The water is open at Iroquois, the Canada geese are honking and the early birds are scouting all the open booms looking for a cozy place to build their nests; a sure sign that boats will begin launching in the next few weeks (the die hard boaters that is…). The middle of April marks the six week point before we leave. We’d like to launch Strathspey long before we leave on our cruise though. We need to test out all the new toys we’ve added this past winter: radar, SSB, new battery system and our Espar diesel heater. It’s important that all these things are in fine working order before we push off from Trident Yacht club in June.
This month my big jobs were to strip the bottom paint off Strathspey and to wrap up the teak sanding and refinishing. Blair is installing the radar and trying to finish up various carpentry jobs. Through trial and error, we’ve determined that the Franmar Soya Strip works best in 10°C or higher. It will work in lower temperatures but the effort required to scrape the paint off is comparable to gnawing it off.
All this scraping is a tough slog for sure. I am dressed in my oldest clothes and as the day progresses, more and more bottom paint is smeared on my jacket and pants. This bottom paint, after mixed with the soya strip, is a brown goo with the consistency of oatmeal that sticks to everything. I am wearing thick rubber gloves and my nose, my neck and various other parts of my body itch mostly because I cannot take the time to remove all this paraphernalia to scratch.
This job is not very cerebral and, while trying to stay focussed on the job at hand, I contemplate the people in my life who I know well enough to scratch my nose when I cannot; it’s a short list to be sure.
It could be worse – our friend Christian from Nomad is sanding his bottom paint off and I think it is a toss up as to who is dirtier. It took me six days to strip the VC17 bottom paint off Strathspey using this soya based stripper and I am really happy with the end result. To boot, these days when everyone is aware of their environmental footprint, I think I can safely say that mine is feeling fairly faint (faint that is if you discount the miles we’ve put on our car driving back and forth to Strathspey to work on her).
At this point, all the old bottom paint is now removed and we’ve started moving in the other direction; Blair applied four coats of Interprotect (a barrier coat that hopefully will slow the inevitable osmosis that attacks all boats) and I will get back in the ring to apply three coats of Micron CSC to help fend off slime and barnacles.
The Micron CSC tests our friendships for sure. It is highly toxic and its overwhelming fumes quickly drove everyone out of the shed as soon as I started painting. Bob, from Scott Free I, loaned me his painting mask which kept me comfortable and likely saved quite a few brain cells to boot. But, as soon as I donned my mask and started painting, Bob and his buddy Doug quit work on Scott Free I and skedaddled out of there (Sorry Bob!).
I’ll apply three coats of this paint and then happily dispose of my grunge clothes in the dumpster; I’ve worn these wind pants and blue jacket for the last 2 months through the tofu stripping and painting and I have no issues about saying farewell to them.
On the cleaner end of the scale, Blair has installed the radar post and mounted the radar dome. He’s built many new shelves in all the hidey holes we inventoried this winter and he set up our website, an ongoing process that is providing him with many new challenges as well as lots of fun.
Today is the last day of April and although my goal was to post a log for each month before we left so as to have a record of our progress, I am hard pressed to complete this one. April was a blur for both of us. We estimate that we put over 3,000 km on our car driving back and forth to Iroquois Marine and uncountable hours working at various tasks. A high point of the month was a visit from our good friends John and Karen (Skirmish) who drove all the way from British Columbia to say Bon Voyage. They arrived on our anniversary; we had a nonstop gabfest over lunch and the next day they turned around and drove home. Needless to say, we feel special! April’s come and gone though and we’re eagerly anticipating our launch on May 11th. We’re looking forward to our annual trip upriver, pulling into our slip at Trident Yacht Club, tying up to dock, coiling our lines, saying hello to all those sailors we last saw in September and settling in for a peaceful night on the water finally.