Friday, October 2, 2015

Top Details and Hurricanes

The past few days have been very long, with little time or energy left at the end of the day to write a blog post.  But, as I sit listening to the rain pouring outside this morning, I find myself with much less to do today.  So, to catch up....

After getting the PVC glued in place, the next step was to make transition pieces for the raw ends of the PVC pipe.  I had thought about trying to use PVC fittings, but the shapes are not right and it wouldn't look good.  So, I was left with the only option I could figure out...sculpting them. Fortunately I have plenty of scraps of the Divinycell foam from which to make my little sculptures.

I started off by rough cutting a small block of foam so it would fit the gap I am trying to fill.  Holding it in place, I would do my best to trace the outlines of the final desired shape.  In some cases, I simply had to make a freehand guess, as in the case of the inside of the curved piece below.

Using a razor knife, I cut the basic shape out of the foam block, leaving a little excess in case I should make a slip with the knife.

Since the block of foam is 1 inch thick and the half PVC pipe is less than half an inch high, I used the razor knife to "whittle" the block down closer to the rough shape of the final piece to save on sanding time (and dust).

Finally I would sand the piece into it's final shape, test fitting it every so often to make sure I wasn't too far off of the desired profile.

The sand and test process was repeated more times than I care to count for each piece, but in the end I had 6 pieces I needed to transition between the tubes on the top and bottom as well and taper the ends on the top.

After that, it was just a matter of using some thickened polyester resin to glue them in place.  Even upside down, the thickened resin would hold the lightweight blocks in place without the assistance of clamps or tape.

Of course, all of this was done in between rain showers because of my usual luck with the weather. There has been a stationary front parked over most of the eastern US for several days and has kept the weather rather unsettled.  The weather, combined with the recent full moon has led to some tidal flooding in the area.

Then, just so Mother Nature is sure I'm paying attention to her, she introduces me to Joaquin. At first, all the tracking models were all over the place (the reason they call them spaghetti models, I think, is because sometimes a map of the predicted tracks from all the models would look like a plate of spaghetti).  But after a couple days, the models started to converge and, naturally, they were converging right on top of our heads.  Great.

Work stopped on the top and we switched to hurricane preparation mode.  This is the first time we have ever had to do this, so I'm sure we spent a lot of time figuring things out.  We removed the sails and stack pack (and the sails once again remind me how heavy and stubborn they can be).  We put out just about every dock line we have to make a spider web of lines holding us on all three sides of the slip.  Not trusting some of the cleats on the dock, we even tied a few lines around the pilings that hold up the dock (because if the dock goes, we are screwed anyway).  We deployed all the fenders we have.  I tested the bilge pumps and floats to make sure all is working (and find another broken bilge pump hose courtesy of those fine folks in Deltaville).  We even booked a hotel in Richmond if we needed to evacuate.

And then there is my top and workspace in the yard.  Pretty sure the $50 canopy and tarps won't withstand a category 2 hurricane.  We also don't want the top to become a giant frisbee out in the boatyard.  So yesterday, with the help of many friends in the boatyard, we move the top into a safe spot in the boatyard shop and take down the tent.

Apparently hiding the top in the shop was what Mother Nature wanted. When we awoke this morning the forecasts now show the hurricane heading out to sea and not as likely to make landfall.  We will still keep the boat hurricane ready and the top in the shop until the possible threat passes, but at least things are looking a bit better this morning.

Oh, and did I mention that my friends at The Retirement Project stopped by for a visit? I think they wanted to come see this top I've been talking about and ended up getting stuck in the middle of this little storm event as well. They had originally anchored out, but came in to the marina when it looked like Joaquin was going to be a direct hit. It was nice to see them again, but I only wish it ended up being under better conditions.

I'm glad forecasts seem to be improving, but feel really bad about the Bahamas since they are getting slammed by the storm.  I hope the storm turns away from them soon.


  1. hi Mike
    seems you dodged the hurricane bullet,,,,, still storm surge, rain and winds in the 20-30's can't be fun and will slow your work on projects, Decided on paint sprayer/gelcoat sprayer - purchase or rent?
    Nice work on the end pieces in foam. And the insurance co had you at this latitude to avoid hurricanes???
    Doug in VT

    1. Yep, supposedly outside the hurricane belt. Apparently insurance companies have short memories. But so far it looks like we are in better shape now,,,unfortunately Bermuda now might have issues.

      Thanks,it was a lot of work for those little foam bits. Glad they didn't get damaged in the move.

      I won't be spraying the gelcoat. Using a roller for the nonskid and texture effect. The sprayer is just for the PVA to seal the surface so it will cure. A simple HVLP sprayer is claimed to work OK for that.

  2. The end pieces look great....... forget about software engineer, you should have been a pattern maker. :)

    1. Thanks buddy! Now I just need to get this weather to move on so I can finish the darn thing. :-)