A 12-Year Boat Building Odyssey
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The Santa Catalina de Gaule sits pretty.
There is only one through-hull that connects to a water distribution manifold. The lever on that seacock is wired to a knob in the galley floor that can be pulled to shut the valve. The dry exhaust system eliminates holes at the water line.
A knob at the helm shuts the engine down by closing the damper to the engine's supercharger. Another switch disconnects the batteries.
He has a SPOT Satellite GPS Messenger unit that sends the position of the boat to him daily. Three sensors monitor the main bilge pump’s running time, a smoke alarm and fusible links in the engine room.
The heavy-weather windows are fixed-glazed, 1/2-inch Lexan, which is almost bullet-proof. The doors have a 4-millimeter steel skin, steel reinforcements and, besides the normal latch, have two sea latches he fabricated from 1-inch pipe. Likewise, all the cabinetry has extra latching devices.
Besides the standard bilge pumps, he keeps a gas-powered, 150-gallon-per-minute(gpm) pump on the bow that can be quickly connected to built-in pipes that run from the bottom of a galley cabinet to the lowest point in the engine room. Other bilge areas can be accessed by dropping hoses down hatches. The pump can also supply water for fire-fighting hoses or remove sewage.
To prevent sinking from a break in his own water lines, he used reinforced fuel hoses.
The life ring has an attached high-visibility marker pole, and the crane is rigged to lift a person out of the water.
He even engineered and installed an emergency hand-operated rudder tiller. A removable plate just aft of the cabin exposes the top of the rudder post, so an extension can be attached to provide manual control.
On the upper deck, he keeps an emergency offshore life raft along with bicycles, kayaks, a 12-foot aluminum dinghy and a Laser sailboat.
It has been a long, tiring, sometimes frightful journey, and at times, both emotionally and physically painful. The frustration and overwhelming challenge brought him to tears many times. It also took him twice to the optometrist to have debris removed from his eyes and twice to the emergency room.
Several things kept him going. There was a feeling that once he had publicly committed to the project he had to finish. Another was that he realized his financial outlay would be lost if the boat wasn’t done. He also cites the days when his wife, who is the boat’s weather expert, would go with him to the work site and offer support and encouragement as a much welcomed source of comfort.
At his lowest point, when the challenge seemed too great, he thoughtfully analyzed the situation and realized the idea of building a boat was too great a challenge. Instead, he tried focusing on just finishing one task at a time, and that proved manageable. Given the number of tasks he has completed and still has stretching before him, his diagnosis and prescription was perfect.
It was a classic case of doctor, heal thyself.