Masts and Chocolate for the DIY-er

Trader Joe's Chocolate Cube Varnish Container
What do these two have in common?  Very little except those masts need “refreshing” aka repainting or at a minimum a good buff and wax and the chocolates are essential to successful application of paint and varnish.  See the connection? I’ll admit it’s pretty slim.  The masts get touched up with paint, buffed, and waxed next weekend since I completed the varnishing last week.

Now about the chocolate, you see, we tend to buy our chocolate in various forms from Trader Joe’s.  In these seemingly identical clear plastic cubes throughout the year.  If you don’t buy the chocolate, you don’t get the cubes. I keep the cubes because they make a great varnish container.  This one, from last year, reminds me that Trader Joe’s no longer sells the lovely Orange Sticks.  It was our favorite: orange jelly center covered with dark chocolate.  They tell us they’ll have it again someday.  We don’t believe them since it’s been a year now.

Actually, those cubes will give you pretty much a perfect varnish container if you take a couple Popsicle sticks…ummm…let’s digress a little bit more about where the sticks come from:  you get the Popsicle sticks in the summertime when it’s hot and you’ve just got to have a lime-bar.  You save the summertime Popsicle sticks for the fall varnish-fest.  You also save the plastic cubes that your Trader Joe’s chocolate came in for the same varnish-fest.  This really doesn’t take much space–even aboard a boat–just a tiny little spot in my project bin where the cubes can stack and the sticks can stand next to them.

Then, in the fall, you pull these things out because you’re ready for your paint and varnish-fest to protect all the exterior woodwork through a winter of rain or worse inclement weather.  You grab a cube and take a thin plastic baggie–of the sort that nobody buys because it doesn’t ziplock but somehow you’ve got a hundred of them and you’re not throwing them away–and line your cube with it.  After lining, you push the Popsicle sticks into the groove that once held the lid of the cube keeping the chocolate fresh.  The sticks make a press fit–and that’s the ticket to creating a wonderful self-locking-in-place drip edge that you can wipe a paint or varnish brush against as you work.  You’ll feel really clever that you found a purpose for your Trader Joe’s cubes, Popsicle sticks, and those non-zipping plastic bags that you really have no other use for but can’t seem to throw away.

At the end of the day, you let your cube sit so the varnish hardens in the plastic baggie.  In the morning, your Popsicle sticks will have a dry layer of varnish on them so you’ll remove them, replace the baggie with a clean one, push the sticks back in place on top and put your new varnish in your cube for the next day’s work.  Believe it or not, you can do this for days–or weeks in my case–as you work your way around the boat putting on your layers and layers of varnish.  No real cleaning required, either. If you’re really good, you only use one or two of your cubes and 4 to 8 Popsicle sticks.  If you’re a little messy, you might go through twice or thrice the quantity.  If you’re careless and you’ve been eating a lot of chocolate and lime-bars, well, it’s not that big of a deal to go through many, many more.  The baggie is the key to it all though.  A daily baggie keeps everything clean.  During my varnish-fest, I usually don’t clean my brushes but instead I store daily in a container of turpentine.  At the end of the -fest, I can do a cleanup of it or if I’ve been using an inexpensive chip-brush, I can throw it out. For painting, I tend to clean it or throw it out daily.

masts in the sky

Shipmates and Best Buddies

I seem to take quite a few photos of ship’s cat Beryl and David together–this is largely because they are constant companions aboard the boat.  They’re pretty much always looking at the same thing. And, when I say “smile” they both look at me with similar loopy grins.  

Shipmates and best buddies stand watch together.

Beryl the Ship's Cat with David on Watch

Smile! for a photo!

Ship's Cat Beryl with David

Swanson Harbor Scene

I just ran across this June 2014 photo of Mahdee tied up at the Alaska state float in Swanson Harbor. What a lovely spot. Middle of nowhere but with great internet access. We ran our Verizon hotspot up the flag halyard in a baggie and it worked great. We were there a couple days and each day a different fishing boat or two would come in and spend the night before going out to fish again the next day. We ate well between crabbing and free salmon from visiting fishermen. Great experience. The only downside is this is the place an American Bald Eagle tried to snatch Beryl off the deck. We had to supervise all her outdoor time the entire visit to Alaska because with the number of eagles we saw we suspected she would be looked upon as a tasty meal by one. I had kitty-watch duty and, forgetting that she was outside, I was walking along the dock away from Mahdee when the eagle took his shot at her. Luckily she was hanging out under the canoe AND the dark gray Amsteel guard wires (lifelines) confused the eagle and he bore away just a few feet away from Beryl when he realized his big wingspan wasn’t going to make it through to his prey.

Swanson Harbor Alaska

Ship’s Cat and the Navigation Rules and Regulations Handbook

Life aboard can be rough if you’re the ship’s cat and Beryl, Mahdee’s ship’s cat, finds that she just cannot get comfortable because there always seems to be something in the way.  In this case it is the organizer bin that hold navigation tools, rulers, dividers, and the obligatory USCG Navigation Rules and Regulations handbook.  We’ve found that we can download the handbook here on the USCG site but we really need to keep that hard copy handy in the charthouse at the chart table.  Thus, Beryl will just have to remain a little uncomfortable.

Ship's Cat Beryl Snoozing against USCG Navigation Rules and Regulations Handbook

Google Analytics Alternative