Re Metau
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Don Installing the Steps
~ Don Installing the Steps ~
Mast Steps
Easy Installation and Other Lies
It all started so innocently and with good intentions. Christmas was coming and I decided, as usual, to get Don something for the boat. Wanting to minimize the amount of work his new present would surely create, I decided on a set of Tacktick wireless instruments, one for depth/speed and one for wind, both advertised as ‘easy installation'. I envisioned popping up the mast to mount the wind transmitter, plopping a depth transducer into the hull, and clipping the displays to the cockpit turtle. I must have been delusional!

We believed the easiest task was going to be the wind instrument. The old anemometer, due to inventive nest building, had 2/3rds of its cups stolen by birds that were apparently in need of bowls. When Don climbed up the mast to replace it he confirmed that it was, of course, seized to the mast cap. No amount of PB Blaster proved effective enough to dislodge it, and so the Dremel was employed. It took 3 trips up the mast and 6 destroyed cutting bits to finish off the amputation.

Alas, that was just the beginning. From there my good intentions rapidly disintegrated into a very long series of unscheduled boat projects. We had purchased a Top Climber in the early stages of our life aboard, and it proved to be an excellent piece of equipment. It is advertised to be ‘the only bosun chair that allows the operator to work ABOVE the mast head without leaving the chair'. But no matter how hard Don tried to emulate the picture on their website of the guy positioned waist high at the top of the mast, he could never get up far enough to drill down into the plate.

A View From the Top of the Mast
~ A View From the Top of the Mast ~

I set about researching, measuring, and ultimately ordering 26 mast steps and 150 pop-rivets to get Don to that lofty height. Based on my research, we chose folding, composite ‘Mast Steps' steps. I found them offered by an internet company that was a little closer to home than the Canadian based supplier. As weeks passed with no package delivery, I began to wonder if I should have researched the internet company as well. Unfortunately, it was after I'd placed and paid for my order that I discovered that particular company had a bad reputation for slow service and delivery of partially filled orders. After several disquieting phone calls that confirmed a cause for concern, I reversed the credit card charge – two days before 22 of the 26 Mast Steps arrived. I sent them back and reordered them from Canada. They showed up just in time for Don's Birthday! (No wonder he tells me not to buy him gifts any more.)

Not wanting to delay any further, I looked into getting the pop-rivets before the steps arrived. There was no detail on any of the suppliers' websites as to the size needed, but I found some information on a discussion thread and ordered accordingly. It turns out the suggested rivet size was larger than any rivet gun purchased from a local hardware store could handle. A great deal of effort was put forth to locate a tool that could be obtained for well under the $500 price tag I kept encountering.

Eventually, all the steps and fasteners arrived and guess what. That's right – the rivets didn't fit the steps! Now I was really annoyed. All we were trying to do was attach a wind transmitter with 3 screws. Our only consolation was that we could indeed buy the correct rivets and a rivet gun from our local Ace Hardware store.

It took Don two full days of hanging from the Top Climber to install the steps, and about two minutes to mount the anemometer. We followed the directions for the receiver, and then waited for the wind to blow. For days there wasn't as much as a puff. It gave us a chance to contemplate the depth sounder installation with which we were faced.

The TackTick Instruments
~ The TackTick Instruments ~

It had been 3 years since our bottom paint job, so we conceded that a haul out to put in the thru-hull transducer just might be worth it. Did I mention the Solar Stik that I bought for Don? Might as well put that on while we're out of the water. Go to Gre-Energy for the write up on that little adventure.

We figured 3 to 4 days to haul out, paint the bottom, install the depth transducer and Solar Stik and then launch. We did not figure in the 150 blisters we found when Re Metau was put up on the jack stands. Right around this time, Don received a rather sizable annual bonus from work – one that was equal to what it cost us to haul out, repair the blisters, paint the bottom and store the boat for the 8 days it was actually going to take. AMAZING ISN'T IT?

Blistered Hull
~ Blistered Hull ~

Thankfully, friends let us stay on their boat for most of the time, and Neptune was welcome to lodge there the entire time. The remainder of our days on the hard was spent in a cheap motel, where we could soak in the hot tub and mourn the loss of Don's bonus. I was probably going to spend it on yet another ‘easy installation' piece of equipment anyway.

Once Re Metau was launched and back in her slip, Don and I wired up the transmitter (yes - there were wires involved) and voila! We now knew how much water was under our keel. Hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars later, I clipped the displays on to the cockpit turtle and Don was finally able to play with his present. And he got a jungle gym in the form of mast steps to boot! Of course the whirly gig of a wind generator still had to be installed. Perhaps I'll let him rest for a bit first.

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