We are finally beginning the rebuild. AJ wants to be in Antigua in April for the Round Antigua race. It's scheduled the Saturday between the Antigua Classic week and Sailing week. There should be at least two J Class sloops attending. AJ has been wanting to see J Class sloops under sail since his father first showed him pictures as a boy, but since they were the America's cup boats of the 1930's, they had all been scrapped before AJ, or his dad, could ever see them. However, in the beginning of this century there has been a revival of the class with a few boats restored and relaunched, and more being built to original plans. Glorious 120+ ft full keel hulls with long slender overhangs and 160+ foot masts. Seeing one of these monsters launch their 18,000 square foot spinnaker is a feat that is sure to impress. AJ invited his dad along to crew our boat for the race. They'll get to watch them for the first time together. Talking about going to Antigua was a paradigm shift. It's easy to get lost in the work, and even forget what I've been working for when there's no foreseeable end to it. After 17 months of living on a boat without systems or an engine, and the last few months living off the boat moving our grubby selves and grubby boxes from place to place, it's hard to even imagine having a real home again. Much less one that takes me to Antigua. We only got to sail once before the engine failed. We've been helplessly tethered to a ball or dock since. The story this blog was intended to tell hasn't started. But for the first time since we bought the boat, we can talk about cruising and make tentative plans. And I can start imagining life on the sea as I did when the proposal to do so was first made. We will be living aboard by December, and sailing south soon after. We'll be underway in March when we'll celebrate two years of boat ownership and the 6th anniversary of the plan to sail away.
There is still so much work to do! And it feels good to be doing it. Phase 3 is commencing!
Our rudder is back, new, improved, rebuilt, and three times heavier. We managed to sneak in two barrier coats and two bottom paint coats between afternoon rains this week.
We had a little hull work to do before splashing. To finish the newly oversized cockpit drain system, we replaced the two ancient 1 1/2" thru hulls with 2" marelon thru hulls. AJ resized the existing holes and chiseled off the wood backing pad. The hull is about 3/4" thick here, and the pad was nearly another 3/4", to the point that the new thru hulls don't even have exposed threads inside. The backing pads were needless overkill, especially for an unvalved passive drain. We installed the new thru hulls with 5200.
Then AJ decided he wanted to remove and patch the thru hull shown in the upper left corner of the pictures below. It's old, scary, and won't be plumbed to anything. Why didn't we do this prior to having the boat bottom and engine room painted you might ask? I asked. The answer was a shrug. I'm so happy we're finally moving forward again that I can't be bothered to be pissed about having a new coat of fiberglass dust all over the newly fiberglass free engine room.
AJ removed the giant thru hull strainer contraption, and pounded out the bolts. Then he ground the thru hull area into a dish on the inside while I sanded and prepped the outside. We taped over the holes from the outside to provide a smooth fair surface for the epoxy and fiberglass on the inside. I cut eight circles of decreasing diameters from a thick fiberglass bi-axial cloth w/chop strand mat backing. I laid strand thickened epoxy in the holes against the tape. Then glassed in the circles. The largest circle was laid first, then the subsequently smaller ones. The last patch was a second large circle to cover the stack. Hot damn I patched a hole in a hull. Just gotta pull off the tape, sand and paint.
The back of the boat is also prepped for the rudder's return. The dished back portion did not get sanded and repainted with the rest of the bottom because the rudder was in the way, so we tended to that. The gudgeon has been cleaned and cracks welded. It's now barrier coated and ready to re-join the rudder. While we had some thickened epoxy whipped up for the hull patch AJ ran down and filled the little holes around the cutlass bearing and built up the low portions.
While AJ was grinding I took it upon myself to re-dig the hole under the rudder. We filled it back in when it started caving out underneath the boat in the rain. And now we are ready to install the rudder. Today!