Friday, November 10, 2017

End-of-season winterizing

We certainly don't look forward to this job and it was made just a little worse because the day we did the engine winterizing, it was a beautiful day. While the go-fast boats roared by our slip at Portland Riverside, we dragged down the oil, filters and our vacuum pump and got down to the dirty work.

As usual, we warmed up the engines, spread out the Puppy Pads in the bilge and changed the oil filters. Dropped one but caught most of the old oil in a zip-lock bag along with the old filters. After that, we used the vacuum pump to extract the old oil from the engines and then started them up and let them suck up about three gallons each of anti-freeze. A shot of Marvel Mystery oil down each carb and the boating season was officially over.

We certainly hope that this year's weather isn't a hint of what's to come. The week before we brought the boat up from Norwich, the sea conditions were not pleasant and we picked our day to travel carefully. It was a rough ride in the Sound but nothing that rearranged the furniture. A few days later when we did the winterizing, it was like summer. As we write this, a couple of weeks later, we've experienced a big storm that downed some trees in our yard that punched some holes in our garage roof. All's good with the boat, however. She's safely in the big shed and we've found the time to pump antifreeze through the boat's fresh water system.

For  those of us who know us well, we can report that Frances is doing well. She was slowed down a little by what appears to be Arthritus but she is coping and in great spirits to get through the winter and begin another boating season. If you know her, I know she'd love to hear from you. You know her email address.

We shot some video of some of the winterizing agony. Not a lot of detail there since we've done that in previous years and frankly, changing the oil really doesn't vary much from year to year and it is anything but exciting video.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The cruise to winter storage

October 18... time to leave American Wharf and cruise up to Portland Riverside for what right now, seems like a very long winter with no boating.

We planned this trip for the previous week but every time we looked at the weather, it seemed to get worse. Winds from the west at 15-20 kts. is a little too much for us. When the Small Craft Advisories finally went away, we looked at what we thought would be the best day and headed out.

Frances is doing fine but we felt that the ride might be a little uncomfortable for her as would driving an extra car to Norwich so Bill created an alternate plan in which he'd bring the boat up himself.

Since you're reading about it here, you'll know that that worked out fine.

 The Enterprise Car Plan 
Bill drove his car to Norwich on October 18 and left on the boat. Once in Portland, Bill called Enterprise Rent-a-Car in Middletown and they picked him up at the marina (this was prearranged). Once he dropped off the delivery person, he drove the rental car home in Hartford. The next morning, he returned the rental car to Enterprise in Norwich and they gave him a ride back to the marina, where he picked up his car and headed home. Perfect! Total cost: $84.83 plus $2.00 to refill the rental car with gas. When you consider how easy this made the whole trip, we consider it a bargain.

The cruise
The Thames River was docile but cold. Bill had to stop at the sub base while the USCG and the sub base police pulled a sunken aluminum row boat out of the channel. That took almost half an hour. Once we turned west on the Sound, I could see that it wasn't going to be pleasant. The west wind was there as predicted and the opposing tide made it 15 miles of what we like to call "bang and slam" boating. However, we didn't rearrange any of the furniture and our 37 year old Silverton went through it without any problem.

The ride up the Connecticut River was fine (absent any fall foliage) and Enterprise picked Bill up within 15 minutes of his call. The pickup driver was a 20-something female who told Bill that he was "funny, like my grandfather." Oh, well. At least she didn't say "my late grandfather."

Docking at Portland Riverside after a long - but great - day.

There's video here. A little long but at the end of the year, we like every minute we can get.

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.