it in the slip and all around Shelter Island here in San Diego Bay. The wiring needs to be cleaned up a bit, but that’s for my esthetics and n13226739_10208849806670101_2697186912614952103_not for the Coast Guard. It’s a solid install, but not pretty enough to show off. As a DIYer, I’m more function than fashion.

But the main thing is this — the mast is up, the new boom is installed and the Lazy Jacks have been fitted! 13164331_10208849806510097_6040354419836362231_nNext week the new mainsail from Ullman Sails will be raised for the first time with someone from the local loft being present to make sure everything is good to go.

I’ve found that I enjoy rope work like splicing and rigging control lines. There’s harmony in bringing order to the tangles.

I would like to thank all of the vendors that helped me make this possible:

Mea Culpa!

Okay, it’s been a shockingly long time since the last post, but I’ve been busy! When it comes to Sine Metu, a lot of things are going on: The mast is down and I am rebuilding it myself (i.e., replacing all stainless steel bolts, screws and clevis pins with titanium parts via Allied Titanium, removing those annoying mast steps above the spreaders, and dropping 20 pounds from on high); new rigging and a Profurl C290 furler are on the way; as are new sails from Ullman Sails; not to mention that the electric drive and lithium battery banks are finally complete; and new, aluminum spreaders are being fabricated by Island Nautical out of St. Petersburg, Florida; and I finished rebuilding both the lazarette and foredeck hatches…whew, I need a Jameson Gold just thinking about all of the plates I’m spinning in the air right now! And maybe another shot on spec!

More to come, I promise!

 

Mast is finally down!

 

LiFePO4 battery bank No. 2.

 

Orignal lower tang and spreader base.

 

Me and all of the old standing rigging.

Okay, I am going to keep updating this post instead of individual posts. Please excuse the dust.

February 20, 2016: rebuilt the mast’s winch and removed all of the chain plates.


They actually look okay for being 53 years old, but upon closer inspection there’s a lot of corrosion that’s full of tiny pinholes — time for new ones! So, my homework assignment for tonight is to decide what I’m going to do; build them myself or hand them off to Harrison Marine on Shelter Island. To have them do would cost about $100-$125 each; to do it myself would cost $X and require the purchase of XYZ tools to fabricate it, oh and about three or four hours…

Tomorrow I hope to get the stem head removed — which is going to Harrison Marine to get rebuilt if possible, or used as a pattern for a new fabrication.

 

Bow section sans teak.

Bow section sans teak.

Teak bow sections.

Teak bow sections.

Stemhead

Stemhead

Sunday, February 28, 2016. My day at the boat is done! Got the spreader bases trimmed and measured (still need to grind them down a bit more, but my battery died) and cut the 3/8-inch G10 backing plate for the bow, now all I have to do is sand the area down a bit so that the epoxy bonds to the original fiberglass. It doesn’t need to be perfect as the epoxy’s main function is to mate up perfectly to the underside’s contours. When it hardens, it will act as a support, but the G10 will carry the loads. Now it’s time for a cigar and a whiskey as I contemplate the lack of visible progress, which I know only to be just that, visible. The chainplate mounts are my next G10 project, but for those I will be using the 1/4-inch thick stuff.

This sailboat still finds ways to amaze me. With frames exposed and 53-year old bolts and places removed it’s been nothing but gorgeous, solid wood down below. Damn, this is a solid little sailboat!

Next item to source and buy is a tri-color navigation light and the masthead will be complete. Aft, I will have the VHF/AIS antenna with a Davis windvane slipped over it, then the tri-color and forward will be the Maretron wind sensor.
APRIL’s update:

Well, it’s tax time once again, and I had to pay more than I thought was fair, but freedom isn’t free as they say…

All of the projects seem to be coming together without too many conflicts. The biggest change was the decision to omit the masthead navigation light. The first choice was to install a tricolor light, then simply an LED anchor light, but in the end to choice came down to the mantra of simplicity. With my unwillingness to move the Maretron WSO100 wind sensor, and its unyielding shadowing of any navigation light, I am opting to keep the nav lights on the bow, stern and just above the spreaders; this will help facilitate future maintenance. When anchored, I will simply raise an LED anchor light. Keeping the boat simple.

The rigging is also complete, both standing and running. Samson MLX halyards for the genoa, main, spinnaker and Solent stay, in addition to the topping lift/spare mainsail halyard. The heavier boom will be controlled by a Boom Kicker vang with an 8:1 pulley or low friction ring cascade — I have not decided on which one, yet. I’m getting good at making dyneema soft shackles so the LFR cascade sounds like a fun project. 

I’m also adding lazy jacks to help control the new mainsail from Ullman sails. It will have two reefing points, cunningham, and it will also feature a 2+2 batten configuration: two, full-length upper battens and two lower, traditional, partial battens. The mainsail should enjoy its life as it will raise and lower almost effortlessly along the Tides Marine Strongtrack system.

So, with the new rigging will come new tools for me to control and adjust the mainsail: An outhaul, slab reefing, loaded vang and cunningham. Definite upgrades for a sailboat that I own, that’s for sure! I plan on only running the outhaul, cunningham and vang controls back to the cockpit and leaving the main sail and reefing controls at the mast.

Fishing while small boat cruising.

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Saw a post on Facebook today that asked what equipment they should take along with them on a well-financed, big boat cruise. They tossed out and discarded things like the down riggers and outhauls they had aboard their old stinkpot, but they kept the gaffs, nets, a dozen or so various rod and reel combinations…but they didn’t include the one thing that I feel should be mandatory aboard every boat that ventures over the horizon: a good handline kit.

At the least, every ditch bag should have one in it, but having it and not knowing how to use it seems lazy. So, my advice would be to have two setups: One for the ditch bag and an identical one that you keep on-hand and close to the cockpit. Plus, IT’S FUN!

One of my favorite online search results on this subject, written by Dick McClary of Sailboat-Cruising.com, starts off with this warning:

“Vegetarian boaters should read no further, this isn’t for you. But handline fishing is a skill that all other cruising sailors should acquaint themselves with. Don’t be put off by the word ‘handline’ – you don’t have to hold it all the time. Just wait until a hooked fish announces its predicament, then haul it in.”

That just about sums up what one wants while sailing a hundred or so miles between grocery stores (that, and ice), but it is more than mandatory on small cruisers like Sine Metu, my mighty 24 foot sailboat. With no refrigeration my food stocks are limited to mix of freeze-dried meals, some canned foods (I try to avoid them as they’re usually way too salty, but they do add to the menu and help keep my “favorites meals” from becoming tediously repetitive), and whatever fresh foods I can carry. Adding fresh meat to the table is always welcome, otherwise Sine Metu could turn into (God help me!) a Vegan sailboat after the last tin of roast beef gets added to the egg noodles.

(August, 2016 update) Here’s a link to a nice YouTube video so that you will have a visual reference to what this type of fishing looks like on a small boat: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XM8bPBxTQyQ via Greg Delezynski

You can buy already made kits around $100 or less from various websites like WaayCool and Hawaii Fishing Lures; or assemble your own for just about as much if you follow the advice and shopping list of parts written Owen James Burke of The Scuttlefish blog; but I think we can do better.

All of those pre-made kits feature a hand-friendly line (think 1/4 inch (6.5 mm)), a length of 100-plus pound fishing line, a wire leader, a swivel and a lure. If you’re like me then you already have most of what you already need on your boat now. All that’s left to do is to MacGyver something that will work. Personally, I like the Cuban Yo-Yos that are on Amazon, and the Flip Reel by Squiddies, but as it’s an Australian company I haven’t seen one in reel life (August 2016 update: They’re now sold on Amazon, https://www.amazon.com/dp/B014DWTJKM?psc=1). Of course, you can also wrap the line around a stick just as effectively. It’s all about personal preferences.

Also, don’t forget how you will get your catch into the boat and subdue it. Are you going to use a gaff or a net? Do you have a club or a winch handle at the ready to club it to death? An ice pick to brain it and a length of 100# monofilament (Google Ike Jime)? A towel or burlap sack to cover its eyes? A squirt bottle full of cheap alcohol to spray in its gills? Do you know how to quickly subdue your soon-to-be entrée safely, quickly and humanely?

So, what the hell does all of this have to do with that Facebook post? Just this: think about what fishing gear you carry and how you will use it while sailing. On Sine Metu, that means: Two handlines (one to use while cruising and its twin in the ditch bag); a spinning rod and reel with 20 pound test line; a heavy Penn trolling rod and reel combo with 50 pound test line; and an ultralight rod and reel that’s a carryover from my days of trout fishing in Michigan, which I use it for catching bait for the larger rigs — plus, a two-pound bonito feels like a 500 pound marlin! If I still had my fly rod kit I would take it along too just for the sport of it.

As a side note, I also carry two cast nets which I’m trying to perfect, but my technique looks more like Mr. Roboto than…well…anything functional.

We’re not talking about sport fishing here – sailboat fishing is all about catching fish to eat.

Dick McClary

One final thought as I write this at a coffee shop that’s a ten minute walk from where my boat is now docked, be careful of what you wish for while you fish! Five feet of slashing, razor-sharp teeth, thrashing for its life in a six-foot cockpit, just inches away from my own flailing attempts to keep my body parts out of reach, is way too much fish for me! Give me a baby dorado, mahi mahi or ten pound tuna of any flavor, any day of the week, and I’m happy!

The best bad news…

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Well, it’s official and it is one of the best pieces of bad news that I’ve ever received: the type of cancer I have is the easiest to cure, doesn’t spread and has a 99.??% survival rate. In fact, it’s only downside seems to be that I will have to endure the cookie-cutter treatments, deal with the psychological ramifications and live with the scars that they produce. In fact, if I luck out and don’t develop any more basil cell carcinomas (BCC) on the more fragile parts (face, scalp, ears, nose, et cetera) then it isn’t even debilitating.

So, if you had fun as a kid and played in the sun — and got sunburned — then you should Google BCC Skin Cancer and follow the guidelines that you’ll find.

As a kid I remember getting skin-peeling sunburns every summer. It was so common that I considered it my base tan! Now, 40+ years later, I am where I am. For me, it started as a simple red mark on my back like an ingrown hair that got infected. It would bleed from time to time when I dried my back after a shower, and I tried to put antibiotic ointment on it and covered it with bandaids for a while, but it never seemed to heal. It didn’t hurt, and because I started being careful while drying off, I basically forgot about and neglected it for a year or two or four…until I noticed that it was not only still there, it was growing. That was back in 2013 when I was once again between temporary (AKA, no benefits) projects and once again unemployed with no health insurance. So, I worried and quietly thought those dark thoughts about the Big C…

IMG_0829December 2012

Jump to 2015 and I finally have health coverage via Obamacare; and yesterday morning I had surgery to remove the skin cancer. It took five years of worrying, ten minutes with three doctors and ten minutes of out-patient surgery to have it removed. I’ll know in six months if it was successful or not, but, as I’ve lived in Vegas, I so like the odds.

My advice to those who live and bask in the sun sailing, snorkeling and fishing like I have all my life, if you see something that makes you go, huh?, then get it checked out. ASAP is better than an Oh-Shit!