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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

News from Loon County May 2012

Hi D,

We are presently working in the boatyard full-time. That means we are actually there for about 3-4 hours a day. The rest of the time is occupied with fetching and carrying stuff, buying stuff, sorting out stuff from basement and garage, essential cat grooming etc. Housework and work in the garden has been neglected (my heart bleeds, you can be sure!) and meals are basically make-a-whack-of-something at the start of a week and keep heating it up every day until it is unrecognisable! "Hmm, I think it was kedgeree..." 

We are making good progress with the boat. The Don has lots of holes cut in the deck, over-drilled (larger holes than needed) then filled with epoxy, then drilled to the right size. The reason for this is that the decks of boats of this type are stiffened with a sandwich of end-grain balsa wood between two layers of glass-reinforced plastic (fibreglass). The balsa wood is very light but susceptible to rot if it gets wet so epoxy is used to seal it. He also removed a couple of apparently decorative wood plates to find each covered (inexpertly) five (5!) holes in the deck on each side. More drilling, filling, drilling etc!.Meanwhile I have been refinishing the teak trim and it's starting to look quite good. Of course, it now makes the white part of the boat look shabby, so I think we will have to paint that as well...the jobs grow in scope, as usual.

Our current conversations with other boaters in the yard tend to be very tedious and technical about paint "systems" (what goes on where and how often) and which brands of masking tape, sandpaper, varnish, are the best etc. We are all monomaniacs on the subject of boats , all doing these jobs at about the same time. Normally we are the only people left, everyone else launches early and heads up to the Thousand Islands or Lake Ontario. Because of the wet and cold weather everyone is delayed by about 3 weeks. Fortunately we are in the tent, so we are not hampered much by wet weather.

We have taken apart the steering wheel to replace some crumbling plastic parts. One of my next jobs is to strip the whole steering system down, paint the bits that show then put it back together again. It is a simple cable and pulley system attached to the rudder head and with a length of bicycle chain over a sprocket directly attached to the wheel. It looks simple enough. What can possibly go wrong? 

What can possibly go wrong? There was a survey on an electronics hobby blog that I read, the subject was, "What was the first thing ever you took apart? Were you able to reassemble it?" 

There were lots of answers such as:
"At age 6/7/11, I took apart the family toaster/alarm clock/VCR/lawnmower. I tried to put it back together but I had some pieces left over and it didn't work. I never told anyone. My parents went right out and bought a new one."

There were a few replies intended to be amusing: "My little brother. No." for example.

My own first take-apart project was a golf ball. Someone had said that they had a lot of rubber inside. Well they were right. After working for about an hour with my mother's bread-knife, I got the hard case off and there was the amazing infinitely long piece of rubber all wound around and around. After about half an hour of unwinding, I found a small sac of some kind of thick latex solution. I never did get it back together again.

Then there was the alarm clock, then the wind-up gramophone (no, I am not that old! it was a broken, obsolete one.) I did sort of get the alarm clock together again and it sort of worked, but the wind-up gramophone nearly killed me. The mechanism, as it turns out, is an infinitely long spring about a half inch wide. It was wound up. When I opened the case (they didn't put health warnings on plastic bags back then either) the thing came alive and sproinged all around my bedroom, taking a large chunk of plaster off the wall. What an idiot! I did learn about potential energy though. Heh I know about taking stuff apart. Needless to say the gramophone was wrecked.

Our friend Chris came back from his visit to family in the UK. His wife is there for a couple more weeks, so we invited him for supper last night. Interesting man. He is a mechanical engineer, was a wing-commander in the RAF, retired at about 50 to sail with his wife from Britain to the Med and across to the Caribbean and then to Canada. He talks like Biggles, it's all, "What ho, chaps!" and referring to his good lady (in her presence) as "Spawn of the Devil" - clearly some kind of private joke. He is accident prone (as are most interesting people) and very much likes singing, has joined the local choral society. We went to a Burns Night supper at his house and had a great time singing all sorts of stuff. He is also a ham - he did a brilliant rendition of Burns' Ode to the Haggis (traditional at these events). He put on a credible dialect and Scottish accent.

For his latest project he has built a sailing boat, a trimaran, which he is going to keep at the marina where we keep ours. So we'll be seeing more of him. He did drop the 50-foot mast in the water on first launching it last year, but he missed my head by at least a couple of metres and he was suitably apologetic :-). Some of his other friends were giggling about this. It had happened to him before on his previous boat, except he had actually dropped a (much lighter) mast on someone's head...!

No word from the mad Russian, or her husband. Clearly that means she doesn't need me for anything just now! Good thing too.

I am getting a bit tired of the anti-depressants. The shingles pain has gone except for an occasional slight itch and sensation a bit like a mild sunburn. However the other side effects are getting more peculiar. I am very, very cheerful, but sometimes babbling words that I can't organize properly. It's like I can remember how to think and do things, but as the memory fades I get more clumsy and stupider. I am basically making lists and reading them repeatedly to try to get things done. On second thoughts, perhaps taking apart the boat steering system is a bit ambitious in my present state of mind! Only 5-1/2 weeks until I can start dropping the dose...

The rowing club starts in earnest in a couple of weeks. I helped launch the rowing dock last weekend. It's made of floating plastic cubes and is pretty substantial. The ramp down to it needed some gravel so I have been hauling bucket-loads from another part of the marina.It all done now. All the club members come out next weekend (May 5/6) to reassemble the rowing boats and do the dozens of other tasks that are needed. Things like spray-painting the channel markers buoys and launching the coach boat etc. So we will not be able to come to see you this weekend. 

We will try to come the weekend of May 12 and perhaps we can go to a movie? 

I hope you are doing well. Talk to you soon.

Sue and Don.

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