May 19

I’m broke, but happy

Tag: boat work,musingsjonny5waldman @ 4:00 am
You can tell it’s been a good week by looking at the contents of the big rubber trash can next to the boat: beer bottles and coffee cups and cans of beans, rubber gloves and dirty rags, rusty screws, burnt-out light bulbs, old bearings, bits of corroded wire, paper bowls lined with epoxy residue, stiffened paint brushes, three empty paint cans, three dremel bits worn down to the nub, two broken drill bits, and one broken dremel tool. The broken dremel was our first tool casualty — I burnt out the motor while sanding the old paint off of the propellor. It popped, then stopped spinning, and then a few wisps of smoke snaked out of it. It was bound to happen, and I’d been kind of expecting it since meeting a guy in Mexico who broke half a dozen grinders in the process of refurbishing his Norwegian steel-hulled boat. So Matt went out and bought a new dremel, which we immediately put to use by grinding down a couple of our new backing plates. So far so good. We’ve gotten very good at buying tools and parts; in fact, my mental map of this new place I call home consists mostly of places to get them. I used to know intuitively how to get to bike shops, bars, restaurants, friends, and parks. Now I know how to get to five local hardware stores, a screw manufacturer, a bearing distributor, a plastics place, a sailmaker, and three chandleries. It’s worth noting that at Svendsen’s, the best chandlery around (particularly since, as new boat owners, we get 40% off everything), I can name most of the staff. They say that a boat is a hole in the water that you throw money into, and they’re 100% right. During the last two weeks, I’ve spent $1000 (2/3 or it at Svendsen’s) on two sanding bits, two hole saws, a depth gauge, a medium punch, die grinder, a tap, and scissors; 125 paper bowls, 200 rubber gloves, 12 plastic syringes, 12 small brushes, eight mixing sticks, two rolls of painter’s tape; three 3x3x1″ pieces of plastic, two rubber spreader tip covers, 15 feet of 1″ rubber tape, one spool of seiizing wire; two industrial bearings and four oil seals; four nav lights, four gold-plated coax connectors, two waterproof cable clams, a heat gun; four bronze through hulls, two bronze rods, one bronze seacock, one 4×6 hull zinc, two 1″ round prop zincs; 1 quart of epoxy primer, 1 quart of bilge paint, 16 ounces of marine-grade lubricant, 14 ounces of molybdenum grease, 12 ounces of epoxy resin, 8 ounces of anti-sieze lubricant, 1 can of penetrant, and a caulk gun; 30 6mm set crews, 15 5/16 lag screws, 12 2″ machine screws, nine 2″ cotter pins, eight 1/4″ phillips screws, eight 1/4″ socket screws, eight lock washers, six 1/4″ lag screws, four 1″ cotter pins, and four locknuts — all A-4 grade stainless steel, with less than .02% carbon and at least 2% molybdenum. The worst part? Those stainless-steel screws aren’t cheap, but they’re nothing compared to bronze. Last week, at Svendsen’s, Matt was searching for 1″ lag bolts made of silicone-bronze, the most corrosion-resistnant marine-grade metal available. Instead of buying 18 bolts, he figured a bag of 25 would be cheaper. So we put ’em in our pile of stuff. As Pat was ringing us up, I asked her how much the screws were. -“Oh, you don’t want those,” she said. -“Waddya mean? How much are they?” I asked. -“Seriously. You don’t want those. They’re $144.” Yep, Pat was right. We didn’t want those. $6 per screw was too much. (And that was with the 40% discount.) So we got stainless steel lag bolts, for about 50 cents each. This week, we had no choice. We rebuilt the zinc on the hull, and the 4″ screws that hold it there had to be conductive. Bronze it would be. No two ways about it. The price: $12 per screw. We bought ’em. And that right there is one of the best analogies for owning a boat: spending an exorbitant amount of money only to get screwed. But… then again, the hull zinc is mounted perfectly. Our seacocks and through-hulls are now bombproof. Our engine exhaust now spits out above the waterline. The four coats of bottom paint I just applied should last years. Our rigging — knock on wood — is burly. Our mast is wired elegantly. Our bow pulpit will be mounted solidly. Everything we’ve done, we’ve done by the book, as it should be done. We’ve cut no corners. After just two weeks, I think our boat is at least 20% less janky than it was before.

One Response to “I’m broke, but happy”

  1. NCG says:

    Hey Guys,
    Congrats on finally getting the boat across the border! From what I have read about the extent of Jonny’s fanatic efforts (fixing and spending), it seems like the cost of shipping will be regarded as a mere drop in the bucket.

    What color did you paint the bottom??? Pictures??? Do you have the name painted on yet?

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