Monday, July 18, 2016

Taking my godmother for a sail

Today my wonderful godmother, Trisha, was visiting and she got to see Bigtooth in person for the first time. Since she lives in Ohio we don't get to see her very often so when she visits we pack as much in as we can. We loaded up Bigtooth with drinks and snacks, Trisha and the children and off we went.

This was my first time getting off the dock without my wife at the helm and it was just short of a disaster. I learned the hard way that the Branford River, combined with the very strong prop walk of my Watkins 27 makes leaving the dock a challenge. All seemed fine as I put her into a slow reverse and let lose the bow line. Then, rather quickly I found that the bow was moving quickly to port and I had no control of the helm. I pulled on the aft dock line to try and keep us close to our dock finger as I watched the bow of my boat clear my neighbor's boat by about 2' or so. All the time with him giving me quite "the look" as he stood in his cockpit. I was clear of his boat and now perpendicular to my slip and I thought all was well so I put it into forward gear only to find that my aft dock line was tangled and not slipping through the dock cleat as planned. My neighbor said to drop the line from the clean on my transom and he would pick it up for me. I thanked him, apologized for the near heart attack I gave him, and we were off. I don't know how I stayed so calm during all of this but Trisha said she was impressed with how I handled the situation.

We motored out of the Branford River and set the sails for a nice trip to no place in particular. In all we sailed about 9 nautical miles and while coming into port a nice downpour that made us all laugh.

Getting onto the dock is a much easier endeavor and that went off without any problem at all. I must say that my Watkins 27 moves forward beautifully but going in reverse is a no-no.

Monday, July 11, 2016

First family sail of 2016

Now that Bigtooth is in the water it was time to take the whole family for a sail. It was a very calm day and barely a breeze to fill the sails so we decided to anchor near shore and have a swim. This was the first time we have done this and it was a blast! The children were so excited and thought it was the coolest thing to jump off the side of the boat and swim around to the transom and climb up the ladder. It was a perfect day for this and even though there is still work to be done on Bigtooth, such as installing the lifelines and tightening all the nuts and bolts to compress the butyl tape further, this was much more fun.

Very little wind so we found a nice spot just outside Branford Harbor to anchor and swim.

Sam and Lily in a rare moment of sibling affection.

Happy sailors.
This picture just reinforces the fact that I need more sun. It looks like I am wearing a white t-shirt but I am topless.

A perfect day to lay on the deck and watch the clouds slowly go by.
 If summer in Connecticut was like today it would be fantastic. We could not have had a more perfect day to swim from the boat.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

We are sailing!

After an early morning with the family at the boat yard's dock bedding and attaching the parts we were ready to motor down the West River and under the fixed railroad bridge to the little platform with the crane to step the mast. Sam, Lily, and I donned our life vests and started the engine and we were off. Amanda went back to the house to get some food, drinks, and ice for us and would meet us at the Guilford Yacht Club pier were we would put on the sails and prepare for the trip to the new summer slip we rented on the Branford River. As always the dock staff at the Guilford Yacht Club were fantastic and very accommodating and we spent about 45 minutes getting ready and filling up the fresh water tank. I thanked the dock hands and Sam, Lily, and I set off for a nice sail.

Sail Log of the trip from the boat yard to the new slip.
There was not much wind but we managed to sail more than half way before we started the engine again to motor the rest of the way in.

Lily at the helm and Sam "fishing" on our way down the West River.
The children did a fantastic job of keeping a look out for lobster pots and buoys and we made it without any issues at all. Bigtooth performed perfectly.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Back in the water after two years!

Now that we have Bigtooth in the water and able to sail I have been horrible with updating this blog so instead of making one really long post I will break it up into parts.

So, on July 5th I finished enough of the work to get Bigtooth launched at the boat yard and she was in the water for the first time in two years. When I say that I finished enough, I mean just enough to ensure she was mostly water tight and would float. I still did not have the chainplates, main sheet traveler, lifelines, cockpit rail, swim ladder, bow pulpit, and all the epoxy repairs painted yet. The launch went off without a hitch and everything was fine.

Moving the poppets for the yard trailer to move Bigtooth for the first time in two years.

Yard trailer getting into position.

Hauling Bigtooth to the water.

Almost there.


In the water and ready for more work.
I spent as much of the day as I could working on the chainplates and anything else that I could install by myself. The plan for the next day was to get to the boat early and bring my wife and children with me to attach the parts that I needed a person above and below deck to complete. I also needed to bring my dock lines and fenders since I totally forgot them and the yard loaned me some of theirs for the day.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Almost there.

With the help of my nephew and my sister-in-law, Bigtooth is so close to splashing into the water after a two-year wait. All the portlights are mounted and the opening portlights are sealed. At least I hope they are now water tight but only time will tell. The new deadlights are going to look amazing after I seal around the edges of them with Dow Corning 795 silicone. I used 3M VHB tape to surface mount the new deadlights and I think that they will look fantastic. The last of the epoxy filling has been completed and after a little sanding on the port side deck, we can get ready to paint the foredeck and side deck to protect the epoxy from UV damage. The Pettit Easypoxy is amazing paint. It rolls and brushed very well and seems to self-level nicely. It is a gloss finish so we will see how it looks in the little parts we are painting. When I am ready to paint the entire deck and add new nonskid I might go with more of a satin finish. Only time will tell.

So over the next few days, I have to varnish the teak to protect it from UV and mount it on the boat. Then all of the hardware gets bedded and I get the engine running again. My sister-in-law gave us an amazing gift of hiring the yard to sand and paint the bottom next week. I am getting so close that I feel giddy like a school boy. It's wonderful.

Here are a few pictures of what's going on.

Looking forward on the port side. Everything is epoxied and sanded except for the aft most portion of repair.

This is the deadlight on the starboard side viewed from the inside of the cabin. Eventually, I will fabricate wooden trim for the two deadlights and the two hatches.

Here are one of the new Beckson self-drain portlights installed.

This is the new starboard deadlight from the exterior. It is 3/8" tinted acrylic adhered to the cabin exterior with 3M VHB tape. I will seal it with Dow Corning 795 silicone.

This is the opening for the new cabin top hatch with the second coat of Pettit Easypoxy paint applied. If the coverage is good I will mount the new hatch tomorrow before work.
Once the deadlights and hatches are sealed the winter cover comes off and we can start to bed the hardware with the 5-gallon bucket of 316 stainless steel nuts, bolts, and washers.

More updates to come.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

I'm gainin' on it!

The projects are really getting close to completion now. While there is still a lot to do I am quite sure that we will be back in the water by the end of this month and that should still leave plenty of sailing opportunities for me this summer.

Today I spent most of the time laying down some 1708 fiberglass over the cracks that I cut open to replace the rotten core. After I cut the fiberglass strips I spent some time dry fitting the first new portlight and found that I ordered screws that were too long. But thanks to the wonderful interwebs I ordered the new 10-24 x 3/4" screws for the Beckson portlights and the screws for the new Bomar hatches from my phone and received notice just a few hours later that shipped them.

So after a really hot day last week grinding through the gelcoat along the seams of fiberglass deck I was ready to clean it down with acetone and start cutting the 1708 fiberglass to width and length.

Ready for fiberglass.
I will tell you, I have not done anything this messy and uncomfortable in my life. I happened to do all the grinding on the hottest day so far this year, while in a Tyvek coverall, inside the winter boat cover/greenhouse. There was gelcoat and fiberglass dust everywhere. It was falling out of the winter cover like snow and coated every surface of the boat. I spent more time vacuuming up the dust than I spent grinding, but the worst part of the project is now behind me and I can get on with the fiberglass work.

After laying in the 1708 fiberglass with epoxy.
Before I laid the fiberglass over the seams I filled them with slightly thickened epoxy so I would have a solid foundation for the 1708 to go on. Hopefully, this will prevent the seams from showing through the fairing epoxy I will be applying next. In a couple days, I will wash off the amine blush and lightly sand these seams then apply the epoxy thickened with West System 407 filler.

Next, I began to fit the new Beckson portlights. During this process, I found that the 1" screws I purchased were too long so I stated before I ordered new 3/4" versions. These new portlights are going to look fantastic! I have chosen to use the Beckson flush mount barrel nuts on the exterior so the trim ring will not have any fasteners showing on the exterior of the cabin. This will be a nice, clean look. Combine that with the new 3/8" thick acrylic deadlights that will be surface mounted on the exterior of the cabin using adhesive tape and caulking and the boat should look sharp. I cannot wait to mount the deadlights. I was going to make them myself but I am so glad I spent the money on a professional to make them. I could not get them to look as good as they do.

This is the Beckson Self-drain portlight dry fitted inside Bigtooth. I have the screen removed so I can work on the interior and exterior simultaneously. I think the clear lenses will allow plenty of light into the cabin that the original Bomar portlights did not. Even better is that these won't leak like the originals.
That's about it for this update. I hope to have all four opening portlights and the two deadlights installed by the end of next week and the two new hatches shortly after that. Then I only have some epoxy filler and some paint to cover the epoxy patches and re-bed the hardware. There will be some little things to do along the way but the bulk of the work will be complete and Bigtooth will be closer to getting back into the water.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Almost ready for more work.

Today was another beautiful day to work on Bigtooth. I was mostly pleased with the way the spacers turned out in the four opening portlight cutouts but there was still a void where the old drain spigots were and these needed to be filled. The new Beckson Self Drain portlights don't need the extra drains so I added some tape to the exterior of the cabin and filled them in with thickened epoxy.

I taped and filled the eight old drain cutouts with thickened epoxy.

Tomorrow I will be able to clean the amine blush off and sand them flush to the cutout before I go into work. I did learn not to forget about the extra epoxy in the plastic cup since it gets a bit warm as it undergoes it's chemical transformation.


The forward hatch was a bit of a trial but taking what I learned from the other hatch and the portlights I was able to get the new wooden spacers epoxied and clamped in place without too much hassle. I was also pleased that I only had a few drops of epoxy fall but since I had a plastic drop cloth on the v-birth and floor that was no trouble at all.

Clamps doing their thing on the forward hatch opening.
I also cleaned the amine blush off the epoxy I applied to the cracks along the transom where the traveler track and cowl vents mount. Then I sanded it all smooth, enlarged the holes for the new vents and re-drilled all the holes to the proper size. Working on solid fiberglass is so much easier than cored fiberglass. Before mounting the track and vents I will brush on a coat of Pettit Easypoxy to keep the epoxy protected from UV. This is the same thing I will be doing for the hundreds of gelcoat cracks that I am filling. It won't look nice but it will be dry and protected until I get to the point of painting the entire deck and adding new non-skid. The new vents will be installed at the same time as the opening portlights are installed since they all need the 795 silicone to seal them.

Here is an overview of the repaired cracks and enlarged holes for the vents.

A little closer look at the work area.
Tomorrow before work I will remove all the clamps and tape and then continue to grind out the gelcoat cracks and get ready to fill them with thickened epoxy.