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:

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.

 

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.

 

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!

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.

 

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!