Archive for the ‘staff’ Category

“It’s a new boat!” said Ricardo, and he should know since he manufactures the Access dinghies

The Green Machine

The Green Machine

used in Shake-A-Leg Miami’s beginner sailing program. Together, Ricardo, Melissa, and I took The Green Machine’s interior from faded and jaded to sparkling new again, applying a series of Star brite products and elbow grease. What fantastic results!

I’ve got to say, that was the high point of my weekend, which had been fraught with false starts and aggravations.

Once we saw how sharp Green Machine looked, including its newly painted hull (color: Interlux Matterhorn White), I sent Ricardo and Melissa off to find more dinghies for our anticipated large crew of  Sept. 26 volunteers to clean. Alas. Little Green was the only one that did not need additional work in the form of removing old paint. So back to “Go” on that idea.

We had some other course corrections this week, too. Remember how much I liked the photo of the kids in the hangar as they flowed past the newly painted boats? I loved how that image showed multiple aspects of Shake-A-Leg Miami co-existing, but it also made it clear that we needed a better way to organize our workspace to minimize exposure. No small fingerprints on fresh paint, no sanding dust under small feet.

Consequently, we are switching to a divide-and-conquer space arrangement with the addition of an enclosed space outside, in close proximity to an approved water-containment tank; and, inside, we are taking new measures to contain dust, primarily through wet sanding, hauling water, and other evidence of the Ship Shape Team’s ingenuity for solving any problem that we throw its way.

One more course correction: Our first coats of “Fighting Lady Yellow” and “Royal Blue” were thrilling, even though we knew we needed better coverage.  Our second coats applied last Wednesday gave us the coverage we wanted, but also left slight ridging from the primer, and left me feeling a little discouraged when I saw them Friday afternoon.

We had planned to go on to paint another brace of Freedoms on Saturday, but we still needed to finish boot striping the first two, and none of us were ecstatic about the gloss or the smoothness, so we set to work preparing for yet another coat for each boat.

Ray Talks Tape

Ray Talks Tape

The best part of the day was listening to SALM staffer Ray Rautenberg explain how to lay down tape for the boot stripe. He is a gifted teacher with great attention to details. I wish I could have him working on the Ship Shape project all the time, but he’s needed for other duties, too.

Ray then got us started on the familiar roll-and-tip painting method once again, following all the same steps we’d already done twice. We were out of Royal Blue, so I put in a call to Interlux’s Joe Purtell for more, and we’ll apply that Wednesday or Saturday, depending on availability of team members.

The “Fighting Lady Yellow” looked great by the end of the day, but on Sunday morning, I saw to my great disappointment that beneath the gloss we had microscopic bubbles, perhaps not even visible to many eyes.  Now the question is, do it again in our quest for perfection? Or call it a training exercise and move on?  I’ll wait to hear from the paint experts, but I suspect most of the crew wants to do it again.

So, Sunday was not a great day. Several expected volunteers called to say they needed a break, or just did not show up. Still we had enough to push ahead with prepping three more dinghy hulls, and then there was the triumph of The Green Machine!

I think I’ll be glad when this week is over. I have a lot of projects to complete in my “real” job, getting ready for an online event for Professional BoatBuilder magazine, and prepping for the upcoming IBEX show.

I’m finding out that scheduling boats for repair is an ongoing nightmare. Okay, that may be an exaggeration, but it’s an incredible balancing act to provide boats for all the SALM activities, and still pull out ones that need repair and painting, knowing they may be out of service for several days or weeks at a time.

That may be easier in the near future, though. Ship Shape Team Member Emma Wicks has picked up where I left off on learning about “BackTrack” software, offered to us by Norman Katz of www.katzscan.com. Emma and Norm have already come up with a plan for implementing this software that will – eventually – make life easier for everyone at SALM by letting us track just about what ever needs tracking, i.e. small children, boats, supplies, and equipment.

At the same time, our surveyor Pat Kearns and her associate Janine Skula are wrapping up their assessment of the fleet and facilities. Pat says it won’t be a pretty picture, but it will be a serious system-restore point for the work that needs to be done to bring SALM to the forefront of “Best Practices” for community boating centers.

We now have just about 2 1/2 weeks left before our reception for the marine industry on October 11. We’re expecting bout 200 boatbuilders, marine educators, yard managers, and vendors to visit SALM. Again, our goal is to convince them that this is a place that deserves the industry’s support and warrants their continued interest.

If you want to help with the Ship Shape Project, click on the Volunteer tab above.


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This picture, more than anything, illustrates the many worlds that converge at Shake-A-Leg Miami.

Not Your Usual Boatyard

Not Your Usual Boatyard

We had just barely finished the second coat of Interlux Royal Blue when the kids arrived, swarming through the hangar in search of rest rooms and soft drinks.

A few were interested in what we were doing, but for many, it was obvious that they were used to seeing constant change in the shop area. We had a momentary panic when some of them starting leaning in toward the gloss, but that soon passed.

Personally, I had not planned to work at Shake yesterday, but then I couldn’t resist seeing that final coat go on, so I braved Miami rush hour traffic, which seemed especially horrendous for some reason, spent a lot of time trying  to find alternate routes (pretty much always a bad idea), and arrived an hour later than I had expected.

Our hard-core team of volunteers was joined by Interlux’s Joe Purtell again, and Shake’s own Ray Rautenberg. The former Newbies are Painters now. I can see it in their swagger, and I know they will never look at a painted surface in the same way again.

Yesterday reminded me of one of the things I do love about a team-painting project: The pleasant pauses while we wait for dry time or the next step to be ready. That’s when we can righteously enjoy the transformation taking place before our eyes. Of course, Shake-A-Leg Miami is all about transformation!

The count down continues. What will our final tally be on Oct 11 when we have our pre-IBEX reception?  Right now we have two Freedoms and two Access dinghy hulls finished.

I’m told that we have several large groups of volunteers joining us in the next three weeks. I’m a little concerned about how to schedule projects for them so they get the most benefit out of the experience – and we get the most work out of them!

If you want to be part of the team, click on the “volunteer” tab above, or just go right to http://shipshape.eventbrite.com.

Meanwhile, you can follow our progress in some of the photos posted here.

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Already, a number of good things are taking place, bracketed nicely by the usual number of glitches.

I once read a description of flying an airplane as “nothing but hours and hours of boredom, punctuated with moments of start terror.” That’s pretty much been my week so far. I glide ahead buoyed by the optimism of everyone at Shake-A-Leg Miami (SALM), and then I realize how much we are planning to accomplish in such an incredibly short time and just the tiniest wave of panic washes over me.

I wish some reality-TV show would pick up this story, because I know they always go for the happy ending. Meanwhile, I do have some blessings to report.

One of the SALM staff members, Colleen Reed, is setting up a Friday night potluck, having observed that neither our marine-surveyor Pat Kearns (Naples, FL) nor I am in any great rush to head out into Miami traffic a the end of our day onsite. Hooray! Maybe there will be pie. But even better than that, there will be a chance for us involved in the challenge to meet–and brainstorm–in a relaxed informal setting. If you’d like to join us, leave a comment here or drop me a line.

Also, today I had a great conversation with Norm Katz of Katzcan (Fort Lauderdale, FL) about what we can do with the “BackTrack” software from Teklynx. I was initially hoping Norm could help us just with a simple project of barcoding our boat-shop inventory, but now we’re starting to percolate a few more ideas about how we can better manage all sorts of “assets” ranging from tools, to boats and equipment, to volunteers and staff. Geek that I am, this is all music to my ears.

Earlier this week, I wrote up a press release about the project, which will soon be hitting the SoFLA media outlets thanks to Kreps DeMarina Public Relations & Marketing. Another cheer there. I also sent it to Soundings Trade Only for distribution to the marine industry — making contact by Twitter no less — so my appreciation for social media just took another boost.

SALM does have a Facebook Fan Page, by the way, and staff A-V guy Steve Vasquez will be activating that soon. If you aren’t a fan, why not join now? Side note: If you’ve gotten bored with the same old Facebook, I recommend you go to “settings” and change your language options to “English (pirate)” and see what happens. That reminds me: International Talk Like A Pirate Day is only a month off. Maybe we can do something special for the Ship Shape challenge? Let me know what you think.

Also, we received our new copy of the ABBRA (American Boat Builders & Repairers Association) hot-0ff-the-press Boatyard Resource Guide, full of excellent check lists and tips for best practices. We had a show of support from ABYC (American Boat & Yacht Council) Directory Ship Burdon, who is letting that group’s Florida member know we are trolling for volunteers, and we found out how to post information on the MIASF (Marine Industry Association of South Florida) website.

So! We are underway, and I am doing fine as long as I don’t look too close at the calendar or the still far-too-skinny volunteer list. I’m hoping that the sailing-program instructors will embrace the idea of stewardship and join us in the big boat-repair project. (Or at least, recruit friends and family to do the same.)

I can hardly wait until Friday to see what kind of progess Doug and his crew have made on the boatshop re-stocking project, and to find out what new ideas he is hatching.

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