Cape Fear

In 1962 a movie was made about Cape Fear.  Saw it as a kid.  Gregory Peck, Robert Mitchum, Polly Bergen, Telly Savalas were in the movie.  It was a thriller type movie.  Criminal, murder, stuff like that.

Yesterday we could have starred in our own thriller movie.  Or horror movie.  Or just a documentary about puking.

We left the docks at 0900 on the way out the Cape Fear inlet.  We were supposed to leave at 0700 and JoAnne listened to the NOAA weather, and said “Not going out in 9 foot seas” and she was right.  Completely, totally right to trust her instincts on departure.  After discussing it with Judy and Stephen for a few minutes, we all agree a couple more hours sleep might be prudent.

We pulled out on time, at 0900, and headed back to the inlet.  Tide was just starting to come back in and we slogged a bit through it in places.  Bentana had little trouble with a newly repowered boat, brand new engine.  We, on the other hand couldn’t make more than about 4 knots maximum most of the time and that was pushing the engine.  I almost turned back and said “Nope”.  But I didn’t.

We got out to the channel and dodged a ship.  He called me and asked if I’d be polite enough to step out side the markers for him, to which I replied that he could have the entire ocean should he desire it.  We moved outside the channel in 40′ of water and his bow bulb was as big as my whole boat.  After he passed, I called him and “thanked him for the slow pass” and I think I made his day, he laughed and said “Good travels”.

No more incidents for a bit.  Then the shoals came into view.  And the water turned into a rocking wash tub.  I almost turned back…. but I didn’t.

We called Bentana who was now gaining ground and moving at a quick pace out to sea.  Judy said that they were going past marker 6 I think it was and then turning to 180 degrees to catch the wind, get out to sea and then would tack back later.  I followed her lead.

We didn’t make it to the mark she turned out at.  We were taking a pounding by then and the wind was wrong, and so were the waves.  Making a decision to stop taking a pounding, I checked depths, and objects in front of me and turned to 180, raised sail and steadied the boat considerably.  I consulted with JoAnne about turning around.  She said “I want to go to Charleston.  We’re already out here.”  She had a point. I could have turned around… but I didn’t.

We sailing relatively well at that point going up and down the waves, and not getting slammed now, things somewhat smoothed out.  But JoAnne kept getting sick.  At some point I had to go below to check on something.  What it was, I don’t even remember now.  That’s when I started getting sick.  First time ever being “seasick”.  When we took a steep wave and most of the ocean washed over the foredeck and back to the cockpit coaming, it was at that point I thought “We should turn back…”.  But I didn’t.

I called Bentana to check in at 1230 as we’d planned.  They were “doing ok” and we all exchanged encouraging words.

By 1300, JoAnne was doing all she could to keep from throwing up, and I wasn’t.  It was my turn.  I got so sick I threw up for five solid minutes.  I think I nearly passed out from it.  I had heart surgery last year in May.  I still have pain in my ribs and back from where they cracked open my chest.  All my ribs crack like knuckles.  I think they all popped yesterday.  It was right about that moment in time I realized just how stupid this was.  I stopped and considered the situation carefully.  We could go on and we didn’t know the sea state would settle for sure, or we could go back, reverse course back through the washing machine, tides, current and winds all from different directions, we could heave too (we were about 8 miles out perhaps by then) and hope things settled.

At that moment, I made the “prudent” decision to turn around.  Finally.  All DAY I had not listened to my inner voice telling me “Today is not the day!”  Please note I called it a “Purdent Decision”.  It truly wasn’t a prudent decision.  It was a mistake to go out when I had thought it wasn’t a good day.  And to be clear I DO know weather conditions pretty well, and I wasn’t sure I was comfortable, but we were tired of being here, ready to go, ready to roll, get going, go somewhere else.  All the way around “prudence” was jumping up and down trying to be noticed and I was ignoring “her”.

I called Bentana and told JoAnne, Judy and Stephen at the same time we were headed back in.  I can’t bear to see JoAnne sick like that, and if something had happened to me she’d have been helpless at that point to do anything about it other than call for evacuation.  That wasn’t going to happen.

We rode the waves back in, partially under sail, trying to keep the winds right and give us some speed.  We made 4-5 knots back in, until the channel, where the waves were crossing us, and hitting the side of the boat.  Not that we had a LOT of choice in which way to go.  Shoals were coming up and waves were big, ships were headed out, and winds were still only 20 knots maybe.  Not enough to bother the boat.  It was the wave action that was sucking bad.

We passed three more, outgoing ships, I gave them wide berth and even used their wash to get into smoother waters for a bit.  That helped.  I had long since stopped being sick.  Nothing left.  JoAnne was settling down too I think by then.  I occupied her with helping watch for markers and ships.  (Hard to miss a ship, though, you really want to miss them….)

We hit the junction of Cape Fear River out going current, the incoming tide, let a giant cargo ship pass, and a tug pulling a barge, and I made it to the ICW cut headed back in with little difficultly.

The engine was still running so that was a good thing.

After we docked with help from Norm from the Marina, who was kind enough to stay on the dock until we arrived, Jay from Knot Working and the folks from the power yacht Chrysalis, I discovered the water pump running down below.  I killed the breaker assuming the worst.  A bit later, I discovered all the water in our main tank was pumped out (probably to sea) and the pump was running for awhile I guess.  I’m surprised it didn’t burn out.

This morning I heard Judy and Stephen got beat up pretty badly as well, Judy was also, apparently ill as well.  They made it as far as Georgetown.  Far short of Charleston.  I believe they said (JoAnne reported) they are on anchor now and resting, well and safe.

I have work to do on the water tank.  I’m going to extend our visit here at least a week.  I have work to do on the ship, repairs to make and I’m going to have a little chat with a few local business establishments around here…. because I came back to a message about my credit card being compromised (AGAIN) and five transactions for 17-28 bucks occurred yesterday in Raleigh, a good distance from here… but there are three suspects who could have used my number (having all three taken my card out of my sight to take a payment, or getting the number some other way).  The rest of the places I used it, the card was never out of my sight and they swiped it into a machine so they couldn’t have easily gained the information from the card).  I’m NOT happy about that happening either and if I discover for a fact who did it, there’s going to be consequences.  I HATE thieves and I won’t hesitate to take whatever action is required to prevent them from stealing again  (legal or otherwise given the right circumstances).

Today, JoAnne gets to relax her back and rest, I’m tearing things apart, making coffee and preparing for the cold weather coming.  We are discussing giving up and quitting, selling the boat, getting an RV, going back to Colorado defeated, going on down the ICW, or choosing better sailing days on the outside.

Stay tuned.  We will let you know what’s next.

Fair Winds!

Rick

Setting Sail

This weekend coming up appears to have SNOW in the forecast.

For all you snow people, that’s good. For sailors, that’s not so good.

JoAnne and I and the good ship Adventure set sail tomorrow in the best 48 hour weather window we’ve seen in some time to head as far south as the winds will take us.

We’re aiming for Charleston, SC (with emergency stopping in Winyah Bay if required) and if weather continues to permit, and the waves/wind and boat cooperate, Savannah, GA perhaps.  Fifty hours roughly from setting sail is Savannah, which Charleston is about 24.

JoAnne is still not “sure” if she can handle a shift, let alone several, but I’m confident we can do it.  We will test it over the next 24 hours and see how we do.

We should have good winds (starting off all wrong at first tomorrow morning) and then turning to give us some Northerlies which ought to take us pretty far south.  The speed and movement of the boat will depend on my skills as a sailor and of course the wind and waves.  But at this point I’m confident I can do it.

Traveling near by us, on their own ship, Bentana, are Judy and Stephen.  We met them about two years ago in New York.  They are long time cruisers (about 7 years now) and they are going to Florida as well.  They came into the docks here yesterday morning to meet up with us.  I don’t really think they intended to travel with us, but it appears since we’re all going the same way, we’re all going at the same time.  That’s cool because we can chat on the radio and keep in contact.

I think we will probably decide once we hit the area of Charleston to go on or stop based on how our boat is doing rather than the other boat.  We really WANT to go on, and try to get more than a single day of sailing in, but by nature no one is really a “sailor”.  You have to learn the skills, you have to learn to live on the water, you have to learn to live on a small vessel going some place perhaps unpredictible and in conditions unknown to you for more than a few hours… and yet, it’s done.

People have sailed for months and months to go around the world, to get to the “New World” and did it with nothing more than a compass and an innate sense of well being (because, you can’t stay on a boat more than a few days at seas, without some kind of “well being” now, can you?) lol

JoAnne doesn’t think she is ready and I know she is, but I also know I AM, but am not ready to do it alone.  So, therein lies the problem.  If she can’t handle a shift for 2-4 hours, I might as well be alone.  But, I can’t do a 24 hour shift without stopping at some point, and I can’t sleep for 15 minutes at a time either. So, it’s complicated.

For all you folks that see your dreams on a boat, and think you can do it – think again.  For all of you that have your dreams on a boat, and think you CAN’T do it — think again.

You CAN do it it.  All you need is careful planning, careful and critical thinking, knowing your weather, knowing how long you can actually sleep for and knowing your boat.

In all honesty, I’m JUST to the point I’ve gotten to know the boat well enough to do the right things with the sails.  I know the weather well, and know what it’s going to be like for 5 hours in the future.  I also know my body’s limitations.  But, I also have a crew, my sweetheart, whom I worry obsessively over, and care for, and don’t want her injured again, so anything I do (as Captain) makes me rethink five or six times what is right and that is a good thing.

Until it isn’t.  In the military, we said “Make a decision or die”. In real life that doesn’t happen to many, but it does happen to those who go to sea.  But decisions MUST be tempered with common sense, good judgement and training.

I hope I have all three of those.  The next 48 hours will determine the truth.

All my best to everyone for a fantastic New Year.  May all your Dreams come True – but, remember, you must plan for them to come true 🙂

Fair Winds all!

Christmas 2016

Hi everyone.  Thought I’d try to get in one more blog post before the end of the year.

It’s been a long, challenging year for us. In fact, two challenging years.  (I already posted a message for Christmas on Facebook, and will probably restate a few things here so if you think you’ve read it before, you might have).

In 2009 we decided to learn to sail, and eventually to become cruisers.  JoAnne and I have read literally a couple of hundred books over the course of time since that day we made the decision.  While all of them were helpful, some were stories, fiction, true adventure, and books about storms.  All of them helped prepare us for everything we have encountered and a few things we’ve yet to (and don’t want to) encounter.

Last Christmas we were sitting in Colorado with our kids and Grandkids after JoAnne’s back injury.  We thought more than once we wouldn’t get back to the boat and would have to sell her.  But, things didn’t turn out like that.

We’ve traveled back and forth across the country about five times since July 2015, for medical appointments, visiting and due to injuries.

This season we moved the boat to Cole’s Point Marina, where we worked on the boat.  We added solar panels, repaired the refrigeration, I had already added a new stove, refurbished the sails, repaired many little things, added a composting toilet, removed a broken electric toilet and replaced it with a Jabsco pump toilet.  I’ve added strip LED lighting to the main cabin area (and will add some to the forward cabin in time, along with some new wiring I’ll pull in when I have an opportunity).  We’ve eliminated a few things (not enough).  We’ve picked up an inline water filter to remove the bad tastes and to take water aboard.  I’ve made a water catchment device to collect rainwater, picked up a propane heater for the cabin, as well as an electric heater.  We’ve worked out how to make the wood stove work properly.  I’ve rewired the nav station, radio gear (neatened it all up and added a special power strip for DC radio gear.  Eventually all the radio gear will be tied there).  Oh, and I varnished about 80% of the woodwork aboard Adventure.  I have been testing some varnish.

I certainly am missing a few jobs we did.  I’m sure I’ve forgotten something.

A few weeks ago we ran into some more alternator problems (which I documented) and had that repaired and discovered a LOT of other issues on the engine which we also had taken care of.  During the work, I had the mechanic teach me a few things since I was paying and arm and a leg (I know why pirates have hooks and peg legs now…).

We paid up our bill here through 6th January and decided to stick out Christmas here.  One of the folks sailing down from Canada we’re friends with (Rosemary and Joe, aboard “Winds of Change” were coming down and so JoAnne invited them to dinner.  Turned out other boats were traveling with them.  We thought two, then it was actually four boats total.

So the dinner turned into a pot luck.  Then more cruisers and liveaboards near by joined into the dinner.  All told, on Christmas Eve we had about 15-18 people (I never counted them up), and one boat’s couple left to visit relatives so they missed the dinner.  Others joined in and everyone brought food, drink and stories.

Over all, a grand success.  JoAnne was worried about putting something like that together.  I’m not sure why.  She has always fed an army (usually doing ALL the cooking herself, raising five children, usually having boarders in the house, and random neighbor children who ALWAYS were there for dinner almost every night).  So, whatever trepidation she had vanished as she turned on her “Chef Skills” and made a giant pot of stew which likely would have fed everyone in the marina that day with a side of rice.  Fortunately, there was plenty more food than we could ALL eat.  Everyone brought something, from sloppy joes to stew, to small “sub sandwiches” to enchiladas and bottles of wine and rum.  I was shocked at the amount and quantities.  I tried a little bit of everything and had two full bowls of stew.

“Winds of Change” happens to have been the name of our first boat, our Macgregor Venture.  So when we saw the name on the group, we had friended them on Facebook immediately.  After all, we share a connection.  The boat name, and now the Leaky Teaky boats, ours the Transworld 41 and them the Formosa 41.   It was wonderful to get to meet them in person finally!

I have to say that I still like our center cockpit a bit better, though I think sailing from the aft of a sailboat this big might have a few advantages over the CC.  I can’t tell you though, what those might be.

All in all, this year traveling from the Potomac in late October to here has been relatively uneventful compared to last year.  Although, we have gone aground a few times, we’ve bumped some pilings, and I have some small damage on the port side where I caught a pole in the water, the engine conking out…. we haven’t really had major issues.

Yes, it was stressful coming down the ICW.  I was at ease going outside and motorsailing at night, but I always worry about all the things that can “go wrong” out there.  I worry for JoAnne’s safety much more than mine (because, quite honestly, I’d done some really dangerous things in my life and while the majority of them I wouldn’t want to repeat, I understood what I was doing, and knew I could die).  Sailing in the ocean is one of those things.

You understand it.  You know you can die.  But you also, always, concentrate on the moment in time, staying alive, staying safe, staying on course, going there you’re going and knowing you have options to handle almost anything.  Even, right down to closing down the hatches and doors after taking down sails and putting out a sea anchor, then hoping the boat will ride out whatever you hit.  In almost all cases, a boat will do fine.  It’s generally the crew who can’t handle it.

We have one issue on our boat.  JoAnne isn’t really able to run the boat alone.  I’m worried she will injure her back again and she has been prone to falling in the past so I won’t put her in danger.  That means I tend to do everything on deck, though I have been letting her toss lines out, and put out fenders to get used to doing it again.  So running a “shift” isn’t too easy, unless I set things up and let her stand watch, let the autopilot take care of things until the wind changes or we have to tack.  Then she can wake me if I’m sleeping and I can do the work.

This basically means for us, sailing straight to Florida isn’t going to be easy.  From here at five knots it would take us about 65 hours (give or take where we pull in).  And just two of us doing it.  Then we have to count on the engine from time to time to charge batteries if the sun isn’t out (solar, remember?)

Therefore we’ve come up with muliple plans to get south now.  From here we are planning to sail straight down to Jacksonville area.  And as we go we’ll make changes to our thinking based on the conditions we encounter and how tired we get.  We’re going to try it in pieces as well.  So, we’ve picked a half dozen distant spots to pull into if need be to anchor and rest.  We’ve also planned part of the route inside as well.

We have many options from here, but the main goal, to “get south and to warm” is the priority.  That and using the engine the least amount necessary, anchoring when we need to, and staying warm.

So as the year closes on us, we are shooting to be in Florida not later than about 3 weeks from now, whether we can move more quickly, or slowly will depend on a lot of factors including the weather and my ability to take us long distances on the boat.

To this day, I am not ready to lie down and sleep with the boat moving.  So, I’m probably going to have to learn that skill next 🙂

I want to wish everyone a “belated Merry Christmas” as I’m posting this the day after.

And I want to give everyone something to consider for the New Year.

Many people make “resolutions” to accomplish or do something important in the New Year.

I made a resolution never to make resolutions a long time ago, so I don’t do that.  But I do make plans, I do set goals, even if they are in my head and not written down.

For the cruisers, the dreamers and the wanna-be cruisers who’ve not quite gotten here yet, I’m going to give you a secret.

The secret to success is “perseverance”.

That is the secret ingredient to “success”.

If you have a dream to move aboard a boat and go cruising, you will have to work at it.  You will have to plan.  You will have to make decisions, some easy, some difficult.  You will have to write your notes down.  You have to learn to sail if you don’t know how.  You have to work your ass off.  You have to practice.  You have to learn new skills.  You have to travel a bit, you have to stay home a lot, you have to spend some money, and you have to save money.

With out laying out a map for you, I’ll tell you this:

  1. Make a plan (Do you want to cruise full time, or part time? Do you want to just travel the Chesapeake?)
  2. Get your skill set together as you go, every day work on it (Can you sail? Learn! Wood work? Plumbing?)
  3. Study hard, study sailing
  4. Save your money.  Spend it wisely on learning, important books you need (Use the LIBRARY, it’s FREE!)
  5. Pay your bills.  ALL Of them.  Eliminate them.  If you use a credit card, PAY it off EVERY MONTH.
  6. Have your goals written down and check them off as you go.  Once you get one, check it off. (Then go back and pat yourself on the back!)
  7. PERSEVERE!  Do NOT give up.  Do it.

Adversity has a way of weighing people down, depressing them, making them believe they can never get up again and sometimes adversity will literally break your back, bones, make you sick and leave you in pain.

Pain is the one thing that tells us we’re still alive and we should be doing something else.  Find a different route.

If you want to sail, do it.  Start small if you have too (I didn’t, I am glad I didn’t.  I started on a 30′ boat and went SMALLER to a 25′ boat for practice, and the 25;’ boat was like a part of my arm when I stepped aboard).  Getting on to a bigger boat like this ketch at first will be daunting and probably stop one from sailing without a very good instructor.

I’ve been teaching myself how to sail this boat.  She handles differently that a fin keel, from a sloop and from a dinghy.  She handles much differently that my little Venture did.  She has a mind of her own and I’ve had to learn to tame her, and make he go where I want her to go.  It’s difficult to do with no books on the subject and only the meager knowledge I gained from an instructor and sailing my own sloop.

The point, though, is don’t give up.  Continue.  Persevere.

That, folks, is the secret to success.  You just take that and apply it to your set of circumstances.  YOU are the one to make it happen.

All our best for a Happy New Year – and I mean the whole of 2017.

We’ll see you in the Warm.

Rick and JoAnne

(PS I will add images into this a bit later, so check back when you have time)

 

 

Perkins 4-108 Issues, LED Lighting

A few days ago we discovered a broken bracket holding the alternator.  It was not something I was going to ignore, and certainly wasn’t going offshore with it broken like I found it.

The forward part of the L-bracket was shattered.  One side (aft) was still holding solidly, and the bolt was going through the two pieces.  However, a broken alternator bracket would cause vibration (which it did when it broke) and eventually would have torn the belt to shreds.

Therefore I called for a mechanic because I haven’t any way to do welds, and it’s one of the skills I don’t have (but I certainly am going to look into learning it now).  I am sure that I could have accomplished all the work the mechanic is doing, and if there’s ever a “next time” I’ll do it.  I’m am not the worlds best mechanic, and honestly, I don’t like getting dirty inside engines.  And since we’re on a dock, and I’m already paying for it… might as well have a professional look things over anyway.  I’m glad I did because I’d never have seen the exhaust leak before it killed us.

Technician came out rapidly (he was on-site), removed the bracket, did some testing and we discovered with our faces in the engine that the manifold was blowing a lot of exhaust out into the engine compartment.  Well, that opens into the bilge and cabin.  Long story short, that needed repairs so we didn’t… umm…. DIE.

He did attempt a repair, put new gaskets in and had the welds accomplished.  There was an extra bracket installed which was causing some of the problems with being misaligned!

But other issues ensued as well.  We noted some oil leaks (but had a hard time finding them exactly, finally he found them and one, the least one, is on the timing cover.  The major one is the valve cover area, and the gasket (after looking at it) is pretty old and ate up.  It’s either original, or it’s pretty old.

On Friday last he said “It will probably be Monday before I can come back”.  We said “OK” and then went and rented a car from Enterprise on their weekend special (10 bucks a day for Friday through Monday morning, giving us almost four full days for 38 bucks).  And Jason called and came back on Saturday to repair things because… he got the parts in sooner. Haha.

Ok, now we’d paid through Wednesday and had to extend a few days.  Today is Tuesday.  We used the car, turned it in yesterday.  Made a trip to Wilmington to find a Radio Shack and some parts I needed for electrical project I was doing.  (I found one, and 45 BUCKS later, I had my little project boxes, toggle switches and a fan for our bathroom and the composting toilet, which I’ll do at a later time when I have all those parts…).

So, it’s raining like hell yesterday after dropping the car, so we duck inside the Dead End Saloon up at the top of the hill to wait out the rain and we run into Jason who is running back and forth from the boat to the truck for tools.

Not good news.

  1. The valve cover DOES need a new gasket, badly.
  2. The timing system isn’t as bad.
  3. The mixing elbow from the exhaust is pretty bad, but we don’t know yet how bad.
  4. The injectors are spitting fuel through (which is what causes the white smoke on startup).
  5. The manifold attachments are missing a couple of nuts, but worse, even after new gaskets and sealing, it’s not good.  The thing has overheated and is slightly warped.

Bottom line, has to be retooled to make it flush again.  The valve cover needs removal and gasket replaced.  The timing area (a bunch of gears connected to the crankshaft) leaks oil and SHOULD be replaced but that’s a pretty big job.  The mixing elbow, once removed is trashed inside. Pieces of it are missing.  Causing back pressure.

So, we need a new one.  I told Jason to go ahead with the work.  We’re going to wind up doing a “monthly rate” here at the marina now I guess.  Only way to save a bit of money now. This is likely going to run about 3000 dollars for the amount of work.  /sigh

Anyway, we should have rebuilt injectors, new gasket on the valve cover, and a new mixing elbow, a replaced bracket on the alternator (and it is now PROPERLY aligned, which it wasn’t, which has been causing most of our issues with belts and vibration in the past).  Right now the engine valve-rocker cover is off and everything is covered with cloths.  Elbow is off.  Injectors are gone.  Fuel is all shut off.  We’re stuck on the dock for a few more days.

I spent today working on our lighting.  I don’t like the incandescent lamps (good for reading, bad for the batteries) and the LED lamps I’ve used don’t give us quite enough light for the interior when it is pretty dark outside.

A few months back I bought three rolls of LED strip lights that work on 12VDC (I had bought a tube of them at the hardware store before that, and discovered they were set up for 120VAC and it wasn’t an adaptor, but rather they use resisters and diodes to drop the voltages down to what LEDs can use, a couple of volts each).  Anyway, I can use the tube lights on the dock, when we have AC power only.  I couldn’t modify them safely to work with DC.  Instead I bought the strip lights and put them in my little project box.

I needed toggle switches and a way to mount them. I considered three or four methods including little project boxes, but Radio Shack is the only place to pick those up (unless I order them online from someone like Jameco, Digikey or someone similar).  I haven’t been anywhere that I could really order things, long enough lately to do it, so… RS it was.

So, I collected parts as I could.  A while back I saw someone else’s work with LED lights and liked their stuff.  It was Acadia, Jon and Marcia’s boat.  He had used little boxes like I wanted to do, and had mounted them using sticky tape (all of the parts are very light).

Today I put everything together and installed strips of LED tape on both sides, under the area where the grab rails run along the length of the ship.  So the settee area is now well lit when you turn on both sides.  I doubled up the starboard side for JoAnne because she sits on the “couch” a lot and reads there.  She has extra light for book reading now.  She loved it.

Starboard Side Lit up

Port side lit up

Another shot of the port side, the mess is the tools, looks like we need to dust again. lol

The next few images show the parts, and some of the tools I used to do the job.  The boxes are simply mounted with “doubled-sided-sticky tape” (the 3M stuff) and I tied the wiring to the existing lamps because honestly, I don’t feel like ripping out the wood that is between the overhead/deck above and the lamps.  There’s a hand full of wiring running inside there and if I take it all out, I’ll be rewiring the entire boat in no time – and I don’t have the time to start that project right now. haha Eventually, but not now.  I want to be able to sit there and read, look at charts at the table and even do soldering (like I did today with my makeshift light you see in the background, which doubles as an emergency anchor light).

The wire has sufficient current carrying capability for very short runs.  I wouldn’t use it for something other than LED lights.  It’s really meant for speaker wires, but it’s 16 gauge and can handle about 3 amps of current.  These lights pull about 500 milliamps (1/2 amp) on either side.  So a total of perhaps a bit under 2 Amps.

Close up of the LED tape strip, and the internal part of the switch box.  The wires are soldered internally and there’s a feed that is attached at the existing lamps using crimp connectors.

Used tywraps as strain relief inside to prevent accidentally pulling the wires from the box.  Since it’s inside of a box I used a bit of electrical tape to insulate the soldered connection.  It is inside a box which no one will see (except here in a picture) so I wasn’t looking for elegant or neat, just “good” and besides, I don’t have any shrink tubing or I’d have used that instead (old electrical wiring habits die hard sometimes).

The finished box.  Double sided sticky tape goes on that side, the whole thing gets “stuck” to the overhead (under the grab rails on the bulkhead) and hopefully will hold for a few years.  I cleaned the surface with acetone before sticking things in place. It’s painted with a flat white paint, so cleaned right up and the LED tape is also “3M” tape so it ought to hold a long time.

LED light strip in “action” – and yes, I noted the damage to the wood in the picture.  Apparently there was a leak there once.  It’s been patched somewhat and I probably should pull that all down and put up new wood or repatch it at least (which means I’ll be pulling new wires in as well to the electrical, therefore, that isn’t happening right now either. haha)

Starboard side, double strips front and back.  Port side only has one strip.

Sometime in the next few days if I get a chance, I’ll do the same thing with the galley area, because it’s in the walk-through to the aft cabin and very dark.  There are four lamps, two under the grab rail area, one behind above the engine, and one on the over head.  None of them provide enough light for the galley, or working in the galley, so that’s going to change soon.

Still here….

Well, we’d hoped beyond hope to either have a new part today, or have the old one fixed/welded/repaired.

Nothing of the sort happened.

They have to find a welder. Because the part isn’t available “anywhere”.  I might have been able to find one myself, but don’t have all the resources to hunt for it, and honestly, I’m just not an engine guy.  And getting it right the first time wouldn’t have happened either.

Jason called and said the welder could get the part done tomorrow probably, but the gaskets we need to seal up the manifold will not be here until Monday.  So, we’re going to be here until Wednesday now it seems.  JoAnne suggested we could rent a car and explore, so I arranged for that as well.

I’ve got some chores to do on the boat, deal with batteries, the composting toilet and maybe get some other little things done I’ve put off.  The varnish is already suffering after less than six months.  Actually, three months. Not sure I honestly want to deal with varnish, but it looks so nice.

I’ve been looking over our trip and we’re probably going to do three outside jumps.  Short ones, to take us to Charleston.  None of them will be over about 35 nm in any given day, and working out some anchorages to stop in for the night.  After Charleston, it looks like we will make one large overnight to Florida to skip over most of South Carolina and all of Georgia.  Might be a full 24 hours.  I haven’t calculated that far ahead though.  My brain is already fried from dealing with the engine.

Won’t be going anywhere until at least Tuesday for sure… and then we have to see what the weather is bringing then anyway.  I can get a 10 day out forecast, but they are rarely what is predicted 10 days away.  So, I’ll deal with it a bit closer.

ICW: Southport, NC

Wrightsville Beach: We left out of Wrightsville Beach on a bright, sunny morning with temperatures in the 50s and a light breeze blowing.  We were headed for Southport are of North Carolina.  We’d spoken to several marinas because we wanted to be on a dock with wifi access for a couple of days before heading on to Charleston.

The trip out of the anchorage to the ICW was uneventful.  Engine was running well, systems all functional.  We came down the Cape Fear River from Snow’s Cut, making very good time, the current was with us, and the tide was leaving so we were making 5 to 6.5 knots most of the time.  A catamaran named Necessity, a delivery crew en route to Florida.  We had a short conversation VHF and bid one another adieu.

They were moving along at a decent clip and managed to get to Southport long before us, got fuel and were passing us heading for the ocean when we rounded into the channel.  The skipper hollered over saying, “We’re going outside, Fair Winds!”  I waved back and headed into the channel.

The current coming out grabbed the front of the bow and shoved us to starboard, a lot harder than I would have expected.  Our speed dropped from 5.5 knots to 2 suddenly.  I gave the engine some throttle and brought the bow back around.  A weird vibration started that I’d not heard before.  Once I got into the channel I backed down the throttle again and the engine settled.

I tapped the button for the bow thrusters and found them no longer working… again.  Similar issue as I had a few weeks ago.  Just didn’t fire up for some reason.  Still isn’t today and am not sure why.  I suspect the controller though at this point, but it’s possible the works up in the front of the boat has some issue.

Now, I’m sure I can get into the dock though, with no issues, so I call the marina, notify them I’m a couple miles out and have the bridge in sight.  I advise I will need a dock hand to assist with the tie off because I don’t want JoAnne trying to get off the boat in this current.  “No problem, I’ll be there” says the dockmaster.

We come in and I line up and “land” gently next to the dock and hold her steady while JoAnne hands off the two lines he’s asked for and once he has one secured, I jump off and grab the stern line.  After moving the lines where he wants us to sit for our visit, I finish tying it all off.  A/C Power is connected and we’re all good.

Nothing out of the ordinary and no problems.

So I think.

Engine Issues: Of course, the weather was good for two days and we’re staying three nights.  No problem.  Then the weather reports start coming in about rain, thunderstorms and high winds off shore.  We’re supposed to leave on Sunday morning but the weather was going to be crappy, and we don’t want to deal with it going off shore or sitting in a new anchorage for a few days and decide to extend our stay here on the docks.

It rained cats and dogs, and assorted other critters for almost a full 24 hours.  I watched thundershowers roll through on the radar to our south, missing us by about 20 miles… but slamming the anchorage are where we’d have been.  Ok, good call on that I guess.

Today is Wednesday, 7 December 2016 – Pearl Harbor Day – and we were supposed to pull out this morning.  That didn’t happen.

Now, this IS a sail boat, and in general, you like to use the SAILS to move the boat, and the truth is I CAN do that.  But short tacking down the ICW to get back out to the ocean isn’t precisely my idea of “smooth sailing” or fun, especially not sailing it alone.  With JoAnne’s back injury last year, she’s not going to be shifting rapidly to move lines or for that matter, drive much.  If we had an extra crew or two aboard to assist, it would probably be easy enough to do with a bit of practice with a new crew.  But, this is a pretty large boat — a ship really — a heavy, slow, ponderous, if you will, “beast” that does what she wishes sometimes when you don’t wish it, and usually when least expected.

Thus, being a sailboat with an auxiliary engine means… well, we want the engine functional at all times.  When you don’t need it, but especially when you do.

So last evening (late afternoon actually), as is my usual course of action before heading out the next day, I started doing system and engine checks hoping to leave this morning.  Bow thrusters, still not working and not sure why.  Fuse is good… but I can do without bow thrusters and really need the engine working.  I check the engine oil, coolant levels, belts, look for anything out of the ordinary like leaks and strange things that weren’t there before.  Added a bit of oil (as we have a constant drip under the engine which appears to be a gasket that the mechanic said was notorious for leaking anyway) and looked at coolant.  I checked the alternator belt and something caught my eye.

A tiny crack.  There is a a bracket that is mounted to the starboard side of the engine, through which a bolt holding the alternator runs, and there are two places it runs.  This piece was “half ass” welded to the bigger piece.  After examining it carefully, this appears to have been a makeshift repair at some point in the past, and not an actual factory job.  Anyway, this piece broke.  So, the alternator is holding on by one side and not the other.  The crack is fresh.  The steel shattered.

I let the marina know who got me in touch with Snyder Marine, down the street.  Jason, the technician was here in 15 minutes or so.  He looked over the engine and said something about the oil leak and then removed the bracket.  We looked closely and sure enough, the bracket had a flaw in it, and quite possibly was already “rebuilt” once or re-welded.  There had been an old crack at the weld, and there was rust there.  The rest of the crack extended from the old, weakened spot and the vibration I’d heard coming in at the entrance to the channel was quite likely the alternator breaking right at the point I put extra pressure on the engine.  We started the engine.

Jason, then found another problem.  Our exhaust manifold is leaking, a gasket has failed there as well.  So, he’s working on getting us the right parts and will, with luck have us under way sometime in the next day or so.  The oil leak is coming from the air intake area, and a second one elsewhere.  I’ll get the details later when he returns.

The Tech is trying to get a new part for us, and had to come in this morning to locate the serial number.  I never found it, but he finally did.  Back of the engine, in a difficult location to see.  Figures.  Wrote it down though in the log book!

We have had some pretty sun sets here, and have seen some beautiful boats.  Here are a few of those images.

Majestic Dream on the dock

Majestic Dream

Down the docks from us is a Vagabond 47, pictured above.  Skip and Louise are the owners, and like us, are headed south.  They are due to pull out today at noon and head off shore for Charleston, SC.  They are supposed to drop us a note saying they arrived safely.  A boat just like this one was in Norfolk with us last year.  Apparently, I’ve either deleted the pictures or put them “someplace safe” and forgotten where I put them.

Sunset at the South Harbour Village Marina across the ICW

Different Sunset, Different Day, ICW North Carolina

Amateur Radio: Side note on Ham Radio.  Got in contact with my old friend Rick Hendricks, KE0GB from Colorado Springs and we’ve been chatting a bit about trying to make radio contact, which so far hasn’t happened.  The bands haven’t really been opened to Colorado Springs lately.  We’ve tried packet, and psk31 digital modes but nothing yet.  Have to get the right conditions.

I’ve also tried getting Winlink2000 (RMSExpress) working under Linux, and though it “sort of works” it doesn’t work well, or properly.  I just don’t have the time to fiddle with Linux and figure out why things aren’t working right, but I’m sure it’s because it’s a windows program running under WINE.  I’d be better off drinking wine and washing our windows I suppose rather than wrack my brain on operating systems. /shrug

Departure: We’re planning our departure here as soon as the engine is repaired again and we’re talking about making the trip to Little River and anchor.  It’s a short day trip, 35 miles perhaps with the in/out of the channels and then go on the next day for Charleston.  At this point, I’m strongly considering, with a good window, to make for Florida and spend the 2-3 days sailing day and night.

JoAnne doesn’t seem to be ready to spend time standing a watch though, but if she can stand a 2-4 hour watch, just making sure we’re not getting run down and mostly on course, not over running shoals or getting whale-whacked mostly in the day time, I can handle an all-night watch and nap through it for a few days.  I’ve done this sort of thing in the military where I got very little sleep for days on end.  But, I’m getting older now.

One more temporary crew member to assist me with watches would be best.  But, we can do this. We’ll debate it more as we go.

Until later…

Fair Winds!

Edit:  Just received a call from Jason about the part.  Apparently this particular piece is obsolete.  They are going to have to make one for me.  Oh… goodie.  I will wait and see I guess how it looks.

Edit, Bow Thrusters: Having a beautiful, sunny afternoon here on the dock, I did some rearranging in the fore cabin, added beer and soda to the fridge making a little room.  I removed some boxes that were no longer holding things and I tore apart the navigation pod (which was no mean feat, not having the proper tools – they have special security screws, but fortunately I happened to have a couple of those special bits and found the right one.  I’ll be replacing the screws with something I can put in and out easier next time!)

In any case, the controller is what I thought was “acting up” – or more accurately, not acting at all.  I was still getting power at the device because if you press the power button, a tiny beep-beep-beep sound would happen, with the beeps being about 8 seconds apart.  That’s not normal.  Normal operation when you press the button is a fast beeping sound, and you have about 10 seconds to press the button a second time.  The device then sends a Morse code lettter (R) for “received” I guess.   When you turn it off it usually sends “SK” – with is di di dit da di dah – again Morse code for “End of transmission”.

Anyway, inside is a circuit board with a handful of parts, all surface mount chip technology, a couple of transistors and a microprocessor.  I cleaned the circuit board with alcohol because there was a bit of some kind of mold or something.  I assume it might be conductive.  Also cleaned the connectors, a large, four-pin, specially keyed connector so you can’t plug it back in incorrectly.

That fixed the issue.  The controller fires right up now, and the bow thrusters are fully functional again! Yay!

Beaufort NC to Wrightsville Beach, NC (Masonboro Inlet)

Last entry, we had planned to continue down the ICW. At some point along the way, we changed out minds for the 20th time. I think the stress of going in the ditch is less than the stress of going offshore at night for a 24 hour run (or in this case, 14 hours overnight). So, we decided, one more time to go outside.

On 27 November 2016 we departed the Morehead City Yacht Basin marina and had a LOT of issues getting out. Currents kept pushing the boat the wrong way and neither bow thrusters, or the prop walked were helping me get out cleaning. And on top of that, I think like a rocket scientist and pressed the WRONG button on the bow thruster. So, for the second time in a month or so, I whacked the bow pulpit. No damage, but it’s irritating as all get out.

Adventure’s bow is long. There’s a 9′ bow sprit and 7′ of that are at the pointy end of the boat, along with the railing, the platform and the forestay, making it difficult (to me at least, I’m sure there are some Gold Star Captains out there who can drive better than I can) to see what I’m doing, aim the boat properly and I’ve just not got much experience with currents. Most of my sailing was in lakes, and places where the winds did what you expected.

Anyway, once out of the dock without smacking anything else, we powered up and headed for the channel, made a call to the bridge. And then promptly made a fool of myself for the second time. The “Beaufort Bridge” answered me. Apparently they handle the Beaufort Bridge (which honestly, I wasn’t suyre where that was located) and the train bridge I had to traverse as I came around the corner leaving the marina’s channel. They told me the bridge opened on the hour and half hour.

So I asked… “We’re talking about the train bridge, right?”

“Yes,” she replied. I was then very confused because I was certain the bridge should be open all the time, after all the chart said so, I’d heard no calls from USCG stating the train bridge was closed and so I reiterated the question, this time more specifically. I could hear the mirth in her voice when she replied, “Oh, THAT bridge is open all the time and should be up now.”

I couldn’t SEE the bridge until I was right at the end of the channel and I wasn’t sure what I was going to do if the bridge were down. Long story short, it was opened. I turned to starboard and pushed through – or thought I would. A small boat decided to bust through as I was heading in. So I slowed, to allow the faster boat through. He slowed. Now, I’ve got no steering in a few moments, and he’s taking his time coming through. I call him on the radio and invite him through. SO… HE SLOWS MORE.

Finally, I gave up, gave the boat gas and aimed right at his bow (I’m still a hundred yards away) but I think he got the message and suddenly powered up and got out of my way, because I can promise we weight about 34,000 lbs (dead weight, after being lifted on a lift) and I suspect he wouldn’t have been in one piece after an “encounter”. Finally, through the stupid bridge we were headed for the Beaufort Inlet.

The time was about 2:30PM or so.

The plan was to get out to the sea buoy by 1600, turn on a course to bring us to the sea buoy near the Masonboro Inlet in 14 hours.

It was a long, chilly night. I left the enclosure up and drove through the night, running the engine the entire way. I did have the main sail up for a few hours and reduced the engine RPMs to keep my speed at around 4 knots, which would put me at the sea buoy at about 6:30.

Along the straight line course I drew on the chart was a “Danger Zone”. After investigating I discovered it was a shooting range for Camp Lejune and sure as shootin’ (see what I did there? lol) USCG came on the air when I was just getting to the first light and announced live fire operations on-going in the vicinity. I ensured I cleared the outer lights by a couple of miles just to be sure. I didn’t want artillery shells dropping on me.

I never heard, nor saw any firing but I could occasionally hear the booms of what sounded like howitzers. (Know the sounds well from living in Colorado Springs, and having heard them live before in other circumstances). Never saw any splash downs, thank goodness. haha

Daybreak happened about 5 minutes before I reached the seabuoy (and I had to slow the boat as couple of time to ensure I arrive at the right time to still see the flashing lights and then spot it with my eyes. I actually drove within about 100 yards of the bouy. The Autohelm was running and it is “off”. I’ve since fixed the issue. Something in our closet made of metal was too close (within 4′ of the electronic compass).

JoAnne had been sleeping down below and I called her and woke her up, asking her to join me in the cockpit when we were about 4 miles from the inlet.

We arrived and dropped anchor at 0840. Ten minutes after my calculated/predicted time. We did have some issues getting into the inlet due to winds blowing the tide about, and apparently an opposing current, but once we were actually past the breakwater, it calmed considerably.

We decided to stay here a few days, as these 24 hour shifts are a little much on me these days. I was grumpy, tired and grumpy. Did I mention, grumpy? JoAnne let me sleep for a couple hours and made a wonderful lunch/dinner. Baked Sweet Potatoes and boiled shrimp. Wish I could say I caught them myself, but I didn’t. I’m still not quite ready to be fishing and driving a boat at the same time apparently. haha Especially not with shrimp nets!

It has been raining on and off now since we arrived. We have plans to depart here tomorrow morning and head for a marina on the ICW to spend about three days, giving us a chance to get internet and do some weather planning.

Our next trip appears to be outside to Charleston (or perhaps a short jump, but I’m not seeing anything very nice for us to work with at this point).

Yesterday, I dropped the dink in the water, got the engine on it, and we puttered into the municiple docks near the bridge and went to a little place called King Neptune’s, a little resturant/pub. Had fish and chips and a couple beers and came back just before it opened up again. I got the dink back on the boat, everything tied down and ready for evening.

The rain came with some wind. And the wind remained. ALL night. I was worried about dragging so I didn’t sleep almost all night. I set two anchor alarms (one on the phone and one on the GPS) but the winds were almost 38 knots at one point. Predicted was 16. I have no idea what was going on. I checked three or four applications on my phone and no where was the wind supposed to be over 16 knots last night. Two other ketches were riding to anchor near by, and one sloop. The sloop was getting their asses kicked by the rolling they were doing. I can’t believe anyone aboard slept a wink last night. But maybe they did. Maybe they are “Saltier” than me?

The other ketches were doing the same thing I was doing. Riding up and down, and turning into the wind against the waves. I tried a few tricks but nothing helped. I gave up and finally fell asleep about 3 AM for a bit. The wind was dying down then and I wasn’t worried any more about dragging at that point.

Right now, I am writing this on generator power, needed to get the batteries topped off, and I need to check the engine for our trip south tomorrow., but JoAnne needed hot water for dishes and such, and I wanted to get this written while I had time and was thinking about it. I’m going to put up a hot spot and post it shortly.

More in a few days!

Fair Winds

Slow Boat to China….

I’d love to get you
On a slow boat to China
All to myself alone

Writer · Frank Loesser
Singers: Jimmy Buffett, Ela Fitzgerald, Bett Middler, Bing Crosby, myself and numerous others….

I used to sing this to JoAnne as a fun thing to do.  But, it’s funny actually BEING on a slow boat to China (or in this particular case, Florida).

We’ve dilly dallied a lot coming down from New York since last year.  We’ve had dangerous things happen, we’ve had scary things happen, we’ve had terrifying thing happen, we’ve had wonderful things happen, we’ve had health issues happen, we’ve met a lot of wonderful people, a couple of “interesting characters” and we’ve enjoyed most of the journey.

Yesterday we finished going over our charts, anchorages, weather, you name it… and decided to hang out here in Morehead City (Beaufort) a couple more days so JoAnne can have some fun and do a Thanksgiving Dinner on the boat, without rocking, without worrying about anchors, winds or wakes.  At this point we’re planning to pull out of here either Friday or Saturday morning (we’re paid up through Saturday here).

And it’s chilly here.  It’s actually colder inside the boat than outside today. haha.  Thursday should be in the 70s though.

Our instructor from San Diego from a few years ago used to say, “Get the boat that’s right for your voyage”.  Ralph Waldo Emmerson said, “Life is a journey, not a destination.”

It’s about the people you meet, the things you see and do, it’s about making friends (and occasionally in my past, I’ve found, fighting enemies).  Fortunately there is much less of the “fighting enemies” parts these days as I age.

Thursday is Thanksgiving Day. We’ll spend a quiet one here on the boat, the second time ever in our lives we’ve both been away from our family on this holiday.  Over the years we taught our kids to get together on Thanksgiving, spend the time together, get over your differences, and take the time to communicate about family things.

This year it appears there won’t be much “gettin’ together” for our kids.  Guess they’ve moved on from the family stuff.  We’re sad about that – but, they’re adults.  They can do whatever they feel is right, or not as they see fit.  We gave them the tools and brains to thin, to make their own choices.  I personally can not say I’m happy with many of the choices they and the grandchildren have made.

I’m unhappy about the fact the entire family has a few little bones to pick with each other, whether over politics, each other, grand kids, how-to-do-things… I guess it’s irrelevant now.  They are equipped to deal with life.

And the Journey.  If only they grasped that the Journey is life, and not the destination.

JoAnne and I happy together, happy on the boat today.  I have been personally frustrated over and over about various things.  About the ICW (it’s too shallow, the boat is too deep), about the weather (it’s too cold, it’s too hot), about the boat (this is broken, that isn’t working, I have to fix that thing for the 4th or 5th time) and I don’t know what day it happened but suddenly, none of that as important as living and going and doing.

We do have a destination.  Bahamas.  Florida.  Someplace Warm.  Anywhere Warm actually will do now.

So – after Thanksgiving, we will set out again and head south.  We did decide to spend a bit more time in the ICW though.  Surprisingly, it’s becoming fun and less nerve wracking than it was at first.  Even getting stuck again at Jarret Bay.

The side story here on Jarrett Bay is that we were supposed to be on the dock until 9:30 or 10AM the other morning.  But instead they Dockmaster knocked and told us to move to another dock, right away.  We were still preparing the boat to move and we certainly weren’t ready to pull off the dock.  I wasn’t sure about the currents, and then the slip he pointed to was by the land.  Not good.

So I asked, “How deep it that?”

“Plenty of space for you, I’ve put a lot of boats in there your size before…”

“But, how DEEP is it?”

“You won’t have a problem getting in.”

I noted the tide was coming up, about half tide, rising.  Good enough I said.

And pulled off the dock, the current preventing me from getting off easily and backed hard into the  channel, into a cross current.  Turns out it was swirling in there.  Ok, I managed to keep off everything, spun the boat around and headed south.

I turned nicely into the slip watching the water depths.

Water was at 17′, dropped rapidly to 13′ and then we slammed into the mud.

When the water cleared the depth finder was reading 4.5 feet.  Nice.

The Dockmaster was waving us in.  I yelled to him to say “We’re aground.”

His response?

“Well, what do you want me to do about it?”

I waved him off, and instead of cussing, or kicking something I laughed, walked back to the cockpit and assessed the situation.  We were on rising tide.  I only needed a foot to pull the bow out of the mud.  So I placed the boat in reverse and ran the rudder back and forth to wiggle us. Then I used the bow thrusters (probably NOT the best idea I’ve ever had but it worked) to blow the mud away from the bow.  In about 5 minutes we started moving slowly back.

So, after “I don’t know how many groundings” in mud I’m getting the hang of getting out of it.  Just not getting the hang of not getting stuck yet.

One thing I learned is to stop listening to others. Period. I always assumed that a dock master would know their depths and widths at a dock, how to tie a line, how to take a wrap on a cleat or piling to slow or stop a boat.  The answer to that is “Nope”.  I’m sure MOST do, but I seem to keep getting my share of folks that actually have no clue what’s in the water near their docks.

Ok, side story over.  Why continue down the ICW?

10 hours of day light.  If we pull out of Beaufort Inlet and can do 5 knots (pretty much our cruising speed either under sail or engine power) it’s 72 nautical miles from inlet to inlet (Masonboro being our next stop).  That gives me (assuming I started and stayed at 5kts) 14 hours to get there.

So we have to leave at about 0200 (that’s 2AM) to be able to arrive with enough light left to get into an anchorage.  Leaving in the dark isn’t keen from my point of view either, as I’ve not see the inlet yet except on charts and satellite photos.  Not happy with doing it.

But, we can drive 25 statue miles down the ICW a couple of days and still make it there.

In the Day Light.  I’m good with that.

After Masonboro is Cape Fear River.  And Cape Fear inlet.  And we’ll be on the inside and can go out on the other side of Frying Pan Shoals.

We’re looking at heading off shore after Cape Fear and just spending the next few days sailing now.  I think we’re both ready for a few days of actually SAILING and no motoring, and so we’ll look for the right window and go as soon as practical.

Aiming for St. Augustine, Jacksonville, or Titusville.  Don’t care.  Just want to go.

I hope my kids read this, get the message and have at least a quick get together for Thanksgiving Day.  It would mean a lot to JoAnne and I. And I hope they understand we’re fine, that we’re going to be fine, and that we’re going to continue doing what makes us happy.

Communication will beat demons.

To all my friends and family that follow the blog, have a very Happy Thanksgiving this year, spend time with your families.  Spend time listening to them.  Spend time putting up with the “nonsense” and remember, as Jeff Foxworthy says, “We’re ALL crazy!”

Fair Winds!

Rick

 

 

Coinjock to Belhaven

Here are some notes I wrote the other day to put into the blog.  I’m just too lazy today to rewrite everything into a different set of notes.  But, it gives you an idea of my thinking a couple of days ago versus today.

Traveling

We departed early yesterday (Election Day, 8 November 2016) morning from Coinjock, at Midway Marina.

We dropped anchor at Tuckahoe Point, directly in front of the Alligator River-Pungo Canal entrance about 1525. JoAnne wrote “Anchor Down” at that time. We found 7-9 feet of water moving out of the channel to that particular spot. We spent the night on a quite anchor, occasionally hearing engines coming through the canal (I believe for the most part they were barges being push by tugs.

This morning (9 November 2016) we up anchored at about 0700. We went back down to the spot I’d entered the anchorage and we turned into the channel right after a barge went through past us in the channel.

Through out the trip we saw birds and occasional fish jumping. Did not run aground (that’s a good thing!) and managed to remain mostly in the center of the channel.

We were passed by mostly power boats, the majority of whom did not call us and ask, just usually blew past us leaving a large wake shaking us up pretty hard and usually before I get get the bow into the wake. A few called us. Every sailboat that passed (three I think) called us and requested permission, and asked which side to pass. A couple of power boats did the same thing, but generally the power vessels ignored us like we weren’t there.

One guy, who passed me as we entered into the very large area just out of the canal had been calling sailboat behind us all day, requesting permission to pass, and was polite all the way through. His boat name was “Trixie”. When he passed us, we had a very wide area and he didn’t need to call me, but I called him and told him to pass, and I’d slow for him. He thanked me and went on around with no wake. He was the largest boat we’d seen in the canal moving.

At Coinjock Marina the morning we pulled out, there was a very HUGE cruise ship sitting there I think called Independence. It was taking up 50% of the docks and honestly, I have no idea how they got in there or where they came from!

I have been checking the engine carefully either the night of the stop or morning before we pull out, and adding a tint bit of oil to keep it at the right level, and checking the belt, the bolt on the alternator, coolant levels and the fuel.

Tonight, we’re at about a 1/2 tank of fuel on one tank. Full on the other. We have good coolant. I’ll probably have to add a tad bit of oil in the morning.

I put up the enclosure tonight, cleaned the deck (mud from anchor), added gas to the generator and fired it up a bit ago so I can run the shortwave, and do this blog. We have no internet or phone service at all here, therefore I’m writing this “ahead” of being posted. I’ll post it as soon as I have service again.

Tomorrow, we will be doing a very short day and stopping in a small creek or river across the Neuse River (away from the “magenta line” and away from the crowd for the most part. A lot of people are heading south and the marinas and anchorages are getting filled quickly (the standard and well known anchorages). We’ve been looking for things slightly off the beaten path because then we don’t deal with dragging anchors and loud noises haha.

Tomorrow, we’re looking at two places. Either a very short run of about 25 statute miles or a 40-something run. I did not find a good anchorage at shorter distances.

I’ll write more later.

Now, is later…. so.

With plans to be out of here this morning I woke up early, and made coffee, JoAnne was putting things away and I went outside to take the trash and visit the head.  And then got to thinking.

Tonight it is supposed to rain.  And tomorrow, it’s supposed to rain all day where we will be on anchor.  And it’s pretty chilly and JoAnne is getting cold and can’t stay warm.  So, debating about getting 25 miles south of here to an anchorage where we sit all night and all day tomorrow in the rain with no internet connection, versus sitting on the dock an extra two days with electricity, wifi, access to showers, head, town (and I need to replace a propane tank) caused a quick discussion, and a go-over of the weather reports.

The final decision?  We didn’t leave.  We will wait out the chill and rain here on a dock until Tuesday.

Tuesday through Friday should be 60s (warmer than the frost last night for sure), no rain, plenty of sun, light winds (for crossing the next two large bodies of water) and we will have North West Winds on Tuesday for the Neuse River which should be pretty ok, since we will be motoring anyway.  The winds will be too light for us to sail starting today for the next week anyway.

So – comfort has been a major determining factor for us.  If it’s kicking up and good sailing weather, we’re ok with that, as long as it’s kicking up in the right directions.  Why go out and get our asses kicked trying to hold a course under sail when there are channels to worry about?

A friend asked me the other day, “In a do-over, would you chose a different boat?”

I believe at this point the answer is a resounding “YES”.

To travel the ICW in a full keel, deep draft sailboat isn’t fun or easy, and nothing about it has been simple.  I’ve had more white knuckle moments than sitting in a Jungle in Central America getting shot at caused me.  I could at least shoot back.  I can only adjust the sails in changing winds – which is great if you’re not constrained by the channel….

I’m certain that, somewhere down the line we will wind up sitting on an anchorage, in the wind, rain and hail or something and waiting out another weather condition.  So, why bother putting yourself in that situation?  When it comes right down to it, we’re honestly not in a huge hurry to go anywhere in particular.  We just want to eventually get someplace warm.

What is funny is, when I ask “Where are you headed?” to the other cruisers, all have the exact same response, “Someplace warm… south….”

We have met some very nice people so far along this part of the trip.  All of them save one or two are like us, first timers.  Many have only been at cruising for two or three months.  One person has been sailing forty years, but this is his first trip down the ICW.  Another retired a few weeks ago and started down.

In general, ALL of them have had almost the exact same thinking processes as we have.  Make a plan, get the plan in motion, move the boat south – and every one of them have had the same thoughts of “quitting”, going back home, the boat was wrong for the journey, and a host of other tid bits about this trip.

In other words, all of the people who’ve gone before us who had no issues probably had the same issues and they didn’t consider them to be “issues”, or just problems to be solved.  I think that is perhaps the best attitude.  Everything is a problem to be solved, and solving it is what comes to the forefront when dealing with moving the boat.

Whether it is plumbing, engine issues, alternator issues (as in our case), fuel problems, electronics malfunctions or simple failures, we all have the same problems with which to deal.  In my case, it seems like there are more problems to solve at once probably because I let them get to me and worry about them too much.

One problem we had was the charts we have.  For some reason, I don’t even recall why now, I picked up ALL the charts for the east coast.  And yet, did NOT pick up all the charts for the east coast.  I was missing a rather important set.  Florida and the Keys.  How I did that, I’m not sure.  Perhaps because I took one of the chart titles at it’s word and didn’t actually open it up and look inside until much later.

That chart (Maptech) says “Norfolk to Florida”.  I made a dumb assumption I suppose and thought it contained Florida charts.  Nope.  It should really have said “Norfolk to Florida: Not inclusive of Florida” haha.  Anway, I mentioned this and Judy Long and Stephen who were in Washinton offered to come and bring the chart.  When I said I didn’t want them to make a special trip, they said they were coming anyway.

Turns out, and I had not quite put the puzzle pieces together yet, Bentana, their boat is sitting nearby!  So they were coming to deal with some problems too, on their ship.  So we had a get together on our boat, with some wine and nibbles.  And they brought the missing chart for me.

I still need the one for the West Coast of Florida, but apparently Maptech is phasing them out now.  Everything is going digital.  Mark my words, that’s a BAD idea…. but that’s another discussion for another time.

Alright, time to get going to get some propane.  The hardware store opens at 1300 today.  I’ll take a golf cart into town (it’s four blocks, long ones, but I don’t want to carry that tank back all the way)!

Lastly, I’ve uploaded some images of things along the way.  Hope you enjoy the image dump!

Here’s some pictures of places along the way:

Sunset over Cole’s Point Marina before departure

ICW Canal

Norfolk Naval Station

Two very large ships… Aircraft Carriers (Don’t know which ones)

The same A/C carriers in the above picture, from Willoboughy Bay.  Adventure in the foreground.  We were aboard the s/v Acadia visiting and going over charts with Marcia and Jon

Behind us somewhere a couple of days ago

The Sailing Ketch Adventure in the back, Sailing Schooner Adventure in the front

Sailing Schooner Adventure

(Our neighbors one night)

The Great Bridge Lock

Great Bridge Lock, looking back

Taylor, from Atlantic Yacht Basin, Great Bridge

(Thanks for everything, Taylor!)

Me, JoAnne and the USS Sequoia – Presidential Yacht, Fishing Bay Marina

Some Right Piraty Looking Rigging

A visit to the Reedville area, and we discovered this ketch waiting for Kurt to come and get her in the water 🙂

Lo-Kee

Lo-Kee

ICW – Willoboughy Bay, VA to Coinjock, NC

When last you tuned in, our intrepid band of Adventurers found themselves in Willoboughy Bay.

We hoisted anchor and headed out intent on making it to the Great Bridge.

We were all nervous about the bridges and lock. Both the boat crews, Adventure and Acadia are pretty new to this stuff and we were buddy boating together for moral support I suppose. And I wanted some assurance of the depth so I let them go first to call out depths if it got to shallow. We saw no stuck boats along the way, so obviously it wasn’t too bad. I’m SURE there were boats with deeper drafts than ours passing through before us.

We motored the entire distance from Willoboughy Bay to the various bridges. The first one was easy. The next one was fixed. Norfolk and Western was open. Gillmerton was one we had to wait for, no problems, except we had to wait for 30 minutes because we arrived too soon I guess.

Then we got to the lock. We had to wait at the lock. A long time. Anyway, the lock turned out to be NO problems at all. We got to the Great Bridge, everyone waited, they opened it, and we pulled over at the Atlantic Yacht Basin for the night. Acadia got fuel, we docked. The next morning I pulled the boat around and fueled up and then we left after both boats were ready to pull out.

Again, Acadia led. When we arrived at the Centerville Turnpike Swing Bridge I remained behind Acadia a few dozen yards. Our boat takes awhile to get up to speed, and it takes awhile to stop. If the wind isn’t on the nose (and even if it is) inertia on her is tremendous. Takes sometimes 5 or 6 boat lengths to come to a stop. There was no wind. And it takes a few minutes even at full throttle from a dead stop to get up any speed.

We all started through (after being admonished to “GET CLOSER” by the bridge master) – a large power boat, Acadia, then us. Then as I’m coming up on the bridge the guy on the radio starts yelling at me for being “slow” and tells me, while yelling into his radio, “I should CLOSE this bridge on YOU NOW”.

He didn’t… and to my own credit I didn’t tell him what I thought of him. I “thanked him” politely and went on and let it roll off my back.

I know these guys are government workers. And I know that some can be assholes. This guy was an asshole, and a jerk to boot. I hope someone reads this and says something to him, but probably not. (And I’m sure someone else will say I was in the wrong, even though they weren’t there, lol). To prove I was not wrong, here’s the regulation: https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/33/499

I understand there are cars, I understand it “holds people up”. But, I ALSO know the history of bridges, and boats DO have right of way. We were within 100 yards of the bridge (It was a swing bridge and swings to the north). We were behind another sailboat, neither known for their maneuverability in close quarters with full keels – us, and them with a full keel and a board that was up). We moved as SOON as the bridge opened, and it took time to get up to speed, and NOT make a wake because we’d been admonished NOT to do that either….. Finally, the bridge was opened for less than 4 minutes from the time the first boat shot through, to the time I plodded through. And it was well within the normal opening time (about 10:30, and in fact, 3-4 minutes late).

Here’s the rub though. Federal law (33 U.S. Code – Regulations for drawbridges) mandates boats have right of way at bridge crossings. Yeah, several states have adopted rules on busy bridges and won’t open at all during certain times, and only open maybe on the hour or half hour during daylight hours. Or they open on signals from the boats passing them. So, why is a bridge tender screaming at a slow moving sailboat whose top speed is rarely more than 6 knots under engine power (with the wind behind it mind you)? Good question.

But, oh well. That was the beginning of my day yesterday. The first day out of Willoboughy Bay went fine. Even passing giant ships, cargo vessels, aircraft carriers, and two ships coming out about the same time as we were passing, we negotiated things fine.

When we got to the first sound, it was hairy. Wind was blowing pretty hard and apparently causing a current, which I didn’t realize would happen. I expected long fetch to generate waves… but not necessarily current. I manage to get pushed out of the channel 2 or 3 times towards the end of the run, to the point I was seeing 7 foot depths and at 6 feet, I was going to hit the ground, probably hard. The wind was either on the nose sometimes or just off the starboard bow and helping kind of push us sideways as well.

It was nerve racking knowing that hitting the ground there was going to stop us cold and we’d likely have to get towed out of it.

When I arrived last night I was short tempered with everyone and upset at myself because it wasn’t going smoothly, I’d been yelled at for no real reason by some “authority” who really shouldn’t be doing that anyway. I was hungry, tired and literally exhausted. I made the decision to stop here at Midway in Coinjock (JoAnne had called and gotten a reservation for us) and the Acadia – who thought they had a reservation at Coinjock across the way, didn’t have one and moved on to an anchorage.

So, Jon and Marcia went on ahead and we said good bye over telephone (because we had 4G and 5 bars, how cool is that for the first time to be able to actually communicate using a phone in damned near a year?) and hope we cross paths again.
They are pulling out someplace near Raleigh-Durham to visit grand kids I think. We’re headed as south as we can get in the next couple of weeks.

Last night I decided we’d remain on the docks here for a couple of days. There’s a good blow coming tomorrow, 16-20 knots I saw on one report, maybe rain later tonight and perhaps tomorrow. Saturday MIGHT be a good day. I’ll look over my GRIB files in the morning and decide if we will leave Saturday or Sunday morning. Since we’re motoring, NO wind would be the best thing I can hope for.

But, I took the time to pull the aft compartment apart, open up the batteries, check everything, and run an equalization on them, which seems to have helped them a bit. I’m hoping to get the batteries to go back to float again on the meter, but not sure if they are damaged or not. My hydrometer is hokey and I’ll have to get a decent one (I have two, one is really old and it doesn’t seem to work either.)

At this point I think I have the batteries, and the charging system “synced” finally. I still don’t think the main system batteries are holding a charge right though. I’ll check things once more in the morning.

The other issue that boat Acadia and Adventure had seems a little odd for fiberglass boats. Rust spots. Millions of them. They appeared out of nowhere and we discovered them a day or so after we were in Fishing Bay. At this point we suspect the lift (we were both lifted, we were cleaned and they were worked on for battery replacement, and a serious leak at the rudder post). We considered the cleaning might have done it, but they weren’t cleaned I don’t believe. Just hoisted up and worked on. So I think that the steel cables (which were rusty) or the engine (diesel, with a large flapping exhaust pipe) might be the culprit.

It is most likely the engine was blowing exhaust out, along with water, and rusty from the old lift engine and splattered both our boats.

I knew that if I could get some oxalyic acid I could likely get the stuff off. JoAnne found a solution, she handed me a can of stuff that looks like “Ajax” in a can, but is called “Bartender’s Friend” which is used in bars and restaurants to clean stainless steel, apparently. She had purchased some so I could use it on the old stainless grill we have. Which I did and it worked, and I’d forgotten all about it. It also worked on the stains too. I didn’t get them all off but I did get the worst of it gone.

The boat top is in dire need of paint. One day, I’ll paint it. Mean time I have to keep washing her down.

Now to the not so good part. Pulling up to the dock I lost all steerage. I knew that I needed to come in slow, as there was a boat in front of me, and one behind. I slowed too much. I managed to not get the boat turned in time and though we were moving at fractions of a knot, I caught the bow pulpit against a dock post. The post remained undamaged, but the pulpit steel bent a bit. I tried today to engineer a fix, and succeeded in pulling it back a small amount. But the starboard side is push back an inch or two. I’ll fix it.

So, batteries seem to be doing ok. Got the little rusty spots off the plastic (haha). Got through the first stretch of the ICW. Got some sleep last night, and planning to sleep well tonight.

Oh… best part of today. We are the sailing Ketch Adventure. I was told by the owner here that it was funny, another boat named adventure was coming in. Sure enough, today, right in front of us, the sailing schooner Adventure shows up. A large, steel ketch, complete with ratlines up the rigging, shorter masts than we have, but a wider behind. The cockpit is huge and she’s over all a beautiful boat. But, of all the lookie-loos today, most of them stopped here to look at us, and not at the other boat.

I was proud 🙂

(then again, they could have been staring at the horrible paint, my bent steel, the dirt on my hands and feet and knees from cleaning, and sniffing the smell of sulfur as the batteries cooked below… who knows?)

Willoboughy Bay – Elizabeth River, Virginia

We spent the night of 30 October 2016 in a little river called the Poquoson River. Last year on the 17th of October, we were up that same area, but in a different creek. The next morning we had prepared to wait out some chilly weather and some stonger winds when the marina I’d planned to go to for some assistance on the rigging finally called back with the words, “IF you can get here TONIGHT (it was a Sunday), then we can look at your boat tomorrow.”

Against my better judgement, we pulled anchor and made for that marina. We didn’t really have a choice (we did, but we were led to believe if we didn’t hurry we were going to be delayed) and we did it anyway.

Yesterday, we looked at the weather and headed down the bay. It was nice, cool, but nice. Crossed into the Elizabeth River and made it a short hop to Willoboughy Bay, just past the bridge Tunnel on the Elizbeth River. We anchored out last night, and today was supposed to bring winds. And about 2-3 AM this morning, the weather reports came to fruition.

A Nor’easter like last year, slammed the Bay. Listening to weather reports there were 4-5 foot waves, and gusts at 30 knots from the NE all today. The warnings are in place until this evening. Several sailboats, including one traveling with us, wisely remained on anchor this morning. In checking my GPS settings, it appears we’ve not moved at all, no dragging last night or today.

Thankfully, the winds have somewhat simmered down and the waves have stopped slapping us. We’re still rocking and rolling a bit, but I have the mizzen sail out a bit to help point us into the wind. Works pretty well. Winds are currently out of the NNE at about 15. Gusts are about 19 now, instead of the almost 30 knots they were earlier this morning.

Our companion boat, “Acadia” with Marcia and Jon were ready to head for a staging at Hospital Point this afternoon. I pointed out that though I haven’t been there, it appears unprotected from the north and in the river, so besides currents there are wakes from passing vessels. Everyone opted to stay put here. Since this is the first time for all of us to traverse this area, we all felt it prudent to wait a little longer. We’re all “novices” at something. I’m not a sailor novice any more, but I’m a “cruiser novice” and I’m still pretty timid about driving this monster. She’s got a full keel, doesn’t turn rapidly unless we’re moving quickly. The rudder and keel combination just doesn’t bite quickly at slower speeds.

Our next destination is somewhere around the Gillerton Bridge and/or the locks. Or something. I’m unclear at this point on what our decision was yesterday because mostly it was the ladies looking over the charts and telling us where to go… which is typical I suppose. 🙂 Honestly, that’s not the case, it’s a joke; we all know where we’re headed, we’re just not SURE where our destination will be due to the large number of cruisers passing through.

We tried the Atlantic Yacht Basin south in the channel near (past) the locks and they “couldn’t guarantee” anything for us, except they MIGHT have docks with no water or power… of course they cost the same as those with water and power…. ok. I guess we will play it by ear at this point.

While a nicer day might have more boats headed south with us, I think that’s ok. I also think I really need the “practice” in busy areas. I was white knuckling it through the river at the bridge tunnel before I figured out everyone wanted to go fast, faster than me and I mostly let them, except for the barge whom I cleared almost 2 miles in front of him and he was only doing about 4.5 knots anyway. I was going faster.

One sailboater was coming from my starboard side while I was traveling a channel under power (now I’m a power boat, and he’s obviously a sail boat perhaps under power, perhaps not, so I gave him benefit of doubt) on a crossing path. Cool. But he maintained course and speed. According to the rules he was wrong on two counts. Yes, he was a sailboat, I was under power. But a sailboat approaching from a “behind position” which he was doing, gives way to the motorboat – and I was in a channel (shallow I might add, and we were in an area where had I gone out, I could have gone aground with my draft). However, I gave way as a “power boat” because he did not appear to be doing anything and I couldn’t go any faster. Going slower was rather difficult too in the location based on the winds on the nose as it would have slowed me significantly. Which it did.

And being a sailboater, I gave way anyway to avoid a collison. Now, I’m sure there are some out there that might argue that I should have given way as I was motoring, and I’ll point out now, you weren’t there. I was. He was approaching from the rear (off the starboard quarter) at a pretty good clip and COULD have passed easily behind me, but CHOSE to pass me and cut in front of my bow. I honesty would never have tried that with anyone, or any boat unless traveling at a significant speed faster than the boat being approached and even then would have passed him father forward, changed course to parallel the other boat or passed behind.

Am I complaining? Not at all. Pointing out what we saw. The boat behind us thought we should have kept going instead of coming almost to a dead stop. I didn’t want to risk a collision (which was becoming rapidly apparent at that point). I will point out that the other boat was sailing with two sails up on a starboard tack, and we were driving into 24 knot winds at the time. I couldn’t have sailed there to save my life due to the depth challenges in that area. Oh well.

Today it is chilly. In the mid 50s. I ran the generator for a couple of hours to ensure charging of the batteries, and shut it down a bit ago, leaving the solar panels working and the refigeration turned on to chill things back down.

I’m about to go sit at the table and go over the charts carefully, so I know the charts, the course, what I can expect and where the bridges are located. We already know there are two railroad bridges we should be able to traverse easily. We’ll need tides/times tomorrow, and to know the exact bridges/lock, times for those and approximately how quickly we will get there and can traverse the area, and finally where to stop tomorrow night.

We all have our own ideas, and as long as those ideas somewhat jive and don’t put anyone in danger, a handfull of Noobs should be able to accomplish what thousands of others have done routinely. (That’s the best part about books, and knowledge from others, you aren’t doing it FIRST, just the first time for you.)

Engine:  The engine in this boat is a Perkins 4-108.  Nice engine.  Leaks though.  Found it’s dripping oil (finally).  Can’t find the location though.  Had the alternator bolt loosen yet again.  Tightened it up.  Checked new belt, it’s fine.  Added a little over a pint of oil this morning.  Need to watch this thing carefully from here on out.

My friend Jeff Ryan (@K0RM –  Former ARRL section Manager) in Colorado has a mechanic/boater friend down range from here.  Gave me his name, over in Washington, NC I think he said.  Supposed to send me information to contact him.  He’s a master mechanic, and a boater, lives aboard.  Probably understands what we’re going through too.  I’ll give him a call passing through just to say hi if nothing else from Jeff.   Either way, babying the engine will likely turn into a full time job for me.  It’s another reason I chose to remain at anchor today instead of pushing the limits through waves I didn’t want to deal with (and currents, and wind, all of which were in opposition this morning).

Man, I’m learning some of this the hard way (by reading about it, then experiencing it first hand) lol

I will add to this, or edit it later. Right now, I only have a hot spot to access the Internet and have to turn it on and off as necessary to prevent wasting the data. I can’t type this on my telephone, the tablet or hand write it to the Internet.. so that’s the way it is for now. LOL

Safe At Fishing Bay – Part Two

I sort of ended on a half thought out “thought” yesterday.

When we headed into the bay here yesterday, the wind was almost dead on the nose.  Once we cleared Windmill Point it slackened a bit, but not much.

Haul out:  Today… we got our haul out and clean.  The bottom was covered in barnacles and stuff.  Not too much slime as I think we peeled it off on the run down the Potomac River a couple days ago.  We managed almost, but not quite 7 knots under sail alone for most of that trip.  I was pretty impressed with the boat, even as dirty as her bottom turned out to be.  I think some of our speed issue yesterday was the prop being covered in barnacles as well.

They cleaned it, removed the wildlife, and some of the paint in the process.  Replaced a zinc on the prop (which was simply GONE. No idea when it came off, or where it might have gone to).  Rudder and prop looked good.  I checked all the through hulls for any damages, problems or barnacles in them, all were ok.

I was able to easily bring the boat from the dock we were on, diagonally across the channel to the lift slip, the guys grabbed the bow and held her while the wind shove the stern around, and they pulled me in backward.  Killed the engine climbed off and watch the lift, and even took pictures.

I just wish we were going to have paint put on before we leave but, not happening.  I’ll be doing the next cleaning myself when I dive the boat in the Bahamas I hope.

Tomorrow our mail should arrive, we’ll hit “town” once (I need a couple of things from West Marine and we need to hit the grocery store for small things), mail in our ballots, I’ll prep the boat for depature tomorrow afternoon after we do our running around, and we’ll back out of this slip early, round the bay, raise the sails and try to look competent for once. lol  (Can’t get stuck here except in two places, and I KNOW where they are.  I’ll avoid those at all costs).

Engine:  Had an electrical guy come in to help me trouble shoot what I thought was a problem.  The Alternator.

There was no problem with the Alternator.  My batteries… not so sure of them, but we’re going to watch them closely and see how they do.  They appeared properly charged, the alternator appeared to be sending voltage properly.

Alternator Belt:  Not so good. Over heated somehow.  Neither the mechanic, me, or the guy at NAPA could figure it out.  Probably too loose was the diagnosis.  I replaced the belt, bought a spare to replace the one I used (I’ve got three spares right now, might get a couple more though).  I did buy extra bolts to replace the one.  I need someone with a laser checker to determine of that stuff is out of kilter, but no one seems to have one, or know what I’m talking about.
Cleaned up the deck, coiled some lines I’d left hanging from the dinghy davits (I was in a hurry to escape from Reedville and didn’t take the time to mess with it, and fortunately, it wasn’t in my way, and I ignored it, otherwise we’d have missed the time yesterday to get in here before the place closed shop for the evening).

Cruising and Pretending to Be Cruisers:  I have begun to suspect the other cruisers out there.  So many talk about minor issues, going from place to place like they are teleporting down from the USS Enterprise on an Away Mission, and going back to the ship with no problems.  Rarely do I see real “problems”.  Although, a few do write up their problems, I’ve also noted a distinct and at times ridiculous ability of others to put down those actually “doing it”.

Basically, the reason I write this blog is to document (for our family) the trials and tribulations we go through just to move the boat from one place to the next.  I’ve figured out that EVERYTHING is difficult, and sometimes impossible to do – but we’re here to do the “impossible”.  My wife and I have performed the impossible in our jobs, our lives, our daily existence and we’ll continue, I suppose to do so until we can’t any more.

But I guess what I don’t like in the cruising community isn’t the cruisers.  It’s not the boats.  It’s not the travel.  It’s not the places we go, people we meet, or the stuff we get to do. Instead it’s the online Forums.  I used to frequent several of them as we were learning.  I thought in my naivety that people were helpful (and indeed PEOPLE are helpful, outside, in person, on other boats, in marinas, walking by, standing on docks).  The people who are unhelpful are those who also frequent those same forums I was frequenting.

I have yet to meet ONE of the people (who sometimes came off as obnoxious assholes on the forum) in person.  I wonder then where these “cruisers” are?  At home?  In a nice warm home, sitting by the fireplace with their tablets talking down to the people who are actually out there?  Probably.

Now, a few months ago I wrote up our problems in a marina in Norfolk.  I even clearly stated I didn’t have any problems with the PEOPLE there, and they were wonderful, but the problems we encountered were inside that marina, most all of them were the result of others’ actions.  With the except of my wife falling off a dock (which they had placed a boat on we were going to visit, the dock being partially disassembled and probably too dangerous anyway, but we CHOSE to walk there… but I digress).  Asking them to do things, expecting a good job and then paying for the services performed is normal in ALL walks of life and a marina is NO different.

I made a couple of enemies over that blog post and it’s still bugging me a bit.  The REASON it bugs me is the one lady is a cruiser, an accomplished cruiser, smart lady but she took my blog post as an attack.

I’m making it clear here and today, my blog, my posts, my words are mine.  This blog is about what happens to JoAnne and I and our boat, Adventure.  It’s NOT about anyone else’s experiences.  It’s NOT about putting down or ridiculing others.  It’s about making SURE that anyone that reads this blog can see what experience WE had.

Take it as you wish, a story, a warning, or simply a blog post.  But, I don’t accept rude comments in the comment section, and I’ll block you on Facebook if you attack me in that mode over something I’ve posted here.  I tell the truth about what we have had happen to us.  Period.

Don’t like it, don’t read it.

The header says “Cruisers and Pretending to be Cruisers” for a reason.  There are people who I know sit at home and post insulting messages all the time on some of the more “popular forums” online.  That is the reason I walked away from them.  I still check from time to time for information, but even on Facebook now, I’ve stopped offering help.  I’m a radio guy.  Electronics tech and later engineer.  My expertise is in building, maintaining and repairing systems – complex systems.  And yet, one guy told me how “stupid” I was about radio antennas. I just laughed and moved on (I’ve designed and built a dozen different antennas, I’m an Amateur Extra Class ham operator, I held a Third, Second and First Class Radio Telephone license over the years, I spent eight years as a Senior Radio Tech for the White House.  I know my stuff, I don’t tolerate people calling me stupid when it comes to radio and electronic theory).  But that incident occurred not ONCE, but three or four times over the years on similar subjects because people are NOT educated in electronics and claim they are.  But they continue to pass on “Myths” as truths.

Therefore, I no longer assist people when they spout this kind of stuff.  If they want to listen to “Free Advice” from the local yokel on the forum who is spouting nonsense or the “Free Advice” from a profession (I’m not asking anyone to pay for the information I provide), so be it.  Good luck not getting electrocuted, or RF burns.

A lot of the issues we run into daily are things no one really mentioned (some cruisers write books and I do see where we ALL go through the same learning curves).  But there are a LOT of people who go out on weekends, travel down the Bay, turn around and go home and that is certainly “cruising”.  But, they go back home to their home, their job, the rat race and sit down at their computer and pooh pooh things some of us have to ask about.  It’s insulting for them to do it.

Lately, Facebook and some of the forums there have degenerated to the same degree.  I’m sincerely saddened by the people who feel it more fun to attack others for “being stupid”, insult them by calling them names, tell them how dumb they were to “do this or that”, and never give an honest opinion of what THEY did to get around similar problems.

Ok… I guess that’s enough for my rant.   I guess I needed to vent.  Now, WHY did I write all that?

An insulting comment I deleted without even reading the whole thing.  It started, “Smart people wouldn’t have gotten stuck…” and went on from there about my blog post yesterday.

All I can say is some people are assholes and really, honestly, need to get a life.

Presidential Yacht:  As I mentioned, I spent eight years at the White House doing communications for President Reagan and George H.W. Bush.  During that time I flew on Marine One, Air Force One, Air Force Two and was even on a couple of boats in Kennebunkport, ME with Bush Sr. doing my job.  In all that time I never saw the Presidential Yacht.  As it turns out, I saw it last year when we passed through here and didn’t realize it.

Yesterday I happened to look again, and thought I was looking at a house being built.  Turns out, it’s the USS Sequoia, sitting on a rail ramp and she’s been sitting here for a couple of years.  JoAnne spent some time looking up the boat and found out some fascinating information about the boat.  Hoover bought it, Kennedy and other Presidents rode on it, met heads of states, and Carter sold it.  A lot of other Presidents have been on it since it was sold.  It’s currently the object of a lawsuit and fight over ownership.  It’s also a National Monument.  Hope they get it worked out someday.

This is a plaque on the starboard side on a door.  It was too high up for me to read it.

The stern, you can see she is made from wood, and is dire need of work.

Name plate on the stern

The smoke stack on the top, Presidential Seal, name (USS Sequoia).  Sorry for the poor image quality, but that’s my phone.  My real camera is on the blink.

Here’s a shot of the starboard side.  She’s 105′ long according to the research we did today.  The US Navy used to station sailors on this ship to run her.  Carter sold her off under some “saving money” pretense apparently.  It appears that never happened with the government. 🙂

Fishing Bay Marina:  This is a WONDERFUL marina.  It is unlike any we’ve been in so far, with the possible exception of the Kona Kai on Shelter Island, San Diego.  The people are helpful, FAST, accurate, do what they say, and it’s not horribly expensive.  And we don’t have a lot of experience getting things fixed at Kona Kai. lol

They were prompt and efficient here, answered all my questions, sent a mechanic and electrician immediately this morning, pulled my boat, cleaned it and put her back with no issues.  I’ll HIGHLY recommend this place.  However, be aware coming in, it’s quite a distance in from Chesapeake Bay, and there’s a rather circuitous route to get here.

Fishing Bay is large and you can put a large number of boats at anchor.  There were at least seven or eight out there today, some as large as us.  One catamaran was considerably larger than us in all directions.  The fuel dock is easy to access, and is a long, fixed dock so you can roll right up and tie off.  All the posts and pilings have plastic built-in fenders.  In fact putting out fenders just gets in the way here.  All of the docks I’ve seen are fixed.

The bathrooms are large, clean and have showers (3 in women’s, 2 in men’s). Ladies get a hair dryer, most of the guys seem bald that I’ve met lately…haha.  There’s a “Captain’s Lounge” with radio, TV, CD player, books and games, Laundry (one dryer, one washer), Pool (closed now), grill (propane), covered patio.  Next door is the boat yard.  Courtesy bicycles and car.  The BEST part are the people.  The owner (I think) is Jon Farinholt, the folks in the office, were awesome, helpful and nice.  The boat yard is run by Jon’s brother, Lee.  The mechanic was great, the electrician was named Rick and was helpful. (Side note, in the space of thirty minutes today, I met no less than FIVE “Ricks” around the place, and heard at least one other guy from a boat called “Rick” besides me.  RICK is a pretty cool name, if I say so myself).

So – there’s my answer to “Cobb’s Marina” in Norfolk.  It wasn’t a BAD place, but the showers sucked, it’s a working yard, dirty, noisy and if you like that sort of thing, great.  No pool, the folks were ok, but they rarely had a smile for you, didn’t really want to talk to you and I stand by my original report of the place.

By the way…. if you’ve not run aground while cruising… either you’re really new at it, you’ve gotten lucky, or you’re lying.  Even very smart people do it.  It happens.  Especially when you look at the charts and it’s not marked as shallow.  Good luck

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:

Matthew, Dodger, Sewing…

I’m not in the path.  Didn’t hit me.  Beat the snot out of Bahamas though.

That’s the weirdest hurricane I’ve ever watched.  Hanging JUST off the coast and traveling up it toward NE Florida.  As of right now, watching radar, the hurricane is running off to the NE away from the coast.  I can’t find any of the track information showing how close it came, but it appears the eye remained off shore and came closest at Daytona Beach (in the place I SAID it would land).

Now it’s headed NE and if it continues on this path will touch GA or maybe SC.

There’s a cold front pushing it back and away though.  The hype about this one being dangerous kind of panicked a lot of people though.  Folks around here were rushing to have boats pulled, and removed from various marinas.  We’re a long way from Florida, but they SAID it was going to come right up the coast at first.

I still think something is up with these people running the models.  I think they are scared after Sandy and won’t tell people the facts.  They blew Sandy off and it made a mess.  Katrina too before Sandy.

So, now is the M.O. to panic the public to make them “prepared”, so they buy everything out of the stores, go out of their way to spend money on things they won’t actually need (this time around)?

Not sure.

I put my enclosure back up today.  I think we’re safe enough now, and I doubt we’re going to have another one like Matthew this year.  It’s getting chilly at night here, and I don’t want the rain that’s going to hit us tomorrow soaking the cockpit and equipment.  So, I made the decision to put things back to normal.

I also spent part of the day sewing my dodger windows back in. The canvas is getting old and will need replacing soon.  The threads are rotting and coming lose.  I managed to rip it taking it down, and didn’t realize how badly it was messed up.  So… a few hundred stitches later, and the isenglas is back in place.  I’m getting a lot better at stitching too.  I was impressed.  I didn’t even stick a needle into my hand once, and the thing is solid now.

Tomorrow it’s supposed to rain.  If it’s not too bad I might reinstall the head sail.  If it rains too much I’ll wait until Monday. I think we’re going to see some strong winds on Sunday.

I’m still watching the hurricane, but that front is really playing hell with it, so I think it will push off to the east never to return.

USS Forecast Map

Hopefully, it keeps going….

Fair Winds All.

 

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.

Ten Hours ago

Ten Hours ago, I made a decision to remove the canvas and crap on the deck.  I took down the foresail, all the dodger and most of the stuff on the deck.

I still have a bicycle, generator, some gas and fuel cans up there, and minor stuff.  I’ve mostly tied down the bimini and solar panels.  But I’ reconsidering those things, and taking them down come Thursday.

We should know more tomorrow about the direction of the hurricane.  At 1700L time they said it was likely going to slam into the coast of Florida.  Florida and South Carolina Governors have put National Guard on Alert, something like 1500 in each state.  They are going to require evacuation tomorrow.  Those states want people moving 100 miles off the coast starting tomorrow.

OK, we’re a LONG way from South Carolina, and Florida, and no one seems to be sure about Georgia.   No one really, and I’m talking important, intelligent, well-trained, well-educated meteorologists.  (Somehow, I have this distinct feeling that since the Katrina screw up, NO ONE wants to make any sort of definite prediction, because you know, Bush got blamed for Katrina even though he (or Obama) have nothing to do with the weather…. So they don’t want to be definite.  Yeah, it’s a COP OUT, you idiots, you KNOW where this thing is going without a freaking Computer Model, even I can see it.)  Given that we’re able with 72 hours ahead to predict the possible paths within a few hundred MILES and without knowing what’s coming offshore from the US, we should be able to predict within 200 miles the exact path of the hurricane.

Why computer models suddenly became the most important predictor, I’m not sure.  What happened to good old human intuition?????  Oh well.

I’ll tell you this. I STILL say this thing will turn East.  Long before Virginia, and probably before it gets to North Carolina.  Why?  Because there’s a low and a “stationary front” sitting JUST off the US coast.   Behind it is a High.  Behind that, and three days from the coast is another Low Pressure/Cold Front moving through.  If anything the hurricane will meet with some “resistance” and push off shore.  Might not be perfectly timed, but from my position sitting here up the Potomac, just off the Chesapeake Bay, I see nothing getting here.  MAYBE some rain.  But nothing significant.

Then again, my weather training is from the National Weather Service, about 20 years of it, plus my own studies of the atmosphere.  Never been “tested” on it, except in storm chasing and I’ve generally be right, I’m alive to talk about it and tell stories, and I’ve been through two hurricanes and lived to tell about them as well.

What’s ALL this mean?  Nothing, to anyone really, except me and my boat.  I have NO intention of putting us in the path of a storm and if I have a chance to sit it out, a good distance away,  I will choose prudence over heroism.  What is there heroic about going to meet a hurricane face-to-face? Nothing.  It’s stupid.  Sitting tight is better.

Of course me, and the other guy on the dock, Pete, are the only captains here worried about our boats.  Everyone else isn’t here most of the time.  He lives aboard, and so do we, so the two of us have discussed who is going to anchor out and who ain’t.  He chooses to drive over and anchor out.  I’m staying on the docks.  No real choice, but I’m taking a lesson from the Bahamas and going to pull the boat up between two slips, sting my many lines out, and I’ll drop an anchor off the front of the boat at the last minute to keep the boat, and docks breaking apart in one spot if I can.  My boat isn’t going to sink, unless it goes aground on the far side… which it won’t.   And if I can hold things together, I will.

Truth is, I suspect the hurricane will hit Florida and turn right and head to sea, rather like Joaquin did with the Bahamas.  But, then, they predicted Joaquin would come up the coast and into the Chesapeake Bay and right over Galesville Md where we were hanging on a mooring ball last year.

So it comes down to two things… why aren’t they predicting what they SHOULD be?

And why do they THINK it MIGHT come as far north as Norfolk?

Got me, but we’ll see.

Obviously, I’m not a professional.  But, I trust me more than more TV weather guys, and especially The Weather Channel People who have proven to be wrong more than right.

Tomorrow… we pack our bags.

Thursday I decide about the solar panels.

Friday we depart and stay on the site in a house here, or we bail out and run for the cover of Richmond, VA.

Tomorrow is a new day…..

Fair Winds.

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.

 

Busy

Spent the day today getting laundry done and I removed almost everything from the forward compartment… because that’s what you do on a boat.  Move things around to see how much space you don’t have and try to play Tetris to put it all back again, better and with more space left over.

I found that if I removed some things from the boat, I had space left over.  When I promptly refilled with other things I brought on the boat.

In the end, I removed the wood pellets and some coal (for the Chummy Stove) and placed that stuff in our car trunk for now.  Not sure we’re going to keep it.  Not sure we’re going to keep the chummy stove for that matter.  It was a royal pain in the behind to use.  We had trouble getting it to light well, keeping it running and coal has to get so hot before it really ignites that it wasn’t working for us.

The space I emptied is now filled again with other stuff.  So, I honestly didn’t do more than exercise all my futility muscles today.  And get laundry done.  Oh, and clean the floor up.

Tomorrow I have it in my mind to clear the engine room off, clean out some gunk down there, and prep the engine to start later in the day.  But JoAnne is going to get some ice cream tomorrow for Mother’s Day, first.

Floor looks ok in the forward cabin now.  Have to work on the main salon now.  I need varnish to repair some scratches and cove the wood after sanding.  Might get the varnish but won’t start that work until this summer some time.

Spoke to Nicola from s/v Averi on Facebook today.  They are headed back here to this marina, but were delayed due to a low pressure system hanging off Hatteras  They said they are coming up ICW, but might not stop here at all now and head on up north a bit further.

Added some friends to our online boat card – well, requested to be added anyway.  Morsan friended up (Barb and Tom).  Waiting to see if anyone else does.

Ok, tired. See you soon.

 

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.

Adding Pages

From time to time I add a post to the blog which doesn’t appear as a usual post on the page in a chronological order.  Instead, they will be found as “pages” under one of the titles above the main screen.

For instance, today I added one about lighting on the boat, under “Boat Systems”.  If you’re on a computer, hover your mouse over the links there and drop down boxes will appear and you can choose one of the pages.

If you’re on a tablet or phone, you can click on those links and get the drop downs.

I invite you to read the lighting article if you’re interested.

 

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!

 

 

Snow!

We’ve been staying with my daughter, Kristy and her husband Carlos.  They bought a new home recently and it’s beautiful, and we have a room in the basement.  Well, we got the first huge snow storm that JoAnne and I have seen since last year.  About 18″ fell where we were.

When I dug out the car today, there was a lot of snow piled around and I had a difficult time getting out.  Ended up driving down the block to come back to the drive way to park so JoAnne could get into the car and not hiked through 2 feet of snow!

We had to go downtown to deposit a check.

Since there was a court hearing today in Virginia about our boat damages from October I won’t go into too many details just yet.  But, the owner of the boat that hit us is trying to settle out of court.  Technicially, its not him I wanted to drag in to the court system.  I understand that accidents happen.  It was his insurance company,  which, on the day of the accident was Seaworthy.  Apparently they were being bought by Geico that week….

The claims we and the marina made have been denied…. without just cause.

At this point, the guy that hit us is trying to make things  right.

Geico is not.

We will await the clearing of the check and move on.

I can only hope that Geico gets theirs in the end.