Summer, Sailing and a new boat (at least for this season)

I’m tying to get outside and on the water more this summer. Last summer we were able to get Will’s boat in the water a few times, but launching and retrieving in one day was a lot of work. It is a Wildfire dinghy with a removable keel and requires two people to step the mast. With a weight of over 600-lbs it is a lot of work to launch and retrieve, however the removable keel makes it a good boat for Long Island Sound.

Over the winter we jointed the Pettipaug Yacht Club, which is on the Connecticut river a few miles upstream from Long Island Sound. The idea was to leave his boat rigged and launch from there. The only problem is most of the river is too shallow in that area for his boat. The keel does come up, but it is a pretty labor intensive process – the weights must be removed from the keel before it can be lifted. We can launch and retrieve at the yacht club, but we have to be careful with tides and watch the shallow water. But it was significantly easier to not have to fully rig and take down his boat each time.

Getting ready to sail at Pettipaug with Izzy.

We got the boat out twice already this year. The first time was Will, me and Hoagie. We decided that Hoagie is not a sailing dog just yet, and much more of a paddle boarding dog. Last weekend we went out with Izzy. We had problems with the gooseneck (the makeshift rig I made broke) and getting the mainsail fully raised. However the biggest problem happened when we were retrieving the boat. We must have bounced the boat too much trying to get it on the trailer and put a crack in it. Not impossible to fix, just another pain.

This summer, Will started working full-time as a sailmaker apprentice at Farrar Sails in New London. The loft owner and lead sail designer/maker, Kevin, had a spare Bluejay dinghy that he wasn’t using (he has two Bluejays and multiple other boats in various states of repair). He said we could use it for the summer (and if we liked it we could talk to him about buying it). Last week Will and Kevin cleaned and rigged up the boat. This morning Will and I (with some help) swapped the boats around, got the Bluejay on the proper trailer and towed it home. It is much easier to manage than his boat. We have to get a new gooseneck for this boat, and adjust where the rudder attaches to the boat, but other than that it is in good shape. We plan to drop it off at Pettipaug next weekend and take his boat back home for repairs.

The Bluejay dinghy we have for this summer.

Memorial Day Weekend Pictures

My nephew, Matthew, is spending a a few days with us on his way from Boston to DC. He finished his first year at MIT (and is a Phi Sig – so will live in the same house I did when I went to school). We roped him into walking in the Ledyard Memorial Day Parade yesterday with Susanna’s preschool. This morning he took the train to NYC for a day trip, and I did a short walk around the waterfront after his train departed. Here are a few pictures from this weekend.

Hoagie resting after walking the Ledyard Memorial Day Parade.
New London Union Station
Walking in the Ledyard Memorial Day Parade.

Fixing our rusty stock tank pool and other improvements.

Last year, our stock tank pool started to rust. Early in the season it wasn’t too bad, but by mid-summer it was unusable. We (I) decided to try to paint the inside. We used vinylester gel coat with the hope that it would stick to the galvanized steel. It didn’t. We turned the pool over this spring and found the gelcoat peeling off. Susanna did what we should have done last year. She looked on the internet and found a solution – get a pool liner. In hindsight, that was a way better plan than the gelcoat. We ordered a pool liner a few weeks ago and installed it today.

It took some time to make sure we got the wrinkles out of the liner as the pool filled up, but it is a significant improvement over the gelcoat and rusty steel. Maybe next year we will add some insulation under the outside of the pool liner and try to extend the season.

As the pool filled, I took time to reorganize the pool heater. The heater is just a black hose that uses the pressure of the pool pump to circulate water. Over the past few years we just curled the hose up on the lawn. It was a pain to mow, and probably less efficient gaining heat. I ran the hose to the back fence and ran straight sections of the hose back and forth along the fence where it should be in the sunlight most of the day. I did lose probably 20% of the hose length as I cut it into usable pieces. I may add another 50 feet of black hose later this year if we want to extend the season later into the fall, but I’ll see how well this works first.

Susanna helping stretch the liner as we slowly fill the pool.
The pool nearly filled with the pump installed. We took our time filling the pool and straightening out the liner. The only part remaining is the last few inches.
The solar heater improvement. I need to add a few supports to help make the runs a little straighter. It will be easier to bend the hose when it is warmer.

A trip to New York (Swedish School) and Porch Update

On Saturday I was able to finish installing all the boards that I had milled for the ceiling. I finished all the white pine that I had on hand, and it only made it about half of the way across the porch. It was a lot of work for only half of the ceiling, but it looks good. It is a big improvement over the previous ceiling.

I need to order some fresh boards and let them dry a few weeks before milling the next batch. In the meantime, I’ll start on rebuilding the front stairs. Susanna broke up the old concrete pad that was in front of the stairs today. This weekend if I have time, I’ll pour a new concrete pad for the stairs to land on.

The new front porch ceiling and lights.
My hike at Pelham Bay Park.

Sunday was Swedish School for Susanna and Izzy. I normally skip the 2+ hour drive each way to New Rochelle, NY and get a day to myself. But Sunday was also Mother’s Day, volunteered to drive; that way Susanna would get a break from her twice a month commute and relax for the drive. While they were at school (Susanna as a teacher, Izzy as a student), I went to Pelham Bay Park and did a short hike. It was a beautiful day out, and the park had a good crowd. At least it was early enough in the season that parking was free.

Boardwalk, Pelham Bay Park

Summer House Project (Repair Front Porch)

Susanna and I are working on a 5-year plan to get the house in shape so it will be ready to sell. A 5-year plan will give us a few years of wiggle room on selling the house before I retire. There are a lot of projects that should be done before we should sell the house. The most pressing project is the front porch.

The paint was peeling from the porch ceiling, the light was no longer working, and the front steps were rotting. Susanna kicked off the project a few weeks ago by pulling down the stairs and then removing the existing ceiling, which appeared to be thin (1/4″) wainscotting-type boards, likely original from when the house was built 140-years ago. It does look like the roof isn’t leaking, and the peeling paint was just due to age. The boards were solid (no rot), but it wasn’t worth the effort to remove the peeling paint and properly prepare the original boards.

I decided to replace the ceiling with tongue and groove boards milled from my existing stock of eastern white pine (at least as much of it as I can get out of existing stock). I think I have enough to do about half of the ceiling, so I’ll have to pick up more in the near future to give it time to dry before milling.

I milled up a few sample pieces a week ago to make sure it was what we wanted. I was able to get 4 pieces from each of the rough pine boards I had stored in the loft, for a total of (I think) 48 pieces. This morning I took a few hours and milled up all the lumber I had. The boards were milled to about 7/8″ thick and 4 3/8″ wide and between 5′ and 6′ long. I then ran them through the shaper to give the tongue and groove profile.

My next step is to prime and paint the boards, and then finally cut to proper length and install. I was hoping for a nice day this week to lay out all the boards outside and get the painting done in a batch, but with rain today and a lousy week forecast, I started painting them in the workshop tonight with Izzy’s help. Not the fastest process, but she was able to help me get 10 boards primed before she had to come in and get ready for bed. Tomorrow we can put on the top coat of exterior paint.

I was a little hesitant about using eastern white pine. It is very soft and has zero rot resistance. However it is local, cheap , I had a bunch on hand and I can still find it for $1/bdft. I kept the boards fairly thick and am using a decent primer and paint, so hopefully this ceiling will last another 100 years and paint job will last a decade or more before needing work (or at least past us selling the house).

My workshop helper: Izzy helping me prime the boards for the front porch ceiling.

Spring Break Trip (DC – Days 3 and 4)

We are wrapping up our trip to DC. Susanna, Izzy and I drive home tomorrow morning. My dad, Barbara and Apuuli fly back to Missouri on an early flight tomorrow.

Yesterday we visited the National Air and Space Museum in the morning. We again at lunch from the meal trucks. After lunch, the group split up. My dad and Apuuli stayed downtown and visited more museums. Susanna, Barbara, Izzy and I headed to Georgetown to walk around and check out the stores and were back in time for the kids to get an hour or so at the pool.

Today we started at the Library of Congress. We walked a bit and found a place to sit down for lunch (finally, no more food trucks). This afternoon we are back at the hotel to relax a bit before dinner.

Next generation spacecraft at the Air and Space Museum.
Izzy and Apuuli enjoying the shade at lunch near the Air and Space Museum.
Izzy waiting at the train station.
Izzy, just a little bored, at the Library of Congress.

Spring Break Trip (DC – Day 2)

Today we took a walk around the monuments and ended early afternoon to give everyone a chance to rest and the kids a chance to play in the pool. We started by getting off the blue line at Arlington and walking across the Arlington Memorial Bridge to the Lincoln Memorial. From there we went by the Korean War Memorial and the MLK Memorial. We again ate lunch from a lunch truck, passed by the White House, stopped for coffee and finished up at McPherson Square Metrorail Station for the trip back to the hotel. Izzy is having the time of her life with Apuuli.

Selfie with Izzy at the Lincoln Memorial
Group picture at the Lincoln Memorial (Dad was still wandering through the exhibit downstairs). Susanna, Izzy, and me with Barbara and Apuuli.
Izzy and Apuuli at the Lincoln Memorial.
Izzy on the Arlington Memorial Bridge.
At the Lincoln Memorial.
Playing on the Arlington Memorial Bridge.

Spring Break Trip (DC – Day 1)

Today we enjoyed a leisurely start, eating breakfast (Izzy eating 2 breakfasts) at the hotel and heading into the city to visit the Museum of Natural History. The museum was a hit for the kids, with the favorites being the T-rex fossil (eating a Triceratops), the mummies in the Egypt section, and the crystals and gems sections. We had lunch and a subsequent ice-cream snack at the food trucks that were outside the museum.

After the museum, we attempted to walk to the White House to get a look, but were overtaken by events. The Easter Egg Roll had the entire area blocked off, and some problem in the subway kept us from taking the blue line back to our car. After careful consultation with the oracle called Google, we were able to find a bus route that took us back to our car.

The kids headed to the pool as soon as we got to the hotel, and we ate take-out for dinner.

Izzy enjoying the Natural History Museum.
Izzy's favorite exhibit in the museum.
The favorite exhibit!
Susanna enjoying a coffee with a little photobomb by Izzy.
Susanna enjoying a coffee with a little photobomb by Izzy.

Spring Break Trip (Drive to DC)

This week is Izzy’s spring break. This year we decided to get away from the house for the week and head to DC. My Dad, Barbara and Apuuli are joining us for the week. They arrived a day earlier than us and stayed in Crystal City. We picked them up and all of us are staying at a hotel in Alexandria; I wanted to find a hotel with free parking, breakfast (Izzy’s second favorite part of staying in a hotel) and a swimming pool (Izzy’s favorite part).

Our drive south was pretty uneventful. We stopped by Wilmington, Delaware on the drive down:

Izzy working on her standing scorpion pose.
Wilmington Riverwalk.
Outside the Delaware Childrens Museum. The museum was closed, but we got to explore outside.
Another picture along the Wilmington Riverwalk.

Workshop Electrical Repairs

We had an power surge (or rather a long period with too high of a voltage on one phase) a few weeks ago. The electrical problem was caused by a problem with the nearest power transformer and impacted our house and two of our neighbors’ houses. The power surge cooked the 24-volt transformer in our furnace relay board, some surge strips, the whole house surge protector, and caused a minor fire in the breaker box in the workshop.

I was lucky that Home Depot had the part in stock for the furnace, and I was able to fix the problem that afternoon (after much stress). I was able to get power back to the workshop temporarily while I waited for the new breaker box to arrive. Today the weather supported turning the power off to the workshop and replacing the breaker panel. It helped that Susanna and Izzy are off at Swedish School today, so I have the whole day to work.

The project took about a half-day to complete and only took three trips to Home Depot to pick up parts that I needed.

The old panel with burn marks on the top right caused by the electrical voltage surge
The new panel wired up. They didn’t have the exact same panel in stock, but I was able to get one with two more circuits that fit in the same space.