Ron Magen - "Carpe Diem"


From The Boatshop

The flagpole is a the top of a high grassy bluff overlooking the Delaware River. Behind it is a large lawn leading to the veranda of a 1850's mansard roof mansion. It is cloudy and damp. The Commodore comes out of the door and with a measured tread walks toward the flagpole and the small wreath at it’s base. He is in immaculate summer ‘Dress Whites’; [as an ex-Marine he may wince at this] you could almost see the deck beneath his feet. Reaching the flagpole, the ‘Stars & Stripes’ fluttering at the truck, and the auxiliary flags at the ends of spreaders, he turns to face the small and mostly older group that had assembled.. Ironically, a soft rain, like tears, begins to fall.

After a short speech, and closing prayer he picks up the wreath. Descending the long flight of steps and walking across the ‘hard’, with a nod to the ‘Gunner’, and down to the floating dock with that same careful step. At the edge he gently places the wreath in the water, comes to a ridged ‘Attention’ with a smart ‘Present Arms’. The first shot of the salvo roars from the gun. He holds his salute, as I hold mime, while the sound of the guns rolls across the river and the echos return.

It may seem like a ‘corny’ performance to some, especially in light of grander ceremonies at the WALL & elsewhere. Or to those who only think of this day as one of ‘hotdogs, pretzels, & beer’. However, as we stood there in the drizzling rain, I’m sure the Commodore, the ex-Navy who ‘served’ the gun, and a few others were thinking of the real people they had known.

There has been a lot of squabbling of late. About a number of really unimportant subjects. My ‘diagnosis’ is quite simple . . . You people all have ‘Cabin Fever’ {‘Mildew on the Brain’ could be another name for it; this is about the 10th rainy weekend in a row . . . with NOT too many dry days in between, either !!}. Get out on the water . . . SOMEHOW !! Or at least work on a BOAT.
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While one hatch cover does not a ‘full test’ make, I'd like to make an ‘initial report’ on three items. Since I’ll be on a mooring this ‘season’ a new main hatch was of primary importance; at least to keep out the ‘big chunks’. I had fully intended to make a new one over the winter . . . but . . . So here I was, getting the mooring ‘rigged’, etc. and watching the calendar, the boat cover, and the rain. I had wanted to do a real ‘Bristol Fashion’ job, but the only sources of ‘Marine Grade’ ply were either ‘mail order’ or ‘SPECIAL ORDER . . . FULL SHEETS ONLY’ from local yards. I went to the local yard I get some of my lumber from and asked about his stock on ‘guaranteed waterproof’ 3/8 Mahogany ply. “Sure, we’ve got some”; $0.80 a ‘square’ if cut”. Figuring this would do for a temporary ‘prototype’, I bought a 2ftx4ft piece - $7.xx with tax.

A nice lightly figured & sanded face, and the back was marked ‘SuperPly’. I remember reading about this stuff on a couple of the ‘Groups’ but didn’t want to order a full sheet just to ‘try’ it . . . now the chance had literally ‘happened’.

Using the old hatch as a template and one edge of the ply as the ‘datum line’, I marked the outline {with a bit of ‘clearance’} on the backside. Now I could ALSO try the sample ‘LENOX’ Brand bi-metal ‘jig saw’ blades that Jim Fuller [from the ‘Bolger List’] had sent me SEVERAL months ago.

I used the ‘fine’ blade first. I used it to cut the curved ‘top’ {‘across the grain’} and part of one side {‘with the grain’}. Nice clean cut; front AND back. However a bit slow, and I didn’t want to push it too hard. I used the ‘course’ blade for the ‘bottom’ cut and the remainder of the side, STILL, a nice clean cut with almost NO ‘tearing’ of the face ply. {I did ‘test cuts’ from BOTH the face and back surfaces}.

Superply - unfinished....

I debated putting on a light coat of stain. It was Mahogany, but light colored vs the ‘Red’ Mahogany I usually go for. I elected to go with the ‘KISS Principle’ and went directly to the coat of ‘straight’ epoxy. NICE slightly amber tone. This was further enhanced by two coats of Spar varnish [This is actually ANOTHER ‘product test’]

The last coat of varnish has had a couple of days {albeit wet & rainy} to cure. The results look GREAT !! Later today I’ll polish up the hinges, mark-out & attach the hasp. Then I’ll finally be able to take the cover off !!

...and finished (no hardware)

Normally I use, & recommend, ‘Skippers Varnish’ - the ‘West Marine’ house brand; good stuff, not that expensive, and frequently on sale at a 25% discount !! It is a ‘short oil’ varnish. A while ago, I made Joanne a ‘boat-shaped’ planter. I ‘modified’ the plans to a ‘Yacht Finish’ with varnished Mahogany decks and sheer. Rather than open one of my cans of ‘the GOOD STUFF’, for this I picked up a quart of Minwax ‘Helmsman SPAR Urethane Varnish’ at the local Home Depot. Within the last week, I read a comment on one the ‘newsgroups’ about someone in California applying this to his boat and having longevity that exceeded the ‘Marine Store’ stuff.

We have 25 of 26 moorings set . . . mine is the 26th, of course. However, there are only a couple of boats ‘on the hook’ so I don’t feel quite that guilty. One advantage of having a ‘Club mooring’ is that the ‘season’ is longer than the ‘commercial’ facilities. They aren’t pulled until November. In addition, with a ‘double set’ I don’t have to pull mine at all; just put a small float on the bottom chain so it can be ‘fished’ in the Spring. That way I could ‘theoretically’ procrastinate until . . . whenever.

The bottom line is, this year should be a fair test of both the SuperPly and the Helmsman. I’ll try to build a couple of boats, and there are a number of projects I want to do for the Club, to give more ‘testing’ of the Lenox blades.