Archive for September, 2006

Painting the Boat, Part MCIXVIII

Tuesday, September 12th, 2006

Outer ama hulls painted. I repeat: outer ama hulls painted. This is a good thing. We grounded the boat twice in order for this feat of amazing productivity to be accomplished.

* Hull sides painted: 2; (sides remaining: 4 [motherfucker!])
* Problems beaching the boat using ingenious scavenged stick method (see photos): none!
* Trips to San Salvador required since we started with the beaching: Zee-ro. Zip. Null. None. Nada. (Trips to San Salvador in our near future because we ran out of goddamned paint: 1)
* Times we had to jury-rig something: 4
* Times I burst out sobbing during the procedure: 1
* How it looks: um, okay I guess.

Basically, with thinner, the two-part epoxy paint is mostly manageable. It still dries in about eight seconds, leaving you frenzied and panicked as you paint out of fear that A) it will drip; B) it will dry before you can smooth it in; C) it will drip, then dry before you can smooth it down; D) all of the above plus ugly cobwebs of sticky epoxy paint will go flying through the air. D is the winner here, if you hadn’t guessed but I’ve come up with a marvelous coping mechanism, which is promising myself that we will go to the hotel and have steakburgers (a major splurge) after we finish, even if it is uneven, drippy, and I have epoxy cobwebs in my eyelashes. Worked out okay. The steakburgers were pretty darned good.

Two-part epoxy paint is such a major pain in the ass I really can’t shut up about it. Once it is on the boat it seems pretty bomber—it is incredibly sticky, that’s for sure; sticky enough to last another decade I hope. But mixing the stuff. Argh. First you must mix the cans individually (well, one of them), then scoop equal parts of each—the paint/color and the catalyst/hardener. This part sucks because both parts are very thick—the hardener is the consistency of cold honey but much, much stickier and stringier and one puff of wind and it flies all over the place. What doesn’t go flying about the cockpit in the wind drips all over the side of the paint can and mix-paint receptacle and plastic throw. The hardener is colorless (like honey) and magically spreads itself all over everything; and it is toxic, therefore requiring even more toxic solvents to clean it up. Did I mention that many people, like Joshua, have a poison oak-like reaction to epoxy hardener? This makes it so much fun. Then you have to mix the two parts thoroughly or else it, god forbid, might not work properly (and I would cry). Then it must sit for half of an hour while it does *something*. Then you must mix in the thinner chemical (and mix it well) or else the paint behaves atrociously. A lot of bloody work for just some paint and we haven’t even gotten to the part where you pour it into your paint tray, trying not to let the wind blow the lightweight mostly-empty tray all around while the paint drips all over hell and gone. Oh, and by the way, the paint tends to dissolve all those nice neat foam brushes and rollers that happen to be my preferred painting implement. You have to have some special rollers that aren’t affected by the chemical and we haven’t tried yet, but I daresay they aren’t available in all of El Salvador. Hopefully the few we brought with us from the States hold out. All of the above issues are enhanced by the fact that it is windy and about twelve thousand degrees over the sandbar (this sand is dark gray and can get really hot). And did I mention that two-part epoxy paint with added epoxy thinner makes you high?

So. Tomorrow’s plan was to beach the boat again (we have about three more days of good tidal timing), ready the insides of the amas for painting and sand/scrape as much of the main hull as possible. Except, the generator just stopped working. Again. So, I guess we’ll be taking apart the generator tomorrow. Maybe try to get in a trip to San Salvador.

Sane, Lack Thereof

Monday, September 11th, 2006

We get the question all the time: “What do you DO while on the boat?” And that can be a rather difficult question to answer. Somehow we are always busy, and in fact we’ve become adept at being busy at such activities as sitting still and gazing off into space, surfing the internet in the bar with a cervesa bien helada, or sleeping. Lately we have actually managed to do a lot of real work and yet we feel somehow like we’re never getting anything done. We returned from our US trip with a lot of parts and we’ve been installing/replacing new bits here and there, doing small epoxy and varnish/touch-up jobs, and a lot of scrubbing and cleaning out of nooks—cramped, poorly ventilated, and hard-to-reach nooks, need I mention. We have not, incidentally, done any painting. Yet. The boat looks like absolute hell too.

In order to make our painting situation somehow more manageable, we bought the epoxy paint thinner made for our paint (which required, of course, a special trip to San Salvador as well as an entire day to do it) and a lot more miscellaneous painting accoutrements like disposable brushes (because one whiff of that thinner and it’s clear that no sane person would dip a gloved pinky tip in the stuff for meager paintbrush cleaning). We did not, as discovered upon return to the estuary, remember to buy one of those painting trays. Figures.

Yesterday we finally beached the boat on a sandbar in order to complete, at last, our sanding. I have to admit that I was apprehensive about beaching the boat despite assurances by everyone that it was a piece o’ cake. It actually was. The rush of the outgoing tide left our mini-keel as well as the four stilts we used to keep the boat from tipping to one side buried about a foot in the sand. Very, very stable.

Not surprisingly, Joshua found about a million square feet of hull surface that desperately needed scraping and sanding that we missed somehow our first go-around. It was a nice clear and bloody hot as hell sunny day for us too. We were going to beach the boat again this morning to complete the remaining scraping and sanding (because no, we did not finish, fer fecks sake) but woke up this morning to rain. Optimists we are, so we moved the boat into beaching position and waited for the rain to stop and it to be blazing hot like normal. It started raining harder; a downpour, really. (The hell?) At the last minute with maybe six inches under the rudder we decided to abort mission and give it up for the day. We’ll try again tomorrow.

*  *  *  *

This past week, in our earnest preparation for preparing to start painting the boat, we have been using our generator a lot. The generator is a small bright yellow little guy. When not in use, it lives in a gray Rubbermaid plastic box thing that hangs out on deck someplace (on one of the trampolines or something). I used it the other afternoon and put it back in the box and then put it down in the aft pocket of the trampoline (near the edge of the boat, but in a deep nook); I even tied it to keep the top from somehow flying off if a wind came up.

Late the next afternoon, Santos (the guy who had been watching our boat for us while we were away) came by with a completely confused look on his face asking, “Did you put your gray box on my boat?” We couldn’t figure out what he was getting at and he asked again, “Where is your generator?”

At this point we were beginning to figure out what he was getting at. Our eyes darted all over our boat seeing NO BIG GRAY BOX. We panicked for a second; “Our generator has been STOLEN!” we declared, all business. I tried not to think about how terrible it was that now we will not be able to sand anymore while Joshua hopped in the dinghy with Santos, who was still trying to explain something in English but was too confused to get it out, and they roared off at top speed for Santos’ boat.

A worried look upon my brow, I paced about the 28 inches that is our galley floor and then glanced over at Santos’ boat. The box was there (!) and Joshua and Santos were maneuvering it onto the dinghy; it obviously had something heavy in it. Like a generator.

And so it turned out, someone stole our generator but only took it 250 feet and ditched it on Santos’ boat. Precariously, too; they didn’t put it in the cockpit or anyplace out of sight, but simply on the edge of the deck. What the hell?!

And the stupidest part was that we didn’t even notice that it was gone, let alone hear it being taken even though only a wall of 3/8th inch was between my ear and the generator nook. Needless to say, we were immensely relieved to have it back so very intact, and that it didn’t fall into the water to spite our negligence.

So what happened and why? We have absolutely no idea but some theories have been bandied about.

1. Someone simply stole it. Sneaked up on our boat during the night or early morning and carefully untied and lifted the box free from its nook on our deck. Then, um, decided they didn’t really need a valuable generator—had a change or heart perhaps—and wanted to give it back. But then forgot which boat they took it from so they guessed and screwed up, putting it back on Santos’ boat instead. Or else they were too lazy to go all the way back to our boat and put it on a different one. Um, or something. Why not: Because what sort of ninny goes through stealing a generator just to abandon it a stone’s throw away?

2. Someone stole it but their mom told them to return it. And they were a good boy and took it back. To the wrong boat. Why not: It just seems unlikely that someone would show mom their freshly stolen generator if they thought there was a chance she wouldn’t let them keep it.

3. There is a conspiracy to frame Santos. A few weeks ago, someone stole an outboard off of one of the boats (stole-stole it, not just stole it to leave it on a nearby boat) and this created quite the morning VHF radio sensation. An alarmed call by the owner went out bright and early on the radio, everyone in the estuary listened in and chimed in with [non]information and suggestions, and a couple of people charged off in their own dinghies to conduct a search of the estuary for the missing dinghy and motor. Soon enough, the motorless dinghy was found abandoned on a mudbank nearby; heroes were rewarded, etc. Santos thinks someone took our generator and planted it on his boat assuming, foolishly, that we would actually notice its absence and call out a similar radio alarm. In this scenario, the ensuing search would find the generator perched on Santos’ boat and even if we personally didn’t believe that Santos stole our generator (obviously he would have to be drunk and insane to not at the very least put it below), the general radio mayhem could place him in very unfavorable light with the rest of the boaters. This theory is further supported by the fact that there is something of a rivalry between Santos (who does odd boat jobs) and another guy on the estuary who provides boat services. Again supported by the fact that Santos has been on the receiving end of a lot of very curious pranks lately aimed at hurting his business and family. Again supported by allegations that more than one person on the island saw this ‘rival’s boat in and around the scene of the crime (not with the owner aboard however, but with some of the owner’s workers). Why not: Because this rival dude would have to be even more batshit crazy than we could possibly have imagined to hatch this plan.

4. Someone stole it and Santos somehow found out and told them they had to return it. The thief said no way can they just return it so Santos said to leave it on his boat and he would deal with it later. He did, made up the ‘I just found it’ story and that is that. Why not: Because there was simply not enough time for this to happen. Also, Santos is *really* obsessed with theory number 3 and won’t shut up about it.

5. Jenny Greenteeth did it. Mistook the generator box for a delicious small child. Why not: Well, why not?

Tidal Flats

Sunday, September 10th, 2006

Searunner 31 haul out on tidal flats, El Salvador

Searunner 31 haul out on tidal flats, El Salvador

Searunner 31 haul out on tidal flats, El Salvador

Booby Snacks

Saturday, September 9th, 2006

This stunning work of amature nature cinematography was taken on the islands near Chemela Mexico. It’s been sitting around waiting for me to learn how to use the video editing software. You can also just download the video (3.5 MB) if you’re having trouble with the embedded player.


Wednesday, September 6th, 2006

bottle wall. Tulum, Mexico

Here’s an old picture from Tulúm, Mexico. I once dreamed of building a house out of 1.75 liter bombay saphire bottles because of the square shape and the color. I had collected about 8 or so before I realized that it would take a very large number to build a house. The four of us (Brad, Shanti, Cheyenne and myself) and our friends just couldn’t drink enough to realize my goal. I finally gave up all together and threw them out when I discovered that the light blue color was just a plastic wrap on a clear bottle.

Cheyenne Weil, Joshua Coxwell