Monday, December 6, 2010

F is for frostbite.

As we roll into the winter maintenance season, we're experiencing a great test of the "oh yeah, they're fine outdoors" principle of work to continue on all three Monomoy Pulling Boats. No. 1 is currently at home on her trailer, and there is no reason to expect she'll be shifted. The trailer itself is too wide to be shifted into the Framing Bay (aka my detached garage) and so she has few options other than living in the weather. As it is, she weathered last winter rather well, so I don't expect her to need a warmer home. Monomoys No. 2 and 3 spent the last year in an unheated hold of the Training Ship (T/S) Empire State VI, and so the cold there isn't much of a factor to their stability, but humidity and moisture is. There, I'm not entirely sure they'll be as fine as I hope resting outside under ventilated tarp tents. We have the option of moving one of them into the Framing Bay, but doing so severely restricts our available indoor shop space - as we saw with the Launch. And it still leaves the sister out in the weather.

And of course, just as important than the structural stability of our boats is the health, safety and comfort of the volunteers working on them. I received complaints about working in the cold weeks ago - long before the seriously biting cold - and I won't pretend I'm not concerned about driving them away with crappy working conditions.

So, what to do?

I've been thinking about heaters and the like - something that can temporarily heat the working areas to make them comfortable while work progresses. Kerosene outdoor heaters are available, and can be had at reasonable prices in used condition. Depending on how 'used' they are, we could make that a serviceable option. I am slightly concerned about having temperatures too warm, lest the wood in the boats dry too rapidly - or the cheap tarp covers begin to melt. We'll have to tread carefully on that one, and mitigate the effects as we go.

I've also been considering making detached work of various projects. If we can take pieces to heated facilities such as the Navy carpentry shop, isn't that better? It is a distinct possibility, but I know that the majority of work must take place in or near the boats. Frames, for instance, are bent most efficiently in the boats. But projects such as our stem and sternpost replacements can most certainly be shipped off somewhere else. In fact, we planned on making use of the better tools in the carpentry shop anyway.

All in all, I think we will have some bitter cold days where copious cursing and numb extremities prevail. But I hope that with some careful planning we can mitigate those frustrations as we go.
Or, as a last stopgap measure, we could just sacrifice the marines. They're used to freezing their tookasses off.

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