"Well, er, let's just call them, uh, "Mr. X" and "Mrs. Y." So anyway, Mr. X would say, "Marge, if this doesn't get your motor running, my name isn't Homer J. Simpson.""
-- Homer Simpson

Does whatever an iron can…


Well, the boat is now in the water, and the mast is up. You can see the pictures from preparing the boat for launch here and here.

I went to see Iron Man last night with BogMan, the Friendly Redhead, and Homewrecker & beau (he’s gonna need a nickname for the blog). The movie was absolutely phenomenal, and definitely on a par with the other Marvel-based greats, Spiderman and X-men. As this is Marvel’s first foray into financing (and therefore producing) their own movies, I hope this is indicative of what we can expect from future movies as well.

Robert Downey Jr. was the perfect choice to play Tony Stark — he completely owned the role, bringing weight to the emotional and dramatic scenes while still delivering on the comedic moments. Much like most first movies for a comic book character, the entire movie is devoted to the Iron Man origin story. However, unlike Fantastic Four, the requisite final battle feels neither stilted nor tacked-on. It wasn’t quite as phenomenal as the Spiderman climax, but definitely on par with X-men.

The effects were, of course, as mind-blowing as we’ve come to expect from these types of movies. Jon Favreau (the director) seems to have taken a page from Firefly and used a lot of simulated hand-held photography for the mid-air battle scenes (the battle between Iron Man and two fighter jets was particularly well done). And the suit itself looked great…or should I say the suits looked great — there’s a good build-up of prototypes until the final Iron Man armour appears.

Just like with Spiderman, what makes the movie great is the strong focus on the hero character himself. Over the course of the movie, you see Tony Stark develop from a smug and self-righteous war profiteer who loves the ladies into a self-aware and somewhat humbled humanitarian…who loves the ladies. :-)

I am very much looking forward to both seeing this movie again, and to the inevitable sequel. I also can’t wait for Marvel to deliver on the not-so-subtle hint given in the post-credits scene!

Now, if only Warner Brothers would clue in and start diversifying their DC Universe movies beyond just Superman and Batman…actually, make that just Batman, since none of the Superman movies have had anything to do with the character from the comic book… :-(


The system is gonna feel so fine

With the spring thaw upon us (and how), my thoughts are once again turning to sailing (not that my thoughts stray far from my boat at the best of times). So, with that in mind, I figured it was time to check on Serenity this weekend, and make sure she survived the winter despite my lack of proper fall prep. Unlike my usual fervour for boat maintenance, I really dropped the ball in November — like everyone else, I was caught very unprepared for the sudden and massive early snowfall, and the boat just managed to get out of the water in time (in fact, she came out on the day of the first snowfall of the winter). Unfortunately, that also meant that I wasn’t able to cover her with a tarp, so she was subjected to the full force of this lengthy winter.

I’m happy to report that Serenity seems to have survived the ordeal without any scars, although the rapid thaw seems to have resulted in a large amount of water leaking into the cabin. The bilge was overflowing, and the water levels on the bottom of the boat had risen to about 5 cm above the floor. So I spent my afternoon climbing in and pumping water over the side (after my breakkie-skipping sleep-in).

This year’s launch prep should be pretty quick. After all the work I did last year restoring up the hull, I’ll only need to do a quick clean and re-wax, and then add on a coat of anti-fouling paint below the waterline. Maybe this year I can be in the water before the end of April! Assuming the river has thawed, that is… :-)

100_3486.jpg Speaking of the river, I’ve never seen the water level so high. I’ll try to get a picture of it the next time I’m at the club, but this should describe it: if Serenity were in the crane service dock (compared with the shot from last spring at the right), her deck would be higher than the concrete edge of the dock! I know I’m not going to have any worries about running aground this spring…


Since I found Serenity

Not only did I get the decorative stripe finished and the masking tape off, but last night I decided it was finally time to make Serenity’s name a reality. Happy Phantom had supplied me with the vinyl lettering for the name last year (a fantastic birthday present), but I never got around to actually slapping the name on the side of the boat. Once the decorative stripe was finished, it seemed the perfect time to clean and polish the hull between the two portions of the stripe, and apply the name. I was a little nervous about screwing it up, but it turned out to be pretty easy to do, and I’m extremely pleased with the results!

Overall, things are coming along quite nicely. I’m going to do a run down to Gelcote International today to pick up a gelcoat repair kit for the one major crack (in my rudder), and to try my hand at fixing some of the more minor ones…since colour-matching with gelcoat is pretty tricky, I’m just going to do a test repair on a reasonably small area now. If it works out, I can do some more repairs next year (there are a number of spots on the hull with some crazing that could be spruced up).

Once the name was applied to the boat, I spent the rest of the evening continuing the cleaning and polishing. You can see in the picture at left that the hull is definitely glossier now, even in the lower-light picture (the sun had start to set by this point).

I’m about 2/3 done with the cleaning and polishing, and I’m almost out of my cleaning liquid. Since the Chandlery has run out (everyone’s cleaning their boats this week), I ordered some more from Pride Marine in Kingston a couple of days ago…it should show up today so that I can continue with the cleaning tonight. My goal is to finish (or nearly finish) the cleaning and polishing tonight, so that I can start waxing on Sunday. Then, I can pick up the motor from being tuned up on Monday or Tuesday, and hopefully be launched by the middle of next week!

I’ll be working on the boat again tonight, but then taking a forced break for a couple of days. Tomorrow night is the opening for Spider-man 3, and Saturday is the official Launch Day at the club (members aren’t allowed in the yard when the commercial cranes are operating). Plus, the Littler Miss is getting right with God on Saturday as well, which I’m told will take up a good chunk of the day… :-)


My fantasy has turned to madness

OK, I’ve actually decided not to paint that stripe just above the waterline. Once I got it cleaned up, I realized (and confirmed with one of the other boatowners) that the stripe is actually coloured gelcoat (the outer glossy layer of the fiberglass hull), and not paint. If I were to paint over it, there’s no way I’d get it as smooth (paint always has a texture). So, I have to choose between a little oxidation streaking if I don’t paint or a textured paint job that will eventually chip off if I do. And since I get to return about $75 worth of paint & supplies if I don’t, I think that’s where I’m leaning… :-)

It’s a little hard to see, but if you click on the picture and look at the larger version, you should see the progress I’m making on cleaning and polishing the hull. The foot or so just above the waterline (the burgundy stripe and the few inches above it) have been cleaned and polished (but not yet waxed) and you can sort of see that it’s a lot glossier than the stuff above it (based on how much is reflecting). I now just have to do that on the rest of the hull (i.e. I’m about 20% done the cleaning and polishing). And then, I have to wax the whole thing…sigh…

(One of the other boatowners commented that he believed boats should be sold every five years, since most owners only do this once or twice before they stop caring…)

You can also see at the top of the picture the masked-off area where I’m painting the decorative stripe. I should be able to take the masking tape off soon, so I’ll have a better picture to show off the wonderful job I’ve done (he said, optimistically).

And, at some point, I’m sure I’ll think about actually sailing this boat again… :-)


Don’t have no master suite

OK, I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted, but what better excuse to get back into it than my boat! :-)

With yesterday’s lovely afternoon weather, I finally got out to the boat to do the anti-fouling paint below the waterline (the copper-coloured bottom in the picture at right). A friend from work (who’s also a sailor) brought his pressure-washer and we spent the afternoon alternating the support pads on the cradle so that we could wash and paint the entire bottom of the hull. The copper colour will fade as the boat sits in the water, but it was just gleaming in the afternoon sun yesterday!

I’m also redoing the decorative striping along the side of the hull, just below the deck. It had been done previously with blue vinyl tape inserted into the inset stripes (and a couple of stars), covering up the original paint, which was apparently red. However, the vinyl tape was peeling and generally looking crappy, so I pulled it all off and then cleaned, sanded, and cleaned it again. After I took the picture posted here, I then masked out the inset area and put on the first coat of paint (which should look a whole lot nicer than the tape). I didn’t have my camera with me yesterday, so I had to resort to using my phone to take the picture…I’ll post more pictures as I get further on.

After I finish with the painting, I’ll need to deal with the topside hull (the part above the waterline). There are a few cracks in the gelcoat that need repair, and the hull is generally dull and grimy, so I’m going to clean it and then gloss it up with some rubbing compound, and then wax the whole thing…needless to say, my shoulders are not going to be pleased with me this week! :-)

I’m also debating painting the stripe just above the waterline (above the anti-fouling paint), as it’s looking pretty ragged…but we’ll see how the week goes. I’m hoping to launch next week, so I may leave some stuff for next year.


So it seems I must have won

I didn’t get a chance to post about this last week, but Ottawa’s mayoral race resulted in a bit of a surprise for most of our crowd…I’m pretty sure all of us had pegged it as a showdown between Munter (the pinko lefty) and Chiarelli (the populist middle-of-the-road guy). When the big-business right-wing guy took the race, I guess we all got a reminder that Ottawa tends to be a reasonably conservative town…something that may have been masked in the last decade by the growing geek quadrant that has been somewhat stifled in recent years.

Also last weekend, the boat came out of the water. BogMan and I got out for one last (and very cold) sail on the Friday before taking the batteries out (well, actually, he took the batteries out by climbing under the cockpit again…I just directed from above). Then on Saturday, Righteous Guy joined BogMan and I in lowering the mast, while The Grabber and SMC watched from a safe distance. Then, finally, on Sunday, BogMan and I pulled the boat out of the water (with the help of one of the sailing club service providers), and wrapped it up like a big blue enchilada. Only six more months before the next sailing season… :-(

Last but not least, BNL has provided another song for the soundtrack of my life. This one hasn’t bumped the already-established theme song, but it’s definitely on the “Songs About and Inspired By” CD… :-)


C is for…um, a sometimes food…

Yesterday was the Nepean Sailing Club‘s Haulout Day, which means they had two massive cranes pulling boats out of the water and placing them onto their storage cradles for the winter. I didn’t have Serenity pulled out just yet, as I’m trying to find a decent day to get one last sail in before I really call the season done.

BTW, sailboats just don’t look right when they’re lifted out of the water.

I’ve found the theme song for my life on the Grey’s Anatomy Season 2 soundtrack. I don’t actually hate everyone I know, but I’m very entertained by the song’s cheerful disdain for the throngs of idiot humanity out there… :-)


The dawn is breakin’, it’s early morn…

I have again been absent from the blog for quite some time, but I finally have an update on the whole boat situation–I’ve bought one! It arrived this week from Tobermory on a very great big truck. Here’s a pic of unloading the boat in the yard at the sailing club, and here’s what the interior looks like…

Serenity will be launched tomorrow morning, and I’m looking forward to getting out onto the water for the first time this year…


I noticed every Tom, Dick and Harry really liked “Blue Sun”…

Sadly, I won’t be purchasing the cute little Viking 22 I’ve been looking at. I had a marine survey done, and there are significant structural problems with the boat that would be muchos dolares to fix.

The good news is that it’s spring, and everyone’s listing their boats for sale, so I’m still hunting for that opportunity to have a little slice of heaven on the river… :-)

I’m a little stiff and sore this morning…after a long week of 17-hour work days, I decided to take a nap after work yesterday…I went to sleep at 4pm, and then woke up about half an hour ago. 14 hours of sleep has left me a little fuzzy-headed, but I’m definitely better rested now!


Watching the tide roll away

BogMan and I went out for a good sail on Friday, and finally had some solid wind that we could use. It was a little gusty at first, but it settled down after a little while. Last year’s uber-gusty adventure has really made me gunshy went it comes to sudden changes in heeling.

I spent the weekend doing some shopping, working on the deck, and getting out on the bike for a couple of hours of riding…so now I’m in a lot of pain. :-(


Maybe we’re ragged and funny

Went out for a sail the other night, but while the sails were up and the motor off, I think we were technically adrift…you be the judge.

It’s been a while since we’ve just had a medium-wind day. It seems that every time we go out lately, it’s either completely dead, or a little too active for my tastes… :-)

For those of you following such things, there’s also an update on the landscaping log.


It’s far, beyond a star

Went out on the river again yesterday morning, but the winds were pretty light. We managed to get out pretty far, because it wasn’t a west wind for once, which means that we didn’t have to be constantly tacking. But coming back, the wind died out on us, so we baked in the sun for a while, and then had to motor back.

Also, more progress on the yard!


Reflections in the waves spark my memory

BogMan and I managed to get out on the river last night, but had a bit of excitement…our engine died just when we were leaving the dock and entering the channel into the river. So we gained some experience in getting the sails up very quickly, while slowly drifting into the shallows that lay just east of the sailing club.

We managed to get the sails up (although we had to do the main twice) and get ourselves into the deeper water, so I guess we’re getting to a point where we know what we’re doing. However, I much prefer the days when we don’t have that tested… :-)


Yes, you can put your mind at ease

Having seeded the front yard and only the back yard left to do, it was finally time to get back to the sailing that BogMan and I have been anxiously awaiting. We would have liked to have started earlier, but the whole yard project just took over my life for the last couple of weeks. Any day that was nice enough for sailing was unfortunately also more than nice enough for yard work.

So last week I finally renewed my Keelboat Syndicate membership (having had my boat-buying plans scuppered by the necessity of buying the femto-van). Which meant that all I had to do was find my security badge for the sailing club, and we’d be set. That’s all I’d have to do

Well, I didn’t find it, but BogMan and I decided to soldier on…we went and hung around the gate until someone was going through and we could just run up behind them (there’s nothing shady about this, I am a member of the club). And then the process of prepping the boat began. Someone had taken off the mainsail (or maybe we were the first ones to take this boat out this year), so we actually had to install that back onto the boom. Not a huge problem, but after six and a bit months of not sailing, I can’t seem to remember any of the terminology (it’s the outhaul, not the boomvang!).

Anyway, after much setup, we managed to get away from the dock without hitting anything, and we were off to join the many, many other sailboats already out on the river. It was a gorgeous day — beautifully sunny, nice and warm, with enough wind to be moving at a decent clip, but nothing too adventurous. In my usual cavalier fashion, I eschewed any form of sun protection, and managed to get a light roasting (with my sunglasses on, so I’ve got raccoon eyes now).

After a couple or three hours of peaceful sailing (that quickly reminded us why we love this hobby), we headed back in. Amazingly enough, I managed to get the boat into the slip without stalling the engine, ramming the dock, or having to back out and try again. Maybe there’s something to this “experience” thing… :-)



Straight to her arms, I’ll go sailing…

Having written the Basic Cruising exam last night, and with the sailing season coming to an official close this weekend, I thought it’d be a good time to do one final sailing post for this year.

(Just so you know, I’m probably lying about this being the last one for the year.)

We’ve been out on the Ottawa River close to a dozen times in the last few weeks — by ‘we’ I mean myself and BogMan (as you can see by the pictures), along with some combination of The Grabber, Righteous Guy, Kamelot, Happy Phantom, and another buddy who actually isn’t registered on this blog (gasp!).

So far, we’ve done a pretty good job of maneuvering around the river — we’re now pretty familiar with Lac Deschenes (from frequent sailing out to Blueberry Reef), and although my initial excitement for Aylmer Island was often stymied, we’re pretty good at making it out there now. We’ve even once made it out to the Port-of-Call Marina (‘course, only because we couldn’t find Pinhey Point). And I haven’t dropped anything new into the river!

Our last day of sailing was a lot of fun, but there were a few moments that were more exciting than I was entirely comfortable with (apparently 30 knot gusts don’t make for calm sailing). All in all, I’m pretty convinced that this is a hobby that’s going to stick, so now I’m more obsessed than ever about finding a used boat to buy. So if anyone’s looking to sell a 25-ish foot sailboat with a large cockpit, wheel steering, and a road-worthy trailer for about $2000, give me a call… :-)


So I’m a little OCD…



I am the very model of a modern major general…

Sailor KavSpent the morning sailing with The Grabber and BogMan, which was a great deal of a fun. We managed to get pretty far this morning after a slow start…we switched the jib for the 170% genoa, and then proceeded to make it all the way to Aylmer Island. Things got a little exciting on the way back when we realized the wind had picked up significantly and we still had the genoa on — after a some intense heeling (i.e. the leaning of the boat due to the wind’s pull on the sails), we decided that the way back would be much less nerve-wracking with the jib again. At the end of it all, it was a great morning of sailing, although my docking skills still need a lot of work. And despite the pose in the picture, I am not actually a great big poof.

Sailor GabyThe evenings of this weekend have been taken up with the continuing adventures of a certain vampire slayer. As we go through the sixth season, I am again reminded of how depressing real life can get sometimes…which is exactly what Joss was trying to convey with each of the characters going through their “I’m a grown-up now, time to make some mistakes” phase. Despite all of this, the female contingent at the Buffypalooza viewings were falling all over themselves to comment on Tara‘s clothes, Buffy‘s shoes, and Spike‘s chiseled abs.

Sailor PeatNotwithstanding the impressive ab-ular definition (remember: not a poof), there’s a lot to say about Spike in season six. I believe that he’s at his most powerful at this point in the series — after all, he spent half of season two in a wheelchair, he was fall-down drunk in his single season three appearance, he was neutered by the government in season four, and spent season five alternating between trying to get rid of his chip and figuring out how to ask Buffy out on a date. By contrast, Spike in season six exerts a great deal of influence over our intrepid Slayer, as much as she would prefer otherwise. He drags her “down where she belongs”, as he would say — that is, into the darkness with him. For Buffy, Spike represents the ultimate escapism, and although she eventually summons the willpower to turn away from him, his draw on her lasts right to the end of the series.

And, in true Whedonist style, Spike continues to inject much-needed laughter into this oh-so-dark season. From “with the rising music and the rising….music” to the ridiculous kitten poker, an appearance by Spike usually means that hilarity will ensue.


Somewhere, beyond…dammit, already used a lyric from that song…

One of the things that has been occupying my time over the last few weeks has been sailing…three friends and I took the CYA Basic Cruising course in August (which, despite the name, has nothing to do with guerilla dating).

(For those who actually pay attention to this blog–poor souls–this was the same course I mentioned in an earlier post. We did actually get things sorted out after a sketchy first-weekend.)

Sailing Lessons From left to right, that’s Righteous Guy, BogMan, The Grabber, and then me. Of course, these names mean nothing to anyone, seeing as of the three others, only The Grabber has actually posted here, and even then it was only a sentence or two… :-)

We’ve been practising some on the Ottawa River (we were just out yesterday–yay!), and hope to continue with this oh-so-expensive pastime. I’ve actually joined the Nepean Sailing Club, which, in Ottawa circles, is not quite as hoity-toity as the Brittania Yacht Club. Still, it is yet another step in the rampant yuppification that has become my life.

In an attempt to avoid talking myself into buying a boat right away, I’ve also joined the Keelboat Syndicate, a name that makes me think I should be sailing in a trenchcoat and a fedora, spouting tough-guy lines.

Still, this would be sweet…


My lover stands on golden sands…

This morning, at a completely unreasonable hour for a Saturday, I along with The Grabber, Righteous Guy and BogMan (in their secret identities) headed down to the Ottawa Sailing School so we could learn to cruise (cruise in the context of sailing, and not the neo-horny sense). We had all signed up for this course several weeks ago, and have been looking forward to it since before even signing up.

Showing up at 9am (as instructed by our welcome letter), we were surprised to find no one there. Now, I’m fairly certain that this sailing school is not a scam, as there are many, many people at the two yacht clubs in west-end Ottawa who know about the school. However, after waiting for over an hour, we spent most of the next hour wandering the grounds of first one, then the other yacht club, vainly searching for some sign of a sailing class. Sadly, we were unsuccessful.

I have no idea from which direction to get upset about this. Should I be more pissed that we were mistreated (at the least) by the sailing school, or that I didn’t get to sail today? I think the answer to that question will depend on the response we get on Monday to our inevitable irate phone calls.

Stay tuned…