2013-04-23 Workshop In The Clouds

I was preparing to apply a coat of varnish to some shelves out of the aft cabin when realized how lucky I am to have such a scenic workshop. Granted it is open to the weather a bit more than I would prefer but perhaps that is part of its charm. As you can see we live in a 11th floor condominium in Arlington, VA. The pictures truly do not do the view justice but what a gift to see the world from this vantage point.  The good and the bad. We are close enough to the Pentagon that on 9-11 the inside of the house smelled of smoke and the silence of the airport was deafening.

About 1.5 miles is the Jefferson Memorial (left of the mineral spirits can).


The US Capital is between to the two cans along with the Potomac river below


Oh yes, and the shelve too!


Washington Reagan Airport with the Potomac beyond is a close neighbor too. Amazingly planes are not too noisy, it’s the nearby trains that sometimes irritate! When they do, we just look at the river and wonder where Magnolia is going to take us!


2013-04-19 Hatch Installation–CHECK!

In preparation for launching Magnolia this week, “Material Condition Zebra” has been set! Material Condition Zebra is the Navy term for configuring hatches and valves in such a manner to make the ship water tight as possible.

Magnolia has 11 deck hatches in over this last winter they were shipped to Select Plastics in  East Norwalk, CT in groups of 5. Turn around time approximately 5 weeks and the work was completed as promised and on time. They replaced the lenses, gasket seals and performed other maintenance as required.

I used a Butyl tape to provide a gasket seal for the frame and individual screws. I applied 3 –4 layers of tape to the frame leaving the backing tape to the last layer applied.


I also applied a wrap of Butyl tape to each of the screw heads. I was able to complete the application of the Butyl tape at home. The screws were placed on wax paper for easy transport to Magnolia for installation.


Once “onboard” I used an ice pick to punch a hole through the Butyl tape and the backing tape. Yes there was a drop of blood shed as can be seen. Come on, you give me an ice-pick I am certainly good for at least one wound!


I then used a couple of ice picks to align the frame to the mounting holes BEFORE removing the backing tape! BEFORE removing the backing tape!! You have been warned!


Once the holes were all aligned the backing tape was removed the the individual screw inserted. Do not press down the frame firm yet.


The frames were checked for any gaps and an additional bead of Butyl tape for pressed under the frame for using an ice pick.


The secret to successful use of Butyl  tape I am told is slowly compressing the seal. I gently snugged up all the screws applying equal compression all around to the Butyl tape. I will repeatedly snug the screws down during our next couple visits to the boat.

In addition to getting the hatches installed, Annette cycled and ensured each of the thru-hull valves were left in the closed position. With that, Magnolia is ready for re-launch this Thursday!!

2012-04-16 “Single Digit Midget” & “Nearing Splash Time”

As you can tell from above I made it to Day 9 in my “Stop Work Countdown.” It is hard to believe it is nearly here. I remember 500, that we celebrated in the Bahamas on a sailboat. I remember 100, that was in BVI also on a sailboat. Lots of mixed emotions as time winds down. It has been a great experience and the opportunities unconceivable to a kid from Detroit. Going to sea on this countries First Aegis Cruiser, Ticonderoga to helping come up with a way and shoot down an errant US Satellite to now the most challenging job, Captain of Magnolia.  Thankfully I have the Admiral to share this one with! Enough history, the future looks bright and we are so very grateful for the opportunities!

The Hartge Yacht Harbor is scheduled to put Magnolia back in the water on the 24th of April so it has been a race against the calendar. We are certainly not winning but seem to be keeping up! The legendary hatches are expected to arrive this afternoon. We need to apply Butyl Tape (like caulk but a lot less messy) to the frames and then I will start installing them on Friday.

In the meantime there has been a bevy of activity onboard!


The “ceiling” has been fully installed and varnished. The match is better than I hoped and did not require tearing out the entire bulkhead so that was good. There is shelving to be re-installed that covers most of the bulkhead so I think in the end you won’t even notice the difference in the wood.



The settee cushion’s were back for a dry fit and George Whitehead of Captain Canvas did a fabulous job with the Ultra Leather. The Admiral tells me the stuff is bullet proof and nearly stain proof. If I ever come up missing, you can assume I spilled something on the settee and was “eliminated” by the Admiral!





Not nearly as fun as Ultra Leather, but the aft cabin hanging locker is being converted to shelf friendly at the direction of the Admiral, Captain concurs of course! The Admiral suggested Wire Rack Shelves but I initially resisted because of  how to make them work with a curved which backs the cabinet. I will build some suspense with the answer cause I think it might be one of my best ever ideas! In the meantime I used some left over oak threshold material for supports. I used some thickened West epoxy to attach them to the exposed hull fiberglass. After some primer and paint they will be ready for that surprise shelf solution so standby!