Captain’s Log 9 – Ceilidh

Friday December 1, 2017

It was a huge, busy day in the Barn today. Got up early so I could bake cornbread in the morning, then flipped the boat at 9:00 am with Jean Luc & Cecile. [I’d never have been able to do this project without them!] I spent an hour and a half sanding the patched rail, breaking a sweat, and then Jean Luc walked in and said, “Why you waste your time? Just use the machine.” This is the third time he’s said that to me!

We inspected the repairs and decided that we needed a bit more “pasta” for the damaged rail, as well as the cracked starboard rear corner. This was more of a fine filler, though, not the sawdust/epoxy/fabric mix like before. The stuff had a part A and part B, and all the instructions were in Korean. (Jean Luc bought it there.) Luckily, he knows how to mix it, without having to read the instructions! We applied that, and I left around mid-day to go in search of sawdust to use as anti-skid for the penultimate layer of paint on the deck and seats. Jean Luc suggested fine sawdust, and I knew right where to find it.

Joe’s shop: seems like it’s been ages since I’ve visited. Usually, this time of year, I would be over there every day, working on Christmas presents. But I’ve been a bit sidetracked this year by a little boat project…

Of course, Joe had some sawdust that I could take, and even had an old hand-crank flour sifter I could borrow, to get just the finest textured dust. I will experiment and see whether it will work. Carla came out to the shop and the three of us stood there by the wood stove for a while, visiting. For at least twenty years, Joe has kept a big rock on top of his wood stove. It heats up as the wood burns, releasing all those summers of sunshine. The top of the rock is shiny and smooth from years of Joe warming his hands on it. As we stood there chatting, I placed my over-worked, aching (dare I say, arthritic?) hands on the rock. At first it is agonizing, way too hot for my winter-chilled skin. But soon the cold leaves me. And then the heat soaks into the meat of my hands, then the tendons, the joints, the bones, and finally, the marrow. After five minutes, I feel like I’ve been to the sauna, the spa. I walk back to my boat project, renewed.

In the afternoon, I sanded EVERYTHING topsides. Big job. I finally figured out — just go straight to the grinder, skip the hand sanding. I don’t want to hear Jean Luc say it again. There was still a little divot in the rail repair, so I scrounged around on Walt’s shelves and found some Bondo.


Wood, screws, wood shavings, fiberglass bits, resin, fiberglass cloth, Korean pasta, Bondo, and lots of sanding — the finished rail repair. I should have taken a close-up. It reminds me of the Painted Desert.

Vacuumed the whole boat, then wiped everything down with acetone to get the sanding dust off. I slosh that stuff around so blithely these days, “low flash point,” whatever.

Masked all the trim pieces, oarlocks, etc with blue tape.

Started mixing about a quart of the epoxy primer at 5:00 pm. I did 8 ounces of Part B, poured into Mom’s grape jelly jar almost all the way to the top. Poured the Part B into 32 ounces of Part A (measured in a quart yogurt container), mixing it all in a Nancy’s 64 oz. plain yogurt tub. What would I do without yogurt containers!?

I let the Parts A and B “induct” or “sweat in” for the appropriate 15 minutes. Started cutting in with a chip brush at 5:15, and finally rolled it all. Finished up at about 6:30. That amount of paint was just about perfect. Had a little bit leftover.

She looks good! Grey all over now, goodbye bright blue rail, goodbye nice-looking wood showing on the deck. Almost sad to see it go. Chuuchki suddenly now looks almost like new, except for the “piercings” from previous attachments and accoutrements. I’ll have to figure out where to put my gimballed beverage holder (birthday present from Carla), and Joe’s big halibut-line cleat will go back on the middle seat, of course. Other than that, I think I will keep her pretty clean. Maybe add lights eventually.


First coat of primer. Looks like a battleship or something. This makes me think of the Cleadale Crofting Museum on Eigg: the man of the house had worked in the shipyards, and, being a thrifty Scot, much of the interior of the house was painted with battleship grey. 


The damaged rail, repaired. Sure, there’s a little wiggle in it, but I doubt anyone will ever notice. Plus, it’s stronger now than it was when it was new!

Kari stopped by this afternoon, peeked in the door and said, “It’s a vintage boat.” I hadn’t thought of it that way, and really like the idea. Maybe I can find some 1968-period cushions for the seats. She speculated that it’d be a real slug to row, but I said my experience so far has been otherwise. (My little Chuuchki secret!)

Joe came over a bit later, to check on my progress. “I like to see you fixing up this boat, taking care of it,” Joe said. “Usually these skiffs just get used up and thrown away.”

I’m high as a kite, but not in a fun way. I wish I had other cartridges for my respirator, as I think these are probably no good anymore. I wonder, not for the first time, if I get enough oxygen breathing through this thing? Joe sent me a text late in the day: “Did you succumb?” I assured him I was still alive, but would be a bit late to the dance.

After cleaning up the painting tools, I had to rush, take a shower, get dressed, grab the cornbread, and hike up to the Sea Otter Center for the potluck – Billygoat concert – square dance. In other words, the ceilidh. Pronounced “kay-lee,” this is a Scots/Irish word for a dance party. It was a “dry” event, but I felt drunk and even a bit hysterical. Ah, toxic fumes… it helped to dance and sweat it out a little bit and drink lots of water, but still… it feels like poison. I’m glad I’m almost done with that stuff. Hoping the two coats of polyurethane aren’t as bad.

Billygoat played lots of good old-timey fiddle tunes, and Mark Janes was our caller. We did the Virginia Reel and the Texas Star, and lots of standard moves like do-si-do, promenade, swing your partner, and so on. Andrew was my dance partner and every time the spin came around, we would hold on double-handed and spin, really fast, and just yell exuberantly in each other’s faces while we were going around. The little white Christmas lights strung up around the room streaked by in a glittery blur, just Andrew’s face in focus. I never fell down, but a few times I felt my face scrunched up while I tried not to bust out shrieking with laughter. Fortunately, it was a fairly raucous gathering, so I think we actually blended into the crowd pretty well. The last dance featured pairs of dancers, one in a wheeled office chair, one doing the wheeling. I doubt any ceilidh in Scotland has ever seen the like.


A photo of some random people at a ceilidh, spinning. But this is what Andrew and I must have looked like.

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

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s