We’ve made progress on many fronts over the past two weeks.
First of all, we hired a fellow with 35 years of boatbuilding experience to address the planks which needed to be replaced. This, we figure, has saved us a few months of labor. We have no experience with this kind of work, and watching him get the job done has just proven to us that this was a great decision. He works with an efficiency that only 35 years of experience can produce. I know he’s working hard, but he is also making this look like a pretty simple project – again, the skill set makes all the difference. The great news is that, as we saw with the earlier planks we had removed last spring, the inner layer of planking is in great shape.
The one thing we have confirmed, from several sources, is that this is the time to refasten the boat. While most of the fastenings come out looking ok, several come out and are significantly oxidized. I’ll try and take (and post) some photos of the fastenings, because in a few cases I was shocked by how much some of them have deteriorated!
On other fronts, we are making headway with all the teak. I am almost finished with the two-part Te-Ka system, have a few floor boards to go, we have sanded a good bit of the main cabin, and oiled most of it. Leita is home for spring break, and anxious to help out, so we’re hoping that she’ll get the first coat of varnish on everything, and seal it. The transformation of the wood is stunning, so this work is very, very satisfying, which is a good thing, because there’s a LOT to do!
Last weekend’s major project was removing the head and holding tank system. We decided last year, even before we set out on this adventure, that we wanted to switch to a composting head system, for a variety of reasons. First, the system on board was minimal, simply installed to comply with the rules. The holding tank was all the way forward, while the head was amidships. This meant that to flush the head, one had to pump enough water to move everything more than half the length of the boat, resulting in practically filling the holding tank in the course of a day. This is fine if you are in a marina and can get pumped out every day, but not fine if you are doing any traveling, or find yourself in a harbor with no pump-out station (and there are many). Additionally, the holding tank was under one of the V-berths forward, and it just didn’t sit right with me to have anyone sleeping over that!
The other issue I have with this kind of a system is the same concern I have for septic systems and waste water treatment systems on land. They are antiquated, unnecessary, and environmentally disastrous. A little history – while my father went to the US Coast Guard Academy and was an officer for a decade or so, he was also an engineer, and the engineer in him saw the faults in septic systems and waste water treatment plants. For as long as I can remember, he was touting the benefits of Clivis Multrum, and while he never had a house which he could convert to this system, he made a believer out of me.
The challenge with installing the composting head on our boat is that the head is amidships, tucked against the port side of the engine room. The old head was sitting up on a small shelf, and two doors closed in front of it, forming the companionway between the main cabin and the main stateroom. A composting head has a larger footprint than a traditional marine head, and so our concern was how to fit it in. Fortunately the fellow who started the company lives right here in Portland, Maine, and just drove up last Wednesday with some demo pieces, so we’ve been able to confirm it will fit, and will be spending some time this weekend figuring just exactly how we’re going to install it.
Getting rid of the old head and holding tank was amazingly easy – an ad on Craigslist and it was sold by late Sunday afternoon! Very, very happy to see that thing be driven away by someone else!
So, next we will begin tackling the refastening. The guy who is helping us with the planks estimates this will be a 200 hour project. I suspect that it will take us a bit more time, but we’ll see. Based on my experience removing bungs, these things move slowly, but I could be wrong. At any rate, I am anxious to address it, so that it is behind us. Refastening is, by far and away, the biggest project on our ‘to do’ list, simply because of the scale. I don’t think the work itself will be difficult, but rather, it will be tedious, so I’m of a mind to get at it, and be able to have it done. So my next posting will show photos of the fastenings, and then it might be a while before there’s anything new to discuss. 200 hours is a stretch of time!