Sunday, February 27, 2011

Kleenex time

We didn't get as much done this weekend as we would have liked due to the onset of a cold - Frances first and Bill second.

On Saturday, we drove to Norwich to drop off some sections of our flybridge enclosure that needed repair. Friends and dock mates Carol Ann and Rob had recommended Frank's Auto Tops & Seat Covers in North Franklin to us and we that's where we went on Saturday morning.  Dan, son of Frank, opened his beautiful shop for us and said that replacing some zippers and reinforcing come corners would be easy and wouldn't take him long.  What a find this guy is!  Knows more boat boat canvas than we ever will.  Thank God that some of these traditional craftspeople are still around and thanks to Carol Ann and Rob for recommending him.

Franklin is just north of Norwich so after seeing Dan, we drove down the marina and took some pictures. There's nothing more depressing than seeing a dock in winter that we've had so much fun in during the summer.( I know. Bad sentence structure. We'' ll fix it when this cold is gone.)  Rob, looks like your slip is unfrozen and ready for you...

From Norwich, we went back to Portland specifically to get the old fridge off the boat.  It was really in the way and we need both engine hatches open to run the new cable TV line.

We didn't take any photos but we did manage to get the old fridge off the boat.  It wasn't pretty.  We stripped off the compressor and everything else we could unscrew just to make it lighter. Eventually, we got it down to the ground.  With that done, we began to think about how we'll get the new fridge up and into the boat.  Frances has made some drawings  It's going to take a little work but we'll get it done.

Saturday, February 19, 2011


Finally a celebratory note for two reasons: First we attended a great gospel concert at St. Joseph's College on Friday night  and second, we finally saw a few days of higher temperatures that melted a lot of the snow, or "snirt," (snow dirt) as Frances calls it, that had accumulated since January.

The warmer weather certainly brought the boaters out to the marina. Finally, there were places to park and we could again walk into the shed where the boat is stored without having to climb through a snow bank.

We used our time on Saturday to install the remote switch for the inverter.  This little box plugs into the inverter and allows the inverter to be turned on and off without having to lift a hatch.  It is also a receiver for a little wireless remote that also turns the inverter on and off. Not quite sure why we need yet another little remote but since it came with the inverter, we figured we'd install it.

The bottom of the lower steering station console seemed as good a place as any to mount this switch and that location enabled us to snake the wire from behind the console, down under the floor to where it plugs into the inverter. This location also allows the little wireless remote to "see" the switch throughout the salon, not that we expect to use it very often.  Seems to us that we turn the inverter on and leave it on most of the time.  Guess we'll have to see how this all works once we are back in the water.

Just to test things before we scratched the inverter installation off our list, we plugged some stuff into the inverter outlet and the simulated disconnecting shore power by turning off AC to the inverter. The inverter came on line using battery power in less than a second and the lamp we had plugged in seemed just as bright as when using shore power. Our meter showed  nice steady 115 VAC.  We let the inverter run for a few minutes that way, noting that the two cooling fans on the inverter came on as they should.  We didn't observe any smoke, fire or odd smells, so we shut the inverter down and declared that project finished.

We also took some time to reroute some of the toilet wiring behind the vanity, vacuum up the debris that has been accumulating and take some measurements for the next item on our list; running a length of cable TV coax cable from the cockpit, through the engine space and under the salon floor to the point where our TV is mounted.  Last summer, we got by running the coax through a salon window, over the dash and through the lower wheel, which was a pain in the neck when we untied the boat to leave and it also looked tacky.

Sunday, we decided to stay at home and work together on a project we do each year.  Frances finished the layout for a spring sales brochure that we produce for Portland Riverside's marine store.  This is the 6th year we have produced this brochure and this year, Frances took charge of it and carefully edited the photo arrangement and editing of the more than 120 items that are part of the sale.  She also fixed the captions and highlighted the places where we still need pricing information.  She would like to say that her hair is a Halloween wig, but sadly, it is real and in need of color renewal (not attended to since SEPTEMBER!!!).  We (per Frances) do not intend to go au natural, as is quite attractive on Sue and Carol Ann....Yikes!

Bill decided to take on a project that  he has been dreading: cleaning the windows on the 12 sections of our bridge enclosure.  We washed each one of them when we took them off the boat in the fall, but the plastic window sections needed to be carefully cleaned, inside and out. As Frances worked on the brochure, Bill got down and cleaned each window on each section.

We knew there were a couple of issues that will need professional repair, among them a sticky zipper on one section and a couple of snaps that look funky and will need some reinforcement.  Better get them fixed now because once the boat is back in the water, the bridge top goes up and off we go.

As we post this, the weather promises more snow but what the hell, this week we received our SeaTow renewal and the summer slip renewal contract, so can spring be far behind?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

We've got juice

Today it was finally warm enough to visit the marina.  The road is still one lane between all the boats being stored for the winter but we arrived early and found a spot to park right in front of our shed.  Getting into the shed involved climbing a snow pile and then ducking under the cable that holds that curtain in place. Not pleasant when you have stuff to unload.

As previously mentioned, we fought off cabin fever during evenings this last week by making mounting trays for the two batteries that will power the inverter. We're glad we took the time to do that since the space under the salon floor doesn't have much overhead.

Carrying the two batteries from the trunk of the car up and across the snow pile was a challenge to say the least and our right arm is now several inches longer than the left. The Group 24 Diehard Battery weighs about 50 lbs and the Group 29 Interstate is 79 lbs according to the spec sheet.  The difficult part was picking them up and putting them on the swim platform.  We may have to order a new gonad or two some time soon. Luckily we have Google to point us to a source. Perhaps or maybe even

It took longer than we had anticipated to mount the inverter.  We had it completely bolted in place before we realized that we'd have to attach the battery cables to it first. So, we dismounted it, cut some battery cable, added terminals at the ends and attached them to the inverter and once again mounted it on the wall.

The two batteries were left on their new trays, unmounted, so we could move them around a little as we wired them up.

The final installation is nice and neat, with the batteries positioned to maximize the storage space under the salon. Here's the second of the two batteries trucked away in a corner.

Here's the first battery, which is closest to the inverter.

We managed to keep the cable run between the batteries quite short.

The inverter gets 110-volt AC power from a duplex outlet that was already there.  It originally powered the old refrigerator so it is protected by a circuit breaker.  After everything was mounted, we fired the inverter up and everything worked as expected.  We even tested it with an electric drill on inverter (battery) power and that worked too..

On Sunday, we returned to wire a duplex GFI outlet to the inverter and mount the outlet somewhere on the starboard side of the salon, where Silverton didn't provide any AC outlets. We began by running a length of 12-3 cable from the inverter around the edge of the storage area to a spot directly under the cabinet where we have the AM-FM and VHF radios.   There was an existing access hole there in the floor for antenna and speaker cables.  Then we located a surface mount outlet box down near the floor and drilled a 3/4-inch hole through the back of the box and the plywood behind it. Luck was with us when we put a snake (a length of #12 electrical wire) through the hole in the back of the outlet box.  With a little fishing, we pulled the snake out through the hole in the floor.  Then it was only a matter of pulling our inverter cable up with the snake, cutting it to length and attaching the GFI outlet.

The GFI outlet looks like it was always there.

For anyone interested in the electrical specs for this installation, we wired the inverter to two new 12-volt marine deep cycles batteries, wired in parallel.  We used #4 battery cable and copper compression ring terminals. #4 battery cable is good for 200 amps at a length of 10 feet.  Our longest cable is less than 48 inches so the DC round trip is 8 feet or less.

The inverter is advertised to provide 2,000 watts or 2,200 for short periods.  Our primary load is a compact refrigerator with a draw of 75 watts.  To start the compressor, we estimated 150 watts. The 110-volt GFI duplex outlet in the salon is connected to the inverter so that small AC accessories can be used while underway.

The inverter has a built-in transfer switch so it will come on line as soon as our shore cord is disconnected. It also has a built-in battery charger that will recharge the two inverter batteries once dockside power is reconnected.

We did not design this so that the inverter battery bank would be recharged by one of the engine alternators while underway.  A typical cruise for us probably won't ever exceed 8 hours and with that much battery power available, the inverter should be able to support the refrigerator and even some other small appliance or a laptop computer for that length of time. Also, the inverter system is not tied to the boat/engine grounds and we'd have to make that connection if we wanted to have one of the engine alternators recharge the inverter system.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Norwich in winter

We can't take credit for these beautiful pictures.  They were taken by our friend and summer dock-mate Bob Gearity. Here's a train from Laurel Hill Avenue overlooking the river.

 Norwich Harbor...

 Norwich Harbor from Brown Park.

 A-Dock in winter.  Hard to believe that during the summer, these docks are full of boats, nice people, children and grandchildren, music and great things to eat.

Thanks for the great pictures, Bob.  See you in the spring.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Batteries for the inverter

This past weekend, the Interstate Group 29 battery still hadn't arrived at the boat yard and frankly, it was just as well.  The packed down snow in the driveway was very slippery and our previously dug walkway into the shed where the boat is stored is once again filled with ice and heavy snow.

Instead of working on the boat, we spent some time in a short meeting concerning the Portland Riverside's Spring Sales Flier, which we produce for them each February. With that out of the way, we decided to to stop at Sears and see what they had for marine deep cycle batteries. We ended up buying a Group 27 Deep Cycle Die Hard for $79.95.  Good enough.  We went home, chipped some more ice and then re-did the calculations on the battery power we'd need to power the inverter.

Since all we want the inverter to do when away from the dock is to run the new fridge (75 watts running and we'd guess 150 watt at start-up) and maybe some small stuff like a fan or two, it appeared that we had more than enough battery capacity with one Group 29 and one Group 27 in parallel.

That afternoon, we put together a little mounting tray for the Group 27 Die Hard. Nothing elaborate but it will hold the battery in place while underway. The Group 29 is bigger (and heavier) so we'll have to make a another mounting tray for that one.

Neither of these batteries can be screwed down until all the wiring is in place.  We now have on hand 25-ft. of #4 battery cable.  That's good for 200 amps at a length of 10-feet, well within the distance between the inverter and the two batteries.  It should be fun to connect the battery cables to the inverter, mount it, run the cables to battery #1 and then to battery #2 and once it all looks good, screw everything down.

Next weekend?  We hope so.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Remembering last July at Block Island

The snow and ice are finally getting to us so we thought that it would be good for our mental heath to look back at last summer and one of our favorite spectator sports:  watching the crew slide one more boat into the dock at Payne's.

We were there for a better part of a week in late July and during that time, dock neighbors come and go and we enjoyed all of them. Of particular interest to us was a couple on this 1956 40-ft. Chris Craft Sea Skiff. Phoenix III was a beautiful boat and the captain really knew how to handle it. They arrived when we did and ended up docked two spaces (no slips at Payne's) down from us against the bulkhead.

Eventually, Phoenix III left and late that afternoon, Cliff and his son Sands decided to put another new arrival in its place. It was a 34-ft. Silverton named "Forever Young" and its crew certainly knew what they were doing. The only problem was that they would have to pass in front of us and then turn.  Not easy in really restricted space. Not to worry. The crew from Payne's was on duty.  Here comes "Forever Young."

Cliff was on duty, standing on our bow pulpit. Nothing phases this guy. Sands jumps from the Egg Harbor across from us to help.

Looks a little tight to me.

But Cliff pulls the Silverton in, just enough room...

Sands reappears on another boat to fend the Silverton off.  They make it look really easy. 

Of course, Bill has to go out and have a look 

Once by us, they have to turn "Forever Young" to port. There's not a lot of space to turn a boat this size but Cliff and Sands are everywhere.

Will it fit?  Of course.

Cliff watches as Sands finishes the tie-up.  The Payne family have owned this wonderful spot since 1938 so we suppose that considering the tens of thousands of boats that they have docked, this was an easy one.

Payne's and all of Block Island are something that we really look forward to each summer.  There may be 5 ft. of snow on our roof, but this is what we'll think about as we go to sleep this cold February night.