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May 15, 2003

Well, we are weathering our first big unforeseen setback... The rudder stock is seriously corroded. Neil dropped it "just to check it out", not because we had a clue there was really anything wrong. But it's a good thing he did so. The stainless steel stock is seriously corroded. Mr. Cogswell, who used to own Mariner Yachts, thinks there must have been a stray current problem. Whatever the cause, it needs to be replaced.

I searched the internet and also posted a question to the good folks on the Cruising World Bulletin Board looking for ideas on what to do. Neil followed the advice and that night he and his bandmate Fred spilt open the fiberglass rudder. After hours of coaxing and pounding, the skins split apart fairly neatly and they were able to chisel out the shaft and SS "web". It is huge and weighs about 150 pounds!

We're having a new stock machined out of Aquamet and Neil will then put the rudder back together. It's an expensive setback, and one that will cost us a week or so additional work time, but if we're ever out in big seas offshore and worrying about things breaking, we'll feel confident in our new rudder at least!




Here are some pictures of what our work area is like. We have very limited space, basically the yard allows us to have stuff under the boat (they've made a lot of special allowances for us and our project). Happily, when they put us back inside in March we were placed next to a wall, and Neil asked if he could set up a workbench along the wall. It's made a big difference.

We've been busy this past month, with both boatwork and other things that are steps towards leaving. We had a HUGE yard sale. I mean, it was massive. Like 10 yard sales in one! It was an incredible amount of work, but we made some cash for the refit, and, more importantly, cleared a lot of stuff out of the house. Then I spent a week making the house look perfect so that we can start looking for tenants. We hired a realtor to do the screening and application process for us, and I feel really good about her. She'll make sure that the house is never empty while we're gone. They mostly deal with folks who are relocating for business, so I feel like they'll get more responsible tenants than if we just advertised it ourselves in the paper. Now she finds a tenant soon (it's available September 1) so we don't have to keep the house perfectly neat ALL SUMMER LONG!


Meanwhile, Neil is busy on the galley's new sink cabinet. He installed the new through-hull seacock for the sink drain last week. Scary to drill another hole in the boat, but there was really no place else to route the drain to. 

The refrigeration parts arrived, too. We have to send the new evaporator out to get charged with R12 before Neil can assemble the reefer box with the snazzy vacuum panel insulation we got.

We got our new chainplates back! They are beautiful. We were concerned at first because the fabricator used 1/4" stock for all of them, although some of the originals are slightly wider. We thought we were going to have to get them remade, but after much discussion with "experts" (including Mariner Yacht's Jack Cogswell, who originally spec'd the rigging; and Robert Perry-!- ; and rigger extraordinaire Brion Toss) we found that since the tops (where the pin is) are reinforced or built up with additional layers, they are plenty strong. Whew!


Also, here's a picture of the additional storage we gained when rebuilding the galley. We reused an original fiberglass "dry storage" box that previously had dead space underneath. Neil built an access door that we can open from inside the under-counter "trash" cabinet he's building. It'll be a great "deep storage" area for canned goods and the like!

The new rudder stock is back, as well. Perfectly gorgeous, and we got out of that surprise project unbelievably cheaply. Neil's friend who runs a boatyard happened to have the correct size Aquamet on hand which he sold us at a deep discount. He also set us up with the SS machinist they use, a nice gentlemen who lives out in the country and takes a lot of pride in his work. He charged us a ridiculously small fee to duplicate the stock. It turned out really really well. Now Neil has to sandwich together the rudder again, using the original skins.

Finally, here's a picture of the reefer liner Neil made. Online marine refrigeration places sell fancy fiberglass panels for over $100/sheet. Neil had a great idea, though: he went to Home Depot and bought fiberglass panels sold for lining shower stalls and industrial bathrooms. They have a molded pebbly surface on one side, but we used the smooth side instead. He fiberglassed the corners together solidly and then made epoxy fillets on the inside corners. The spillover divider is a piece of 3/4" extruded poly foam faced with the fiberglass paneling. It looks great!

On a different note, I had a personal revelation the other day about this trip and refit... We've been feeling really overwhelmed by the sheer amount of work there is to do. (I know, I know, we should have known, right? We thought we were being realistic about it at the start but you can just never really comprehend the scope of a project like this until you're actually doing it...) Some days I found myself thinking, "I wish we'd never started this!!!" or "Why didn't we just buy that much smaller boat that didn't need all this work???" And then I made the mistake of refiguring our budget with the current figures. A very scary thing. We'd hoped to be able to bring enough for 15 months of cruising with us. However, with the unforeseen expenses in the refit, I came up $8,000 short. That's 8 months kitty!!!!!!! It's scary. I went over all the things we have left to purchase, looking to find places to save. Unfortunately, the biggest expense is insurance for myself. Neil and Olivia can carry cheap traveler's "major medical" (disaster) insurance, but because of my breast cancer I HAVE to get regular individual insurance, and it SO expensive. But, because of my illness and the possibility (knock on wood!!!!!!) of recurrence, I can't go without insurance. So we have to bite the bullet and pay big bucks for it.

So, I went on trying to see where we could save money. Dinghy: we'd thought we'd buy a new or lightly used inflatable and small outboard. Well, I guess we could get along with our old beat-up hard dinghy.... Cabin lights: I'll re-install the original, slightly rusty ones. What else? Should we just get three reefs in our main instead of a dedicated trisail and track? Maybe, although I like the redundancy of having two mains. How else could we save money? We're already moving out of our house 8 months early to benefit from the $500/month we'll save by renting it out. We'll live with my parents on Great Diamond Island (though I'll have to take the ferry every day to get Olivia from school) or else perhaps on the boat if the winter is milder than last year. But that's already figured into the  budget! I was getting all distressed about not being able to save the whole $15,000 we need for the cruise.

Then I sat down and read a stack of old articles my mom had saved about cruising with children. There was nothing in there that addressed my specific concerns, but reading the articles somehow brought me out of the rut I was in. I remembered why we re doing this. I realized that, no matter what happens, it will be worth it. If we can only go for 9 months or a year, well, that'll be too bad, but still worth it. And, hey, if we are loving it we'll certainly find a way to make some more money along the way and keep going, right? In any case, I somehow turned from WORRYING about the boat and the trip, to being really EXCITED about it. It's a really good feeling. Somehow, it will work out.....

June 20, 2003 Last weekend we got a lot accomplished! The galley is really looking good. The sink cabinet is built and it's wonderful. We were nervous about what the space would feel like with it built, but it seems really perfect. Doesn't make the salon seem too small, and REALLY helps the galley. I can't wait to cook there! I also worked some more on the electrical panel installation. I'd say the DC system is about 90% installed at this point. Below is a picture of it in progress.....

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