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Friday, January 3, 2014

new blog URL

I have migrated the Iver blog to a wordpress.org site.  Still getting the hang of wordpress, and I'm sure the theme will change a few times.  But the posts are all there and you can keep up with our restoration adventure here www.tugiver.com

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The salvage

It's been about 6 weeks since the catastrophe.  I've had a hard time updating the blog because I prefer to think about what we will do rather than what happened and all that we lost. But I know I need to update you all on our progress.

The two days that we spent salvaging our tug was quite the ordeal.  The hardest part was dealing with the Coast Guard.  They totally over stepped their authority and made our lives miserable in the process.  They demanded we do things that they had no right to demand, they were bullies and cost us valuable time and money with their interference.  Even the Department of Ecology was frustrated by they way they stepped all over everyone involved and didn't follow procedures.  They just did whatever they wanted and totally got in the way.  As a boat owner we had rights and they stomped all over them.  I cannot tell you how disappointed I was in the Coast Guard and how they treated us.  It was totally unnecessary and seemed more ego driven on the part of the CG chief involved than anything else.  Fortunately we had lots of friends on our side and were able to salvage our boat despite the Coast Guard.

Our good friend VJ Suttmeier directed the salvage and decided early on to use a crane rather than bags to raise the boat.  It was lucky he did since the Coast Guard would not let us pump the boat out fully, they kept stopping us because they said the water had oil  in it and there was a sheen.  Of course there was a sheen!  That's why NRC had a crew skimming the oil out of the water at the same time we were pumping it out!!!  Also the boat was surrounded by an oil containment boom, the sheen was going no where.   So basically we would get the boat almost floating and before we could fix the fair weather seam to keep her floating, the CG Chief would order us to stop pumping and "see if it will float".  Of course she would sink back down when the water came in through the open seam.

photo courtesy of Linda Evans
Dave's Diving of Tacoma, great guys!!!  Thank you Nick and Alex.

photo courtesy of Linda Evans

photo courtesy of Linda Evans

photo courtesy of Linda Evans

photo courtesy of Linda Evans

photo courtesy of Linda Evans

photo courtesy of Linda Evans
When the crane arrived the CG insisted everyone where a hardhat, so we had to stop, get off the dock and scrounge for hard hats.  Bill made a call to his company and someone came down with a bunch of hats.  Notice the CG without a hard hat?  Yeah, that's the Chief, rules weren't meant for him.  He never wore a hard hat the entire day.

We did this for hours, pump out, almost get her floating and then stop pumping and watch her sink again and again, until finally we decided to take the boat full of water over to FVO and put her on the rails.  Moving a boat full of water and taking it out full of water is not ideal.  Boats are not made to hold water in, we were very nervous but had no other choice.

It looks like Iver is floating, but she's not.  The straps are holding the tug up.  This puts a lot of stress on the planks and frames.  The engine alone weighs around 38,000 lbs, add to that several hundred pounds of water and that's a lot to ask of an 88 yr old boat.

There are a lot of folks to thank for helping us during those two long days.  Mike and Kelley (tug Sally S and our neighbors on the dock) immediately made us a place on their boat.  Kelley put food in the fridge and clean linens on the bed and we've been living on their boat ever since that day.  We cannot thank them enough for that.  Mike and his buddy Travis also worked tirelessly helping with pumps and clearing looky loos and news crews off the docks.  They were awesome.
Skip (Tug Galene) was on his way to our tug as soon as I called him.  He was my first call after receiving the news.  Linda Evans was another friend who dropped everything to rush down to the tug.   She was my eyes, sending me photos so I could see what was going on. She also stuck around for two days to document the salvage since all my camera gear was on the tug.   Our neighbors in the boat yard were quick to get booms and oil absorbers into the water,  (thank you Chuck, Elizabeth and Michel) Stabbarts next door lent us their oil containment boom.  Our manager Shannon had the boat boomed very quickly, before any authorities arrived on scene.  VJ Suttmeier rented pumps and organized  the divers and directed the salvage.  He had a good plan.  Dave's Diving of Tacoma sent his divers Nick and Alex up to help.  They had a great attitude and worked hard for us. The crew on the Foss 300 and Freemont Tug did a marvelous job of getting our boat up[ and safely to the railway.   Western Towboat showed up with the Flyer to help bring the Foss 300 and Iver down to FVO.   And the folks at FVO stayed late to bring us onto the railway.  Karie (Tug Red Cloud) came by with bags of clothes in my size and a jacket for Bill. He's still wearing that jacket.  Otto Loggers from Northwest Seaport had a fundraiser during the Workboat show to help us with expenses and Kelley did one online for us.  Thanks to all our friends and kind strangers that have supported us through those fundraisers.  I know I'm forgetting some people and I apologize in advance, those two days are still kind of a blur.

Once Iver was on the rails at FVO (Fishing Vessel Owners) we had a surveyor (once again relying on our good friend VJ) and the FVO shipwrights assess her hull and decide what needed to be done.  It turned out her hull was in good shape, it's still not entirely clear what actually caused the tug to sink other than an unusually hot dry summer followed by several days of massive rains and gale force winds.  There were no glaring problems.  All she needed was some caulking in her seams and a few new planks.  The only planks we had to replace were the two just above the water line where that fair weather seam opened up. But since we were there and it's very expensive to haul out a boat as large as Iver, we decided to replace some planks we knew were sketchy.  There were about 4 planks that had been replaced maybe 7 or 8 years ago and the wood they used was not very good.  The best wood to use for our tug is the wood that was used in 1925 to build her, old growth vertical grain doug fir that's been air dried.  That stuff is very hard to find. Air drying wood can take years, most wood is kiln dried because it's faster. The yard didn't have any, in fact they had a fishing boat waiting on the dock for repairs because they couldn't find the right wood.  So we ended up finding the planks ourselves, we drove out to Forks on the Olympic peninsula, to a small family run lumber mill and picked out several planks.

 The planks are so thick we could only get half on the Escape, so our friend Joe brought the rest over on his truck.  He was on his way to Sequim that same day and just drove on to Port Angeles to meet us.  Then he drove the planks over to Seattle the next day.  

photo by Erik Freeman
We also had any suspect seams caulked, the caulker at FVO is one of the best and he checked out the hull and caulked any seam he thought needed attention.  Mostly butt seams.  

Once a seam is caulked with cotton then oakum, portland cement is put on top to seal it.  Then the cement is painted with the bottom paint.

These are the original zincs, they looked like new, an advantage of sitting in fresh water.  The shipyard painted all the steel parts with cold galvanize paint.  

The folks at FVO were a joy to work with, they never pressured us to do anything, they worked with our budget and understood the situation.  They were very sympathetic.  And they are some of the most highly skilled craftsmen when it comes to repairing vintage wooden boats.  These are the folks that keep the 100 yr old halibut fleet floating and working.  You can't get any better than these guys.

Iver was on the rails for a little under two weeks.  While the shipwrights worked on the hull, Bill would work on cleaning out the interior.  He would go down in the afternoon after the yard closed and work.  I had fractured my foot a couple weeks before and was still wearing a walking boot so I couldn't help.  It was hard seeing all our things destroyed but most could be replaced.  A lot of stuff was saved, photos and some clothing.  Kitchen utensils and dishes.  Pots and pans, etc.  It was exhausting sorting through the mess.  Everything was wet and stunk of diesel oil.  Even 6 weeks later I catch myself thinking about something I need and remembering it was on the tug.  

Once the shipwrights were finished, they lowered Iver down into the water but left her on the rails to make sure everything was tight and nothing was leaking.  After two days she was ready to go home.  Our friend George Hill (Tug Parthia) arranged to have his friends at Trident Seafood bring out their work skiffs and tow Iver back home.  

photo courtesy of Linda Evans

 A crew of volunteers from Bill's company, Turner Construction,  came out that first weekend we were back at the dock and stripped out all the walls, built in cabinets and everything else left inside, including that stupid jetted tub.  So now we have a clean slate and can start over and redesign the interior.  

Our friend Dave came over from Port Townsend for the weekend to help with the electrical.  He and Skip helped us install a new panel and we are now hooked up to shore power.  There are lights in the engine room and an outlet to plug in the bilge pumps.  

Skip, Rudy and Christopher came by to help clean up the engine and make sure it would be okay after being underwater for so long.  Skip spent several days working on the genet and got it running.  They pumped air into the air tanks and the main engine was turned over several times to make sure all the water was out. We still have more work to do there, but it should be fine.

Heaters, a fan and a dehumidifier (a gift from a friend) have been running non-stop for weeks.  We've been cleaning and scrubbing and trying to get rid of all the oil residue and diesel smell. We've started insulating the interior with rigid foam in preparation for the new t&g walls in the salon and the new galley.  We've redesigned the galley lay-out so now we can have a regular fridge freezer combo instead of the under counter variety.  It's an apartment size fridge, so it will fit nicely in that space. 

Fridge and dishwasher from the local re-use store.

European style washer/dryer from craigslist.  They even fit through the door!!

Last weekend Bill and I started on the head.  We planned out where the shower and sink were going and got the new (for us anyway) washer and dryer in place.  Plumbing is roughed in for the laundry and a couple of new walls are up.  Having the laundry upstairs is going to be a lot more convenient, going up and down the engine room ladder with a full laundry basket was a bit difficult and I kept losing socks in the bilge.  :)

We also put a winter cover on the tug so we can work on the decks and stay dry.  It's common practice with wooden boats.  Things are going along pretty well and hopefully Bill will be out of Arizona by early next month and working here in Seattle, so we can move back home soon.  

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Our tug, our home, sank.

I've been trying to update the blog with the news of the tug sinking, but it's still too soon.  I just can't write about it in detail yet.  But please know that we are not giving up on our tug, she's on the rails at FVO and work has already been done to get her back in the water.  There's no clear reason on why she sank, our best guess is a combo of a very hot dry summer, record rains, gale force winds and the fact we were gone most of the summer.  The dry summer could have caused a fair weather seam (seam above the waterline) to dry out and open and then record rains (record rains in Seattle is a heck of a lot of rain) plus 60+ mph winds could have caused water to ship in through the seam.  We had checked the auto bilge pump and high water alarm before we left the boat 2 weeks before and both were working just fine.

So now it's back to almost square one.  But we've been wanting to re-do the galley anyway.  :)
 We've had so much help and support from all of our friends, it's been overwhelming.  We couldn't have made it through these last few days without them.  We have amazing friends.

Here she is safe on the railway at FVO at Fisherman's Terminal.  Some caulking and a few planks (hey she's out, why not replace a few planks now) and she should be back in the water by the end of next week.  I'll do a better job of updating sometime in the near future, but right now it's just a bit much to deal with and we're doing what we can to get back to normal. 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Wheelhouse Wall

One of the things that has always bothered us about Iver, was the plywood on the outside of the wheelhouse wall.  In 1925 when Iver was built,  the front of the wheelhouse would have been done in tongue and groove.  Another problem with the plywood was that over the years the drains for the copper window pans had been plugged up or even just boarded over.  The windows drop down into those pans to keep water from getting into the wall, plugging up the drains wouldn't help keep water from getting into the wall.

In this photo you can see the original T&G above the windows. We used that original wood to match the replacement planks.

We decided it was time to put the T&G back on the boat.  Also we wanted to see what was under there, we knew there was water damage and rot.  So all that plywood had to go.  We had help with the first part of the demo when Bill's brother Ron and cousin Richard came up from California for a visit. Armed with a sawzall, they attacked the wheelhouse wall. There were two layers of plywood, but no waterproofing material and many of the supports had rot.

Luckily the original copper pans were intact, there are four, two in the front and one on each side with a drain in a lower corner.  The two windows in the middle don't open.  Bill added in additional support and replaced some of the badly rotted supports.  He also added a bit of insulation in the form of rigid foam. 

Then we wrapped the wall in roofing paper and then with 1/4" birch plywood.  Originally the first layer of the wall would have been thin boards set at an angle or horizontally, then the T&G, but since it will be hidden, we went with the birch ply.  A bit easier to make that curve around the side.  Then we wrapped it again with roofing paper.  We use the roofing paper also know as tar paper, as a moisture barrier.  It will inhibit moisture but still allow the boat to breathe.

 We painted the backside of the T&G boards with a red lead substitute to inhibit rot.  The material is clear vertical grain fir tongue and groove flooring material.  We spent 45 minutes at the lumber yard cherry picking our planks.  No knots, no voids.  (well, almost no knots)

Bill used a small plane to individually shape and custom fit each plank to fit the curve of the house. 

Each plank is then carefully placed to get a nice tight fit.  Holes were cut to for the four cooper drip tubes.  Bill used a pneumatic finish nailer to attach the T&G to the wall.

The T&G looks great on the wheelhouse, it matches up with the original almost exactly.  We caulked and sanded the boards, then primed and painted.

A little painting tip, for a dark color you need to use a dark primer.   I use a white primer for our dove white and a dark grey primer for the dark red. 

A note about the paint, we used latex exterior house paint, Sherwin Williams best exterior latex to be exact.   I know there are going to be wood boat folks that think this is blasphemy but here's my reasoning.  Even the priciest house paint is much less expensive than anything with marine on it's label.  Also there is virtually no smell to this paint, very low VOC's. I can't stand the fumes from oil based paints, it gives me a headache and makes me feel ill.  Exterior latex is formulated for wood, it's designed to withstand all kinds of weather from extreme heat to extreme cold, wind, rain, snow and yes, salt spray.  Houses flex, boats flex.  I just could not find a reason to pay twice as much for paint that made me feel like I have the flu after a hour of use.  After two years the paint is looking good on most of the boat, the only problems have come from bad spots in the wood, not the fault of the paint more the fault of the painter, it's all about the prep work.  We're pretty happy with our choice, so please don't start filling the comments section with rants on latex paint on boats.  We'll save the expensive marine paint for the hull. 

Rusty Portholes

Another problem we encountered with the wheelhouse were the portholes below the doors.  These were added in the late '70's or '80's and were steel not bronze.  They're in pretty poor shape and the wood around them had a lot of rot.  

 Bill removed the porthole on the starboard side. It was falling apart and had been leaking for quite a while, someone had caulked it shut to try and stop the leaks.  The wood around the porthole had become wet and was full of dry rot.  It all had to go.

Once all the bad wood was removed Bill added additional support in the space, rigid foam insulation and covered it with roofing paper. 

 The T&G on the side of the house is not a size you can find at the local lumber yard, so Bill had to mill all the pieces from bigger stock.  Our neighbor Chuck is always willing to lend a hand.  They carefully slid the pieces into place and measured for the cuts.

 Sanded and caulked and ready for primer.  No more leaky rusty porthole.

Once it was primed and painted, you can't tell where to porthole used to be and it's difficult to distinguish the old wood from the new.