The Sheehan World
ISSN 2577-364X Vol. 29, No. 3 November 2023 © Media Synergy, Inc.


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Boatless Commodore in Bellingham?
Not After Commissioning Another Boat

The Boatless Commodore of the Corinthian Yacht Club of Bellingham is pleased to report that she has finally managed to commission a new boat.

“It had to be,” said Captain and Commodore Kathy Sheehan. “My garage is still full of both useful and useless boat stuff even though the mighty HoriZEN and Diving Horse are long gone. Boat hooks, hand bilge pumps, an inflatable dinghy with spare seats and a leaky floor, old sails and battens, canvas covers for winches and a dinghy, bent motor mounts, life jackets, boat cushions, a big paddle, and life rings that ‘washed up’ at the CYC annual swap meet. Rope, shackles, zincs, collapsible buckets, waterproof bags, a transmission coupler, a mildewed copy of Chapman’s, even a half gallon of bilge cleaner.”

PRV water pressure reducing valve and main cutoff The captain who has been boatless the last five years still keeps a sail bag and boat shoes in her car so she can be ready to cast off at a moment’s notice.

“It was either ‘get another boat’ or open Capt. Kathy’s Museum of Broken Boat Parts,” she said.

This year’s plumbing bills and purchase of more leak detectors at her home finally crystallized in her mind how owning an old house downstream from a lake and a creek is very much like owning a boat.

“You know how you have to ask the attendant at the fuel dock to turn down the pressure on the pump, especially if a big fishing boat was just ahead of you pumping 100 gallons as fast as she could?” Sheehan asked.

“Well, it turns out our house did not have a way to regulate the water pressure from the city main. A pressure reducing valve (PRV) for the water was not required when the house was built, and water was coming into the house at 180 PSI instead of the normal 55 PSI!”

It’s important to know that a pressure relief valve on a hot water tank is not the same as a pressure reducing valve, Sheehan explained after Sullivan Plumbing installed a pressure reducing valve (right, at top) at the house instead of yet another hot water tank.

No wonder the hoses on the dishwasher and sinks were constantly being replaced, the shower diverter valve never worked quite right, and members of the Sheehan-Dingee household seemed to be always mopping up after the hot water tank or dishwasher emptied their entire watery contents on the floor. Not to mention the ground water incursions after a week of heavy rain.

A sailboat painted on a front door Whether a homeowner or boat owner, the formerly boatless commodore knows that you’ve got to keep the water out. She has always had a supply of replacement hoses, valves, gaskets and filters and learned how to caulk, sand and epoxy rusty metal and rotting wood. As a lifelong sailor, she knows it also helps to have a few extra bilge pumps around, whether afloat or on land.

The rusty holes on Sheehan’s front door in Bellingham finally pushed her over the edge and she was determined to get another boat. The door had been painted at least four times in 25 years, mostly because of the prevailing southerlies and all the musical instrument cases slamming their way into the house, followed by some rock star or other.

Sheehan spent the better part of a month in the fall of 2022 “on the hard,” sanding, scraping and reaming out all the rust spots on the door. After filling the holes with epoxy, she then applied a base coat of primer paint, sanded some more, got the heat gun out, scraped some more old paint off, added a little more epoxy, sanded some more and primed again.

But the Northwest monsoon season was approaching when she finished the prep work in early November 2022, so she had to wait until the dry season in 2023.

When it was new in 1973, the commodore’s door was ugly brown and had an ultra smooth coat of automotive paint. The captain-commodore knows she’s not a painter, though. The result of anything she had ever painted in several homes and boats she has owned looked like Charles Manson had stormed through.

There was not going to be a DIY shiny new door.

So, she hired a professional. A painter. And not any painter. Someone with an artistic flair: Rebecca Meloy of the Meloy Gallery in Bellingham.

What do you think of her new boat? It even has Mount Baker in the background.

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