Easter Weekend – Boat Work Weekend

For the easter weekend we got the RVYC crane to lift our little boat out of the water and reserved some foreshore cradle time. This means five days of intense work to brush her up and get her ready to sail. Just the right kind of holiday.

1st Day

This is what the first day looked like – lot of work still ahead.

2nd Day

getting rolling

3rd Day

more scraping, more grinding, more sanding. And sore muscles…

4th Day

some rain, the rest the same (scraping, grinding, sanding, sore muscles).  But slowly getting there.

5th Day

nothing new (scraping, grinding, sanding, sore muscles). Kyle, do you have photos?

6th Day

Sun: so getting this paint done. Aha.

7th Day


Puh, I’m happy to get back to my desk and just sit there, all i have to move are my fingers.

An unexpected swim & painting with a pressure washer

Chapter 1: An unexpected swim

Manuel and I set out from campus today at 2 so we could pressure wash the boat and make it back for an early evening study session.  We were heading to a guest slip at RVYC where we had already arranged with the foreshore to use a pressure washer for the afternoon.  The (not so romantic) walk down the beach, the launch of the tender (our bathtub size boat to shuttle out to the real boat) went as planned, but that was about the last thing that went as planned this sunny afternoon.  We were in the midst of a discussion (probably solving world hunger or something) as we drew up to “Her” when Manuel decided to hop on the boat without much of a warning.  Without any warning, actually.  The next four seconds passed very slowly to me as the tender rolled on its side and I elegantly flailed my arms in search of something to hang onto.  Realising there wasn’t such an option and studying our bags of supplies I decided to take one for the team and abandon ship before the tender completed its roll.  In my mind it was a graceful, back‑arching dismount like a humpback breaching the water.  Manuel, however, didn’t seem to appreciate the show of athleticism, because as I tread water peering back at the boat, he gave me a rather quizzical look, as if pondering why I decided to go for a swim without inviting him.  Luckily this was the warmest, sunniest day since we bought the boat so twenty minutes strutting around the deck in my European bathing suit (boxers) was as good as a towel for drying.  Then I slipped into the only dry clothes I had, rain pants and rain coat, and we got on with the day.  (Unfortunately, my phone was in my pocket during my swim and we didn’t have another camera so we don’t have pictures of any of this.  On the bright side, the phone is dehydrating in a bag of rice and I’m looking forward to some sea salt‑infused jasmine rice tomorrow for supper.)

Chapter 2: Painting with a pressure washer

Our boat is pretty dirty.  We bought it that way.  And although we will have it out of the water in a couple weeks for a marathon weekend of work (and the occasional refreshing beer), we wanted to get a head‑start on the cleaning.  The deck was so dirty and the pressure washer was so effective that the cleaning process actually appeared more like applying a fresh coat of white paint.  At one point Manuel remarked “There’s actually boat under there!”  It was also an incredibly effective sander, peeling away layers of green growth from the few pieces of wood Kyle and Manuel hadn’t detached for revitalisation at home.  But why stop there?  The inside had been stripped of everything so I ventured below deck with the magic diesel-powered wand, cleaving mould and grime and paint from the bits of the boat we want to keep.  This is a rather wet process that I imagine resembles a child with an overpowered water gun stuck in a fridge trying to kill the boogeyman with his eyes closed.  Manuel was jealous of the fun and wanted a go.  He also wanted to borrow my rain pants but I couldn’t just give him them because they were all I was wearing.  Naturally we decided to swap pants, but smartly waited until the teenage sailing lesson on the dock next to us finished rigging their boats and were busy tacking away.


We stopped at the grocery store on the way home at 9 pm (so much for studying) and during that awkward time waiting for my credit card to go through I noticed the guy at the checkout sizing me up (keep in mind it was a beautiful, sunny day)  – rain jacket, rain pants, shoes making that squishy sound because they’re soaked – when finally he asked:

“What have you been doing?”
“I was just pressure washing the inside of a boat.”
“Oh… yah… ‘cause you have some paint chips on your face and in your hair.”

Edit (manuel): some pictures just appeared:

Buying a boat – a prairie perspective

I grew up on a farm in rural Alberta, 1000 km from the ocean. Most of what I knew of water came as snow. In fact there were three bodies of water I knew growing up: the creek I could jump across, the pond I could walk across in my rubber boots, and the dugout that was so big I had to walk for a minute to get around it. So when my family would vacation to the coast I was fascinated by the ocean. A few years ago I wanted get to Bergen from Oslo and instead of the 500 km trip by land, I took a night ferry to Denmark, then another one back up the Norwegian coast. The only thing that matches my curiosity for the ocean is my fear of it. I blame it on watching Jaws when I was too young, but as I’ve thought about it, I think it’s just that we don’t belong in it. But on it is another story. And that’s where this story begins…

Email exchange, August 5, 2013 with Manuel:
Manuel to me:
Subject: that boat
Content: link to a boat for sale, $2500.

(I thought boats were like cars and cost $20,000. The newer, reliable ones do, but like cars you can get an old one that still moves for much less. So suddenly it actually seemed possible to have a boat and explore the ocean.)

Me to Manuel:

Looks like the outboard motor is extra, and not cheap… But still! We should get it. I’m serious.

Manuel to me:

you can’t be serious!
let’s talk about it in the next break.

That boat sold to someone else and we got busy with life.  Six months later and on a similarly short exchange and a whole lot of whim, we bought a boat. Curiosity won.

Why have one boat when you can have two?

Fate recently brought us a wonderful bit of good luck. I was showing my friend Ed the boat when he mentioned that there was another Shark 24 for sale in James Bay that we might want to look at. Manuel and I were torn on the idea; sometimes ignorance is bliss. What if we found out the boat was a better deal and were struck with buyer’s remorse? Would we abandon the boat we’d already poured so much energy into for a younger, perkier model?

Luckily, she turned out to be not so perky. Curiosity got the best of Manuel. He went to have a look and learned the boat’s story in the process. Rather than a vibrant young woman he found an aged ex-model whose former glory had been stolen by years of smoking, resulting in an estranged husband and a tracheal tube.

Somehow there had been a fire. It sounds like a flare was the culprit. The boat’s former owner had tried to sell her but what fools want to buy a smoke damaged boat? (I can think of three…).  Fed up and disillusioned, the man left the country, abandoning the boat.  Now it was the marina’s problem. A problem that they were eager to see disappear. They offered to just give us the boat, but what the hell do we do with two boats? The thought occurred to us to strip it down and then have an unfortunate “accident” send her to the bottom, but me being both an environmentalist and an employee of the agency responsible for the safe navigation of Canadian waters, I thought that option not in my best professional interest. Eventually we agreed to pay a small sum of money to strip the hull of anything we wanted. To us, this would mean everything.

On an overcast Sunday afternoon in winter we met a French-Canadian down at the docks to exchange goods. All the essential elements of a shady deal were there. Manuel, Kris, and I then spent the next four hours stripping the boat of anything of value. We had now entered the marine chop-shop business, and I dare say we were good. Like Magpies, we were especially attracted to anything shiny. We’ve learned that stainless steel items, even just screws, are pricey. So is teak. We spent a lot of energy removing as much of the wood as possible.

While we were working away a guy came along who told us that he used to own the boat (prior to the estranged husband). People bond with boats. A romantic way of looking at it is that this bond forms over years of joyful memories. The reality is probably more like an old marriage where so much time, money, and energy has been spent on the other party that you’re left with a confusing mix of love and hate that you can’t imagine your life without. As he watched us ruthlessly dismantle his former vessel like a pack of Jawas from Star Wars, I wouldn’t be surprised if a tear rolled down this man’s cheek. He didn’t look happy.

The next day my wrists were sore from the amount of unscrewing and ratcheting I did, but by the time it got dark the boat was nothing but a hulk. It was like the Grinch had been there on Christmas night. Partially we were sad about what had become of this boat. It seemed to have rotten luck and it had finally met its very inglorious end. Kris made a good point though: it was like an organ donor. Its sacrifice meant that our boat could sail on.

We now have a rudder for our boat and, equally exciting, an entire second mast. The top pulley for the main halyard on ours is jammed, meaning we couldn’t hoist the mainsail. Our shrouds and stays are worn out and could break under strain. All these problems were now fixed thanks to our new mast, there’s just one problem: how do we move it? Getting it down was easy enough but strapping a 24 foot mast to the top of my VW Golf was anything but realistic. It would have to be carried. It took Manuel and I an hour to walk the mast from James Bay to its temporary home at Manuel’s. The journey was filled with strange looks and the occasional comment from passersby, the most common one being “that’s not something you see every day.” Half way along Kris delivered us some donuts, which for me was dinner and for Manuel was both lunch and dinner. I ate four in a row, Manuel had five, and I think neither of us is ashamed. It was a long day!



Walking the mast home

Building a Rudder

We started the work on building a rudder and this will be a collection of our progress:

1) Pintles

We’re lucky to have a lot of resources at our disposal. This includes knowledgeable people as well as two really well-equipped shops: Manuel’s landlord’s and my dad’s in Cowichan Bay. Work on the rudder began with the manufacture of two “pintles”, the pins on the rudder that slide onto the brackets on the boat’s transom, called “gudgeons”. They can be bought, but they’re expensive and what’s the fun in buying something that can be built yourself? Over a weekend my dad and I put these together using 1/8″ stainless steel bands and two 1/2″ bolts.

DSC_3034 DSC_3036 DSC_3048



2) Drying Wood

We got some nice 4/4s, split them in 2/4s and now have them drying before joining them into the rudder blade.

Drying wood

as we found another rudder we abandoned this project here… see: here

Building a new floor

The interior decking was in terrible shape. It was thin veneer sheets glued to a piece of plywood that had become water damaged and were peeling up. We wanted to make something more attractive and sturdy. I like the idea of reclaimed materials because it’s cheap, environmentally friendly, and it gives the boat more of a story, so I went looking for used flooring. I found a couple that were renovating their home in Oak Bay and had ripped out their oak floors. For a small amount of money I was able to get some beautiful boards from them.

Not only did we screw the boards down to cross braces but we also epoxied all the joints. This deck is strong! We are safe in the knowledge that if we ever want to transport an elephant with our boat, it won’t be the deck that breaks.

After sanding the old varnish off we oiled it using teak oil. There was a ridiculous amount of debate around teak oil vs polyurethane varnish. In the end we went with Manuel’s teak oil, and I must humbly admit that it turned out beautifully.

Here’s some pics from our wood working session to create a new floor board:

Our first day out on the boat

We were lucky to have great weather the weekend after we bought the boat so we packed up the outboard and went to take stock of our new purchase. All three of us were pleasantly surprised to find she was in better shape than we remembered. That being said, there’s so much work to be done.

There was a lot of water inside that we had to pump out. That sounds more concerning than it is, since we’re pretty certain it was fresh water. We weren’t about to taste it; I use the term “fresh” very loosely. The boat was left neglected at the mooring buoy for the last two years. The type of water that accumulates in the bilge over two years is not a pretty sight/smell. We ripped out the interior decking. It was made of cheap veneer planks over plywood and it was peeling up all over the place after being saturated for so long. I foolishly volunteered to take the discarded pieces. It was a gag-inducing drive home, even with the windows rolled down.

After wrestling the outboard onto its bracket we took the boat out for our first spin around the bay. The outboard performed amazingly well and this little boat turns on a dime!

The thought that goes into buying a boat (or the lack thereof) – by Kyle

Buying a boat is a curious thing. For me it could be broken down into a series of events over a few days.

Day 1. 

Me: No serious notions about owning a boat.

Day 2. 

Manuel:  “Hey I’m thinking about getting a boat and I’m looking for others that are interested. Want to come look at this one with me tomorrow?”

Rational Me:  “I don’t have time for this, but it wouldn’t hurt to look. If anything I can be moral support.”

Day 3.

Rational Me:  “Good God that boat needs a lot of work! I don’t have the time or money for this. Good luck to Manuel and Ben!”

Irrational Me:  “Well it was kind of cool…”

Day 4.

Irrational Me:  “It was cool, wasn’t it!? You’ve always wanted a sailboat. Maybe it’s time to fullfill that dream, and you like fixing stuff up. Think of the adventure! That’s it, I’m buying a boat!”

Rational Me:  *crickets chirping*

Day 5.

Irrational Me:  “Woohoo! I just bought a boat!”

Rational Me: “Hey sorry, I had to take some time off. I hope I didn’t miss anyth- Holy shit you bought a boat?! Are you crazy??”

Day 6.

Rational Me:  “Wow this is going to be a lot of work. It needs an anchor, a battery, new sheeting, … the deck is a mess… that part is broken… What idiot buys a boat with no rudder?!”

Irrational Me: “Wheeee!!”

… and so begins the chronicle of Me, Kyle, along with Ben and Manuel as we set out on an adventure to breathe new life into our yet-to-be-named Shark 24.