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.
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.
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?
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
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.