Captain’s Log 5 – Skippers’ Supper

17 November 2017: Cecile, Jean Luc, Janel, and Kate rendezvoused at lunchtime yesterday to help me move Chuuchki into the Barn. We had to tip the boat up on her side and wiggle her into the Barn in between Walt’s 1931 Model A pickup truck, Ajax, and the big barrel stove.


The barrel stove. “It’s hungry,” said Walt.


1931 Model A truck, a sweet stablemate.

Janel told me about a boat repair shop in Homer called Sloth Boats, who might sell me the resin, primer, and paint I need. I gave them a call after lunch and talked to Adam, who said they don’t have a store anymore, but that they could probably hook me up with some supplies. I emailed Adam my list and told Dan to put my Gear Shed order on hold.

Got the fire going in the Barn this morning, and hoping that the boat will dry out. There was a big puddle of water on the floor this morning under the boat, and after I mopped it up I picked up one side to peek underneath, and heard a sloshy noise and water started POURING out of the boat. What?! Where is it all coming from? I guess that plywood was totally saturated. And now I think there is some condensation happening on top of that, since the boat has been outside all this time in 20 to 30 degree temperatures. Fortunately, Walt has two boxes of rags in the Barn, so I threw some underneath to soak it all up, and also put a quart jar under the stern where water was leaking out in a steady stream. Maybe it’s a blessing in disguise to have a delay on the fiberglass supplies; the boat wouldn’t have been dry enough to start working on it anyway.


Puddles of water pouring out, as Chuuchki thaws.

2:30 pm Turned out that Sloth Boats didn’t have the colors I was looking for. I finally placed my order with the Gear Shed, four days after first contacting them. What an ordeal! Hope it goes through this time.

Sunday 19 November 2017: Have had the boat in the barn for over 72 hours now, and it’s still expressing water out of the deck, the ‘tween decks supports, and I dunno, maybe the fiberglass, too. Joe pointed out that (of course) it was all frozen when I was working on it outside. That’s why it didn’t seem like it was wet. I’ve been keeping the fire going in the Barn barrel stove since we put the boat in there, and just now I checked the temperature and it was 72 degrees. It’s about 28 outside and we got our first big snowfall today. So, the timing was perfect on getting her inside under cover. Hopefully, she’ll be nice and dry by Wednesday when (fingers crossed) the supplies arrive.

Skippers’ Supper at Jean Luc and Cecile’s tonight. Of course, they have their 45’ sailboat, Ad Hoc. They’d also invited Janel (skipper of the Fast Ferry, 91 tons) and Kim (skipper of the big landing craft, Polar Bear, 400 tons). So, we are all Captains! I can say that now because I have a boat: Chuuchki, 200 pounds.

Sunday 26 November 2017: Of course, the supplies did not arrive on Wednesday, nor Thursday (which was Thanksgiving), nor Friday (flights were on weather hold because of high winds). Finally, FINALLY!, they got here on Saturday at 12:45 pm, a whopping twelve days since I first called the Gear Shed. I walked to the airport with the yellow dolly to collect the box, which weighed 36 pounds. Doctor Larry was on that flight, and gave me a lift into town with his truck.


The long-awaited supplies: 2-part epoxy primer, fiberglass resin and hardener, acetone, and polyurethane topside paint. Mmmm, what a wonderfully toxic and flammable cocktail!

Jean Luc and I made a date to work on the boat on Sunday morning, today, which was a bit of a challenge because Kari and Jeff had a shop party last night. I drank too much beer, danced a lot, and stayed up too late, but managed to get up and start a fire at 7 AM in the Barn. We started the fiberglass at 9 AM. Thank god I have a respirator! That stuff sure stinks. And even with the respirator, I got pretty high/sick today on the fumes. We did 2 layers of fabric on the keel, 3 on the bow and stern, and it ends up having 4 where the keel and transom sections overlap.


Modeling my personal protective equipment. Chuuchki’s keel and transom: the first fiberglass work I’ve ever done!


The resin didn’t harden as quickly as we thought it would, so we tried again at about 6 pm, adding more of the catalyst. It still didn’t harden. I looked at the instructions again, which said, “Add 7-8 drops of catalyst per ounce, or one teaspoon per pint.” I’ve been following Jean Luc’s lead, but, as a European, he is not used to our non-metric system (“Why you use this archaic system?” he asked) and isn’t familiar with ounces, teaspoons, or pints. (“An ounce is for weight, yes?” he asked. “Oh, but it’s for liquid, too,” I replied. He looked at me askance.) Upon a closer reading, I realized that we had only put in enough catalyst for one ounce – but we’d mixed up one pint, which is 16 ounces. So, we only had 1/16th the amount of catalyst we needed! No wonder it didn’t work. I put on a final coat at about 8 PM. Haven’t checked to see if it worked yet. And in the midst of all this, we had a birthday bonfire/potluck/pinata party for six-year-old Django on the beach today. So, basically, I spent all day building and tending fires: Shack, Barn, beach. And around and around and around. Fortunately, I have all that chainsaw carving competition wood to burn, plus many other big chunks that Joe brought over.


Django’s birthday party on the beach. (Photo by Caleb.)

The best part of all this is to see how happy it’s making Joe that I am working on the boat. He’s so excited about it, and has told me he’s proud of me about six times. He’s delighted that I’m fixing up the ol’ gal, and I think he’s satisfied that he gave it to me. That makes it all worth it.

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