There’s been a lot of progress going on aboard Yahtzee these days. While Jill’s been working during the week, I’ve been getting as much done with the boys as possible and then when the weekends come, I’m on it. The thing is, I’ve found that even though a number jobs have been started, there aren’t many that have been finished. And the ones that have been completed would probably be noticeable to only Jill or me. Ahh, such is the life of boat projects.

Thankfully I get to walk down to all the boat projects with views like this.

Upon last report, I’d ripped out some plumbing to the sink in the aft head and built a new drawer, re-finished the windlass motor and basically gotten the boat ready for an Alaskan winter. Since that time there has been a flurry of things happening, decisions being made and lots of indecision about which way to go on a few projects.

Though a lot may not be “finished” yet, here’s what’s in the works:

Re-finishing Woodwork

A primary consideration when thinking about moving off the boat for the winter was that we could tackle some work we otherwise wouldn’t with four souls aboard. Sanding and varnishing was very near the top of that list.

While Yahtzee has some nicely finished brightwork down below, there were some places that had become a little lackluster over the years. Chief among them were the areas around the companionway and the main bulkhead behind our cabin heater. Due to a lack of heat displacing material, heat from the diesel fireplace dried out the wood and made the finish look a bit off. Also, there were a few dings that needed fixing.

Woodwork isn’t necessarily difficult, but neither is it interesting or fun to write about. It’s just time consuming and relatively messy. I’ve spent days sanding, cleaning up the dust, varnishing and then sanding some more. And then I put in some new aluminum flashing to protect the wood.

Part of the companionway before…

…and after.

So far, everything has turned out exceptionally well. Plus, a new project sprouted when we began sprucing up the interior a bit: a new headliner. Yahtzee’s headliner, or ceiling, has never been my favorite part of the boat, but I wasn’t keen on doing the project while we lived aboard. Now we’re in the perfect spot to get this done. So stay tuned on that one.

Pondering our Heater

To get started on the bulkhead woodwork, I had to remove our diesel fireplace. What I found is a heater that is in very tired shape. We’ve given it a lot of use over the years and spent time and money repairing it along the way. And now might be the moment to cut our losses and get a new one. It’s old, the back is rusty and brittle, and it creates a ton of nasty soot. In researching replacements, I realized that a new diesel heater isn’t as expensive as I thought, and that newer models will actually provide the same amount of heat in a smaller, more user-friendly unit. If anyone has experience with the Dickinson Alaska, I’m all ears.

New Arch Solution

One of the things that has always bothered me about our boat and home is how the wind turbine and radar are — or should I say, were — setup on the stern. Several problems existed here: they were each mounted on the aft end of the cockpit coamings with four large bolts and then had a hole cut for wires. That’s 10 holes in the deck! Why, when one of them is bound to leak — and the starboard pole did. The other problem is that the starboard pole was mounted directly above the AC inlet and battery charger. That makes no sense to me.

Yahtzee with the ugly old poles.
No poles.

The other problem with the whole setup is that it was clearly put together in separate stages by one or two previous owners and didn’t match. They basically mishmashed an arch together that didn’t look good or function all that well.

My goal, then, is to have a new aluminum arch fabricated that gets welded and bolted solidly to the toe rail on each side. I’ve got an engineer and welder helping who clearly knows his stuff and is working through this with me to make sure we get it right. By welding it to the toe rail, which is exceptionally strong, we can fill 8 holes in the deck, get rid of the leak and leave two holes for wires. That’s a win. Another win is that I can properly run new wires with actual seals that don’t let water in. Once the arch has been mounted, we can then weld on radar and antenna brackets, the wind turbine, and anything else that suits my fancy. That project, too, is in the works.


The bottom line here is that we need new cushions and we want them done well. This isn’t a project, per se, because we’re not doing them ourselves, but getting new interior cushions in the salon has been on our list since we bought Yahtzee over five years ago. And for good reason. The ones we have are from 1984 and are, should I say, past their prime. Because this is a job we’re hiring out, it’s the first of the big ticket, just-plunk-down-the-cash, type things that just have to get done. Once it is done it’ll make a huge difference, and then we’ll be on to the next one — new sails?

These old cushions had to go.

Fortunately, writing all this out and reading through it makes me think, “Wow, this is all doable!” But for every project I’ve started and have yet to finish there are many more waiting on the list that I’m sure will — whether out of necessity or due to my own wild ideas — spawn new ones. Such is the life of a sailor and boat owner. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.