January 23, 2010 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida
When we got back here, RJ showed up with the two Dorade
scoops. They're a mite cattywhompus from living at the
bottom of a storage box with a ton of stuff on top of them, but
I can warm them up with a heat gun and coax them back into
happy shape. I sanded the Dorade boxes, cut the holes with a
sabre saw and touched them up with a rotary rasp. I cut the
excess glue out of the grooves and gave them a quick coat of
Rachel's varnish. When I post this, I'll go back outside and
apply the second coat. Tomorrow I'll know if I can install
them or have to sand and add more varnish. I only need
enough coverage to protect then for a while. There will be
time later on to fuss over appearance - right now I have to
keep moving forward. The picture to the right is a Dorade
scoop on Eddie's boat next door showing the right shape. If I
have to, I'll make two discs from scrap plywood to fit into the
openings perfectly and just let them sit there like that in the
sun. I could make two plastic rings like that and attach
screening to them to keep bugs out.
January 24, 2010 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida

The Dorade boxes are almost ready to go on.
The wonky bells on the scoops are slowly returning to the right shape. One of them still has the CD pack jambed into its face. I
lashed the Bimini frame to the boom to suspend it, using 2 2 1/4 inch blocks to give me an approximate location. Setting the
Dorade boxes on the deck and lashing the lower fittings of the frame to the rails, I now have a pretty clear look at the whole thing.
January 25, 2010 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida

I'm going to cut the Dorade box drains this morning and do some serious measuring and checking before mounting them to the
deck. Once they are mounted, they will have to be very strong and secure or rough treatment from the hardtop will shake them
loose or tear them off. I do have a couple of options in my head, but I have to think about them first.

Okay, I'm back and I thought. I also bored the drain holes and discovered that I can't  shift the Dorade boxes aft because they will
interfere with the jib winch's if I do. I also heated up one of the wonky scoops with the heat gun and it almost worked. It just has
to be held in the right position until it cools. I think. We'll see how much guff I take from them before administering an alternate

I called Defender and ordered the two 45 degree rail mounts. They say they'll be here in about 3 days and they cost me $37 for
the pair.
January 26, 2010 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida

I can finish installing the hardtop to the boat and go straight at installing the solar panels to the hardtop. Oh, yes, that's right - I
should have started with installing the Dorade boxes. I also have to add more Alex Seal to the forward hull penetration where the
foremast wiring enters the cabin. There's a tiny leak there I keep forgetting about until it rains. It's tiny, but still, can't have that.

I picked up a 4 foot by 1/2 inch by 1/16 inch strap of flat aluminum at Crowder Brothers to make the screen frames for insect
screening in the Dorade scoops. All told, I think that is probably the best solution for curing the wonky shapes and holding the
screening. I'm also going to paint the inside of the scoops that 'medium blue' color I use inside the bilges and holds in the boat. I
will temporarily use the old hinge mounts at the bottom of the hardtop feet to hold it in place while I wait for the Defender Taco
mounts to arrive.
After adjusting the hardtop frame again and taking some careful measurements, I cut the rear struts and finished them and
installed them. Then I really took some time and squared up everything, locating the Dorades where they would have to be and
noticing that one side of the hardtop feet was still bent to the outboard by about two inches. I did a little bit of thinking - should
have done more - and separated the two bows from each other, then tied a good line to the bottom of each leg, one at a time, and
bent them inboard, bracing the opposite, upper curved end against my chest. This is where I should have done more thinking.
Just as I had full pressure on, the nicely polished curved section slid off my chest and down over the ends of my ribs and into my
spleen. Thank God I was pulling about as hard as I could or I wouldn't have heard my ribs snap like a magic twanger and I might
not have thought I broke one. False alarm, but still enough to get a big laugh out of RJ. It's a little sore, but not bad. Not like a
mule kick in the nads.

After a bit of figuring and noticing, I came up with an idea of how to hold the panels in place where I wanted them to begin
mounting them to the frame. First thing you know, Ken came over and we placed one panel in place and I started drilling and
popping rivets. Well, rivet. The ones I had were too short. RJ gave me a ride down to Ace Hardware and I picked up two boxes of
the longest they had - 1/2 inch - and back to the boat and on with the popping. I have to drill one panel loose and end-for-end it
to match the cabling and correct a minor misalignment issue. One of the pictures I took from up on the ratlines. See if you can
guess which one. It looks pretty awesome. I can't think of a reason I shouldn't go straight ahead and finish this up. As soon as I
do, I can sew the new Bimini edges, sew RJ's jib, and maybe even sew up my own jib.
January 27, 2010 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida

First thing this morning I'm going to correct the mounting of the port side panel, then complete the riveting and get serious
about mounting the Dorade boxes. I will still have some issues to sort out concerning running the wiring for the panels and
mounting the Outback controller, but I'm pretty sure I'll sort them out as I get to them. Meanwhile, the end of the month is
looming and I still have a lot to get accomplished in the 4 1/2 weeks that remain until THIS estimated departure date on the first
of March.

I'm back already. I started this around 5:30 AM and now it's 7:30. After a month, I can finally see out my portholes again. They
are no longer being blocked by giant solar panels on the deck. It will be good to have the morning sun come into the boat.

The panel is turned around remounted and 1 end of 1 panel is completely drilled and riveted. It took 17 rivets, but it seems good
and strong. It's hard work, drilling over my head. Especially the ones that go through the inner stainless tube as well. There are 5
of them on each end. The installation is getting a lot of compliments. Though, in truth, if someone thought it looked like the
Elephant Man's face, I don't think they would say so.
The solar panels are coming together. I have the front ends of both of them drilled and riveted. I'll do the other end tomorrow
and do some loooong cuts in the aluminum angle stock to  convert it from 2 x 2 inch to 1 1/4 x 1 1/4 inch. It is not an easy task,
but it shouldn't take too long and it will make installing the cloth around the solar panels much easier and less expensive than
anything else I've considered.

My ribs seemed to get much better today as I worked, but when I had supper and laid down, it got even stiffer than it was last
night. At least now I'm certain it's just a stretch or strain injury and not a cracked or broken rib. Stretch injuries seem to diminish
when they are warmed up and loosened, then get stiff again when the activity stops. I hope the Taco bases show up tomorrow. I
will install the rest of the rivets and the Dorade boxes and get the aluminum ready to install or partially installed
January 28, 2010 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida

It's been a long and productive day, and painful. I have to hold my side and hunch over to cough. I guess I cracked a rib. It'll take
a few days for it to start easing up. It hurts more now than when I first did it, or any time since for that matter. It didn't slow me
down though. I got the aluminum angle cut. It worked just fine. I made a quick jig to clamp the angles into and just ran the skill
saw down each side in one sweet cut. Then I sanded the sharp edges and was done.

Sandi and Eddie and Sandy and Ken all sat in for a little 'Solar Electric' seminar and we went over all the ins and outs of getting
solar going on a boat. They are all also going cruising and the solar option is the best right now, and getting better. I got another
old bow and cut two more aft struts for the hardtop, rather than build up 3 inches of blocks on top of the Dorade boxes. The legs
will need to be about 4 to 4 1/2 inches longer than the old ones.
January 29, 2010 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida

I got the Taco rail bases yesterday and now have to get these Dorade boxes secured and put some kind of fix on the aft legs of the
hardtop. When I went to bed I was committed to replacing the entire leg on each side, but the more I think about the slight
'flattening' of the curved section on BOTH of the new legs, the less I like them. They simply do not feel nearly as stiff as the ones
that are on there now.
The morning began sunny and calm and has slowly
become cloudy with winds picking up. We expect rain

I went outside just to see if the 7/8 inch stainless rail I
have would fit inside the 1 inch stock the hardtop frame is
made of. With a little deburring it slid right in, so I cut 2
sections of 7/8 inch a foot long and two sections of 1 inch
4 1/2 inches long and discovered the bottom ends of the
existing legs were nicely shrunk by an overenthusiastic
man with a pipe cutter (me). It took about 15 minutes on
each leg to open them up enough to hammer the 7/8 inch
stock up inside.

Dave Pamorski, presently working on Roy's boat, mixed
up a small batch of the wrong epoxy and offered it to me. I
used it to seal all the lower surfaces and glue seams inside
the Dorade boxes, so I won't be able to touch them until
they dry. Right now, the feet are hanging exactly 6 1/2
inches off the deck and the Dorade boxes are exactly 6 1/2
inches high, so something is bound to pop up to make that wrong. I won't know what it is until later.

I've been fighting the headache all day today and it just keeps getting worse. The legs are on the Dorades and will need a little
wedge to fit right, but I'll make the wedges out of Ipe as soon as this headache passes and I can work.
January 30, 2010 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida

I'll clean up on the boat and the dock this morning and just wait out the day. There may be one thing I might be able to do inside.
I might be able to make those aluminum hoops for the Dorade scoops.
January 31, 2010 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida

I never did try to get going on hoops for the Dorades yesterday, though I did a little online research and found the origin of the
name, which I was only vaguely aware of. Here it is.

When only 20 years old, Olin Stephens dropped out of Harvard and teamed up with another man to form the very famous
"Sparkman & Stephens" yacht building company. Olin's father had recently sold his coal supply business and ordered a yacht,
based on his confidence in young Olin's promise. What resulted was a 52 foot yawl named after the dolphin that is correctly
spelled 'Dorado'. Not at all shy about innovation, Olin Stephen's 'Dorade' quickly set the yachting world on it's collective ear with
sparkling performance and wins that remain legendary to this day. The boat was launched in 1931 and the 'Dorade' boxes are only
one of the many changes that Olin brought to the craft. The most progressive was the external ballast in the form of an Iron or
Lead keel, bolted to the bottom of a rounded hull. He also replaced heavy sawn ribs with much lighter steam-bent items, and
narrowed the hull considerably. He won his first Trans-Atlantic race by an adjusted 4 days and was a full 2 days ahead of the next
boat to cross the line. Dorade is now owned by Edgar Cato and is based in Newport, Rhode Island. In 2006, at the age of 98, Olin
Stephen's took a sail on the famous yacht that made him famous with her new owner. He died on September 13, 2008, at the age
of 100.
February 3, 2010 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida

I have been up since 6 AM and doing stuff here, there and everywhere, but this is the first chance to get to a log. And it's already
I got the hardtop feet secured to the Dorade boxes today and had a large number of visitors.
February 4, 2010 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida

The Dorade boxes need to be secured to the deck today and I have to make diagonal braces to stop the side to side motion of the
hardtop. I think I have that system figured out - I just have to do it. I sort of knew something would be needed, so it doesn't come
as a surprise. My one real concern is that I may have to do something more on the front bow as well. We'll see. If I do, I will. Not
a problem. Well, not a big problem.

I've completed the aft hardtop braces and removed the Taco bases from the Dorade boxes to sand and glue the wedges into place.
With that done, the bases were refastened and I marked the deck on both sides and attached the locater blocks for the Dorade
boxes. I just finished boring the big holes through the deck and gluing in the stand pipes for the vents. I'll have to let that stuff
dry well before applying caulk around the pipe. As soon as that is done, however, the boxes will get sealed down and installed to
the deck.

On the braces, I decided to use the curved section of pipe I had to sort of tie together with the two curved horizontal handrails.
When I cut it in half, the two pieces seemed much shorter than I'd originally envisioned, but when I held one up into position, it
looked much better than my original idea looked. I slid the pipe end fitting up to the middle of the vertical brace and clamped it
there to start, then it occurred to me that the strain on the middle of the vertical brace might cause the pipe itself to fail. I took
my last 3 feet of 7/8 inch stainless rail, cut it in half, slightly 'ovaled' the ends with a hammer to make them stay put where I
wanted them, then pushed them dead center in the middle of the vertical braces. The upper end is riveted to the aluminum heavy
wall pipe the solar panels are mounted to.
All this is done and attached to the boat. I applied sealer around the tubes and to the bottom of the Dorade boxes, after cleaning
up the cured glue, then installed them and screwed them down. I cleaned up the dock and boat and whatever tools are not inside
right now are right at the hatch. I still have to rivet the aft rails and solar panel frames together, and I might have to add some
washers and do a super tighten on some of these pin joints to make it stiffer. I also have to get more stainless steel rivets and a
bigger riveting tool to make all connections solid and tight. This whole structure will need to take some high winds at some point.
February 5, 2010 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida

I have quite a few little details to complete on the framework for the hardtop, beginning with rivets and varnish and ending with
the canvas work, but more and more I am committed to pressing for a March first departure. Even though some are already
saying that it is unlikely probably ill advised. I have to press for it anyway. I just went outside and installed the last set screws in
the Taco bases. They were still in my pocket with the Allen wrench. I've decided to do all the aluminum and small rivets on the
project before trying the new rivet tool on the 3/16 inch stainless rivets. It might not survive. I might also have to get more
stainless rivets. I have plenty of smaller sizes, but only about 8 or 10 of the 3/16 inch units.

I just made a command decision and placed an order with Harbor Freight for the big riveter, 2 cheap tarps for under the boat at
Glades, tarp tape, and 36 chip brushes. This added up to just enough to get a $10 gift certificate, which I will probably trade to
Eddie for a cheeseburger. I would have had to pay just about the same amount for just the tarps at Glades, so I decided to do it
this way and get the riveter and chip brushed to boot.
February 6, 2010 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida

I've already done a great deal of searching on line and ordered 200 3/16 inch stainless steel rivets. They cost $21. Through the
very best marine suppliers, they would have been about $150 for the exact same item and quantity. It's totally worth it to search
and wade through strange websites. I wonder if people say that when they are here. The hardtop frame may well be fine with
aluminum rivets, but stainless is much stronger and will make me feel better. I could have used screws, but even with the best
preparation, screws can fall out at the worst possible time and cause a calamity.
I cut, drilled and riveted the hoops for the insect screens in the Dorade scoops,
then installed them and heated the rubber scoops with the heat gun. I got them
so hot I could hardly touch them, then shaped them and taped them into position.
What you see is about the best I'm going to be able to do. The wonk is too deeply
embedded into the fabric of their being. They are direct descendant's of original
wonks, with wonky walks and wonky talk and wore helmets and went to school
on the short bus. I think of these hoops as their retainers and love them as they

I'll be painting the interiors Largo Blue, like the electrical panel, the instrument
panel, the hull, etcetera, etcetera. I hope I didn't toss out the small roll of
screening that I had.
February 8, 2010 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida

All the rivets are in the solar panels and they are solid as a rock. Watch one or
both of them be bad now. I've fitted the angles for the inside section to the
hardtop and I'm about to drill them and get them ready for installation. I should
probably dig out some of the Largo Blue and throw a coat of that inside the
scoops. I can't find my mosquito netting, so I must have given it away. I'll need a
little bit to keep mud dauber wasps from building nests inside the Dorade boxes.
The mud daubers are very non-aggressive and I've never heard of anyone getting
I got all the rivets in on both projects. Drilled 110 holes - some in stainless - and installed 72 rivets, half aluminum, half stainless
steel. There were times during the day when it was warm and pleasant and other times when a cold breeze chilled everything off.
I still have to go outside and clean up, but the hardtop project is moving forward.
February 9, 2010 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida

Yesterday when I was drilling the forward top holes in the hardtop frame, I noticed that it was a bit more 'flexible' than I like. I
will be thinking about it as I continue finishing the project and see what Ideas I might have that could stiffen it up substantially.
I have one more length of the heavy aluminum tubing and am considering bolting it right up directly forward of the existing
tube, effectively doubling them up. We'll see.

I got a good early start this morning and have the area all cleaned up and the tools inside. The new boxes are on the bunk and the
old light has been riveted together with aluminum rivets that I hand made from scrap pop rivet anvil pins.
February 10, 2010 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida

I worked for a couple of hours last night on stripping apart the old Bimini top. It fought hard, but I won. Winning meant that I
cut a million threads without once damaging the material. Very good, considering my earlier sorties into the fray. No need to talk
about that now. As the time draws nearer to apply the fabric to the hardtop, my list of options is also growing shorter. I'd
considered the possibility of clear or smoked Plexiglas, Isinglass, or fabric with an Isinglass window that I could cover from
below with matching fabric held in place by Velcro tape. I may be left to the only option I have available today, which is to do it
with the old fabric from the Bimini and move on to other jobs. If this weather remains bad, I might have to bring the Sailrite
upstairs to the laundry room and work there. No. It can't be that bad. I'll make a little table for down below before I do that.
February 11, 2010 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida

I worked more on the old Bimini cloth yesterday and sorted out some tools. I'll definitely get more done outside today and
hopefully get a ride to Home Depot to get a couple of small aluminum angles - I like the effect between the solar panels and have
decided to do the same on the outer edges - and possibly check out some of the other panel resources there. The thin wood I've
been holding onto for the leading curved edges inside the cabin house are gone. I tossed them out after realizing they were not
going to work. They were too brittle and snapped easily. That area has been a problem since day one. I swear, I will maul some
foam panel over it, fiberglass it in and be done with it.
January 23, 2010 - April 11, 2010
stung by them, but once they get a nest location they use it forever. Back to work. I was just here to eat.
This morning I pulled out the drain plug for the windlass - very quickly, with the water trap
set to go in - and installed this water trap I made up a while back.

My original problems with the windlass last year were directly related to water in the gear
case. You're supposed to change the oil every year. Having a great deal of experience with this
sort of equipment and recognizing that a yearly change of gear case oil is a little unusual - it
just doesn't 'go bad' - I should have realized that the reason for the maintenance was to
remove any water that had migrated in. It came to me when I noticed gear lube running
down my foredeck.

After spending a healthy wad of cash to fix the problem, I concocted this version of an idea to
trap the water at the bottom of the case in a lower chamber. The idea is good, but the
execution is all I had at the time. I installed it this morning to see what the situation was
with the oil and water. No water. Good. Now, I'm going to replace the 1/2
inch by 6 inch nipple in the middle with 2 hose barbs and about a foot or so of clear plastic
tubing. I can secure the tubing to the foremast compression post, seen on the right, and that
will show me if there is water, get the device out of the way, and prevent it from being
snapped off, dumping the gear oil into the forward bilge.
February 15, 2010 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida
I got the Ideal Windlass
Water Trap upgraded
with the hose barbs and
clear tubing I picked up
on the island the other
day. The hose was only
99 cents per foot, so I
went for two feet rather
than discover that one
foot was too short to
easily secure it to the
compression post, and
when I installed it, I
just didn't bother
shortening it. As it is,
I'll mount the bottom
end somewhere easy to
view but safe from
accidental opening. No
need to unexpectedly
drain the gear case into
the bilge. I should
probably put a little
safety cap over the
bottom hose barb.
February 16, 2010 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida

I've been checking out the electrical end of the solar panels and also want to get them connected and online. They put out
awesome power and I will probably not try putting the wires on my tongue again. The final additions to the hardware on the
hardtop are now supplied and ready to go. Most of it has already been worked out in my head and only needs to be carefully
executed. What a huge accomplishment that will be for this miserable winter.

I am also expecting the last water tank to arrive soon and being able to finish the cabin sole will be another giant step. I just
desperately need to clamber over these huge roadblocks and force my way forward without producing crap in the name of
advancement. Anything that I have to do over again down the road is not, in my opinion, an acceptable method of moving ahead.
More than anything else, as I finish each of these projects, I want to put them behind me and scratch them off the extensive 'to
do' list.
February 21, 2010 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida

Once I am again able to get to work, I have to allow the presently pressing issues begin by leading the way. Let's see.

1.) Varnish the Dorade boxes - 2 or 3 coats.
2.) Install the water tank and fill - check for leaks.
3.) Install cabin sole up to computer desk pedestal.
4.) Construct properly strengthened sole section for pedestal seat and finish sole.
5.) Complete holding tank.
6.) Put finish inside head and install counter.
7.) Install head, shower, water heater, and finish plumbing.
8.) Install water maker.
9.) Install last 2 aluminum angles on hardtop.
10.) Install secondary stiffener pipe on hardtop.
11.) Make and install hardtop canvas sections, including splicer for forward section.
12.) Install 3 sole hatch latches.
13.) Finish sorting and storing tools beneath sole.

At that point, I should be able to move some stuff around and empty the aft section of the cabin so I can finish the cook top, wire
up the entire boat, including the solar system, and complete the reefer. When those tasks are done, or at least, well underway - I
will HAVE to have enough electrical operating to legally navigate and anchor out - I can leave the dock.
February 22, 2010 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida

I got the aluminum angles on the solar panels and it came out good. Twenty five years it took to finally use up the last of the
rivets. Most of them were used to install all the aluminum angle on the solar hardtop.

I didn't get at the water tank today. Tomorrow. And I still have to get that last piece of aluminum pipe up on the hardtop frame.
Then one last minor adjustment to the attitude of the top, and all the set screws will need to be removed and replaced with
stainless steel rivets. 3
/16 inch SS rivets that I had to special order and get a special riveter for as well. It should end up pretty
darn strong.
February 23, 2010 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida
Below are a couple of shots of the last aluminum angles to go on the hardtop. I also finally settled on an acceptable method of
attaching the final pipe to the frame. It's so simple I'm amazed it eluded me for so long - rivet the outer tips and lash the full
open width of the center (9 inches) for a completely stiff method that requires the minimum number of additional holes in the
stock and will allow the canvas to fit over it without chafe.
I deliberately left the tabs long on the outer end of the last angles so they would be easy to hammer down around the stainless,
and they were. In the shot to the left a careful look will show two final items I want to adjust out of the hardtop prior to riveting
all the fittings. The first is that space between the boom and the hardtop is slightly wider at the fron
t that at the rear and that has
to be tuned in or it will always bother me. The second is that the handrail on the outer side is not parallel to the solar panels and
that also needs to be corrected. I'm thinking I can do both with an allen wrench in short order.
I 'baloney cut' the ends of the pipe and secured it to the frame with three stainless rivets on each end, then lashed it to the main
frame pipe in the center with 180 lb test braided nylon fishing line. I'll paint a coat of epoxy over the line to secure it and may
seal the seam between the two pipes with 5200.
March 10, 2010 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida

I did manage to get the last of the riveting on the hardtop done yesterday, as well as folding and stowing the jib. It is turning out
hot and fabulous outside today and people are everywhere. I'm already working on the boat and am going for the 'Pin
replacement' mode of tightening the hardtop. All the hardware has been sorted out and I'm about to get started. Wish me luck.

So, all the pins are gone and all the bolts and nuts are on and the hardtop is much stiffer. The stanchion bases will be the final
adjustment to the hardware. Then the software - canvas - will go on and the wiring will get laced.
March 14, 2010 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida

The weather should be good today and I would like to get the rear feet installed on the hardtop. I'll have to make a couple of
special spacers because the plastic collars have to go and the bases will then be too big for the 1 inch tubing, but I think I have
that figured out. It'll be interesting. Then I really have to get the canvas on.
Above left are the only two stanchion bases I could find at the flea market. It's not exactly what I was hoping for, but they are cast
stainless and plenty strong and attractive, so the minor modification I have to make will be worth it. The pair cost me $5. At the
time I didn't notice that one of the plastic liners had been bored oversize, but it doesn't matter because I'm not using them
anyway. On the right are three other fittings I bought because I stayed there too long and couldn't find anything else to buy. Well,
I could have overpaid for some stuff, but am too close to leaving to buy crap I will only have to bring to the next nautical flea
market to sell.
I tied one of the old legs - temporarily - to the hardtop frame so I could take a comparison picture to illustrate the enormous
difference between the old, tiny foot hinged system on the left and the new, oversize rigid fittings on the right with huge, four-
bolt flanges to bolt down. Of course, I'll need to install appropriate backing plates below, but the end result will be much better
than the previous system. The 'filler' between the leg and the cast stainless base is comprised of two stainless barrels produced by
cutting the 'eyes' from tubing fittings like the male end of the pivot on the bottom of the old leg. I had to modify 4 fittings and it
took some doing, but it was a nice day and I got it done. I also had to cut 2 longer legs. Tomorrow I'll dig out good fasteners and
see about getting this finished. It's coming along.
March 15, 2010 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida

First order of business today will be to sort out the hardware to use to secure the hardtop bases to the deck. Then assemble all
the tools, sealers and hardware on the deck and make the backing blocks. One of the most difficult parts will be the drilling for
the rivets in the 'double walled' bases. I may have to do some scheming there, if possible, like aligning the existing holes. The
tubing is also doubled there. I re-used the 7/8 inch liners I had in the old legs. It's weird calling them 'old' when they were only a
month old.

It's almost 5 PM now and the hardtop is finished with one minor exception - the below decks backing blocks have yet to be
installed. I'll check out the space and cut some blocks and make quick work of it as soon as I can. I ran into a small problem that
kept me busy for a while - there seemed no way to match both sides of the structure.  I finally discovered that one of the rear
curved diagonal braces was 1/4 inch longer than the other. After trimming off the last 1/4 inch, everything fit together and
balanced perfectly. The hardtop is now very strong and stiff. I'm satisfied it will hold in a good blow.
March 16, 2010 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida

I took a few photos of the finished hardtop yesterday only to realize it didn't look any different from earlier, 'unfinished' versions.
The angles I used  - unplanned - also nicely blocked out the finished feet on the two best shots. Excellent touch, don't you think?
I need to get the backing blocks in today and get the wiring going, as well as the canvas.
I guess another thing I could do today is to clean off the deck and get some varnish on the Dorade's. That huge wad of line on the
lazarette is the double braid that I'll be making my new docklines out of.
March 18, 2010 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida

I got heavy green sanding strips to use as non-skid pads on my companionway ladder and they got electrical supplies for the boat.
At Home depot I got fast cure Alex seal, Gorilla wood glue, and a healthy assortment of blades for my Bosch sabre saw. I was just
about out. All told, I spent $52+, though they bought the sandpaper for me at Marine Surplus.

I got the other dock box emptied and moved and stored all the paint and related solvents there. I still have three or four buckets
of stuff to go through and thin out, but I left the small head bowl and seat, and a cold plate for a reefer that I'll never use, in the
dumpster enclosure on the 'free' rack. I also brought the bronze 51 Junior head out for reconditioning and assembly prior to
installation. It reinforces my commitment to get out of here. I'll also be modifying the inlet water to just use boat pressure fresh
water, rather than pump seawater aboard. The old seawater inlet will be dedicated to the watermaker.
April 1, 2010 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida
It took a bit of time to pump out the dinghy, but only
because I had a voltage problem and it took a while to find
my meter. To take a test of my batteries, I've left a single
battery connected to the bilge pump for about a month,
seeing how it would do with all this rain. It finally gave up
yesterday and is now down to about 4.35 volts. It had a
closed float switch trying to light up two 3500 GPH pumps
for the past 24 hours or so. Tonight I'll connect an
extension cord to the Charles battery charger and see how
well it comes back. I know I'll soon, I just don't know when.

Now that Eddie and Sandy live here we see them more
often returning to the boat. Sandy is through with the
radiation treatments, but not yet recovered from the ill
effects of the process. She is sore and tired. She says it will
take about six months to be feeling like herself again.

I tried out the old lantern that I converted to an LED
Anchor light today and it works. How well it works at night,
I'll have to wait and see tonight after dark. Meanwhile, it's about time to publish this and get to work connecting the battery
April 2, 2010 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida

I got the battery charger working on the dead battery last night and it is doing fine this morning. The adjustments I made on the
Charles Charger to keep the peak voltage below 14.2 volts for the gel cells worked perfectly. It started at 14.18 to 14.19 and has
dropped down to 13.74 this morning while maintaining a good amperage of 6 to 10 amps. Once I'm sure the battery is back at full
charge, I'll load test it to check it's condition. I just need these things to hold out for a few more months.
There it is. The much discussed final water tank is installed, filled, and not leaking. The 'not leaking' thing took a couple of tries
and changing out a fitting, but it's done. Also, the cabin sole is installed. I have recently conceived an alternative method of
securing the edges than I've been planning, and I'm going to use it because it will make water tank access much easier without
sacrificing much strength. I'm no longer as confident in the Plastimo tanks as I once was.

I have also contracted Drew to scrape the bottom of the boat before the end of the month so I won't be hindered by growth and
won't have a huge pile of stinky crap to scrape off in the yard. I also have to remember to have him give me the accurate locations
for lifting straps so I can mark the toe rail. On Falcon, the straps also have to be tied together to prevent the forward strap from
flying up the nose of the boat and ripping the bowsprit off as the boat crashes to Earth. I've seen it happen. It's quite a sight.
People running, screaming. Lots and lots of money to fix the problem.
April 7, 2010 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida
I already have the pedestal chair done. The slug of pipe on the dock in front of the completed seat is the 13 inches I had to cut off
the pedestal to make it work in the cabin. With a nice cushion and some upholstery, the seat will be excellent - and it pivots.
I cut
an 18 inch disc of Lexan upon which to mount the pedestal chair. It will also better stiffen the sole and keep the seat from feeling
weak or poorly supported. I managed to paint the interiors of the Dorade scoops blue and I re-fit the bottom of the LED lantern
and painted to floor of it white and finally finished the assembly. I tried it out in the dark tonight and it seems  really sweet.
April 8, 2010 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida
The second seat that I have will be configured to sit somewhere near where it is on the deck now. I will design a quick secure
mount that will allow me to easily move it from side to side and, like the inside seat, will have a nice suit of upholstery. The
cushioning on this seat, however, will be of the foam type that is inside the flotation cushions. Not because I intend to use them
as such, but because they will be out in the weather and I hate sitting on soggy foam.

I like the looks of the blue inside the Dorade scoops. Once the boxes are varnished and they are installed, I'll also treat them with
a coat of white. I tried out the fine screening on the inlets and will take a shot at doing that today as well. I've varnished the
Dorade boxes and sorted through the pots and pans on the deck. I now have only 3 items left and they are about to be stowed
beneath the cook top. I will also be stowing some other things that I know full well I will not be able to address until I am settled
in Marathon. I might also have to play 'Conan The Barbarian' with a huge grinder in the main cabin so I can cut the remaining
vinyl to size and staple it into place, just to eliminate more bulky storage problems
April 9, 2010 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida

Today is the day to get busy on the floor and the pedestal chair, and get some headway made on the holding tank.
The cabin sole is ready to complete - in a way - and the bunk is once again piled nearly to the portholes. I will get this work done
today and get a bunch of stuff that I intend to keep stowed beneath the bunk and the floorboards, and I'll make some headway on
that miserable-to-work-on holding tank. I might even make some progress in the head itself. It'd be about time.
It took until 6 PM to finally get the seat all in and bolted down. It
feels excellent and so far, Ken, Sandy, and Eddie have come aboard
and tried it out. Both the installation and the placement are
awesome. I couldn't be happier. I am also sore all over and very
tired. I also think I have two very, very small leaks from two of the
4 water tanks. It's okay. I can attend to them sometime down the

The under-sole storage is presently stuffed full, as is the area
beneath my bunk. Oh, I almost forgot - you can see the nice access
hatch I got for $5 at the St Pete flea market, installed behind the
Lexan disc that stiffens the pedestal. It provides access to the
fasteners holding the chair, as well as providing a bit more storage.
Although, I have never used that area for storage. Seems too
troublesome to get to.

The head and the holding tank are coming up next and as soon as
that is working, the cook top and the electrics will be last. Actually,
all I really need to do for the cook top is secure the stove and fix
the pan cupboard. From there, I'll start running the engine every
day and checking out each light, pump and system as I connect
them up. Everything, over and over. I don't care what breaks or
how it breaks - I designed and built them and I can repair and
improve them.

Besides, I'll be on my way and some things might change in my
head concerning what I really need and what I don't. I'm a New
York minute from tossing that heavy weight, complex, expensive
water maker. The problem is, clean water is getting harder and
harder to get and when you can find it, more and more expensive.
Falcon is designed to be self sufficient. Almost.
April 10, 2010 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida

Just yesterday I began thinking about the Rivertown yard at the mouth of the Manatee River again, but I'm pretty sure that the
last time I was there they had procedures in place that meant they had to do the bottom work and I had to buy my paint from

Shelf in the head is done and the water heater is temporarily sitting on it. I've also just completed raising the height of the
holding tank 5 3/4 inches. I have to add a double row of strapping all around the inner lip to support the lid, then start making
batches of thickened epoxy to fair the interior shape into something I can fiberglass.
I have been going from one task to another all day long, occasionally slashing mad-dog at something that has waited too long and
bothered me much too much - like the trimming of the lower edges of the cabin sides. The best way would be to grind them. But
the mess! Screw the damned mess. I did it.

Yes, yes, I know - incredibly unimpressive photo of the shelf in the head, but that's all I've got. The other picture, as well as the
one of the holding tank, were much worse. The areas are too confined and I can't find a way to get a shot of what's going on.

And there's the mess. So what? I'll clean it up. I still have more to do, but when it's done I'll be able to finish cutting up the vinyl
and staple it into position. Even do the material on the cabin sides, and paint the remaining exposed fiberglass! Anyone would
think this was a finished boat and I'm just doing some upgrades.
April 11, 2010 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida

Nineteen days to go. Something I forgot to mention yesterday is that I got Towboat US insurance yesterday. Towing insurance.
Oh, yeah. I also finally attached the 4 pieces of super sandpaper to the companionway ladder. Sandy thought they would be rough
on bare feet, but she understood it wouldn't be so bad once they were packed with the dead skin off the bottom of my feet. I
might have to use a few staples or brads to help hold them down.
Sandy was going to use the sewing machine today to make
storage bags for their folding bicycles, but the weather is already
sprinkling with threats to do it all day. Not for nothin', my
precious Sailrite will not be out in the rain if I can help it. We'll
probably postpone that work until tomorrow.

Meanwhile, today I will get back into pushing forward on the
holding tank and head.

Ken came over for a while and then Eddie. Me and Eddie went at
it again politically. He is a dedicated Republican and repeats the
republican party line at all times, embellishing with lies of his
own made up and tossed in along the way. He also subscribes to
the Rush Limbaugh 'scream over them' manner of discussion,
but today, just for laughs, I out-shouted him and he felt hurt and
pointed it out, though he has never noticed when he has done it.
It made Ken uneasy, but Eddie and I are just messing around
and neither of us cares about the political issues.

I got the holding tank vent thru-hull installed and dug out a
small grinder to knock back the screw points of the fasteners I
installed yesterday. I also blasted off the rest of the
imperfections on the cabin side over the computer desk so that
area is ready to finish up.

We are getting waked like crazy this weekend. No big deal - it's
the price you pay for the location. I need to make a list for items
at Home Depot. I am rapidly nearing the 'hook up the water and
holding systems break point' and there are still a lot of little odds
and ends I need.
I went to Lowe's instead of Home Depot because it is hard to get from Home Depot to Lowe's once you start by going to Home
Depot, but easy to get from Lowe's to Home Depot. I ended up getting everything I needed for this trip at Lowe's. I can hook up
the hot water, the shower, the holding tank vent, deck pump out and drain-to-macerator connections. I'll need to get the
macerator to overboard fittings pretty soon. It will need to go from 1 inch hose barb to 1 1/2 inch pipe thread, preferably in

Electrically, I'll use one of the 50 amp power relays operated through a panel mounted key switch to activate the offshore pump
out. I really only expect to use the deck pump out, but I like to have the option.