Saturday, November 17, 2018

Winterizing the boat - after the snow

NOTE: If you didn't see our last blog post, it's because we didn't publish it when we should have. If you want to catch up with our boating adventures, check out our blog post for November 1. It's called "A difficult cruise to Winter Storage."

We managed to get the engines winterized last weekend and today, we finished the job by making sure that the hot and cold water lines in the boat were full of that pink antifreeze, including the head.

For us, winterizing includes putting old sheets down on the floors and covering the furniture. Of special importance is our table, which always get a new table covering. That keeps Bill from damaging the table top during his many winter boat-project adventures.

As it turned out, our boat made it into the shed just hours before the season's first snowfall. That was four inches of wet snow that tied up all the terrible drivers in Connecticut and delayed schools openings on Friday. It was mostly gone by Saturday morning but by then, ACT THREE was safely in the shed and waiting for some attention.

Today, we poured in all those gallons of pink and ran everything through the faucets, the head and the shower sump as well as the air conditioning.

We shot a little video using our look-alike GoPro camera, which doesn't win any prizes for quality but you'll get the idea.

Next up, we remove the towels and bedding and somehow, we don't think that will merit any video.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

A difficult cruise to winter storage

We finally got underway for our cruise to winter storage on October 30. That's about two weeks late for us and, it seems, for many other local boaters.

The marine weather for our area has been terrible. Lots of days with Small Craft Warnings or Advisories and a couple of Gale Warnings. Not good, so we waited and waited until looking almost a week ahead, October 30 looked okay. Not great, but something we could do, as we often say, "without rearranging the furniture" on the boat.

As October 30 drew closer, the weather forecast deteriorated. Nothing terrible but "sunny with the wind from the northwest at 10-15 KTs gusting to 20" isn't fun, mainly because we'd be running into the wind just about all the way.

But we needed to to get going before it got really cold or even snowed.

We also had to realize that Frances' health, while vastly improved, wasn't exactly 100%. She would not be able to climb up to the fly bridge in any kind of difficult seaway. This would be a 62 mile trip and it didn't seem fair to have her down in the cabin just holding on for much of that distance.

So, we discussed having me (Bill) run the boat up myself. She definitely didn't like that idea but, since I've done it before, she agreed,

I arrived at the dock on Tuesday morning dressed for the cold, because it was. Long underwear, sweater and heavy winter coat. The hat that Frances assigned to me looked dumb buy ended up being perfect.

The manager at our summer marina gave me a hand with the lines and off I went. It was a windy but cold, run down the Thames River to New London.

 Once out into Long Island Sound, I turned right (west) and into the wind. The Sound, as far as I could see, was whitecaps.  I steered into them at about 16 MPH. Within 1,000 yards or so, I slowed down to 10 MPH just to ease the slamming. This wasn't fun and I had 15 miles to go before i could turn north into the Connecticut River.

Just to be clear, I wasn't in danger of sinking. Our old Silverton banged up and down without ever missing beat. but after while, I slowed again to about 5 MPH. I couldn't hold a course going any faster and I was getting wet up on the bridge.

Our front video camera became covered by the rolled down front bridge window that was caught in the wind and do what a might, I couldn't keep the window from being blown into the camera's view. As a result, there isn't much to see of the waves on video during our 15 miles in the Sound. Too bad. I found it invigorating, to say the least.

The trip of the river to Portland was cold, with fairly bright fall foliage. Thirty-three miles is a lot of foliage, in fact, enough for me for some time to come. Did I say it was cold?

After about two hours, we turned the corner on the river at Middletown and spied Frances waiting next to her car. The good, hot dinner she had waiting for me was exactly what I needed.

Some video...

Monday, October 1, 2018

October again!

Early evening on September 30 and a view of Frances' many artifacts displayed across the front windshield of the boat as the sun goes down. Another summer seems to have passed and with it lots more rain than we are used to.

It's a beautiful evening and everyone has left. It's nice being alone on the dock once in a while.

We paid our annual visit to Wal Mart today and bought the pink antifreeze, engine oil and filters that we'll need to winterize the engines and plumbing once we get to winter storage. It's actually easier to load up here in Norwich, so everything is lined up ready to cruise.

 The inside of the boat is crowded with bags full of stuff to be taken home but Frances is in the galley cheerfully making dinner.

 We were looking forward to some Indian Summer but now there's a chill in the air as soon as the sun sets. We had the heat on in the boat last night and it looks as though we will tonight, as well.

Frances is jumping on and off the boat like the old days so all's well with our world  She'll also be taking the long cruise to winter storage so well be able to chat and take pictures, just like the old

Time to get out the boat's winter to-do list. It's not long and it's fun and interesting for us. Just seems as though October got here quicker than normal.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

The annual Blue Mass cookout

On September 7, we unloaded our stuff at the boat and headed to the nearby East Great Plain Volunteer Fire Department in Norwich for the annual cookout held as a fun raiser for the upcoming Blue Mass to be held at the Cathedral of Saint Patrick. As I'm sure our readers know, a Blue Mass is held for active and retired law enforcement officers and their families.

Needless to say, it was fun. Our A-dock folks all sat together and enjoyed a great steak dinner, grilled by dock mate Lou and his son Tim.

Of course, there was a raffle and in the photo above, dock mate Sue reacts to dock mate John T. as he wins $120, which was the top raffle prize.

We shot some video even though it has nothing to do with boating. Just nice people turning out to support an event that is important to the entire community.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Cruise to Greenport II

After waiting out several weekends of bad weather, we shoved off for Greenport to see our friends Ellen and Dave who were away during our July visit.

Once again, we left on a Thursday and came back on Monday. Weekdays are ideal for getting to and from a slip at a popular marina such as Mitchell Park. Friday afternoons are very busy and Sunday mornings almost equally so. We heard  the Captain of a 100 ft. yacht on the radio refuse to tie up at his assigned spot because it was too narrow. "This boat is 25 ft. wide and we will not fit," he said. Then he took is 100-ft. yacht someplace else.

We met lots of nice boaters (as we almost always do) and our friends, Ellen and Dave, found us and spent some time catching up on what we and they had been up to. On Saturday night, we all went to dinner together despite the fact that it's not easy to find a restaurant on a weekend night during high season.

Claudio's, the East End's most famous restaurant, was sold and is now owned by new people, although the iconic building and the docks remain unchanged. We had a reservation and were seated promptly in a noisy dining room. No problem there; it was a Saturday night in August. The food was another matter. I know we're just New England rubes, but isn't dinner supposed to be hot? I guess not because our's wasn't. One of us ordered the "Fisherman Platter," that was not hot, devoid of flavor and probably right off the frozen seafood truck from Brooklyn. Our advice? Skip Claudio's, at least for now.

Fire boat
When we got there, a large part of Mitchell Park's east pier was taken up with a 300 ft. ex-NYFD fire boat, which is being restored by volunteers. The fire boat was there as a fundraiser and at about 1 P.M. on Sunday, they fired up its engines and backed it out into bay. Once there, they turned on the boat's dozen or so water cannons and let the people in their go-fast runabouts get wet in the spray. Pretty cool, I'd say, although no pun intended.

We left an almost empty marina on Monday morning. As the temperature approached 90 degrees, we had a nice cool ride down the Sound and visited our old Buddy, "Smokey" at Shennecossett Yacht Club in Groton for 143 gallons of gas. Best gas price in this part of Connecticut and you can't beat Smokey's conversation.

"American Wharf, this is Act Three!" No response
Very few boats seen as we covered the 15 miles back to our home marina in Norwich. As we went farther  north, the temperature went up. It was going to be warm, very warm, once we tie up.

Once we had our marina in sight, we called them on Channel 68 for some help docking. This is exactly what we always do and all we need is one person to grab and tie down one stern line.

Nothing heard on the VHF so Frances called the marina on the phone. Answering machine picks up, so no luck there.

So, in we go. We back into our slip and slowly drift away from the finger, as we knew we would. Frances takes our boat pole and hooks a dock cleat and drags the boat close enough so we can temporarily fasten a stern line. Our boat is docked and everything is fine. The two senior citizens at the end of A-dock have returned safely once again.

We find the new marina manager driving out of the parking lot and let him know that he and the morons who own (and are trying to sell) this marina have forgotten that some of us expect that dock help would be available during business hours as it has been for many years. Wide-eyed, he promises that it will never happen again. We'll see.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Finally getting underway

 It seems we hung around the marina until after the July 4th holiday. Time to get out of here and, like previous summers, we decided to go to Greenport to see friends and blow the cobwebs out of our boat.

When we arrived at the Marina at American Wharf in Norwich this spring, the first thing we were greeted with was a letter telling us that there would no longer be any fuel. It seems the marina's fuel tanks had reached their mandatory end-of-life and had to be replaced. Management felt that was too much of an investment so they had them removed. All that happened before they sent out the bills for this year's slip rental, which contained a 6.25% price increase.

The owners of our marina screwed us once. They won't do that again.Wouldn't you think they would have known about the fuel tanks when they bought the marina 5-6 years ago?

As a result, the marina is now half empty and those of us who have been here for a while are shopping for new slips for next summer.

However, we did get some boat things done. We did a thorough cleaning and the boat looks great inside. He also had the side cabin windows tinted to match the back sliding door that we did last fall. It was fun to take down the dusty old blinds and really amazing how much bigger the inside of the boat looks. And for you skeptics, if anything, it improved the performance of our air conditioning.

But, in the meantime, the city put on a good fireworks display for the fourth and we loaded up for a 39 mile trip to Long Island, once we found some gas, which we finally did.

The ride to Greenport was uneventful and we were surprised at how few boats were at Mitchell's. We arrived on a Wednesday and really enjoyed the beautiful weather. By Friday afternoon, word was circulating of rain and threatening east winds that were approaching. Some of our dock neighbors left on Friday afternoon; we shoved off early on Saturday morning.

The east wind had fully developed by then and our trip down the Sound was close to as uncomfortable as we've seen it. Frances was trapped in the cabin holding on and we had to do a lot of corrective steering up on the bridge. Our air draft is about 13 ft. and we were taking big doses of water through our one open front bridge window. It took a while but we made it just fine. The boat just keeps going!

But, enough of the sea stories. We know that we all have some to tell.

Here's a little video, excluding the dramatic return trip home.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Back to Norwich for the summer

Despite the inconsistent weather, we had the boat ready for its scheduled launch date and this year, they hit it right on the head. Despite that, we had to wait a few extra days to let the storm and rain debris clear somewhat and on May 14, we went down river.

 As soon as we left the dock in Portland, we encountered our first log. It was one of many that day

Despite the cold conditions, once in the Sound the wind was behind us and the water smooth. We ran at almost 17 miles per hour and we at New London in what seems like no time.  We know. Seventeen miles an hour is nothing to most of our boating friends but it's pretty speedy for us.

The docks at Portland Riverside are better but still a little shaky for Frances and while she is much better, she was a little unsure about getting on the boat, so Bill took that 62-mile trip alone.

No problems and the boat ran perfectly although it was cold and Bill wore a heavy winter ski jacket for almost the entire way.

 Once we got to Old Saybrook, the weather and the sea state looked a lot better

 As Bill attempted to back into our slip in Norwich, there was Frances waiting.

"Attempting" to back in is pretty accurate. The wind and tide were running and it did take a number of tries to get the bat secured. Frances remembers six attempts; Bill can't believe that he was so inept. He does remembers finally making a good approach on his third attempt only find that he was almost in Lou and Jane's slip next to ours. Oh well, there's nothing wrong with being close. Eventually, we made it.

Now we have to do the annual boat cleaning but if the weather is nice, that will be just fine.

Looking forward to a great summer with all  of our boat buddies.

Here's some video from the helm of the trip: