It’s been six years since we first started this refit of our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46. The winter of 2008 wasn’t too bad, from what I remember. 2010 was a humdinger, because that was the year of the great Mid-Atlantic snow storms. That was during the unfortunate paperwork SNAFU, when I thought I’d never get the boat titled. Snowmageddon is what they called it, and it pretty much shredded the shrinkwrap tent I’d left the boat in…three feet of snow will do that to a “temporary structure.” But in all of these winters and all of these tents, never before have I experienced a winter as nasty cold as 2014.
Fortunately, Tent Model X had the benefit of all of my years of experience making tents that were destined to fail, sometimes spectacularly. It took every dump of snow on the chin and shrugged it off. Unfortunately, it’s beyond my willpower to get enthusiastic about working in an unheated, uninsulated aluminum boat in an unheated, uninsulated tent when it’s 4° F outside and blowing 25 knots out of the WNW. We’re finally past that brutal cold, though, and heading rapidly toward spring. Time to get back to work!
I’ve always liked the boatyard in winter. It’s usually dead quiet except for the clanging halyards on sailboats. But when the high temperature for the day doesn’t go above 25°, even I’m hesitant to get in the truck and drive an hour each way to the yard. The days are already short enough, but when you add in time to let the temp come up just a bit and can only work so many hours before you start freezing up, it’s hardly worth the trip.
Even though some of the trips to the yard aren’t especially productive because it’s so cold, it gives me time to stare at what lies ahead and think about how I’ll accomplish certain tasks. The biggest challenges on the horizon are to get the prop shafts and engine installed, and I’m STILL working on resolving some issues with the windows.
One of the plywood battens going around the inside of the tent at the deck level failed just above where the door is. The plywood snapped, so the plastic is a bit flappy there, but the battens are still keeping everything in place so I’m not terribly worried about it.
It was a tight squeeze getting it in there, but my trusty Shopsmith is ready to work. I bought it specifically because so many tool functions can be packed into a relatively small space. I’ve already used it many times as a table saw, horizontal boring machine, drill press and as a milling machine when I made the aft enclosure window openings and modified the center windshield aluminum extrusions. The bandsaw attachment is extremely useful, and eventually the 12″ disk sander, shaper, router and jointer will be put to good use.
Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to take advantage of the light because it’s just been too cold…and wet. The boat is blocked up out in the most remote part of the yard, which also happens to be the lowest, and with all of the snow we’ve had the ground is very wet. The water table is up to the gravel under the boat, and water vapor rises until it runs into the underside of the tent, where it collects and falls back onto the boat. Even on the coldest days when the water turns to ice, the tent plastic collects enough heat from the sun to melt the ice. I have to keep a vent fan running 24/7 to stop it from raining in the tent.
I’ve got a propane heater, but propane is a very wet fuel and it rains even worse when I use it. I’ve got a kerosene bazooka heater, and it heats up the space pretty well, but with the big vent fan running it pulls the heat straight out of the boat.
Ah well. This last week the harsh winter finally broke. Over the weekend it was 60°. Time to get back to work.
Up next on our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Engine Beds.