Friday, September 22, 2017

Tinted windows

After discussing darkening the windows on our boat for about eight months and contacting a number of vendors, we finally decided to begin by having just the three large windows at the rear of the cabin tinted.

We arranged to have Dwayne, the window-tinter who seemed the most cooperative (and who lived fairly close to Norwich), meet us at the boat at 10 a.m. on Saturday. Our first task was to remove the three six-ft. long rear blinds that were in poor condition,  Then Dwayne took over. When he was finished less than an hour later, our boat had a new look.

The amount of light and heat that the tinted windows keep out is substantial and while no one will ever notice but us, look really cool.

Can we see out at night? Yes. Can people see in at night? No, not under normal conditions. This was a fairly expensive job but we're more than pleased with how it looks and the extra room that became available once the blinds were gone. Next, we'll save up some more boat bucks and have the side windows done, as well.

With that spiffy new look to the back of the boat, Bill was moved to wash the exterior, a job that took him the entire rest of the day.

On Sunday, we decided to head over to the gas dock to fill up. Our original plan was to cruise over to Greenport during the week but the aftermath of Topical Storm Jose was predicted to make that an very unpleasant ride. But we gassed up ($450) anyway.

Not a very exciting video but we've added it below it anyway.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Reverse Polarity

"I am an expert of electricity. My father occupied the chair of applied electricity at the state prison."  - W. C. Fields

Reverse polarity is something that most boaters don't really worry about. Those big yellow (and expensive) shore cords that we use to connect to shore power have carefully designed prongs that keep us from plugging them in backwards.

Our boat has two reverse polarity indicators (tiny red lights) on our power panel and neither of these has ever lit up.

On Saturday evening of Labor Day weekend, we were aboard and Frances was busy preparing dinner. Yes, she was drawing a lot of current, what with both stove elements lit up brightly and the toaster oven just getting warmed up.  That was in addition to the battery charger and the hot water heater. Then the lights went out.

No problem. We know what to check. Circuit breakers?  All on. The breaker at the dock? On and ready. Shore power cords connected? Yes, nice and tight. What the hell? There goes cocktail hour!

Since Bill didn't have any useful ideas, we decided to go to bed and sleep on the problem.

The next morning, Bill assembled all of his tools and got access to the breaker panel (with the boat unplugged from the dock, of course). His theory, based on a good night's sleep, was that the main breaker was faulty. Sounded good and he soon swapped in a new one. But that didn't work either. 

Then he went for the socket into which one of the shore plugs connects to the boat. Unfortunately, that looked good too. Nothing black and burnt.

Then it was down on the wet deck to look up behind the shore power inlet plugs. Maybe a wire had broken off somewhere? Yes, this was a desperation play because we had zero additional ideas. Fumbling up behind the plug we could feel the three wires (black (hot), white (neutral) and green, (ground). Each was routed neatly forward into the boat except the black (hot) wire that first detoured into a fixture mounted between the two power inlets. That fixture was our 1980-era reverse polarity indicator that had never worked. In fact it had been ignored for all the years we have owned the boat and we would never have known its function except for the faint words "Reverse polarity" stamped on its face.

The excitement built as Bill disassembled it and pulled it out of its mounting hole. It had a tiny bulb, long since dissolved in corrosion. Hmm. Black wire goes in energized and come out dead. Time for some quick rewiring!
The original Silverton reverse polarity light removed. No continuity between those two contacts meant no juice to all of the boat except the air conditioning.

It took only a few minutes to butt-splice those lengths of black #10 wire together and fasten the power wires back in place. Even with the door closed, we could hear Frances cheering as all the lights came back on.
Now we have some holes where the old light lived. We'll have to fit something in there. We'll bet that Frances has some ideas!

Friday, September 1, 2017

Block Island, August 2017

 On August 10, we finally got everything in order for our cruise to Block Island. Frances was feeling sprightly and our stuff was packed so off we went on a very nice day.

The Sound cooperated, so much so that we didn't need to steer much as we went across Block Island Sound.

It was a Thursday so we knew we'd be avoiding the weekend boating traffic but unlike previous years, Payne's Dock was just about full. We waited a while at their famous flagpole and they found a spot for us up against the bulkhead, which made it easier for Frances to get on and off.

Getting into that spot took some work and we kept the cameras on just so the folks who hate Payne's docking situation could see what they're missing.

Block Island's New Harbor has a way of relaxing you after a day or so. After a while, we simply enjoyed the beautiful weather and relaxed.

Francis met some nice dogs, one of which was also named "Frances." Both of these poodles got a bath using our hose. We don't think we've ever met a boat dog that we didn't like!

One day we ventured across the island the Old Harbor. While we have visited Block for many years, we've rarely seen the downtown area as crowded as it was. The ferries were pouring out hundreds of people and various food delivery trucks waited in the ferry line with their diesel generators roaring. People shuffled up and down the sidewalks looking for something - a restroom, the beach or a place to buy a souvenir. Mopeds scooted by operated by unsure drivers. This is all a result of one of the most successful tourism campaigns the the northeast. The quiet, beautiful island that we knew wanted more visitors and their money and they surely got their wish. At least in Old Harbor, this just isn't "one of the last great places on earth" anymore.

But, on our boat surrounded by other boaters, life was good.

It was difficult for us to stay up much past sunset and that's what makes a good vacation for us.

The Solar Eclipse
On August 21, after we had returned from Block Island, we were treated to at least a partial eclipse. Frances was ready to see it in all its glory. Several days in advance, she had us visit Praxair in Hartford to obtain several pieces of dark glass used in welding helmets. She also talked them out of two small boxes from which she had us fashion two "viewing hats." We looked pretty spiffy as the sky finally darkened.

The video is a little long because we included most of the docking activity but we like that part so we left it all in.

Monday, August 21, 2017

The 2017 Catfish Tournament

We make a video of the Connecticut River Catfish Tournament almost every year, although we had to skip last year because of another commitment. This event is put on by Portland Riverside Marina, which is where we store our boat in the winter. The folks who own the marina are old friends and it's our pleasure to be able to record this unique event.

The video is a one man effort, just Bill trying to capture everything. Just seeing the little kids getting their prizes (and helping to release the fish at the end) makes it worth the time it takes to watch.

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.