Winter whimsy

Winter posed a bit of a problem.  We were prepared for heat – with our Dickinson Pacific diesel stove, and a cute Newport woodburner stove we had in the saloon, not to mention unmetered power at dock.  The problem was the crappy structure improperly built onto the decking that funneled water down hidden pathways.  Summer down-pours (with dry superstructure), while Damon was gone on expedition, had me chasing the rivers back and stuffing them with rags, narrowing point of entry to two major locations.  Fall had everyone pulling out the super-tarps and fish netting and milk jugs to really batten down the hatches, we needed a plan.  Damon hated the thought of being “tarp-trapped”: our wheel-house sat so high, and had not had the opportunity to receive the attention it needed, that we knew it wouldn’t last an exposed winter in the rains and howlers we get here. 

We needed to build a ribbed structure, that wouldn’t ATTRACT the wind, to wrap the tarp or plastic around.  Which is essentially building a garage, on top of our project (backwards, eh?).  Unconventional as we are, we thought, “Why not just buy the whole she-bang?”  With cement decking and gunwales, we were limited to what we could build.  So this is what we did:


We bought a “portable garage” – which was exactly what we needed!!!   A Canadian Tire sale, on the perfect size we needed for the frame to fit just inside the gunwales, while the tarp of it runs over top of the gunwales.  The framing is all metal, there are a million bolts and screws holding it together, and straps to cinch it down.  Damon has it literally tied down through the cement scuppers, and reinforced through the framing.  The “garage doors” attach and zip down right to the deck, so it doesn’t scoop air, but still allows us to roll it up for, as Damon calls it, Outdoor Living.

To prevent any flapping, which is ultimately what destroys a tarp in under a season, we got some free fish netting, and covered the structure, keeping it down with water-filled jugs tied along the perimeter of the netting.  We did this in September.  Though we have been living off-site since October, I still stay on the boat one to two nights a week for work, and have been inside through some of the wickedest storms.  She creaks and groans, but that thing isn’t going ANYWHERE. 

I’m appalled at how ghetto the Lady’s exterior appears in the photo below, and almost hesitate for that reason in posting this picture, but it really illustrates how the “shed” perfectly fits and is securely tied down to the scuppers if you look bottom left – we used a green rope.  Damon even has his white-water kayak stored on top of the wheel-house roof!


With one problem solved, too perfectly, we see another — our chimney is ALSO under-cover.  Timing has been on our side this season- save the trip to the Ways, with this boat.  We were offered a care-taking position over the winter on a near-by private island, (tough life eh!?).  While we waited to find out the final word in getting the position, we decided Plan B was venting the stove pipe through the tarp using traditional roofing methods – a flange.  A shot in the dark, so we really hoped Plan A panned out.   So did our big dog, who would find winter months at dock a little confining.  Plan A did indeed pan out, and what sweet relief to know that through some of the wildest weather, topside is protected, and her hull is solid as a rock!!   

This summer, it’s time for some major top-side renos: fixing the superstructure problem by cutting it back to rest on the lipped cement supports it was meant to be built on, and replacing all the rotted tongue-n-groove paneling around it, replacing the windows, and re-roofing and painting the wheelhouse.

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More Interior AFTERS


Sometimes it's the little things

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Happily Interior AFTERs!

We moved aboard June 1st this year, three and a half months after taking possession. The process of moving is a post all on it’s own, for another day. We wanted the interior as finished as possible so we weren’t living in a construction zone.  I was FINALLY in my element purchasing the pretty things for a space that actually belonged to us. This is, in fact, our first home! Damon’s steady and persistent progress on the Lady had captured everyone’s attention- so when the focus moved inside and the work wasn’t as visible, we had lots of company hoping for a tour.
At the community’s small store where I work,  I felt famous as folks I really didn’t know got wind of us and our lofty dreams, and would ask  about our progress.  There was no shortage of advice. The attention was flattering, but maybe a little overwhelming.  And dare I say unnerving:  We were on the cusp of moving our life and all the things most  important to us, down into this now public space.  I decided to let things calm, and us settle, into what we now call home, before broadcasting how lovely we believed the inside to be, especially since the exterior is still pretty raw.  Of course, we’re never finished, but here’s where we’re at, and the lovely space we call home:








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Top Loading

We had a brief spell in April with good weather. And by good, I mean a day here and there it didn’t rain, and hovered around 10 degrees. We desperately wanted to paint the Lady.

We’re currently a fierce competitor for “Ugliest Boat” at the wharf; with the title-holder an actual working boat (so, technically, they’re off the hook with functionality being more important than appearance… no pun intended)

We received our boat with the wheelhouse literally chainsawed off — at the deck, leaving the deckplates still attached to the deck. She looked like a tarped barge. The pressure washer at the ways took off significantly more amounts of paint, AND Damon did some more cement patchwork along the gunwales. She did, and does, look horrendous. To add insult to injury, we quite literally found a wheelhouse to put on top. It was in a townsman’s yard. Being used as a shed. They swore she was solid – from a fishboat built in the 40’s. Skookum, they said.

So we loaded’ er up and brought her down to the wharf parking lot:

where she sat while Damon prepped the area where we would set it on.   Kinda looks like a lonesome little travel trailer…. I was actually a little concerned if we left it there long enough one day we’d startle someone that had moved into it.

Meanwhile, back at the slip… …We needed to get the “upper deck” sealed up as we were getting water in where the deck and the wall meet.   We’ve invested in a significant amount of caulking and Sikaflex.  Also paint.  Time just did not allow for us to tear off the old wood, so we painted, and caulked.  And since we just were not patient enough, we’ll have to paint again.

There was a lot of epoxy-ing done to seal up seams on the top, which had decayed some while it was tarped.

Ready for a wheelhouse!

Since the boat is still not under power it was cleverly pulled/directed around to the end of the  wharf where a permanent crane sits to empty fish boat freight.  This is what was used to lower the wheelhouse onto the Someday Lady

Hmmm.  Interesting.

So there she sat.  There was some serious adjusting – moving forward, moving back….
When just the right spot was found, she was spieled in properly, with the help of a Shipwright friend that has decided to take Damon, and all his ambition, under his wing.  Damon began the process of moving the door, which was on the back of the wheelhouse, to the side, where we needed it to be, and put a window where the door was.

Since nothing is square on a boat, it wasn’t as simple as Damon guestimated.  Not only are the windows cut and framed on an angle, the wheelhouse angles up towards the bow.  So moving a window made for the side, to the back means that the window has to be framed in to accommodate its angle.

They were right about it being solid.   Things aren’t built like they used to be.  The “nuts and bolts” are all brass.  When spieling it in, they lowered it six inches so it didn’t sit up so high.  The cross-section revealed that it’s built out of yellow cedar.  The front is actually ONE PIECE of 1″ 9-layer plywood that was curved around.  Yep, 1″  thick.   The framework was all dovetailed to completely direct and seal out water.  The windows are double paned, and two of them slide down.  We’ll have to replace the roof, but we’re pretty happy with the history and character it adds to our boat.

(Notice the piece they cut off on the foredeck — that’s some thick ply!!)

The roof we tarped and battened down, conceding to wait until summer is ACTUALLY here to apply paint on the outside so we only have to paint once.  You’ll notice the “Sikaflex pinstriping” on the navy blue.  Despite the slopping on of marine paint, water still came in through the aged T&G.  Sikaflex-ing all the cracks should fix it until we can peel all the wood panelling off.  It was nice to have a couple sunny days…. though we should be getting more than we have.

Sometimes you have to use what you got:

Using a skill saw to chop up some battens to tarp the roof off

He prefers to do things in style……

Also, a glimpse of a colour I was painting with on the inside….. can’t show you those ones yet!!!  It’ll be worth the wait.

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Junk Raisers

Damon loves the Discovery Network. Along with Flying Wild Alaska, Deadliest Catch and An Idiot Abroad, he has just recently discovered “Junk Raiders 2”, which sparked an epiphany.  This whole boat thing?  We’re pretty much free-(or cheap-)cycling, including the boat itself.   As he considered all of the refuse building materials and some paint, which were donated by his boss; a wheelhouse we found when a customer in the store overheard me mention we needed one, (he had one in his yard); a skiff a friend was given that he didn’t need; a prized diesel stove with a large water coil that will allow us to more efficiently heat our boat, and hopefully water in the hot water tank, that was offered to us from a friend who appreciates all the work Damon has put in;  it literally goes on and on.  Now we joke about it, as we stand back and think how fortunate we are, to have such generous people in our lives (and not just with stuff, but with wisdom, services, and offers of help, as we figure this thing out).  Just when we start to stress about something, or how to power another, we get some feedback, and find something either online or through word of mouth on our Island.  True – boats cost money, but we’ve managed to put this project together on a very very tight budget.

Parlez-vous “good deal”? Indeed.  It’s my native tongue.  My mother had introduced  me to the Re-Store.  She would buy various tints and types of paints and mix them IN HER TRAY, to paint rooms in her house.  Pffft, artists.  A little too open to error for me, I love the Re-Store because I get really good quality stuff, for a really good price, and ALL of that money goes to Habitat for Humanity.  Today, Damon and I scored huge there.  I had already got a REALLY white, clean, soft blanket that will be re-purposed into cushion covers for the salon, as well as the cushions that will be cleaned and recovered.  Today we got two brushed nickel fixtures – replacing the ugly white/brass ones in our salon, three bundles of tongue&groove cedar and pine we’ll use to replace some existing panelling, a small egg skillet, and my favourite — two rad wood&canvas low-sitting, folding deck chairs.  Best $30 we spent.

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A Tour Inside — Interior In Progress!!

FINALLY, a tour of our interior.  It IS still a “construction site”, so tools and grub everywhere.  You’ll see some of the updates already, I tried to post them in order of an actual tour so you can follow the placement of the pictures, and would love if you checked them all out!    I changed the format of the pictures from a small gallery to just posting them, as even Damon asked me verbally how to view them instead of following the directions I posted, so this should be much more viewer friendly.

The irony is that the “simplest” work, like painting, seems to have the greatest impact, while it completely masks the hours and days of work Damon has put in prepping surfaces above to ensure watertight seams, fixing some dings in the concrete along the gunwales and then creating a smooth surface, etc etc.   In the 3 days of sun we’ve had in the last 15, we did some topside surfacing, sealing and painting to clean up the appearance as well as make ‘er as watertight as we can – we only had two drips from where the wheelhouse joins the hull, not too shabby!

..Also all the cushions are at our house

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A Peak Inside; Bits and pieces and appliances…..

Here’s a look at our little stove:

She’s a Dickenson “Newport” solid fuel burning stove with stainless piping that we’ve installed in the Salon.

FINALLY, a smooth calm ride back to her berth — safe, drama-free, cruise…..   You’re also looking at the remains of where the wheelhouse once was.

Now that we actually have a place where I can sew, I haunted Fabricland  for three days straight — bought all the material to full re-cover every cushion on her on a “half off everything” weekend.  Have I mentioned how much I love sales??  This is my sewing area:

Beach views on all sides!

This is an example of WHY I’m recovering the foams:

I think it has potential in the form of a tote?  Damon’s not a fan in the least.

So while I’m struggling to teach myself to sew again (had a little mix up with zippers), Damon’s been doing some finishing in the salon where the couch cushions go:

OOooooooh!!  The inside!  Damon built this panel under the couch to provide an easier and stronger access to a small storage space — the old one was flimsy, and hard to wrestle out.  It’s birch ply trimmed out with cedar.  Butted up against it is a step up to the couch, which Damon laid down cherry tongue and groove flooring.  This picture doesn’t do it justice to how good it looks!!

He took these pictures with his phone, which is why this pic is affected so much by the natural light through the porthole.  But I wanted to show how nice and cleaned up it is — now woodfiller or nails showing.   Now imagine it with navy canvas foamies and some throw pillows of white, burlap, red and a ticking pattern…  I’m very excited about this.

And at the end of the day, this was what Damon saw:

In recent events, we’ve put dibs on a brand new black Nova Kool DC refrigerator, which we’ll pick up this week, and have also decided we’d go with a Dickenson diesel stove that we can get for a good price, as it’ll need a little tinkering.  Kei has also sniffed out her favourite dock person — the one who smells like Smokies and always has a stash of milkbones in his bag.


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Putting the puzzle back together!

Damon’s been diligently putting the parts back into the boat and hooking everything back up.  We needed all the appliances yet, and have been going back and forth about what was the best power source for each.

Inside, Damon has hooked up the drive shaft, refitted the wood furniture casing and insulated  around where it had been cut out to get at the patch, installed the gas tank single-handedly by rigging up a rope/pulley system  (heaven forbid he save some time and just ask someone around for a hand for a second), and checked all the valves throughout the boat.  The latter chore ended with some dismal news that every single valve (4, I believe) is ceased: some open, some closed.  Also, in what appears to be a rammy attempt to open one, the toilets handle has been busted.  Now that it’s in the water, and some are below the waterline, this could prove interesting to fix.

We received a response to a wanted ad we had put up for a boat-sized wood-stove.  Both of us just love the natural heat of a woodstove, and the seller gave us an offer we couldn’t refuse, as it came with all the stainless pipe and flanges and cap.  I picked it up on Saturday, and Damon had it in on Sunday!  There’s a wee bit of corrosion because beach wood was burnt in it (the salt eats any metal that isn’t stainless), which isn’t an uncommon boater practice, and leaves us that option as well.  As you’ll see in the upcoming photos, it’s merely big enough to burn small bits, or pellets or bark.  Pretty cool that that’s all you need to heat our space!  I was actually really surprised at how small and light it was.   Plus, it has a cute little picture of a schooner on a tile on the front of it.

We have a lead on a wood cook-stove as well, but the seller of this wants a pretty good chunk of change for it, PLUS it’s on the lower mainland; a five hour drive in one-way, plus at least $150 on the ferry.  It’s beautiful as it’s cast-iron and appears to be in good shape, but we’re not able to pay what he’s asking on top of our travel cost and time.  Anyone used wood cookstove?  We’re curious about the consistency of heat.  We’d like to stay away from diesel for heat and cookstove because of the immense continuous cost.   We’re definitely open to feedback.  In addition, we’re in need of a fridge.  An electric one will pull 5 of our aloted 15 amps, which seems a hog.  Propane is not only very combustible especially if we have it down in the galley,  but the residual propane that is leaked into the air actually will settle in the bilge and cause an [EDIT–] explosion should there be a spark when, for instance, if there is a spark when the bilge starts.  You can imagine how attractive that would be.

Damon left with the camera, so I’ll be posting pictures of our progress and “new” items later today.

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Down, off and over!

After having seen one too many of these landscapes, (at least the surroundings were decent –

Sunset at the Mudge

a beautiful sandy beach was immediately next to the boat works, which few other humans seemed to enjoy) it was time to call it, and put this Lady back into the water where she belonged.  Damon was on edge after too many hours and too many days consumed by this, but having seen the detail and the extent of the work, it seemed a miracle if it DID leak.  All were impressed by the work he had done, and how well it had set and cured considering the ridiculous weather we had gotten.



In fact, it’s snowing in this picture of the completed bottom paint. Also upon inspection of the propeller, it was not only clear of any sea creature encroachment,

Before she sees water - a shiny prop, amidst the snow!!

but it was really shiny – I mean REALLY  –  a coppery-silver gleam.  My ignorant self wondered what kind of coating he had painted it with.  I even verbalized this query.  Turns out he had polished it with a metal brush.  Ahh.  All about the details.


Getting ready the morning we put her back in the water Damon sheathed himself in the shell of clothing layers he had been wearing all week (no kidding — they were kept in a separate room overnight).  I was pretty amused to see the rear in his favourite “dress” Carharrts.

Messy pants! A favourite pair of Carharrts spotted with hydraulic oil

I took a picture, mostly so he could see for himself:  battle scars inflicted by some unruly hydraulic hoses he had wrestled with the day prior.  At least he won.  Kei’s just stoked to be getting some time in with her humans again.  Her stoic appearance in this shot masks her elation.  The lady at the boat-works would set out food for the feral cats.  I guess the neighborhood’s dumpsters 20 ft away didn’t come across as sufficient.  So Kei was car-bound, as it wasn’t so much the strange looking cats that caught her attention, as her hankering for cat food, that kept her in trouble.

Annnnnd she floats! Off the ways

The day Someday Lady went back in the water was a glorious sunny day.   Of course it was!!  But an ideal day for painting above the water-line, would turn, rather, into a day of watching her glide soooooo slowly down the rail lines back into the water.  Our friend who had tugged us over was using the opportunity to pull out his boat, and Damon joined the team to wash, scrape and paint the underside of his vessel.   The days’ lovely sunshine was prelude to a very wicked storm of heavy gale-force winds which brought piles of snow to even sea-level on our Island.  We waited it out at the government wharf in the sheltered cove.  Still tandem with the tug boat, Damon added to our attractiveness some tires he had “rescued” from the local mechanic to use as bumpers.  You know, just to be thorough.

Being pulled tandem to dock

Only days later (after ferry cancellations spanning the entire fleet servicing Vancouver Island), on Saturday, Damon sent me a picture message while I was at work of him sprawled out on the bow with nothing but flat water, blue skies, and the sun shining down on him while the towed her back around to her home.  I guess he better enjoy the romance whilst he has it!!

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The Nether Regions

The Beaver Tail

It’s one thing to patch cement, it’s another to put back together the steering mechanisms.   As mentioned, the boat came to us floating in the water, while the rudder was handed to us.  Though we were fully prepared for the puncture wound, we weren’t aware of just how bent the beaver tail was, and what it would fully require to bring back to life.

Heck, it was hard enough to make out, so covered in sea-salad it was:

What she looked like fresh outta water. Sans rudder.

This is just HOW bent out it was:

Just some perspective as to the ACTUAL angle it was on...

A little caressing with the pressure washer revealed the truth:

a little cleaned up... and bent back. Damon would bang out all the bad concrete, and remove the cuff

The re-bar was welded in to the rebar fram prior to cementing. Also, the center steel plate was added, in addition to one along the bottom.

Careful positioning of the very heavy rudder into place.

Through careful tweeking, the rudder, held by ropes and come-alongs on either side, was put into position and welded at the top of the rudder shaft.  This is an area that gets really technical, and despite numerous attempts on Damon’s part to explain the entire rudder attachment/mechanism to me, it eludes me entirely.  This sentiment was reinforced this morning, when Damon was explaining, in man-ese, to a friend who had come along to help, how the steering system was set-up and what he had done to it to ensure the rudder wouldn’t move while it was being towed.   While I stood in ignorant awe, our friend nodded and “oh yeah’d” enthusiastically, fully comprehending what, to me, was the sound of Charlie Brown’s teacher.   All that to say, I’ll save an opportunity for Damon to write, in man-ese, a detailed post on what seemed like the intensive work he did in this area.  Until then, I will leave you with a visual trail and some basic layman’s terms:

Cemented in, rudder on, bottom of keel reinforced with cement, until next year when it will be fitted with a steel shoe

The other side of the beavertail

Ta Daaa!!!!

It’s amazing how distracting a fresh coat of paint and a shiny new zinc is from all the other work that was done to this thing.  Aesthetics, too, are important to Damon, and it’s an irk of his that our dry-dock time didn’t allow for him to grind flush the joins.  This will be done next year when she’s pulled out again for her annual bottom paint and maintenance.

A peak under her dress as she looks today!!

And that’s the bottom!!  Now that the anti-fouling paint has been applied, she’s ready to be put back into the water!!  Our hopes to paint both bottom AND top were not realized at this point.  Between time and weather, the marine paint wouldn’t have properly stuck and cured to the top of the hull, and we’ll do that in our next spell of good weather.  Until then, we are highly anticipating the updates to our interior!!

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