The Minimalist Sailor

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Blisters and a Treasure Found

During the month before I flew back to buy Lorilee, I was in debate on what projects needed to be done immediately.  I was originally going to just have a bottom job done, restep the mast, and be on my merry way.   After seeing the bottom during the survey and the intensive process of taking down the mast, I knew I’d need more time in a yard.  After the purchase and my return to Texas, I did some calling around to find a different yard (see my last post, “Yardbirds“).  This bought me some time to accomplish three major projects while on the hard:  take care of the bottom, repair the termite damage, and paint & refit the mast.

IMG_3890The first weekend she was on the hard, I focused on stripping the mast.   Because of galvanic corrosion and the obscene use of flathead screws everywhere, stripping the mast of all its hardware became an arduous task, but I’m glad I did it.  Many of the fittings were badly corroded and needed replacing. Thanks to the help of a couple of yard neighbors, we removed the masthead sheaves, tabernacle pin, and all remaining hardware.   The sheaves were in such bad condition, we actually had to drill through one of them to break it half just to get it out!  I ordered some new sheaves from Lefiell, along with some other odds and ends.





IMG_3885The tabernacle pin was almost an all-day affair.  For nonsailors, a tabernacle stepped mast basically has a hinge at the bottom so you can lower the mast for repairs or low bridge clearances.   The pin is 1″ solid stainless steel that runs through an aluminum tube.  Again, because of galvanic corrosion, the pin was pretty much welded inside of the tube.  My neighbor and I pounded on it for about four hours.  We could have cut the pin from the inside, but that would’ve probably taken just as long.  After pounding with a 3lb sledge and much WD-40, we had success!!!

That same weekend, I decided to open all of Lorilee’s hull blisters.  I’ve been told by many people not to worry about the blisters, including Bud.  He said it is not structural and won’t affect the structural integrity of the hull, but they need to be addressed at some point during my ownership of the boat. Well, I’m kind of crazy about that kind of thing, so I opened them all up.  I’ve read about people using angle grinders and other tools to do the job, but by a neighbor’s suggestion, I just cut out all the rotten material with a sharp knife.  It seemed to be pretty effective.  My intent is to let them dry until the end of March or so (maybe longer), then fill them with either fiberglass & resin or use a good epoxy filler.  I haven’t decided which route to go yet.   Then I’ll slap on a new barrier coat (like four to six coats), then bottom paint.

I won’t get too granular with all of my projects, so I’ll just list the things I’ve accomplished the last four weekends:

  • Stripped the mast and boom of all hardware
  • Replaced all mast lights, sheaves, stay tang bolts, and tabernacle pin.
  • Open all blisters on hull and rudder to allow drying
  • Sanded hull below the waterline down to the gelcoat.
  • Serviced all seacocks
  • Replaced a leaky burner on the kerosene stove
  • Replaced fire extinguishers (the kerosene stove scared the sh*t out of me at first)
  • Inspected under bowsprit nose cap for bowsprit wood rot, checked boomkin stay tangs for corrosion.  Both looked good. I’ll be checking the whisker stay tangs soon.
  • Removed the deckbeams to repair termite damage (this project deserves its own blog post)
  • Serviced all halyard winches



Alex has mentioned this before, but I’d like to mention it here.  I am amazed at the camaraderie shared by sailors.   Everyone I have met here has been more than willing to lend a hand, a tool, or a valuable piece of advice.  I have met some really incredible people.  One guy claimed to have found the Lost Dutchman Mine in the mountains of Arizona.  I looked him up, and he seems pretty legit. Another guy just left on his third circumnavigation.  Another friend is a retired doctor here working on his boat for a few months.   And last weekend, I met Charl DeVilliers, the first deaf person to solo circumnavigate the world.  He has a book called Silent Voyage, which I will read soon. He is giving his boat to his son, so they’re outside working on the hull right now.

It is just incredible that I’ve found myself in the sailing community, surrounded by amazing people, all with a book full of stories to tell.  When I’m down here, I feel like a part of something exclusive; like part of a special club.  People drive by, slow down, and look at our hard work in the yard.  Sometimes I feel like I’ve already left my previous life behind; but then Sunday evening rolls around and I have to leave, returning to work on Monday morning.  It is pretty surreal.



– Ryan

Published in Ryan Bradfield
Updated: February 25, 2015 — 12:13


  1. Nice blog amigo, you have left your old life behind :)

    1. Thanks man. I think so too. :)

  2. Wow, you’ve been busy, boy!! Can’t believe how much you got done already AND you’re only available on weekends and three hours away!!? That’s insane!! How did you manage to learn so many things so quick? Very impressive!

    1. Thanks Carla! She’s coming along nicely. The weather has delayed some of the major projects. This is the one time of year where it actually rains in Texas, and it has been raining a LOT. One advantage of this is that I have located all the leaks that need fixing.

      I’m learning at every corner. Lots of reading online and in books, and picking your husband’s brain. ;)

  3. Now the fun part!.Ive done a couple of rigs recently,both 40ish year old Islander 36’s.Had lots of galvanic corrossion where ever aluminum and stainless came into contact.A bernzomatic map-pro hand torch comes in very handy for getting out fasteners that are corroded stuck.I take all the paint off the spars with a random orbital sander attached to a hepa vac.I was able to rent festool sanders from the yard for $7 a day. each spar took about 15 to 20 40-grit disks but I could do the job in a day.When your putting your new fasteners in get a tube a tefgel and coat them and the holes, Also anywhere stainless contacts aluminum.Most of all have fun!.This is your dream coming true.

    1. Thanks jack3b! Yeah I found that getting all the hardware off the mast was pretty tough. A cordless impact and PB Blaster was pretty effective. I’m going to slather tefgel on everything when I begin the reassembly. I have a good sander and my paints for the mast, so now I’m just waiting on good weather window.

  4. Hey Ryan! As another “victim” (and loving it!) follower of PBS (I took the plunge of buying a boat 3 years ago!), I’m really enjoying your story and progress. Since I’m not able to sail away yet (chicken shit), I’m pretty much on the hard slowly doing repairs during the winter and living aboard afloat 4 months in the summer. I just wanted to comment just how bizarre it is going back to the city to work come Mondays. It’s like being an alien landing on some strange planet. Border line schizophrenia! Just be patient and stay focuses and you’ll get over it. Cheers!
    ps… I’m an editor/mastering engineer at the Athens Concert Hall (Greece). The organ here is huge! I’m sure we’ll have plenty to talk about one day on the water!

    1. Thanks sailingzootallures. What kind of boat did you get?

      It is pretty crazy going back and forth to the boat on the weekends. Since I only have two and a half days of work per week, I have to plan my weekends wisely. As part of my day job, time management has become one of my better skills, so I make effective use of my time in the yard. Each week I try to establish three attainable goals for the weekend. Doing so breaks the larger projects down into smaller bites and gives me a sense of accomplishment :)

      I just looked up that organ. 6,080 pipes! That is an impressive instrument. I really miss playing. I absolutely hated playing for audiences, but there was nothing more therapeutic than going into an empty church at night and playing full bore for a couple of hours. There’s true power in shaking a church’s foundation with your fingertips!

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