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The Lady J's Journey
Captain Mike and his first mate Jana begin their Journey with the Lady J.
It's not ours anymore...
02/06/2013, Ashville, Ohio

Well we have made yet another move to "living aboard". We have decided to put the house on the market May 1st with the hopes it will be sold by August 1st. The realtor is hopeful, as are we. From here we will move to Delaware (Ohio) and live in a two bedroom apartment. This will make our trip to "the boat" an hour shorter, but still close enough for Mike to continue working at Columbus State. And of course still close to family. Deciding to put the house up for sale has been our goal all along, but now that we have "officially" made this decision "it's not ours anymore" the house that is. We are repainting "neutral" colors which anyone who knows me that is not my thing. We have already sent 3 truckloads of stuff to the auction house, which I must admit has been refreshing. It is amazing how much stuff one can accumulate over the years. But trying to get your house ready for complete strangers to walk through in hopes that they say "I have to have this house" is a bit stressful. On top of this, loosing my mother a little over a month ago has put my stress level into overdrive. I am though making a concentrated effort to make my life "less cluttered" in EVERY aspect and to not worry about every little thing. So for now, until the weather is warmer and we can get back up to the boat I will concentrate on fixing up the house and realize it brings us one step closer to our ultimate goal.

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Leaky ports
09/10/2012, On the hard

With the stanchions finished, the next step in making the boat weather-proof is reworking the ports and windows. I had inspected the ports earlier to assess their condition. The bad news is - the ports were made by the Fuller Brush Company!!!! The good news is - they are still in business!!!!! A phone call to their Kansas factory got me transferred to their MARINE division (Yay!) and talking to a REAL PERSON (WoooHooo!) Yes, they still make ports for boats. Yes, they still provide parts to maintain the ports. I got the parts break down by email in a matter of minutes, and ordered what I thought would be needed to fix all 8 ports. The main assembly is installed through the opening from the inside, and a trim ring is installed from the outside to seal everything. I ordered one main assembly and three trim rings, thinking I could salvage the other 5. The first port I worked on shot that theory in the butt. The trim ring had been installed with good old 3M 5200 adhesive!!!!!! I had to use the heat gun with putty knives and wedges to get the ring off. The ring was cracked in several places since the mounting screws had been over-torqued in an attempt to fix the leaks, and the ring came off in pieces. I had to use the heat gun to remove the remaining adhesive and clean up the fiberglass. I installed a new trim ring with butyl tape, marine sealant, and new screws. I got three ports done in a day and a half, then closed everything up due to a thunderstorm. This project is taking longer than I planned on. (When will I ever learn?) The storm showed more work needed on the galley port, so off it came, and more acky-poo applied. I taped off the ring so that I'd have a neat edge when finished, unlike the globs that the previous owner had left. (It looked like he had smeared goop on with a mop). Now to order 5 more rings, another couple of tubes of sealant, and another week's work to finish the ports. Frustrating? Somewhat, but it's still FUN!!!!

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Make new friends
09/09/2012, Sandusky Harbor Marina

Wow another week of working on the Lady J. Was able to get so much accomplished. Finished stripping the Toe Rail and then applied two coats of epoxy and then three coats of varnish. To quote Mike "it's a beauty". While I was busy working on the Toe Rail, Mike worked on replacing several of the Ports and adjusting the Hatch, these updates have made the boat much more water tight. He started to work on the de-lamination on the fly bridge, but because the weather was a little "iffy" he decided to hold off on that until our next long visit.

During this week at the Marina we met so many new folks. One couple in particular was Lenny and Maggie. What a delightful couple. They spend their summers in Sandusky and winters at their home in Cape Coral (oh I hope I have that right). They truly made our week so enjoyable and was instrumental in helping us meet new folks. Lenny (and Maggie) encouraged us to join the Yacht Club there at the Marina. We had talked about it before but where a little leery about it since our boat isn't actually in the water yet. They encouraged us to join stating that this would be a great way to meet new folks and take care of the wonderful facility they have there, plus they were having a special on the entry fee. So we joined and boy are we glad we did. Lenny & Maggie were correct. We met so many new, very down to earth people. The Yacht Club we were part of before was rather pretentious and the people were not very welcoming, I hated it. This club on the other hand was extremely welcoming and very gracious. We are both looking forward to participating in the upcoming events. It's funny since our boat is "on the hard" under the pavilion, which by the way is right across from the club, we are now know as "those people who are diligently working on their boat". I must admit we both like that description. Now folks aren't afraid to come by and say something while we are working. We are always happy to take a break to talk with a passerby or even give the them "15 cent tour".

We did take a couple of hours off this past week and went over to Vermillion and Lorain. Stopped at a beautiful Rose Garden. Let me say two things. First if you are new to your Marina do everything you can to meet new folks it really helps immensely. Even look into joining their Yacht Club if they have one. Also if you are working on your boat like we are make sure to "take some breaks". It not only helps your outlook on the whole thing but if you are doing it with a mate it helps keep you from getting on each others last nerve. Back home now to work a little (need more boat bucks), but will be back up to SHM before the end of the month.

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14 out of 18
08/27/2012, Sandusky Harbor

Wow we have spent 14 out of the last 18 days working on the Lady J. I thought I might add a little something to the blog. Since Mike usually takes care of the technical updates I thought I would add some other "stuff". This past work week went really well, Mike was so pleased with what we accomplished and I loved meeting folks at the marina. Like Kathryn the 5 year old little girl who is starting kindergarten and had found a 4 leaf clover and her delightful Mom Charlotte. Or Bob who purchased a sailboat and is living on board. Or Debby who is the Commodore of the Yacht club. Everyone has a different wonderful story of why they own a boat. Needless to say they are all curious as to what we are doing with The Lady J and Mike and I are more than happy to tell them our story too. I must admit working on the Lady J is so rewarding, but there are days when you just want to go take a nap. That is usually when Mike looks at me and says it's time to knock off early and maybe go do a little sightseeing or take a dip in the pool. Thank God for a captain who knows how to treat the crew. Please be sure to see the new photos that tell some more of the two weeks of work.

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We took a big step to completing some structural issues in mid August. Over a ten day stretch, we started removing and re-bedding the stanchions that hold the life lines. The four that are over our bunks all leak, go figure. I wanted to fix all of them and be done with it. The stanchions are through bolted through the deck, with a fiberglass backing plate below. The decks themselves are two layers of fiberglass around a 1/2 inch thick core of end grain balsa. This is a common production technique, the core adding stiffness without adding much weight. Problems arise if water gets to the core, turning it to mush. Over time, the stanchion bolts leaked, got over torqued, and smeared with acky-poo (generic term for any mystery sealing goop) in a half-assed attempt to fix it. The proper way to mount any hardware on a cored deck is to drill the mounting holes. Then take an allen wrench, or a nail with a 90 degree bend at the tip, and undercut the opening to about twice the diameter of the hole. I used a drill and some vice grips to do the digging out, and had to pick out the scrap with tweezers. A vacuum wouldn't get all of it. After opening up the area, tape is used to seal the hole from the bottom, and epoxy is poured into the void, making a solid plug. After it sets, re-drill the holes for the mounting hardware, and coat the bases with bedding compound to make things water tight again. The hardware is tightened just enough to let the bedding compound ooze out, and then left to cure overnight. Next day, the bolts can be tightened up properly. This process prevents water from getting to the balsa core, and provides a solid structure to hold the unit securely.
One thing to watch out for is properly sealing the bottom of the holes before pouring in the epoxy. The bolt holes over Jana's bunk seemed to be taking a lot of epoxy, so I stopped and checked down below. I had used the blue painter's tape to seal the holes. and the epoxy was moving through it and dripping on her bunk. Rats!! A quick wipe down with acetone cleaned up the epoxy, but she says she'll always have a rough spot on the mattress cover. I replaced the blue tape with regular masking tape, and everything moved along fine. Got over to the stanchions above my bunk, and again, it seemed like an awful lot of epoxy was flowing. Back down to the stateroom, only to discover the epoxy had found a way to overflow my cut out area and drip down along side of my bunk. I built a dam out of more masking tape, and then mixed some thickening compound into the epoxy to slow it down. All was well. When we left a few days later, I had trouble stripping the mattress cover off of the mattress. Hell, I couldn't even move the mattress! The epoxy had soaked into the fabric on the underside of the mattress and glued itself to the plywood bunk. I had to use a wide putty knife and a hammer and chop out the glued up area. The cover got ripped beyond repair, and the mattress fabric was torn in several places. Egads!!! Guess I need to sew some patches on the mattress. At least we shouldn't have any more leaks to mess with.
Our next trip will involve moving the stanchions that have the opening to get to the hatch.
Stay tuned for further adventures!

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A weeks worth of work
07/01/2012, Sandusky, Ohio

Whew just returned home from a week of working on The Lady J. Scraping, sewing, cleaning, stripping (the wood that is), replacing bungs and dodging severe weather. The weather was in the high 90's (actually 101 one day) and storms came through on Friday and I guess today after we left. So we worked outside in the morning when it was "relatively" cool then inside work for after lunch. We finished most of the scraping and was able to get the sealant on some parts and even some varnish put down on others. Walked the breakwater last night and was able to see where we think they will allow us to dock the Lady J next season. I can't tell you how exciting that sounds. Be sure to check out the updated pictures in the photo gallery.

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07/28/2012 | Julianne Kerns
Love your photos. This is so exciting, with you doing all of sweaty work instead of me.
08/20/2012 | Kathy Kelley
Looks like you've changed course and found the waters to the North to suit your fancy. You both look extraordinarily happy - WONDERFUL to see. Hope the experience exceeds all expectations

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Who: Jana & Mike Kent
Port: Sandusky Harbor Marina
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