14 November 2010

Time out

The boss wrote me a prescription for thalossotherapy, taking warm saltwater baths under pressure, for two to three hours a day.  So here I am stuck in Cozumel off of the Yucatan, forced to suffer through another cold November.  Water temperature at 120 feet was only 81 degrees.  I almost thought about wearing a wetsuit.

Before I left Caratello was riding nicely at LUDD.  Talking with our surveyor I am more and more convinced that the only way to do a project like this is to start with an architect and marine engineer.  Craig Goring designed a good solid hull to build on and Gene Morris with Barbara imagined a very buildable/livable home to go on the hull.  Even with some of the winds we had last month Caratello rode very nicely!  Maybe the wine ballast helped a little.

Got a new follower: Flaglermarina, who are you?  If you are in Florida maybe I can come down and we can discuss houseboat design and construction punctuated by dives on some of the wrecks you have.  I'm pretty amazed looking at this blog's stats that we have people checking in from Japan, China, Italy, Germany, Canada, France, Poland, Netherlands, and several other countries.  How the hell do they find this?  Maybe they are thinking about being prepared for global warming!

Here is the 27 pound wahoo we caught yesterday.  Seeing lots of eagle rays and turtles along with lots of colorful fish, gotta love thalossotherapy.

30 October 2010

Moved to a different part of the yard

Since Unimak is coming back this weekend we had to move back a little in the shipyard. We took the place that Ruby VIII had and Ruby is back of us now.















We loaded the appliances on Thursday. It was much more difficult getting them in the back of the green pickup than it was getting them on board. We hired some movers to come out and manhandle them from the garage to the pickup here at the house. When I got them up to the shipyard the riggers brought the crane over, we slung them with non-stretching nylon web straps (like truckers use), then swung them onto the back deck of Caratello where I had a ramp set up. It was really easy to slide them into place, even the 480 pound range! God I love machines that keep me from hurting myself. I got the primer and the first coat of paint on the galley walls today. Tomorrow Barbara is coming up to help me put the second coat on and get the place cleaned up.


The tin guys showed up like elves and fixed two of the four downspouts. I think I was down looking at the other houseboat when they showed up. Never saw them and they never let me know they were there. I'll have to call them and ask what is up with the other two spouts and the two other problems they left.





I found an older picture that shows my saw station on the second deck. It seems like it was a long time ago that I had a plastic sheet for a roof and no windows or doors.

17 October 2010

Playing in the mud and loading essential stores

Barbara had me pickup two more truck loads of ballast. Lucky me, this load was mostly rieslings, yum! There isn't any more room for wine now and Caratello has a noticeable list to port. I'll worry about the port list after everything is onboard. Right now it is just entertaining that the glass doors on the starboard side close on their own.



I spent the day taping the walls. I'm pretty sure that I got at least as much of the drywall compound on my shirt and pants as I did on the walls. Tomorrow I sand then put another coat of mud on the walls. I hope to get the walls painted on the first deck by the end of the week. I will feel like I have accomplished something and will be able to move on to the second deck.

Barbara picked out the paint color for the first deck. It is some shade of gray/green called "timothy hay". I still can't convince women that there are only about ten colors for men. "Timothy hay" and "persimmon" aren't colors and neither are "sea foam" and "taupe".




15 October 2010

No pictures today

No good pictures to post today. The caulker finished up with his work and he did a great job. Still waiting on Ballard Sheet Metal to come back to finish the drain spouts. They do pretty good work when they show up, it is just getting them out to work. "We'll be out tomorrow" seems to be code for "we'll be out whenever we show up if we show up at all".

Still working on the interior, I have most of the MDO up on the first deck and have started up the stairwell. Barbara says the interior is starting to look less like a construction site and more like a home.

Barbara is going to pick up another big load of "ballast" at the Garagiste tomorrow. I'm not sure how much more we can stuff into the hold.

Rodger Morris, the surveyor, came by and did an initial survey for the insurance company. He seemed to think that Caratello was pretty well constructed compared to some of the houseboats he has seen in his career. He didn't identify anything major that needed correction after crawling through the bilges and poking around for about 5 hours.

The plan right now is to relocate Caratello just as soon as we put the appliances on board in the next couple of weeks.

Next post I'll have more pictures.

11 October 2010

The push is on to finish Caratello

The tin men and the roofers are pretty well finished with the exterior. The only things that I have left outside is to add some cedar trim, clean up the stainless steel rail, and do some touch up painting.





Inside I have been puting up the wall board. I am using medium density overlay (MDO) which is plywood with a resin and paper layer on one side. It is about half the weight of drywall. As you know by now weight is the main thing that you need to think about when building a boat. Well weight, and holes that would let water in, and making sure that Barbara and Jim at the bank are happy.






I have also been working on the 12 volt system that will power the LED lighting, navigation lights, VHF FM radio, and a few other things. The battery manufacturer, Dyno Batteries, said that I should use golf cart batteries because they are less expensive and will work just as well, if not better, than marine batteries. Gotta like a company that is honest about his product, will save you money, and makes their product right here in Seattle.


I fabricated a mount for the raw water strainer then installed that big chunk of brass. This will filter water that comes into the hull through the sea chest for cooling. I had the pipe fitters at Lake Union Dry Dock put in the piping from the sea chest to the strainer. They used copper-nickel 2" pipes which will last a lot longer than the hull which, in turn will out last me. It has been an education learning about the different metals used in ship building.

01 October 2010

Corners are almost all on now

The corners are almost all on now. I still have a lot of work on the interior and some of the systems, but it is starting to feel pretty darn good.






















Gene Morris stopped by again to help work on trimming Caratello. While moving ballast we sat on the lower fore deck and enjoyed the evening. Winds kicked up a few times but the boat was nice and stable. A great blue heron landed on a float near us, spent some time doing what ever herons do then left for the evening. What a great place to sip wine, I mean shift ballast, and watch the evening progress. Note to Barbara: get more Sondraia 2005, it was tasty!

28 September 2010

Some actual progress showing now


Well, most of the panels are in place.  The corners should be going up in the next few days and a few other pieces need to be installed.  Then I just have to get someone in to do the caulking between the flashing and the windows to complete the exterior. 

By the way, the Santa is on top of the rigger's shack.




I'm still working on the interior and a few things to get the new location ready for Caratello.  I need to get the cabinets, stove, and refrigerator loaded by the riggers before I have Brian and Kelli tow her from Lake Union Dry Dock.  Since she is still under construction the insurance company doesn't want us to move Caratello under her own power.   I guess the boat construction policy is different than the permanent insurance policy.


I have been puting in the insulation, what a pain this is.  Each space between studs needs a piece cut which makes a lot of foam dust.  Then I have to carve out for plumbing and electrical, beat the foam into place, then fit in pieces to fill the gaps.  After I get that done I go back and fill in the little spaces with spray in foam insulation.


I discovered this ancient scuttle butt on one part of the pier.  I wonder how many decades it has been there and how many thirsts have been quenched.  I also wonder how many thousands of beer bottles must be down below from lunches during a more permissive time.

22 September 2010

The siding is here!!! The siding is here!!!

The siding panels showed up today.  The 70 foot flat bed semi had a hard time backing down the pier to Caratello but, after much jockeying, wound it's way through the maze of buildings and equipment.  The riggers at Lake Union Dry Dock off loaded the truck with a couple of fork lifts and they will swing the panels for the starboard side over to the work barge tomorrow.  Cory from Ballard Sheet Metal said that he and Nick and a couple of other guys should be throwing the tin on all day tomorrow.  That will be nice!




They finished up installing the trim around the windows and started on the facia at the roof line.  When they are done with the facia and gutters I will have to get the roofers back to do a little more work that they couldn't do until the metal was in place.








Before Ballard Sheet Metal got too far along I put down another bead of caulk where the house meets the deck.  Once again I used the 3M #5200 marine sealant, this stuff is suppose to last forever and is near impossible to remove once it is cured.

Other things that happened yesterday and today:  Dave and Nick from Vaughn Mechanical came out and finished up ducting and plumbing the HVAC system.  I had them add a vent in each of the heads because the in floor heat that Barbara had wanted would have consumed too much electricity.  I also did more work on insulation and plumbing. 

With any luck I'll be able to get Caratello moved over to the permanent moorage before Barbara gets back from her vacation to Italy.  I really like working at Lake Union Dry Dock, but it is getting to be time to move on. 

19 September 2010

Plumbing, Doors, and Essential Ballast

Got the two back doors on now so all of the doors and windows are in place.  These french doors weigh a lot but I was fortunate that the delivery guys from Milgard helped me put them on the stern of Caratello.  For the first one I put my skills of leverage and cribbing to work to get it installed by myself.  After getting the doors in I discovered, by accident, that the doors lift off the frame pretty easily.   It was amazing how much less work it was installing the second door!

The tin men from Ballard Sheet Metal came by and started putting up flashing.   They ran out of metal so they say that they will be back next week to do more.  The panels are being cut and the corners are being bent somewhere between Seattle and the house in Bonney Lake.  Hopefully they will be delivered early next week and BSM can get the siding up.  I'm getting tired of looking at orange.






The plumbing is going in too.  I'm using a plastic piping system called PEX.  It goes together with crimped on connectors instead of soldering copper lines.  Much easier to get into the walls, supposedly lasts longer than copper, and no nasty burns from dripping molten solder.  The drains for the second deck head have been a real head scratcher for me.  There just didn't seem to be a good way to run the pipes, but after looking at it for months I found a very small area that would work.  I got the pipes tucked into the only possible spaces and they will be hidden from view.

Here Barbara is making fine adjustments to the ballast before I load it into the hold.  She made two trips to the Garagiste, one of her favorite wine mongers, to pick up ballast that has been accumulating for a couple of years. 










Part of the ballast in place in the hold.  After the rest of Caratello is finished I will be making a more permanent storage system.  I was pretty impressed with how 40 cases of wine brought the hull into trim.  This shipment covered most of a sheet of plywood decking and brought the starboard side down by over an inch and the port side up by as much.  I know that this will be a constant chore keeping Caratello in trim and we will need help shifting ballast from time to time.

We have developed a fairly complex reballasting program:  with no pumps to shift the wine we will have to
1)  manually extract the bottles from the hold
2)  open each bottle as it comes out of the hold
3)  filter the contents through volunteers
4)  relocate the filtered product to temporary storage tanks
5)  have the volunteers move the ballast to the holding tank
6)  have the pump out service remove that ballast
7)  go to the wine store and buy more ballast
8)  reload the ballast in the correct position
9)  repeat.

I keep finding more and more of the materials that make up Caratello that are produced in the USA.  Things like the wire and cable, piping, steel parts, most of the wood is marked as US produced.  I just wish that I could get more.  I am really disappointed in many of the tools that I have been using on the job.  DeWalt use to make some pretty decent stuff, but since they moved their manufacturing to China they are lousy.  Unfortunately I am locked into their battery system since most of my tools are DeWalt.  I started buying Festool products and they seem to be built well, their track saw has made breaking down sheets of plywood really easy.

26 August 2010

Doors are in, well all but two... This post has pictures again!

Got the forward sliding glass doors last week and Dan and Duke from Lake Union Dry Dock helped me install them today.  Ten foot double glazed commercial grade aluminum sliders are REALLY heavy!  Fortunately the guys from Milgard that delivered them showed me how to pull the glass panels out and that made them manageable.  I think each of the four panels weigh about 70 pounds. 

We had to do a little bit of wood butchery to install the main door.  It was built to the exact size of the rough opening and didn't give us any room to adjust.  Dan broke out the ever handy sawz-all, a tool that is quite dangerous in my hands but Dan wields it like a scalpel.  Ok maybe not that fine, but he's good with it. 

After the doors went in about 20 of the guys from LUDD showed up for pizza that Barbara had delivered.  I think she wanted to see if Caratello was stable enough for a party but wanted to have real maritime professionals ensure the stability.  Everybody was in the salon and Caratello passed her first of many sea trials.  Pizza and pop - check, next comes the real test - Beer and wine.

Duke and I bent up the metal pieces for the soffits under the second deck poke-outs and got them installed.  It was kind of fun running pieces of equipment that can bend steel plate.  Now I am only missing the two aft french doors to fill in openings and the siding to complete the exterior.  Milgard says they will deliver the doors on the 2nd of next month.   Ballard Sheet Metal is suppose to be getting back with me on their schedule for siding.  I don't think that they will take more than a week to get all of the metal up.
I had a couple of comments that there was no good place to tie up visiting boats.  The times that Gene, our architect, and others have come along side we have had to tie off to the rail.  I installed a couple of really nice stainless steel cleats, one on each side of the starboard access way.  Should make it easier.

The small tugboat that you can see in the reflection and through the front glass doors is Bandit.  She belongs to Brian Campbell and is crewed by Heather and Kelli.  Bandit will be moving Caratello to her permanent moorings as soon as the siding is in place and the riggers have swung the heavy stuff aboard.  You can see more pictures of Bandit and the crew of Campbell Maritime operations at http://campbellmaritime.com/cm/default.asp

Other things that I did this week was to finish installation of the remaining cleats and stainless steel rings so we can tie Caratello up properly.  More electrical and a bunch of other little pick up work.  I got all of the scraps picked up and disposed of, put everything in its place, and vacuumed from top to bottom.

I will have to take some pictures of the Dry Dock facilities.  There are a lot of really cool things to see.  A place that has been building boats since 1919 has a lot of history being used every day.  The crane that launched Caratello is the same one that built the Aurora Bridge in 1930.  They are one of the very few yards that can do repairs on the old wooden hulled ships as well as repair and upgrade modern boats.


These last three pictures are interior shots.  It was raining so the pics are pretty dark.  The first one is aft looking forward from Barbara's office through to the master stateroom.  The second one is of the master stateroom through the new door.  And the third one is the salon (living room) looking out the new door.   As with all the pictures you can double click on them to enlarge, I have to because I can't find my darn glasses.

04 August 2010

Of Cabotage and Kings...

We sent in the paperwork to make Caratello an official Jones Act vessel (Merchant Marine Act of 1920) and a vessel meeting the requirements of the Passenger Vessel Services Act of 1886.  Caratello was built at a US shipyard with US labor of US materials.  So, if we wanted to, we could engage in cabotage.  Well, there are other hoops to jump through, it is the Government after all!  And I don't think that Barbara wants to be a 21st century Thea Foss.

Why my interest in this?  Why so many links to Wikipedia?  Who am I and why am I here?

The number of links in this post is because I just discovered the "Link" button on the blog.  I should have found it before but it is cryptically labled "Link", who would have thought?

The interest in what Caratello is is  because of a recent drive by the City of Seattle to ban additional floating homes within the city limits.  It appears that this is limiting the permanently moored homes that are unpowered and are not capable of navigation.  They also are permanently tied to city services such as power, water, and sewer.  The Seattle Times stated that the ban was to be on houseboats, an error in terminology I believe.

Caratello has a lot of things going for her that the floating homes don't have:

1)  Designed by a marine engineer as a vessel.
2)  Capable of navigation:  she has an outboard motor for propulsion and steering, a skeg for stability, navigational lights, a marine VHF FM radio, personal flotation devices, and other gear necessary for navigation and marine safety.
3)  She is Documented with the US Coast Guard as a vessel.  Her official number is 1225055.  Caratello's MMSI radio number is 338098881 .
4)  She carries required vessel insurance, local charts, and a copy of the Navigation Rules (ComdtInst M16672.2D).
5)  Caratello will not be permanently moored.  Power and water are supplied by temporary shore ties. 
6)  She has an independent 12 volt electrical system for lighting, navigational lights and equipment, and utilities.
7)  Tankage includes 150 gallons of potable water, 150 gallons gray water, and 150 gallons for black water.  Waste water must be pumped out whether Caratello is underway or at her moorage.  We have a couple of options:  Go to one of the pump out stations on the lake or, thanks to the guys at the mobile pump out services, we can have them come to us.
8)  We have every intention of taking Caratello out and about when the weather is fair and we have the time.  No blue water, no green water over the bow, and no taste of salt spray in our faces that is why we have Sea Vert!  Why have a boat if you don't get her underway?

Short story:  Caratello is a vessel, a boat, a water craft.  And the Supreme Court seems to have held that the term “vessel" is defined at 1 USC §3 and includes every description of watercraft or other artificial contrivance used, or capable of being used, as a means of transportation on water.  Additionally they state that Section 3 requires only that a watercraft be "used, or capable of being used, as a means of transportation on water," not that it be used primarily for that purpose.  And if the US Coast Guard, with 220 years of experience, documents it as a vessel then damn it, she is a vessel.

30 July 2010

Starting to get wired!

I'm starting to put in the electrical wiring.  There will be two systems,  one is the normal shore power 110/208 volt ac the other is a 12 volt dc system off of the batteries.  Barbara wants to us LED lighting where possible to keep the power consumption lower.  It seems like LED technology is just about there, but finding the fixtures is time consuming.  I think in a year or two it will be much more common.  One nice thing is that the wiring for both systems is the same, armored 12 guage stranded copper so if the LED thing doesn't work out I can change over to shore power fairly easily.


We built a ladder to get to the roof deck.  The original idea was to use a fold down aluminum ladder, but the way that it needed to be mounted left the top step too far from the edge.  It would have been a really long step up and not very comfortable.  Found a couple of pieces of old fir in a loft at the Dry Dock that were stamped 6/59, I don't know if they have been sitting there drying for that long or what the story is.  The grain on them is really tight an using some fir stepping and varnish it came out great!  It is at a really good angle and has nice wide/deep steps.  I am not sure what I will do for storage, I'll figure something out. 

Well, I finally got off of hold with Fisheries Supply and they are looking into the lighting issue.  I'm headed back up to the ship yard to do more electrical and clean up.  There is always clean up!

28 July 2010

Windows, Roof, and Stairs, oh my!

Wow, I really need to keep this blog up to date.  I know, I have said that in the past but I get busy with the physical world and don't get on the blog.  Seems like I get up early, bust my tail all day, get home late, and fall asleep (rinse, repeat).  Anyway there has been a whole lot going on at Caratello in the past three weeks.  The roof is on, the windows are in, no more ladder to the second deck, the roof hatch is in, and I'm starting to put wire in the walls.  The roof looks like a giant inner tube is on it.  The roofing product is suppose to last longer than I will and it is used in commercial construction.  I felt sorry for the two guys that installed it because it was the 99 degree day that we had here and on top of the black roof it must have been another 10+ degrees.  I'm glad I don't know anything about installing this stuff and I didn't feel bad enough to get up there and help them. 

The windows have a silver mirror finish on them to keep the glare down and to keep the parade of boaters, kayakers, and the ever present Duck boat tourists from seeing in.  The windows don't do anything if there is light from inside though they just become clear.  Even without having the doors in it is remarkably cool inside now.                     With a boat electrical system you have to keep the ground separate so you don't have any power going to the hull which does bad things to the steel.  Naturally the wire and outlets are more expensive, go figure...
The plan is to get the kitchen wiring done so that I can put up the wall finish.  The guys from Abodian need that up so they can do the final measurements on the cabinets for the kitchen.  The construction steps will stay in place until the very end of the job then I will put in the finished steps.  Doors are back ordered until the middle of August, or so they say.  Siding will go up when ever the guys from Ballard Sheetmetal get their parts in.  So until something else big happens I have a lot of less flashy stuff to do.

The overhang of the roof with varnished fir plywood.


I still hope to have Caratello at the Allison Street site in September, we will see how that works out!