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Archive for the ‘despair’ Category

Last weekend we had students from Barry University and University of Miami on site for a few hours, and both U’s were great. The group from Barry were players and coaches from the women’s basketball team, brought to us by Coach Bill Sullivan.

We had hoped to put them to work wet-sanding the dinghies and prepping them for primer, but I was told on Friday the we needed to move all sanding to the side area closer to a containment drain. We decided that would make it too difficult to bring out enough power sanders — and supervisors — so we switched to Plan B.

By the time the Barry crew arrived, Ship Shape Team members Emma & Jill had put together four kits of Star brite cleaning products, and we sent the ballplayers down to the docks to spark up as many boats as they could before Saturday morning sailing classes began.

I was amazed at the difference when they were done. Then we put them to work at a couple more cleaning projects near the Hangar, and soon added a group of  U of Miami students to the mix as we restored the color of a lot of kayaks that had gone from bright to faded.

Student Kayak Brighteners at Work

Student Kayak Brighteners at Work

We would have been glad to keep them working all day, but more entertaining pursuits called them, and the Hangar seemed unusually quiet and dull for the rest of the weekend.

Joe Purtell (Interlux) arrived in the early afternoon to bring us more product and to look at the Fighting Lady Yellow hull once again. After his analysis, we decided to go ahead with sanding again, to add one more coat. Fortunately, we made that choice while the students were still on hand so we could enlist them to push the boat (cradled, on wheels) out to our work area.

We also got to try out Interlux InterStrip to take the chipping red, blue, and yellow paint coats off the interiors of the Access dinghies.  The combination of InterStrip, elbow grease, and powerwashing did most of the work, but more sanding remains before we can restore the original ‘Popsicle’ colors.

Powerwashing

Powerwashing

By Sunday afternoon, we were down to one volunteer, John Quigley, and myself, which seemed especially odd in comparison with the earlier lively gang. I had to wonder, again, what I was doing there at Shake-A-Leg Miami, and I will admit to being very discouraged.

My plan had been to facilitate a training program, to create a corps of volunteers who would learn maintenance, coatings, and repair in a somewhat logical fashion. That’s what I would call “process.”  Instead, I found myself worrying about finishing work on the two sloops and five dinghies before our reception on the 11ths. That’s what I would call “product.”

I also felt that Shake-A-Leg Miami’s administration and Board of Directors had not yet understood the fact that the fleet needs much more than a facelift. My surveyor Pat Kearns (Naples, Florida) had found some problems that were keeping both of us awake at night.

On my way home, I stopped to visit with SALM board member, disabled sailor Kerry Gruson, and that’s when I started to get my energy back.  The next step, for me, was to begin investigating who in the Coast Guard might have the engineering experience we needed to take a closer look at the sailboats, which are typically not covered by the mass of regulations that apply to power boats.

The move that brought me back into peace of mind, though, was the news that SALM had taken the pro-active step of pulling the two oldest sailboats out of the water, and had started removing hardware and rigging, so those boats cannot be sailed until properly repaired.

Few 20 year old boats have had the ongoing use (and and lack of routine maintenance) that these Freedoms have had. Pat and I discussed this last night and came to the conclusion that the builders would be astounded to know how well they are actually doing!  Shake-A-Leg Miami has some important information to offer to the marine industry about the integrity of these boats, and fortunately, SALM has now shown me its own integrity by admitting that it’s time to let these tired vessels rest.

What will happen to them? We are hoping they will form the basis for some advanced training classes on structural repair and other key aspects of boat maintenance. Perhaps they will become training tools and — who knows? — may well return to the water as fine examples of “classic plastic” once again.

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