October 1 – 6, 2015 – Holy Crap!

We are good people. We are not hoarders. I like to think of us as a fairly normal, conscientious American family of four, plus a granny. We have scaled back on Christmas every year for at least five years. We generally take a pass on the commercialization of birthdays, anniversaries and other gift-giving holidays. Yet, despite this, the amount of stuff we have accumulated is an embarrassment of riches. We have already had two successful garage sales this year, and yet, as we work through the house combing out items that have no place in our upcoming journey, the garage has stayed almost continually full. One final sale – everything must go! Although we are keeping our home, which is shared with grandma, we need to remove our personal things to leave the house ready to rent if necessary.


In the end it took at least a week longer than anticipated to get everything out of the house, and either stored in the garage or ready to move aboard. Finally, while still working frantically on boat projects, we managed to load everything aboard Batu on October 6. There was absolutely no organization whatsoever. Every nook and cranny of the boat was used. It wasn’t pretty, but we were aboard, our muscles still aching from the effort and our heads spinning from the process of continual decision-making. After a quick fuel-polish and oil change, we tossed off the dock lines the next morning, our family of four off on a grand adventure!


In retrospect, we stepped away that day from the stability and certainty that comes with life ashore, traded-in for the fluid ebb and flow that comes of a life lived on the tides, currents and breezes.

September, 2015 – Slow Boat

With the chainplates replaced and re-bedded, rebuilding the interior took an excruciatingly long time. Despite several layers of elaborate plastic walls I’d put up, there was still fiberglass dust on every surface in the boat. This took a lot of cleaning to remove, but the time consuming part was rebuilding the boat’s interior. We replaced each strip of planking and each section of cabinetry one piece at a time. Fortunately, we had labeled every piece carefully when tearing it out. The new epoxy tabbing was about 1/8  – 1/4″ thicker than the original tabbing. In addition, we extended the length of the two primary knees by about 5 1/2″ inches to better carry the significant rig loads. These changes meant that every single piece of wood interior needed to be customized before it could be reinstalled. Every…single…piece. Sometime in early September we installed the last section of trim and I had tears in my eyes, thankful to have another seemingly impossible task finished and hopeful that, someday, we might have a livable sailboat again.



Next up, dealing with the spars. My original intention was to quickly ‘touch up’ the spots on the mast, boom and spreaders where old paint was peeling. But upon closer inspection, the paint on the spars was thin, worn and chalky; not a candidate for touching up unless we were prepared to pull the mast and repaint in another year or two. So we dove in and removed all hardware and wiring from the mast, boom and spreaders while researching various paint systems and application methods. Knowing that we would be applying the paint ourselves, outdoors, in the wind, sun and dust of the Hood River marina spit helped to narrow our choices. We decided to use Interlux 2-part LPU because the support documentation was very good, and the product was well suited for ‘consumer’ application by rolling and tipping, rather than spraying in a paint booth. After sanding and carefully preparing the surfaces, we applied a tie coat to bond to the raw aluminum, then 2 full coats of primer, sanding in between each coat, then finally 2 careful coats of 2-part paint. We painted early in the mornings to avoid the worst effects of sun, wind and dust, but still we glared several times as folks speed past us at 30 mph on the dusty gravel spit, or as the wind piped up to 25 kts. Applying 2-part LPU with a roller and tipping brush is a bit like trying to paint your car with a smooth, hard, shiny coating using a 3inch wide paint brush. Even with quite a bit of previous experience, great surface prep and special care taken, the end result was not perfect, but it looks pretty darned good from 5 feet away.

IMG_3644We also measured and ordered new stainless wire rope and hardware for the rigging. Our rig was last rebuilt 20 years ago using Norseman brand mechanical terminals. These fittings allow a handy person to service their own rigging at sea if necessary without any special equipment. In theory, all we needed to do to make new rigging was to replace the stainless wire and small Norseman cones that are key to the mechanical fittings. After scouring the internet it became clear that the Norseman cones could no longer be found since the company was out of business. It’s probably best I didn’t have time to dwell on the fact that the pricetag for re-rigging jumped up by almost $1000 because we had to change over to all new Hayn Hi-Mod terminals and turn buckles These fittings are really well made and, in the end, they helped our overall confidence in the integrity of the rig, but at the time it seemed like a serious defeat.
By the end of September, we were cutting wire rope and making up new rigging; my head abuzz from the stress of long days and the unrelenting parade of seemingly impossible tasks and complex planning. Carefully re-tapping hundreds of holes in the spars and re-bedding every piece of hardware took forever, but had to be done before we could raise the mast and make Batu a sailboat again, rather than the very slow powerboat she had apparently become. One of the last re-rigging tasks was to pull the new forestay through the furler using the old forestay wire and some very thin splicing tape. We set to this task in the twilight hours the evening before the crane was scheduled to re-step the mast. We gently eased the splice through knowing that failure would mean a serious debacle, and a significant delay. With no warning, 80% of the way through, the splice
e let go and we realized the rig would not go up in the morning. At that moment, it was a huge defeat. The only scant advice available online was to NEVER let this happen. Not a lot of sleep was had (again) as I stressed about our possible options. In the morning we attacked the problem with a fresh set of eyes, and the help of our friend Steve, an experienced sailor and cruiser. We drilled out the rivets in the forestay where the splice had broken, and after many, many attempts, managed to fish a metal tape to that point, splice the fish tape into the wire and pull it through the rest of the way. A few rivets later and we were back in business, feeling like we could overcome any obstacle! The next day we stepped the mast with help from many friends both old and new. It was a real high point! Little did we know this up and down experience was just a bit of foreplay to ready us for cruising.



August, 2015 – Dante’s Inferno

On July 24 I walked out of the building where I spent the last seventeen years, closing the door on a big chapter in my life. I suspect my co-workers imagined my new life to be an endless, happy vacation as they watched me go. Within a week I was, without a doubt, in one of the nine realms of Hell. After pulling off the sails, boom & rigging, we pulled the mast from the boat at the Hood River Marina using a local crane company. I’ll grant that removing a 55 foot long, 500 lb. mast is pretty stressful, but I have discovered that real suffering involves IMG_3168tearing out the interior of a beautiful boat and proceeding to grind fiberglass tabbing with a heavy 4″ angle grinder. Add daily highs around 105 – 110 degrees plus a full suit of Tyvek and let the head-popping itchiness begin. Ultimately, I gave up on the Tyvek suit to avoid certain heat stroke and resolved to feeling like a porcupine with fiberglass quills for the rest of the month. Periodic swims in the cool marina water helped to wash off fiberglass dust and sweat. It took all month to replace the 9 stainless chainplates that anchor the rig and rebuild the tabbing on 2 critical knees that support those chainplates, but I’m pretty sure there will be at least one dark and stormy night where we’ll be very happy to have this work done.





I have to admit, the concept of sailing freely over the sunny, blue oceans of the world sounds pretty appealing. I’ll tell you for sure though, cruising is a mind-blowing LOT of work, and not for the faint of heart. All I can hope is that it gets a bit more glamorous than what we’ve experienced this month.