Captain’s Log 4 – Many Bad Words

12 November 2017: Spent the whole day cleaning the boat. Pulled out all the old junk that the original owner had installed: electric cables and foam insulation shoved underneath the gunwales, a downrigger base on the rear seat (that thing had four layers and required all the tools in the toolbox!), random stuff screwed on all over the place. It reminded me of fixing up my 50-year-old house on Elizabeth Street. The first step was to remove all the hardware.

The second step was that we cut a hole in the deck. Seriously! We had to see what was inside, between the deck and the hull. There was no floatation, which is kind of good, because if there had been, it would be waterlogged, and I’d probably have to tear the entire deck out to get access for removing it. That’s a bigger project than I’d want to take on; probably would have abandoned poor Chuuchki if that had been the case. But, having no floatation is kind of bad, because if a hole ever gets punched in the hull, the boat will just fill up with water and sink. We did find some dampness inside, which I’m hoping means that water had gotten in — not through any holes below deck — but through the unsealed surface of the plywood deck boards, while she sat out there on the beach in the rain for a month. I can sand down the deck and reseal it with new fiberglass and that should solve the problem.

Jean Luc came over in the evening and helped me develop a list of supplies for doing the fiberglass and paint work. It was sort of fun trying to translate square feet into square meters, litres into quarts and gallons, dollars into Euros, English into French and back again. The total, on the West Marine website, came up to $470! So much for a “free” boat.

13 November 2017: Put together the order of supplies and called the Gear Shed in Homer to see if I can get stuff shipped here. Because everything comes by plane, and all these materials are flammable and hazardous, it adds a bit of complication to shopping. Emailed the list to Dan at the Gear Shed, so he could work up a quote for me.

Worked on sanding Chuuchki all day. It started out ok, using a scraper to get the big flakes off. Then Jean Luc came by and in 30 seconds shattered my confidence by saying, “Why do you waste your time doing this?” and handed me the DeWalt angle grinder. He said, “Open, always open!” and moved the little cover from the hole we cut yesterday (I was trying to keep the dust out of the ‘tween decks.) “Needs to dry,” he said. Man, I sure feel like I don’t know what I’m doing… unfamiliar tools, shop, tasks, nasty horrible dust from toxic paint and fiberglass, etc etc. Cecile came by a bit later and, poor thing, asked how it was going and I totally vented on her. The project is stressing me out, for many reasons, but mostly because of the money and the time crunch, and this is the time of year when I have to figure out what I will do in the spring, if I’m staying in Seldovia, or looking for a job, or what. This project wasn’t even on my To Do List, and now I can see it will be taking over my life for a while.


It was bad. Poor Cecile. After that, I took a break, had lunch, and later in the afternoon she and I had coffee and hung out on the sunny back deck at Walt and Sachiko’s house and talked. She basically told me I’m taking life too seriously. Yeah, uh huh! It was wonderful to have a friend to talk to in that way. The afternoon went better. That grinder works great. I managed to get most of the deck sanded down to bare wood. Joe came over in the afternoon so I could show him my progress. He’s happy I’m working on the boat and told me he’s proud of me. He didn’t know that, earlier in the day, I’d been saying many bad words and asking “Whose idea was this, anyway?”


14 November 2017: Started the day by trying to remove Joe’s big halibut line cleat from the center seat, starboard side; and the bracket for holding a canvas cover support (forward port side, on the damaged gunwale). I spent at least an hour on this – trying to remove four bolts. Two came off fairly easily, but I said many bad words about the other two. Finally, Jean Luc walked by and said, “Just cut.” So, I got the hack saw. I threw those bolts in the Slough when I finally got them off, I’ll tell you what! The spirit of Tuggle Int-Hout told me to do it.

Heard back from Dan at the Gear Shed – they don’t have any fiberglass fabric or the water-based epoxy.

Rustled up some fiberglass fabric by putting a post on Facebook yesterday to see if anyone around town had some they wanted to get rid of. Darin Baines, way up in Kotzebue, told his adoptive grandmother, Sunni Hilts, that he’d seen some in “Papa’s garage” last time he was here.  Rod (Papa) and Sunni gave me the fabric today, and we had a nice visit, talking about boats. It should be enough fabric to do the project, and will save me about $200!

Continued sanding, got topsides done except for the rail. Almost ready to flip the boat, and start sanding the bottom. Then we can put her in the Barn.

15 November 2017: Another full day. The miraculous weather has continued to hold; clear and sunny every day, cold and starry every night. I’ve been freezing my ass off working on the boat. Where she’s parked in front of Walt’s Barn she’s in shadow all day, except for about an hour from 10:20 am until 11:20 am. Built a fire in the Barn woodstove, try to take off the chill and get it warmed up for drying the boat out and curing the fiberglass and paint. Like any job, I am figuring this out as I go along, and finally seem to be getting the hang of it. Long underwear, hand-warmers in my boots, and a respirator with dust filters.

Finished sanding (by hand) the rail. Chipped all the paint off the anchor pulley on the bow. Took the remaining three canvas support brackets off – just went straight to the hacksaw for those. She’s looking cleaner and nicer all the time.


Jean Luc and Cecile helped me flip the boat over in the mid-afternoon. Somehow, I managed to drop it! I said “shit!” and they both said “merde!” at the same time. Ha ha ha… bilingual bad words. But really, my hands and arms and back are so tired from three days of sanding with that angle grinder that I didn’t have access to my usual strength.

After we got it flipped over, I ground all the paint off the keel and the stern under the transom. It took about two hours, and I didn’t start til 3:00 pm, so by the time I got all the dust cleaned up and tools put away it was fully dark. Washed all my nasty, dusty, prickly clothes in the evening.


16 November 2017: Now entering Day Four of the supplies-ordering saga… trying to get my resin, hardener, two-part epoxy primer, and topsides paint for the boat. I’ve been dealing with Dan at the Gear Shed. He’s new. We have gone back and forth about a dozen times. He doesn’t know the stock, he doesn’t know the products, he doesn’t know the computer system, he lost my quote, he mis-quoted what’s available. All of this I could put up with, if he was a good communicator and a savvy guy. But he ain’t. I’ve learned that I have to ask him direct questions, like, “Ok, so, you don’t have the epoxy primer in grey, in the quart size, in Homer. But you have it in grey, by the gallon, in Homer — is that correct?” Finally, we get it all sorted out and I give him my credit card number, cross “Gear Shed order” off the To Do List, say “thank god that’s over,” and walk outside. My phone rings. It’s Dan. “Whoops, that thing I quoted to you for $63.99? We don’t actually carry it. There’s another product, and you have to get a second component to add — that costs another $43. And it’s only in our Anchorage store.” With each revision, the order gets more expensive and more delayed.

I went outside and wiped down the hull of the boat, so it won’t be all full of toxic dust when we move it, and noticed lots of little cracks in the fiberglass. Is that what they call “crazing”? Is my boat crazed? Are we all?

Seems like every day there is something about this project that tests my patience to the utmost. Not sure I have the temperament for this stuff.

I just want to go rowing!

This entry was posted in Alaska, Boats, Language, Seldovia, Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Captain’s Log 4 – Many Bad Words

  1. Greg Wolfer says:

    Reminds me of the Opheim Skiff found by Joe Allen. It was Free as well-but The fricking work I had to put into it. fiber glass resin , Screws, copper bottom (outlawed because it contained Cancer causing Agent Orange- same stuff they used to defoliate the trees in Vietnam) paint etc. Been there don’t wanna do that again.


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