Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Last cruise of the season

We left Norwich late in the morning on October 22 and headed back to Portland, our winter storage home. We stopped for fuel at Shennecossett Yacht Club in Groton and got a pump-out while we were there. Then we steered west, down Long Island Sound against a cool 15 mph wind. We had two good friends aboard, John and Joanne, who, as you can see, are experienced boaters.

Our starboard engine acted up as it has all season but with John aboard, we were able to narrow the problem down.

That didn't make much difference. Boating in New England with good friends during a nice day in October can be pretty nice. The Sound was cool and clear.

We left the Sound at Old Saybrook light and went into the Connecticut River. We've photographed these lights so many times but they still look good to us.

We passed many boats that were out on the river, the Becky Thatcher being one of them. Not very many colorful leaves this year.

And the Mary E. We have some history with this old boat. Nice to see her still working. And hello to Captain Ted, wherever you are.

We finally got to Portland as the sun was going down. No problem, as they were waiting for us. A little sad to turn off the ignition keys for the last time this year.

We'll continue our blog during the winter and into next summer and hopefully beyond. We have to two pictures of us, just enjoying being on our boat with friends. Frances says her hair looks crazy and I'm happy to even have any showing. We hope that you who read this blog had a great boating season.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Our boating season winds down

Our neighbors on A-dock have begun to leave for winter storage. On Sunday morning, October 16, the docks look deserted. In fact, we were the only ones still on our boat. There is a little chill in the air now and when we meet boating friends, the most often asked question is, "When are you leaving?"

For us, that will probably be next weekend. A few will stay into November, but most will take their boats home or, for the larger boats, head off for one final cruise to a marina where they will be hauled, winterized and shrink wrapped.

It's funny how accustomed you become to seeing the boats and the people during our much-too-short five month summer boating season. We hate to see those now empty slips

Some of our neighbors won't be back next year. Dick and Pattie's Maxum is for sale. Pretty nice boat at a reasonable price. Send us a message if you'd like their number.

Seems funny to see Lou and Janie's Four Winds sitting there without its top. They'll be heading down river soon, too.

This Carver has been at the marina much longer than we have. It's almost a fixture on the dock near the restaurant.

And the marina's restaurant is now closed, the barstools that we populated during the summer now upside down on the bar. The food was good this year and it was a place we enjoyed. Granted, the name isn't very original, but who cares?

The big tent that hosted so many weddings and other affairs during the summer has been taken down. Odd to see this space empty.

Just our faithful old Merc in the parking lot.

Frances and our boat cat, Pooka, have spent almost the entire summer on the boat and that alone made it worthwhile. We visited Greenport a couple of times and spent a week at Block Island and had some guests who enjoyed the boat. Time (and money) well spent, it seems to us, and we intend to do it again next year.

We'll continue our blog during the winter as we get through our list of boat improvements that we want to make. We've also vowed to spend time together doing other things, not boat related, during those long winter weekends.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The plug that wouldn't play

We've been chasing a problem with our starboard engine all season. Both engines would run fine until we had been running for several hours and then the starboard engine would stop. We could restart it but it wouldn't run above about 1,800 RPM. Next time out, the same thing would happen. Sometimes, (now that we look back on it) the engine would quit if we ran into some rough water.

We began with all the obvious stuff: Water separating fuel filters? Clean. Carb filter? Clean. Ignition system? Installed two new Mallory distributors and coils. We check the plugs and even changed the plug wires. What the hell was going on here.

This weekend, we tacked the more difficult things. We move the furniture in the salon so we could get at the hatch over the gas tank. We removed and blew through the gas tank vents. Nice and clear. We removed the pickup for the starboard engine from the tank. Looked like new, with no obstruction.

While we were down in the engine space, we decided to inspect the rubber plug that connects the engine to the boat's wiring system. We couldn't get the plug and jack assembly apart but it looked ok.  We jiggled it and decided to quit since it was getting dark.

That evening, we noticed that the salon lights didn't work. Neither did the courtesy lights on the cockpit. In fact, none of the boat's electrical accessories worked. We went to bed (in the dark) with the thought that we'd check this out in the morning.

Next morning, we made some preliminary checks of the electrical system behind the lower helm. Those accessory circuits had to have +12 VDC but we measured zero.  We went back the connector at the engine that we had tried to open the previous afternoon but this time, we used our 12-volt test light that has a pointed end you can use to penetrate the insulation to get a voltage reading. The connector has six terminals, five of which are for instruments such as temperature and oil pressure and one large (14-gauge) that supplies +12 volts to the two helm stations. Sure enough, there was +12 volts on the engine side of the connector but nothing on the 14-gauge wire on the other side of the plug.  We pried the connector apart and the big (14-gauge) contact dissolved into small bits of corrosion. We had the parts with us to bypass the connector and that's what we did. As soon as we put the jumper in place, all the boat's accessory circuits came on.

Time for a test ride. With John T aboard (old friend, master mechanic and someone who had told us to check those engine connectors), we drove down river at 3,000 RPM and back for a total of 19 miles. The starboard engine never missed a beat.

Here's a picture of that nasty connector that fouled up so much of our summer. We'll remove all of those connectors during the winter and wire them properly.