Long ago and in some place far away, our boat had dorades put into the deck just aft of the forward hatch. These little beauties were Nicro 3″ dorades complete with screens and little bitty air scoops. The only problem with them is that they’re ancient, cracked, leaking into the deck, and leak into the boat itself.
Old Nicro dorades

It was absolutely impossible to leave the “plates” off of them when we left the boat because rain would pour right in and onto the floor. So they were left shut. And this defeated their purpose which is ventilation. So to combat this terrible problem I decided to give some new technology a try. Enter “Air-Only” ventilators. I ordered two of these little guys from Malta to give a try and over the weekend we installed them. I figured I’d detail this process in the real world since these little ventilators are not your average trim ring and presto-ready to go.

The trim ring which inserts from the inside of the boat, was very long. This is so that you can cut it to the exact width needed for your particular deck. We slipped the ring up through the existing hole and marked out the deck level on it. Then I took it back out and cut it with a hacksaw.
Marking the
We secured the trim ring by screwing it in below and I sanded any imperfections flush with the deck level. We also cleaned up the old caulk around the hole and cleaned with soap, water, and acetone.

Next we fitted the main housing piece into the trim ring and onto the deck and drilled the holes for the screws, then proceeded to countersink all of them.
Countersinking screw holes

Finally, everyone’s favorite chemical creation returns AGAIN to seal the holes and the housing itself. We filled in the old screw holes, the gap of trim ring, and the new holes with layers of butyl tape.
Butly taping the hole for the
I often joke that we’re one day just going to rename Sundowner to Butyl. Everything we’ve ever sealed with it has never leaked again, but with caulk we’re batting about .800.

The first piece to really be secured to the deck is the base of the air-only ventilator. I pressed it into the butyl and screwed it into the predrilled holes. This squished lots of butyl out from underneath and made me confident that we have a good seal between it and the deck. There is a little lip on the bottom of it that actually fits into the trim ring. This is why it is important to get the trim ring flush with the surface of the deck.
Base of the

The next step is when the space age fun starts. You actually fit a wildly colored o-ring to the base plate, and then you get to place these little balls all around it on their own little pegs. It looks almost like a toy or something at this stage. The o-ring is hard to get on just perfect.
O-rings for the

With those neat little balls and o-ring on, you get to the next step which is apparently caging them. You slip this slotted housing ontop of the baseplate, which seals with the o-ring. It also entombs the glowing little balls. You screw it down and then add the next o-ring which goes around the opening port. This o-ring is smaller and thicker and much easier to put on.
Another O-ring

I wish I could say the same for the final o-ring but it is the hardest to get on. Not only the longest, but the thinnest, and prone to twisting as it slips into place around the top of the “cage.”
3rd O-ring

Finally this is all capped off with a “roof” that makes the apparatus appear to be some sort of flying saucer.
Top of the

So basically, here is this low profile goofy looking thing sitting on the deck that is guaranteed to not let any water in but allow air to circulate. Neat huh? But even so I couldn’t tolerate those little prisoner balls getting to see the sunlight so we went the whole nine yards and stuck the air scoops on too.

The scoops themselves come as four pieces. The windscoop itself, then two parts of a “ring” which hold the base of the windscoop, and the part that sits ontop of the ventilator.
Collar for the
Underside of the

This whole assembly was placed over the vent and screwed to the deck in the same way as before with countersunk holes filled with butyl tape. The finished result turned out pretty handsome.

The air flow suffers compared to the old wide open dorades, but I threw a bunch of water directly into the dorades and not a single drop ever made it below.

I’ll be sure to give some follow up reports on how these “new” products hold up and work. They suggested caulk to seal but we preferred butyl. As a side note (followup) the port lights which we entirely sealed with butyl have been in place almost a year now and have seen absolutely horrible rains this winter and not a single one has leaked. I hope they continue to provide many years of leak free service. Only time will tell. Tick tock tick tock.

Front view of the

Tick Tock

Remember your last day of school?  (God help you if you’re still in school.)  I remember mine.  I was watching the clock on the wall.  The second hand was begrudgingly metering out the final seconds of our confinement.  I watched it so closely and I swear that sometimes it moved backwards to spite me.  Time is like that.  The task master to the vicious little clocks.

Salvador Dali

Sometimes…  I think on time.  I look at that counter that we keep that tells us how long we have until we untie the lines and leave.  As I’m writing this it is telling me there are eight months until that day.  Dani is so excited with it.  She says its no time at all.  “And the last year has just flown by.”   But for me, it isn’t so.  For me, the last year has felt like like it has stretched out into many years.   Its funny isn’t it?  How things are all relative.

Einstein sailing on a boat

Do you think that perhaps Einstein had a little help with his grand theories because of boats?  He was sailor.   Perhaps he too experienced the expansion and contraction of time.   Or perhaps he had his own version of Dani telling him how quickly everything was going while he was in the quagmire of days between him and some goal.

The interesting thing about it all to me though, is that I fully expect it to work like a great rubber band.  It will stretch and stretch and seem to go on forever but then at the end when it snaps there will be a tremendous rush.  I guess all these thoughts came about when I began to set our final schedule for the boat refit in place.  We’ve been lazy these past few weeks.  We spent over a month just sailing Sundowner in the races.  (And had a blast doing it.)   But now it is time to buckle down and get to work.  But life keeps throwing things at you.

One weekend is a birthday.  The next weekend is a holiday.  The next weekend is some planned family gathering, or a vacation, or <insert life event here> and before you know it, you’ve simply run out of weekends.  This is why deadlines are so important.  And I suspect it is part of why so many old salts have said that the hardest part of setting off to go cruising is really just leaving the dock.

This weekend we’ll move the boat back to her home slip and restart our project list.  We’ll begin again to buckle down and spend all weekends on the boat doing some odd job or project.  We’re getting close to the final stretch.  We’re getting closer to discovering what is waiting for us.

I suspect our final six months before we leave will be one hell of a ride.
Einstein sticking his tongue out

I have battled seasickness pretty much every time we sail. Calmish weather, medium weather, rough weather, you name it and I’m feeling queasy. It’s actually been a source of frustration for me since every time I get aboard to race or pleasure sail I take some kind of medicine (1/4 to 1/2 pill of Scopace usually) and end up feeling strange and sluggish. Over a period of days this gets rough and my time just isn’t as enjoyable, except for the last two races. That’s right, I tried the mythical “Ear Plug Trick for Seasickness” and it worked!

I read about this Wonder last year on Spin Sheet, on various blogs and Facebook group pages but it seemed to get mixed reviews overall so I was skeptical for sure. I’m pretty skeptical of most Holistic and New Age approaches to severe illness (don’t hate me). I’m sure it works for some but my personal experience has shown me otherwise.

I’ve tried Ginger candy and teas with minimal result. Oh no, when the boat is rocking and rolling you can FORGET about Ginger keeping me from losing my lunch. Seriously does that really work for people in fitful seas? I’ve also tried not taking anything or I’ve forgotten and the results were not good even with a strong mind to not focus on the sickness and plenty of horizon staring. I’ve thought about springing for the fancy wrist bands, head bands and neck bands but really they are too expensive to just not work. I know for sure the meds work.

Since it’s just Tate and myself on the boat I consider the issue of seasickness an issue of safety. I can’t just “be natural” and not take the sluggish pills in the hopes that I get my sea legs because if I get sick Tate is on his own to man the boat and visa versa. It’s really just not fair and can be dangerous, so I suck it up and take the damn things.

Besides the feeling of the medicine is WAY better than the feeling of being REALLY sick. And so I resigned myself to taking meds when we plan to be on the boat for long periods or during high alert racing when we need “all hands on deck” but maybe now there is another way.

Shana in town
Two weeks ago when our friends Brian and Shana came down from Baton Rouge to help crew the Sundowner race boat I mentioned it might be a good day to try the ear plug trick. I knew the winds were strong but I thought they were out of the SSE which would lead to an easyish sail. Shana brought enough orange ear plugs to last me the trip and we giddily put one in our non-dominant ear (left ear for right handed people).

We headed out into the lake with high hopes and half hearing to be met with an East wind about 15-20 knots. This made for considerably rougher conditions especially since the races are windward leeward.

I worried a bit about just having the plug in because when you are beating into the wind on Lake Pontchartrain the 2 hour race can feel like a LONG time if you are hanging over the rail but I resolved to give it a chance. I needed to see if it would work and to my GREAT surprise it did.

I didn’t feel a hint of sickness the whole race even though we had the rail buried and were going up and down and around in an uncomfortable way. I am convinced if not for the earplug I would have been sick as a dog. Shana also did not get sick but couldn’t say if those conditions would have made her sick in the first place as her sailing resume is just starting to grow.

Some might say this is a case of mind over matter, the placebo effect if you will, but I do not think that is the case. I have a lot of control over my faculties, consider myself strong and have kept myself from going over the edge into a dying mess when I was already sick all by tricking my mind. I truly believe this to be something that works, for me at least and in these “roughish” conditions.

Who’s to say if it would work in very terrible conditions? I suppose I’ll have to give that a try later but for now I think it’ll be good for most conditions (crossing fingers).

Supremely excited about the success of this trick I tried it again last night during another windward leeward race. The conditions weren’t as rough as the week before but we had the rail in the water and the boat on occasion would round up and roll about, much easier conditions than this have made me ill 9.5 out of 10 times before.

Walking out to the bowsprit to get this shot was no problem.
Rail in the water

Heeled over pretty far, still just fine!
Heeled over

And finally I was able to enjoy this gorgeous sunset with un-medicated eyes and a clear head. It worked again!
Sunset on a beautiful day

The only draw back is you lose about half your hearing on one side of your head…Although Tate would argue that’s not such a draw back after all:)

I can’t guarantee it will work for you but you should definitely give it a shot! (hint if you can still hear out of that ear your not doing it right). Happy rolling!

Unwinding after a long season of projects

Not too much to report.

After our last race on Wed night we had a few things to address. We broke a cleat off of the mast base that I was using to fasten the boom vang to. This wasn’t the wisest arrangement as the boom vang should really have been attached to the chain plates. I have put some big d-shackles on the chainplates so that the vang can serve as a vang and also as a preventer. The downside to this is that you must manually move the vang from side to side when you gybe downwind. It isn’t the most ideal arrangement when racing but it shouldn’t be a big deal when we’re just cruising.

Speaking of that race, we came in fifth place out of five. Last place. Although I think the race committee cheated us in some way. There were at least two boats that turned back mid race because they were in trouble or something. We saw them turning back and taking shelter. The wind and waves were admittedly pretty rough for a race and it was cold. But we aboard Sundowner soldiered on and finished it, despite being so far behind. I guess that is somewhat inevitable aboard a big heavy slow boat.

Other than that things are just moving right along in a way that almost inspires guilt. We’re not really doing anything. Today we secured all the turn buckles with pins and rings as we’ve become more satisfied with the rig tune. I tighted the forestay just a smidge. And beyond that, no real projects going on so to speak.

We are finally able to enjoy the boat some though. Saturday evening we hung out on the boat, just because. We picked up some pizza. Some wine. Brought the chess set and spent probably 4 hours just hanging out on the boat, dreaming, and talking about the future.
 photo tate-sunset.jpg
 photo wine-and-chess.jpg
 photo dani-chess.jpg

Its hard to get out of project mode. But it is also pretty nice to just enjoy the boat for once.

But don’t despair all of my readers that enjoy the projects. The new propane tanks and stove are on the way. And soon after that it will be time for the new fresh water plumbing. Just because I’m not working doesn’t mean I’m not dreaming up new sadistic tasks to undertake.