After a winter's worth of Saturdays and about a hundred sheets of sandpaper, the Sled is ready to splash.
Have you been eagerly following this Tough Sledding series? Were you beginning to wonder what became of my boat project?
My radio silence in recent weeks could indicate that I've fizzled out, put down my sandpaper, and left the Thistle partially refinished in Mom's garage. And I'll admit, I had my doubts—especially as Memorial Day passed, the lawn needed mowing, and there was that crib to assemble.
Proud parents: Dad and I pause our Easter Egg hunt to admire our handiwork.
With sailing season rapidly approaching, the pressure to finish work on the Sled intensifies.
For all the hard work we put in varnishing the Sled this winter, I expected to feel more relieved after we applied the final coat—which we finally did the other day. Instead, I'm feeling annoyed and overwhelmed.
We didn't have a white Christmas in Cleveland, so I put in some hours with the Sled.
Without much snow on the local ski hill, I had no excuse not to spend some time indoors over the holidays, working on the Sled. Though my father and I have been working on the boat for the past few months, the results are only just now beginning to show.
Making repairs to the Sled is like entombing the boat's battle scars beneath layers of epoxy and varnish.
Sanding the Sled the past few weeks, I've been noticing all the old epoxy repairs marking the boat's history. Some of them I remember—like the faint scar where the vang cleat pulled away from the centerboard trunk during a Midwinters race years ago—and some I've only just discovered.
The process of rehabbing my father's Thistle may soon include a trip to the dentist.
I'm not sure if it's even possible, but I think I varnished my teeth.
Yesterday afternoon, I tuned in the Cleveland Browns game on the radio, wrapped my foam block with 320-grit paper, and continued sanding away at the Sled, the wooden Thistle I'm in the process of varnishing. Last weekend, I worked through all the nooks and crannies of the bow and mast-step areas; the back of the boat is less intricate, so yesterday's sanding went relatively quickly.
Don't bother getting philosophical about sanding. Just get started.
I'm stuck in an infinite loop of surface preparation. The first stage of revarnishing the Sled, my father's Thistle, involves sanding off the top coat of old varnish to achieve uniform smoothness. Right about now, it feels like I've been sanding for weeks, getting nowhere, with no end in sight.
I spent Saturday sanding the Sled in a classic rock-induced trance, and I learned a little more about the boat's legacy.
It was "double-shot weekend" on 98.5 WNCX, Cleveland's Classic Rock—perfect music for sanding. I turned the Panasonic to loud, grabbed a few sheets of 240 grit and a foam sanding block, slipped on my Musto kneepads, and crawled into the bow of the Sled, my dad's Thistle, which I'm in the process of rehabbing in his garage.
Rehabbing my father's wooden Thistle should be a relatively simple task. Or, at least, it would be for anyone but me.
I'm not a handy person. I mean, I'm not totally helpless with a toolbox, but I've never been Mr. Fix It. I just don't have that mechanical ability that comes naturally to some people, like my friend Billy. Recently, a chain saw seized up on me. It had been working fine—I had the right mix of gas and oil in the tank, and the chain was well lubricated. But one day, I went to pull the cord, and it just wouldn't budge.