Monday, September 03, 2012

It's just too freaking hot

With my company's 9/80 work schedule, which generously provides you with every other Friday off, I was ready to leap into not just a three, but a four-day Labor Day weekend on my boat. I bought groceries and packed the car Thursday night, and I was up early Friday morning ready to go.

Just one catch. If I leave the house for more than a night, I have to bring the dog. Normally, this is not an issue. She's a low-maintenance, well-behaved dog. She's never gotten seasick, much less carsick -- until Friday morning.

I heard the wretching noises behind me, but I couldn't really turn around to look until traffic settled down a bit. I definitely smelled it before I saw it. Dixie Belle had dumped her guts on the backseat. I thought, crap, that stinks, but if I can deal with the smell without vomiting myself, we'll get to the marina, and then I'll clean it up.

Bad plan.

I had only gone another mile or two before I heard her go off again. This time she had crawled up onto my clothes bag and the grocery sacks attempting to make herself some kind of nest and vomited all over those items. I was fairly confident the puke couldn't penetrate the bag and be on my clothes, but I was starting to doubt my marina plan. I looked for someplace to pull over.

At this point we were in a scary stretch of concrete urban decay between my home in Houston's outer ring of suburbia and the gentrified historic/downtown areas. I had pulled off onto the feeder, but there was nothing but inaccessible parking lots of boarded up car dealerships and ramshackle hotels that rent rooms by the hour. I had nothing in the car to clean the vomit and this was no place to walk the dog.

I aborted the drive to the marina and made a u-turn back towards Spring. It was at this point Dixie jumped into the front seat. I'm not sure if she just wanted to be near me because she didn't feel good or if she had puked so many times in the back that there just wasn't a clean spot in which to sit anymore. Every time she started gagging again I'd yell, FLOOR!, and she'd hop off the seat and upchuck into the floor of the passenger seat. I don't know how she understood the term floor or what I meant, but she got it right.

Sailing was canceled. Even worse, sailing with a cute girl was canceled. C'est la vie.

I posted a photo of some of the puke on Facebook to upset my mother, but I'll spare you and just post Dixie Belle looking pathetic.

The puker

I cleaned the car and sat with her a long time to make sure she was ok. She had switched from Iams to Blue Buffalo dog food a few weeks back, and I think the Blue Buffalo was just too rich for her. She is now back to eating Iams.

Late Friday afternoon once she seemed ok, a friend promised to check on her, so I left her home and headed back to the marina. Sure, one day was gone, but there were three more days I could be out sailing.

Saturday morning the weather didn't look great. Rain was imminent, so I thought to myself, you know, I should finally reverse that shifter, so forward is actually forward and reverse is reverse. I estimated the project would take around 20 minutes.

As I started taking apart the brackets and teleflex cable, I noticed the cable on the throttle had lost a nut and was coming apart. I spent some time fixing that. Then I had to make a run to Fry's electronics, West Marine and O'Reillys Automotive for  various components of several projects. Then I needed an allen wrench, which I hadn't brought, so I started asking around the marina. Then it started pouring rain, and I ducked onto a neighbor's boat for cover. Then he handed me a beer. That was the end of Saturday's productivity.

Sunday started strong. I really thought I'd be sailing Sunday. I mean, I woke up early to this, can it get much better?

August morning in Marina Del Sol

 I got a new 12 cm computer fan wired into an old Signet electronics box to make a solar vent of sorts.

Computer fan jammed into a Signet instrument box

I already had the hole in the boat, so it seemed to make no sense to drill another one and spend $150 for a new vent. The fan was $12, and I had another $10 or so in various parts and a louver for the exterior. It just plugs into the 12v system and runs while I'm gone. Hopefully it will cut down the mildew, which had once again spread all over the walls and ceilings this summer.

With some properly drilled holes the $2.99 fan filters fit right over the back of the box.

Computer fan filter screwed onto the Signet instrument box

I figured the filter was about as good as a screen for keeping bugs out, and it gives it a finished look.

One the fan was installed I was back to the shifter. While the fan was moving a little air, it wasn't anywhere enough to even make a dent in the heat.

I had procured an allen wrench. All was going well until first assembly when I could shift forward but not into reverse. It was getting hot outside. I pulled it all apart, drilled new holes in the bracket, and went through the assembly process again. Now I could shift into reverse but not forward. I was dripping with sweat and my stomach was starting to hurt.

I retreated to the v-berth where my 7000BTU window unit was sitting in the hatch and blasting away with the thermostat set as low as it went. I couldn't tell if it was even working. If I put my hand right in front of it, it felt cool, but it was doing nothing to cool the boat. It was just too hot.

I wasn't hungry at all, but I decided to take a lunch break, so I could go cool down somewhere and keep me frustration level under control. I almost pulled a Dixie Belle waiting in line at Wendy's. I also knew I needed to get home and check on her.

Although I felt better when I got back to the boat, the idea of climbing into the oven called the aft berth and contorting myself around into the engine compartment to go through the shifter disassembly and reassembly process for a third time was not appealing. I took a short nap in the Vberth, closed up the boat and went home. No sailing on Sunday.

Dixie and I had a nice Sunday evening. I watched Wrath of the Titans while she slept upside down in my lap. Then I went to bed early. I was going to sail Monday.

Fast forward to Monday at 6 a.m. I'm driving the 50 miles back to the marina. Houston traffic is so nice at 6 a.m. on a holiday.

I was back to the boat around 7 a.m. and jumped right on the shifter. It was up-and-running by 8 a.m. (Note the plethora of holes in the bracket where the teleflex cable is bolted. However, the shifter now points up instead of down -- major victory.)

Homemade shifter bracket

I checked and replenished all my fluids, fixed a drippy raw water line with a new clamp, and gave the entire motor a safety check. I just had to clean the gigantic mess I'd made.

By 10 a.m. you could once again walk though the boat, and there were no longer metal shavings from drilling the bracket all over the sole. But then I started looking at how to re-bed a leaky stanchion. Then this, then that. Meanwhile I'd checked to see if anyone wanted to sail with me. No takers.

I was exhausted. The boat was heating up again. I felt myself getting sunburned just carrying my laundry up to the truck. I was tired of being hot.

I packed up and came home. There was no sailing the entire weekend.

Fall can't get here fast enough. I want to sip coffee in my cockpit without sweating. I want to finish an oil change without heat exhaustion. I want to cook something on the boat instead of avoiding any activity that produces heat at all costs.

Hopefully the temperature drops soon.
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