De-Naming Ceremony

I am not superstitious. I regularly spill salt (water). I try to avoid walking under ladders, but only because it is a prudent thing to avoid. I have no fear of black cats, except on account of my occasional allergies. There is however no reason to tempt fate when it comes to boat names, and besides- whiskey!

Allow me to explain. We’ve stated earlier that we intend to change the name of the boat from “Old Salt” to something else. That something else being TBD/TBA. The first step in doing that is properly de-naming the boat, which of course involves becoming an alcohol-soaked-supplicant to the gods of wind and wave.  So I busted out the grinder and (with much panache) removed the last vestige of the boat’s old name.

Ryan spoke some words, the contents of which can be found here.

Whiskey was poured, a few for the boat, a few for us, a solid measure for old Neptune, and with the help of Ryan’s dad, step-mom, and their two dogs, the ceremony was complete.


Hopefully soon I’ll have some minutia-ridden technical discussions for you good folks, “Go dté tú slán.”

Barge Life

If you live or spend any amount of time on Virginia’s middle peninsula you can’t help but notice the ubiquitous “Salt Life” bumper stickers. They’ve become endemic enough that now there a few spin-offs- “Mud Life” adorns a jacked up truck, “Assault Life” featuring crossed AKs under a skull, also on a jacked up truck, etc. I recently decided to embrace the trend when my boss at Ward Oyster Company got these bad boys made up.

My work in the hatchery keeps me off the barge for the most part, I go out a few times a year to deploy/fetch broodstock for our spawns.  It’s always a nice change of pace for me to get out on the water, it’s all too easy to forget what a beautiful place the Chesapeake Bay is.


The eponymous barge

I realize this post doesn’t have much to do with boat work, I guess it’s more about why I choose to spend my (moderately valuable) time fixing up an old boat. It’s about actively choosing work and a place instead of letting those choices be dictated. For me that means living, working, and playing on the water. You know, living the “Barge Life.” I always joke that “Salt Life” means “I’m a recreational fisherman,” but perhaps I shouldn’t be so quick to make fun of people’s bumper stickers. I stuck “Barge Life” on my mini-van because I’m proud of what I do, and if other folks feel that way that’s fine by me.

If anyone is interested in picking up a bumper sticker, let me know, I’ve got a pile of them. You can purchase the oysters we grow directly from the shop if you’re local or online at either: 

Or through “I Love Blue-Sea”

And of course Facebook


Me and my boat

Want to get a bigger boat? Just pick up a sander, everytime I do I swear the boat grows by a foot. As in other activities involving friction, it seems removing paint from boat parts is all about finding the sweet spot of not too much and not too little. After attempting to remove paint from both the rudder stock and the topsides with chemical stripper, I became completely fed-up with the glacial pace of scraping 40 years worth of paint by hand and busted out the grinder. If the topside finish ends up being a little wavy, I’ll just pour myself another beer.

In addition to increased consumption of adult-beverages, another pattern seems to be emerging through this re-build: I bang my head against the wall doing something the hard way until someone says “try your rotary tools.” (Thanks JT) At any rate, in this case it was a matter of finding the right attachment for the grinder. I ended up going with fine-grit finishing pads as a good balance between decent speed of material removal without risking cutting into the fiberglass. It took me about 3.5 hours to do 25% of the boat, once again it looks like there is grinding in my future.

In the immortal words of Tobias Funke, I’m afraid I blue myself

The rudderstock on the other hand went quick, once I get a chance I’ll be bringing this down to the machinist to do some welding/brazing (I think bronze is brazed as opposed to welded)(maybe) Soon enough the wood chips (and profanities) will fly on the Ariel’s new rudder.

Shiny! Let’s be bad guys. 

Slow but Steady

A sailboat will not get you there fast. “There” has a tendency to become a bit fluid as well. Likewise progress on the boat has slowed a bit with the start of the oyster season, and I’m ok with that. I just keep chipping away, in this case on the paint that is encrusted on the rudder stock. The astute reader will have noticed a pattern here.

Also saw a sweet little sailboat (a Flicka I think) with a DIY mast-stepping rig. I’m tempted to try something like this when the time comes, the trick will be to do it without bayoneting the neighbors. We’ll see. Ta ta fer now!