Sunday, June 4, 2023

Strawberry Moon

I am sitting at our little dining table in our AirBnB apartment in Mamaroneck, with the first real time on my hands since my last post here three weeks ago. It's been a busy three weeks, and if I don't get something out today I will be hopelessly behind here on the blog. Friday marked a full month since our arrival to Derecktor Shipyard in Mamaroneck.

Sunset over the Great South Bay from our Memorial weekend digs in Shirley, Long Island.

The last time I had something approximating a "day job" was my last American Red Cross deployment some five years ago. But I have one now: I go into the yard around 7:45 each weekday morning (the whistle blows at 6:30) and I leave for home right at the 3pm whistle when they close the gates. I come home for around an hour at lunch time. While I am at the yard I check on the daily progress and then get to work on my own unending list.

The boarding gates are blasted and primered. Here can be seen the amount of steel eaten away by damp salt trapped behind the hinges. This will need to be repaired by welding and grinding.

Derecktor has brought in a contractor for some of the work, and in a replay of our last paint job, that team comprises Vietnamese-Americans who mostly speak no English, so my communication is limited to the owner of the outfit, and even that is a struggle. I am trying to channel everything through the yard foreman. The contractors come in from Connecticut, and to improve their commute, they start just before lunch time and work late into the evening.

Removing the instrument console. I had to quit for the day before I could get the engine controls disconnected to actually remove the panel.

Conceivably I could remain on the boat until they are done each evening, but that would make for a much longer day for me, and everything in the yard is on timers that shut off at 3pm, including the shop lights. The contractors have work lights they string up around the boat. It's a bit bizarre. So instead I have stuck to my 3pm quitting time, before the gate closes and complicates my exit on the e-bike, and I survey their work the next morning before they arrive.

The electric cable reel dismantled and sitting on its drum. I did this with the cable still deployed, and unless I want to have to readjust all the tension settings, it will sit just like this until we are finished.

A lot of what happens in this phase involves media blasting, and that happens after 3 or else on the weekends, to avoid the massive clouds of dust contaminating the work on the ferry sharing the bay with us. So I arrive in the morning to piles of paint dust and blasting media (recycled glass beads) all over the decks, and work hard to avoid tracking it all through the boat.

Crane boom blasted and then sanded with 220 grit. This will be the finished appearance; we are leaving it unpainted to avoid future corrosion issues.

The week right after Mothers Day I mostly spent removing more exterior hardware. It all had to come off, and every hour I spent on it was an hour of expensive shop labor we did not have to buy. The yard guys are faster at many things than I am, owing to more experience and better tools, but I have the advantage of knowing a lot more about how everything is put together, and so it's about a wash.

Stubborn windlass removed. Gray primer under the footprint tells us it was mounted before initial paint. Absence of an insulator has caused some aluminum to be lost to corrosion, and one bolt still seized to the base which will need to be torched out.

By the end of the week I am exhausted, and I crashed pretty hard the next weekend, with the dual whammy of shifting my circadian rhythm on top of a lot more manual labor than I've done in quite a while. I probably could have hammered out a blog post on a rainy Saturday, but instead I spent the day making diagrams and ordering parts. Louise made dinner in for the first time in this apartment, exposing us to the odd assortment of pots, pans, and utensils here for the purpose.

After climbing off and on the boat and walking across the shop for every little thing, I finally put a bucket in the wet bar sink so I could use the onboard faucet. The drains are inoperative because they'd just run out on the shop floor; I have the through-hull valve closed.

Sunday we had brunch at the luncheonette in town, which was small but a nice alternative to the diner over by the yard. Classic and old school. We breezed out the dinghy in the harbor, since it had been sitting at the dock without moving since we splashed it the day after our arrival. We also got in a bit of a scooter ride, checking out some of the surrounding neighborhood.

Speaking of drains, the one for this hand-made sink in the restroom at Herradura is at the end of the little "river" that runs from the basin.

The following week just flew by. The contractors started Tuesday, and I had to scramble to stay ahead of the grinders and blasters, getting the last of the hardware off the boat. By mid-week I was able to turn my attention to the pile of removed hardware inside the saloon, all of which needs to be cleaned up and refurbished before it can be reinstalled. I also tested some floodlights I bought to illuminate pot floats at night, but in typical Amazon fashion the first (and second, and third) set was unsuitable and had to go back. My goal was to drill the mounting holes before the team started priming that part of the boat.

I was amused that the identifier written on this stainless hinge in Sharpie had completely transferred to the painted surface to which it attached. 

It was a short week for me, because we had plans to connect with our nieces and their mom on Long Island over the holiday weekend. Friday morning I rode to the yard just to check in and look at the results of the evening work, touched base with the production manager, and then blasted back out to be home in time to walk to the train station to catch the 9:30 train to Grand Central.

Louise poses with a thread gauge I ordered for the project. I've since cut the gauges from the wire and tossed the beads; threading them into tapped holes is nearly impossible on the wire. I also had to buy a tap for cable gland threads.

One of the great things about this apartment is that it is a short walk to downtown dining and also the train station, where a 45-minute ride gets you to the heart of Manhattan. I imagined we'd have done that a couple of times already, but this was our first trip, and of course we never left Grand Central Station. We had breakfast in the dining concourse before catching the LIRR out to Patchogue, where our friends picked us up on their way to our shared AirBnB out in Shirley.

Just a fraction of the swans we saw outside our place in Shirley. I've never seen so many at once. Canada geese and their goslings were also numerous.

We had a great time over the holiday, catching up and eating way too much. We seldom left the house, but we did make a brief pilgrimage to Fire Island. The AirBnB we shared had a great view and nice common spaces, including a pool table where I shot my first game in perhaps a quarter century, but the uncomfortable beds and barely functional refrigerator gave us new appreciation for how good we have things over here in our cozy unit in Mamaroneck.

I taped up these otherwise unsealed penetrations from the flybridge coaming down to the pilothouse to keep the dust at bay.

Likewise these penetrations from the mast base into the galley overhead.

Being out on Long Island meant we missed the town parade here, as well as the zoo that is any Long Island Sound harbor on Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start of boating season here. We arrived to a nearly empty harbor a month ago, and when we returned from our visit it was full. One of our nieces spent an extra day in town, and we took the train right back to Grand Central on Tuesday afternoon to have one last dinner with her before she flew back to California.

Everything had to be off the decks before blasting so I lowered the radar to the main deck with a rope and stuffed it in the saloon on top of the life raft. There is hardly room to move now.

This past week, other than drilling and tapping the mounting holes for the new flood lights (the fourth set was the charm), I worked almost exclusively inside the boat, refurbishing spreader lights and flag staff mounts, and starting on the masthead light and the chain connectors. I also did battle with PDF files to print an accurate life-size deck template for the windlass; the deck holes are already there, of course, but I need the template to cut a dielectric separator that should have been there all along but was not.

Deck template for windlass, which printed across four pages after lots of fiddling to get it to print actual size. This will be used to cut and drill a piece of HDPE for a dielectric.

Yesterday after a nice brunch at the diner we stopped into the yard to check on the blasting; it was Louise's first return visit to the boat in nearly two weeks. Like the old saw about the frog in boiling water, it's a different perspective to see two weeks' worth of grinding, blasting, and priming in one fell swoop.

I did not get to this snorkel fast enough and you can see where they hit it with the blasting gun, revealing the gray schedule 80 PVC. That will need to be sanded out before repainting.

The yard is predicting we will be in the shed more or less to the end of July. Our booking in this unit only takes us to July 2, and so Louise has been scouring the listings looking for alternate lodging. We have another unit lined up for the whole month of July on the other side of the train tracks. Still a short walk to the train but a slightly longer walk to the restaurant district, and a longer bike ride to the yard. We have one night of overlap so we can get everything moved over. Louise will have blown through most of the unfinished quilts we schlepped here initially, and those will be sent out before we move.

Louise vowed to fill this decorative niche to the top with finished quilts before our time is up. At left is the air conditioner the host scrambled to install just before the temp soared into the 90s.

As parts and tools arrive here from Amazon and other vendors I am checking them for suitability, testing as needed, and then piling them in the saloon back on the boat. So far we have the aforementioned floodlights, a new over-the-air TV antenna, knock-out covers for holes that won't be reused, new cable glands for everything, and new downlights and eave vents that need big holes we dared not cut until we were ready to re-paint. I also have replacements for the VHF antennas that have aged out.

The amount of grinding through paint and fairing to bare aluminum here tells you how far the corrosion had progressed. This is why aluminum workboats and patrol boats are almost always unpainted.

Things are moving along at a rapid pace, but there's more overall work than we had anticipated and it is disappointing to have to be here through July. I'm quite certain we will not be in cruising trim when we leave the yard, either, because it will take me longer to put everything back on than it took me to remove it, so I am anticipating another couple of weeks in Port Washington once we wrap up at Derecktor.

Areas of corrosion, unsurprisingly where hardware was mounted, ground, blasted, and primered.

The surface of the boat deck was deemed to have enough blisters that they just blasted the whole deck.

Since my last post we've added a few local restaurants to the list:
  • Larchmont Tavern, a scooter ride combined with the grocery run
  • Ginban Asian Bistro (Sushi, Thai, and other Asian fare)
  • Village Luncheonette (breakfast and lunch only)
  • Hash O Nash (Middle Eastern, with some nice salads)
  • Village Station (pub fare where a comedy of errors resulted in a mostly free meal, but we'll be back)
  • Sage Deli (just a block from our unit, where we got nice deli sandwiches for take-out)
  • Enzo's (white-tablecloth Italian; there are better options here)
  • Mr. Chen (decent Chinese, with draft beer)
  • Lussardi's (Italian in Larchmont; pricey)
  • Chat 19 (American fare in Larchmont, on our way back from Home Depot in New Rochelle)

Testing positioning of the new floodlights before drilling. The eyebrow will shade the bow.

As long as I am doing lists, more things I removed from the boat:
  • Entire flybridge instrument console, engine controls, and helm
  • Glendinning cable reel, so the bezel plate can be removed
  • Windlass foot switches, which have been inoperative and will not be replaced
  • Spurling pipe (what directs the anchor chain down into the locker)
  • Windlass, which did not come quietly
  • Mounting arm on flybridge coaming
  • Settee locker doors and hardware
  • Coaming locker doors and hardware
  • Foredeck vent snorkel
  • Window cover snaps

This flag holder, new at the last paint job, was matte gray when I removed it. It's not perfect now but it cleaned up quite a bit.

The yard, for its part, removed the final boat deck pad-eyes that were seized in place, and unbolted and hoisted the soft top. A bunch of water came out of several of the support legs, so I will be drilling some weep holes before it goes back on. The contractors removed the flybridge hatch to the pilothouse and the aft ladder to the boat deck which also serves as the engine room hatch. Both of these I left on to the last minute for dust control.

Soft top removed and hanging from the hoist. They were able to lift it without me first removing the wiring.

I expect to spend this week working on more refurbishment of equipment sitting in the saloon before turning my attention to some issue in the bilges. As Steve the Production Manager likes to put it, another day in the shipyard.

In the next bay the yard is laying keels for a pair of new 65' aluminum catamarans. They first built and laser-leveled the steel I-beam work jig. Here you can see the port keel already laid with the starboard keel leaning up against the far jig. This level of metal experience is why we chose this yard.


  1. I wonder if most boat owners watch that closely or do they just say "Call me when you're done"?

    1. If our experience in numerous boatyards is any guide, most are in the latter camp.

  2. steve & carol dwyerJun 7, 2023, 7:10:00 PM

    It looks like you're getting an amazing amount of work done. Vector will be proud!

    1. Thanks. We hope it looks good when we are done. Hope you guys are well.

  3. This particular paint job seems to be much more thorough and in depth than I remember your past ones being, though perhaps you didn't document them as extensively. How durable is this paint job in terms of needing this level of intervention again? Is the next paint job more of a touch up? I can only guess as what it must cost, something like 10 weeks in a boat yard with that much labor would seem to make the entire project run the cost of a decent used Sea Ray Sundancer.

    1. We had one previous topside paint job, six years ago. That was the hull/deck only, and this time it's the whole boat including the house. Realistically the coating system on a boat should last a decade, but the guys who did the work in 2017 did not do enough prep work and we had corrosion starting to reappear in less than three years. This is why we chose a more experienced yard this go-round.


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