WTF was I thinking? And all my other screwups!

So if I was reading this blog I would think that other than every job in the rebuild process going great, although time consuming, nothing ever went wrong.

Well this section of the blog will be where I tell you about all the stupid, newbie, idiotic mishaps and how not everything you see is always glamourous!

Mixing Epoxy!

For instance the time when we were filling all the holes in the deck and the Admiral and I were a little pissy with each other. I was gutting electrical and she decided to fill more holes. Now she had watched me do it several times and because I was being a bit snarky, my question of “do you know how to do it”, probably sounded a lot more like “do you know what you are doing?”  Of course the reply was just as congenial and I basically went back to stripping wire mumbling something under my breath I am sure.

Now to fill the holes we were using 2 part epoxy and filler. 1 part epoxy, 1 part hardener and 1 part filler. Mix really well and pour into the hole.

After some time went by and I extracted myself from isolation, I came up on deck to the Admiral sitting proudly. I asked if she was finished to which she smugly replied of course.

5 min later I happened to put my hand on one of the spots were she had made the repair and to my surprise it was sticky.

I asked her if she had mixed it and received quite a string of words to the effect that of course she had.

Hmmm should be at least tacky by now.

So I ventured another question as to how she had mixed it. Perhaps she had not kept the ratio right.

As though I was a complete idiot, she slowly walked me through how she had mixed it up. She pumped the epoxy into the container counting the number of strokes and added the same number of spoonfuls of filler. She stirred the hell out of it and then poured it into all of the holes.

Yup, it took a long time to clean out all of the holes and refill them, this time with the hardener in the mix!

I have many other WTF’s but most of them involve me, so stay tuned!


Diesel and Water – they don’t Mix!

So I first want to point out that telling the world about your own personal screw ups is not an easy thing to do. Telling the world about somebody else’s is easy, and to be honest, we all like to point out other people’s shortcomings from time to time, I think it makes us feel a little better about our own.

Now usually the Admiral will make statements about how I never seem to do anything stupid. I don’t make a habit out of falling as I walk up the stairs, or tripping on the slightly noticeable crack in the sidewalk, or putting my foot in my mouth or what have you. There is only one reason for that. You see I prefer to do things with grandeur. If I am going to screw up, damn it I want it to be colossal! I want the history books to take note of gaff!

So how do I start this? I know, I will start from the middle of the end.

As we are undergoing a complete refit, I have a few ongoing projects that I switch back and forth on. One of them if you recall is the engine. We attempted to get it started a couple of months ago, and formally decided it was time to lay it to rest. One of the other projects that I had begun around the same time was to investigate the 3 huge fuel tanks that we have on board Akupara. The previous owner had made a point of telling us he had never used the keel tank so of course I wanted to see what it was all about. To make a long story short, I investigated all 3 fuel tanks by removing the inspection plates and shining a light down inside and looking all over to ascertain the condition and such other important stuff. Now all of 3 of the tanks had a couple of inches of yellowish, slimy, smelly, goopy, crud, formerly known as fuel in them. Okay, so mental note, I need to hire a company to come and remove this slop, and at the same time clean the fuel tanks. No problem, added to the list.

As you also probably know, we currently do not have a completely functioning electrical system as that is also under construction. This means of course that we do not have a bilge pump as well. We are also in the process of finishing the work on deck in order to have them painted as well as a myriad of other projects that we are rushing to complete.

Last weekend we removed the shrinkwrap after 2 and a half years. Man that was a good feeling. So good that we also washed down the decks, also to start preparing for paint.

Now I don’t know about other Whitby 42 owners, but Akupara has had leaks since before we bought her which is one of the reasons we shrinkwrapped her in the first place, to give us time to fix all of them. Most of them are simply a result of her sitting in the Mexican sun and baking. Anywhere that the previous owner had used any type of caulking leaked. Only one of two reasons. Either he used the wrong type of caulk or it simply dried out to the point of uselessness from sitting in the sun. One of the biggest possible points of entry of course is the cockpit sole. This entire huge square can be removed for complete access to the engine. I have never removed it as we decided to leave it until the time came to change out the engine.

Vancouver this spring had been terrible. It has been cold, and extremely wet! So much so that the Admiral and I took off for the first 2 weeks of April to Mexico.

Have you started to piece this together yet? Let me provide a time line. Winter, examine the fuel tanks to ascertain condition and next steps. March – Attempt to start the old Ford Lehman diesel, which meant buying new fuel, changing filters, bleeding the lines and of course introducing a smell of diesel into Akupara. Spring in general, torrential downpours of rain. April, remove shrinkwrap, wash the decks. May, more ridiculous amounts of rain. Did I mention the cockpit sole leaks?
Yup, I did a stupid. I did a colossal stupid.
Somehow in the rush to get all of these projects completed, and with all of the different things going on, and with all of the rain we have had, the bilge slowly filled up with water. No big deal right? Unless of course if the bilge fills up to the point that it is slightly higher than the top of the keel fuel tank. And some idiot neglected to put the fuel tank level meter back on which left a 2 inch opening in the top of the tank. And the same idiot knew there was water in the bilge but never pumped it out. I mean, yes there was water, but it wasn’t rising. Of course it wasn’t rising dumbass, it had risen as high as it could and had been slowly filling the keel tank with water.
Now everyone knows I am sure that diesel floats on water. So to make a very long story short, once the level of water in the fuel tank reached the top, and the level rose a bit more, all of the old shitty fuel simply kept rising and mixed very nicely with all of the water in the bilge. F@@#!

What a bloody mess!

So,  yesterday was spent pumping out the bilge into a giant fuel tote and then pumping out the keel fuel tank into the bilge and then pumping that over into the tote as well. All in all the approximate total volume that can be stored in the bilge and the keel tank is 500 litres. Out of 500 litres of liquid, there was probably only 5-10 litres of what used to be fuel but that was enough to contaminate all of the water and prevent me from just pumping it over board.

So there you have it. My biggest “WTF was I thinking” so far on this project.

I removed the inspection plate. I didn’t put it back. I let the bilge level get too high. I removed the shrinkwrap. I ignored the faint smell of diesel as I thought it was from the engine work. I am 100% completely responsible for this entire mess and here I am telling the world! All I can say is thank god we were not in the water when this happened. I would not know how to get it out without causing an environmental disaster.

There are 2 positives that are going to come out of all this. First, I will have the cleanest bilges around as I will probably end up spending 25 hours scrubbing the bilge with industrial degreaser. And secondly, I will never in my lifetime forget to put a cover back on any container anywhere! Hmmm did I close the jam jar?

Thankfully, the only thing injured during all of this mess was my ego, and probably my pocketbook, but there you have it! Not everything in boat restoration goes as easy or is as glamorous as it appears in blogs and pictures! And at some point in our lives, we all screw up a little bit!

Level when I received the tote.
Level after we finished draining all the water and fuel