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Monthly Archives: August 2011

I don’t have a good feeling about THIS.  As you watch the loop, notice how the eye of the storm can almost instantly jog one way or the other, effectively shifting the storm’s location at the blink of an eye.

I grew up on the Louisiana coast and have been through some of the more memorable hurricanes to hit America including most recently, Hurricane Ike, that barrelled right over the top of me and my husband in 2008.  Believe me when I tell you that hurricanes are no frigging fun.  If hit by even a small hurricane one can count on the electricity going out and probably the water service too.  If a sizable one, like Ike was, the electricity can be out for weeks.  It can take hours and hours of waiting in line for gasoline.  Finding a grocery store is all but impossible, with little in the way of fresh food if fortunate enough to locate one.  Most here in the Clear Lake/Galveston Bay area have portable generators for such an event, but they only make things barely tolerable.

I am torn when I see a satellite loop like the above.  On the one hand, the scientist in me realizes that the National Hurricane Center  has got there act together and their computer models are more accurate every year.  On the other hand, accuracy is relative and the NHC itself will tell you that their four day forecast can be as much as 175 nautical miles off…the five day forecast as much as 225 miles in error…that’s 201 and 258 miles respectively.  That margin of error is the difference between a gusty, breezy day and making life miserable for hundreds of thousands of people for months on end.  Nonetheless, the NHC is way good at what they do.

On the other hand, the old coon asses down in South Louisiana where I grew up used to say that once a hurricane entered the Florida Straights, the body of water between the tip of Florida and Cuba, they needed to prepare.  Irene is very close to that point.   A slight jog or two to the West could put it into the Gulf.   Time and time again the most dangerous storms to hit the Gulf Coast did just that.  Katrina (Louisiana and Mississippi), Ike (Texas), Betsy (Louisiana), Andrew (Florida and Louisiana), Rita (Texas and Louisiana), and Hilda (Mississippi) to name a few.  If one lives on the Gulf Coast, hurricanes are no laughing matter.  The proverbial “hurricane party” is a myth, only being an outtake of those of whom are unable or unwilling to evacuate drinking to overcome extreme apprehension. Watching a city blow away while the winds howl for twelve to fourteen hours is unnerving.

HERE IS MY POST  about going through Hurricane Ike…with links to photos…

I read on some of the blogs of those in the Carolinas that they are being careful and responsible.  But, there words don’t ring true and their articles have an undertone of adventure and anticipation.  It’ll only take one decent hurricane for them to change their tune.  Believe me, those who live on the Gulf Coast watch every storm intently and are never satisfied until it is high in the North Atlantic.  Hurricanes are unpredictable, and until they are long gone, dying, and dead…are a huge threat not to be taken lightly.


Well, I installed the cockpit table and was able to check off another “Completion” on our boat.  My guy and I laugh when we talk about our “completions.”  Below are photos.  The table is designed to fold up and down.  Most “store-bought” cockpit tables are quite flimsy and, when folded up, are almost always braced from below with a piece of 3/8″ stainless steel rod that is bent.  The support rod simply snaps into place and except for supporting the table, has no structural strength whatsoever; it supports the table and keeps it from falling down…period.  Ours has permanent piano hinged connections throughout…the brace is 1″ solid teak that is fixed into place with a heavy duty, chrome over brass cam latch; the brace not only supports the table but also furnishes a significant amount of resistance to lateral loads.  To open, one just raises the table and snaps the cam latch…to fold back down, release the cam latch and ease down.  I’d like to take credit for the design of the support but my guy did it…I designed the actual table top and then built, finished and installed everything else.  The table is attached to the pedestal brace with four stainless steel U-bolts.  Horizontal is adjusted by sliding the bottom attachment up or down…though, keep in mind, horizontal and vertical are relative terms when applied to anything attached to a boat.  The U-bolts on the bottom pedestal brace will be cut off once the final table height is adjusted.

The air-conditioning is complete.  The one that can be seen in the photo below is a window unit we bought that sits in the companion way; it’s only there to cool the boat while we are working on it.  Texas is in the middle of a major drought and it’s been a brutal summer…without the window unit we couldn’t work below decks.  The newly completed AC is very nice.  When at the slip, the air conditioner runs on AC shore power…underway, it runs off of an idling engine on DC power.  What is still quite amazing to me is that my guy built our on-board air conditioner from absolute scratch; he engineered and built the entire unit.  Very, very few sailboats the size of ours have air conditioners that are able to run on both AC and DC power.  We have air conditioning any time and any where…at the slip, at anchor, or underway.  Down on the Gulf coast air conditioning is an absolute must have.

After I post this I’m off to the boat to give it what I hope is a final cleaning before putting the cushions back in.  We still have a trip down to Corpus Cristi/Aransas Pass planned over Labor Day week.

Anyway, here’s the table.

The day after we got back from Santa Rosa we put the boat back into the water after some much needed maintenance.

While out of the water (called “on the hards” in nautical slang) the mast was removed.  Mast work included installing a new antenna, new antenna wiring, a new weather station, and two new mast spotlights.  As well, all of the mast light wiring was inspected before then being either repaired or replaced and all mast light bulbs were changed out.

The hull and rudder paint below the water line (BWL) was sanded down to the glass, the keel was sanded to bare metal, sealed and then primed…and then the entire hull BWL was also primed before being given two coats of black Awlgrip anti fouling bottom paint.  The bronze propeller shaft and support were polished and also painted before sacrificial zinc was replaced on both of them.  The bronze propeller was polished.  The deck, rail, cove, and boot stripes were all hand sanded down to the gelcoat…then primed and given two coats of Awlgrip paint in black (deck), burgundy (deck), black (rail), burgundy (cove), and burgundy (boot) respectively.  Two deep scratches on the port side were sanded, filled and gelcoated, as were dings on the port side of the transom and the starboard aft corner of the rail.  Two bronze through hull fitting were replaced and connected to a header (to facilitate the air conditioning).  The old name was removed and the new name applied.  After the painting was completed, the entire boat above the water line (AWL) was compounded before being waxed.  The mast was reset and tuned.

Below are before and after pictures of the basic bottom job…it’s not hard to differentiate which is which.

She’s a tall rig with a 44′ mast or so and easily reaches hull speed.  It’s hard to get a close up shot of the standing rigging but she looks brand new.  Note that there are no sails; the sails are removed prior to her being pulled from the water.  Hopefully we’ll get them on this weekend (my guy may have to go to Kurdistan in the next few days). 

After nine months, the restoration of our Hunter 31 is so very, very close to being complete.   All that is left is to install two fiddles in the galley, connect the radios, GPS, and instruments back up, reinstall the main salon table, and install the cockpit table I built…all of which could easily be done in a day.  And, then clean the already fairly clean below decks before dropping the cushions back in.

Over the Labor Day week and weekend, we are tentatively planning to sail down to Port Aransas-Corpus Cristie…catching Rockport on the way down and back.  I can’t wait.