Ripp Van Winkle

Just before Father’s Day weekend, the brakes went out on my car. I took it in to a shop, to get the worst of it fixed, hoping to limp it along until either a later paycheck, or until I figured something else out. Luckily, Dad happened.

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Manic Weekends.

In this house, we tend to procrastinate. Now, we have perfectly good reasons for this. Namely, work. Summer is the time it’s easiest for us to get things done that require being outdoors, since there isn’t a ton of snow to move, or frostbite warnings, frozen precipitation, or anything like that. But it’s also a busy time for both of our jobs. I know for me, the litany of Things To Be Done is kind of like constant background noise that sort of picks up when I’m looking directly at any one project. But for Matt, as far as I can tell, it all comes painfully into focus when he’s about to become even busier than normal.

Last weekend, while I was spending all my time slinging drinks to peoples’ dads and grandpas, he cleaned and reorganized our two spare bedrooms and the garage. Now, one of the spare rooms held mostly his stuff- awards, paperwork and references for work, uniforms, etc. The other I had intended to get to when the season at work wound down, since it held all our hunting gear. The garage was a hopeless mess, but the man does good work. It’s now got a lot more usable space.

Where am I going with all of this? I’ll tell you. Yesterday was Wisconsin’s early goose opener. So, he’s been realizing over the last week or two that with him taking over the Madison station + hunting season (for everything), we aren’t going to get anything done, really. We have done so much this weekend in addition to goose hunting, and most of it for me involved squeezing whatever it was in before I had to be at work in the afternoon or evening.

Most of the work centered around the Ditch Boat. Matt had sanded things down slowly over summer, and it was ready to be patched. He agreed to take off a weekend to fully fiberglass the exterior during deer season, but it was good to get the interior side of the big holes done. There are still a couple soft spots to sand down and reinforce, as well as a handful of cracks to take care of so that the hull is whole before winter.

You can see we also put a shelter up over it. This is just in advance of nasty Fall and Winter weather. It will be here before we know it, and Matt plans to be able to do some work on it over winter, as well.  Mainly, he’ll cut the wooden parts of the floor and cure them in fiberglass resin to waterproof them. Then, come Spring, he hopes to install the floor. After that, we’ll work on getting the engine to run, and run new wiring.



Daily Prompt: Goals

Once again, I came to WordPress during my morning internet jaunt, aware that with the return of only romping outdoors on weekends, I have much less to write about during the week. And once again, the Daily Prompt was something that wouldn’t seem out of place here. I swear they know exactly when I’ve gotten all excited about writing and put my posts up immediately, instead of patiently spacing them out.

So, the Prompt asked- did I set any goals when I started this blog, and if so, have I achieved any? I think the only concrete goal I really set, besides Matt wanting to get Internet Famous,  was that I wanted to keep doing my outdoors hobbies, only I wanted to write about doing it. And put up pictures, obviously.

These posts are the equivalent of me sitting on a log, staring at the water, and swinging my feet.

These posts are the equivalent of me sitting on a log, staring at the water, and swinging my feet.

Looking at the topics I’ve covered over the last 5-6 months, I would say yes, I achieved that goal. I’ve written about fishing (ice, fly, and otherwise), turkey hunting, and what we do with the animals we end up harvesting. On top of all the activities actually done outdoors, I’ve also sort of expanded the blog to include covering things like refinishing our old camper, reporting on the new things Matt dragged home from various outdoor retail outlets (see the Toys tag), and writing in detail about the acquisition and renovation of the Ditch Boat (see the What Have I Gotten Myself Into tag and the Boat Renovation category). That’s fortunate, because otherwise I’d only be posting once a week, if that in winter.

As for goals I didn’t spell out in writing? I think a big one was that I like to write about successes, even if I am a total beginner at so much of this stuff. So, in that arena there’s some room for improvement. Just take a look at my Fail tag, and you’ll see that more often than not, the critters win. Which is why they call it fishing, not catching, etc. However, it’s still a small tag after 5 or 6 months. Just wait until deer and duck season, particularly archery deer. And we’ve got the entire summer of fishing to do yet.

Another unwritten goal I had was to improve upon my writing and possibly my picture taking (I wouldn’t call what I do photography). I’d like to get this blog to a point where maybe someone would find it Freshly Pressable. Admittedly, I would need to have a big tick mark to put into the Big Success Story column to make that easier. It would be easier to write well and in an excited way if I had a big success story to tell. I’m not at a point yet where I can write eloquently about big fails.

I think keeping it simple and continuing my goal of writing about my hobbies as we do them is a good idea. I’ll keep the Freshly Pressed goal simmering, though.

Bug Spray and Boat Guts.

I got home from a short lunch shift yesterday, and I had a to-do list that seemed a mile long. After checking up here on WordPress, I headed outside to get the rest of that vinyl out of the boat.

I knew it would be a short one. The glue was old and I only really had to get in there and pull and cut. And it was going really well. But then I found the rest of the ants. And some beetles. And at least one tick and a lot of spiders. Gross, so I ran over to Menards to pick up some spray. I then hosed down the entire front of the boat.


After I massacred all the bugs I saw, I made quick work of the rest of that vinyl.SAMSUNG SAMSUNG

After that I went inside to wash my hands and throw a marinade on some venison I was thawing. I realized yesterday morning I hadn’t cooked in nearly a month. So, the venison just got some simple salt, pepper, and olive oil. I was planning on grilling it. Once that was set, I got some of my potted flowers in and hung on the porch. I also carried a lot of the wet foam and old fiberglass pieces we tossed over the side up to the Bagster. I talked to my dad for a while about that engine, and found out he has a 3 day weekend for Memorial Day. I’m still working on him to come up for it (Hi Dad!).

By then it was about the time Matt said he’d be home, so I got the grill started, and put on the potatoes. He walked in the door shortly thereafter and did a bit more of the work needed to have the boat gutted. Those ledges are now out, and we just have to sand down the rough edges.


He also crawled under the boat to take a look at the exterior damage. And we may have found part of the reason this boat was given to the people we got it from in the first place.


This is only part of the crack.

This is only part of the crack.

That crack is probably almost 12 inches long. Luckily, as Matt likes to say, he can totally fix that.  But, now she is mostly gutted. We have to clean out the debris, and sand down the rough edges and spots of bad fiberglass, and we can get the interior going again. Matt wants to be glassing the inside by the middle of next month. When he goes to do the outside of the hull, we’ll pull it forward so that it’s not such a tight squeeze. That way, we can get the jacks under it and the engine hoist can maneuver around. We plan to put it back up on blocks to get the underside done. Maybe by then we will have found a dual axle trailer. Even with all the wet, heavy garbage out of it, it still is low. Just not as low on the trailer. But I have a feeling putting the interior back together will go much, much more slowly than pulling out all the bad.

Engine: Pulled.

Monday night, I left work around 10:30 and headed home. Earlier that day, Matt told me he planned to get the boat motor over the side of the boat and into the garage. I had just said that he needed to make sure he had someone else there with him to call the ambulance in case he was crushed by a big old engine.

I arrived at home a little before 11pm, and his buddy Bill’s truck is parked out front. That was good, at least. I put down my purse, change out of my work clothes, and head out the the garage. He managed to do it!


Now it was just a matter of getting the engine mounted to the engine stand. Easier said than done. The stand only came with two bolts, and they managed to be both too thick and too short, even after removing the gear cover on the rear of the engine. But the guys definitely tried.


In the end, it was late and they decided to save it for another day. We’ve got plenty of time to work on the thing. No deadlines other than those we set.

If you’re interested in the story of this boat and its engine, check out the “What did I get myself into” tag. The story can be found there. Someday I’ll make it its own page.

Taking a Look at the Old Girl in the Morning Light.

Saturday morning we got up, and looked over our new prize. There was a lot of junk in it, sadly.

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We cleared out all the old seat springs and bits of metal trim. It still had the metal frames for benches, which I may or may not keep. We found two really old downriggers. This was a salmon fishing boat before.


We cleared out all the junk, and then we took some measurements and discussed what we wanted to do from here. We also took down the model number so we could figure out when this boat is from. It’s a Reinell boat. It was made in 1972 or 1973.  Unable to find much about that model and year online, I found a contact email from Reinell’s website, and sent them a line requesting either a link to a pdf of an owner’s manual, or to have one shipped to me if they could. We’ll see how that goes.

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Lots of keys. To what, I have no clue, but the light came out amazingly here.

Lots of keys. To what, I have no clue, but the light came out amazingly here.

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I got a hold of my dad Friday night, asking if he wanted to help with the motor. He actually said he’d love to. We’re probably going to rent one of those Bagster things from Waste Management for all the crap we yank out of it. Matt wants to get an engine crane ASAP, to relieve that poor trailer of at least that much weight. That would also make it easier for dad to work on it.  As nervous as lifting something so heavy so high makes me, it’s a good idea.

So far, we aren’t entirely sure how we want the interior to look. It was originally covered with a bright green vinyl matching the green stripe on it (early 70s, remember?). We’ll have to do basically everything on it, honestly. But this is going to be a long haul project. Probably not ready for the water until next year. This will give us time to work on it gradually. And time to find a new freaking trailer.


Sunday afternoon, we went out and picked up an  2 ton engine hoist. Farm and Fleet had them on sale. Matt wanted to get the weight of the engine at least off the trailer. We assembled the hoist (no mean feat itself), and got to disconnecting all the parts that needed disconnecting.

Before we got everything pulled out, I called my dad to see if he had any sage advice. With his help, I found the engine identification number on a tag beneath the distributor cap. The engine was built in June of 1972, and it’s a 302 cubic inch V-8. He also advised that we try to turn the engine over manually from the flywheel, just to see if it would go. If the engine was locked up, it’s just a very large, greasy paperweight. We yanked the sparkplugs (which are nearly on the bottom of the engine and tough to reach), and he was able to turn it. We’ll also drain out the water that may have been left in the engine. He also told us to remove the lower unit first.

So, after un-bolting the six lag bolts holding the lower unit on, Matt got to disconnecting all of the engine mount bolts. We only have one ratchet set, so I was in charge of loosening and removing any hoses and wires.

Bad picture of Matt removing the bolts near the transom

Bad picture of Matt removing the bolts near the transom

Me, busily removing a hose clamp or a throttle wire. Can't remember which.

Me, busily removing a hose clamp or a throttle wire. Can’t remember which.

It went fairly smoothly, except for the two bolts on the right side of the engine. They were bolted in to a 4×4, which was rotted enough that they were just spinning, and the threads weren’t biting in enough to reverse out, but not enough to just pull loose. With me checking to make sure he didn’t puncture the hull, Matt carefully Sawz-All-ed all around the bolts (as carefully as one can wield a Sawz-All, that is). Then we carefully, gradually applied pressure with the hoist. It took a while, but eventually the rotten wood gave, and we got the thing lifted out. Around 9pm Sunday evening.


Sorry for the blurry picture, but my camera sucks at night.

We’ll need to pick up a third chain and hook, as once we got the engine up a little bit, we saw a third mount on the rear on the engine. It was tilting a lot when we hoisted it, so this should help even it out to get it safely over the side of the boat.

Interested in how we got the boat home? Parts One, Two, Three, and Four.