Ship's Log

December 03, 2007

What happens when you bring together a whole bunch of 2x4 studs, a 50' x 40' square of shrink-wrap plastic, a flame thrower, about 14 pots of coffee, and the crew of SARABANDE working for 36 hours straight in the freezing cold?


Having missed our window over the sunny, unseasonably warm Thanksgiving weekend due to shinkwrap shipping delays, we were determined not to let another weekend pass without getting this job done.  And with the forecast heralding a nasty day of snow and sleet for Sunday, 12/2, we woke up at dawn on Saturday with a determination to just do this thing already.  There would be no "wintry mix" falling upon the decks of SARABANDE this winter, by God!

To our chagrin, Saturday's gusty winds from the west forced us to cancel any attempts to wrangle a gigantic sheet of plastic, so we glumly worked on putting the finishing touches on the plywood structure all day.  The cold blasts of wind sapped our energy, and we were left frozen and defeated.  We slunk off to our favorite diner for a dinner break, hoping a little treat of grease would bring us back to life.

We regained our good spirits during dinner, and leaving the diner we noticed that the wind had abated to a mere occasional breeze.  It was cold, to be sure, but wind-wise, shrink-wrapping conditions were perfect!  What about the impending storm on the way?  After some quick estimations (that turned out to be way, way off) we decided that, damn it all, we would finish our bubble under cover of darkness, and then smugly sleep away our Sunday all toasty and warm in our new protective shell.

Coffee was quickly ingested, a plan was formulated, and we dove into the evening.  

The shrink wrap structure is entirely Brian's design, and it features one tall side and one shorter side, so precipitation will fall off the short side.  Overall this design also lends a whimsical, Dr. Seuss sort of look to the boat, which we hope will alleviate the soul-killing monotony of winter.  Because we want plenty of room to work on our deck projects this winter, and because no one has purchased the air rights over our boat, he designed the structure to be rather huge.  
At its highest point, it's about 12' tall from the deck.  

It was this size and height  which was our biggest obstacle over the weekend, since the roll of shrink wrap weighed 150 pounds, or one pair of Olsen twins.   Wrestling the weight over each hurdle as the roll tried to unroll itself resulted in two death threats, one suicide threat and one murder/suicide threat from our crew, but we got it done.  It gradually lost weight as it was unrolled, so by the time we were at the stern it was pretty easy.

By 4 am, we had the roll unfurled and tucked in place within our perimeter line (or "girdle line" as our friend Brian of MAIDEN VOYAGER aply named it) just in time for the snow to begin.  It was a pretty snow with tiny, powdery flakes and SARABANDE was protected from them under her plastic tent!  We had acheived our goal, and that put frozen, sleep-deprived, delerious smiles on our faces.

The rest involved shrinking and welding the plastic together with a flame thrower, kindly loaned to us by our friends Frank and Ada of MANATEE.  It's slow work, but it's more pleasant, and much warmer since you're blasting fire while (sort of) indoors.  We worked until around 5pm Sunday, occasionally breaking away to help other boat folks or to take a tea break.  We were so tired by then that our work was very slow and occasionally made no sense, but it was very satisfying to hear snow, then sleet, then frozen rain falling on the roof of our bubble and see it slipping off the roof just as designed.

Pictures are here.

The bubble is gigantic, and we love it.  Let the Christmas decoration blitz begin!


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