Friday, December 30, 2011

Grace is taken

Grace is gone.

May you bring a blessing as much to your new owner as you did to us.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Pics of the latest work.

Too busy to write much, Grace has a leak and the battery needs to be charged every other day and we can't afford the trips to the island. So rather than let her sink (some friends of ours are watching her to keep her afloat) we have decided to give her to someone who can restore her and give her the needed haul out.
It beaks out hearts to have come so close to getting her fixed up again and to run out of funds now and have to watch her get thrashed by the storms.
Since the last post her hull has been sanded and 98%  has been primed  and a new (to her) solid bronze Manuel windlass has been installed.
Here are some pictures:

Because there was no one to change the batteries the water has come over the floor boards three times and has damaged the interior varnish some. We really want to give Grace to someone who she will be as much a blessing to as she has been to us and who can finish the restoration that we have worked so hard on.
Please pray that we can find a good home for her before it is too late.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Grace, For Sale

It is with a heavy heart and after much prayer that we have decided to put Grace up for sale. The bad economy has reduced our income to the point that we can no longer afford to make the needed trips to the island to work on and maintain Grace the way we would like to. Also the rougher weather has caused her to take on more water and the Captain we had looking after her has moved his boat to San Diego for work so there is no one to change out her batteries that run the bilge pump. She is a beautiful lady, we got lots of admiring looks from tourists and the local fishermen. We absolutely loved the time we spent aboard.

It is heartbreaking to have come so close, last trip (yet to be written up due to lack of time) we got her ready to sail and hoisted and shook out her sails ready to bring her over and install the engine. Alas, it looks like we will never get to sail her.

Thanks for following our adventures,


Sunday, November 6, 2011

Scraping, Scrubbing, Painting, and Guests

 I'm a bit late getting this update out as life has been really busy for the last couple of weeks. During this trip we continued getting Grace ready to receive her engine (now sitting ashore ready for a few new parts and a coat of paint) and getting ready to bring her to the mainland. We left early to pick up a couple of things at the chandlery and catch the ferry from Marina Del Rey to Avalon. Traffic was worse than usual, and even leaving an extra hour failed to get us to the chandlery before the boat left. That turned out to be a good thing as we had left Roo's bed behind in the rush. So, after getting breakfast, we went back home to re-pack some things and then headed to San Pedro to catch a later boat to Avalon. My brother Jon kindly gave us a ride both trips. We were hoping for a cat straight to Avalon but ended up on a mono-hull going to Two Harbors first.
Roo enjoyed the ride as usual and we had fun watching one of the tall ships sailing in the channel.

The first thing on the agenda after arriving in Catalina and unpacking was to clean the engine room and paint it. Grace used to have iron fuel tanks, but they rusted out and were removed before we bought her. Unfortunately, the tanks coated the bottom of the bilge with 1/8" of rust sludge (she is bronze fastened and all her other tanks are aluminum). 

 Here is her engine room before much cleaning was done.
 After a lot of scrubbing and cleaning all the sludge was gone and drying ready to paint the next day.
 After adjusting the air flow through the boat using fans and opening the rear deck hatches I spent a morning giving the engine room a good coat of bilge paint, which dries fast and covers really well but isn't great to breathe.
We spent the rest of the day in Avalon while the paint dried and the boat aired out.
 The next day I worked on tightening the standing rigging (I wouldn't claim to actually be tuning it). It made Grace feel much more solid and ended most of the creaking. The rest of the day was spent cleaning and getting ready for....
.....Grandma and Aunt Gwen to visit! Roo loves spending time with relatives and had a blast with Grandma for the rest of the week. Gwen had to leave for work and school that evening.

 Corrie and Grandma Anne worked on sanding all nineteen spindles of the taffrail with Roo keeping a keen lookout for Tot-tots (California Sea Lions).
 All of the spindles came out looking really good. A couple are in need of some repair, which we will get to at a later date.
 Corrie oiled the spindles.
The finished product; clean, sanded and oiled. Grace's rails and trim are Honduras mahogany (as far as we can tell) and are truly beautiful, albeit rather weather-beaten.
Here are the finished spindles.
 While the ladies were working on the brightwork on the aft deck, I was cleaning the wood on the hull and  preparing the hull for painting. Here on the beakhead, you can see the fore part cleaned and the aft section still grey.

 Capt. Jim lent us his catamaran to use as a work platform. Once the hull was scraped I scrubbed it down with salt water and a coarse brush.

 The starboard side scraped and scrubbed, ready for a freshwater wash and paint.

 We ended up staying in Avalon until after dark one night and got to see the waterfront in the fog.
The trip back "over town" was fast and smooth on the Marina Del Rey Flyer. I had a good time talking with the crew and the service was first rate, as always.
Back on the hard after a long but good week.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Rigging Knives

As many of you know I am a bladesmith (Ben Potter, Bladesmith, Privateer Armoury ) and have been working on sailor and rigging knives. I thought I'd post about the progress here as it is pertinent. Today I was testing one of the knifes that I have selected as a possibility modification as a sailing knife. As a sailor I wanted to know not only how the blade would perform for normal use but to push it way beyond what it should ever experience out on the water. I didn't wast time on the finish as I planned to do destructive tests. You can still see the heat colors from softening part of the spine of the blade. The first test was to clamp the blade in a vice and snap the tip off. I used a 6# sledge hammer and it took 6 hits (none of them soft) before it broke. I then did some minimal grinding on the profile and sharpened the blade for the "cutting" tests.
Here are the results.
Blade testing: clockwise from top right: 3/4 nylon rope, insulated solid copper wire, 12ga extension cord, 1/2" marine plywood, stainless steel control cable, 1/16" stainless steel, 1/8" stainless rod, 16 penny nail, 1/2" rebar, 1 1/4" hardend steel well drilling cable.
The knife cut through all the non-ferrous materials with surprising ease no damage whatsoever. The rope, wire, and extension cord were cut with out any additional tools other test pieces were cut with the aid of a 5# sledge not because it needed that much forge but I wanted to test the blade with a greater impact than would be seen in normal use. Having worked with the plywood in the past I was expecting a more difficult time cutting it but it parted without a struggle. When cutting the stainless there was slight dulling of the edge but no chipping. The steel nail did leave some deformation as is to be expected. After the cutting test I decided to see what the limits of the blade were. The first victim was a piece of 1/2" rebar. Laying the edge on the bar and striking the back of the blade with the sledge. The edge bit into the rebar but in turn suffered moderate deformation but there was no chipping or cracking. During the stainless cable test I cut trough the cable and into the cutting face of the anvil, then continued to pound the back daring the blade to twist or break. The only test that the blade had any trouble with was the hardened well drilling cable (I was not aware that it was hardened until after the test) which did take a small chip out of the edge. All in all I was very impressed with the quality and look forward to crafting quality sailing knifes from these blanks.
I should mention that I was wearing full protective gear (full head/face mask. leather apron, gloves etc.)as I expected the blade to shatter during the testing from the impact and severe torsion from the round faced
hammer blows. DO NOT  ATTEMPT ANY OF THESE TESTS ON YOUR OWN AS THEY ARE EXTREMELY DANGEROUS and WILL damage any knife subjected to them!!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Too Rough

This trip to the island was a disaster- or an adventure, depending on how you look at it.
We arrived on Monday morning after an uneventful ferry ride, loaded the tender we were borrowing and headed for the main pier to get ice and milk. Then we took the tender to the fuel dock to fill up. After mixing the correct amount of oil into the fuel, we started for Grace.

We managed to make it about 100' before the engine quit. No amount of yanking on the starter, fiddling with the choke, checking the fuel lines, and squeezing the now-soft bulb in the fuel line had any appreciable effect. We drifted back to the fuel dock, tied up, and tried another round of tricks to get the motor to behave, all to no avail. Now, if one is using one's own boat it is relatively simple to start taking things to pieces until you find the problem, but with a borrowed boat it is not that easy. So we called the owner and waited for him to come down the the dock and see what he thought about it.

 Another set of skills and tricks were put to the test, and still nothing. By now we had figured out that there was a block in the fuel line, but every section when checked was functional. We decided to tow the tender back to the main pier and consult the outboard repairman who has his shop there. On the way we met Capt. Voyle, who is spending the summer in Avalon working as a mechanic and who taught us to sail. We took the fuel line off and started checking it piece by piece again. I forget who found the problem, which was with the quick disconnect going to the tank. Since the outboard repair shop was closed, Corrie, Roo and I walked over to the hardware store to get a new part. We were informed that they no longer carried the part we needed, so we went back to the outboard shop and waited for the proprietor to return. When he arrived, it took him about 30 seconds to recognize the problem, and five minutes to fix it. Having gotten the tender running again, we headed down the coast to Grace.

Getting on board a forty-footer without a boarding ladder is never all that easy, but getting on board in steep 4-5ft seas is just plain difficult. Add a small child and heavy supplies to the picture, and you have the makings of a hair-raising time. It took almost an hour, but at last everyone and everything was safely aboard. That evening, Corrie made brownies and sloppy joes, and we evicted the flying fish from the cockpit and had an excitingly turbulent dinner there.

Grace was designed to have over 1200lbs of engine just aft of the main salon, and since we have no engine at the moment, you can feel the difference with every wave. To a couple of novices, that night felt like trying to sleep in a roller-coaster. We were either hanging on to the side of the berth or pushing against the opposite wall. Roo loved it and slept for almost fourteen hours straight, but it was a bit rough on the rest of us. Morning came with no change in the swell, and after trying vainly to get something done, we decided to spend the day in Avalon. We climbed down into the dinghy and set out for shore. About 100 yards up the coast, the engine started the bog down. A quick look showed that the prop wasn't fouled. Another minute and the engine quit.

It is one thing to have your engine quit inside the harbor where you can easily get a tow or just drift to the dock, but losing power out on the open sea in a strong current is altogether different. To make matters worse, we found that one of the oars had half of the blade broken off. I set them into the oarlocks and attempted to row for shore.

If you are ever buying oars for your tender, think twice about getting the nice short ones that fit out of the way. 4 1/2' oars make for tough going. Fortunately we were able to hail a passing PWC and they very kindly offered to tow us in. (Side note: I will NEVER make disparaging comments about seadoos again). They had to let us off at the entrance to the harbor as their jet got fouled. So we rowed over to the dinghy dock. 

The plan for this trip was to have Corrie's family stay with us on Grace for a few days later in the week, but after seeing how rough it was we all decided it was best to postpone their visit. So we spent a lot of time at the park, much to Roo's satisfaction, and walked through most of Avalon by the end of the day. Capt. Jim kindly lend us his 14' inflatable that evening and we motored back through the lively seas to Grace for the night. The seas were a bit calmer, which was greatly appreciated, but the forecast predicted progressively more energetic seas as the week progressed. In the morning it was much calmer from 05:00-08:00, and we were reminded why we love being afloat. We loaded up the inflatable and made it into town in time to meet the Marina Del Rey flyer, and talk to Captain Zack about getting out tickets changed to that evening.

After another day walking around Avalon and learning more about the island, we headed home on the 5:00 boat to Marina Del Rey. It was not a very productive trip in terms of making progress on Grace, but we learned a lot more about dealing with life on the water. We didn't get many pictures, as we were just trying to do what we had to.

This one sums up what it was like:

NOTE: If you haven't ridden the Marina Del Rey Flyer to Avalon or Two harbors you should give it a try. It takes almost twice as long as the other ferry, but the service is really great. On the way to Avalon, we saw blue whales close by, and the captain slowed down and told the passengers about the habits of blue whales. On the way back, Corrie was nauseated by the motion of the waves, and the captain and the bartender improvised simple syrup for her drink. Folks, THAT is service.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Restoring Grace: Week Two

This week was a bit more of an adventure than usual.
It started with a phone call from the captain who is looking after Grace, saying that we needed to put down some better ground tackle. The anchor rode was unraveling because of chafe against the bottom, and he had moved her to deeper water to get the rope off the bottom, but that meant that there was now insufficient scope to hold her securely. So it was off to Kelly Marine in San Pedro, to hunt for another anchor and and a chain rode. After looking over what was available we settled on a 20kg Bruce, 90' of 3/8" chain and a handful of swivels and shackles. We freighted the gear to the island on Friday afternoon, on the twice-daily barge.

Over the weekend, we shopped for other miscellaneous items and supplies. Early on Monday we headed out to get the last few items and catch the ferry to Avalon. If you have ever tried to find matching blocks for some rigging you will understand why a 10 minute stop took an hour and meant that we missed the early afternoon boat and had to wait till 5:00.

We reached Avalon as the sun was going down over the hills. We could see that Grace was indeed dragging, but the freight company was closed for the evening so we had to wait till the next day to get the gear. As we were unloading the tender I noticed that the water seemed a bit closer than I remembered. About 1.2 seconds later the meaning of this information dawned on me and I hurried below to check the bilge. Pulling up the floorboards revealed an unbroken pool of water lapping over the frames and everything else including the submerged bilge pump switch. Out came the multi-meter and showed that the battery was at precisely 0.00v. I checked the other battery and it was a healthy 12.94v. A couple of minutes after the switch was made we were back to the normal 1/2" of water in the bilge. 

Later that night I noticed that the bilge pump was sucking air (not uncommon when there is chop) and got up to un-stick the switch, but found that it was functioning normally- a couple of taps and it seemed to shut off without incident. Next morning during breakfast the same thing happened but this time I found that even when the pump was "off" it was still idling at a low enough pressure that it didn't actually clear any water but kept the output line full and drained the battery. After some checking I found a short in the switch, so we took the dinghy into town to get another switch. Once back on board the switch switch was quickly made and things were back to normal.

Here are the bilge pump switches about to be swapped out.

The "retired" switch and its replacement.

The next item that needed attention was the galley pump. It had stared leaking on the last trip and was overdue for servicing. We had ordered the service kit and brought it with us. Even without instructions it was a fairly straightforward job that took about an hour and a half (it would have taken less time but I dropped some of the pieces and had to figure out where they came from).
Here is the pump before servicing. Note the pan of water that had leaked from it.

Roo loves to help whenever I am fixing anything. Here he is, fixing a plug for a power cord.

On this trip we also installed some oil lamps, which make for much more pleasant evenings below. This one is in the galley and there is a matching one across the companionway, above the nav station.
The forepeak also got a new lamp that neatly fit in holes already in the mast.

By the time we got into town and picked up the gear from the freight company it was getting late and the captain decided that re-anchoring could wait till morning. During dinner (high tide) we noticed that the next boat over was swinging rather closer than is comfortable (she is on a couple of hundred feet of chain and has quite a swing) and that we were dragging at an alarming rate. Lesson learned: spring tides are not to be toyed with.

The shackles and other hardware for rigging the anchor were not on board yet so off I went in the skiff to talk to the captain and get the hardware. When I got back to Grace we tied another couple of lengths of anchor rope onto the current rode (we should have done this as soon as we got on board- it would have saved a lot of headaches) which ended enabled the anchor to bite again. Then Corrie and I rigged the new anchor and chain and towed Grace up-current. When the first rode went taut we let go the new anchor and waited for it to set. Unfortunately, in the dark we managed to tow Grace off the side of the shelf into deeper water, meaning that the new anchor didn't bite until we swung completely around over the side of the shelf (and it REALLY set then) We hadn't taken into account how strong the current had become; another lesson learned the hard way.. By the time the action was over it was nearing 3:00am. I still was not comfortable with how close the other boat was so I hauled Grace up the rode to gain a couple of yards (not fun to do alone against a 2-3kt current without a windlass).

The next morning, when the captain was aboard, we discovered what had  happened with the anchor and decided, after trying to raise it, that we would move the other anchor to oppose the new one. Another session of pretending to be a windlass ensued, and after a couple of hours' work towing the boat and anchor around we got everything under control and both anchors well set. Later in the day, once we were sure things were holding, I added chafing gear to the rode and lashed the two rodes together to help with chafe on the bobstay.

After another trip to town to pick up the stove (which got delayed the first day because the barge was full), we temporarily mounted it and ran a propane line to it (not the full system yet, as that needs to wait until after the new fuel tanks are put in with the engine). It is a bit of a hassle to use as you need to hook up and disconnect the the disposable cylinder each time the stove is used, but it is worlds better than the grill for boiling water, baking, and everyday cooking.
Here is the stove, mounted and ready to cook.
Always a talented purveyor of delicious food, Corrie set an amazing table at each meal.

The yacht lamps that we ordered came with an extra lamp which we traded to my brother for a handmade produce hammock.
Our little midshipman taking the noon sunshot.

The next day, we continued the cleaning and organizing and I installed a new hatch to cover the hole in the cockpit where the binnacle had been.
The hole being enlarged for the hatch
(all the plywood will be replaced when the aft deck is redone, so this is temporary)

The new hatch in place.
After finishing the hatch we went ashore for some supplies and decided to take a walk in the hills above Avalon. We walked up to the Wrigley Memorial and Botanical Garden. The scenery is beautiful and the weather was perfect.
Corrie and Roo on the way back down.
Roo always enjoys trips ashore, which (as far as possible) are planned with him in mind.
On the way down we noticed a labyrinth off to the side of the road. I have been interested in labyrinths for several years. According to archeologists, labyrinths (not to be confused with mazes) were used by early seafarers as a navigation aid, similar to modern lighthouses, and are often found near pilot stations and narrow channels from the Mediterranean to Scandinavia. Many are also found in older churches, cathedrals, and government buildings across Europe. This particular example was of the Medieval type and took about 15 minutes to walk, while taking time to repair the sides in a couple of places.

On the way back down we got one-dollar tacos at the Sand Trap (yay for happy hour!). They were great, and one of the better deals we've found in Avalon so far.

After taking in some music and making some new friends at Machine Gun Park, we headed back to Grace and made it in time to watch the moon rise out of the cloud bank.
Notice the wake of boat anchored next to us- it is from the strong current .

The next day was spent getting Grace shipshape before we left. At about noon we noticed that Grace's shadow had come alive as thousands of bait fish hid in the shade.

We counted at least 4 different kinds of fish over the course of the afternoon. at one point the school was too large to fit in Grace's shadow and went well down in the water.

I spent the afternoon making chafing gear and working on lifelines and the damaged rail, with Roo's help.

The foredeck after some straightening up (note the new solar anchor light).
The (finally) clear aft deck set in order.

As always, it was sad to leave, but we were happy with the progress that was made and how much we had learned. We are looking forward to the next trip.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Restoring Grace: Week One

On Monday night we loaded my parents' van with all our supplies and gear and early on Tuesday we drove down to Newport. Two of my brothers came along to fish from Newport Pier and to drive the van back. After buying some bait, we dropped them off at the pier and drove to the dock to meet Capt. Jim, who had motored across the channel with his friend Butch the previous night.

Uncle Dan and Uncle Jon rigging their tackle.
Courage, Jim's 67' schooner, was anchored about half a mile from the dinghy dock. We crammed his zodiac and Favor with most of our gear and he and I motored to Courage and transferred the cargo to her deck while Corrie and Roo took a walk around Newport.
Then it was off to Minney's Yacht Surplus for a few last things and then we dropped Butch and Jim off at the dinghy dock again, picked up Jon and Daniel from the pier (where they had been having great success) and headed over to the fuel dock to board Courage. It took a while to finally meet up as it turns out there are two fuel docks about a block away from each other.
Once on board we headed down the bay and out into the channel for our night passage to Avalon. The weather was beautiful with a flat sea and calm wind. We arrived around 10pm and spent the night on board Courage. In the morning after breakfast Jim and I took his tender down to where Grace was moored.

After casting off her mooring we towed her "on the hip" back to Courage's mooring.
We side tied Grace and transferred all our stuff over from Courage. As the weather was cooperating, we decided to stay side tied for the next day as we started getting things organized. 

Jim was kind enough to lend us his 14' inflatable with an 18hp outboard for the week, which made the trips into town much shorter than if we had been rowing Favor.  The weather was looking a bit doubtful so we decided to put Grace back on her own mooring. We towed her with Courage, still side tied, down to where the buoy that was holding up the chain was supposed to be. But there was no sign of it to be found, so we motored back and secured both boats on Courage's mooring. Jim and I took the inflatable down to look for the gear. We found the buoy tangled in some kelp a quarter mile from where it was supposed to be but couldn't find the gear even after dragging the bottom with a couple of grappling hooks. So we rigged up some ground tackle for Grace using a length of Jim's chain and shackle and our anchor and rope, and towed her back with the tender and anchored her.
Here she is on her own, finally. You can see how she is floating well off her lines in the stern due to the 1200 pounds of engine that are absent at the moment.
Roo had a wonderful time romping around in Grace's salon, which is just perfect for a little sailor who is shorter than the dinette.
Corrie's mother gave us a a marine grill as a boat-warming gift, and it served as our only means of cooking aboard since the parts we had ordered for the stove didn't come in time.

Even though there is still a lot of work to do to fit out the galley Corrie was still happy to finally have her own kitchen.
Three times a day we were treated to wonderful creations from Corrie's galley. I was amazed at how well she was able to prepare delicious meals even with the lack of cooking equipment (the icebox proved a much larger task than we had time for on this trip).

Galley overhead before cleaning
Once we were "settled" it was time to start the cleaning. Almost every painted surface inside was more or less covered with mildew stains. My great-grandfather once told me that Simple Green is great for taking stains off of boats and RVs. He was right. You can see in these before-and-after pictures how much better Grace is looking, not to mention smelling.

Galley overhead after cleaning

Port side aft before cleaning

Port side aft after cleaning

Port side forward before cleaning

Port side forward after cleaning

Once the walls and overhead were clean, it was time to tackle the drawers and lockers, many of which were lined with wallpaper that had disintegrated and was harboring all manner of unpleasant guests.
Simple Green and a scraper made the job much easier but, due to the sheer volume of the work, it still took quite a while.
Then there is this locker that has yet to be tackled. The fuel filler line is supposed to be in here but it was cut off about a foot below the deck and someone later tried to use the filler and dumped what appears to have been at one point diesel fuel over the slats and neglected to clean it up afterwards.
The cockpit was Roo's domain when he was on deck- he enjoyed playing with the pots, pans, tongs, and all manner of odds and ends that he was allowed to play with or managed to grab.
Roo is a wonderful boy and we enjoy having him along on the adventure.
After all the cleaning below, both of us were ready for something more fun. I started working on the wheel and some of the other woodwork on deck.
Grace has three nice electric panels  which are almost completely disconnected. Much of the wiring is also cut in various places.

It wasn't all work and cleaning, however- we really enjoyed the sunrises over the channel and relaxing for odd moments on the aft deck.
The view of Pinnacle Rock from our anchorage.

Sunset over the island.

The week went quickly and before we knew it it was time to leave Grace for one last dinghy trip into Avalon to catch the express back to the mainland.
It was good to be back with our families. Roo was all smiles at having Grandma back and riding in his car seat again.