Safe at Fishing Bay Marina

Safe and Sound at Fishing Bay Marina.
 
Bit of an issue today.
 
Started up, everything was fine, got out of the dock with no problems, turned the boat around and started out. Got about 400 feet and something didn’t smell right.
 
Took boat out of gear and drifted a minute while I stuck my head into the engine to look at the belt on the alternator (because it smelled like alternator belt, but “not quite”).
 
In the 23 seconds it took me to drop below, look and clamber back up, the wind pushed us into the mud. (No sail, just freeboard).
 
Spent the next hour trying to get off the mud.
 
A “nice man” named “Clyde” came by and offered to assist. Tried pulling us off with his little skiff. I made a suggestion as to the direction because of the keel and he wasn’t so “nice” any more. lol
 
Told me “I do this shit for a living, what the hell do you do?” I replied “I’m retired, typically I sail this boat into the mud”.
 
He then said, “Well, I have the equipment to do this, but it doesn’t come cheap…”
 
“That’s fine, I’ll do it…” and he told me my “tiny anchor wasn’t going to help at all”.
 
And left.
 
I took my “tiny anchor” (it’s a 13 # Danforth) put 50 feet of line on it, had JoAnne tie it off to the winch on the port side and rowed out to the end of the line, dropped the anchor, rowed back and climbed aboard.
 
I started winching the backend out of the mud at a slight angle, had JoAnne straighten the rudder and when a power boat came near I yelled “Give us a BIG WAKE” – and they laughed and DID.
 
JoAnne hit reverse, I winched and the wake hit us, and the boat lifted, moved, dropped, lifted moved and swung around to meet the line which I grabbed by hand and hoisted aboard as fast as possible.
 
We got into 12 feet of water, ran forward and dropped an anchor when we’d moved back about 2 boat lengths. Tied a fender to the little anchor, dropped that, ran back to the dinghy and hauled in the kedge and then put everything away.
 
So my little anchor that wouldn’t work, worked fine. 🙂
 
The other issue had to do with the alternator. At this point I THINK the alternator diodes have cooked for some reason. This is NOT the first time, and there is no reason this should be happening.
 
Since we’re here, I’ll see about the haul out and see if the electrician can assist on this issue.
 
Need to wait until at least Thursday for mail anyway.
Addendum: We DID sail a lot of the way today. in fact I had up all sails for part of the time and due to the engine issues, I was concerned the engine wouldn’t restart so I left it running.  Best speed today was 6.4 knots.  Our best coming down the Potomac the other day was 6.8 with 22 knots of wind on the starboard quarter (NW winds).
Today the winds switched from NW to SE apparently as we crossed over the Rappahannock.  I say “apparently” because it was dead on our nose and slowed us down to 4  and then 3 knots under engine alone.

Ready to depart

And then…

Well, nothing really.  We got all excited about departure yesterday, planned for today and little things kept happening.

  1. Our mail arrived
  2. I cleaned under the engine and found things
  3. A water jug broke (brittle from the UV rays of the sun)
  4. No wind today
  5. Haulout

Basically, nothing important.

Mail:  Our mail brought a little surprise.  Not a good one.  Apparently JoAnne’s doctor’s visits in Colorado “weren’t covered”.  So we got a huge bill in the mail.  Turns out, after examining it carefully, they are submititng the information to the wrong insurance provider.  I was military, I have Tricare, and because of our address they use Tricare South (and Colorado was using Tricare West).  So, we have to get in touch today and fix that, have them resubmit the information and use the right ID card etc.

Engine:  We had some water under the engine, it’s really been there from day one.  There was a little oil floating in it. I can’t find any thing other than a few drips on the engine so I don’t think we’re spraying oil anywhere, and again, all of this has been under the engine in the tray that collects everything since we got the boat.  It wasn’t a job I wanted to do, it was not hurting anything, couldn’t go anywhere and wasn’t getting into the bilge.

So I had picked up some of those absorbent cloths to pull out the oil, and man they worked well.  I was above to pump the water (less than a gallon) out after removing the oil.  I found a washer – that looked “familiar” (as familiar as any of million washers I’ve handled, but somehow I recognized it as one I had touched before).

Why it was down there was a mystery and I didn’t see anything obvious, so I set it aside for a bit while I finished cleaning and then began an engine inspection.  Back to front, looking for leaks, wear, tear, chaff, all that sort of thing.  Then when I arrive at the front of the engine, I see a piece of a bolt laying there.  An inch long piece of 5/16th “threaded stock”.  But, it wasn’t threaded stock, it was a bolt, with the head sheered off.  Just laying there.

Now I’m worried.  I start digging around and sure enough I find the head.  All of this was on a small shelf near where the fuel lines come in and go up to the engine, under and behind some valves.  Then I look up and see the culprit.

ALTERNATOR!  Damn it.  It’s odd though.  The bolt head must have sheered off, fell to the side, and the washer dropped straight below and backwards into the pan.  The engine must have been running for awhile after because the screw simple rotated itself out and fell where the head of the bolt was laying.  That means this happened on our way up to Cole’s Point from out last stop in May.

I had never noticed it when I looked in at the engine since we arrived, and I had not really done a full inspection because we really weren’t going anywhere…

After checking and realizing I didn’t have the right size (or if I do, I couldn’t find it right then) we went and found several “replacement bolts”, a few extra washers (because I want to figure out why this is vibrating like this and fix it, as I don’t think it is all perfectly lined up as it should be) and replaced the one and placed the new bolts with the engine parts where I can find them now.

Water Jug: I think these are just “Walmart” specials.  Five gallons.  Blue.  They sit outside normally.  One in and one out really.  The one inside is fine.  They are “emergency” water containers, in case we run out, something happens, we have to dump our tanks, or for hauling water.  I need to replace that one.

Wind: After checking the winds today and tomorrow (Friday) there won’t be enough to move us.  Saturday morning though, we’re suppose to have 15-22 knot winds out of the NW.  Just right for moving us down the river and around Smith Point to where we want to go.

Haul Out:  Something we couldn’t get done here.  So we spoke to Charlie at Jennings Marina down river and he said he could haul us out, as their lift is a 35 ton with bigger arms and extensions than they have at Cole’s Point.  Cole’s Point, as I mentioned before couldn’t do it because they were concerned about the straps being in the right place.

I spoke to him yesterday and he said he could do it Monday morning.

After all that we decided to delay until Saturday morning and beat feet down the river in a good wind on a reach and without wind on the nose (as usual).

Today we’ll head to town one last time to get a phone signal (yep, can’t get one here) and make sure our bills are paid with the medical people, pick up a water jug, maybe some more fresh fruit and then head back.

We are leaving the car with our friend Kurt, who will be down at the marina we’re headed to sometime on Saturday.  We want to finally see Lo-Kee in person so I can pass the keys off to him there I think.  We were going to leave them with the marina here, but I think it might be just as well to pass them directly to Kurt instead of having them pass from person to person.

This will be my last entry for a few days I think.  I’m not sure about Internet on the way down.

So… the plan, such as it is, is to try to do this day to day.  Plan short hops, sail as much as we can, drop anchor, plan the next day, eat, sleep, then go some more.

Basically, we are going to head for the ICW, so south to the Norfolk area, swing into the Elizabeth River, catch the canal, dodge the bad timing on bridges and locks and take the quickest, easiest path we can to the south.  I’d personally like to get to St. Augustine, and then decide where to head across to the Bahamas from there.  Marsh Harbor is our ultimate destination to range out of in Abacos for the winter if we can swing it.  Spring we will visit other places and head back this way, or back to Florida.

If we can make it back up this way, we’ll look for a place closer to civilization perhaps (and look for cheaper, but closer, which I know probably won’t work) or come back to Cole’s Point if they have their issues worked out here.  Not sure that’s going to happen at this point.

I’ll be updating the family with more information than I put in here so they have our “float plan” and can look for us if something happens.  But, in general we’re on our own out here and don’t count on others to help most of the time; however, over the course of the last 14 months, we’ve encountered numerous people that were not only willing to help, they have gone out of their way to assist us when it was needed.  We appreciate all the friends we’ve made and all the advice, assistance and understanding many of them have given us.

To our friends at Cole’s Point Marina, and Tim’s on the Shore;  Thank you everyone!

 

Matthew in Charleston – DAY 13

The front I’d hoped would be pushing Matthew along has become a part of the storm system now.

Matthew’s eye has buckled for the most part from what I can see of the satellite photos but still has over 100 mph winds along the coast.  It is still moving northward along the coast.

I was all but certain it would have turned by now, and apparently so were weather forecasters at the NHC because I heard a bit ago “the Easterly hard right turn didn’t happen”.  Ack.

I put our dodger and most of the enclosure back up yesterday to help keep rain out of the cockpit, off the instrumentation and off my head.  IF I have to take it all down again, it won’t be as difficult this time.  I’ve become practiced in the past few days.  I did leave the head sail off though because it’s a pain to take up and down if there’s even a tiny breeze.  It’s a light, but big sail (about a 130% sail) and it moves us along pretty quickly when it’s up, the wind is to our back or quarter and I let it all out.

Currently there are two hurricanes, Matthew which has been downgraded to a category 1 hurricane, and Nicole.  Nicole has been meandering around with no clear path or direction yet. But at this moment in time it may follow Matthew into the Bahamas in the north.  However, it is almost certain this won’t happen and Bermuda will get the brunt of that hurricane about next Wednesday or Thursday.

Charleston is suffering from heavy rain, major flooding in streets.

Strong winds from Matthew’s eyewall also slammed into downtown Savannah early Saturday, downing trees and sending street signs flying. As the sun began to rise  over the 283-year-old city, floodwaters inched steadily higher. Police reported numerous downed trees and washed out roads. (USA Today)

Here’s the latest National Hurricane Center path prediction:

I still don’t see it doing a complete circle.  Another front is moving through, look at the first map I posted and you can see it.  It will push off tomorrow sometime, from the coast and the hurricane should beat feet to the right.  As to curving south again, it’s already high enough into westerlies that I don’t think that is going to happen.  Of course, that’s just me.

Finally, this is what Monday should look like:

Winds of Change

When we made the name of this blog originally, it was “Winds of Change”.  Then our first boat became Winds of Change.  It’s a line from a Jimmy Buffet Song.  And Winds of Time is another line from the same song.

This boat was supposed to be called Winds of Time.  But she because Adventure.  Her lines, and beauty spoke to us, and told us about the Adventures we’d have by calling up on her magic.

She has indeed turned out to be a magical Adventure ride for the past year.

Adventures, though, are rarely perfect examples of a perfect life, with perfect views, perfect weather, perfect mountain climbs or perfect ocean crossings.  In fact, a true adventure is one that places the adventurer out there in the forefront of exposure to weather, wild savages, raging rivers, earthquakes or ocean storms.

And our Sailing Ketch Adventure has been nothing less for us.  We’ve only lived aboard for a year, with a break because of a break.  JoAnne broke her back, so we had to leave.  When we returned, Adventure had “calmed down”.  She took to sailing like a champ, and I remembered some techniques I had forgotten.

For the past few days we’ve watch a massive hurricane grow in the south Caribbean Sea and build up to a Cat 5, then back to a Cat 4.  It started a meandering path northward and crossed the tip of a Colombian peninsula, the western tip of Haiti, passed with in 80 nm of Gitmo in Cuba (RIGHT where I said it would go, my exact words on Facebook was 90 nm East of Gitmo) and has proceeded to cross into the Bahamas and turn slightly towards Florida.

I have been using a combination of the Euro model and US weather forecast maps, along with a bit other data and a little bit of guestimation based on my years of storm chasing.  This is like storm chasing on a giant scale though.  It’s not as precise as I’d like to be, but so far it’s working.  I started tracking and doing my own work on hurricanes a few years ago because I knew one day I’d be sailing a ship.  I want to be SURE.

Now… I’m going to say something that might make people mad, so be warned.

The National Hurricane Center is great at what they do, but they’ve been WRONG since Katrina.  Katrina was a terrible disaster.  And they mispredicted it, didn’t warn people properly and later George W. Bush was “blamed” for the hurricane’s damages.  Kind of stupid if the forecasters didn’t do it right.  And rightly, people who SHOULD KNOW and didn’t give warnings shouldn’t be working in the NHC any more.

Today we watch as Matthe is being projected to turn east shortly and head south and east.  Back to the Bahamas unfortunately, but, out to sea eventually.

Right now, if you take a close look you will see a front moving offshore.  It’s been there all along, it’s been moving across the country all along.  If they aren’t plugging that data in, they aren’t doing it right.  I can’t say what they are doing with the data they are using or how they entered it.  But I suspect the NHC isn’t using the right data at all.

Why has the EURO model been consistently right, and the NHC has been consistently wrong, and going to extremes to scare the public into being “prepared”?  I mean, I agree they should warn the coast, they should tell people to prepare and that’s what FEMA is there to do.

But, honestly, they are scaring people across the US Coastline with hurricanes and then at the last minute they are turning off the shore and mostly missing.  I don’t get it.

I spent yesterday removing all the canvas on the boat.  People are screaming to have their boats removed from the water.  Panic, chaos, confusion….  No need.

So today, and through the weekend I’ll watch more instead of preparing to head south and wait and see.  Because the NHC has cried wolf so many times now.

Do I trust my own predictions?  No, I’m an amateur, but at least my last dozen or so storms I’ve tracked have turned out exactly like I thought.  Whether that is lack of confidence in my own work, or the lack of confidence in the NHC now, I’m no longer sure.

A prudent sailor won’t head out into a storm like that.  And luck is not “found”, it’s created.  You don’t put yourself in a position to get your self killed.  So, I’ll wait.

Hurricanes and Boats

Simply put, hurricanes and boats don’t mix well.

Matthew is proving to be a pain in the ass for a lot of folks right now.  People in Haiti, soon Cuba and then the Bahamas.  After that, according to the models (which I want so desperately to disbelieve) Florida, and most of the East coast of the United States will be in for a bit of roughhousing as well.

Latest Tracks for Matthew

I’m far enough north that it should break up and just be a tropical storm by the time it gets to us, especially if it hangs over land for any length of time.

But for whatever reason (I can’t see the reasons) the models have pushed over to the west and it’s promising to be a beast.  I see a front coming through, and pushing out, and now there’s a dry, low pressure system in the middle of the US which may reach the coast about the same time, and that might be pulling the hurricane in somewhat.

On the other hand, there’s a mess of rain and another front west of that high.  It usually takes 3-4 days to cross the states with weather systems.  Hmmm.  MAYBE it will get to the coast in time to push some more.  I don’t know.  I’m not a forecaster, just a storm chaser that looks at the data and predicts local mesoscale conditions.  Hurricanes are big, bad, Red-Spot-on-Jupiter things to me and are as distant as that planet is from Earth for me.

I’ve been in two.  One hit DC a long time ago and water levels came up 8 feet up the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers.  The second was in Jamaica in the 2ooo, when it missed us by about 90 miles on the north coast of Jamaica. But… it RAINED like the ocean was pouring over us.  I’ve never seen so much rain for so long in my life.

The plan today is pretty simple.  Down comes the headsail and sheets.  I’ll remove everything off the deck and bring it below today and tomorrow.  And we will bring our tarps (we use as tents topside) below to cover things down here inside the boat.  JoAnne will pack and we will be ready to bug out sometime on Saturday morning most likely, because the predictions are showing it coming up this way Saturday night and Sunday morning.

The last of the preps will involve moving the boat out, adding lines and hoping for the best.  We’re not going to stay aboard the boat if the hurricane approaches us.  We’ll head inland and stay out of the path as much as we can.  I’m planning to take most of our clothes, our foulies, food, water, electronics, important papers, car and our mortal bodies away from here.  We went through a Nor’easter in the Bay… and that was not good, with the shallow Bay, short chop, poor JoAnne getting sick.  Staying in a Marina is not going to be much better.  And there’s little here to keep us safe, and in fact, it might be pretty unsafe to remain here.

I maybe take one of the ham rigs too, just in case.  We have terrible luck with the phones, so a ham radio might come in handy.

So, all my hoping and my “estimating” isn’t coming true.  All I can say is that the hurricane tarried a bit too long in the Southern Caribbean Sea and the weather that would have push him off is long gone now….

This sort of thing is, by the way, why I have been a “prepper” most of my life and even wrote a book about it.  I sure hope it all works right this time. 🙂

I guess that’s it for now.

If y’all believe in prayers… better get busy.  The entire coast of the US, Bahamas, Haiti and other poor people in between are all in danger’s path.

Hurricane Matthew

Against the odds, against the forecasts, and against the models a massive hurricane has formed in the Caribbean Sea.

This morning when I checked it had been upgraded to a Category 5.  It is sitting in the southern Caribbean Sea, south of Jamaica and appears to have taken a slight left turn, and will probably, quite suddenly swing northward on a collision course with Jamaica, the across Cuba, and onward into the Bahamas.

The conditions were really NOT all that conducive for forming such a massive hurricane which is why I said “against predictions” above.  But, predictions, humans and computers programmed by humans are fallible.

Right now, the various models show the path taking a plunge to the north, through MOST of the Bahamas and on up the coast.  Since yesterday evening, that has changed slightly and models are showing it moving north and then pushing eastward.

I’ve been watching some fronts moving across the states which might prove to save the day.  If the timing is right, and I say IF, the two fronts should converge around Tuesday and push the hurricane east ward.  Unfortunately, there is also a pretty big High sitting off the coast and that might cause some problems.

I’m not a meteorologist but I’ve studied it enough over the past 40 years to have a bit of knowledge on the subject.  JoAnne and I storm chased and spotted for the NWS in Colorado for about 20 years.  So we have a bit of background in mesoscale events.  This is not meso.  This is massive.  Synoptic observations and data are easy to get these days, but I’m again, no expert in reading it all.

My “take” on this hurricane is that it WILL blow out over the Atlantic after reaching the Bahamas.  It will weaken after hitting Jamaica because going over land reduces it’s power.  It will build a bit, but hit Cuba further weakening it.  By the time it hits Bahamas I think it Cat 3 or even a Cat 2 is all it will be.  With LUCK and timing, the fronts should be above it and pushing outward to the East.

The Earth’s rotation as it travels north will also cause it to spin out away from the US.  And prevailing westerlies.

At this point, I HOPE I am right.  And I hope that the folks in Bahamas, Cuba and Jamaica all fare better than a category 5 will give them….

In other news, we’ve had rain, rain, rain for the past week.  Either in Richmond where we visited a couple of days for my eye check up, and all the way here to the boat.  Lots of rain.  We had super high water a couple of days ago, washing over C Dock and some of the others.  We’re on a floating dock, so the only issue we had was a dinghy full of water because SOMEONE forgot to pull the plug when he hoisted it onto the davits.  Fortunately a kind neighbor noted something amiss and went over in his dinghy and pulled the plug for me.  Normally, I remember to pull it, but for some reason I just spaced it.  THAT is the kind of thing that sinks boats.  Not remembering the little things.  Live and learn.

Windows still leak somewhat, here and there.  I think I have discovered one of the major leaks though.  I believe at this point water from rain is coming in through the traveler area in front of the cockpit.  I can’t pull out the stuff due to the building of the boat.  I think I can seal it though.  As to the windows, I don’t have the right gasket material and not too sure where to get it. So, I thought I’d do an experiment.  I cleaned out the old, dried up gasket from one of the portlights and used RTV in the place where a gasket should be.  I let it cure and sure enough, it works.  Not the best thing, not permanent, but it DOES work in a pinch.  So…. I’ll keep a few tubes of that stuff around for emergencies.

Front area cleaned up, and I can walk in there, I can access the anchor locker if needed, I can move stuff out of the forward head easily now and we can use that bathroom if necessary too.  Hung our walking sticks, and some other long items up front from bungie cords.  Tools accessible now.  Front name plates are varnished, the red paint is on them, and at some point I can paint in the name of the boat on the forward plates…. maybe it will quit raining for a few days this century….

Plans now include a trip to a military commissary for paper products (TP, paper towels, plastic trash bags to store things) and of course “boat alcohol”.  LOL.  Cheaper, no taxes, but it’s a long drive.  While we still have our car.

Our friend Kurt has promised to store our car for this winter/spring coming up until we come back this way.  So we have that going for us.

I have a radio modification to perform on one of my rigs before we bug out.  And I’d like to install the vhf/uhf rig some where in the boat where I can get power to it easily and get an antenna up on top somewhere.  Might put that off awhile.

Eyes were pronounced “awesome” by the Doctor.  I am 20:25 unaided by glasses, but do require reading glasses for up close.  Can’t focus that close now.  I can free dive soon if I want, or use a mask.  So I’m good again, and I can SEE.  Wow.  Just wow.

Basically, all the BIG jobs are done.  Just the little stuff.  And waiting out hurricanes.  I recall at this time last year, we were sitting in Galesville, Maryland awaiting Hurricane Joaquine which was making a bee line up the coast…. and was very similar to this one, except it started further north, went west, and then turned suddenly out to sea and never threatened the coast at all.  Almost exactly a year ago today….interesting isn’t it?

Fair winds.  Catch you on the next update.

Rain today

Yep.  A lot of it.  Started dripping about 2:45 this morning so I climbed up on deck and secured things, closed the covers on the hatches, closed hatches, check the weather, it was hours out yet.

At about 0800 this morning it started and has been raining off an on until now (10:45 or so Monday morning, 19 September).

I have been keeping a tarp over the deck to keep the sun from beating down on the boat and heating it up, and apparently that has helped with some leaks on the starboard side.  Since I had moved the tarp the last few days to do work and didn’t put it back, I have found one of the major leaks inside.  It’s coming down above the refrigeration unit, starboard side, along one of the large angle pieces holding up a beam inside.  I went out in the pouring rain to look and see where it might be coming from but only accomplished getting soaked to the skin, and moving the tarp a bit.  Seems to have slowed the leak, but I really need to figure that one out.  I suspect it has something to do with the coaming in the cockpit, but not sure yet.

There’s a teak cap surrounding it, and it might be leaking there.  If so, a lot of water is probably in there.  I’ll eventually have to pull that all off and examine it.  Everything is solid though, nothing squishy.  And there are also the fine, alligator cracks in the surface of the deck up there which need filling as well.  I suppose those could be leaking as well.

The rain wasn’t a pounding, windy rain, just a nice, steady downpour for the last 45 minutes.  Fortunately, I was here to sop up the drips everywhere.  But, one more thing to look over carefully.  I’ve mostly sealed the port-lights, I still have a couple that need help.  I also need to remove, sand and varnish the main hatch and the vee berth hatches, reseal around the forward anchor box (it’s another hatch that goes right down to the vee berth).  And a little paint on some trim, but those are minor issues.

Tomorrow we’re scheduled for a haul out, zinc check and a paint job.  I decided that even though the last painting was a little over a year ago, we’re headed for the Bahamas soon and I want to not have to worry too much about anything other than scraping the hull.

JoAnne and I will spend the 3-4 days in a local cabin, because she’s really not ready to climb up and down a tall ladder yet.  I’ll be over at the boat fixing some dings in the fiberglass that came from somewhere in our travels, and trying to clean the brown stains from the port side of the boat.

A few days ago our new, manual pump toilet came and I replaced the forward head.  It was a Jabsco electric, apparently a refit, from an older pump head.  I removed the whole thing as it was pretty old and just tossed it after checking the motor, it was burned out, and there was a dead short in it.  So, we now have a regular toilet which no longer pumps into the holding tank, and a composting toilet.  Right now, the forward head is more of a closet than anything so we won’t be using it much anyway.  Maybe we can empty out the head on passages and use it off shore, but I am getting rid of that nasty holding tank as soon as I can (in the next year probably).

The other two things I did, were to finish about 90% of the teak.  I still need to do the port side rub rail up to the name plate and finish the aft part of the boat’s rub rail on the starboard side.  Also need to paint the name plates on the bow and add the name there as well.

And I got the mizzen sail back in place.  Two weeks ago, Marty (former manager of the marina we’re in, just before he decided he didn’t want to work here any more for some reason) helped get that halyard repaired and in place.  He, Pete and Greg did most of the work, I supplied the tools, strings, rope, tape and whatever else we needed.  I don’t think I will go up a mast ever due in part to my heart surgery, and due to the fact I’m terrified of being that high up counting on a simple rope, winch and my upper body strength.

Mizzen sail went up easily, and the furler worked fine after the sail had been cleaned and repaired.  I tested furling and unfurling and it went easily.  Should NOT have trouble sailing now. I hope.

Almost every major job I had on my list is done, except zincs, paint and leaks, but leaks seem to be on-going.  Fix one, find another.  Nothing is dangerous though, so I’ll fix them as I can or plug bad ones. haha.  So far they are just annoying, not dangerous.

I expect, on anchor to have a tent up over the main boom in the islands for heat deflection so leaks will not be an issue in rains.  I just didn’t have it set up right when this rain came. We got a few drips from Hermine when it came through, but, the tarp was in place then.

Right now, we’re considering going to the boat show in Annapolis in the beginning of October, but probably not.  Neither one of us are thrilled about driving up, spending the money and looking around at things we can’t really afford and don’t actually need anyway.  Honestly, the ONLY thing at this point I’d consider it a new radar system since ours doesn’t work.  I likely won’t even use it for anything except weather anyway.  We have no major “Needs” and likely fewer “wants” at this point except food, and a wind generator.  That’s a “Really Want” item, and we can likely do without it, but I’ll be happier if we have it.  And JoAnne’s only really “want” is a water maker.

We have an emergency/survival one, a hand pumped device I’ve not tested yet.  But that is a ditchbag thing.  I won’t use it unless we’re in critical need of water and no rain in the near future.

So, over all, we’re just about ready to pull out of here and head south again.

The trip should take us through portions of the ICW to Beaufort, NC.  We’ll make some decisions there to either sail outside part way, or simply take a five day sail over and south.  If we can get comfortable on a couple overnights going out, we should easily be able to do a 5-6 sail with food and water.  We need to get over that hurdle sooner or later anyway.

Since the rain is still coming down, there’s not much I can do outside.

Fair winds, until next time!

To See, or Not to See….

With apologies to Bill Shakespeare…

To see or not to see, that is the question.

Cataracts are nothing to sneeze at, though, you can sneeze with them and I’m not sure about sneezing after eye surgery.  I’m afraid I’ll blow the new lens out of my left eye now.  Of course, I was pretty certain that’s what was happening after my open heart surgery last year when I sneezed too.  In fact, that STILL hurts when I sneeze.

My chest, not my eye.

Yesterday afternoon, I underwent surgery on my left eye to remove the bad lens that ha cataracts in it.  I was pretty terrified. But my left eye was pretty bad.  Worse than I even knew.  I couldn’t even get it corrected to 20:50.  It was more like 20:100.

This morning for the test, I was at 20:25.  That’s as GOOD as my right eye, corrected with glasses and my right eye is my “shooting eye”.  I can still hit targets at 100 yards in the center of mass (that’s all that’s required at that distance, I’m no sniper, lol) and mostly read.

Today, however, I can see 1000% better than I could yesterday with the left eye.  And just as bad as before with my right.

The “terrified” part was due to a severe phobia I have about my eyes, and things, people, fingers, knives, needles, sharp things being around them.  Most of us have that issue with our eyes, except those who stick things in their eyes, like contact lenses.  Nope, NOT ME.  I don’t even put eye drops in.

Until a few days ago.

Now I can, and do.  It took me a few days of putting drops in pre-operative to be able to do it without flinching.  And yesterday, before the surgery, they put in about a dozen drops into my eye, and the last few were this gel gunk.  Gross.  Gross. Gross.

Fortunately, they gave me some kind of drugs that let me get through without killing any one.  That was cool.  I did get yelled at perhaps three times by the Doctor.  Not supposed to lift my feet, or move, or pee on myself, or something.  Not sure I remember it all, but he looked a little sheepish when I mentioned it this morning. haha

So, why the title?

Because of fear of surgery.  Fear of anesthesia.  Because fear of needles in my eyes.  Because I am, or was, mostly blind yesterday and was more than willing to stay that way because of the previous things.

Today, with my left eye opened and my right eye covered, I looked into JoAnne’s eyes (with my one good one) and could accurately see the color of her eyes again.  Beautiful, deep and green.  I was moved to tears.

I know I’ve missed seeing a lot of things over the last few years, and my work was becoming increasingly difficult to do, color codes on wires, close work soldering, and a few weeks ago I completely failed my grandson on attempting a repair on his tablet (that he’d broken the charging connector on) when I could have easily repaired it in earlier years.

I couldn’t see well enough to do the soldering.  My work at my job was increasingly difficult and stressful, not because I couldn’t do it, but rather I KNEW I couldn’t see it well enough to do it right.  So, it took me twice as long to do things.  My partner couldn’t do most of the physical stuff either due to his injury.  When we hired someone to take my place, we chose someone young because we knew he could keep up.  The rest would come to him in time.  I know he will eventually do the things I was doing (and if he doesn’t well, this IS a throw away society, isn’t it?  They will simply replace those things that those guys can’t repair because they can’t or don’t know how…. such is life in the 21st Century).

What this will do for me now though is allow me to see charts (using glasses on the close up stuff) and at a distance through slightly less than 20:20 vision to see numbers on buoys, names on ships, lights at night so I can night sail now again, and actually ENJOY what’s left of my life, to see those things I was missing before.

What I will have next Wednesday night, after the second surgery, is good eye sight in both eyes.  I’ll still need glasses for close work.  But, I’ll really be able to wear sun glasses without any special lenses in them.

And I’ll be able to see only one moon now, instead of seven or eight of them.  And no halos, glare or just nothing at all.

And… I will be able to see the stars at night again.

But above all, I can gaze into my wife’s beautiful eyes again.

 

Books, Charts and Radio

Our old VHF radio works fine.  It is an ICOM M502.  The previous owner I guess installed it or had it installed with the remote microphone connection in the cockpit.  The microphone, however, was well sun-dried, rather like a raisin.

The cable and case which appear to have once been white were that dull yellow color the sun cooks plastic to when the stuff sits in the sun too long.  The cord, which was once the cool, curley-Q design was stretched out and pieces of the cover were disintegrating.

Pieces of it liter the sole of the boat and the cockpit floor every time I connect it.  It was well past due for replacement.

I had counted the pins on the mic connector before I departed the boat for Colorado last month and stopped in the local ham shop and found a cable I could attach by using the old connector and mic body.  Picked the surplus cable up for a couple of dollars.

Unfortunately, I’m really having issues with my close in vision for doing soldering and stuff like that, so I considered perhaps I could get a replacement mic already to go.  Sure enough, I did some searching and found a black one, a white one and a few extra items I don’t need, so I ordered it.  Cost 100 dollars, free shipping.  Not bad I guess.

It will be here next Tuesday.  I can use that now.  I’ve packed the old microphone and new cable into a plastic bag and stowed it under the nav station seat for after my eye surgery so I’ll have a spare again if needed.

Our plan is starting to flesh out.  We are going, at this point, down the ICW a ways.  We will decide about whether we will sail out and back in to the Bahamas, or go all the way to Florida on the ICW later.  We, as usual, will have several plans and back up plans in case something goes wrong.

With all that in mind, today I ordered the rest of the Explorer charts for the Bahamas.  We already have the last edition for the Near Bahamas, including Marsh Harbor and Abacos.  So, I ordered 2 more chart books, a full chart of the Bahamas for planning and a copy of the chart for Abacos Sea, which I promptly found a copy thereof after ordering.  Oh well, spare.

We’re looking over some cruiser guides as well, but I placed an order for the Waterway Guide for the Bahamas.  Might not get any others, but at least we will have that one.  We will decide on other books if necessary once that one arrives.  We have most of the Waterway guides already, and they have been decent for the ICW, helpful.  There are things lacking occasionally which I find in other books.

The biggest issue with books is we have no real room in which to store them.  I’ve got to empty out a couple of lockers under the seats, consolidate things, and make some more room for stuff we truly need to keep.  At this point I have SOME room in the forward head, which doesn’t work.  I’m about to rip out the toilet in there and put in a working, manual pumping head without the holding tank.  I hate the way the system is here on the boat, without a way to empty the tanks overboard in the ocean without climbing into a rather precarious position on the fore-deck.  That tank has to go.  It takes up a lot of space anyway, a place I can store… say books. Or Food.  Or chain.  Or an anchor.  Anything but poop.

So, new books, new charts, new microphone, and in a few days, new lenses for my eyes.

Then I can actually read the charts and books.

And the microphone display.

And see the little ants better.

(We have little tiny ants aboard.  I’m hunting for them now, I think I know where they are coming from, so I will find them. And kill them. And their mommy too….)

Future Plans

Good Day everyone.  Stormed rolled through here last night, not too fiercely, but were still a bit wet, stormy and windy.  Fortunately, we didn’t get any thing more than a few drips inside.

It’s pretty hot lately so I put up tarp with a shiny side up to help reflect a lot of the heat.  It helps a bit down below, but even with the A/C running on the boat it still gets upwards of 90° F.

I go in for eye surgery in two weeks.  I have cataracts.  My left eye is pretty severe.  Right eye I can get away with for a few more years I suspect.  However, we’re going to try to get it all done at once.  One eye one week, the other eye in one or two weeks after.

Problem is, by the new idiotic medical laws they are saying I have to have a “physical less than 30 days before surgery”.  I had a physical on the 20th of July.  Couldn’t get the appointment scheduled until the 30th.  Not MY fault.  Also NOT my fault that insurance won’t pay for a second physical within one year of the last one.  Has to be at a year or more.  Sorry, can’t do that.

To their credit, Virginia Eye Institute is contacting my doctor back in Colorado and getting her to fill in some forms letting them do the surgery.  We shall see.

Thus, IF I can not get my surgery done here, I think that I will just put it off again.  I’m not letting more stupid medical issues prevent me from sailing south this time.  Especially since they are life or death issues.  I’ll schedule with someone else, in another place down the road, or make plans to go back to Colorado for my physical and eye surgery at the same time just to make it easier on everyone.

Being in a marina, 2 hours away from the nearest eye place isn’t easy to deal with.  Add to that crappy internet, absolutely NO phone service or data service here, and an inability to make phone calls anywhere or any time I want, puts us back into the mid 20th Century (LOL, how funny is that?)

When we do have wifi I can make calls.  I can’t necessarily get them.

Yesterday, I spent most of the day light hours (up until 3pm) moving most of the junk out of the forward cabin.  I made a list of things to get rid of and removed them, either to the car or topsides where they are out of my way.  It’s a short haul to either a car, van, or dumpster though.

I have a Jabsco marine head I put up for sale, for the price of a motor.  New motors cost 150 bucks.  The toilets cost 400 new.  I put the thing up for 125 bucks.  So if someone needs it… let me know.  Works fine.

Also I removed my guitar stand, bike rack (for the car) and a camera tripod that is practically new, almost never used, and I have no idea why I kept it except perhaps to connect the Go Pro camera too.  Which has never been fired up either.

I’m waiting for the marina guy to come over to assist in getting a mizzen halyard replaced, but he said “sometime next week”, last week, and today is Thursday.  I suspect it won’t be until much later than that even.  I also suspect that we MIGHT be on the list for haulout, cleaning and zincs… but not entirely sure.  They haven’t got a list of jobs to be seen around here, and I don’t know how they keep track of anything they do.  I also have no idea if anyone really works here any more. lol

As usual, this place seems similar to the others in that there is little to push them forward, unless you’re waving green in their faces right then.  I suppose if they can’t read your mind or bank account statements and don’t know you’ve actually got money sitting in the bank, you aren’t a priority.

Then again, can’t really get out of hear easily without dredging… which was supposed to take place in June.  It’s August.  It might be happening in a few days.  Or it might not.

Our plans then are to try to get my eye surgery done.  Finish getting the boat ship shape, ready to roll.  Head south to Norfolk area and hang out ready to hit the ICW.  We’re leaving earlier, rather than later.  I have no problem passing certain points during named storms, except the storms themselves.  We will obviously watch the weather closely over the next three months.  Either way, we do NOT want to be in the Chesapeake in October for long again.

After Beaufort and Hatteras we plan to sail south doing coastal stops along the way to as far as St. Augustine.  After that, with luck, the right weather and timing, we’re headed over to the Bahamas.  At this point, if my surgery has been done, I think we might remain there for the season.  We’ll play it by ear after that though.  We shall see.

Solar power is working very well on the boat, but it is augmented by the shore power to keep batteries topped off during the day.  I still am doing checks on usage and the main thing we use on the boat are wifi and fans.  (And computers).  We might have to cut back a lot once on the hook, and until I get a wind generator put in place.  Don’t see that happening until next year though.

One of the things we don’t keep very well is our log book.  I’m pretty bad at keeping exact course notes, times and such, but I usually have the chart out and plot on that, which makes for keeping me up to knowing where I am.  But, I can’t go back and see and re-chart things this way.

I do write major events, ship sightings, times, speed and various other things in a rather haphazard way, but at least I keep something.  Going to work on fixing that issue.

We have more things on the boat than we need at any given moment.  But the moment I throw something out, I find that I needed it and it’s gone.  I suspect this is a dilemma that has plagued sailors for ever and ever.  What to do with the cushions we don’t use that are stored, until we decide we need to use them? LOL  Who knows.  But removing big, bulky items for space and lightening the ship a bit, to give us more room for food…. now that is something I can go with.  I have a lot of electronic gear we kept, I want to keep and probably will still install some of it, but get rid of some as well.  If I can empty two of the seat lockers, that more food storage, and I can also put other things in there that I don’t want to store more forward as well. (Heavier items for instance, like tools).

Tools. I got rid of a LOT of my tools.  But still have a couple hundred pounds of things, including my battery operated power tools.  All of them have come in handy, so getting rid of them…. maybe, but not yet…. is on my mind.

That’s about it for now.  A mundane log entry, I know but, we’re not sailing.

This Friday, Saturday and Sunday will be the Jamaica Party at Tim’s at Cole’s Point Marina.  We’ll be there on and off.

 

Back!

First, I want to apologize to every one who has asked about blog entries.  We have NOT been on the boat for almost a month.

We left last month on the 12th to travel across county.  I’m sure some of you get the “security” idea.  JoAnne and I have always been “security conscious” but more so now that we live on a boat.  Having both worked in the government, and me in particular in the military, and with security for the Missile Defense Agency for many years, we tend to look over our shoulders a lot.  So, we try hard not to advertise EXACTLY where we are, where we’re headed, where we’re anchored, but we still do it to some extent.

Half the fun of doing this is changing locations and seeing new things and sharing that information with others.  Both the good and bad of it….whether it’s a bad or good experience in a marina, getting our boat damaged by someone else or rain (constant rain sometimes), we’ll share.  We won’t share the dates and times we’re leaving exactly, or exactly where we are located except with family members so they know to look for us if we “vanish”.

With that said, again, sorry for no entries lately.  I’ll make up for that though now.

We left for Colorado on the 12th headed back for doctors’ checkups.  I had a physical.  JoAnne had a “two years after chemo” checkup.

We arrived and stayed with my daughter, Kristy…. but on the way we stopped to rescue a grandson who had been abandoned by his mother, our ex-daughter-in-law and return him back to the family in Colorado.  He is safe with his Uncle Nick and his Dad is working to get a job and support the young man now.  Gage was doing well when we left him.  Hopefully someone remembers to feed and water him occasionally (he’s 16, I think he can help himself a lot now :))

On the 20th I went in and had a blood draw, and a physical.  Apparently, I’m not going to die any time soon.  My heart is doing fine, though I now have an anomaly due to the heart surgery called a Left Bundle Branch… what ever that is.  It looks weird on the ekg.

JoAnne went in for a blood draw as well, the CA-125, which is an indicator of tumor growth.  Her numbers have been low since the surgery, in the 10-16 range.  We never got a pre-surgery baseline, so no idea what it might have been before the tumor was removed.  The numbers peaked at 18.  The PA said we could do another test in a month to see if it were a glitch or a CT scan.  We instantly asked for the CT scan.  Her examination was fine.  Nothing out of the ordinary.  It was just that darned blood test that scared us.

A couple of days later she had the CT scan, and then we had to go back on Thursday to see the doctor.  We ended up sitting for over 2 HOURS waiting for him, because he was running behind.  They placed us in the conference room for an hour and a half and we were nervous by the time he walked in.  He was flanked by a nurse and the “social worker” or psychologist or whatever she was.  We BOTH almost lost it right there.  We KNEW it was going to be bad news.

But he asked JoAnne how she was.  She said she was fine.  He said “Your exam was fine, and the CT scan came back clear.  There is no sign of cancer”.  I wanted to throttle him for making us wait for 2.5 hours for that.  He could have kicked us out of the office in 2 minutes and simply said “You’re fine, no sign of cancer, go sailing”…. ack.

We had already packed so we headed home, collected our bags and packed the car.  We’d mostly said good bye to everyone but got a few more in and got on the road.

Stopped in Hays, Ks.  Then we traveled on Friday to Mike and Cindy’s home in Richmond, MO and visited over the weekend.  On Monday we went to Branson.

In Branson we saw the “Legends” show on Tuesday, and on Wednesday we went on the Branson Belle Showboat and saw a cool show on the river cruise.  The ship was HUGE…. and probably could have held Adventure inside the auditorium!  They probably had almost 1000 people in attendance and not all the seats were filled.  Both shows were very good.

We made it back here on Saturday afternoon.  Adventure was fine, our new solar charging system is working wonderfully and there was nothing out of place.  Unfortunately, JoAnne’s lavender plant didn’t do too well in the care of the marina office.  I’m trying to nurse it back to health now.  Not sure I can do it though.

So in the middle of retirement, we took a month vacation.

I did laundry yesterday, today we go grocery shopping so we can actually use our refrigeration unit haha, and I’ve got a bunch of stuff to put away.

We added one item to the inventory, a manual water maker, which is a reverse osmosis filtration system.  It is a hand pumped device.  I have yet to read all the instructions, but it will go with our ditch bag.  Hopefully we will never have a need to use it.

On the 12th I go in to see an eye surgeon.  My left eye is getting bad with cataracts.  I’m going to have to have surgery soon.  I hope it very soon so we can plan our trip to the Bahamas next.

All my best to everyone.
Fair Winds!

Refrigeration

Refrigeration:

Our boat, Adventure, has an ancient Danfoss D2 unit. I took pictures of it awhile back and posted them here. Today I troubleshot the major issue, no power. I found that the unit’s ground was wired through a “dead” power supply, the boat’s auxiliary battery charger. I SUSPECT that unit was disconnected at some point when the newer unit which is a charger/inverter system was installed. I KNOW there are some wires going back to the batteries that are no longer connected and MAY go to that charger.

Anyway, because the charger won’t fire up, the ground is removed from the fridge.

So, I pulled the old red (+) wire from the unit, and tied a new cable with both black and red wires, and used the old cable as a fish/messenger wire. Pulled in the new cable, made the connections in the panel, then tied everything in at the compressor.

After I reinstalled the fuse and checked the connections, I fired up the “Refrig” breaker, saw the compressor kick up to a momentary 8 amps, and drop back to 5 amperes.

I listened to the cooling plates and sure as I’m sitting here at my computer, I could hear the thing pushing fluids through the plate. In five minutes the plate started getting cold.

It’s been on for 10 now. The temp inside (and remember we have been putting ice in the unit as an ice box for a couple of weeks now) is around 54 degrees F right now. The plate is developing some frost on it, which it would NOT do with just the ice in there.

That means I can pronounce the patient “healed”.

I do need to replace the thermostat, as it is broken and in some random position. I also need to run this thing to see how cold it gets for a couple of hours.

Update to follow!

Update July 1: C-Head, Solar, Sails, HF Radio

C-Head:  Over the course of the past couple of weeks I have been busy digging in the lockers, getting parts together, ordering things and repairing a few things.

We ordered and receieved the standard “C-Head” toilet a couple of weeks ago.

Unpacking it was easy.  The parts inside are standard parts.  The most expensive piece I suppose was the C-Head container which is a box like plastic container.  It holds a standard sized 5 gallon bucket which has been modified for use inside, with a frame that holds a paddle that you crank around to mix up the composting material.

The number 1 bucket (pee bucket) is a simple 1 gallon water/milk jug.

The device is well built, but personally I still feel it much more expensive than it needs to be.  Everything can be back engineered however to make your own if you wanted to.  In our case, after looking over the forward head, that appears to be our next option.  I’ll just reverse engineer this thing to fit a new, home built device in the forward head.  Reason being is this standard one will not fit.

Installation was easy.  Taking the old electric head out was a bit more difficult, but it took me a couple of hours.  I still have not actually removed the hoses.  I plugged them all, and left everything in place “just in case”.

The new head doesn’t quite fit right, but after playing with the various angles of the head we were able to mount the toilet in there.  It’s been in use for over a week without any issues at all.  I make it a point to empty the urine jug daily though.

So far, so good.  It doesn’t smell at all, especially not like the still-existing holding tank.

Wiping it down is easy.  Emptying the tank is easy.  I have yet to attempt the emptying of the bucket (the “Number TWO” container, haha).  That will be soon so I can make sure it’s done once and I’ve gotten the hang of it.

Solar:  Solar panels and some parts arrived a week ago as well.  I have installed them on the Bimimi frame.  Unfortunately, I don’t have the money to buy all the cool, fancy stainless steel fixtures I actually needed, which would have been clamp on stand offs.  Instead, I manufactured my own.  Cost me about $20 dollars for stainless steel bolts, nuts, washers and some aluminum stock (yeah, I know steel and aluminum don’t mix in sea water, but these are physically under the bimini anyway).

I will add pictures when I have time to this blog entry.  I have to take them, upload them to the host, then post the images in the text here.  It will not be today.

The solar panels are working very well, but, they aren’t hooked up, so there’s no place for all that beautiful sunlight to be stored as electricity at the moment.  However, the Charge Controller is mounted already in a closet in the aft quarters.  I have a plan together to run the wires through an existing deck entry which contains an apparently non-working GPS antenna.  I’ll be tracing wires shortly to make sure it’s not being used somehow.  There’s a second one mounted on the aft taffrail area, and it blinks a green light when operational, orange when searching, so I’m pretty sure it’s the operational antenna.

Here the charge controller is wired in and operational.  Taken 2 July 16 at 0800

Yesterday in the US Postal mail a letter came addressed to me from Dick Stapleton who used to own Duna.  Duna is now Adventure (and we did have a naming ceremony and all that, in case anyone wonders).  In the letter was a very short note on a yellow sticky from Mr. Stapleton.  The most important part was the single sheet inside the envelop.  It was something that engineers love.

An electrical schematic for the sailboat’s systems!  I had been mulling over how to trace everything and this schematic is pretty accurate from the parts I already chased down.  The only thing different on the schematic I can find is the fact that there were only two 6V batteries when we purchased the boat, and there are four of them now, in two 12v banks tied in parallel.

Funny part is, the schematic shows four batteries.  So, now it is about as accurate as I could have drawn it.  Obviously there aren’t all the connections shown on the page, but it does tell me a lot of things I was unsure about, like the battery/service/engine switch and how it actually was wired.  I checked it last night and the meters and sure enough, it’s wired as it says.

Tying in the solar panels will be simple, or rather, relatively simple.  I need to feed wires down below from the panels, I need to attach connectors (some of the parts I bought) to tie the panels to the controller.  Then I need to feed wires from the controller over to the batteries and tie those in.  Pretty much all I need to do.  I could add a small inverter to the load link, in case we wanted to have a separate AC load in the bedroom area, but I’ll consider that later.  I do have a 400 watt inverter we carry in the car when traveling and might put it in the bedroom as back up to the large one.

We have a several hundred watts inverter in the boat.  It’s part of the Xantrex Heart monitor system.  I’ve not really taken a close look at it, and don’t remember the model, but it is capable of running a fridge, coffee pot and a few others things, but not necessarily all at once.

Thanks to Dick Stapleton for sending that schematic.  That was very helpful!

Sails:  All of our sails are roller furling sails and the main and mizzen live inside the masts, on a furler built inside.  A few weeks go when I looked over the sails I realized the UV covers were in tatters and weren’t really doing much any more but flapping in a breeze, so Kurt Seastead, the owner of the Transworld 41 Facebook Group  suggested I contact Ullman Sails and drop off the sails for repairs.  Instead I opted for them to come visit the boat, help me take them down and look things over.  I ended up sending the working jib, main and mizzen sails to have new covers installed, repairs done and so forth.  Wasn’t cheap.

Yesterday I drove to Deltaville VA to collect the sails.  Unfortunately, they lost the one bag I have for my sails, but were nice enough to give me a new one as replacement.  Thanks Jerry!

They did good work.  I wasn’t happy that they called me later to tell me they “forgot to charge me for the washing” – because the initial conversation said “wash, repair, etc” and then I got the invoice later and it added a few hundred dollars to the bill I wasn’t expecting.  Other than that over sight, things were fine.

Until I went to install the mizzen sail.

Apparently the halyard was weakened near the bottom.  As I hoisted the sail something bound up and before I could reverse everything, the halyard snapped just inside the mast opening.  I had my hands full of broken line, winch handle and suddenly sail…. the sail pulled the halyard up and out of the mast assemble, leaving me with no halyard inside the mast now.

So, until I either get up the nerve to climb us and thread the needle, or bite the bullet and hire someone, I’ll use the outside track and spare halyard to use the mizzen sail.  Might be easier anyway.  The thing always seems to bind or act funny.  Putting a sail on in a NORMAL manner might be a change of pace and give me a chance to actually USE the mizzen now.

HF Radio: JoAnne and I are both Ham Radio Operators.  She is KB0IRW and I hold call sign N0NJY.  She doesn’t really do much with ham radio these days but used to get on the VHF and chat, or do Skywarn stuff in Colorado.  Since we started refurbishing the house a couple of years ago all my ham gear had been packed up and disconnected.  I don’t even have a rig in the car any more.  The only times we’ve used it was around marinas to talk to each other or in the car traveling on the handhelds.

So a couple weeks ago while waiting on parts to arrive, I ran some wiring back to the backstay antenna and connected up the HF rig.  I have been able to do a bunch of contacts on a digital mode called BPSK31 on 14070Khz with numerous hams around the US, Caribbean and even Europe.  The rig is only Amateur Radio and I don’t marine HF (SSB as the mariners call it) right now.  Going to change that soon.

The reason for having HF in the first place to call for help if we get into trouble, or pass email traffic through Airmail and a pactor modem.  We don’t have a pactor modem though, so I use a Tigertronics SignaLink external sound card (box) connected to the computer to feed data in and out of the laptop.  Using linux as my OS.  One day, I’ll write about that.  Should be educational if not boring as hell. Ha!

That’s what’s been going on lately.  Well, off to dig in the bulkheads, cabinets and wiring to see what’s actually connected, and what isn’t, start pulling in wires, and get these solar panels doing what they were designed to do… give me MORE POWER!

 

Yesterday, today and tomorrow

Why that title?  Because I did things yesterday, today and will do some tomorrow.

Yesterday we had some issues with wifi.  The antenna attached to the Bullit broke.  Snapped right off inside the connector, necessitating me to dig out the soldering equipment to do repairs.  When it went down, I was well in the middle of running cables over from the radio to the external antenna on the boat.

Basically, we have a “random length” wire, that comes from the tuner over to the insulated backstay (one of the wires holding the main mast up).  I had to dig through a lot of junk to find some wire to run through the bulkhead to get the antenna connected.  In the mean time, the wifi stopped working and the wife was asking about it, or complaining really, because she was trying to play a game and kept getting disconnected.

So, stopped working the HF radio stuff, repaired the wifi antenna and got that back up and running.

In the middle of all of this, I got a message on my phone.  We can’t get calls, no coverage, so we’re connected to the wifi…. which wasn’t working.  Therefore, the second the wifi came back, the message came through.  They stated I had a large box awaiting me at the office.  Turned out to be the new C-Head composting toilet.  Collected that.  More on that later.

Once I got the HF rigged up, I realized I’d lost my control cable somewhere.  The control cable goes between the tuner and the HF rig to switch bands and is an absolute necessity on a random antenna like we’re using.  I remembered that when I was in Colorado Springs in the winter, I’d looked for the missing cable inside the trailer and storage we still have (my kids are keeping that stuff).  When I didn’t find the cable, I had purchased the DIN connectors and placed them into my electronic gear I carried back and forth all the time.

Fortunately, along with some wiring I needed to complete the HF installation, I happened to locate some 5 conductor spare wire that I was able to use to build the control cable.  So, today, the HF radio is working, and Wifi is back online.

This morning I opened up the new box of stuff, the C-Head Toilet.

It appears that this installation is going to be easy.  The toilet will not only fit, it will sit perfectly in the aft head.  I went through all the instructions, directions, parts, parts list and read everything.  The hardest part will be the removal of the old toilet, the plumbing, etc.

So, yesterday I did the HF.  Today, I examined all the parts of the toilet, tomorrow, I’ll probably start the installation in the head.

 

Of Toilets, Sails and Electric Power

Sails:

Three jobs I want done.  Sails repaired (the UV damage I can’t really fix, I’ll need a sail loft to do, as I have no sewing machine and I’m not sure how to go about replacing pieces of the sails yet).  The toilets; time for a composting head.  And power.  I like power.  JoAnne and I have our computers, my ham radio gear and we like to have lighting at night most evenings for reading.

Today I spoke to a local sail loft, and someone will come out to the boat this week to assist me in unsticking and checking the internal rigging for the mizzen.  It’s been giving me fits since the first day.  It’s pretty stuck again.  Maybe it’s me.  Maybe it’s the internal rigging.  I did have it working once pretty well, but it’s acting up again.

The main and mizzen are both suffering pretty badly on the clew where it hangs out of the mast.  On the main mast furling (for those who don’t know) the clew (the bottom corner part of the head sail farthest from the mast) sticks out about 10-12 inches when the sail is rolled all the way in.  That part of this particular sail has no UV cover or protection and it’s sat for many years in the sun.

Amazingly, the sails inside are clean and pretty.  Though, could use a good washing.

The mizzen sail (again, for the non-sailors that follow us, the rear most mast on the boat) is the same way (and the mechanism is the same, only smaller).

When I talked to Jerry from the sail loft he told me I could either remove the sails and bring them down and they’d price it out for me, or someone could come to the ship and assist if necessary.  When I explained the problems with the mizzen, he said he’d probably come out personally.

At this point, I’m going to hand over the working jib, main and mizzen and not worry about the genoa.  I let it out and examined it pretty carefully again today.  I’ve had it up and down a few times and looked it over.  The only real wear is at the clew where you attach the sheets.  However, it’s nothing at all to worry about right now.

Before we head for the Bahamas (under sail we hope) we will have decent sails.

Toilets:

On the toilets.  I really like the electric head.  But, I HATE that it uses electricity.  I hate that there is a holding tank.  I hate the plumbing.  I hate when we have to use it and put anything in the tank.  We have literally no smells aboard the boat except when the tank gets something added to it.  The tanks are old (original) and are stainless steel.  Worst possible thing they could be for holding waste.  Even stainless steel “stains” around urine.  I don’t even want to think about what it will be like to remove that tank….

On Facebook in the Sailing and Cruising group, and on several of the online sailing groups, composting toilets have been discussed to death.  There are two, absolute views on them.

A) Hateful, evil, nasty

B) Loving relationships

Those who use them on their boats love them.  Those who don’t like them have either had little experience with them or none at all.  Of course, like everyone else, I’m somewhat generalizing, but this is truly what I have read from the masses online.  Of the several people we’ve met using them, and having them on a cruising boat we found that without exception they state they are 1) clean, 2) do NOT smell, 3) do not have to worry about if your Y-valve is locked or not, 4) easy to clean and care for.

Of those whom I’ve personally had discussions who didn’t like them, they have said “They stink”, “they are nasty”, “They can flip upside down” (so can your boat with a holding tank), “I wouldn’t own one”, “I’ve never used one” and various other remarks that lead one to believe they are horrible.  But, in almost ALL cases, there is no experience with them at all, or minimal.

In all, we’ve probably spent a couple of hundred hours of research, reading and talking to the various companies, and friends about this subject.  One one never imagine having to talk about poop so much.

Finally though, we decided that we’re going to replace ONE of the toilets on the boat with a composting toilet.  We’re going to go with the C-head – because it’s half the cost of the others.  But it also uses easy to find parts if something goes bad or breaks.  The truth is I could go up the hard ware store and buy a bucket, some play wood, some glass and build my own given the pictures and knowledge I have now.  I just don’t have a full service wood shop on the boat (though I have a lot of tools) I don’t relish the idea of building something and taking a couple weeks to do it and then maybe mismeasuring one thing.

So we will purchase one and install it.  If all goes well, we’ll replace the second before the time to depart in the fall.  Sometime next year I’ll have the boat hauled when we do our painting and cut out the ancient tanks, plumbing and remove those through hulls and have the hull repaired, fared and painted.  That will remove several through hulls and the associated plumbing, and a large space in the bilge will be emptied out for us.  Next year.

Electricity:

What a mess.  My house bank is really for the windlass and the bow thrusters.  Everything else in the house actually appears to run on the starter battery.  Oh. My. Wow.

I will need to get under the bed, the aft head, the bilge, and the port bulkheads to locate wires and figure out what goes where and draw schematics.  What a mess.  I want to add solar and a wind generator, but I’m not even sure where I’ll put solar panels on this boat.  No real place to do it.  The taffrail on the aft might hold them, except for the mizzen mast rigging.  The davits might hold them, IF I have something built up above them.

A wind generator can be mounted on the mizzen.  Except for the big issue of making connections to everything, needed a specialized charge controller to handle both solar and wind generator.

As much as I hate to do it, I’m going to have to find a consultant to assist me to dig through the wiring and figure this mess out.  I’m not sure this is going to be an easy thing to do anyway.  I DO know I can rewiring some things, I just don’t have a good handle on it yet.  Going to take me a few days of measuring voltages and tracing wires.

The toilet, in comparison to the electrical issues is going to be a cake wake.

Addendum to “Stuck in the Mud”

The Stuck in the Mud post caused a bit of contention with a friend who is a sometimes resident at Cobb’s Marina.  She disagree (as she put it) with 99.9% of my post.

I’m writing this particular post to hopefully unruffle some feathers.

First off I’m not saying people shouldn’t visit Cobb’s Marina.  I liked the place.

Second, I stated clearly that the majority of what I wrote was written in December of last year, six months prior to posting.  I considered NOT posting it at all, but this is a blog.  The blog is here to document the trials and tribulations of us as cruisers.  When something good happens, we will tell the story.  When something bad happens, we will tell the story.

Third, the things I say here are my opinion and as factual as I can be.  I sometimes leave out names, exact locations and certain details in order to protect the innocent.

Fourth, My opinions of things may vary widely from the readers; including things from politics, to marinas, to the right anchor to use, the right lighting systems to use, how to use a radio, how I write and what I say when I write.

I am not sure my friend will even bother to read anything any more on the blog because she disagreed with me on the “Stuck in the Mud” post, but I hope she can understand something simple.  I’m here cruising because it’s my wife’s dream and it’s my dream.  Everything I do is for the comfort and safety of my wife, the safety of my ship and anything that occurs out there, or inshore that affects the boat, or the morale of our little crew is crucial to our survival.

This includes good AND BAD experiences in marinas.

Again, for the record, I will state that people should NOT pass by Cobb’s Marina if they need a place to stay.  They should, as in ALL marinas, READ the CONTRACT, ask questions and be clear on what you’re getting for your money and their time.  Above all, you should as boat owner be aware that your responsibility to the boat is yours, and what you hand off to them is theirs.

There is, in all cases, an implied contract, never written in to a piece of paper when a marina accepts responsibility for doing work on your boat or having you in the marina that they too are culpable in certain situations and conditions.  While paper contracts are all well and good, some states have laws against writing contracts that completely indemnify a marina (or anyone) from any damages caused by others or themselves.  Many places blithely write in clauses into contracts without actually checking the law and assume (or hope) you will go on about your business and assume responsibility completely simply because it’s written in the contract.

When it comes down to the actual law, said contracts can be nullified in a court.

I didn’t want to hire a lawyer.  But I did, because the other party’s insurance company began to get testy with both parties involved.  In fact, the other party also hired a lawyer to deal with the circumstances.

At NO time did either party consider Cobb’s Marina as being liable for what happened.  The lawyers were due to the INSURANCE company.

Which brings me to the last point.  I had all my paperwork together for full coverage on the day of the accident.  Before that I had simple liability on the boat for damages we  might cause in case of fire, accident, me driving badly and so forth.  However, because of the accident, full coverage was immediately denied and all my paperwork was for naught.

Now I had to 1) Show that the damages were fully repaired and 2) answer new survey questions to the insurance company.

So, the accident in the marina was caused by two issues.

A) Having the boat placed in a location that was dangerous and hung the bowsprit out over the corner of the dock

B) A boat driver attempting to drive a malfunctioning boat with one engine, turning it with a strong wind blowing into the area.

The marina could have been held liable, as they were the deciding factor on where the boat was placed, and THEY placed the boat there. Not me.  I did not pursue that aspect.

As to everything else I wrote, the majority of it was written when I was mad about all the accident.  That includes the batteries (which are no worse for wear by the way, I was able to save them without any problems) and some of the other situations.

The very last thing I’d like to say, this is my blog.  I will write what I like, when I like, how I like and I will post whatever I deem fit to publish.  If someone doesn’t like my opinion, that’s ok. You’re entitled to your own, and your own blog.

 

LED Lighting

I decided to drop a few bucks at Lowe’s yesterday on a strip of LED lighting in the hopes I could made a simple mod and run them on 12 Volts DC.

Unfortunately, that didn’t turn out to be the case.

After looking over the connectors I found that the lighting was designed around LEDs, which is nice, but the little “adapter” which I assumed (wrongly) would be a simple step down transformer, going from 120ac down to 12vdc was not.  Instead it was a device (called a rectifier, a set of diodes really) that converted the voltage to 120vdc instead of dropping it down to where I could use it.

In other words, the lights weren’t designed (probably purposely) to use low voltages.

So… no easy modification there.  But, on the bright side (see what I did there? LOL) they light up the cabin pretty nicely.  I can really only use them on shore power as I wouldn’t waste the battery power to run the inverter to run these lights.


I promise, they aren’t throwing out lightning bolts like a Tesla Coil. Though it looks cool. haha


One image showing part of the lighting.


Different image showing the rest of them.

Later, I’ll go on the hunt for strip lights from Amazon.com because they have everything a electronics geek could want to play with!

Stuck in the Mud

This was written approximately six months ago.  Today I am publishing it, because on the day I wrote this I was pretty pissed about things.  Read the first part, then read my notes and “afterthoughts” – because we all know hind sight is 20-20.

Begin Old Post:

 

Not literally, but figuratively.

We’ve been stuck in Cobb’s Marina now for over 6 weeks.  Though a combination of mishaps, an accident and just plain old “mañana, mon” attitude.

While I can appreciate such an attitude in the hot, humid Caribbean, not so much in Norfolk Virginia.  At a highly recommended marina where people are coming and going rather rapidly, we’ve been put off, stuck here, ignored and plainly, clearly been the subject of “non-caring”.

For instance just last week, the Marina closed down for four days for the Thanksgiving Holiday.  Very nice for them and their families, I’m sure.  But, what about my wife and I?  I asked about getting our mast put back on the day after repairs were completed on the mast, so Tuesday afternoon the last of the work was accomplished.

The mast was supposed to go on Wednesday before the long weekend.

Nope, it did not, in fact, they stated they “didn’t have time”.  Really?  They had time to move the crane out of position and pull up docks.  They had time to haul out 4-5 boats that had just come in.  They had time to re-splash another boat that had been repaired, but no time to reinstall my mast.

I suspect they were concerned we might “skip out” on the bill or something.  This is not something I would have done and would gladly have taken care of it just to get out in the good weather to head south.

That’s ONE of many delays we’ve experienced here.  Other things have included “We’ll send you the bill” and they did, mailing it to the Florida address, meaning I had to then await it coming back to me here in the marina when they could have just as easily handed it to me.  What’s up with that?

So, today is the 2nd of December.  We’ve been since the 18th of October.  On the 23rd of October a guy in an out of control power boat hit us severely damaging the bow of our boat.  We’ve been arguing with the man’s insurance company since then.  They have basically refused to help, pay or otherwise alleviate the problem caused by their client.

A few days ago I hired a lawyer.  I’ll leave it at that for now.  But, suffice it to say I didn’t want to do that, but now I plan to get my money one way or another.

I will say that the marina is just an “ok” place to be.  But, there are hidden costs as well.  Electricity apparently used to be included in the docking fees. In fact, they were very careful not to even mention electricity to us as part of the bill and we only discovered accidentally in conversation with a marina employee and another sailor here (who was also caught by surprise) about the extra fees if you’re on the docks.

The new docks (we’re actually in the “Pit” on a newer floating dock) are nice.  The old docks are dilapidated so are coming out this winter for new docks to be installed.  The workers are almost all family members, Cobbs, Duvals, etc.  And the marina has been here a long time, surrounded by 3 others who are apparently owned by the competition, and have caused a lot of issues for this marina.

All in all, we’ve not had a horrible stay here, except to say, we had to STAY here.  We wanted to be in Florida by Thanksgiving, not sitting confined to a dock here in Norfolk, Virginia.  We’ve been up against every brick wall you can imagine until today.

Today I finally convinced them that the mast needed to go on, TODAY.  Yesterday they wouldn’t do it due to rain  (Ok, that could be a safety issue, but they were still hauling out boats yesterday….).

In speaking to contractors around here, apparently the speed with which things gets accomplished depends on who is paying, how they are paying, and how well the marina knows them.  Several boats have come and gone under “emergency conditions” (Not that us getting here wasn’t an emergency condition, it started out alright, but rapidly turned INTO an emergency).  And they were in and out in hours or a day, as opposed to weeks.

After our boat was struck, things slowed like molasses in January, I suspect because they believe the insurance company is paying up.  Well, since they insurance company has told me to pound sand, it’s all on my now.  Thousands of dollars in damages, paid for by me, and thousands more for other fees….. I’m not very happy about any of this.

Nor am I happy about the way the Insurance Company has treated us, and definitely NOT how the marina has approached customer relations with us.  I am writing this as a draft to be published once my mast is in place, the bill is paid and we can leave when ever we want.  So…. I’ll leave it at that.

Just know that there will an entry in Active Captain about this marina and unless you have a damned good reason for coming here, I wouldn’t do it.  Go somewhere else.

End Old Post and start my new notes from today:

That evening, after the mast went up, JoAnne fell off the fixed, dilapidated dock onto another boat we had been invited to visit, and where they had chosen to place the boat to load tons of lead into the bilge.

Were it not for the fact we were stuck in that marina for so long, from 18 October 2015 through 20 May 2016, a full seven months and two days, through NO fault of ours, JoAnne would not have fallen.  Had they taken care of the issues we came in for in the first place on the day they promised (that following Monday after the dockmaster called us and said “If you get here today, we’ll look at your boat tomorrow”) we would not have been hit the following Friday.

Had the marina moved us to a safer spot out of the pit where they were constantly dopping and retrieving boats, we’d not have been hit.  Had they dock folks placed the boat properly, without a boat behind us, allowing our pulpit and bowsprit to be back from overhanging the dock, we’d not have been hit.

Had we not been hit, we’d not have had to hire a lawyer.  The boat owner whom we ended up taking to court eventually settled out of court and did pay the full amount of damages and for our stay from the day of the accident to the date of final repairs.  So, that all turned out good.  We even met the owners later, shook hands and said “no hard feelings”, at least on my part, not so sure about their parts.  But still, he came through like a champ, paid for the repairs.

What we never received was a break on the price of the stay (except the standard “If you’re here longer than a couple of weeks, we’ll do a monthly rate”).   What we also never received from anyone on the site was an apology for the crap we went through there.

I will say that the dock master even allowed my batteries to boil out over the winter, instead of checking them every couple of weeks.  They didn’t retie a line to the power cable and it fell into the water while we were away from the boat (after they changed things without telling me).  A fender exploded.. and was changed out for one of my other fenders by the dockmaster, so they did catch some things.

We did meet several wonderful people there, Rhonda and Mike, Rob and Holly, Marc and Nicola, Vince Debbi, and Jeanie and Bart to name a few.  The marina people were helpful most of the time, said hello, but at times went out of their way to avoid contact with us.

The marina is a working marina, thus, dirty, noisy and loud.  We knew that.  We expect that.  But we also expect marina personnel to take care with our babies, our homes, the thing we supply a significant amount of passion towards – our boats.  We don’t expect a lackadaisical attitude, we don’t expect to be pushed to a corner and ignored when we have specifically stated we have a schedule to keep, a weather window to catch and require assistance in accomplishing our tasks, especially when paying a lot of money, per day, for the “privilege” of staying there as a “transient” instead of a normal “slip holder” (which was never once offered to us).

I’m sure some will frown on this post, and I’m certain that most folks wouldn’t post something like this, figuring that “some day, I might have to use them again”.  This is true of me as well.  Some DAY, I might have to stop at Cobb’s Marina.  But then again, if I do, and they have improved their work processes, I might do so.

I don’t hold anyone at fault for what happened to us.  It was general circumstances and perhaps a bit of bad luck, something I sincerely DO NOT believe in.  Luck is what you make of it (except games of chance, cards, dice, roulette and Lotto).  You do NOT leave to chance things on a boat.  You do your due diligence and you attempt to mitigate anything imaginable and sometimes you miss your shot.  That isn’t luck, that’s simple statistics.

Cobb’s Marina is a decent place other than what we went through and in other circumstances, I’d never have written any of the original post or this.  But I do what I do to inform people.  Always have.

If you’re going to Cobb’s Marina… be aware of your contract.  Be aware of your ability to say yes or no.  And be aware that if you’re on those docks, multiple accidents have occurred there over the past two years, including one that happened just before we left (having nothing to do with the marina exactly, but with a sailboat driver who didn’t take care going out, hooked his rigging on someone sport fisher outriggers, that boat was a mess when I looked at it).

Nothing here is meant to discourage anyone from going there rather to inform you that it matters not WHICH marina in which you enter, you need to take care of those around you as well as yourself.  Obviously no one can remain with their boat 100% of the time, and as cruisers we have to leave to get groceries, parts, get work done, see things and in general try to not stay on the boat when we are someplace trying to SEE things.

That’s why we trust the marinas to help us.

Honestly though, our ship has remained safer on an anchor and mooring ball than sitting in a slip anywhere we’ve been.

 

Water, Water everywhere, but not a drop to drink

Interesting day.

Today is Saturday, Day Two of the Memorial Day Siege of the Boaters, Drunks, and half-nekked people.  Woke up this morning to a relatively quiet marina… with no water.

Yup. Showers are down.  Toilets don’t flush.  And bowls are… umm… full.

I hiked up.  And hiked over to the office and ran into the manager.  He was not only aware, he was pretty frazzled this morning.

It appears that for the last three days they were filling the pool.

From two garden hoses.

Attached to the water system.

Which goes to a well.

If you understand how a well works, you might find this kind of funny by now.

If not, I’ll explain it a bit.

Wells are deep holes in the ground.  They are drilled or sometimes dug by hand.  In any case they go down to where the underground water table lives.  Usually there is rock, sand and clay down there and the water in the water table filters through that stuff to the bottom of the well, and then the water that collects is pumped out to the top, into the plumbing system where us normal humans can more easily gather and use it.

Now, when you pump a LOT of water out, the local water table tends to fade away while the distant water further filters through the dirt and sand to eventually get into the well.  There is a slight time delay in this of course.  So if you empty the well (the well runs dry) and when the well runs dry, the pumps can’t pump water.  In fact, water pumps using impellers (as most sailors who have a boat with an engine know) start to destroy themselves shortly after the water stops flowing.

This is when we military guys say “The excrement has hit the impeller device”.  Toilets with no water over flow… with… ummm… excrement.  Sinks no worky.  Kitchens fail to function.  Bars don’t open (sometimes).  And people stink because they get no showers.  And most of us don’t go to the bathroom in places where the bowls are already “full”.

In other words, no water means broken pump, which means no water pressure or any other kind of pressure.

Except the kind placed up on a poor, new manager of a marina on Day Two of the Memorial Day Siege of the Boaters, Drunks, and half-nekked people.  I felt sorry for him, as he appeared tired.

But, as a real life former military hero he stepped up to the plate got portapotties in place, a company working on the pumps and lo and behold in a few hours the water is back online!

Hallelujah, toilets flush, shower water flows, and boats with empty tanks (because they all took showers aboard this morning, except for JoAnne and I who refuse to waste precious DRINKING water on the boat to take a shower… lol)  can refill their empty tanks.  The whining and bitching stopped and it appears 90% of the current crowd is sitting over in the bar drinking and yelling as normal.

In the mean time, JoAnne and I took a trip to town… a 40+ mile round trip and found an absolutely wonderful, hidden diner called “Almost There” sitting on Route 360 near Tappahannock.  Fortunately, they also had a bathroom which I was happy to see for perhaps not-so-obvious reasons).

I ordered a “Western Omelette” which included some kind of very sweat jalapenos. Not spicy, but sweet.  And the omelette weight about two pounds.  It was HUGE.  And delicious. The biscuits and home fries were the best I’ve ever had in a restaurant (they can’t touch JoAnne’s cooking, but they were up there with hers).

I pondered the reasoning for the name of the place.  After looking around the place inside, I noted a lot of Bible quotes on the wall.  Ah.  I think I had it.  I surmise that “Almost There” means “Almost Heaven” at least from a yummy-in-my-tummy food feeling!

Honestly, I am not sure why they called it that, but that’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.

Lastly, we went to the Lowes and ran into our friend Kurt there, buying plumbing stuff.  (Kurt Seastead is the page owner for the Transworld 41, the ship we own, which is how we met Kurt).

We bought some LED lights for the boat. More on the lights in a bit. Kurt and I knew each other were going to the Lowes so it wasn’t necessary a happenstance thing, but that we happened to run into one another was.  I mean we stopped and ate breakfast and Kurt had messaged me this morning offering to pick me up for a trip there.  I told him we might meet him or something.  Well, we did.

It appears Kurt and Sally might come to see the boat tomorrow.  So, I spend part of this afternoon sweating and cleaning.  Because, you know, we can’t be too cluttered on a boat we live on, now, can we?

I CAN walk into the Vee Berth now.  I can’t, however sleep in it (thank goodness and careful planning on my part so JoAnne doesn’t kick me out of bed…).

Tonight…. we have all the fans running.  Probably going to regret the electric bill later, but it has been HOT today.  JoAnne told me there’s a chance of rain tonight, and tomorrow and I’ll double check the weather because I want the enclosure back in place if it rains.  We still have leaks that I believe come from the cockpit area and want to minimize any more wood damage in the aft cabin.  Eventually, I’ll find them all and repair them, but in the mean time if I can’t fix it, mitigation is key.

I want to finish moving some stuff around tomorrow so as not to have clutter everywhere.

And we get to test those LED lights this evening.  They run on AC and not DC.  I checked the plug-in piece and it merely rectify the 120vac to 120vdc to run the LEDs.  So, I can’t plug it into 12vdc (which was my original hope).  So, tomorrow, I’ll be looking over some stuff I saw on Amazon, and working out costs for doing LED strip lights in side the cabins.  The lights we have pretty much suck for reading.

Even the lamps I’ve switched for LEDs just do not cut it for reading.  I’ll be working that out.

And that is all for the evening.  Tune in tomorrow to see if the lights work….correctly.

 

New Home for Summer

On Wednesday 25 May 2016 we departed from Sandy Point, Virginia on the Wicomico River pretty early in the day, about 0800.  We were trying to get out earlier, but just couldn’t do it.

On the bright side, we actually motor sailed out of the anchorage and out to the bay. Eventually I was able to stop the engine and sail for a couple of hours on a nice beam reach.  Was a beautiful day though.

We were headed for an anchorage and figured to try to come in early on Thursday morning on high tide.  Then we got within about 3 hours of the marina and made the decision to come on in.  Called them to ensure someone would be there to assist with the docking and we made it in with plenty of time to spare before they closed shop for the day.

The entrance to the marina is narrow and the outside is absolutely covered in crab pots.  Why there isn’t a clear path in, I’m not sure.  But I managed to successfully avoid them all.  At the last few dozen yards we bottomed out.  In fact, I literally could hear barnacles being popped off the bottom.

Then there were two quick, ninety degree turns.  Straight in, a left and another left into the slip.  I overshot, backed up and used the bow thrusters… to which one of the dock hands said “That’s cheating”. lol  Second time in a couple of weeks I’ve heard that remark about sailboats with bow thrusters.

JoAnne was able to step forward, and hand off the dock lines though, with out having to toss anything.  It worked out well.

We pulled in rather than backing because I wanted our aft cabin to be more “private” and not be exposed at the docks constantly. It’s quieter that way, because people here are yelling a lot to one another, at one another, and just yelling, I suspect, to yell. haha

We have visited the newly opened Tim’s over by the office.  Restaurant and bar.  The crab cake sandwich is great.  JoAnne has tried a couple different things.  Beer is about 3.80 a bottle though, and the pints from draft are a bit cheaper.

Tonight they have music, and in fact this whole Memorial Day weekend they will have several different bands.  Fortunately, we’re far enough away we won’t hear it. haha

This is definitely a power boater place though, or was.  Marty, the owner is trying to get more sailboats to come in.  He is a sailboater and wants more of us here I guess.

I started cleaning some today.  I did some work on the dock lines, putting anti-chaff on them (basically some rubber hose I sewed to three of the lines) because I’m tired of the lines being abused by dock hands for one.  Darn things aren’t cheap, either.

While the boat was in Norfolk and we were gone (just before we headed back) there were 70  mph straight line winds… which exploded one of our fenders.  I had bought one from East Beach Marine over in Norfolk to replace the broken one, and found they had a lifetime warranty.  Contacted the company, called Taylor Made and asked about the warranty.  They asked for pictures of the broken fender and I sent them along.  They are mailing me a new fender!  Woot!

I’ve not gotten ANYTHING for free, and have had to pay through the nose for everything.  So, that’s a tiny win for us.

We managed to get laundry done, and I’ll work on the boat this weekend, because it’s getting very crowded here and I don’t want to lose our parking space to go shopping for groceries.  But we have plenty of food aboard, it’s just there’s very little fresh stuff right now.  Probably Tuesday we will go to the store.  It’s about 22 miles from here.

We do have wifi working again at least. No telephones to speak of.

Oh, that reminds me. Phones work, but I have to hike almost to the beach to get a signal, and it’s NOT T-Mobile so I’m sure I’m paying for that too. (So whatever I might have saved on a freebie fender will be taken up in roam charges or something).

Anyway, phones, T-mobile sent me a rather random message about not being able to charge my card automagically for the phone bill.  Funny… it should work.  SO I call them and find out the card is being declined.  Shouldn’t be.

Call the bank.

Bank says, “Oh, right here, says your card was a subject of counterfeiting and has been cancelled.  You should have gotten a notification.”

Right. In snail mail.  Two days after I stopped in to get my mail at Green Cove Springs Florida, in person.  No phone calls.  No emails. No nothing.

They sent me a new card.

That card too has been cancelled now, as well as my previous card.  They are shipping me a new one, I’ll get it Tuesday.  My mail will be here Tuesday.  And my card has weird charges on it, which I need to call the bank back about and tell them to remove them.  (small amounts, like 74 cents, and 83 cents).

One thing after another….

Anyway, we’re safe here for now.

 

Fishing Bay, VA

We arrived here on Friday, one day.  Long trip. Had engine problems, lots of wind, no wind, wind in the wrong places….

Anyway, we’ve been sitting in Fishing Bay, Va, through the deluges of rain.  It’s actually raining again, but only drizzle.

We are planning to leave in the morning and try to make it as far as we can, but had “Sandy Point” as one route (it’s about 29nm) and some places up along the Coan River and… somewhere else I’m not remembering at the moment.  Anyway, it’s all written down and I can check the book we use to plan our locations.

Weather is looking ok tomorrow  Cloudy tonight. T-storms tonight, 54F.  Tomorrow sunshine and 80s.  But almost not winds. So motor sailing I guess.  Fortunately I filled the tanks today. Winds have all but died down.  They were pretty strong last night, but my anchor held well.

Dinner tonight was salmon and salad. And a couple of Guinness!  Wonderful!  I hope that one day soon it will be salmon I caught.  I’m getting the hang of things, I think.  Except the sitting and patience part.  That’s gonna take a lot longer.

The marina apparently left some parts off.  Nuts, lock washers, washers… on the bow.  The bow platform is damaged again because of it too.  The anchor roller came lose trying to bring up the anchor.  I found no screws in it (ok, ONE, but no washers to speak of on either one).  I spent an hour putting washers, lock wasters and new nuts on some of the screws.  Unfortunately, when the anchor came up it slammed into the platform and punched a nice hole in it.  I’m considering ripping that thing off and putting in a solid platform instead of that “fancy thing”.  I want something sturdy and useful, not “cute and expensive looking”. I’m trying of crap breaking because it’s built like willowy lace and not solid oak.

We have two leaks.  Kurt thinks one might be from the port hole. I’ll tear it out when I get a minute and check, and seal it.

The other one is the butterfly hatch.  That needs to be sanded, sealed and varnished (or as some say, oiled).  The consensus on varnishing teak, versus oiling, versus leaving it to go gray just isn’t there.  I’ve gotten twenty different opinions, all different. hahaha

On the boat top, deck and topsides, I’m leaving it alone for now and keeping it clean.  It looks great that way.  One suggestion is, if I use oil, to use tung oil, because it tends to form a hard surface.  I might do that.  Or at least put it in a couple places to test it.

Anyway… I’m tired, we’re leaving early tomorrow and I need to sleep.  So… until next time, this is the sailing ketch Adventure signing off!

 

Slight delays

I mentioned the other day that we couldn’t get out of here because the Enterprise Car rental fibbed to me about having a car, and then when I called to confirm the reservation they said “Oh, we’re closed on the weekends”.  Anyway, that put us out until Monday for a car.

So, yesterday we drove up to the new marina, dropped our car, checked in with the marina folks and told them we’d be back when we got back.  They were happy to see us and ok with us leaving the car.

When we got back we started looking over the weather and found that it was going to rain north of us pretty heavily, and we’d be getting rain here in Norfolk sometime this afternoon.  Yuk.  Winds are pretty light though, about 10 knots aloft right now.

I spoke to David, the Dockmaster and asked about moving the boat to a different spot, to get us out of the Pit, around the corner from other boats and make it easier for me to depart when the time comes.

JoAnne did some more checking and it looks like our best day (for the sailing we want) will be Friday morning for a few hours.  In double checking it looks like winds from the north starting in a few hours and going through until late on Thursday.  Friday about 0000 UTC the winds die down a bit but become variable and switch rapidly from north, to east, to west  then finally out of the SW as the High pressure bubble moves through.  From that time through at least Saturday it looks like mostly SW winds ranging from 5kts to as much as 22kts.  Looks like Sunday on, the winds shift to NE.  Right down the Potomac… so  if we get out of here on Friday we are going to find an anchorage and sit there a few days.

Anyway, we’re not taking a risk of getting beat up on the Bay again.  We’ll take this slowly and surely, not jump in unless we’re ready to do it.

So a few days on the docks here without a car, but we’ve got food, water, and the grocery store is hiking distance for me.  Captain Groovy’s isn’t too far either (you know, just in case… beer).

 

Anything can happen….

I called Enterprise Rental  a few days ago to talk to them about renting a car up in the Potomac river area, near the marina we’re going to.  When I spoke to them, we had hoped to drive up Saturday and get the car, be back here Saturday evening and leave Monday morning.  The guy I spoke to told me no problem, and he could even pick us up at the marina so we didn’t have to drive there to drop the car and head out.

Yesterday afternoon, after we finished shopping in the commissary over at Ft. Story, I called to arrange for Saturday.  Turns out their office is closed on the weekend there.

Same guy who said it would be fine said he assumed I was picking up Friday, even though I explained it the first time.  Guess he didn’t listen.
So, plans are moved now.  Sunday we’re having a pot luck with the other cruisers here.  Monday, early, probably around 7 AM we’ll drive up to the marina, call Enterprise to come get us once there and make sure they know we’re leaving our car at the marina, and then we’ll come back.

We will finish any last second shopping and head out on Tuesday if the winds and weather permits.

Edit.  Forgot something.  I started clearing the deck today of dirt, debris and cleaning up and prepping things, like our water tanks.  I need to fill the two diesel jerry cans and my gas cans as well.  But while I started on that, I wound up working on the wood on the deck.  The boat’s many dozen yards of teak called out to me, saying “Clean me, please?”

I couldn’t resist.  I did the whole top area of the boat I could reach.  The port side I’ve never cleaned so I ended up using soap, water and some bleach in the water to clean up the mold.  The dirt was coming off, but the black was staying.  Soon as I used a little bleach, the black went away.

I’ll probably sand the boat a bit at some point and oil it or whatever.  I don’t think we’re going to be varnishing now.  It’s a pain in the butt, it doesn’t stay on, there’s no way to keep it looking nice without a massive amount of work.  So…. we’ll punt. lol

It looks immensely better now though.  So, that was my project for the day.

Tomorrow, Pot Luck with the Cruisers here, and Monday, car moving…..

 

Overcharging Batteries, Heat and Sleepless Nights in Norfolk

Yesterday I decided I needed to actually rip into the aft cabin and take apart the bed to get to the batteries.  Lead-Acid cells, all of them, need to be checked from time to time for evaporating water from the electrolyte.  I installed one set of batteries in August last year, the second set here in Norfolk and did the wiring job.

I apparently missed a few steps with our system I should have paid more attention to.

How I discovered I missed the steps was a night from hell last night.

Let me start in the aft bedroom.  I pulled the mattresses.  We’ve been here for just over a week and when I put them down they were dry as a bone, unblemished and practically new.  When I pulled them, the bottoms were damp, mildew had begun to form on the bottom.  The wet, rainy days and closed cabins contributed to this problem with condensation all over the cabin for a few nights.

I did as JoAnne asked and sprayed down the tops of the mattresses (after flipping them so the bottoms were now the tops) and wiped them down with a weak vinegar solution to kill the mildew.  I set them off and began work on the battery compartment, located quite inconveniently beneath the bed, just under the boards that are the surface for the mattresses.

I pulled out the old (dare I say “ancient”) hydrometer and opened the first battery to check the specific gravity of the cells.  First the hydrometer began to come apart in my hands.  Second I realized that lo and behold, there’s no visible fluid in the cells.  Ack. Bad news.  I had spoken to the marina who said they “were regularly checking the boat and batteries”.  Today I confirmed they were merely checking the charging status on the panel, and never once went into the compartment to actually “check the batteries”.  Double-ack…. Mistake number one, assuming that people are doing what they actually say they are doing.

So, I open all the batteries and they are all very low.  I used filtered water (no distilled available, verified I could use it first of course).  I put between 4-6 ounces into each cell.  That’s a lot.  That means at least a half inch or perhaps more of each cell was exposed to air and this is not a good thing for batteries.

I went ahead and closed everything up and started checking the charging station.  We have a “smart charging system”, built by Xantrex called a Heart 2000R (monitor).  There is my second mistake…. I’ll get back to this in a minute.

In the mean time, JoAnne and I went out, had a couple beers, ate some food, came back.  I noted a slight odor which seemed familiar but JoAnne said “Smells like the vinegar to me” and I assumed it was.  Mistake number three, not investigating more closely.

After while, I thought the smell was stronger.  And it was.  I then investigated.  Walking into the aft cabin, it was HOT in there.  Probably 85 degrees.  WAY hotter than it should have been.  Then it hit me.  The smell.  Well, the identification of the smell.  Sulfur from batteries.  YIKES!

I shut down the charger, removed all the mattresses, bedding and cover and the heat coming out of the battery compartment was stifling. I switched off the system and starter batteries by using the big switches.  I could still touch the batteries without being burned, but they were literally boiling inside.  I quickly opened all the hatches, head, windows and turned on fans to blow out any fumes and likely hydrogen (I have a scar on my forehead to remind me to do that stuff, where a battery blew up when I was about 15 or 16).

I placed another small DC fan on top of the batteries as soon as I was sure the fumes were mostly cleared out, mostly to dissipate the heat, and cool the batteries.

I checked voltages, which seemed fine.  But man, were those batteries hot!

Mean time, now it’s getting late.

We didn’t get to actually go to bed until around 1AM probably.  The batteries were warm all night but I put the bed bad together.  I kept getting up to check the system to make sure everything was still disconnected, the charger wasn’t kicking on, and nothing was going to catch fire.  We packed up some emergency stuff, including car and boat keys, our computers and wallets and grabbed some clothing to evacate if necessary and I found a knife to cut the boat loose from the docks in an emergency.  I figured if there were a fire, I’d at least try to kick the boat away from the docks to prevent the fire from spreading.  Two fire extinguishers remained close by and loose, along with flash lights.

As far as I could tell, I had everything prepared and well in hand for any emergency.  But fortunately the heat was slowly dissipating.

At 0400 I was awake again, and really only dozed on and off after checking a couple of things.  All seemed fine.

Finally, I figured out that the “smart charger” system isn’t as “smart” as you would think it would be.

In October or November I had bought our second battery bank to add.  One of the things I didn’t know, Mistake number two, was that you have to reprogram the system to know how large the batteries were.  That is the capacity.  We went from 230 amp hours to 460 amp hours.  The Heart monitor needed to changed. Didn’t know that.  I figured like most things with computers, the system would sense the batteries and capacity and adjust. Nope.

Mistake number one, I spoke to David the dock master this morning and he confirmed, “No, we just check the charging status….”.  Oh, wow.  Even knowing that we were gone for several weeks, out of state and couldn’t get back and I’d specifically asked him on the phone to check the batteries?  “Yup”.  Double-wow.

I went to the store to buy a new hydrometer.  Four whole dollars.  Should have bought two, but they only had one.  Came back, removed coverings, bedding etc and started all over.  All of the cells read properly at between 1.275 and 1.32 for specific gravity.  So, obviously the batteries are charged, perhaps slightly over-charged.  They over heated but, not warped.  No damage.

I downloaded the manual for the Xantrek Heart 2000-R and read it.  Not all the way through, but enough to grasp my mistake with the settings.  I corrected those.

I have since turned on the charger and it DOES shut back down.

In the process of doing all this, I discovered one more problem.  Apparently, half of the boat is connected to the starter battery, including a bilge pump and some lighting.  What?????

Holy cow, I’ll never figure this out.  I’m going to wind up rewiring the entire boat I think.  Some of the wires don’t meet AYBC standards and some have “sawed through” in the middle of the boat (when we were in the Chesapeake Bay caught in the rough weather and I have rewired a few things to bring back my chart plotter).  I can’t even imagine what kind of problems I’m going to find behind bulkheads when I try to fix these issues.

As of this minute… the batteries do charge, they still “heat a bit” but nothing like that night.  They probably need equalization, but I’m not going to run that until I’m at a different location.  I’ve had absolutely ENOUGH bad luck here.

This afternoon, after testing all the battery cells and writing all that information down in my little engineering book I started keeping (along with a simple schematic of the battery wiring I can see easily, without having to hang upside down in bilges and under toilets for now) I started on the engine.

I checked all the fluid levels.  They all were good.  I’ll need to add a small amount of oil when we start our drive north, but everything was good.  I opened the seacock for the engine intake, punched the glow plug button for 10 seconds and hit the starter.  The Perkins turned over and fired instantly, just like she was all warmed and ready to go.

I stepped off the boat, walked around to the exhaust and she was blowing out white smoke and a lot of antifreeze.  At least they had followed through with that part (which I had paid for…).  The water is coming through great, plenty of pressure and plenty of water from the exhaust.  All good.

I placed the transmission into gear and gave her a little throttle and the shaft started turning, everything sounded good, and water was being pushed back, all was good.  Took her out of gear and let her run for awhile, while I looked for leaks, drips, spraying water, or anything wrong with the engine.  All good.

I left the engine running for about 30 minutes.  Probably should have let it run longer but I didn’t think that necessary at this point.

As of this time, 1600, I’m done, writing this blog and having a beer.

I pronounce the system “ok”, but I’m not confident in the charging system at this point.  I do have the downloaded manual, and I’ll get one of the inverter, charger and the brain of this thing and study them better.  I am pretty much through trusting the word of anyone in a Marina who says “Yeah, I did that thing you wanted done” until I check it myself.

We had issues in Stony Point Marina.  The guy running the place was a pirate.  I’ve refrained from posting this to this point, but it’s time others know about these places.  I’ll write that up in another post later… but suffice it to say he was trying to have me “pay cash” for some things and didn’t want to give me a “receipt”.  Had that happen with a cop in Michigan once passing through with my Colorado Plates.  I basically forced the cop to give me a receipt and wound up getting ALL my money back for a ticket I shouldn’t have gotten in the first place.  (Another long story).

This marina is very good about saying they will do things.. but they take their time, and right in their paperwork they make sure you know it doesn’t matter if it’s their fault, mine or a contractor, you’re paying for your time on their docks no matter whose fault it is the work isn’t being done.  They’ve started charging a “live aboard fee” to the folks who actually stay here.  Of course, they gotta pay for their new docks too I guess….

We are moving next week.  I cut a better deal at less than half the price of this place.  About time we got a break somewhere besides bones and wallets….

Last night was as scary as the storm on the Chesapeake Bay.  My children will tell you I am absolutely psychoticly paranoid about fires.  Last night was the worst of my nightmares attempting to come to fruition.  A fire.  On a boat.  On the water. Under my bed.  Worst fear.  I hate spiders and I’d face one of those down that is my size, before I’d want to deal with a fire.

I considered for a minute God has been trying to prevent JoAnne and I from doing this thing.  But, you know… if He wanted us dead He had Cancer. He had heart attack. He had a wind storm on the Chesapeake.  He had a truck almost hit us head on (my fault mostly).  He has had multiple opportunities through out the last seven or eight years.  If God wanted us off the planet, he’d have taken us away.

I don’t for a second believe in “Bad Luck”.  Or Good Luck.  I believe luck is what you make of life.  You do things to prevent bad things from happening. That’s what luck is.  Make sure you dot your i’s, cross your t’s, get your insurance, pay your dues, whatever it takes to simplify things ahead of you.   Nothing we’ve done has been deadly. But everything we’ve done has been a learning experience.

Learning is what we humans do.  Then we move on to something new.

Time to move on, to a new marina.  New projects, a new place and new friends further north.

 

See you soon!

Rain again…

I am glad I didn’t remove some port hole rings yesterday evening. It’s been raining since about 4AM.

Of course, it’s damp, chilly, yucky outside.  Taking a glance at the radar this morning shows a heavy line of showers moving East from Interstate 23 to my west, over me.  Appears like they are developing right there and pushing directly at our location.  Means it will probably drizzle all day.  No deck work today.  But I think I can do some stuff down below in the engine.  Or try anyway.

Took a picture of a pretty wooden boat being splashed this morning.  She has been being worked on this week, paint, polish etc.  I wish I had the time, money and energy level to do all that.  It’s all I can manage to sweep right now, lol  The weather is gross and depressing.  On the other hand, unless the boat is sitting up on the hard, that sort of thing isn’t getting done anyway.  Sitting on the hard would difficult on JoAnne, she’d have to climb a ladder or stairs to get on the boat and it’s high up in the air.  So, not gonna….

Guess I better get up and do something.  I am just enjoying my coffee this morning. 🙂

Prepping to move

I’ve not been too motivated with the crappy weather the last few days to do much but clean this and that.  Yesterday it was so nice, I took JoAnne out for ice cream and a nice lunch for Mother’s Day.  We tried to get over to the beach (Virginia Beach) but would have had to park too far away for her to walk it easily.

So, today, trying to get properly motivated, I created my departure list and noted all the crap I have to do to get things back to normal (including cleaning inside the engine compartment, which can probably wait a little longer, I just need to sop up some wet in there).

We have a bunch of stuff to do to get ready though.  JoAnne is going to be working on some stuff in the aft cabin, and we need to move towels and things around.  We need to stow a bunch of shoes and loose “missiles” lol.

The plan, as it stands, is to sail all the way up there once we’re out of the channel here.  Two or three slow days of travel.  No rush. (Oh, and we have to get the car there first….. yikes)

Anyway, today, we get started.  We’re looking at moving early next week at this point.  Updates to follow.

 

Update: 13:00 Monday May 9, 2016,  Completely removed everything from aft head, went through it, tossed out items and returned the towels to their proper locker.  Cleaned bathroom, toiled, sink, walls, etc.  Looks better.   Galley area is cleared of 90% of the towels which should be in bathroom anyway.  The others are the cheap terrycloth towels we buy at hardware stores to act like general purpose wipes and cleaning.  Those remain in the galley for now.

Rearranged some stuff in one locker, moved BEER to the fridge where it belongs.  Even if the fridge doesn’t work, at least I can find the BEER now.. lol  Time for lunch and figure out what we’re doing for dinner later.  Not sure yet.

Did some cleaning on the deck.  A lot of the teak varnish is gone now.  All but the cockpit and bow platform.  A lot of is looks horrible, just peeling off.  So I took a scraper and my broom and dustpan up and cleaned as much as I can reach with the scraper.  I picked up some Sikken’s teak varnish for the butterfly hatch at Kurt’s suggestion.  I have some other varnish I got from Lowe’s last year and I’ll do a couple places to compare the types and see what’s what.  The stuff from Lowes is less than half the cost.  I know a lot of people say “You get what you pay for” but over the years, I’ve figured out that what works, just works.  If it’s more expensive it doesn’t make it better, it makes it more expensive.  I’ll see from experimentation.  I’ve got the summer here, and then we’re headed south to chase the summer time.  So I’ll have almost a year of sun light on the decks and wood to see how it goes.

 

Rain, Rain, Go Away…

Wow.  It has been raining cats and dogs, chickens, horses and occasional bears for three days straight here.  Our trip up to the new marina was wet, coming home was wet.  We’ve pretty much been confined to the boat for two of the days.  It was so cold here yesterday and the night before that I had to break out the HeaterBuddy.

It’s a cool little device (ok, a WARM little device) that uses the little propane tanks (up quickly, about 2 hours) to heat up the cabin of the boat.

I pretty much killed 1.5 tanks keeping us from shivering.  The sun is finally peeking out abit from some clouds, and the radar was showing that we should be getting some clearing, though weather reports are still saying a 60% chance of rain.

We’ve really taken two days off from doing much of anything.  I’ve not really been motivated to do much in the wet, chill air.  But, with the sun coming out, I think we’ll go get something other than my horrible cooking (we had rice with canned chicken meat in it last night… which I spiced up pretty well with Frank’s Red Hot sauce).  I’m thinking maybe fish or oysters or something about now.

What we haven’t done is the laundry.  We have a bag full.  I’m not worried, I think I still have some underwear I can turn inside out…. 🙂

Today I DID do measurements in the aft head for a new composting toilet system.  We’ve been looking at C-Head, Nature’s Head and Airhead.  I’m partial to the Nature’s Head.  Or was.  Until I drew a picture of the bath room, the foot print of the shelf the toilet sits upon, and realized that all of them are too tall.  Except the C-Head.  I’m not happy with it’s design.  On the other hand, I haven’t found anyone who has said bad things about it either.

Looks like we’re going to go with the C-Head because of the height.  The height on the other two is 20-22″, and the cabinet doors are at 17″ to the cabinet frame, and 18.75″ to the bottom of the door.  The C-Head, with the cut out bottom will be 15″.  And it will sit on the shelf which serves as a step down.

More on that later… when we move, I get the stuff ordered and start installing it.  Be prepared for a blog post with more than a sufficient amount of “sailor talk” when that happens.  Might want to cover the kiddies eyes for that one. lol

New Home

We got up early this morning (about 0800, that’s retired-people-early) and got ready to go, and drove 2.5 hours north of Norfolk to a marina that Kurt Seastead sent up too.  Kurt is a good friend whom we made after he invited us to the Transworld 41 Facebook Page.

He recommended this marina for a lot of reasons, but mostly because he’d kept a boat there, it’s close to his “family vacation home” in the area and it will handle our keel and mast height.

The marina was a long damned drive from here in Norfolk.  Two and a half hours by car.  One hundred twenty-one miles by car.  It’s about an eighteen hour sail, but I’ve not measure it on the charts yet… something for me to do tomorrow.

Anyway, they had nice bathrooms, a pool, they have camping and cabins.  The owner and I have a LOT in common.  He and I are both ex-Air Force.  He and I both worked for the Missile Defense Agency.  Two of the guys he introduced me to are former Navy Chiefs, guys for whom I have a lot of respect anyway.  So all of us are former military.  All of us are sailors to boot.  How cool is that?

The marina is half the cost of the place we’re currently located.

So…. JoAnne and I have to work out the details.  We have to get a car, bicycle and a boat up there for the summer.  So, likely we will rent a car in the area where the new marina is located, take it and our car and my bike over there, then drop them, drive back to Norfolk…. turn in the rental, have them drop us at our old marina, and then drive the boat up.

We will take between 3-5 days to move the boat in the day time.  JoAnne’s back still isn’t up to doing night shifts, and sleeping two or three hours between shifts.  Thought, God knows, that lady can sleep if there’s a nuclear war going on around here, and I CAN NOT.  Which is the problem. I’d rather stay awake and do the job and sleep when the zombies are dead than try to sleep when bombs and shot guns are going off around me.

I haven’t been right since certain incidents have happened to me.  Long ago, I could sleep anywhere, standing up.  Now, I can’t sleep if a cat sneezes six blocks away.  Oh well.

What remains is setting a date that includes decent sailing weather for sailing northward up the Chesapeake Bay and into the Potomac River.  Probably some time next week.

 

s/v Adventure Post-Winter Status

Rained lot last night, lightning and thunder for a few hours on and off. Washed the boat off. Was covered in dust out on the deck, but that’s all gone now. Now, when I have time (I don’t know when that will be, lol) I’ll have to get out and wash the topsides down, and put on some wax. Boat needs it badly.
 
Some of our lines were out over the winter time and faded some. I don’t think any of them are too worse for the wear.
 
Bow platform needs some varnish. I only had time to get two coats on it before we had to rapidly depart, most of it is worn off already. I’ll do a light sanding and recover that soon. I did bring my sander with me this time so I can use it to do the rails around the boat and get them sanded quickly and efficiently instead of working a foot at a time and killing my shoulders.
This morning we had drip coffee from our new coffee maker.  The only thing wrong is that it’s only an eight cup pot. Making it like I usually do, with three little scoops of coffee makes it too strong.  So, I’ll try tomorrow with 2 scoops and see how it comes out.  I wish the pot were bigger but that was what we found.  I wanted a stainless steel pot instead of glass, as I broke the last glass one in the sink before we ran off to Colorado.  This one should last longer.
After doing a quick trip around the deck in the rain this morning, everything looks good.  There’s some chaff on the stern line, and the dock master added a second line for me after the big storms moved through here a few weeks ago.  We also had a fender blow up in the strong winds, but we had some aboard so he also added one.  I’ll need to go get replacements now.  And perhaps some fender covers or something.  I saw where someone bought golf shirts to cover his on facebook.  The shirts were much cheaper than the fender covers, and it’s time to start being more frugal.  We still have one more trip across country coming up in July.
Today I’ll open the battery compartment and run checks on the electrolyte (I did voltage checks yesterday and the batteries were charged properly so I assume the electrolyte is doing ok, but I want to double check it).  The boat has been on trickle all winter and the checks I did last were six months ago.  That reminds me, time flies when you’re having fun.
When we leave Colorado it seems like we’ve been gone forever when we go back.  But when we’re on the boat time goes so quickly.  It’s been a year on the 13th of May since my heart attack.  That seems eons ago, but traveling to the boat last July seems like a few weeks ago and not months.  Staying in Colorado from December through April – four months – seemed forever because we couldn’t DO anything.  The boat was too far, and we have a car, but we didn’t get to do a lot.  We traveled a  couple of times, but not enough to make it seem like we were seeing anything new.
The trip across country took us about three weeks, stopping to visit friends and family.  But, again it seemed too short.  Now we have a lot of boat chores to do to prepare for moving, BUT, at this point, I’m going to take my time doing it.
We have to drive up to see the marina tomorrow.  We’re going to see it to verify it’s where we want to be for the summer.  Once we do that, then I’ll work on the logistics of getting our boat there, and our car there.  We want both available for the summer.  Then we have to work our storage for the car while we’re gone to the Bahamas.
I guess the Bahamas is where we’re strongly leaning to going for this fall and winter season.  JoAnne might have different ideas too, but we’ve both looked at Florida and Bahamas.
We decided to “take the day off” today because we did travel three weeks without much of a break, driving for 5-9 hours each day, stopping and visiting and going places eventually tires you out. haha  However, even taking the day “off” we’ll likely run up and do laundry today, and I’ve got some stuff to move and re-arrange in the forward compartment.  JoAnne wants to work on the aft head and empty the cabinets, go through our stuff there and throw out unused things and make space for towels and other stuff there. Mostly, I am trying to get some blog posts in because they help me remember things I’ve forgotten.
Speaking of forgotten….what was I going to say? Oh, yeah, my heart issues…. Led to certain medications.  One of the meds I take is a statin, it is called Atorvastatin.  It is also known as Lipitor.  Some of you know it’s used to block production of cholesterol.  I’ve got to take it because during the surgery last year they removed parts of my heart, the aortic valve (which was deformed) and replaced it with a tissue valve (apparently from a pig, because I crave bacon now, lol).
Taking the drug is supposed to prevent me from plaque build up in my heart, arteries and so forth but it has a side effect of making me forget things short term.  My short term memory is messed up.  Before we left the boat I had stopped taking it because I ran out and they wanted $900 bucks for the prescription which I refused to pay at the time without insurance.  We have insurance now, but it still costs me 20+ bucks for the one (and 20 for another and more for the blood pressure meds).
So… I go back for a physical in July and I’m going to chat with my doc about trying something other than this drug.  My cholesterol has NEVER been high, ever.  So I want to get something that will do it more “naturally”, like certain vitamins.
Back to the boat.  This marina did take care of our boat for the most part.  I don’t see any other damage from other boats, they made sure our oars stayed attached to the dinghy in the wind storm, and all the other things I mentioned, plus checked battery levels several times for me.
The boat probably needs a pressure wash, but I’ll hold that until next marina.  That reminds me, I need to call them and chat and let them know we’re coming up tomorrow to check the place out and get a tour.  I already have a slip assigned there, but I want to look at the channel in person and the turns I have to make coming in.  It looks tight on the charts and on the satellite view.   And getting into the slip might be a problem, but the water is about 12′ deep there so I fell good about that.  Also, floating docks.  We will never again stay at a fixed dock and in the Bahamas I’ll just plan to anchor out most of the time.  They have pretty high tides there (last time we were there, we had to climb ladders to get in and out of the boat we stayed on).
I want to say HI to some of the people who have asked for me to write more. I’ve gotten comments and/or emails saying “write more”.  The best one was from someone at my former work who said she enjoyed following us without having to do all the work herself. haha.  So, Susan, this post is for you! haha (Now, just imagine all the stuff I’m NOT talking about having to do!)
JoAnne and I want to thank everyone who visited with us across the country, especially Paul and Cathy, A’lice and Larry and Mike and Cindy who put us up for a few days while we visited.  To Stephen and Judy, thanks for inviting us to the perfectly timed pot luck at your marina in St. Augustine!
Lastly, to our Daughter Kristy and her Husban, Carlos;  Thank you for everything, for putting up with us, and letting us stay with you while mom’s back healed.  She is still not at 100% and we’re not sure if her back will ever get back to normal but without you guys we’d have had to sell the boat and move back, get jobs and be mediocre people again. haha.
Onward and upward… I’ve got things to get done so time to run.  See you next entry everyone!

A sailor went to sea, sea, sea to see what he could see….

We have just traveled pretty close to 3000 miles by car from Colorado back to the ship. If you want to count the trip back in December, add another nearly 2000 miles to that.  Starting in Colorado in the Fountain area, we traveled east to Missouri, visiting Mike and Cindy Sause and their three children, Sean, Niall and Maggie for a few days.  Then it was on to see our grandson, Gage who is in the area of St. Roberts, Missouri.  From there we went to Nashville and a tour of the Grand Ole Opry.  The picture below is the official Opry photo of us standing on the old circle from the original theater from long ago.  Thousands of performers have stood there, signing songs, including Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash and many, many more.  It was an honor to stand in that very spot.

Yeah, sorry, they forgot to say “Cheese” or something. LOL

JoAnne in front of the carousel in Opry Mills (mall) across from the Grand Ole Opry

After Nashville, we headed toward Florida to see JoAnne’s brother, Paul Gray and his wife Cathy.  We had a great visit with them in the Tampa Bay area.  Further down the road we went to Fort Meyers and met up with Ray and his wife Amanda.  They have just purchased a large cabin cruiser.  We didn’t get the chance to see it this time around due to time constraints on our part. I didn’t get any pictures there!  Ack!

We needed to leave pretty early the next day and make it to Daytona to meet up with A’lice and her husband Larry.  A’lice and JoAnne have been friends since the 1980s.

View from the Condo

A’lice and JoAnne

A’lice and Larry

We hit St. Augustine to visit with Stephen and Judy of Bentana at their marina, where we joined in for a pot luck dinner at the marina, a couple of cold beers and some great food dishes

After that we headed north and stopped a couple of nights mostly due to being tired.  Apparently I have arthritis in my hips now and when we sit for long periods of time it hurts like the dickens.  She is still having trouble with her back on and off and sitting doesn’t help, neither does walking.  Neither does lying down.  I’m not sure what’s good for it except a hot tub and a swimming pool. lol

We also stopped in Myrtle Beach to walk there.  JoAnne’s Uncle Joe died in World War II off the coast of the US in a plane crash. She was named after him and his fiancee (Anne).   We have the location and coordinates where the plane went down some where, and some day while passing by, we’ll drop a wreath there.

Rick and JoAnne at Myrtle Beach

On the trip from Florida we stopped in several places just to sleep and eat.  One of them was a Hampton Inn in Georgetown, SC and ate in the restaurant near by, in a marina.

JoAnne at Dinner

The marina outside

We arrived back at the boat today about 11:00.  She was pretty much as we left her.  There is a bit of water damage in the galley area, but where it came in we’re not sure yet.  It’s supposed to rain pretty hard tomorrow, I guess I’ll get the chance to figure it out!  Basically, the boat is fine.  I’m considering the growth below and will probably do a haul out if there are issues and a pressure wash, otherwise, we’ll save that for the new Marina up the road.

Tomorrow, we’ll try to put all our pieces back in place, rearrange things, empty the car, figure out where to store my bicycle on the boat, and clean up as much as we can, perhaps get some laundry done and then we’re planning at the moment to make the trek north to the new marina and look it over before we commit to moving there.  Tonight, I’m thinking about washing up and hitting the hay early.  I’m beat.

Anyway, that’s all for tonight.  JoAnne is tired from unpacking and I’m tired from bringing some of our stuff down in the heat.  I’ve had to do this and that to get the internet up, things unpacked, moved and water put in the boat.  Tomorrow, I’ll check into starting the engine.

 

Gonna Sail Right Out of Colorado!

Well, it finally happened.  Winter came to Colorado.  I understand there was about 17″ of snow in places.

But fortunately, on the 13th of April, JoAnne and I were well on our way out of Colorado watching the blizzard conditions move into the state via radar.  In fact,  we were sitting in Richmond Missouri with our friends, Mike and Cindy, drinking wine and watching the weather on the computer screens.

We visited with them over the weekend and saw a kids play down in Higginsville, a production of Peter Pan.  Interesting, but it could have had a bit more practice. 🙂  After that, the plan was to head south in Missouri to see our Grandson, Gage, who is somewhere around the St. Robert’s area of the state (where his mother has apparently abandoned him, and yes, to all my family, I said it).  Neither the mother or father are currently fit to keep children or help them… but I’ll not air all the dirty laundry on my blog.  Suffice it to say, Gage should have come with us, but he’s with a temporary foster family whom we checked out a bit and they seem to be pretty OK people.  Gage has the ability to call us or his aunts and uncles at any time and we will come get him if he so wishes.

We stayed one night, visited with him and took him to dinner then dropped him back off before dark (mostly because the area he lives is sort of in the back woods and I wanted to be back to the hotel before it was too dark, as the GPS didn’t work very well in the area).

The next morning, Tuesday, we headed for Nashville.  Actually, the original plan was to head for New Orleans, but we found we were far enough east that there was no easy roads to take us to New Orleans.  We’d have been driving 2 lane roads for the next two days.  So, instead, we decided that Nashville and the Grand Ole Opry was the target.

Tuesday evening we wound up in Clarkesville and stayed there for the night, next morning we extended our stay an extra night so we could drive to Nashville and visit the town.  We went through Opryland and a backstage tour, took pictures and had dinner at the Opry Mills mall.  Then downtown for a visit to Broadway where we walked through some stores and had a couple beers in Margaritaville.

On Thursday morning we headed for Tampa Bay area to see JoAnne’s brother, Paul.  We made it to Lake City and made sure to leave us only 3 hours drive so we could arrive early in the day on Friday.  The hotel in Lake City (a Hampton) was wonderful, a very nice one, and likely the nicest one we’ve stayed in on the trip.  We arrived at Paul and Cathy’s in Largo at about 12:30 pm.  It has been a nice trip, warm almost all the way, one day of rain (which caught us the morning we left Richmond and chased us on and off) but sunny, and almost no clouds for most of the trip.  We did have some rain move through while we were in Clarksville but nothing significant, at least not like Houston was getting!

We’re currently visiting with Paul and had hoped to catch up to some friends in Ft. Meyers area, but so far no one has responded to the messages on Facebook.  Perhaps they forgot, are too busy or just don’t want to see us.  🙂

We’re here, at least through Monday (tomorrow) into Tuesday morning.  Then we will make our plans to go east to Green Cove Springs.

Update for March

I know that I’ve not written much of late, but we’re not really doing much.

JoAnne continues her doctor’s appointments, and physical therapy for her back and she’s healing well.  We are ready to go back to the boat now, but she isn’t finished with her appointments.

A big one is coming up at the end of March, where she sees both the back doctor and the oncologist.  She’s having her chemo port removed at the end of the month and we’re planning to be leaving sometime in the beginning of April.

With luck everything will go well and her last checkup left us smiling.  No sign of cancer, her blood work came back good and she’s feeling great.  Except the back.  Which is significantly better than the day she fell.

We have located, thanks to our friend Kurt Seastead (S/V LoKee) a marina along the Potomac River up about 8 NM from the mouth of the river/Chesapeake Bay where we will bring the boat in late April to accomplish some major refit we need done.

Included will be replacement of at least one of the electric heads with a composting toilet.  We will install a wind generator.  We will repair or replace the refrigeration unit as necessary and I’ll put in at least one small solar panel (and hope to get our permanent panels put in though).  One other small job I need to do is to get the bow thruster working again.  It would be really nice to have it working before I head up to the marina from Norfolk because it appears tight in the slips and it would help significantly to back the boat into the slip.  The full keel and prop walks makes it very difficult to back in a straight line anyway.

Our trip from here will start in Fountain Colorado and we’ll make stops along the way back, detouring to various places.  We have a grandson we want to visit in Missouri as well as our friends Mike and Cindy, JoAnne’s brother Paul who lives in the Tampa Bay area, and JoAnne wants to swing through New Orleans as well.  Plus there are a few friends in the Ft. Meyers area who we’re looking forward to seeing one afternoon as well.

I have one marina to visit in Florida to check out – though at this point we’re considering NOT using Florida as a home base any more due to the recent laws of “no anchoring”.  How in the world a state that is surrounded by waters thinks that this is a good idea to run off the thousands of cruisers who spend several million dollars in a year, I have no idea.

I won’t wax politically on this blog but suffice it to say that government is getting too big for it’s britches and I don’t care which side of the equation on which you find yourself, it’s BAD for us all.  And these decisions by the Florida state legislature are going to kill the tourist industry until they reverse this law.  Except for the small group I have seen in Florida who actually live in the state who somehow believe this won’t affect them, almost every cruiser I’ve spoken too in the past few months have decided to cross Florida off their list of places to visit now.

Today in Colorado it is supposed to be in the 70s, and my son-in-law Carlos is throwing a BBQ and the smoking of the meats has begun.  I’m headed off to the store for some bread and beer….

 

Good Bye Winter – Hello Spring

Winter can’t go away quickly enough for us.

We’re ready to go back to the boat, but it’s still chilly here and back in Norfolk.  Apparently they haven’t suffered from much cold as it’s rarely gotten below freezing according the marina where the boat is waiting for us to return.

Talked to someone on Facebook yesterday and they told me they got about an inch of snow which rapidly turned to rain and all of the snow is gone.  So, that’s a good thing.

I’m going to tell you all a story here.  Over the course of the past 7-8 years JoAnne and I have gone through a lot in getting ready to move aboard a boat.  In the past few weeks people ask us about it and we tell them some of the things that have happened.  Most are aghast or in awe of what we’ve accomplished.

I don’t think either JoAnne or I consider anything we’ve done or gone through too “heroic”.  Except JoAnne.  Cancer is nothing to sneeze about.  She went through a lot in the last two years and I want to point out to folks who have normal, every day problems like ants in the kitchen, painting needed in a room, grass cutting, snow blowing or shoveling, that there are times – and people – that try the patience of saints.

In January of 2014 JoAnne wasn’t feeling well.  We were I believe staying with my daughter at the time because our house had been up for sale.  The whole market thing wasn’t working for us, or the house.  She called off of work one day and went home four times early over the course of about a two week period.  This was not only unusual for JoAnne, it was unheard of.  My wife rarely gets sick, she almost never took a day off work, and she’s a pretty strong lady all in all.

On the fourth time I walked into the house after work and made an off handed comment, “So, what time is your doctor’s appointment tomorrow?”

To my surprise and astonishment (because she hates going to doctors) she gave me a time.  I don’t remember now if it was the very next day or a day or so later, but she’d set one up.

Our family doctor, Kendra Robison, gave JoAnne an xray and told her that there was a “mass” down low.  She ordered up a C-T scan for a couple of days later.   On the 29th of January a bunch of us family members met at Rock Bottom (our normal hang out) to have a beer and celebrate my youngest son’s birthday.  That’s when Doctor Robison called JoAnne.  We both went outside to take the call.

I could tell by JoAnne’s face that things weren’t good,  After the call she had our kids who were with us at the time come out, left spouses and grandkids inside and she told us all what was up.

She had a very large tumor, about graprefruit size, maybe larger.  They believed without a doubt it was cancerous.  A few days later she underwent surgery.  A few weeks after that she started chemo.  Lost her hair.  Went through some shots to help her immune system but put her in severe pain.  We had moved back into the house so she had a place to recover – because neither of us ever doubted she’d recover.   There was crying, praying, more crying, plenty of support from our children (all adults).

In late August 2015 we learned that she was “cancer free” at that point.  Her chemo had ended and she went home and started looking at boats – because our “five year plan” never went away.  It was suspended and we both continued to work as we could.  She went to work all the way through chemo.  She worked fewer hours, and I tried to make sure she got plenty of rest.  We still visited Rock Bottom from time to time and had  a beer, but there were times when she couldn’t go to work right away because of the immunity issues.

I took off as many days from my job as I could to help her, take her to doctors appointments and be with her.

In November 2014 JoAnne found three boats that not only met our specifications, but our budget (we’d actually increased our budget by then).  The house was nearly paid off anyway and we figured we could do this.

In December 2014 I flew to New York to look at a boat called “Duna”, a Transworld Formosa 41.  Exactly the boat we both had dreams (and occasional nightmares) about.  Beautiful lines, full keeled ketch, with most things working.  The boat really needed a lot more than a few repairs, but all-in-all the boat was intact and with a little bit of work could be put in the water and sail right away.

The issues on the boat though, we considered minor compared to our goal, and JoAnne’s recent battles.

In January 2015, one year and one day from JoAnne’s diagnoses of cancer, we closed on the boat.  In March of 2015 we put the house back on the market.  The first day we had five showings.  Over the week, we had about 25 showings.  On Sunday, seven days from the day we went on the market, we closed on our house.  We sold it to a young man in his 30s, single dad with two children.

We moved back in with our daughter again and began our final transition from working, to moving to our boat and becoming cruisers.

In May we were ready to leave.  We both put in our resignations.  Mine went in on Monday the 11th of May.  JoAnne’s last day of work was supposed to be that week on Friday.

On Wednesday I was driving home and felt ill.  Long story short, I’d had a heart attack but didn’t know it.  We went to the doctor that evening, they sent us to the hospital, the hospital admitted me to the cardiac care ward and refused to let me move around or walk without someone being with me.

My aortic valve was damaged, and was malformed.  A “bicuspid” instead of a normal three leaf tricuspid valve.  I had to have a new hear valve put in.  On Monday morning the following week, I was wheeled into surgery and given anaesthesia, and surgery was performed.  I honestly thought that our whole life together was over.

JoAnne’s strength and fortitude was the only thing making me strong.  I was terrified of someone “touching my heart” – and not in good ways.  Being cut open, having your heart literally stopped and being placed on a heart-lung machine and having electrical equipment doing that work for you is very scary.  I’ve always considered myself a strong, nearly fearless person.

Not that day.  As I was to sign the release forms, I nearly chickened out.  But I knew JoAnne was counting on me and I knew I’d counted on her being there.  It was the least I could do.  I signed.  They operated and I’m writing this today.

Now – there’s plenty more to this story, but I’m not going to write it all. That’s for a book someday.

Jump forward to October 18, 2015.  We’re in our boat.  We’ve travelled from the Hudson River all the way down to Pocquoson River on the East Coast and we’re anchored out up a creek there.  The phone rings.  It’s a marina we’ve left messages for, as they were recommended to do some work.  Our backstays aren’t as they should be and it’s causing some issues with the sails.  They call me at 10Am and say “If you can get here this evening, we can look at your boat tomorrow.”

Against our better judgement and without knowing exactly what the weather was going to be, we left.  And we were caught in 19knot winds without being able to raise sails, in short chop caused by constant winds, with no place to run but south under engine power.  The rest of that story has already been written on the blog. Read it here:  (Norfolk, the Hard Way)

We didn’t “get seen” the next day.  In fact, Friday that week we were hit by a power boat.  Almost $12,000.

On the day the mast was going back up in December 2015, JoAnne fell from a fixed dock onto a boat she was trying to board after we were invited over for a drink.  She fractured two vertebrae.  We’re in Colorado as most of you know, while she heals.

She’s supposed to be out of her back brace in a few days.  One more appointment before we head back to the boat at the end of March to have her chemo port removed (we hope) and then back to Adventure.

Summer is coming.  We want to be back on the boat this spring to find a place to land for a few months of summer while we do needed repairs and refit, and then next fall, we’re off for the Bahamas – finally.

So you see folks, adversity happens.  But one must pick up their marbles, collect them all, along with their thoughts and persevere if one is to make it anywhere.  Whether you’re time to make it down the Island Chain of the Caribbean, the East Coast of the US, or you’re just trying to get through day-to-day at work until your time to go sailing comes up, you can never, EVER give up.

You can’t let life, naysayers or negativity get you down.  You have to keep plugging along.

This is the way we live life.  NOTHING is handed to you on a silver platter and if it is you’re the one who is missing out on life.  If you don’t step up, grab that brass ring on the Merry Go Round you will never, ever accomplish anything more than letting life run past you.

Life is not something you get through.  Life is something you must live to the fullest no matter what stands in your way, no matter the adversity, no matter the bumps and bruises you suffer along the way.

Grab life and give it a whirl!

 

 

Happy New Year – 2016; Year of Success

send2tqLast year for us was “Year of Adventure”.  And such an adventure it was, from purchasing our new home, s/v Adventure to moving aboard and sailing the boat south.

We had a lot of fun, and a lot of problems.  We had engine issues, we got stuck a couple of times, but mostly we were caught by surprise by some of the weird problems we didn’t expect.  They say to expect the unexpected and while we worked diligently to do just that, we still found a lot of issues that needed repairing, replacement or just tweaking.

As many of you know, JoAnne took a fall on December 2nd (or maybe it was the first) while stepping from the fixed dock to a large trawler we were invited aboard, onto the trawler’s deck.  She managed to fracture two vertebrae in her spine, the T11 and T12 and it took weeks to verify the fractures.  We knew within a few days about the T12 fracture and I made the decision to remove her from the boat for safety reasons.

I moved her to a local hotel in Norfolk for a few days while prepping the boat to sail;  we thought we’d be leaving by the 12th or so.  When we confirmed the first fracture I made the decision to bring her back to Colorado to get rested and heal up.

Because she couldn’t fly (running through the airport with a broken back is not a good idea) we rented a car, winterized the vessel and packed a few things including our electronics and some clothing, coats and the food that would spoil.  The boat was secured, put into a slip and we crossed the country in about five days.

Since then, we’ve been staying with our daughter and son-in-law and the grand kids.  JoAnne has seen a couple of doctors now, including our personal doctor who told us about the second fracture.  We still didn’t know about the T11.  Last week on Wednesday the 30th, she saw Dr. Bee, a bone doc.  She has been in a brace that was prescribed by our doctor and he told her she’s likely be in it another 12 weeks or so.

She’s still in pain on and off, but on the mend.

At this point we’ve got about five or six various plans on getting back to the boat, when to go, where to go, how to go, and where to end up.  I’m not going to detail them, but suffice it to say we always have a lot of different ideas on how to do things and if one goal falls through, another one is in place to aim for.

The main plan is to head back in April and move the boat down the ICW to arrive in Florida in May time frame, find a “home” (marina with a slip that isn’t too expensive) and then travel to the Bahamas and further south.  When Hurricane Season hits – late June, probably heading down the chain to visit further south and get out of the path of hurricanes.

Failing that, we’ll head for the Keys.  Failing that, Tampa Bay.  Failing that, we’ll find something further north (and given all the nonsense about anchoring in Florida, we’re rethinking our whole idea of even ending up in Florida, though we do hear the west coast of Florida is more welcoming, hence the idea of going to the Tampa area).  Anyway, that’s the nutshell.

JoAnne is doing ok.  Slight pain on and off.  She can’t work on the boat, so we’ll be here until she’s healed enough to travel back and live on the boat.

If anyone wishes to reach us, you can do so by going to the contact page at the top of the blog and copying the email address for our boat.  We check that daily.

Happy New Year to all our cruising friends, our family and our non-cruising friends alike.  May 2016 be all you hoped for and more.

 

Merry Christmas everyone!

Just an update. JoAnne and I have had a few rough weeks. First a Nor’easter beating us up, then fuel clogging the filters, rigging that needed tightening, sitting in a marina awaiting some maintenance, getting hit by a big power boat, fighting with the insurance company, having to hire a lawyer to deal with the insurance company, finally, finally getting everything ready to go, including the rigging repairs, bow platform, railing and all the damage done from the accident.

On the night the mast went back on, we were invited over to a friend’s boat for a drink. JoAnne fell that night. Since then she’s been in a lot of pain, as she pulled some muscles and finally we got a diagnosis of a fracture in her T12 vertebra… After xrays, an MRI and a doctor’s visit she’s going to have to see an orthopaedic surgeon for a “cure”, whether it is surgery, a brace or just some physical therapy, we’re not yet sure.

So things have been going along routinely, except for her pain I took her off the boat and put her into a hotel temporarily for her back pain, to prevent her from climbing in and out of the boat, walking long distances and so forth.

So we’re awaiting phone calls to get appointments at this point and I’ve winterized the boat in a slip where we were stopped in Norfolk.

This will be my last entry on the blog for a few days until we figure out what is going to happen next.

At this point we’re expecting to keep the boat in Norfolk through the winter now, and perhaps start over in March or April time frame as weather permits and JoAnne heals up.

6-12 weeks is the time for healing fractures (I know, I’ve been through that a few times, ankles, ribs, bones in my hands, and open heart surgery), hence the “March” time frame. I’ll post an occasional update over the next few weeks to keep folks informed, so don’t forget to check the blog on occasion.

Also don’t forget it you’re on Facebook to friend JoAnne and I – and I’ll probably set up a page for Adventure as I have time to do so. The blog also allows you to click a link to get email updates when I update the blog, so if you do that you will know when we’re back at it.

In the mean time JoAnne and I want to wish all our followers (all three of you!), our family and friends a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

We will see you on the other side of recovery.

Bad Luck?

I’m the most not-superstitious person ever to live on the planet.  I don’t believe in Black Cats being bad luck, and in fact think Black Cats are pretty cool cats.

I’ve walked under ladders.  I’ve broken mirrors, and even cut them (doing glass cutting).  I’ve spilled salt and the only time I ever had bad luck was when I took the salt shaker and tossed some over my left shoulder like you’re supposed to do, and the lid of the salt shaker came off pouring an entire shaker full of salt down this biker guy’s neck behind me.  He laughed about it, when I explained, just before he was about to kill me dead…. But… bad luck? No, it’s BS.

Or is it?

JoAnne and I have been having a run of bad luck.  We’ve had engine troubles, gotten beat up in the Bay, lost our engine, had sail and rigging issues, toilet problems, stove problems, heat problems, cold problems, electrical problems.

A logical, non-superstitious person would say its par for the course.  Until Tuesday night, 4 days ago.

On Tuesday evening, the boat’s mast went back up.  We had met Pierre and his wife Anne-Marie from France and because the mast was going up, they invited us over to had a drink and celebrate the boat being put back together.  That evening, we walked over with some cake to meet them and go aboard their boat, MiHiwad  (An acronym for “My Home is where anchor drops”) .

Unfortunately, it was not going to be a great evening for JoAnne.  When we got to the dock, it was the old, rickety dock that is being replaced.  The tide was out.  The difference between the dock and the boat deck was between 18 inches and 24 inches.  No problem for me, but JoAnne wasn’t happy with it.

My job as Captain is to help people.  To improvise.  To adjust.  To give a way to accomplish a job, mission or objective.  To make things work when they can’t work.  To give people encouragement.

I gave JoAnne encouragement, I said said, “You’ve got this…” and stepped aboard to show her how easy it was.  I took her hand, handed off the cake and watched as she stepped forward, lost her footing and fell.  Both Pierre and I tried to catch her and failed.  I kept her from falling harder, but I didn’t stop her from falling so hard she pulled muscles in her back.
She stepped with one foot and her other foot (the one on the dock) slipped causing her to fall forward.  I feel terrible.

At this point, there is little we can do now.  She’s not really capable of doing anything on the boat, not even standing around and cooking, let along pulling lines, or driving for any length of time.  She can’t stand for very long and she can’t really lift anything.

Xrays say no broken bones.  According to the ER doc.  However, this morning they called her and told her that a technician (or perhaps a radiologist) said there is a good possibility of a hairline fracture and they now want an MRI.  Might happen Monday, or maybe not.

Either way, I refuse to put her at risk.  As of this minute she’s no longer travelling with the boat without other crew members to assist me.  I can send her back to Colorado to rest and recuperate there rather than subject her to chilly nights, windy days, bouncy waves and shaky cockpits.  We’re going to wait until Monday to see if they call us to do the MRI. If not, I think she’s going back to Colorado.

I’m going to remain with the boat and move it south alone, or find a crew member to assist me.  At this point our destination has changed to Marathon Key or Tampa Bay. If neither of those, then at least Green Cove Springs.  (I have a friend near that that is recommending the Green Cove Springs Marina, and I’ll determine the location based on phone calls later).

So… good luck, bad luck or no luck at all.  I’m not sure, but JoAnne’s life and health are the number one priority for me.  I know she wants to be someplace south and in the warm, but it’s probably not going to happen for another few weeks, if not months.

I’m open to suggestions for locations, ideas on how best to move the boat, and/or medical information.  MRI will come soon enough.

 

 

 

Rainy Days, Beer and Winches

So, it’s been raining pretty much for two days straight. Three if you count Saturday a little bit.

I’ve been dealing with internal leaks since yesterday when the rain started coming down steady. Think I have the leak narrowed down to the cock pit seating, which is the only deck teak left on the boat. I’m going to clean it up, clean the surrounding area, dry it and caulk around the seat, then seal the wood at Kurt’s suggestion.

Speaking of Kurt, he drove down from his home area yesterday to collect a sail I gave him. A spinnaker, which in my humble, novice sailor’s opinion, will NEVER be used by me alone on this boat and I don’t foresee a need with a crew (if we’re crossing the Atlantic, I doubt seriously if a light sail will be necessary at any time). I can’t see me using it in the South Pacific, because as much as I’d like to go there, I don’t see that happening for a lot of years now. haha

So he brought us an air conditioner unit we can use at a dock or without generator if necessary when we get to Florida. I can promise it will get use much more than a spinnaker would be used.

Mean time, JoAnne decided to make beer. Not regular, just any old beer that we’ve made before. She decided to make ginger beer! I can’t wait to try that stuff out. However, I was working in the cockpit earlier and had to yell down that she was breaking a cardinal rule for beer making. You’re supposed to be making beer while drinking beer. I never got a beer, and I don’t think she bothered either.

On to the Winches (I’ve already discussed Beer, so it’s time for Winches). Yeah, you caught the spelling too, huh? Not THOSE kinds of Wenches. The WINCHES.

The starboard jib sheet winch wasn’t right for some reason and I’d noticed it was not turning by hand easily after the accident. I didn’t really consider it, but the sheet was wrapped around the winch when the accident happened. The thing was jammed pretty badly and when I removed the cap from the top and tapped on the winch drum, the device “popped” loudly and everything started spinning again.

But, since I was already taking it apart, I grabbed a bucket, some rags, mineral oil and some other items and tore into the winch, disassembling it all the way down. Took me a couple hours to completely clean it and put it all back together with oil in the right places, grease in the other right places and man it works well now!

Too bad Wenches and Winches aren’t spelled the same, this might have been a better story. 🙂

Rock Hall, MD

Rock Hall, MD

We pulled into the bay at about 6:45. Less than 15 minutes until sundown. My eyesight isn’t what it used to be and like an idiot, I decided to cut a corner. Gosh, what’s that green buoy doing on my right side, I wondered. Then I found out. 5 feet of water and one foot in the mud. Not my foot mind you, the keel, one foot deep in the mud.

Again. This was not the first time in the past three weeks and likely it won’t be the last in the next month or so.

I called TowBoatUS and had them on the phone when they put me on hold. The guy was being a jerk and wouldn’t listen to me and I was probably being a jerk because I was frustrated with myself, the keel and the damned mud.

I handed the phone to JoAnne to deal with and said, “Screw this, I’m not getting towed again.” A few minutes later, I had the boat free and backing up. I backed all the way into the channel and turned the boat into the middle of the channel markers and came inside at about .8 knots. JUST enough to give me steerage, but not enough to destroy anything in front of me that was hapless enough to stand still.

What seemed to be 30 or 40 minutes later we came into slight contact with the public “Wall”. The “dock” such as it is, was full of boats already. There was one spot and a guy asked me, “Do you need help?”

Who am I to turn down anything free?

“Yeah, I’m still trying to remember how to do all this,” I shouted back. He chuckled and said, “Me too.”

He rushed over and took a line JoAnne threw him and within minutes we were tied up, tied off and relieved we’d come in without wreaking anything again.

JoAnne reminded me to call back the TwoBoatUS folks to cancel the tow (Which she had already done with the tow boat operator anyway, but they wanted me to call them myself, so I did).

When I looked at the clock on the phone and the phone call, a grand total of six minutes had elapsed.

We both looked at each other and exclaimed “Six MINUTES” – it seemed like hours.

Truthfully, it seemed like a LONG time had passed from our entrance into the bay (after getting unstuck) to the time we tied off.

The sign says “15 Days”. I’m not sure if they mean the parking lot, the dock, the grassy area nearby or what, but, we’re here for a few days and I’m not planning on dropping lines and heading out into the Bay until I am sure the weather isn’t going to kick up a stink for us. I’d like to sail out of here to our next stop instead of using the engine all the time.

It was very late when we got everything ship shape and hiked over to the pub we could see from the dock area. I had a taco salad, she had soup. We had a pitcher of margaritas with more ice in it than rita. No salt. I don’t think there was any tequila either. The taco salad wasn’t as good as my own, and it wasn’t even as good as Jose Muldoon’s in Colorado (which sucks).

We walked back (walked, not stumbled, as most people do after 2-3 margaritas) and got back on the boat without falling into the water – there’s a gap of 18″ to 2′ and JoAnne was afraid to step over it. Me, I’m pretty nimble and only tripped 9 or 10 times.

This morning we got up pretty early (about 8) and decided we were going to do shopping. She had already scoped out a place for us. A small grocery store about a mile or so away. I called in my medications I needed to refill at the Walgreens in town as well.

We found the grocery with no problems, bought some eggs, a couple of ears of corn, oranges, greeeeeeeeeeen bananas, some cookies, canned foods and a few other things, then started for the Walgreen’s. On the way, they called me to tell me they couldn’t fill my prescription because I needed to get in touch with the insurance company. I don’t have insurance. I lost that when I quit my job. Duh. I called them and said, “Just fill it and and I’ll pay cash”.

They replied, “Ok, no problem, that will be $999.99.”

What the hell? Its some god damned pills. Turns out the BP medication is only $55 bucks. I told them to fill it. I’ll take an aspirin instead of the other crap the docs have me on. Screw that, if I die, tough shit. 1000 bucks for stupid pills. WTF do they think retired people are made of, money?

So, I did collect the BP meds, which I probably needed after the price check. And probably didn’t need before I heard the price check.

Anyway, stopped in West Marine (yes, there is one in this little place) and bought two sending units to the tune of 100 bucks for the set. (Rolling my eyes at the cost of a couple of pieces of stainless steel and a bloody little potentiometer, GOD!)

So, we got some shopping done, got a couple parts, found out I am going to die from lack of medication sooner rather than later, got some oranges and I got a Pepsi. I’ve been sipping at it since then and it’s almost 5 PM. Decided we weren’t leaving today and watching a storm moving up the Bay towards us. Supposed to blow like stink tomorrow, white caps and rain. I’m technically still a “Day Sailor” so – not quite ready for shitty weather.

I’ll suck it up enough, soon enough, right now, I’m trying to figure out how 900 bucks a month in insurance fees saves me for 999 dollars a quarter on heart medication.,

You know, screw the government regulations, screw the US medical system and screw the AMA. (Am I speaking with my outside voice again?)

I’m really unhappy about this stupid medical nonsense. Seriously, how can anyone justify the cost of simple medicines that help keep people alive?

Screw it, I’m going sailing in a couple of days and to hell with all that.

Rock Hall is a quaint little town. I’d move here, if it weren’t cold in the winter. Or in Maryland.

Or close to New York.

Seriously, this is a cool little town, nice little houses, nice people. There’s a Bait and Tackle store “right there” out of my boat. 40 steps away. But nothing I can really use, yet anyway. They did, however, have a case of Corona Extra for 23 bucks. Plus tax. That’s alittle over a buck a bottle so not too shabby. I bought a case. Going back tomorrow to get a back up (you need spares of everything aboard a boat I’m finding out).

The place we ate lunch was called Waterman’s Crab House. I think. To be honest I didn’t look at the name. It was good, albeit, expensive, like every other place on the East Coast we’ve been in. $30 plus dollars for lunch. Yep, that’s right. Oh, well. We’ll be going back to Colorado to work soon enough if our money runs out. Before my retirement pay kicks in. Sheesh.

Day after tomorrow, Sunday, I think we’re bailing out of here and heading for Annapolis or somewhere. I need to talk to some friends and find out where they are so I can set a course in their direction. I need to get close to my friend Phil, so he can help deliver my equipment and after that, well, we’re heading for Norfolk, then pass inside past Cape Hatteras, outside at Beaufort NC and on to Florida. Mostly then, I hope, by sail. Instead of engine.

JoAnne is tired today from our walk. She carried a backpack full of stuff from the store, but to be fair I carried the bulk of it.

In fact, I took 90% of the weight.

Who the hell needs heart medications?

Engine- Still

So Mike came by this morning with some transmission fluid, and a couple of things left to do. He assisted in adjusting the tachometer to the right settings, but it was “by ear” so it’s not precisely accurate but I’m guessing it is closer than it was before.

The trans was low, like almost a quart… ack.

Then he had something niggling at him, it was that the over flow was still bugging him so he pulled the water pump cover and found a problem, again, one I’d missed. There is a severe wearing in the area where the water is pumped through. In fact, on closer checking, it’s broken.

After a few hours he called me back with several options. I chose the more expensive option. Pump replacement. $800 bucks for the part. He said it would be cheaper if we run down the coast and look again. And he could have just put in a new impeller.

I told him , No, this is my life and my wife’s life, and the safety of the boat. Get me a pump and spare impeller. He actually said “You can get all the way to Florida without bothering” but I think that’s a half-assed job.

Get me the parts I need, make the new parts work, get me spares. I’m good.

They won’t ship though until in the morning. If the part gets here tomorrow, I’ll be surprised. He is talking to the marina to get us a break on the stay because frankly, they are bloody hell expensive.

The saga continues…..

C&D Canal – Almost there

I know that most other people who cruise and blog don’t put down most of the stuff they are doing, rarely write much or they put in a vast amount of pictures. Pictures are on Facebook with friends and family right now, and I don’t have the bandwidth or time right now to upload everything to the storage site and post them.

We left Atlantic Highlands the other day and did a 24 hour run overnight and made it as far as Atlantic City, NJ/ Turns out my tach is hosed on the engine so we were running at what we thought was 2500 rpm and it wasn’t even close. I’ve been testing the engine by ear and have had it up to 6+ knots now.

We arrived at AC at 9 in the morning (we’d left at 9 the previous day). We spend the whole day and then one night there and left the next morning for Cape May.

We arrived in Cape May and came into the channel – and a few minutes after I turned the corner, grounded the boat in the mud. After talking to some locals found out the mud bank hasn’t been dredged this year and so it’s further into the channel than the charts and markers show. Go me…

We left Cape May this morning after we deliberated about the channel out on the Delaware Bay side. As it turns out, I measured the mast and came up with 54 feet from deck to top, add in the wind gear and you get 55, add in the deck top to water line and you get 58. Doh! No bridges. My measurements might be off but I doubt it. I was not going to risk our lives or the boat going under a bridge at low water and hoping it would clear by two inches. Nope. We went back out the way we came in, through the Atlantic Ocean side. Did just fine going out.

I set a course on the autohelm and following my charts around to the far side, passed the channel exit and then headed for the C&D canal.

We had NO wind except in the early morning pretty much all day. In the evening we started having engine issues again (this time the prop shaft, I think it’s not getting enough dripping going on down there….) anyway, backed off the engine speed, raised the sails and was flying at almost 6 knots without the engine (it was in neutral and idling). When we go close to where I wanted to anchor the wind was at 12 knots right from our backs.

I had a hell of a time bringing the boat around to the wind and getting the main down! It’s mast furling, not sure I like it all that well.

Maybe I don’t know what I am doing too – that could be it.

We ended up anchoring 3 miles from a nuclear power plant and two miles from the C&D entrance.

Dropped anchor in 20 feet of water. We’re holding very well, and not having any issues.

Yesterday and interesting thing happened. We got a call from a legal authority in Colorado asking about our old Dodge Shasta. It seems that the asshole I sold it too never bothered re-register it, he kept my plates (which I promptly had canceled when he didn’t return them) and it appears SOMETHING like a crime may have happened.

She wouldn’t give details and hinted that they weren’t sure a crime HAD been committed.

But let me say this, the guy was a Serbian, Russian accent, so was the wife, they had two kids and they were sketchy from the get-go. I just wanted to sell the van, he gave me what I asked for it, I signed it over and he vanished into thin air.

I’m wondering now if there was a terrorist group involved or something because I didn’t like him to begin with. They were cagey over names, places, what they were going to do and they were very quick to offer me exactly what we were asking.

Anyway, I don’t know what happened.

Tomorrow, the weather will be ok, but windy on our nose, and it’s not going to be easy to navigate through the Canal. I’m pretty anxious over this. It was bad enough grounding in Cape May…. wish me luck.

Good Night all

Sandy Hook and Atlantic Highlands

JoAnne and I came in, under tow to this area last Saturday. We were at Coney Island and the engine shredded the belt. We didn’t get the engine repaired until Tuesday, late. The Mechanic was Bill Lloyd of Lloyd’s Repair. He does “house calls”, as a mobile mechanic.

Bill was helpful, showed me a lot of things, gave us some advice and did the repairs – finding the correct parts. The adjustment bracket had broken before. Was the wrong size. The belt shredded, it was too long. The pulley on the alternator was too small. The engine stop was broken as well because was previously repaired by a couple of guys with duct tape…. no more comments there.

Anyway, Bill helped to repair all of that for us. His rates were very reasonable and he was very helpful. I STRONGLY recommend him if you’re in the area and need help.

The moorings here are $50.00 a night and there are showers, a launch to pick you up and drop you off.

The launch drivers are all very nice, helpful and give you directions and advice if you need it.

We have spent the time here moving stuff around, rearranging things to be more logical and I cleaned some of the deck finally. We added more water, I’ve rowed in and out a few times to collect water and gas for the generator. I needed the upper body exercise too. Speaking of which, they were really “worried” about me at the cardiac care and rehab place. Wanted me to stay on a “few weeks”. I laughed and said I’d be getting more exercise than just walking. While I am not getting as much cardio as I’d like, I’m damned sure getting plenty of exercise now. More than I could have hoped for.

I’ve not put on a lot of weight, but I’ve put on muscles. I’m almost back to 100% of where I was prior to the heart attack. By the way, I feel good – except the aches and pains from cracking my skull, shins, elbows, knees, chin, nose, back, front, bottom and top…. lol

Last night it rained pretty good. We had left the boat opened up and went up for a beer and met with Judy and Ron of Spartina, a pretty little trimaran, sitting in the harbor here. They are leaving tomorrow morning as well and heading south. We took their advice and waited through today because of the wind shifts. It did shift out of the north last evening though and is either North or North East right now (so it’s shifting still).

We’re hoping for a good run down the coast and hope to make 5-6 knots under sail… we’ll see. Wish us luck. This will probably be my last entry for a few days until we get back in close enough for cell coverage or Wifi someplace.

For those asking… Yes we’re hams. I’m N0NJY and JoAnne is KB0IRW. We do NOT have either VHF/UHF or HF up at the moment, those were not high priorities which prepping to get the boat out of Stony Point and right now it’s not too high of a priority (though it is coming up the list of things to do pretty rapidly) so we won’t have it up unless we get into trouble, then I’ll slap something together fast (it is what I used to do for a living, emergency communications and military tactical stuff….) so not to worried at the moment.

Sometime in the very near future though, both HF will be online as will the 2meter and 440 rig.

Atlantic City is our stop in point if we can’t make Cape May. Cape May is our current destination. Delaware Bay and the C&D canal is out tentative destination on the way to Chesapeake Bay. Once in Chessie we’ll look for a place we can anchor and explore a bit. We have to get in touch with our friend Phil and get him to meet us someplace.

Also, we’ll try to meet up with Bill, the broker to helped us purchase the boat (and sell for the former owner). Hopefully we can do all of this without any more giant issues. Then, from that point on, we’re aiming for Florida to go see JoAnne’s Brother, Paul. He lives in Tampa area and whether we drive across by boat in the ICW, or by car, or have them come get us is currently up in the air.

If we have to go across by car, we’ll look for a place to store the boat for a few days and maybe get some minor work accomplished. Otherwise, we’ll try to cross the ICW through Okeechobee – which we’ve had opinions about from several people, all of which are divergent… some saying ” no problems” and others saying “don’t do it”…..

Update: 2 September 2015


JoAnne and I arrived here on the 27th intending to spend a couple of days.  Those couple of days turned into almost a week now. 

However, we enjoyed our time here and meeting new friends.  Judy and her husband Stephen of S/V Bentaña were our hosts and we met with them several times.  Stephen went way, way out of his way to help me when we arrived to get the alternator repaired and a part welded, driving me all over New Jersey to find places that might have parts. 

On our way out of the docks at Stony Point, the boat proved just how slow to respond she is and I nearly bashed into the sea wall while trying to turn.  I gave us a little too much power and the boat didn’t move at first then picked up momentum.  Slowing her down wasn’t easy either.  Lots of back thrust of course.  Missed the wall, as Maxwell Smart, Agent 86 would say, “By THAT much”.

We set a course for the channel and made that in good time, though some of the markers we were looking for we never actually located. We traveled in the middle of the channel at first then moved to one side to make sure we weren’t in the way of anything. A barge passed us, then what appeared to be a crane. As we got closer I suddenly realized it was a light marker, not a crane and it was marking a huge rock formation. I was driving us on the wrote side. Doh!

After checking the chart I realized my mistake and figured out we were further along than I’d thought.

The chart plotter isn’t working and I can’t get it working as it is too old and too broke I guess.

About two miles out of Nyack, we decided to come in and pick up a mooring. The day before we’d visited there and a couple of the guys sitting there told us that we didn’t need to call in to just pick up the mooring. We did that. We knew there was a $20 per night fee and have no problem paying it, but apparently some were concerned we wouldn’t 🙂 We did later in the week.

Today is Tuesday the 2nd and we were going to leave about an hour before high tide today to head across the river to get fuel, water and a pump out of the holding tank. About 5 minutes after I started the engine, I began checking the boat and found we were over riding the mooring for some reason. I backed the engine slowly to pull us off the mooring and something didn’t sound right.

Alternator, again. This time nothing was broken but it isn’t, or wasn’t installed correctly to begin with and when I put it back in, I put it in the same way it came out. Wrong. I took it BACK out, about 30 times, and had to add washers, a longer bolt and a few new nuts and stuff to make it line up correctly. Now I know why it broke in the first place.

Of course we were about 5 minutes from high tide and it will take us 20 minutes to cross the river, and probably an hour to get water, fuel and pump out putting us on the down side of the time. Not bad except that it gets shallow over there at low tide.

Most likely we’ll try again in the morning. High tide tomorrow is later, around 1 PM so we should try to get out of here early enough to motor across, give us time to get in, out and look for engine issues.

We haven’t sailed a boat this large in almost 10 years, even though it doesn’t seem so long ago. The last time we sailed anything was four years ago, so you can imagine the concern we have. This isn’t an ocean where we won’t hit anything, or a lake we know like the backs of our hands. It’s a busy river with a lot of traffic, some rather large vessels along with a lot of speeding boats who love to leave big wakes behind themselves. We are 1.2 miles from the Tapanzee Bridge where there is massive construction, a lot of construction barges and general construction traffic taking place. We have to pass there after getting fuel. So – we’re both a bit scared to do this.

But, the truth is we know we can do it. We just have to put one foot in front of the other…. or, water beneath our keel, or something.

We have enough little issues in the boat, piddly things mostly, to keep us busy for awhile. That said, I know we invited a lot of people to visit us and we still expect visitors, but give us some time to get used to the boat, get down stream, get south, avoid hurricane season and finish cleaning up and figuring out storage problems.

Right now our vee berth has become the go-to for storage. I currently have the shore power cables, solar panels, extra sails, loose items, extra lines, ropes, buckets, clothing, extra PFDs, tools and a few other things stored in there. The forward head has become my parts locker, or at least one of them.

So…. tomorrow we will do our best to head over across the river, get some fuel and make for either the 79th Street Boat Basin, or alternatively, find our way to Gravesend to drop anchor and figure out how to sail around New Jersey to Chesapeake Bay. If I am right, the Autohelm is working (I’ll test it tomorrow anyway to be sure) then we can do an over night if we need too. The moon is still pretty full.

That’s all for now friends. Hope you’re all doing well. As always, JoAnne and I look forward to hearing from you. Write us at Adventure.Rick.JoAnne@gmail.com

Fair Winds to all!

D-Day Approaches

Folks, I first apologize for not updating this blog sooner, but the truth is I have been working steadily since the last entry on various jobs and honestly haven’t had the time, nor energy left at the end of the day to sit down and write. Plus the tablet is a royal pain in the ass to use.

Yesterday our “unlimited data” became “limited” in speed. They FAILED to tell us that after so many gigs of data they reduce the SPEED. Bastards.

But, tomorrow is Thursday, the 27th. High tide here will be at about 8:53 in the morning. I’ve prepped everything to get out of the docks in the morning. I need to top off water, disconnect the hose, electrical system and undo a few of the dock lines.

Normally, I’d have three lines, but because of the weight of the boat, the flimsy dock fingers, the fact we’re sitting at low tide in 3 feet of water, I’ve decided that the wear and tear on the lines isn’t justified so I added extra lines. We bounce pretty good when a tug or a freighter goes by a thousand yards out, and the wake comes through the sea wall…. so I’ve been worried about ripping things apart since we go in this slip.

I’ll remove the lines, all but the last couple in the morning, and I’ll set them up to slip off so JoAnne or I can do it easily and we’ll be ready to go.

Our first trip will be a relatively short trip, down river to Nyack. It’s about 15 miles or so, perhaps 3 hours away. Not far as distances or time goes, but we want to make sure we can still sail, the systems function under sail, the engine runs well, the sheets, lines, sails and all the other items work correctly,

And that we float out, not sink in the middle of the marina.

And we can still remember how to sail.

Also, there’s a hurricane that will likely, by Saturday hit the southern US. We want to not go TOO far in case we need to run back up the river and find a hidey hole for a day or two.

Sounds like Erika might head for Chesapeake…. which is precisely where we want to go. We’re not ready to try to run south and beat a hurricane coming nothing. Not yet.

Prudence….

Anyway, that’s where we stand tonight.

I’m exhausted and need rest, and so does JoAnne.

For the past few days we spent a lot of money on other things, including provisioning the boat. As long as we have water we have enough food to last about a month. Without refrigeration. Which doesn’t work.

We do have water, we have toilets, sort of and need to go do a pump out. But we have at least once bad valve in one head, which is closed off for use now until we can repair it.

We made a lot of mistakes of stuff we kept and sent home too. More on that another time.

We sent home about 50% of our belongings.

But we DID, eventually, find a spot for almost everything. I’m still messy on some things but it will work itself out.

We have NOT set up the HF rig yet.

Haven’t been able to use our printer.

Etc.

But we’re getting where the major projects are becoming smaller things now.

Soon…. we can get a few more things done.

But, one mystery to solve at a time, and each little adventure at a time.

Today, we turned in our rental car at 3pm and they brought me back to the marina. My friend, Mark showed up to visit and we had a good chat. He took some good pictures, and I’ll get him to email then so they can be posted later.

And that friends is that for the night. I’m done, tired and have to get up pretty early.

All of our best to everyone.

Wow…. spent some money now

I wrote this long, involved post on my tablet, and the damned tablet wouldn’t let me actually publish the article.

It said it was saved as a draft.

WordPress lies.

We spent a lot of money yesterday on a dinghy, motor, ropes of various sized, new batteries and a sundry other things.

I’m not going to try to rewrite the missing post now as I’m just too tired.

The trip across country

JoAnne and I have travelled several times across country in the last 38 years. But this time we’re doing it to get to our last, new home. The ship.

As of today, starting in Colorado Springs and ending in a place called Reynoldsburg OH, we’ve travelled 1611.3 miles. That includes some side trips to Hermann, MO, a trip to Liberty, MO and some side trips around Cincinnati, OH.

We picked up some salmon over in Liberty at the Sprouts, and brought it to the Sause family for dinner one night, a side trip to a winery in Hermann to add some bottles to our collection for the boat and we had to travel back and forth in Cincy to meet up with Ryan, go to dinner, find out hotel (a couple of different times) and so forth. So the mileage isn’t all straight travel.

Tomorrow we meet up with Bob, our friend from WAYYYYY back in the White House days and his wife for dinner.

On Monday evening we hope to be in Woodbridge, VA to meet with another friend of the family, Phil at his place.

We are hoping to leave Wednesday and likely be in Stony Point NY around Thursday or Friday (taking our time, pulling a trailer, and then finding a hotel in the area… the latter being mostly likely the most difficult thing we have to accomplish, other than paying for the boat storage, painting and maintenance).

I did create a new photo storage area… if I can remember where it is, so we’ll post some images.

We have NOT taken any photos with friends. Most of them we aren’t going to post images of. Some, like me are rather reluctant to place images up, and for the protection of my friends I won’t do that 🙂 — There’s a good reason for this, which I will not explain on this blog, but suffice it to say the lot of us have had government jobs, held positions we would rather not go into details about or don’t want to have our faces all over the Internet.

Fortunately for those of you reading the blog, I’m one of those free spirits who simply doesn’t care all that much and my “enemies” know how to find me anyway 🙂

LOL

Ok, back to the regularly scheduled blogging.

Tomorrow we get to see Bob for dinner. We have not, to the best of my recollection seen him in 25 years, and JoAnne seems to think it was when we travelled from DC in 1989 moving to Colorado. That means that every time we move to a new home, we get to see Bob I think. Perhaps he and his wife will come see us on the boat next time? We shall see 🙂

The good old Ford F150 is hanging in there with 206467 miles as of tonight. The trailer is handling the trip well. I’m not so sure about my guitar which keeps getting shoved into the truck bed under the shell. It’s pretty hot so, I’m hoping it’s doing ok. I tuned it a couple of days ago and it was off a bit, but was holding it’s notes pretty decently.

Ryan – my friend Ryan whom I had never met until a couple of days ago, is an awesome young man. (I say that because I’m turning 58 in a few days and he’s significantly younger than me), He is, like we are, beer aficionados. While JoAnne and I like to make beer, Ryan likes to buy various types of beers, taste test them, and even post some reviews of various beers.

Before we left, he basically loaded us up with several bottles of various types of beers that he recommended to us. I’m currently enjoying a Bell’s Oberon, from Comstock Michigan. It’s a wheat ale, rather fruity, a little hoppy and a little spicy. Very good stuff!

JoAnne happened to run into a six pack of Root Beer…. ok, well, not really Root Beer. It’s “Not your father’s root beer” – a hard root beer, 5.9% alcohol by volume. I am NOT a fan of Root Beer, however, I tasted it and it was… very wonderful. I can see me making a hard root beet float with it, lol.

The weather, with the exception of a few night time thunderstorms through the travelling has been pretty hot. We’ve had a couple of 100 degree F days. We did have quite a storm come through in Kansas on the way to Missouri, but nothing too bad.

Let me see, what else. Wifi has been a bit of a pain in the behind a few times. We couldn’t get it on our phones more than once and even had to reset our phones a couple of times due to lack of data connections. T-Mobile said they weren’t sure what was happening, but helped me fix things. The idea of our phones is to be able to use them as a hot spot when nothing else is available.

We can’t stay in hotels forever – and we’re hoping to be to the boat by this coming weekend if not sooner.

I’ll write more in a few days.

On the Road Again….

On Thursday evening last week we received several calls about the Jeep.  The first person to show up with the money got it.

We got the full asking price we wanted from a very nice man who was an Air Force Retiree like myself.  He loved the Jeep and came in early Friday morning with the cash in hand (Friday the banks had already closed when he looked it over).

JoAnne and I had finished our packing and hooked up the trailer, and were ready to leave when he arrived.  All that remained was to give him the title, collect the cash, load our cooler and grab ice and snacks for the road – which we did.

We were finally on the road at 11:15, on 17 July.  We stopped in Salina Kansas at a Day’s Inn when we got tired.  We’d stayed in that Day’s Inn many times on the way to our normal destination (Mike and Cindy’s home in Richmond) but this was the last time we will stay there.  The clerk was rude, the place was a mess, the rooms smelled bad and the lights didn’t work in the room (most were out).  We complained but no one would listen either that night or the next morning.  They simply made excuses.  So… never again.

We arrive at Mike’s house on Saturday afternoon around 1pm.  We’ll stay here until Friday morning, when we will head out and drive to Cincinnati Ohio to visit Ryan from the Transasian Axis web site.  Ryan and I have never met, but have been friends for many years from the days when I helped run the Anomalies Network.  Ryan is the owner of http://www.transasianaxis.com site.  Yesterday he was grilling and a tornado passed right by him.  He posted a Youtube video of it.

After we depart Cincinnati we’ll head for Columbus Ohio to visit Bob (Another friend, like Mike, from our White House days in the 1980s).  Finally, we’ll stop in Virginia to visit Phil.  Another friend from the Anomalies and TAA web sites.  He’s agreed to hold on to some equipment we’ll be delivering until I can bring the ship down to Chesapeake Bay a few weeks later.

Tomorrow we drive back through Kansas City to the west side and down on 435 to visit a friend who owns a paddle wheel boat we’ll tour.  If I can, I’ll get pictures of the boat and post them here.

That’s all for now.  I’ll update in a few days.

Oh yeah, this little guy was waiting for me in the yard this morning to get his picture taken when I walked outside to go get gas in the truck.  If anyone is missing their pet bunny….. Probably not. LOL

20150720_103707
Rick

Departure

I’m hesitant to state dates and times and things like that, but my last day at work is this Friday the 10th.  JoAnne should be resigning effective that date as well.

During the next few days after we are through with work, we’ve got a few things left to accomplish like getting new tires, I’m having a problem with the truck that need’s fixing, and we’ve got to set up our medical insurance as well.

The trailer has been packed, unpacked, repacked, unpacked and repacked again.  Several times.  We keep eliminating things hoping to cut down what we’re taking.

We’re down to a few tubs of items for the galley, some navigation tools (like rulers, compasses, pens, pencils, some starting charts and cruising guides), some books and some random things we think we will need, but aren’t sure.  I’m positive once we arrive at the boat more stuff will wind up being tossed out or given away, but until we arrive, I just can’t be sure.

My tools have been gone through and I’ve tried to eliminate some, things I’m sure I won’t use.  But, I still wound up with a lot of tools.  Again, I’m sure I will get rid of more.

Sometime after the weekend, we’ll be departing.  I’ll try to document some of the trip, without every, single boring detail like where we stop for gas or to go to the bathroom, lol.

If we take cool pictures, which I am sure we will, I’ll post them here (or links to them).  I’m in the process of setting up an image hosting location so it might be a few days before that’s working.

That’s it for now.

 

Fair Winds!

Finally time?

I returned to work nearly seven weeks after a heart attack, six weeks to the day from my surgery.  I’m still on light duty, no heavy lifting, pushing, pulling, etc.  As of last Tuesday I was released from most restrictions, except the weight.

The lady who saw me said I looked wonderful and she wouldn’t have known I had a heart attack by listening to my heart, and not seeing the scar on my chest.  Which, speaking of that scar it really doesn’t look like a “zipper” because they put it all together from beneath.  In fact, the scar looks pretty decent, though it’s still a little off-putting if I have my shirt off, lol.

On Monday I told my co-workers and boss I wasn’t staying past the 10th of July.  I’ve come to the conclusion that at this time in my life (and in my wife’s life) we need to get going, we need to do this thing, we need to go sailing.  God willing, we will too.  Soon.

Right now the plan is simply to get going.  So we have a few people to see, a few things to close out, a few things to set up and a trip across country to plan.  We’ll be stopping to visit friends along the way and we plan on getting to Kansas, Missouri, Ohio, Virginia and then to New York.  We have a long way to go…. and we’re doing it all with plenty of time still.

As most of you know (or might not know if you’re not sailors) hurricane season just started in June and runs through November.  We are trying to get to New York where the boat is located, commission her, change the name sign, and prepare to move to the Chesapeake Bay area.

What we hope to accomplish is to do some minor repairs, check out all the systems that have not been checked, and run the boat a few times back and forth around the Chesapeake to do our “shake down”.  Hopefully it won’t break much.

I have not checked all the navigation, radar and radio systems.  Just didn’t have time during the survey (which we were more concerned about safety of the vessel, whether the hull was in good shape, etc).  So those things I’ll be checking as we go.

We will probably spend most of August around that area, and then plan our trip south for September… of course this all depends on what JoAnne’s thoughts are, how much work the boat requires, whether we’ll have to have our sails worked on, and all the other little glitchy things that happen.

House Sold; Resigning; Retirement

On the 16th of March we put our home on the market. At 1300 Mountain time on that day the house went live.  By 1430, an hour and a half later, we had four showings scheduled the first day.  Over the course of the week there were somewhere around 21 or 22 showings, there were five or six offers on the house and by Saturday we’d signed a contract.

On Thursday, 30 April 2015 we closed the deal at about 1400 local time.  We met the new owner (JoAnne had met him a couple times previously, but it was my first time).  He had some questions about the hot tub, and we eventually went over to show him how to care for it and so on.  Stopped by once for mail and met him again, and the wife showed him her garden.

Anyway, the closing went relatively smoothly.  Everything worked out for both sides.  He got a nice, completely remodeled house, we got money in the bank to fund our travels.

Yesterday morning JoAnne and I both turned in our resignation notices.  Mine to my company site program manager and her to her organization at the AFA.  It wasn’t a surprise to anyone because we’ve talked about this for so long as far as some are concerned we should have just shut up, lol.

My last day here is the 22nd of May, her’s is on the 15th.

We have some work on the truck to accomplish.  We need some front end work, new tires and the new topper should be here this week, probably later today or tomorrow.  This weekend we’re house sitting and going to go through our trailer (we’re down to a 8X4 single axle trailer) and hoping to pare down about 30% of the junk inside.  Nothing is going that we don’t need on the boat, or can’t easily replace at the other end.  We’ll take the trailer to where we’re house sitting and go through it in the barn there.

The week she takes off I’ll put the truck in for work, and drive her Jeep.

We’re going to sell the Jeep to the highest bidder after that. I also need to sell my mountain bike and my telescope.  If anyone needs a bike or a telescope, get in touch…. they aren’t cheap items though, so just be aware.

It has been raining now, pretty much for 3 days straight.  It’s appearing like it will continue through this weekend, so we’re hoping to do all our trailer work in a barn on the property we’re watching (as well as our weekly laundry) haha.

A couple of weeks ago we were invited to a Face Book Group for the Transworld Formosa 41.  The folks have been very nice, and helpful as well.  Hopefully when we get to our boat we can be of more help to them than we are now, but we shall see.

With luck, the creek don’t rise and I don’t have a heart attack we should be on the road somewhere around 1-3 June.

Last note here;  Yesterday a lady here at work told me one of our former co-workers was doing the same thing.  Selling up and sailing out.  He contacted me today.  Jim M., is looking for a sailboat somewhere in the Florida area now, and his house too, is under contract.  He’s hoping to head East from Colorado sometime around July if all goes well.

I am looking forward to meeting up with him eventually down in the Florida area sometime later this year. I sent him all our contact information and spoke to him on the phone for a short time, gave him some information about what we’re doing and so on.  It is good to see others following the Dream.

And, we have had dozens of people contact us telling us that we have “inspired them”… whether they will follow their dreams, I can’t say.  I can hope though.
Fair Winds!

Begin Countdown….

Home Sale

Today is Good Friday, April 3rd, 2015. Today is “appraisal day” for the house. The buyer has an appraiser meeting with our realtor to go through the house today to see if it’s worth all this effort.

JoAnne met the buyer last week during the inspection, who indicated he was happy with the house, it was the “best” he’d seen in the price range, and he was sold on the view, deck and hot tub I believe she told me.

The inspection went well, but they found a couple of electrical items of which I was unaware. I can fix them, but he specifically requested a “licensed professional”. While I am a professional, I’m not licensed for electrical work in this state… so, no big deal. We accepted his objections and we’ll fix them, do an inspection and purchase a home warranty on the house for the next few months. Basically, the contract is still in force, and we’re moving on with it as if going to close on the designated date.

Hence the reason for this post. C-Day (Close Day) is April 30th. Twenty seven days. That gives us another week or so in the house and then we have to move out. If all goes well with the appraisal we will pack up and move.

I’m going over this afternoon to look at a small trailer in which to place a few tubs containing what’s left of our belongings. I mean “all the junk we collected over the years”. You can not believe how much stuff we gave to Good Will, threw out, passed on to the kids, neighbors and random people walking down the street, lol.

We have essentials left. Eating utensils, dishes, cups, cook ware, a small but useful propane grill, our ham radio equipment (and not much of that is left), our instruments and clothing. That is about all we have left. All of it has to fit in tubs, which then must fit inside a small trailer, which must fit in a tiny space beside my daughter’s house for the short time we will be with her.

After close, after the dust settles, after the money “is in the bank” and after we have a few days to decompress, we will set a final date, notify our respective companies of our departure and start planning our trip across country.

If everything goes well, by the end of May we should be leaving. We should be in New York at Stony Point by not later than the second week of June. If the Marina has painted and done the jobs I’ve asked for by then, we will be ready to commission the boat within a day or so of our arrival.

At that point we plan to have a short, relatively private “ceremony” to officially rename the boat, splash her and do some test sails, plan our trip down the ICW and our first 2-3 stops along the way.

That’s the general plan, everything is subject to change, there’s always a Plan B, C, D and usually E. We have learned to not set ANYTHING in concrete and be ready to improvise, adapt and overcome. So the count down begins.

Transworld Formosa 41 – Adventure

I had a rather nice surprise waiting in email yesterday (so did JoAnne). The person who runs a Facebook Owners Page for the Transworld Formosas contacted us via email and invited us to join the page (which we did). It is interesting that he had posted images of “Duna” on the FB site the very day I was writing checks, moving money and getting things in place for the purchase of said vessel.

Kurt is the owner of one of the Formosas and there are several others on the page who also have similar (not exactly alike ) vessels. I’m sure that we will all be hearing much more from one-another in the near future. If I get the chance, I’ll post some images of the various boats here.

Contact Page

By the way, the Contact Page (https://windsoftime.us/contact-page/) has been modified with a new email address for us at the boat (which may change one more time before this is over).

RV

Last notes, the Dodge Shasta RV we bought originally for the trip has become no longer necessary. We sold it last week at a loss just to remove it from the yard and give it to someone who can (and will) use it.