Mike Wolfe Chapter Four "The River Queen Refit"  2005  Copyright Mike Wolfe 2005

Haul out.

Life in the yard

Tip #1 - Keep your eyes on the current. I almost overshot the dock and got my nose in a bit sideways. Not thinking, and unaware of the moving water, I shut down Eng. #1. Tip #2 - Never shut down till you're done moving your boat! So now caught in the tide we bail out and grab the rails. This could turn in to a bad bad thing fast. Tip #3 - (most important) Have your dock lines out and ready! This one I got right and looped my bow line to the end cleat. The current was flowing at a fair clip crossways to the lifting slip but with some grunting and tugging we got her into the lifting slip. In no time at all Doug had her up and out as you see her in the picture above. I wish I had thought to have taken some pics of the hull after she was placed up on blocks. Truly an ugly sight! Here and there, well, almost everywhere were ugly blister-looking things. These turned out to be spots where the metal was rusting and expanding in wafers, one atop another. The keel was so weak in spots Doug and Patrick had trouble setting her down without crushing it! Oh, man, what did I do? This thing looked like a piece of shit. A big piece of shit! And, we still can't get a feel for the total picture 'til Doug sandblasts and we can see the skin in it's entirety. Things were looking bad...


Been busy, getting down into the bilge while waiting for the blasting to be done, scraping rusty chips in preparation for bilge paint. This work is very hard. Cuts, scrapes, and bruises. It gets hot down there so I've been hitting it in the early morning till the temps come up, and back again in the evenings till I'm too tired to go on. But it's got to be done. I've owned this boat for weeks now but it really doesn't feel like mine yet. Not till you get down and dirty and touch every square inch and remove all the previous owner's stuff. Can't even think of decorations yet. Got to do all the hull and outdrives first while we still have some money in the ol' checking acct. Starting to look more like an extension to the two weeks of dry-dock we first thought it would be. The outdrives lower cases, both #1 and #2, look like they need replacing.


"Holy shit, Batman!" This is a "hole-y" boat. After a proper sandblasting, we found a lot of dips in the steel and a lot of rusted through spots, too. Not all of it mind you. Just here and there and then heavy in some other spots. Still a very good boat mind you, we like to think that this boat needed us to save it from certain doom. The keel was untrustworthy and required too many patches so we opted for a "keel cap" to be fabricated in place by the pro's... $$$... They will also weld the patches where required. All of which are cheaper and faster and safer if you do the "metal prep" all yourself.


Well things are finally starting to look a little better. I have been riding the roller coaster of emotions. Some times the whole thing seems to be quite overwhelming. It's so goddamn big and I have been doing almost all the work all by myself in this heat wave. Working my regular job weekdays and working on the boat after hours and weekends. I have lost over 15 pounds now and my skin color has changed to tan, brown, and black & blue and sometimes primer gray. Sometimes it seems that no headway is made at all. But it's starting to look better now. The outdrives are off now and over at the shop. The welders should be done by the 19th. But we still have alot of prep to do before we can think of paint. Then Doug can dust it, Lite sandblast so the paint will hold. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel with regard to the hull. It's a mighty small friggin' light. But I can see it all the same. "Stay the course" "Thousand points of light" Where have I heard that before?


Man, that's alot of hull to surface prep! And this is just from the water line down. We get to start on the above the water line next. You'll see when I get the pictures back. It goes for days. For a while there I thought my arms were going to turn to rubber and fall off, but you get right back down under there and get back to it. I didn't think I'd be able to do it. What am I going to do? Quit? No. So armed with my cell phone it was time to call in (as I often do) the help of good friend, Carl, (Dude). The sun gets in your eyes, fly's buzzing up my nose, shit falling in my eyes, sand in my eyes... Okay, let's take everything in the whole yard and just jam it in my eyes. Well I'm happy to say that as of today, except for a little touch up, we are done grinding on the bottom. Tomorrow morning, before the temperature goes up, we sandblast one more time to knock off all the welding slag and clean any oil residue off the new metal and rust anywhere else. Doug calls it "Dusting or Sweeping" the hull. Then, clean off the dust and then paint. Cold Tar, black from the water line down.



My boys, Max and Sam. They tire of life in the yard and wish we were out on the water.

It's hard to keep up on the web page when you spend all your free time on the project. Not to mention keeping up on the house chores. Yard cutting, pool chemicals, water softener. Thanks to all my neighbors for being patient. Next year I promise to spend more time on the house.



Well let me think back... We had a big push to get the bottom done so we could start painting. Special thanks to my nephew Adam. He came down for a week's vacation and ended up with a week's worth of intense labor camp. "Sorry bud!" Together he and I knuckled down and finished the the hard labor portion of the bottom. Chipping, scraping, grinding, sandblasting, and painting. All in a heat wave with temps into the 100 plus range. As the money gets tighter Doug said he would rent me the sandblaster and compressor I could do it myself to save on the cost. I think he was feeling sorry for me. Running a large sandblaster is kind of like wreseling a large snake. By Sunday night at weeks end, with black dots and smears on our faces and arms the bottom was done! Paint and all.You can't imagine the relief of having that friggin' thing done and behind me now. A special thanks to Adam! Sorry, man, vacation is not supposed to be that rough! I was stuck, and needed help, and you helped me through it. I owe you more than a birthday present. I owe you my respect. You're turning into a wonderful young man and I'm glad to say you're my blood. ;-)

Once the wet portion of the boat was done, that is, from the water line down we started on the surface directly above the water line to the gunel. While not as bad as bottom work it still took time, money, and hard labor. No welding was needed but I used a quart of marine tex filling and patching dips and pits. Then sanding, a lot of sanding. In due course it was ready for paint. So on a nice Saturday morning late in September, (thanks to the help of Daryl and Patrick and Dude, who showed up later) we got the rest of the hull painted. I can't tell you good it feels when you stand back and look at a finished and painted hull that you did yourself. I was truly honored when Doug said it was a first-rate job and that one in fifty would not do as good a job.


October was kind of a blur. We decided to treat ourselves and spent the last two weeks in September in Maui. Man, did we need it. Upon our return, we had some rain here and there, but not too bad. We were busy doing plumbing and more cleaning and scraping in the bilge. Engine work as well. Pumps and assorted things to make her ready to go back in. Floors had to be ripped up here and there to get access to places that needed work. More cleaning and scraping. Still alot of vary hard labor and I was pushing hard. Maybe too hard... I started feeling bad, sick. Pain on the inside. Not so bad at first but within a week it got real bad. The doctor thought I was having appendicitis. But the pain was in the wrong sector? Hum??? That night the pain stopped? But a fever started. So they rushed me to the hospital with what was thought to be a burst appendix! Late that night thay cut me open to find a fine and happy little pink appendix. So they cut it out anyway? "While we were there" kind of thing? Then they went "exploring" Cut me stem to stern and found a cyst growing down inside and between my pipes. As told by my surgeon a little scraping and cleaning in my bilges. (? Sound familiar ?) I awoke in the morning with 57 staples in me keel and a morphine drip. "Fuck!" I was sent home a week later on Halloween day with at least eight weeks of down time ahead of me...

From October to January was kind of a blur... In this cold season and in my recovery mode I spent most of my time out in the garage working on the genset project. (See below) And once again to the rescue came Carl, Daryl and Pat to help me get the engines so they will start and stop. This included carb kits x 2. Plugs x 16. Oil, coolant, sweat, blood, beer, cables and lots, lots more. (More blur). Finally on a cold January afternoon with a bad cross-wind from the north-west we ventured forth. All seemed ok til I went for reverse to slow down and both outdrives popped up! Then I lost #1 engine and with it my power steering. "Oh, geeze!" Well I was lined up ok and came in on the money. (Remember the crosswind) It did not seem to me that we were going that fast... Bang! Scraaaatch! And we were in...

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