Interior Rebuild

This month Mom is visiting from Canada. She’s been getting inspiration from Japanese scenes for her artwork, and last weekend she came out to the boat to take some pictures of the surrounding area, see Watari for the first time, and help with various maintenance projects. I’ll post some of her resulting paintings soon! On the way out to the boat I was carrying Mom’s duffel bag with wetsuit and flippers. I put it on the overhead rack and promptly forgot about it till we were off the bus. Oops. She didn’t mind though (I’ll get it from the lost and found later), and enjoyed the view on the way out to the boat.

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I was starting what will be one of the bigger projects I’ve undertaken on Watari, a complete rebuild of her interior. Basically the idea is to complete her conversion from racer to cruiser. I’ll be doing this in stages, starting with rebuilding the saloon settee berths & storage lockers, building focsle lockers and a v-berth, rebuilding the companionway with a bridgedeck, and installing freshwater tankage. A big project, but one that I’ve been looking forward to.

Once at the boat I started out by building a simple wooden bulkhead using the points where the old pipe berths were located. This took pretty much all of two days including a trip to the hardware store, where I was able to borrow their little truck to deliver the wood and supplies I needed, including a 4 metre aluminium pole for replacing part of the pipe berth frames. This project did not go smoothly. I had only 2 hours to drive from the hardware store out to the boat, drop things off, and return the truck. Because of the distance to the nearest hardware store this turned into a bit of a mad dash, and as a result I just unloaded the stuff on the dock by the boat and left it there. Well, by the time we dropped off the truck and took the train back, about two hours later, someone had walked off with my new aluminium pole. Thanks, that was ¥5,000 well spent. I was annoyed over the loss of this piece, as it was a hassle to get out to the boat, but more than anything I’m fascinated as to how this theft took place and why? Who steals a 4 metre aluminium pole? And how? It wouldn’t fit into the average Japanese vehicle, so was it carried off on foot? Bicycle? What is the thief going to use it for? How will they explain its sudden appearance to any friends or family members? “Look honey, I found this pole! Now we have something to hang our laundry on!”. It’s a mystery. For the rest of the weekend I kept expecting it to turn up somewhere. Perhaps for the person who took it to realize the price tag was still on it and that it wasn’t just being left there for anyone to take. I still think it might turn up somewhere. I mean, in 13 years in Japan I’ve never had anything stolen. It just doesn’t happen. It must be some kind of misunderstanding.

Anyway, I continued on the rest of that day and most of the next cutting and shaping new bulkheads. It took longer than I expected, with a lot of cutting, re-measuring, and re-cutting. I don’t have power at the boat, so am working the old fashioned way with hand tools, and it takes a while.

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It was dinner time by then, so Mom made us some good old fashioned boat soup. Actually just ramen noodles with lots of stuff added, but in our family this was a regular when we were down helping Dad on his boat. Simple and delicious!

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The next day I worked all day trying to replan my project, but the day just slipped away and by late afternoon I was still uncertain how to proceed. I couldn’t decide whether the higher settees were good or I should cut them down, and I needed the stolen aluminium pole to complete a brace. At this point I was feeling pretty frustrated with my project, and we still had a couple hours of daylight, so I figured I’d quit work and take Mom out for a sail to show her what Watari is like in her natural element. We stowed all the tools and got ready to cast off. I turned the ignition key and… no oil pressure buzzer. Turning on the ignition is supposed to set off a warning light and buzzer indicating there’s no oil pressure. Makes sense, as the engine’s not running yet, so no oil pump, hence no oil pressure. Having the buzzer go off as part of the starting sequence is a sort of safety protocol. Anyway a quick look in the engine compartment showed the oil pressure sensor wire just hanging loose. Oops. Looks like it shook loose through vibration, or possibly got caught by a belt and pulled off. Oh well, another thing to fix. I had no reason to suspect the oil pump would fail in the 10 mins it takes to get in and out of harbour though so after checking the oil level I went ahead and fired her up. So far so good, engine sounded all right and we motored on out of the harbour.

Just outside the harbour I headed her into the wind, raised the main, raised the Genoa, and pointed her out to sea. I’ve gotten pretty good at this now, and things went so smoothly I was feeling pretty proud of myself, showing Mom what a good sailor I’ve become. At this point the main halyard let go and the main sail softly fell down around me while the shackle lodged itself snugly at the top of the mast. Oops. I’d neglected to check the shackle before raising the main, and I guess it came undone somehow. No idea how, guess I’ll find out when I climb the mast to retrieve it. Another reason for adding downhaul lines.

Anyway, she sailed pretty well with just the Genoa, so we cut the engine and cruised around for a while till the sun set. Enough to give Mom an idea what a seaworthy little boat she is, and enough for me to relax and feel refreshed. This was actually the roughest weather I’d been out in with Watari. It had been blowing Southerly about 30 knots for two days right in off the open ocean so there was a pretty big swell running, around 6 feet. It was only blowing 15 knots at the time, but heading into the steep swell and chop she put her nose under enough to wash the foredeck clean. Once again I was impressed with what a sea kindly boat she is, even heading right into the wind there was no pounding. Her narrow bow just sliced through the waves, and her deep keel meant little rolling when broadside even without the mainsail up. Nice.

Remembering what a great little boat she is helped me forget all the little things that had gone wrong that weekend, and as we left her in her berth I looked back and felt a twinge of pride in my little yacht. Mom has become a big Watari fan too, and she worked the whole weekend cleaning, sanding, and fixing little things that I havent had time for yet. All those little things that Moms are so good at doing, that help make a boat a home 🙂 Or at least one more step away from a wreck 😛

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