Vanishing Point

A site about climbing, bikes, and peculiar travels


Maiden voyage

Posted by Eric T. on June 25, 2010 at 9:00 PM Comments comments (0)

Well, yesterday we did it. We sailed from Salt Creek in St. Petersburg to Clearwater. It was amazing!

We were side tied to Jesse's boat the night before, and had a proper celebratory dinner cooked by his wife Shelly. At 8:30 the next morning, we all jumped on the boat and cleared the deck, preparing for a day at sea. We motored out into the bay, and realized we forgot our sandwiches. It started out with a Northeast wind that came on about as strong as a fart, so we motorsailed. We continued under the Sunshine Skyway, this time under our own power. It was a triumphant moment, as last time we were being towed under it with no rudder. On the other side, the wind died down to half a fart and we motored on down and around the St. Petersburg Peninsula. Left the confines of Tampa bay and got out into the Gulf of mexico.

Captain Jesse at the helm.

Approaching the Skyway.

At about 3:00 in the afternoon when we were off of Madeira beach the wind finally filled in, and it filled in hard. 15 knots of proper wind kicked up out of the NNW, the boat heeled way over, and we were in business. We killed the engine and sailing!

Captain Jesse made sure to wash the decks with the waves, and a couple hours later we were at Clearwater beach. As we entered the channel, we discovered that our engine wouldn't start and we needed either a tow or a jump. Captain Scott called out tow service, and they came out and jumped the thumper to life. We motored in and ended up at the Clearwater municipal marina. We got a slip there and will be there for our shakedowns, and possibly until October when hurricane season dies down.

I jumped in the engine room this morning and have been working on bringing her back to life. A blown fuse, a corroded battery terminal, and a little oil leak are all I've found, but the adventure continues!

Yachting life

Posted by Eric T. on June 18, 2010 at 11:45 AM Comments comments (0)

This friggin website just deleted a post I've been working on for an hour. *sigh* Anyway:

We're floating! On the water, no less.

After working for so long in the yard, seeing Arktur float again made for a good day. We splashed about 2 weeks ago, and since then I've been living on the boat. We've been finishing up our projects, and just yesterday we tested the engine and generator for about an hour each and they're running great. Structurally, we're ready to sail! Except for an 11mm Craftsman socket that's in place of an actual rigging pin, we can go sailing.

We're planning on doing some shakedown trips around here in the next couple of days, and by next week we have to decide if we're going South in October or if we're going to charge as hard and fast as we can and hide behind islands when hurricanes blow through. It should be interesting, I know which option I'm vying for!

The adventure continues...

By the way, I noticed that some pictures show up more than once, and in places they shouldn't. I'm working on it.

Getting up and shaking off the dust. Note Rodger's technique of directing the boat lift.

Ahh... home.

The view from my doorstep.

So close to splashing I feel wet

Posted by Eric T. on June 2, 2010 at 11:47 PM Comments comments (0)

The end of the tunnel is in sight, and it's not a train! We're in the final stages of the work to be done. We've shaped, sealed, and painted the rudder, and created the grease seals for the rudder shaft. We've sealed up the transom and laminated it with fiberglass, and drilled and tapped the rudder shaft joints and stuck 'em with zerk fittings. Jesse ripped the first timber for the transom and I ripped the second yesterday. I shaped them both today and they just need to be sealed and varnished.

It's bizzare approaching the end of something like this. At the beginning, I was so new to everything and so uncomfortable being in Florida around people I didn't know, I was having a rough fucking time. After a while, I was getting used to the physical labor and was just figuring basic boat stuff out. I had a lot of quiet days while I listened to people who knew what they were talking about discuss things. Then I began picking stuff up on my own and really having a good idea of how things work around boats. I got used to the heat and humidity(as much as anyone can). Now I go into the boat yard every morning and can work hard and solve problems. I can actually contribute useful information and help other people. This morning I helped our friend Hugh figure out how to assemble the hoses for the cooling system on his engine, and I'm going to built him a fiberglass muffeler after we get our boat into the water.

I've come a long way.

It's hard to believe I've learned this much about boats, experienced so much while I've been here, become a part of the boat yard and actually gotten... comfortable. I did the crash course, head first, all-in, turbo route. It wasn't easy, but my god, what I've gotten out of all this is invaluble. I don't feel like a stranger in a strange land anymore. I havn't even gone sailing yet!

Anyway, photos. Allow me to sum up the boat yard in one look:

'Little Persia.' Once we discovered we could put chairs under tarps, we went crazy with it.

Moving the boat stands so we can finish painting.

Rippin'  Note the finished rudder and paint job in the background!

The new boomkin! This was our final project, and it's almost done.

Looking my posts, it must be hard to understand why it took us 7 weeks to build a rudder. It was more complicated than it probably looked on here. Today we finished it done. 100% totally fucking finished. We did all the thru-hulls and keel repairs, so we're now waiting on the yard. We're looking to go in the water tomorrow. However Rodger's catch phrase says it all. Usually when you greet Rodger, he says "Right on schedule!" It took me a few days to realize that the schedule is exactly when they end up doing things. No sooner, no later. They're always on schedule.


As much as I bitch about the boat yard, it's really not terrible. You can get used to anything.

Clamps,. shorts, and bourbon

Posted by Eric T. on May 21, 2010 at 11:26 PM Comments comments (0)

We epoxied the other half of the rudder to the frame. What this entails is covering the fiberglass board with epoxy putty and squishing it to the rudder as hard as you can. In our case, there were a fair number of clamps involved.

For the past couple of days now we've been shaping the rudder. Carving the shape we want out of the hunk of fiberglass that now hangs from our boat. Scott made deadly cloud of fiberglass dust like I've never seen. The surrounding work area literally got a shade lighter.

Clamps, much?

If that paper suit looks comfortable in any way, allow me to dispell your assumptions. Imagine getting out of the car in the morning to a wall of humidity that instantly feels like a steaming hot wet blanket covering your whole body. The simplest of motions becomes excruciatingly difficult. Now prepare to climb into a suit that will cover every part of your body and trap what heat had any hope of escaping and holding it against you. As you zip the suit up, you feel sweat begin to drip down your back as you willingly seal the only showing skin from feeling air. Now you begin to grind, filling the air with fiberglass dust that will destroy your lungs if the seal is broken anywhere in the mask or suit. Sweat drips down your nose, but you can't wipe it off, and looking at your fingers covered in fiberglass, realize that you wouldn't want to touch anything with that hand.

Welcome to hell.

I'm writing with Evan Williams, which allows me a certain dramatic liberty, I hope you appreciate it.

Anyway, I also ran out of clean shorts to wear, so I made a pair of pants I brought with me into knickers. My mom has a sewing machine, and when you live out of a duffel bag sometimes you have to get creative. I like them!

How the hell do you end a blog post like this?


Our rudder looks like a rudder now

Posted by Eric T. on May 18, 2010 at 9:54 PM Comments comments (0)

Ah, another week in the boat yard. I think I'm getting used to it, I don't even mind getting up in the morning to go there anymore.

Careful... the universe is listening.

We've made progress on our big project, the rudder. Today was a momentous day. The metal frame is now completely encapsuled in fiberglass. It was quite a project getting it there, but holy shit do we have one hell of a blade. Our friend Jesse helped by stopping by and making inappropriate jokes. Jesse is an old tugboat captain who's working on a wooden boat close to us in the yard. He's been on the water more or less since he could stand, and has done everything from crab fishing to building submarines to marine salvage to tugging barges to being captain of the Disney cruise ship, and he has what some would consider to be an incredibly offensive sense of humor. We like him. He's also coming with us to the Caribbean.

Scott likes inviting people on the trip, and so we now have a wonderfully random assortment of people sailing with us. Our other new crew member, Dene, went to Miami early this morning to get her passport. She had some things to figure out regarding the trip, but she's in for the long haul now. It makes for a crew of 5 (possibly 6), with 2 of the crew members never having been on the ocean before and 2 being extremely experienced captains. We're going to have a hell of a time.

Having gotten the biggest project almost finished, we're looking at going in the water this week. For the first time, it actually seems plausible.

The last of the welding to be done. The rudder post now actually controlled the rudder frame, imagine that!

The filler pieces being laminated on the laminating table. Having that table saved our lives.

The rudder halves after we peeled them off of the table. What are those black spots you ask?

It's lovebug season here, and they're proliferous enough as it is. However, within minutes of mixing up some epoxy, they're swarming. I missed this one and he got laminated into the fiberglass.  He's going to do more world traveling than he could have ever guessed.

Cutting the filler pieces to fit the frame.

Long days...

The first half and filler pieces are in! We put the fillers in first and let them set up overnight. Then drilled holes through them and the side piece to clamp that sucker down while the epoxy is setting.

We got the last of the filler pieces in along the trailing edge and got the second half on today. I didn't have my camera, but I'll take pictures of it in the morning. The hardest part is literally done. A bit of sanding and shaping is all it needs before we laminate 2 more layers over the whole thing and paint it. We're moving, baby!