You know you have good varnish when a fellow cruiser asks you, “Did you just varnish”? This question was after 13 -14 months of not having varnished and we were just thinking of re doing it. She wasn’t too happy to hear how old it was and that we were considering redoing it! They (she and her husband) were discussing what to do with the teak on their boat. ( I won’t name names so as to protect the innocent and not so innocent).
It took us about 3 months to complete the job. That is 3 months of intermittent varnishing between moving the boat, seeing the sites and hiding from the rain. But finish we have. If we can work straight through; without trying to commit varnish-cide, it takes us about 8-19 days working 1/2 days.
When we moved across the lagoon to Te Tau Tua one of the reasons was to complete the varnish job on the rub rails. There we could do the prep and varnishing from the dinghy as opposed to me holding W/ by the feet while she reaches over the side of the boat to scuff, wipe down and varnish the rails. Obviously, I would get a little tired keeping her in that position for any length of time. 🙂
every 12-18 months but a couple of years ago we figured to try just one on some sections and viola! We never could tell the difference. So now our process is to take a red scotch brite pad , scuff the surface, wipe down with Alcohol (don’t worry it’s not the drinking kind) – I think we would let the wood go natural if we had to use the good stuff! Once it’s wiped down we apply with a foam brush we / generally W/ puts the varnish on as Im clean up support at this point. An hour or so after the varnish is applied we pull off any taping we did and by 2 hours Mother Nature can spit rain all she wants and the varnish is still good. In the hot tropics we’ve even had it rain about 45 minutes after application and we’ve still been good! Sweet!
We have gone as long as 18 months between recoats and a friend on Salty Dog went three years! But he did say quietly that he would have been best to recoat after 2 years as there were some largish spots to redo.
For us, we keep it on for two reasons: 1) we do like the looks of it, the teak sets the boat off nicely, and 2) Natural Teak isn’t forever. Varnish protects it from excessively drying out, getting brittle and hollowing out from cleaning and constantly oiling.
One fantasy of cruising is that once you leave the dock, life will be “perfect”. You’ll have quiet anchorages, find a lot of new friends, and the boat and all the needed gear will perform flawlessly. Living in paradise is not quite that way.
I know, I know, there is the saying that cruising is working on your boat in exotic places and often that isn’t far from the truth. It depends on how new your boat is and how good the materials that went into the building of your boat are.
For example, a friend has a Fischer Panda generator. The maintenance for the generator says that a bearing in the alternator should be replaced every 1,000 hours of run time. For a boat heavy on AC power that could be every 6 months or less. And some boats have the generator so tucked in that replacing that one part will be quite a chore. Our small Kubota engine manual says that we should clean and check the cylinder and piston every 1,000 hours. Not going to happen. I can’t find anything in the manual on how to “clean” the cylinder.
On our generator I have replaced the top plate for the coolant and changed out the coolant flow fittings, I’ve replaced the impeller driven raw water pump with an electric pump, I’ve replaced the muffler and have the current muffler off and ready to send back for replacement, I’ve replaced the cup seals in the High Pressure water pump (normal wear and tear), I’ve replaced the plate that the whole system sits on (design flaw), I’ve replaced the clutch for the High Pressure pump (a result of the original plate bending, removing and reinstalling parts), I’ve replaced the Aluminum bracket off the alternator twice and on the third replacement put on a SS bracket (IMHO a design flaw but I’m not sure Aquamarine would say the same). The bracket that holds the alternator is being sent back to Aquamarine to be upgraded as it’s a little light and one weld was cracking, I’ve replaced the heat exchanger (my fault), I’ve replaced the exhaust elbow and it’s fittings (a problem with SS in an exhaust elbow). That’s just on the generator.
On the refrigeration side we are still trying to perfect the system. I’ve done an ice melt test for the freezer and we melt approx 8 lbs in 24 hours. The TVX valve on the freezer is sticking and I need to replace it. We’re not getting the holdover I would have expected and so I’m considering upsizing the plates. It will be the seventh time we have evacuated and recharged the 12 volt system in 4 years. I’ve had to recharge the engine driven compressor side 3 times. I’ve added a 12 volt fan to keep the motor and compressor cooler on the DC5000 compressor.
We’ve varnished every year for seven years with Honey Teak. That takes about a week’s time and for two years we were able to hire someone at a fair rate to prep it. Of course washing the boat and awnings is a chore and done several times / year; the boat the most often. We’ve hired someone to wash and wax the hull 3 times in the last year.
We’ve pulled up and trimmed and revarnished 6 floor boards that had decided to become sticky because of life in the 9 month rainy season here.
We’ve ordered and replaced literally hundreds of boat parts and added to our spares inventory.
If this seems like I’m complaining; I’m not. Much of this work would have had to be done anyway had we simply owned a boat in the states and sailed once a month. But when one lives on a boat and cruises to foreign shores the need for due diligance increases exponentially. If one cruises their boat in home waters one weekend per month and takes a two week trip once per year that comes out to about 6 weeks worth of boat time. In one year we’ve between 9 and 10 times more use of the boat than the high usage boater in the US. In 4 years of cruising we’ve equaled about 40 years of boat use for a boat just hanging out at a marina. That usage takes it’s toll on the boat.
To continue a successful cruise we keep to a rough schedule of boat care. When I say rough I mean rough. The order things are completed in is as important as what we work on. Critical items are attended to immediately if not sooner. A marina affords us the luxury of taking time to make things right. To receive orders and not have to jury rig a part of a system to limp along till we can do it right. Fortunately we rarely have a finite time schedule where we have to be anywhere. The exceptions are that we do need to keep current our cruising permit for the country we’re in and we have to know when our immigration visa is due but other than that we keep plugging away on our list of things to do. Some days are slower, and some days faster because we’re well into a project and want to finish. And there are days where we are just hanging out in paradise; trying to figure out what next to do on our list. I think today is most likely one of those days!
Yep, there is some progress. We’ve ordered all that we can afford. 🙂 We actually now have
the butcher block tops replaced on the refrigerator and the freezer with Meganite. We came up with the idea of putting a “Star” in the top of the refrigerator and that turned out nice.
We picked a light color for the Meganite and it is BRIGHT! You might be able to get an idea from the before and after pic. Right now they look a little “large” on the box but that may just be our getting use to them. We’re thinking of adding a border somewhere down the road. Don’t know yet. Since posting this blog I’ve discovered that some of the website info on our refrigeration system was never completed. I’ve made sure it’s all available now. The other pages relating to this subject are: Overview, Instalation, and Finished (not). I’ve created a pictoral history of the various stages of the works: General Installlation, Insulation, Layout, and Liners.
90% of the Varnish is completed. All the SS has been polished. We hired a local guy; Sean, for 400 TT / day and he did a top notch job. Of course no one does it like the owners but we were satisfied with his work and he did work hard. With him sanding / prepping all the wood we just needed to add varnish. That’s still a bit o’ work. All we have left to varnish now is the starboard caprail. We’ve been limited on how much we can varnish because most every day it rains. It’s raining right now as I write this. The Varnish we use (Signature Finishes – Honey Teak) requires about 2 hours of time to dry enough that rain won’t effect it. Hail would; but we’ve not had any hail here. Once it dries to where the wx won’t effect it; the varnish is still soft and can be marred or scratch for another 6 – 8 hours.
Our new cushion covers are being made. Well; almost. Once at the marine fabric shop our upholsterer said we needed new foam. Damn! So we said ok. Then he bought the foam and we checked about foam for the dinette. Need new there too. Damn! So we’ve now given him money to purchase that foam too. He has the cushions for our main salon and we’re close to sitting on the benches only. We’ve moved a couple of cushions so we have something under our bottom but it’s not like home; yet. We hope it will be soon.
After the varnishing I get to redo the aft head and the plumbing there. (Can’t say I like plumbing – plumbers deserve their pay). We’ll see about scheduling a haul date for the boat. Once hauled we’ll do some tourist stuff while the boat is out of the water; then we’re outta here!
Too, we’ve been getting back into shape. Exercise on a boat is rather limited. W/ began running in Grenada and doing some Yoga. When we pulled into the marina here in Trinidad we began to jump rope in the am (only 3 days / week). Also we’ve added some stretching to our workouts. She’s been trying (and it isn’t easy) to stretch my legs and hips (straight leg hamstring stretches). I lay back on the floor and she lifts my leg towards the ceiling. At first I could only point my toes towards the door, but now I”m getting a little more movement in the lower half of my body! Then too W/ has been making me do the yogo “Tree“. The good news is that I can actually do it! 🙂