Sunday, April 29, 2012

If it wasn't for the weather...

...we'd be in Norwich, tied up to the dock. Over the last week, the weather deteriorated to the point that it got cold and pretty windy in Long Island Sound. We decided to stay put and make the run to Norwich next weekend. Before we head out, we normally visit our summer marina and put out the fenders and dock lines that we'll need when we finally get there. It was fun to take a little road trip and visit Norwich today.

Our friends John T, Bob, and Louie and Janey were on the dock as a welcoming committee. Nice to see them all again.

Unfortunately, a former dock mate didn't return this year, so we moved up one slip. This summer, we get to look at the other side of Lou and Janey's beautiful Four Winns. We put out our fenders and electric cable.  All we have to do now is make the 50 mile trip to Norwich.

Our boat is running fine - all fluids checked, cooling fluids full, new steering working and no leaks from the many new exhaust parts we renewed last winter. We're looking forward to starting our summer!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Finally, some rain

This weekend we continued to clean up the boat and get ready to leave. It was nice to get back on the bridge and start the cleanup. If you've read earlier posts of the blog, you may remember that the helm on the bridge failed all by itself some time after the boat was put into the shed for the winter. "Failed" means that the seals stopped sealing and that let about a pint of hydraulic fluid drip down onto the floor. Over time, it slowly ran down across the floor and out under the side of the bridge itself. We got down on our knees and applied our favorite cleaner, "Magic Roll Off" and it allowed us to wipe up the hydraulic fluid up immediately. Good stuff.

 Today (Sunday) it finally rained, which turned the very dusty boatyard into a very muddy one. Despite that, we vacuumed the inside of the cabin, put all of our tools away and got things ship-shape. There is no electricity on the docks yet but we used our little Yamaha generator to power the vac and the battery charger, which showed both battery banks to be fully charged.

The weather is going to be pretty bad over the next few days but that won't last forever and soon we'll be out of here.

 There are no floating Aids to Navigation out yet on the upper Connecticut River and that can be a cause for concern if you don't know the river well or if you don't pay close attention to your chart plotter. On Saturday, a 52 ft. sportfisherman left Yankee Boat Yard (next door to Portland Riverside, where we are) and drove over Mouse Island Bar. Luckily, he wasn't going too fast and only took out the props and shafts. We've pointed a little red arrow at the rocks on the bar in this chart. Red "86" normally keeps you off the rocks but not at this time of year.

The rocks are just below the surface and they are well known to just about everyone who boats in the upper river. Well, almost everyone. At about 3 PM on Saturday, a 48 ft. SeaRay left Portland Riverside and guess what?  He also hit Mouse Island and did some serious damage to his props and shafts. They towed him back in.

That's the boat and unfortunately, it's going to be around Portland Riverside for a lot longer than the owner thought.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

April 19: In the water!

This must be the earliest we have ever had a boat put in the water. I think the folks at Portland Riverside cut us some slack this year considering how late we got in last year.

We learned on Monday that Act Three would go into the water on Wednesday, April 18. We always like to be there when they launch our boat so we showed up on Wednesday only to learn that there had been a problem with moving boats around and we wouldn't get in until today. Knowing that and the "flexible" schedule that Portland Riverside usually has, we didn't show up today until about 1:00 PM.  When we did, the first thing we saw was our boat being towed out of the shed. Once out, the guys posed for a picture.

Since the TravelLift won't 't fit in the shed, they have to use a hydraulic trailer to get the boat outside.  Then, they position the lift over the boat and slowly pick it up.

Then they drive the trailer out from under the boat and it's off to the river on the TravelLife slings.

Once in the water, the crew tows the boat to an open slip. The outboard on the tow boat was acting up for some reason but they got us into a slip without a problem. These guys have probably done this a thousand times.

Once tied up, we decided to start the engines. We had brought a small amount of gas with us to prime the new carbs and fuel lines. It took a couple of tablespoons of gas, but they both fired right up. But, nothing goes right the first time. The fittings that adapt 5/8" ID fuel hose to carb inlets leaked gas on both engines. We shut them down and will now have to find better fittings. Why should connecting common 5/8" fuel line to a new carb be so difficult?

Anyway, we are in the water and as soon as we get this latest problem under control, we're saying good bye to Portland.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Time to touch up the bottom paint

We always leave the bottom until last because it is such a delightful job. Actually, it's not that bad. Two winters ago, we stripped all the old bottom paint off the boat (almost 100 lbs. of it) and applied a bright green barrier coat. Over that we put on a coat of black ablative bottom paint. Wherever the black bottom paint has worn off, the green shows through. Pretty neat. Our bottom doesn't need much paint but there are some spots.

We did about half the bottom before we quit on Saturday. It will take us an hour or so to finish it up.

Our new anchor has given us a small issue. We didn't have an anchor shackle quite big enough to connect the anchor to the section of chain rode. We got one during the week but the pin (which is supposed to be 5/8") is just a little too big to fit through the anchor shaft. The anchor shaft is cast and it looks like we'll have to clean up the hole by running a 5/8" drill through it a couple of times.

Today we moved up the date that the boat will go into the water from May 23 to May 19. Knowing the precision scheduling at Portland Riverside, there isn't much chance that the boat actually will go into the water on that date but it just might make it a few day earlier than we originally thought.

Given the mild winter and lack of rain, the Connecticut River is as docile as we've ever seen it at this time of year so if we do get in the water, it should be a pleasant cruise down the river. Before we go, we'd better remind the yard to remount our starboard prop. Kinda forgot that we had that taken off to repair the little dent we put in one blade. 

It will be good to get the hell out of here. We took a few weekends off over the winter but we spent the rest of them working on the boat. Looking back over the past blog entries, it's gratifying to see how much we accomplished and to us, it was time well spent. But as much as we enjoy boat work, we're getting tired of it.  Once we get to our summer slip, our lives change completely, Instead of freezing our butts off and crossing off one more thing on our "to do" list, we can relax and enjoy ourselves, our slip neighbors and being on the water.

New anchor won't fit
On Sunday, we drilled out the mounting hole in the shank of the new plow anchor, fastened the shackles and chain and pulled everything up with the windlass. The shackle on the new anchor was too wide to fit in the hinged guide that is supposed to hold the anchor in place.

Time to give up on this project.  We attached the old anchor to the new line and pulled the anchor up in place with the windlass. Our original goal was to replace the 32 year old anchor line and we did that. Now we have all summer to figure out how to accommodate the new anchor and still have the windlass stow it properly.

Realizing that this may be our last weekend to get things ready, we finished spot painting the black ablative bottom paint and cleaned the scum off the boot top. Then we began disconnecting the many extension cords and lights that we needed during the winter and packed things away in the car.

Then we put out dock lines all around so that if the guys do put the boat in the water without telling us first, everything they need is ready. The boat is very dirty but we'll get a chance to hose it off, once we are in the water.

Before we left the boatyard, we took a look at the river on this beautiful spring afternoon.

It appeared to be low tide (there's a little more than two feet of tide even this far from the Sound) and the water level was really low.  This is going to make it difficult to launch larger sailboats but a powerboat our size can go in even when the well looks like this.

Boats are launched bow out and we don't start our engines until we have been towed to a slip. That's not the case with the larger powerboats. There are probably half a dozen boats 48 feet or more in length to be launched and because they are too big for the existing slips, they have no place to go once they are in the water.  We've seen owners jump on their boat as soon as it's floating, start the diesels and let them run for half an hour and then take off. Many, however, putter around on their boats for two or three days and when that happens, boat launching stops.

We're scheduled for Thursday, April 19 but if this is like past years, we'll have at least one more weekend to wait.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Easter Weekend

We really don't have much left to do but we have left a couple of nasty things until last.

First an easy one. We installed the new stern light. It's made by Perko (just like the old one) and for the ridiculous price of almost $65.00 it came with an ordinary bulb. No LED? Well, it has one now. We took the LED bulb out of the old light and installed it in place of the festoon style bulb that Perko still supplies. We tested it with the supplied bulb and our LED and our LED is brighter.

Next comes the new anchor. The Danforth that came with the boat is woefully inadequate (as we found out one day last summer) so we set about to find the best anchor for our boat. Everywhere we looked on the internet, there was a different opinion. Even the anchor manufacturers differed. What style anchor? Even that was a confusing mix of opinions.  We finally determined that a plow anchor was a good tradeoff for a boat our size on sandy, muddy or grass bottoms. When searching for plow anchors, we came across a site on Ebay that had them. We asked a question on that site. What size plow anchor should we buy? That started an exchange between us and the seller who was a SeaTow captain in Florida. He recommended a 35 lb. hinged plow anchor and, as it turned out, he didn't have one to sell us but he suggested buying one at Defender Marine in Waterford. We like Defender but we found a better price (including shipping) at BoatFix in New Hampshire.

After we found the anchor, we bought 200 feet of 5/8-inch anchor line.

To get this process started, we lowered the anchor using our windlass and took off the old Danforth. It took a little persuasion, but the old shackles unscrewed. Tomorrow, we'll install the new anchor and reel that new line up into the anchor locker.

Finally, it was time to repair the passive engine vents on the port side of the boat (we did the starboard side last winter). We've put this off because the boat next to us is so close but we found an unused stepladder and went up to take a look. The PO had re-fastened the vents with steel bolts and we had to drill those out. Why do people who own boats repair anything with ordinary steel hardware?

Behind the vents, there are plastic collector boxes that connect to the vent hoses. Silverton's method of fastening that all together was to our put metal clips on the edges of the collector boxes and then run screws though the outside vents and then though the metal clips. After 32 years, the metal clips were gone. Once we removed the outside vents, the collector boxes were just hanging there, held only by the hoses..

Thanks to a member of the Silverton Owner's Club who had a good solution. We drilled new holes at the top and bottom of the hull opening , deeply countersunk them and ran two stainless flathead screws though the hull and into newly cut holes on the collector boxes.  This holds them tight against the inside of the hull.

Then we only had to mount the plastic vents that cover these openings. We had one new one and we reused one of the old ones. The old one has some minor rust stains (from those stinking steel bolts) on it but it will do for now.

While nobody else probably cares, we found the passive ventilation system on this vintage Silverton somewhat interesting. On the starboard side of the hull, the louvers face forward so air is forced into the boat as it moves through the water. There are two louvers on each side and behind each one is one of those collector boxes with two 3-inch flexible hoses attached to it. Those four hoses run between the hull and the cabin liner back into the engine space. The port side has the same arrangement except that the louvers face backwards, which draws air out of the engine space while the boat moves. One exception on the port side is that one of the four hoses has the bilge blower mounted in it. Anyway, it's nice to know that this ventilation system is once again working the way it should.

On Sunday, we began by pulling all of old anchor line up out of the anchor line locker in the v-berth and up through the windlass. It was fairly ratty looking but someone at Portland Riverside will grab it, I'm sure.

Note the red marking on the old line. We decided to mark the new line the same way but changed the distance between the markings to something made made more sense to us. We used Rustoleum spray paint in the same colors as the old line had. With 35 feet of anchor line out, we'll see five feet of red marked line; with 75 feet out, there will be 5 feet of blue marked line; with 115 feet of line out, there will be five feet of orange. Then at 155 feet the color will be green and at 195 feet, we go back to red again.

We unrolled all 200 feet of line in the boatyard driveway, measured and painted the five foot sections lightly. No need to soak this line with paint. The color is easy enough to see. Then we set up the line so that the windlass would pull it in without snagging on something.

We couldn't reach high enough to put the bitter end of the new line in the roller on the pulpit but we climbed up (carefully) on a little go-fast boat that is parked in front of us and was just able to reach. We went up on deck and stuffed the bitter end into the windlass and headed to the fly bridge and hit the switch.

The windlass grabbed the line and we sent about 10 feet down to the anchor locker where we tied a huge knot on the end. Then we let the windlass pull in all but about 15 feet of the new line. The line stowed neatly and we're glad we followed the directions regarding how to initially remove it from the spool.

Don't you just love our furry walls? Someday we're going to peel that crap off and start over. The opening to the anchor line storage area is normally covered by a mirror.

We were going to attach our new 35 lb. hinged plow anchor but the shackles we harvested from our little Danforth anchor were too small so this week, we'll go on hunt for some much bigger shackles. We hope that's the last thing we'll have to buy for the boat until it gets in the water.