Monthly Archives: October 2013

How an old toothbrush saved my sanity; a.k.a. headliner cleaning.

Good evening my fellow humans.  I’ve been in Florida for 5 days now and in between my pay the bills work and boat work Mamma is a wee bit tired.  However, I’m sitting in the cockpit now, eating some chips, sipping a rum and coke, and it’s about 75 degrees with a light breeze.  Life is crazy good.

Awright, here’s the tale of the headliner…  Serenity’s Previous Owners, one of them was a smoker.  How someone can smoke in such a small space is beyond me, but that’s not the point of this blog. Well, it kind of is….  So there I was, minding my own business sitting in the port side settee and I look up.  Huh.  I’m pretty sure the headliner’s not supposed to be that color.  I grab a flashlight and do the ole Batsignal; minus the Bat.  Yuck!  What. The. Hell.  It quickly became apparent Smoky The Bear’s preferred spot to sit; holding her burning cancer stick.  This will NOT do.

I grab the Simply Green, full strength because that shit’s gotta go.  This is where the old toothbrush saved my mental bacon.  See, the headliner has a diamond pattern with horizontal lines contained within each diamond.  A sponge is not going to get into the crevices and unfortunately a fingernail brush didn’t do squat.  Grab the ole toothbrush.  A few determined back and forth’s and it worked like a charm.  The downside?  You guessed it.  Toothbrushes are tiny.  This is going to be a long afternoon.  Time to turn on the tunes and get to it.

#1 – Get the initial layer of grime removed.  FYI – buckets are my BFF’s on the boat, for a myriad of reasons.  I start with a liberal spritzing of Simple Green.  Pro tip: exhale when spritzing or you will get gassed.  Yikes.  Scrub with sponge, rinse sponge(in said bucket), repeat.  Each spot, on average, got 2 sponge baths.  It was critical to keep changing the rinse water or I would just swirl around dirty water = counter productive.

Headliner grossness

Headliner grossness

#2 – After the spongy goodness I hit it with the toothbrush.  A squirt of Simple Green on the toothbrush, give it vigorous back and forth, wipe, rinse toothbrush, do a touch up scrub, wipe.  Get up every 10 minutes to replace the Love Canal water with fresh.  Repeat until headliner grossness is vanquished.

After and before

After and before

I was lucky and just worked on the small areas above the settees and galley.  Tim did the headliner in the vee berth which he spent hours on.  He is my hero.  Check out his handy work.

Vee berth headliner before and after

Vee berth headliner before and after

The headliners may not be perfect but it’s a vast improvement from them resembling the inside of a chimney.

Next up: fun with portlights.

Thanks for reading!

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A Diamond in the (very) Rough

Greetings and salutations from Serenity!  Serenity is our 1985 37′ Tayana sailboat, designed by Bob Perry and built by Ta Yang shipyard.  Our hailing port is THE Austin, Texas but Serenity is currently splashed in Bradenton, Florida.  We like to think we own Serenity, but the truth is, we own each other.

First off, thank you for reading our blog.  We appreciate the time you’ve taken to partake in our wee effort to string some words together in what we hope will enlighten and entertain.  Let’s get the boring stuff out of the way….

This blog reflects our opinions and is in no way the opinions of others.  We are not experts.  Far from it. The directions and choices we make may not work for you.  We may love something, you may not.  Our choices may turn out to be huge ass mistakes.  If that is the case we hope to never repeat them.  You must do your due diligence when making decisions about your boat.  It is your responsibility to do the necessary research to ensure you are safe and your boat fully functional.  All pictures, images, content, and text belong to either Tim Mueting or Christine Pettit, or the proper attributes have been given.  Please do not copy anything contained within this blog without obtaining permission and using attributes.  Thank you, and now on to our regularly scheduled program.

About us: Tim Mueting is the Captain and heart of the operation.  With over 15 years sailing experience Tim is The Dude <insert your favorite Big Lebowski quote here>.  Christine Pettit is First Mate, blogger, and eager student of All Things Sailing.  To pay the bills Tim is a Product Marketing Manager and I’m an Event Manager.  Right now Tim is in Bradenton living aboard Serenity while I’m still in Austin.  My job does not allow me to work remotely and I gotta help feed the sailing piggy bank, so stuck in Austin I am.  Please note I’m not complaining.  Austin is one of the best places on this big blue marble, but being separated from Tim and Serenity, in a nutshell, it SUCKS.  I badly want to be there, sharing the trials and tribulations, learning, and of course working on her.  I’m a grease monkey at heart and not being able to help, see what’s going on, be armpit deep fixing stuff, I’m not the happiest of campers.  I’ll get there early 2014 but for the time being, allow me to re-iterate, it SUCKS.  Enough of the boo hoo’ing, let’s move on…

How we got here: Over 2 years ago we started the journey of finding a sailboat. We wanted a blue water boat.  Tayana, Morgan, Cabo Rico, Allied, Camper Nicolson, Crealock, and a few others made our list. (If your boat didn’t make this list I don’t want to hear about it. Thanks!) Many weekends were spent poring over sailboat listings, watching boats come and go, noting the boats with price drops, goggling over some of the absurd asking prices, lurking in forums, and on and on and on. We knew a fixer upper was probably our best bet – price wise, doing some the work ourselves, allowing us to really get to know the boat; all that jazz. We’re both pretty handy people, not afraid to dive in and get shit done, but we also didn’t want to spend all our time working on the boat and never getting to sail it.  Our own version of Goldilocks and the Three Boats.

Over many, many months we made a dozen trips to look at boats.  A boat that looked promising on paper, in reality not so much so.  Also in play is my approach versus Tim’s approach when assessing a boat.  My thought process was “we’ll know if the boat is for us once we meet it.  We’ll feel if we’re supposed to be its owner”.  Of course I was also assessing hardware stuff like rigging, engine hours, condition of the deck and topsides, sails, layout, extras such as GPS, solar, wind, etc… But the “touchy feelie” type if thinking/gut feeling is next to impossible to explain and that’s what I was tuning in to, more than the hardware oriented stuff.  (I’m betting the women reading this will be nodding in agreement).  Now, Tim’s approach was very focused on the condition of hardware, this is nice, this is jacked up, why is this like it is, great boat but way overpriced, etc… Neither approach is right or wrong, they’re just different.  Sharing our thoughts and all the pros and cons of a boat, many times the drive home would be in a contemplative silence. On top of all these reindeer games Tim was trying to sell his house.  Living in Austin the market was/is better than in many places, but it was still a struggle, stressful, heartbreaking, annoying, and sometimes just out and out bullshit.  On a side note, our realtor Dianne is AWESOME so if you need a realtor lemme know.  Back to “The Search”.

Remember when I was telling you about poring over the listings?  One boat kept popping up on my radar, but initially it was waaaayy out of our price range.  I told Tim about it and we needed to keep our eyes open for a price drop.  Sure enough that happened, with a note “make an offer”!  Interesting.  Very interesting.  Another weekend of poring over the listings.  Saw the boat again.  This time I told Tim, “we need to SERIOUSLY LOOK AT THIS BOAT.  They really want to sell.  Maybe our budget of $xx,xxx isn’t out of line”.  We go onto one of our favorite user forums to see if there’s more scoop.  Boom.  Right there is the dude, talking about the boat.  An email is sent, phone calls are made, questions asked and answered.  A plane ticket is purchased.  Tim misses my birthday weekend but I could give a rats ass.  The boat has been found.  Tim makes an offer, writes a deposit check on the spot.

Fast forward: The house is sold. Tim moves to Bradenton.  The boat is hauled out for some desperately needed work. Sticker shock when we get the bill.  Sleepless nights are had (and will continue to be had) thinking about all the work Serenity needs.  Lists are compiled.  The world continues to spin.

I bet many of you are thinking, man, what a HUGE gamble, risk, dumbass move <insert your favorite noun here>.  You would be incorrect.

See, the thing is I trust Tim and myself IMPLICITELY.  He knows what I like, don’t like, what I can tolerate, and what I will not abide.  I know the same about him.  We are utterly on the same page when it comes to the “must be” in a boat.  So I told him if he thinks this is the boat than I’m on board (pun intended) and we need to go for it.  You cannot sail to your dreams if you do not have the boat.  Most importantly I know, without a doubt, Serenity is a BAD ASS boat. I know all that is lacking is knowledge and experience and time.  Those things are not out of reach and can be obtained.  I understand systems.  These particular systems, no, but they are systems nonetheless and I know we can figure them out.  I know EVERYTHING is fixable.  For every problem there is a solution.  One thing at a time and before you know it, we’re a leaf on the wind.

In conclusion: Do I regret this decision?  Not for a moment because when I tell people about Serenity, and share the tales of our first forays getting her seaworthy, I’m still stoked about owning her.  I’m looking forward to coaxing the diamond out of the rough.  I’m so looking forward to that first sail.  The chugging engine, the feeling of movement, the kinship when we pass other boats, the ocean, the air, the light, the sound of water hissing over the hull, the use of the body to hoist the sails, the look on Tim’s face when the sail curves to catch the wind.  The adventure….


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The Bottom Job of Doom

As previously mentioned Serenity is in need of some serious TLC.  The first on our long list of L & C was a long overdue bottom job.  From 10 feet away you could tell the bottom was in rough shape; critters, scratches, water line incorrect, and just all around grossness.

Tim scheduled time with our down-the-river boatyard Snead Island.  Using these guys comes with a hefty price tag but they are considered one of the best around.  We were lucky enough they could get Serenity in when Tim came to Texas for a business trip.  On a nice Saturday morning off he goes with our neighbors Randy and Bill to drop off the boat.  Other than a scare with the engine losing RPM’s (remember to bleed the lines when changing filters)! the trip down the river was uneventful.  Serenity gets hauled out.

Couple days later our dock neighbor Chuck calls Tim with an update.  First thing he says was, “I went to the yard and your boat had fallen out of the cradle” It was laying there on its side”!  Tim let loose with a swearing tirade worthy of a champion, but then Chuck started laughing and said just kidding.  Not funny man!!  Actually, it was pretty funny since that’s the kind of crap I pull on people.

Back to it…  The de-grossifying begins.  I guess one good thing about a boat that’s had 1, maybe 2 bottom jobs in her life is there isn’t a whole lot of old paint to remove.  Bad news was the bottom was all sorts of jacked up.  It looked like much of the hull had been hit with a shotgun; shallow, round’ish indentations scattered all over.  Once devoid of the last millimeters of paint the bottom was fuuuuuugly.  I mean, don’t meet it in a dark alley kind of fugly.  Luckily the gel coat was intact.  Miraculously there were no blisters, nor breaches of the fiberglass layer.  Small favors…

Hull strbrd side scratches

Rudder_port side

Additional items repaired: cutlass bearing; which we knew she needed so no biggie. Through-hulls – 5 were messed up and got replaced.  Again, no big surprise there.  Apparently the prop had received a smack(or 2 or 3) so that needed tending to.  Zincs were replaced, as per expectations.  A pleasant surprise, the rudder straps were fine.  Can you hear fate laughing?  Yeah, me too.

The bottom job gets completed – yippee!!  It looks great.  We went old school and did black. Black is slimming, right?  Does my hull look fat?  Sorry, I digress….

Aft looking forward

Close up_port side

The day comes to drop her back into the H2O.  Much anticipation as she goes back into her element.  Of course the Snead guys hop on board to do last minute checks.  Huh.  Water in the bilge. WTF.  Where’s it coming from?  They hunt all over and determine the stuffing box is the culprit.  They flip the switch for the bilge pump.  Nothing.  Nada.  Zilch.  Batteries are dead. They are older than dirt so no real surprise there so then they had to get a charger on board to charge the batteries which took a good couple hours.  Serenity is once again on the hard.

The guys try to loosen the nuts for the stuffing box.  Of course the nuts are literally welded together.  Pretty sure the stuffing box has never been serviced.  Ever.  To make this even more fun we have a hulking Westerbeke generator in the engine compartment completely in the way of the 2 guys working, plus dealing with the accumulation of crap stored down there, plus it’s a sauna in the compartment.  After a couple hours of wrenching/pounding/hammering to try and loosen the nuts they FINALLY surrender.  The contents of stuffing box?  Basically a piece of dental floss.  No bueno.

The afternoon wears on with them cleaning, getting the packing replaced and everything buttoned up.  Tim spends the whole day in the boat yard, getting fried in the hot sun.  With the sun on its way to setting Serenity is re-splashed.  Much holding of breath.  Looks like that solved the problem; no water leaking, batteries are charging, engine running nicely.  Many hours later, one very sunburned Tim, an anxious girlfriend soothed, and a check in the amount to feed a third world country Serenity is back home.  Lookin’ good sweetheart.

Full view

One item crossed off; 999 more to go.  🙂

Next time: headliner grossness and why spare toothbrushes are good to have aboard.

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Just a few snaps….

Just a few snaps of Serenity, under her old name of Luna Sea.

In the marina.  Port side of Serenity

In the marina. Port side of Serenity

In the marina, starboard side

In the marina, starboard side.  The wind generator NOT where it belongs due to defunct arch.

I don't know their official name, but here are the line keeper thingies.

I don’t know their official name, but here are the line keeper thingies.  Excited we have them.  I think they are old school cool, and beautiful to boot.

Little dude is not really where he belongs.

Little dude is not really where he belongs.

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A sneak peek about us

Serenity is a 1985 Tayana 37′ blue water sailboat.  Tayana’s are a Bob Perry designed, Ta Yang boatyard built boat. Fun fact: Tayana in Taiwanese means “belongs to big ocean”.  Fitting?  I like to think so…

Tim is Serenity’s Captain, and Christine is First Mate.  We purchased Serenity July 3, 2013.  I will remember this date pretty much forever because we spent our first night on her on the 3rd, then were treated to an awesome fireworks show on (duh) the 4th, plus Tim’s daughter got engaged on the 4th so that was an added bonus!

Serenity is in need of some serious TLC so our plan is to fix her up, then boogie to points South around 2016.  Seems like a long way off but I’m pretty sure it will fly by. Can’t wait for the day we cast off and point her bow towards 25° 4′ 0″ N, 77° 20′ 0″ W

We hope you enjoy the Tripe T – trials, tribulations and triumphs as we get Serenity ready for Our Big Adventure.


Christine and Tim

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