T30 MAKEOVER
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BAD WORK HABITS AND STUPIDITY

The title might be a little bit harsh but the fact is I am not a neat worker. Here is the way I went about the renovation of Ayacucho, what I had to work with and some of the near disasters. But first, here is why it all got started.

Joyce’s sister and her husband had owned this Tartan since 1982, and they offered it to us at a below-market price because they wanted to "keep it in the family". This was after they plunked down a deposit for a new Beneteau 36. I wanted no part of it because I was perfectly happy with our Catalina; it was paid for, it was in near-Bristol condition, equipped and modified just to my liking, and it was costing me next to nothing. What could be better? And besides, I knew the Tartan could use a lot of work. But I was triple-teamed over time and Joyce broke my resistance with the suggestion that I needed a project to take my mind off of work. I guess I must have been under a lot of stress because that made sense. Yeah, I should do this.

Fortunately I have the luxury of having the boat parked sixty feet from my house during the off-season. I have a small basement workshop, which, in addition to hand and power tools, is equipped with a table saw, a small metalworking lathe, and a drill press. I also have a history of having accomplished some pretty ambitious projects, such as: renovating a derelict two-family house, restoring a 1941 Lightning sailboat, designing and building a sunroom addition onto our house, and extending the length of our previous sailboat.

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The last item probably says a lot about my character. I hated the look of the large, boxy transom of our otherwise attractive Catalina 27, so I fabricated a reverse transom for it - a fiberglass-epoxy shell layered on a thin plywood mold. It looked slick and blended into the boat so well that, as one person stated, “It looks factory.” That project also branded me as a bit of a nutcase for the shear audacity of it. I’m too cheap to hire people to do work if it is at all possible for me to do it myself – exceptions being second story or higher roofs and removing big trees. So, I have acquired a bunch of skills and I am not afraid of big projects because they may be difficult.

So, while motoring on a long windless return trip from a wonderful Maine cruise, our first voyage on the Tartan as Ayacucho, Joyce and I made a long list of projects – the tip of the iceberg. Before long we were looking at an impressive list of repairs and improvements, not to mention a huge shopping list. Hey Honey, it was your idea!

Once work got underway I became very focused on what I was doing, perhaps at the expense of good work habits, like straightening up a work area at the end of the day – nah! A lot more hours went into this project than if I had worked with any sort of attention to neatness. If I had to name one activity that took collectively the longest time it would be looking for the tool that I had in my hand no more than five minutes previously. Of course, sailboats don’t have much in the way of workspace, so I may be excused for some of my negligence. People would stop by and have a look at the progress and just be aghast at the mess, especially after the windows were removed. The boat only then started to look like a derelict.

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The pressure was on to keep moving and not delay if I was to have any chance of launching in the spring – well, summer. I abdicated all household and family responsibilities and forwent many social engagements in order to work on the boat. Weekends and holidays were totally devoted to the boat. I’d work on small projects weekday evenings or do mindless work like varnishing teak items in the basement. With getting home from work around 6:30 to 7, having a cocktail or two and dinner it would be late and I was in no condition to do serious work. The stress, remember? But weekends were intense.