Monthly Archives: November 2016

Celebrating my 36th Lap Around the Sun

It’s common to ask “Did you do anything special for your birthday?”


I had a wonderful day and want to share a few snapshots of it. Last year I celebrated my birthday in the desert, this year I got to be home. To someone who is home all the time the events that filled my birthday may seem boring, and tedious. Frankly, I did a lot of chores.

If there’s one thing to impart on you, on this day, it’s to make your home someplace you love to be. Sounds easier than it is, but it’s something that is worth of very deliberate thought and planning. You should love to come home. I do.

I hope you enjoy, or can see why this day was particularly special to me.



I’ve been thinking, lately, that everything is relative. A good day can only be measured relative to other days. If you can hold onto that next time you’re having a bad day, maybe you can power through knowing that the bad day is necessary to calibrate that elusive scale we measure our days by.

First Fab Job since DJ

I’ve had the good fortune of working on UNH’s R/V Gulf Surveyor since returning from deployment. Although there are several projects I’ve been working on, on the vessel, this is the first fabrication job, a step over the aft windlass.

The step covers important hydraulic fittings and aids user access to a ladder aft.

The step covers important hydraulic fittings and aids user access to a ladder aft.

The nature of the work we do requires that we frequently climb the short ladder in the right of the picture to access fittings for the transducer strut. That windlass is perfectly located in the stepping off zone and the hydraulic fittings are perfectly located on top of the windlass. To avoid potential damage to the hydraulic fittings I designed and installed a step to aid in convenience and protect the fittings.

It’s built of out 6061 aluminum and secured to the windlass brace with 316 SS hardware. I hired Custom Welding to do the welding and did the install myself. I applied a few strips of non-skid tape sourced from West Marine.

Windlass Step Fabrication Drawing

You’ll see on the drawing I marked the width as a critical dimension. I’ve worked with Custom Welding a lot and have had great luck with them. I think their welds are awesome. Any negative feedback I’ve heard, I think, comes from not providing adequate detail in the drawing. Anyway, this was dead nuts. That’s harder than you think because the metal expands and contracts during welding so it has a tendency to walk around a bit.

For the install, I brought a few clamps to the boat and eyeballed the location that I wanted it in, clamped it in place, and used the existing holes in the fabricated step as guides for drill holes in the windlass mounting brace. I forgot my favorite cutting fluid, Anchor Lube, so made due with some 3-in-1 oil we have on board. I chose button head cap screws for a cleaner look and chose 3/8″ bolts with nylock nuts sourced from McMaster Carr. You’ll see in the drawing that I drilled the holes out a 32nd over to make it easy to insert the bolts. I always apply marine grade anti-seize to fittings going on the ocean, and also always on stainless steel hardware. I inserted the hardware as I went just to prevent any misalignment caused by me monkeying around drilling future holes. I Tightened it all up and we’re good to go.

I think the point I’d like to make is that, though this is a very simple part, having some design and mechanical experience makes things come together a little smoother.