The teaky saloon of the ol' Betty Jane ...the perfect place to blog yer heart out!

A Better Mouse Trap?

I guess I'm as into reading maritime literature as any man alive. I can remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when I read certain salty works like Melville's Moby Dick, Raphael Sabatini's Captain Blood, London's Sea Wolf, and Conrad's Lord Jim. Lots of times I was onboard a vessel of some description at the time, either one I owned or one I was working on, stealing a few hours away from life's routine to go a'yondering, as Louis L'Amour (who wrote more than a few yarns of the sea) once described the practice of simply going someplace, whether in physical reality or a properly imagined one, for no particular reason other than to see what you might see. Heck, I remember reading my first Clive Cussler ditty (Raise The Titanic) by candle light on an old Seabird yawl I owned for a while. I was tied up at a rough-and-tumble marina in Indian Rocks Beach, Florida. Right on the edge of the ICW. I can almost feel the pages today and smell the perfume of outboard-motor (for docking purposes), mildew, brackish water, and melted wax.

So, considering how smitten I've always been with the pure, tactile romance of books and reading, would you ever think I'd buy a freakin ' electronic book? Well, let's just say the part of me that digs technology prevailed upon the romantic part and here I am with am Amazon Kindle in my hands.

And I gotta say--what a wonderful device. Recently, I decided to re-read Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island and, while laying in the V-berth of the Betty Jane, on the spur of the moment, I downloaded (it took about a minute) not only Treasure Island but all of Stevenson's works for about $5 and began reading right away. Books for sale on Kindle are both fast and CHEAP!!!!!!!!!

Moreover, when I used to travel to do boat tests in the pre-Kindle days, I typically carried along a few inspirational books that I regularly enjoy reading each morning. Only trouble was the darn things had a tendency to weigh me down whilst I pulled my roller through airports en route to the tests.

But guess what! Just about all of these books are in the Kindle library so I've downloaded what I could and substituted a couple of others. So these days, instead of packing a passel of physical books around with me, I just drop the Kindle into the Filson computer bag I've been carrying to tests for about 15 years now and I'm good to go. Figure I save myself about five pounds of extra weight.

By the way. If you buy a Kindle of your own, remember to also buy a slip-on sock to protect it from wear. I got one that matches my Filson and is padded for extra protection. As I recall, I bought it off the Kindle website.

The (Actual) Great Beautification

Well, as you may have guessed from the photo here, the plans for the Great Beautification had to be changed slightly. I went to work with the ensemble of products mentioned in previous entries and the result was none to spiffy.

The main problem? As usual, tackling the job with a hint of know-it-all arrogance. I mean, how difficult could it be to develop a wondrous sheen with a buffer, a little rubbing compound (of the exceptionally mild variety) and a little wax. And aren't the pages and pages of advice on detailing available on the internet enough to help a guy transform a scruffy boat (or only slightly scruffy boat, in Betty's case) into a veritable show piece?

Hmmmmm. Well, lemme tellya...detailing ain't exactly easy, even after watching a whole pile of internet clips purporting to offer the inside track. Hey! Although the little devils look much the same, there's a major difference between operating a power grinder (as I used to do while working as a deckhand on commercial steel boats in my younger days) and operating a power buffer or polisher. And also, detailing boats and cars are two largely different tasks as well. The six-inch Porter-Cable polisher I started out with was not nearly as effective as the Porter-Cable nine-incher I wound up using.
To read what I specifically did to produce a knock-down-drag-out finish on Betty Jane please refer to the upcoming portion of the Shipyard column in the June issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine--it's entitled Wax On, Wax Off. In the pieced, you'll notice I had to change my wax slightly (check out the above photo to see what I substituted for Collinite's paste wax) and I also had to skip the Finess-It II. Ah well!

In case you're interested in what's going on in the photo here, it's pretty simple. I am removing dried rubbing compound from a polishing pad with a tool created for the purpose. You gotta do this ever so often to keep the pad working well. Actually, a screw driver works just as well as the tool shown here and, if you've got a few spares kickin' around that aren't gonna cost anything, is a heck of a lot cheaper.

The Start Of The Great Beautification II

Boring picture, right? Well, not exactly. At least for a guy like me who's a hard-bitten do-it-yourselfer and has been since birth.

As noted in a previous post (The Start Of The Great Beautification), I have decided to hit the ol' Betty Jane with the ultimate wax job, an extravaganza propounded by my friend Milt Baker, the proud owner of a Grand Banks 32 who's now switched over to a Nordhavn passagemaker. In a missive to the Grand Banks web site some while ago Milt spent some words on a relatively simple, yet succinct, method for achieving a very high level of cosmetic finish on a fiberglass boat. He seemed pretty confident of the system he'd fallen upon and the products that put the pizazzzzzzzz in it.

So anyway, having taken a tip from Milt, I have now assembled most of the tools and products I need for the job. These include a 5-inch buffing plate and a bunch of six-inch foam-wool buffing pads (shown in my hand above), a Porter Cable 7424 orbital polisher/sander (not shown), a pile of green microfiber towels (shown above), a quart of a 3M product called Finess-It , and, for the application of the primo wax I am going to use--an old-fashioned paste type (No. 885) from the Collinite Company of Utica, New York (not shown)--a six-and-a-half-inch gray-foam finishing pad (it's behind the plate/buffing pad combo in my hand).

Note that I got most of this stuff from, an excellent outfit that charges reasonable prices, is prompt, and offers genuinely useful product support. The Porter Cable 7424 (reportedly one of the best polishers on the market) I already owned, as luck would have it. Bought the darn thing years ago from Lowe's and never really used it.

Unfortunately, the winter weather in North Florida has been wintry in the extreme, especially on weekends. So I am continuing to hang fire, waiting for temperatures above 50 degrees. But I'll tell ya--I'm gettin' antsy. Stay tuned.