Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Repair and relaunch Miss Nicky

Our friend John put a new engine in his boat, Miss Nicky II, this winter and during the sea trial he had some issues. He fixed those in the water at our marina but did need to replace the control cable to the stern drive lower unit. For that, the boat would have to come out of the water and that's where we found him on Sunday.

John enlisted the help of dockmate John H. In fact, John H (white shirt) pulled the boat out with this diesel truck and trailer. Another dockmate, Bob, also joined in. We were there to take some video of this project since we know next to nothing about stern drives.

Under an 80-degree sun, the first task was to remove the lower unit.

Then it was time to remove the old damaged control cable and install a new one. Not easy, it turned out,

There was lots of adjusting and readjusting of that cable to get it to go into gear reliably.

 The only way to tell was to try to turn the prop and we turned that prop many times before the cable  seemed to be adjusted properly. But finally, it was time to put away the tools and take Miss Nicky over to Brown Park to be launched.

The boat went into the water easily but once clear of the dock, that damn cable wouldn't function properly so John motored across the harbor backwards.

We know some people who would have yelled for help but John backed across perfectly and then went all the way down a fairway to where he could dock.

He'll get the final adjustment of that cable done soon and will be on his way to a great summer with that new engine.

The video from which the pictures shown above were taken is here.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

The admiral is down, but not out

We know Bill will be chastised for including this photo, which Frances hates.

Frances' health hasn't been great. Over the winter she lost some weight and as we returned to the boat this spring, she had trouble getting on and off. Not good but, if you know Frances, when she says she's going to fine, you accept it.

That kind of optimism went away during the evening of June 18 when she could no longer walk, even to the bathroom. The next morning, we visited Middlesex hospital in Middletown, Conn. and she was admitted. The next few days were distressful and confusing for her, since medical people don't seem to share much with their patients. We visited every day (and we went home with a long list of things that she felt she needed) and by Thursday we could see some real improvement. She is eating and has built a personal relationship with everyone from the staff who comes into her room. (That's the old Frances.) She can also walk with a walker, and is looking forward to being discharged sometime soon.

Because she is so weak, she'll have to have some physical rehab once she is discharged and we'll deal with that when she's ready.

So, for now, we're not boating and that's fine. Frances comes first.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Still putting stuff away

We spent last weekend finding a home for all the things stacked neatly on our guest berth and sofa. The weather was really nice and we didn't use the air conditioning much at all. Following our new routine, we both stayed over on the boat Sunday night and finally left for home mid-morning on Monday. That has the side benefit of shortening the week considerably.

Old friends and some new folks continue to arrive at the marina and Frances is doing her best to get to know each one of them.

Right now, we're getting things squared away for our first cruise and has become our practice, that will be to Greenport, Long Island for a few days.

The fresh water pump issue
 Far be it for us to bitch about boat parts but since we're here, we'll bitch about just one: our Jabsco "Par-Max Plus" 4 gallon-per-minute fresh water pump. Purchased 31 months ago at a cost of $133 and used no more than three dozen times since new. This spring, the pump refused to run, preferring the blow a fuse instead. On inspection, we noted that the motor was frozen and probably beyond repair, so we bought a new pump, this time one made by SurFlow. Let's hope the different brand name means it was built in a different factory.

But, we wanted to find out just what went wrong with it so be brought it home for a post mortem on the workbench. The outcome is shown in the video posted below. This is fascinating stuff so please pay close attention.


Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Boy, did we clean up!

No, not at the casino. This cleanup was on our boat.

Things were a little grimy after a winter in the shed so we arrived on Saturday of Memorial Day weekend with everything we'd need to make the old Silverton presentable as summer nears. That included buckets, our pressure washer and more cleaning products than we knew we owned.

Upon boarding, we realized that we had better provide some good things to eat, as well, so off we went shopping. Out came the list; do we have a filter cartridge for our city water connection? Nope, so off to Mal Mart to get two (so we'll have one for next year). Then we went  to the supermarket(s) for all the edibles that we always keep on the boat. By the time we finally got back to the marina, our enthusiasm for cleaning had waned a little (and cocktail hour was rapidly approaching) so we had dinner and hit the bunks determined to make the most of Sunday.

Sunday was bright and cloudy but nothing would stop us. With hoses, buckets and extension cords deployed, we began doing a truly thorough cleaning. After scrubbing all of the superstructure, decks and cockpit, we removed a large section of carpet that we had used in the cabin (to protect the real carpeting) and vacuumed everything in sight.

That included moving Klobo, our Ikea-sourced sofa, which seemed much heavier than when we assembled and installed it seven years ago.

We also removed three place settings of Corel dinnerware, which we have never used. Good quality paper plates make the boating season so much more fun.

By the end of the day, we sat down to make a list of the next load of freight that we'd need on the boat to make it a really fun summer or, what could we take off the boat to make the trips to the gas dock more enjoyable.

Frances put together a great dinner on Sunday night and while she managed to stay up, Bill was asleep before the sun went down.

Monday morning brought rain and most of the inmates of A-dock disappeared early. The boat looked nice and clean even in the rain.

We loaded up about eight bags of stuff that we wouldn't be needing and headed home about noon. Knowing the New England weather as we do, next weekend could see 100 degree weather or it could rain all weekend. Whatever it does, we'll be ready.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Underway again for summer, 2017

It took us longer than expected to get everything together and our schedules aligned so we could head out for the trip to Norwich. That's the best 62 mile cruise we take each year. We had everything set for May 17 but that's the day Donald Trump addressed the graduating class of the Coast Guard Academy, so the Thames River in New London was closed from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The weather for our trip looked ideal with seas of one foot or less and winds from the south at 10 m.p.h. and that's exactly what we got except those winds were cold and right in our faces as we went south on the Connecticut River.

We have rarely seen the water at the Connecticut River bar as smooth as it was. The only un-smooth thing was having to change course quickly to avoid an Old Saybrook police boat that cut across the inlet right in front of us.

In doesn't look close here because of the wide angle lens on our cam but they came within 150 feet of us. Yes, we know the rules: in this situation we're the give-way vessel but I had restricted visibility on our starboard side due to the height of the jetty. Once I cleared the end of the jetty, I had to steer hard left to keep from running into him. No big deal. We understand the importance of keeping a proper lookout even if the Old Saybrook Police doesn't.

Once we got back on course and headed east down the Sound it was so smooth that we could leave the wheel where it was for five or ten minutes at a time. Frances fell asleep in her bunk. We passed a couple of sailboats motoring along under bare poles. Not a great day for sailing.

We made great time, for us. Four and one-half hours, dock-to-dock. Twenty-eight hundred RPM gave us a consistent 16 miles per hour. We know, that's not very fast for most power boaters but we're conservative with our old Chrysler 360s.

Soon we were back in Norwich.

 Looking forward to another summer with our boating friends on A-dock."

As usual, we shot some video. Here, we've edited about an hour of the voyage down to about 7 minutes.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Back in the water...

Late in the day on May 9, the old girl was eased back into the water. It's been cold and somewhat rainy so we haven't gotten a chance to do much to get her ready for the cruise to Norwich.

However, this weekend, we did get a chance to start the engines. Just a tiny squirt of gas into the carbs and off they went, with lots of cooling water out the exhausts. Always good to hear that merry tinkle.

We run two banks of batteries: two Group 27 Sears Marine Diehards for the starboard engine and two Group 24 no-name batteries for the starboard engine. The then-new no-name batteries were given to us by the previous owner when we bought the boat and we installed the Diehards at the same time. That was in 2009.

This year, it was pretty obvious that the no-names had reached the end of their useful life. There was just enough juice to get the starboard engine running. Since we're careful about stuff like this, bought two new group 24 marine batteries (brand named Duracell) from Batteries + Bulbs in Manchester, Conn. The price was right and since our favorites - Sears Diehard - aren't around any more, we settled on these. After 8 years of service, it will be interesting to see how long the old Diehards last.

Fresh water pump

When we tried the fresh water pump this year, it blew a fuse. That's odd since it worked fine last fall when we used it to distribute potable antifreeze throughout the boat's plumbing. It's also odd because we rebuilt this pump two years ago and since then, it has worked perfectly. Needless to say, we're not fans of Shurflo Aqua King II pumps. But, to make things easy, we bought yet another pump at Defender Marine and by the time you read this, will have installed it.

We rarely use this pump. It's nice to be able to run fresh water from our tank while underway but other than that, its main use in in winterizing the boat in the fall. Too bad it's not what the manufacturer claims it to be.

A step up for Frances
We have some plastic kitchen steps that Frances has used to get on and off the boat when we are visiting a marina with floating docks other than out own. Our boat has high side decks and with her short legs, getting on and off can be an issue but the little plastic steps have worked, provided we tied a line around them so they didn't blow off into the water.

This year, Frances isn't as strong as she used to be and we thought it would be a good idea to reinforce those plastic steps in a way that would give her an extra step up. Enter the Frances Steps V2:

Now she has an extra 7-inch step, which we hope will make it easier for her to get on and off during our summer travels. Note those big eyelets for securing a line. Hey, it's what we had in stock.

Security Zone
Our intention was to drop a car off in Norwich on Tuesday, May 16 and then take the boat to Norwich the next day. Turns out that isn't a good idea. A call to SeaTow confirmed that President Trump will be making a speech at the Coast Guard Academy graduation on May 17 and the Thames River in New London will be closed. Best guess? 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

No problem. We'll go up the river the next day. Our hope this that the President will have something inspiring for those Coast Guard cadets to hear. Not, "look, I'm President" or "how I beat Hillary" but something that reflects the dedication shown by those young Ensigns.

We don't do politics here but sometimes we think that those young officers deserve some encouragement. God knows, they have worked for it.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Bottom painting and loading up

On Saturday, we arrived at the boat full of energy. Time to finishing painting the bottom, which be began last Sunday.

But first, let's do something fun (at least for us). Put the new registration stickers on the boat. Makes us feel good that now we're legal until April 1, 2018.

Then we popped open the last of our bottom paint, grabbed a roller and a brush and crawled down to where the sun doesn't shine. Two hours later, we came up for air since the bottom was now painted so the little sea creatures can't stick to us. An added benefit this year was that while we painted, we also cut away about a hundred feet of fishing line that was wrapped around our prop shafts. That's a first for us.

Then we sat down for a brief rest, all the while confirming that painting the bottom of a boat is among the worst boating-related jobs we could think of. (The head-mounted light adds quite a lot of charm, don't you think?.)

Time now to start putting stuff back on the boat. Even with a ladder involved, it's easier to do it here than it is in Norwich, There were many trips up and down that ladder.

Normally Frances would be here to help but she isn't feeling all that well and we decided that it would be best if she stayed home.

On Sunday, we put things away inside the boat and then checked the engines, transmissions, thru-hull fittings and hoses. Once we're in the water, it's nice to have that stuff taken care of. Of course, this year, as we go to start the engines, we'll remember that THE SEA COCKS FOR ENGINE COOLING WATER ARE CLOSED! It only takes seconds to destroy the impellers on the sea water pumps if they are run dry.  Guess you realize how we know that!

We do that because we're not usually there when the boat is put in the water and we like to know that every sea cock is closed until we get there and open them. That only seems sensible to us.

Before we left on Sunday afternoon, we took a look at the river. The crew was busy at work using their crane to put more docks in the water. Now that the boss is back from Florida, the crew is working extra hard.

There's some video. Just a little over three minutes and hopefully painless.