Wednesday 28 January 2015

Let's Talk. Not About Boats.

"...and I hope you are having the time of your life..."
                                                 -Gnarls Barkley"

*Deep breath*

This is an… interesting... day in Canada- this is "Let's Talk" Day, a day designed to open dialogue about mental illness and destigmatize crazy…
...sponsored  by a telecom company, a national corporation in an industry where it sometimes seems like the customer service staff and telemarketers are trained to drive you batshit crazy.  

     Anyirony,  Let’s Talk Day has been revered and reviled and retweeted throughout it’s short history, but this year LTD seems to  be at a tipping point- people WANT to have the conversation.

So, Let’s Talk.

*Deeper breath*

Hi, I’m Brian and I’m crazy. 

I’ve been crazy for over 30 years…but it took me at least 25 of those years to figure it out.

See, sometimes when you’re crazy, crazy seems normal, because it’s all you know.

And that is one of the reasons to talk.

When I was a kid, because no one ever talked about crazy, I thought EVERYONE felt like me.  I thought that everyone wanted to sleep all the time. I thought everyone felt like throwing up every morning on the school bus.   I thought that everyone felt they were a completely useless failure and never did anything right.  I thought everyone found it so damn hard to make even small decisions. I thought everyone felt every failure was a huge disaster, no matter how minor, and every success was a statistical blip, no matter how major.
I thought everyone was always on the verge of either anger or tears.

I thought that everyone wanted to die.

Crazy is thinking that everything bad that happens is "luck."

And everything good that happens is "luck."

And unable to care either way.

The fucking insidious thing about crazy, at least my crazy, is that I functioned, and occasionally functioned very successfully, on a daily basis…

...and thus, I must not be crazy.

     Because crazy is obvious, right?  Crazy is on the news, in the papers, in the hospital, in the morgue…

      Ergo, ipso facto,  I must not be crazy.

     So, I sucked it up, dealt with it, walked it off, lived with it, and worked around it, because…

…we didn’t talk about it.

     When I was up,  I was really gawddam UP- I was unbeatable.
I wasn’t just king of the hill, I was King of  KickAss Mountain.  I got the awards, earned the bonuses, bought the toys…

….But, when I was down, I was REALLY down.

    The attendant mood swings were epic and often ugly.  Happiness was rare, but anger was a  running theme.  I was mad at everybody, everything, and myself, and I could never quite figure out why.  That anger saddened me and I really didn't like me very much because of it.  Hell, since we're being honest, I hated me.   I loathed me and the impact of me on those closest to me.  No one deserved a dose of "me", and I couldn't figure out how to fix it.

   But, I could fake the fuck out of being "normal."
  I could force a grin onto my face, and shake hands and slap backs and make small talk and write the exams and go to the dances and parties and, later, close the deals and give the seminars, and write...

  ...and it took a toll.
     As time passed the ups became fewer and the mountains more like molehills, while the downs became more frequent and valleys became abysses…
But up or down, it was so. damn. much. WORK.
And that work got harder every year… and then every month…and then every week… and then every day.

     Every morning, for over eight thousand mornings, I found a reason to get out of bed, and then a reason to get dressed, and then a reason to go to work, and then a reason to work and then a reason to…

    I got through the day by breaking my day down into a survival to-do list, and I got through it by finding reasons to tick off another list-item, and then another, until I got near the end of my list or the end of my endurance and could fall into bed, exhausted, but unable to sleep….  and I always had to remember to find a reason to be happy. 
Every day.

… and then I started running out of reasons.

   And death began to look really, really, attractive.

   I was lucky.  I have a wife who loves me in spite of, or maybe because of, my craziness.

   We had The Talk.

   She made The Appointment.

   I got The Prescription

  And we get through it every day.

  Because we had The Talk.

   Life is no longer so much damn work.

   And being happy is no longer something I have to remember to do.
   Now the anger is an emotion, not a pulse. I am no longer low-key angry about everything.

   Now, I am angry, and happy, and sad, and all those other emotions, in balance, not out of proportion.

   There are still Bad Days, those days when Churchill’s black dogs scratch at the door. 

   But, there are far far, far more Good Days.

I’m Brian. 

And I’m crazy. 

And I’m okay with that.

Let’s talk.

Friday 9 January 2015

End of Season NextBoat Review / Boat Show Preview Combo!

       "Pack it up, and tear it down..."
                             -Jackson Browne


     It was time.
     Put a fork in it.

    This season was done, our first full season with NextBoat.*

    She is now on the hard in the yard, bedded down in her new/used cradle for the winter...

... and now that the off-season withdrawal shakes and sweats have begun....

...SWMBO and I can objectively look back and figure out what worked aboard NextBoat, what didn't work, what we can live with, and what we need to change.

  First off, our first season with NextBoat  has demonstrated to us that she is a keeper.


   See, NextBoat was a bit of a surprise for SWMBO- she left all of the decision-making and logistical wrangling in my hands.

  Upside?  The decisions are all MINE.


  Downside? The results are all MINE.


  After our first night aboard, and after a little nesting, NextBoat was SWMBOApproved.

   Our sow's ear, however, still needs some silk pursification:

    The tweedy ceiling and carpeted overhead, while providing a homey, 70s rec-room feel to the accomodations, is looking decidedly worn.

     Replacement is daunting-the whole damn boat is cabin, and the whole damn cabin is covered in this stuff.

     A thorough scrubbing with all of the latest carpet cleaning wonder products and possibly some steaming is the first order on the agenda, which will (fingers crossed) return our cabin to something approaching it's original hirsute splendour.

     If not?

    That is a project for next winter.

    The Escheresque seagull pattern cushions....

.... need rebuilding and recovering.  Interesting note- there are only 6 cushions on the entire boat, one of which has already been rebuilt. This winter, we will rebuild the other five in the same blue sunbrella and 5" foam.

The salon table, seen above,  is one unstable table, Mabel, and is slightly too small.

                                                                                                                       -image courtesy of google

     I am going to enlarge it aft, and tie it into the stripper pole, er, compression post, similar to the shape of the original table, as seen here:

     On deck, the mast step might need a rebuild- the plate needs to be removed and some exploratory surgery performed,  chainplate islands installed to prevent any new leaking, and struts fabbed to allow the fore and aft overhead hatches to be cracked, instead of the current all-or-nothing ventilation situation:

     As you can see above, they are beautiful big hatches, but there's no support- the hatches are either lying flat on the deck closed or flapping back against the house.

    You can create your own beautful big/floppy/flapping/ no support metaphor.  I'm not helping.

   The portlights need to be rescreened and the hazy plastic polished.  The cove stripe needs to be repainted. and the hull could use a good compounding and waxing.

   With the boat out of the water, I am able to eyeball the whole hull, and it all looks good, except for the carbuncle  ahead of the keel ...

...which is a redundant depth transducer.  THAT has to go.

 I also need to re-repair my most embarrassing, sloppy, kludge of a last-minute repair which proved more durable than I expected- the water bottle neck masthead light lens:

   Piss poor preparation and all that-  the mast had to go up NOW, the crew was ready NOW, oh crap, didn't notice that, it needed to be fixed NOW...

   ... and while necessity may be the mother of invention, her kids ain't always pretty.

   The drivetrain is happy, the only minor, low-on-the-punchlist, item is replacing the prop.  The 8 hp Yanmar happily pushes NextBoat along at 5.5 knots at 90% throttle in flat water with her 2 blade prop...
....  but a little more thrust and less vibration from a three blade prop is appealing.

   And the list goes on...

  Which brings us to early January, and brings us to Toronto, to the Toronto Boat Show , our annual midwinter respite.

  We've got some shopping to do, some people to meet, and dammit, it's just good to get away.

    The Westin Harbour Castle offers a silly good rate for the weekend. Seriously, this is the view that $98/night buys us:


  So, that's where we're at, where we're going, what we're doing, and why we're doing it.

   Stick around- this is going to be an interesting year.

"Talk the Dock!"

Thursday 1 January 2015

New Year Gear and Tool Review: Bonding with Bondic

"Now you oughta make it stick together..."
                                   -Wilbert Harrison

   As you know, Constant Readers, I basically have three modes- building stuff, breaking stuff, and sailing.

   (No, Smartass Reader, "drinking and eating" is NOT a mode.  It is an integral part of the Three Modes.)

   Intrinsic to successful functioning in any mode is the necessity to keep things from falling apart all around, you...

  .... and putting them back together when they inevitably do.

     Thus, I am  always looking for better, faster, easier, stronger ways to build what is needed and fix what is busted.

     Which is why I have an assortment of tubes and vials and bottles of various adhesives, of varying efficacy,  taking up real estate on my workbench and locker space aboard.  By and large, my go-to solution for most bonding jobs is epoxy of some sort, but one challenge with epoxy is that it has a LONG cure time, which makes it unsuitable for quick, clamp-free fixes.  Even quick curing epoxy isn't all that quick.

     Cyanoacrylate, the Krazy Glue-type stuff, IS instant, but that presents it's own brand of problems, because once two objects are stuck together they are stuck, like, NOW.  No repositioning, no time to get your fingers out of the way, or your sleeve, or to remember that you're working on a freshly refinished uncovered table...

     What if there was an epoxy that had the fast cure time of cyanocrylate, but only when you wanted it?

   Enter Bondic.

    The  folks at Bondic describe it as "the world’s FIRST liquid plastic welder."  There's all sorts of super-secret proprietary sciency stuff involved that makes it unique  but basically it is an ultraviolet cured adhesive.  What really makes it unique is how it works.

     The Bondic kit consists of an adhesive cartridge and a 6 volt UV light..... packed in a cigar sized shiny case.

packed in a cigar sized shiny case.


    It's as foolproof as an adhesive can get- clean the objects to be bonded, and sand shiny surfaces- this stuff likes a little "tooth, just like glue....

 apply a bead of Bondic to one surface, by gently squeezing the cartridge, just like glue...

Then, here's where things get different. Shine the UV light on your work for 4-8 seconds...

BOOM!  Cured, like a true believer at a tent revival.

  Because of the fast cure time, Bondic can also be used as an effective filler for small jobs, applied in layers, curing each layer.  Busted the corner of your cell phone case?  Sand,  apply Bondic, cure, sand, apply Bondic, cure, sand, apply Bondic, cure, etc.  as needed.

  Because of the application system and UV light size, Bondic is best for SMALL jobs.

    And not many of them.  This review almost exhausted the cartridge.

    Tensile and shear strength is not Bondic's, er, strong point.  I bonded two scrap pine battens...


Then pulled them apart...  easily.

I then tried again, thinking that a thicker layered "fillet" might be more effective...

... it is...but not much.  The battens still came apart easily.

  Bondic IS waterproof, but, just like epoxy, it is sunlight sensitive- outdoor applications will need to be topcoated

  It's not a great structural fastening adhesive, but it has potential for effective, quick small repairs aboard- broken sunglasses, cracked vhf radio housing,  broken tangs on light lenses,  that sorta stuff.

  Cost?  The kit cost about $20, refill adhesive cartridges are about $12, a replacement UV light about $7.
   Not cheap, but cheaper than a new Otterbox for your iProduct.

Bondic likely won't be the first adhesive you reach for, but it might just be what you try when nothing else will work.

Talk the Dock!