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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Signed, Sealed……

Tuesday and Wednesday were a major hump.  The tension was evident in the air, Damon was feeling the pressure.  The incredibly cold snap that was happening proved to be a fight to hang onto all the hard work that had been invested up to this point.  I had stayed overnight on-site Tuesday to keep it hydrated and curing, while Wednesday’s cement work on the beavertail was also at risk of improper curing because of the weather.  After Damon literally handled cement all day in bone-chilling temperatures, and managed with some offered help from friends, to hoist the massive and heavy rudder into place, it seemed best to continue a night watch again, though I worked in the morning.    We wrapped the beavertail as best we could with tarps and plastic and tuck tape, and put a flood light in the little makeshift tent to try the best we could to keep the chill off.  It was just a waiting game.

Another dusk at the boat works

Perfecting the finishing touches on the final layer of the cement patch, at dusk - notice where he also applied cement to the bottom of the keel -- cement had been damaged, so he cleaned it up, removed rust and cemented over to protect it.

The final cement patch right before applying the epoxy patch

Pre-epoxy patch - finished cement The smaller patch was already there, Damon just ground it down, and applied fresh for a stronger, prettier patch

Thursday was the day scheduled to put an epoxy patch over the cemented patch to make it quite nearly bomb-proof.  Again temperatures had us worried. So the application went on on Thursday afternoon, was tarped off again with some extra construction lights and a propane construction heater, and we all went home and crossed our fingers!!!

Friday morning, I was in the ferry line-up heading to work and wondering the status, when Russell, our boatworks/epoxy guy passed me and came over to tell me the RELIEVING news that the patch had held perfectly!!

Just finished epoxy patch, set up to set for the night

The finished and cured epoxy patch the next morning, PHEW!

And as a sneak peak — it’s final product….

What the patch looks like today! After copper painting

Final look at the FINISHED hull (this time around anyways!) Where it looks like paint is running, is just the glue from the epoxy patch. This actually bugs the perfectionist Damon.

TA DA!! And that’s the patch.  During curing periods, Damon worked tirelessly on the stern, a bent beavertail needed repaired, and WELL, as it holds the the rudder (which wasn’t even attached to the boat, as due to the damage).

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Holed Up


Word was out that we officially had a LARGE addition to our family.  Since our tiny Island can be a breeding ground for rumours, especially since I work in a social hub where a few overheard sentences can be misconstrued, we had kept the possibility of acquiring this boat to ourselves.  Now that it was official, everyone we knew on the Island popped down to the boatworks to see if it was for real.  We welcomed the feedback, and offered help, as we’re definitely rookies, and surrounded by a lot of veterens.  Some time was lost in giving tours and verbal updates.

Priority was properly fixing this patch.  Now that Damon had busted out the afore(post)mentioned hole to start fresh, it was extremely important that the job was done properly.  Damon had taken initiative, while we were in discussion about acquiring the Someday Lady, to educate himself using online information and forums where he posed many questions to ferro-cement boat owners and experts worldwide.   This information was key, as it dictated the following steps and products.

Tied in Rebar, as seen from the inside

To be safer than sorry, we had someone spot-weld at all the intersections. 

Inside out -- Tied in re-bar, about to be welded

Then two layers of chicken wire is tied in on either side of the re-bar.  Damon, as a perfectionist, was very thorough in tying in, and was very happy to tie in the last of what felt like five-million twist-ties at the end of it.    It made a very nice, secure frame.

Finished and prepped wire frame from the inside

Finished and prepped wire frame

And I, at my other job Friday and Saturday, was so excited to receive a picture text after each shift of what looked like a world of accomplishment each day!

Re-bar and chicken wire form from the outside

As you can see, Damon also ground down the existing cement surrounding the hole to create a gradient, and allow for the new cement to overlap without creating a bulge.   In order for the new cement to stick, a we used a cement bonding agent.   The agent was mixed with proper proportions of water and put into a spray bottle for easy and thorough application.  We chose to apply it directly to the wire meshing and surrounding cement rather than adding it to our cement mix.  Adding the bonding agent into the mix is fabulous, but it would slow down the curing process.  As we’re prepping the boat to be fully ready for summer, putting it on dry-dock while in the off-season gives us much much more affordable rates, and some bumper time should we come across any adverse challenges requiring more time than budgeted – we’re not governed by a schedule of back to back bookings for the dry dock use.  Still, we were only hoping to be out of the water for a week.  Thus, longing curing times hold up the other processes of applying an epoxy patch over it and painting.

Mixing and applying the cement mixture was a nerve-wracking task.  As I was little use, Damon only had himself to rely on to mix and carefully push the cement through the meshing without having any air bubbles.  We were supremely relieved when a work colleague showed up to lend a hand.  Literally.

Two-man job of encasing wire frame in cement

First round of cement from the inside, carefully inserted to ensure no airbubbles and that it stays put!!

While he worked on the outside, and Damon on the inside, they defied gravity and encased the wire meshing.  Once finished in the application, Damon smoothed the outside surface with hands to get the perfect finish he was aiming for.

Outside wire half cemented

Careful 2-person job of cementing the wire frame

Smoothing and working from the outside

We set up tarps around it to keep the cold wind off it, kept it constantly misted with water, and had a construction light shining on it to keep the chill off it.  Inside was misted as well, and there was already a small space heater warming the air.  While letting this set awhile, Damon cleaned up and re-cemented the bottom of the keel, mostly to protect any exposed metal, and preventing any further damage until next year when we’d apply a steel shoe down the entire length of the keel.

Having allowed the initial area to set a bit and gain some strength Damon applied a layer of bonding agent and a skim coat of cement on both the outside and inside of the large patch.  This time using a trowel to smooth it out while giving it additional strength; strong AND pretty!

It had to be SO perfect that into the evening he worked

.......and worked.

A long day for him.  The patch had to stay hydrated, so I bundled up, brought a book, thermos of coffee and my cell phone alarm clock, misted the patch every half hour all through the night.  Since my painting skills were not going to come in handy in the cold temps, it was finally something I could do to make sure all of Damon’s hard work didn’t come undone overnight.

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FRIDAYPrep the surfaces
The tedious task of busting out all the crumbling, broken and even rotting (it gets black and slimey) cement, making sure entire damaged area is removed.  This turned a 1′ x 1 1/2′ gouge into a 4′ x 4′ gaping wound.

Just starting to bang out the cement and clip the chicken wire

Because the cement is squeezed through layers of wire meshing and rebar, it is a tangled mess, involving lots of banging and clipping and banging and clipping….  Damon sent me a picture message of his progress this day, I actually gasped in shock and excitement at how much work he had done:

Peeled away all the layers of chicken wire, exposing the existing rebar.


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WEDNESDAYTowed around, and pulled up out of the water.  That was enough for one day.

THURSDAYClean up, suss out

Time for it!

Cleaning happened a day later than we had expected.   It was fascinating getting up-close and personal with the Lady, inspecting the damage we had only heard about.  It was, of course, understated.

First off, may I just say how incredible to see the absolute myriad of creepy crawlies that not only live in the ocean, but had attached themselves to the side of our boat.  And we had a really “clean” boat.  Some boats, if left, pretty much have entire reefs attached to their bottoms!

This was merely a minor observation, which made my skin crawl whilst hastily scraping them from the hull, so Damon could accomplish more when he passed over with the power washer.

An inspection of the damage was a little grim, as you’ll see.  The initial patch, was barely holding on.  It consisted of two sheets of thin plywood  bolted over “vinyl”, over a gaping hole – as in, no cement.   The vinyl turned out to be an industrial mat with a vinyl bottom.  The first sheet of plywood had been entirely consumed by the sea and its creatures, while the second sheet was literally hanging on by fibers as worms burrowed through.  This meant that there was a likely possibility this patch could have come undone or off entirely during the tow over – her sinking fate unstoppable.  A sobering thought.

In addition, there was a large “dent” in the keel that had been just packed with cement that we had no idea about,  which leaves some rogue re-bar trailing and rusting, as well as a very small patch that would need additional reinforcement and bonding to have it properly attached.

The rudder is a technical mess that I cannot currently undo into layman’s terms right now as my loving technician is currently in much-deserved dream land.  What I do know, is in the pics to follow, the base where the rudder attaches into was described as having a slight bend.  The term “slight” was used loosely.  We’ll also have to hire the lovely folks at the boat works to professionally assemble rudder back into its place.  That’s not something we’d like to gamble on.

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