Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Birth of a Cockpit Table - the Agony and the Ecstasy

November 26, 2017

We had a perfectly good but not perfect cockpit table on Well, Why Not?.  It was golden, amber colored teak, highly varnished, and folded out of the way against the steering pedestal when not in use.  It had fiddles on four sides which kept things from sliding off when in the upright position.  However, it was not wide enough to have even one normal sized plate sit flat on it.  It held binoculars, extra dark glasses, and the miscellaneous small things that seem to accumulate in the cockpit.  But using it as a dinner table did not work and eating out in the cockpit is something we really like to do. 

Jim’s summer challenge was to enlarge the table at home where he had all of his tools.  The summer progressed and finally, after weeks of strategizing and planning, he bought a beautiful mahogany board – 8 ft long, the minimum length available and 6 feet longer than what we needed!   Jim sliced our current table in half with the idea of inserting the mahogany in between the two teak halves and attaching it with hinges so that the table would have two leaves which could be folded up for the lowered position and in the upright position could be either closed or opened.  We liked the idea of the contrasting woods of teak and mahogany. 

The original cockpit table cut in half
The original table with the mahogany set in the middle

I could write a novel about the next several convoluted steps and the agonizing he did over them…..but I will give the “cliff notes” version instead.  He searched for hinges that would lie flat when opened, debated using chisels or buying a router to drill out a shallow layer of wood for the hinges so they would be flush with the surface of the table.  After some frustration with the chisels, he borrowed two routers from a friend, practiced with them on a spare piece of wood and eventually got pretty good.  
Finally got it right!

Working with the router

Then he did the routing on the actual pieces only to discover that he had put two of the hinges on the wrong side of one leaf so that the fiddles would be in the middle of the table when the leaves were in the closed position.  


By this time summer was coming to an end and departure time to head south was fast approaching!!  The solution??  Make a completely new table out of the mahogany!  Once he finally accepted the inevitability of that decision he made quick work of it.  
The all mahogany table with one hinge mounted

No time to get it varnished, but it was one of his first projects when we arrived in Florida.
Jim's system for putting on the varnish
Once he finished varnishing he attached the brackets used to hang the table from the pedestal and adjusted them (several times!) so the table was level – or at least as level as the boat.  There are no fiddles on this table – maybe next summer! But it is beautiful and we are looking forward to meals in the cockpit. 

Hanging on pedestal in closed position

Upright in opened position

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Back at (but not on) Well, Why Not?

November 21, 2017

Another chapter of "The good, the bad and the ugly"

During the summer we had arranged to have several projects completed while we were away from the boat.  The first was the repair of the damage we had done to the fiberglass – a gash in the hull and the chewed up bottom of the keel and the rudder.

The second was to have a new dodger and bimini constructed so that we could have zip out windows with screens behind them.  Our old bimini was falling apart and had been rendered partially unusable due to the structure for the new solar panels.  The clear vinyl in the dodger was cracked and brittle.  Our strapping tape repairs were not working well.  (No surprise there!) 

When we arrived at the boat we were met with a beautifully repaired hull and an attractive dodger and bimini enclosure. We now have a complete surround to our cockpit - with windows down for cold windy weather or windows up and screens down for warm buggy weather.  It is always a bit nerve wracking having work done long distance but in this case it worked out well and we were pleased. Thanks to We Paint Boats for the fiberglass repair and Nick at American Yacht Outfitters for the new dodger and bimini.

New dodger, looking into cockpit from foredeck

Bimini seen from aft deck

More good news was that there were no signs of cockroaches like last year. The bad news was that we had some new water stains on our teak and holly floor.  But the ugly news was that we had no power in the boat and each attempt to turn the power on caused the boatyard circuit to blow.  It took 2 days or so to eliminate a number of possible causes but ultimately Jim concluded that the batteries - all 4 of them – were dead, never more to be revived.  In the meantime the notion of staying on the boat became much less appealing - though in fact it is never fun on the hard so we retreated to the relative comfort of the Motel 6!  

The next day we ordered three new AGM deep cycle batteries which we picked up at West Marine in Punta Gorda.  With an individual weight of 115 lbs, they pose a handling challenge.  After sitting in the back of our pickup over the weekend, Matt from the boatyard came over with a forklift and helped Jim unload the old batteries and load the new ones. These will replace our house batteries but we have yet to deal with the start battery.

Two of the three new batteries waiting to be loaded
Matt and Jim bringing out the old batteries

Getting batteries up onto and off of the boat

Lowering battery into the cabin

In the meantime I have been sanding and staining the toerail, putting stuff away and cleaning. Jim has been varnishing our new cockpit table, unloading his tools from the pickup and working on miscellaneous projects that do not require boat power.  We expect to move onto the boat in a few days.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Heading South with a New Crew member

November 20, 2017

For 30 years we bred and raised llamas on our small farm.  They are gentle, smart, regal animals.  They make a soft humming sound that is soothing to the soul. They can be aloof or when the moods strikes, they can be friendly and affectionate.  Our last 3 geriatric animals died the year we started cruising, and we have missed them.  So it seemed appropriate to welcome Mr. Wiffles on board.  He doesn’t take up much space, he never complains, he loves to go everywhere and see everything.  He makes me smile and remember the  many llamas that were a part of our lives over the course of 30 years.  He will be a silent partner in this blog.  Keep your eyes open for him. 

Mr. Wiffles making himself at home
Heading out the door

They say that a straight line is the shortest distance between two points.  But not necessarily the most fun.  This year we headed south by going east to Ann Arbor where Jeremy and family moved this summer.  It was only 4 hours longer, took us through some beautiful fall colors and though short, was a fun visit. 

Cy with Mr. Wiffles
Cy with Grandma and Grandpa

Three Generations of Nelsons
From there we again headed south to see our friends Jill and Bud in Port St. Joe.  Since our last visit they had bought a fishing boat and we had a chance to head out with them on a beautiful warm, sunny and calm day.  Theoretically we were fishing but mostly we just enjoyed being out on the water.

A Day of Fishing???

Bud and Jill's Fishing Boat
A day south of there we met with Seth, a sailing friend from Regatta Pointe and his mother in Dunedin for breakfast/brunch.  Seth is offering us quite the adventure which we could not refuse.  His boat, Serendipity at Sea, has been in Trinidad for the hurricane season and he will be sailing north from there, through the Eastern Caribbean to Jamaica. We will fly to join him for the sail from there to the San Blas Islands and the Panama Canal.  Our sailing season on Well, Why Not? will be shortened in exchange for quite the adventure on board Serendipity at Sea! 

Seth leading us down the slippery slope of ice cream indulgence
Among other things, Seth is quite the global connoisseur of ice cream.  I hold him entirely responsible if I gain 20 pounds travelling with him - he is a very bad influence and a very persuasive one - at least in that department!  However, as far as I know, there are no ice cream parlors on the high seas between Jamaica and Panama.  That will help!