I had the day (mostly) to myself today. Susanna and Izzy departed early this morning to go to New York for Swedish School and Will, for most of today, was busy doing his own things. I had carved out today to be a day to get back into restoring the sailboat. I’ve been working off and on (mostly off) ripping out wiring and patching some holes. Today I got back into restoring the deck. The old non-skid is shot, so I’m slowly sanding it off and my plan is to re-gelcoat the topside. I am using brushable gelcoat. It goes on thick and doesn’t level as well as paint does, but hopefully it will last another 40 years. The trick to getting it to look good is to sand a lot and then buff out the top after it cures.
Today’s project included removing the port side handrail and sanding that section of the cabin top. It was warm enough to apply the gelcoat, so I went through a bit more than half a quart on the bow. It is slow going. The gelcoat starts curing very quickly, so I don’t get a lot of time to work it and have to do a small section at a time. Hopefully it will all look good once I’m done sanding it out. Maybe it would be more efficient to prep the entire topside before gelcoating, but that isn’t really how my brain works (got to love ADHD).
I was also able to lay the final layers of fiberglass on a hole in the cockpit/cabin that I’m repairing. That will need a layer of fairing compound and a bunch more sanding before it is ready to gelcoat.
I was able to get a little time with Will to work on his boat. We worked on gelcoating his boat (we had done it a few years ago, but he decided he wants it white and not blue (the blue is way too hot on the sun). It was fun to get some time with him in the afternoon before he had friends over for the evening. Kevin Farrar (Farrar Sails, New London) is planning on coming by on Thursday evening to measure for rigging and possibly new sails.
Memorial Day weekend is the start of the crazy rush of a summer. In the past it has always felt sort of like getting on a water slide over Memorial Day weekend and everything is a rushed blur until you get dumped out the other side at Labor Day. This summer is setting up to be the same. Ben graduates High school in a few weeks. On the same day, Izzy has her last day of school and Susanna’s preschool class has graduation. Susanna’s parents are also scheduled to arrive in Preston that morning for a week visit.
A few days after Susanna’s parents depart, Izzy and I are starting our 10-ish day road trip to Missouri. It is a long road trip, but I’m letting her have an old phone for the trip. Part of the agreement is that she journal her trip, which she will do on her blog. After Missouri she has a two weeks of summer camp and then she and Susanna head to Sweden for 4 weeks. I’ll hang out here and hopefully get some sailing and camping in with the boys.
This weekend was a good start. Will and I did some work on his loft and picked up some much needed storage for his stuff. Our big house plans was to clean up the back yard and put the pool up; just in time for the 80+ degree sunny day today. Will has been collecting more animals, and caught a marbled salamander in our basement this morning; he is working on a habitat for it. I think eventually he will need to add small critter storage in the basement, but he’s not quite there yet.
We finished off the weekend with a nice lunch at a friends house.
Of course, every finished project leads to a new one. The swimming pool is galvanized steel and is showing some rust spots. Probably due to our acidic well water. I’ll have to find some way to protect the pool later this summer. Maybe vinylester gelcoat will stick to the steel.
And of course there is the long list of unfinished projects. the next project this afternoon is to get some more work on Will’s sailboat – assuming I have the energy to get working in the later afternoon heat.
I do realize that I’m a lot better at starting projects than finishing them. I have a 26′ sailboat that I am refurbishing, and it may wind up being just a project to work on and never a boat in the water. With that in mind, and the summer coming quickly, I decided that I needed something to get on the water. So, two weeks ago, I picked up a 7′ dinghy. It was small enough to fit in the back of the mini-van.
The boat was pretty ugly, but looked like it would float. I washed it and sanded and smoothed the bottom. I had a third of a can of gelcoat left from last summer that I used to paint the bottom (or most of the bottom). The big sailboat came with a larger dinghy that I’m just waiting to throw in the trash next time we get a dumpster, but it did have two sets of oars. I sanded the wooden oars and reinforced the blades with some fiberglass and epoxy. I topped it with a few coats of marine varnish. Not the nicest oars, but functional. They might be a touch too long for the boat, but the price was right.
This weekend Will and I decided to take Izzy and his dog, Hoagie, down to the Thames river and test out the boat. Izzy decided that she preferred swimming, and Hoagie preferred the shore, though he started having fun chasing splashes from Izzy swimming. We will make a swimmer of him one of these days. The only problem is he liked to drink the water, and I’m pretty sure it is brackish where we put in (not that I was going to taste it).
The boat is really small, but it floats. Rowing was a pain, there isn’t much room to stretch your legs out when you are rowing and you have the tendency to hit your knees with the oars. Maybe shorter oars would help. Or maybe a trolling motor would make it more fun to explore (though I’d probably have to register it if I put a trolling motor on it). Maybe I’ll paint the sides later this summer if we have any gelcoat left from Will’s boat.
Next time I’ll try freshwater if we are bringing Hoagie. At least then he can drink the water. I canoe might be an even better bet for getting on the water, but enough boats (for now).
A few weeks ago, Will pulled out his sailboat to try to get it ready for the summer. We had pulled off all the deck fittings last summer to paint the top of the boat, but never got back to putting the fittings back on. His boat is a 16′ lifting keel O’Day Wildfire from the late 1960s. A lot of the hardware isn’t original, and the parts that are show their age.
One of the pieces that were in rough shape were the thru-deck bushings. New ones cost $10-$15 each, so why not play around with the 3d printer and try printing them. Commercial bushings have metal linings, so the printed ones may not last as long. But I had spare resin, so there was no real cost to making the parts. Anyway, we could always replace them with commercial bushings in the future if needed. I spent a few nights designing the part on Fusion 360 and made some test pieces. It would probably have been easier if I had a set of calipers to measure the original, but trial and error works as well. The final design seems to fit the boat and I am in the process of printing four – though I think I could probably fit a few more on the print space. The parts take about an hour to print on our cheap printer.
For the final weekend of spring break, Susanna and I decided to take Izzy to New York City. Izzy and Susanna had Swedish school on that Sunday in New Rochelle, so would have to make the drive no matter what. We made reservations at a Residence Inn in Secaucus, NJ. The hotel is an easy detour from I-95, though the trip down 95 (at least through Connecticut) is pretty terrible. There is free parking and it is a short bus ride into the city.
We left home right after breakfast and made it to our hotel by 11AM. It was too early to check in, but they let us park there and pointed us to the bus terminal. Susanna had picked Ellen’s Stardust Diner for lunch and we walked the few blocks from the Port Authority Bus Terminal to the restaurant and Susanna waited in line while Izzy and I explored around the block. We enjoyed lunch (the food wasn’t great, but the singing was lots of fun).
After lunch we walked to Central Park and found a playground for Izzy which was only a little fun since playgrounds are more fund with friends to play with.
After Central Park we headed back towards the bus terminal with a coffee stop in the Swedish Church on 48th Street (Svenska kyrkan i New York) and then back to the hotel. I think Izzy was more excited about swimming at the hotel than almost anything else on the trip.
Sunday morning started with breakfast than a swim until it was time to check out. I picked a few places to visit before Susanna and Izzy had to be in New Rochelle. The first stop was the Weehawken Dueling Grounds; that is the site where the Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton duel took place. We were there long enough for a few photographs with the NYC skyline as a backdrop and a little history that Izzy is a bit young to care about.
After the dueling grounds we drove to Fort Tryon Park in upper Manhattan. I dove in circles a few times, but eventually found a place to park. We wandered through the park and up the hill to a playground (another playground). There Izzy met two girls that were also carrying around dolls to play with. Susanna walked a bit past the park and found sushi to bring back for lunch. After lunch we wandered back through the park and then headed to New Rochelle where I dropped them off at Swedish School which left me three hours to kill in New Rochelle.
In New Rochelle, I found a nearby park, Five Islands Park, to walk around for a while. After the park, I headed to the New Rochelle library to upload and edit pictures until it was time to pick up Susanna and Izzy and start the drive back home. Overall a successful weekend vacation!
I had been a little unhappy for a while with Izzy’s previous riding instructor. She was nice, but tended to not pay close attention to Izzy as she was riding, and Izzy was getting frustrated with the basics. The last time she went for lessons, she was in tears for the last half of the lesson. The instructor would have her ride the horse around the arena on her own, and Izzy would do okay for a little bit, but then would get frustrated and eventually the instructor would put the horse on the lunge line and work with Izzy. But, by that time she was in tears and it was too late.
So we picked a new farm to go to and try a different teacher. These lessons are shorter (45 minutes vice an hour), and the new instructor is much more involved. She started last weekend, and has been on a lunge line the entire time. She is starting with just being comfortable in the saddle and slowly working on controlling the horse. It makes a big difference for Izzy, but will probably take a few lessons to get over the anxiety and stress from the previous lessons.
I’m sure it is a balance between letting her figure things out and holding her hand the whole way, but I think she is responding better with a more gentle approach. And this is supposed to be fun for her, not a chore.
This year we decided to head back to Missouri to visit family in the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. This time it was just Susanna, Izzy and me driving across the country. The boys stayed home. It is a long drive to Missouri, and we decided to split it into two days. Our initial plans were to make the return trip in three days, but eventually we decided we just wanted to get home and made it a two day return trip as well. Isabella did surprising well for such a long drive.
To make the ride as easy for Isabella as possible, I made her a table that fits in the last row of the minivan. It was big enough to fit a laptop computer, mouse and a drink in the drink holder. I constructed in from scrap plywood and lumber and painted it with left over paint from an earlier project. The table made a huge difference on the trip. She could eat lunch on it, do crafts and play on the computer.
Our journey started on Christmas morning. Not as early as we had initially planned, but late enough for the weather to warm up and melt the ice on the road. The first day took us to Columbus Ohio.
The best part about driving on Christmas is that there was no traffic. Anywhere. The worst part wast trying to find food. We made it to the hotel with time for Izzy to swim and the pool opened early enough for another swim before driving on the 26th.
The first night in Missouri we stayed with my brother. On Monday morning we took my nephew, Chase, with us for a morning exploring the St. Louis Zoo. It was a good chance to get lots of pictures of everyone.
After a morning at the zoo, we had lunch joined by Bill and his kids. Then Susanna, Izzy and I headed to Columbia to visit my dad. We got there in time to get settled and head out to dinner at HuHut Mongolian grill. The next two days we spent in Columbia, taking walks each day with their dog, Lily. I helped dad finish a few small projects around the house and in the workshop. I was impressed with his setup for testing electric bike battery testing setup, though we didn’t get a chance to test it out.
Both days we took a short (2-mile) hike along the Grindstone Creek, in the Grindstone Nature Area a short drive from their house. It was a park large enough to let Lily off the leash and give her a chance to run around.
In the evenings, after Izzy had gone to bed, I hooked up my microphone to my laptop computer and interviewed dad. Susanna did the same for her grandparents a while ago, and it has been on my list of things to do. It was interesting to hear about his childhood growing up in Pennsylvania, and the career path that brought him to St. Louis twice, Cape Canaveral Florida, and finally to Columbia Missouri. The next step in the project is to finish getting the audio files transcribed and put them into a book.
On Thursday morning we started our journey back home. Izzy powered up the laptop for some Minecraft time and we headed east from Columbia. We headed out with no firm destination for the day, but after lunch decided to drive to Akron, OH for the night.
On the way out of Illinois we passed a sign for the worlds largest mailbox. So, we stopped in Casey Illinois for a walk break and lunch at Subway.
Unfortunately the hotel pool was closing for the night when we checked in, and didn’t open the next morning until after we departed. Much to Izzy’s disappointment. At least they had a hot breakfast for us (and Fruit Loop cereal for Izzy).
We made it home in time to make dinner on New Year’s Eve and crash the party Will was hosting at our house.
Isabella started riding lessons earlier this fall. She goes every other weekend to Outback Stables in Ledyard for a one hour lesson. It is a lot for her to focus on (and for a whole hour at a time). She needs to watch the position of her hands, make sure the horse keeps moving at the right pace, pay attention to where the horse is going, and not be distracted by the dogs wandering about. Plus probably a bunch of other stuff that I have know idea about since I have no clue how to ride a horse.
Not surprisingly she has wound up with the horse stopped facing a wall. Luckily there are lots of years left before she tries it with a car – at least a horse stops before running into the wall. She is making progress, and can usually get the horse out of a corner without help. I can tell it is getting a little easier for her. The first lesson she was pretty tired after 10-15 minutes and needed the teacher to walk the horse with her on it. Last lesson she almost made it the entire time on her own.
Will had been asking to get a dog of his own for several years. We weren’t quite ready to add a new dog to the family while he was still in school, and when we were ready in the middle of the pandemic, it was nearly impossible to find a dog.
This summer we discussed it more, and agreed that he would be able to get a dog after our trip to Europe. We got approved by one of the local rescue organizations, and found Hoagie. Hoagie was being fostered near New Haven, and over the labor day weekend we went to visit him. Will (and of course Izzy) fell in love with him at the meeting, and later that weekend we picked him up.
He is still getting adjusted to his new house and Will has put him in training. Izzy has lost a few toys, though she has plenty to spare, and we lost a remote, which we don’t have a spare.
I attempted a homemade repair to the dishwasher back in February. It lasted a few months and then started leaking again. This time I ordered the new diverter valve ($60) and Ben and I installed the part this morning. It seems to be working for now; however, some of the reviews state that the repair part only lasts a year or so before it starts leaking again. So maybe next summer I’ll be replacing it again.