Written by Jen Finn
May 25 – June 19, 2007 — The preseason boat work on the Sunlight III began at an easy pace. I arrived on May 25, a few days ahead of Mike Vlahovich, who brought his son Anthony up to work on my boat through his organization, the Coastal Heritage Alliance. When Mike arrived I was still in a very relaxed state of mind. I knew I had a lot of work to do, but I also knew I had a lot of time to complete it. And thankfully, I had a lot of help as well.
Mike and Anthony came up to recork the bottom of the boat, and do a number of other necessary jobs to the Sunlight III, such as repairing the hole Sid punched in the back of the transom when he rammed me with his ridiculous drift-netting skiff at the end of the 2006 season; create a UHMW stem-guard that extends down to the keel and becomes part of the keel-shoe; refasten my cutlass bearing that vibrated off the back of the boat a couple years prior and has since been bolted into place with a couple of giant lag bolts; the list goes on, but those were the main things.
Upon discovering my new engine was shipped up in inoperable condition, I became a bit more anxious. I knew that would set me back a solid week, and it actually set back the completion of my boat almost two weeks. During this time I was working like an idiot, doing out-of-order projects so they were ready when the engine was finally running. Although nothing actually went so smoothly as to just fall into place, eventually it all managed to somehow fit together.
The most difficult aspect of the job was setting the engine in place but not actually installing it, because my engine guy still had to come up and make it run. I had all the mounts installed and the engine resting on them, but at the same time I still had the engine rigged up to the chainfall so it could be lifted it to allow the guy to tend to his repairs from the underside of the engine. I was never so happy to get that thing running and start bolting everything into place.
My giant, hospital-grade muffler was mounted on a totally bitchin' super-bracket I concocted under the advice of Dock Boss Tom and his brother Ed, the fabricator extraordinaire. I had a hell of a time figuring out the best way to rig up a shroud and route the stack so water didn't run down along the pipe. I finally found a prefabricated "hat" off an old junk boat a guy was parting out to paying scavengers. My crew assembled into a team of enthusiastic tear-aparters, grabbed a pile of tools, and returned with their booty in a matter of hours.
As all of this was happening, more and more fishermen were showing up in camp. It was frustrating for me because I was usually in the water by June 12, but here I was with an unquantifiable list of boat projects. Plus I had a bunch of fabricating projects stuck behind other guys' non-essential projects like broken levelwinds and a slew of other rinky-dink fix-it jobs that (it seemed to me) served no other purpose than to delay the completion of my engine installation.
The biggest annoyance was that the feed line at the mess hall backed up out the door and around the corner so it took a solid 30 minutes just to get your food because the cook insisted everybody dish up from only one side of the buffet table. I refused to waste so much of my time with such nonsense and started cooking my own bean-and-rice concoctions I could eat on my own time, in a peaceful environment, without having to look at all those other guys who were making it so difficult for me to finish any of my projects because there were so damned many people all trying to get their projects done at the same time!
TO BE CONTINUED...
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