Sunday, May 13, 2012

May 12 and our summer has started

We've never been at our summer slip in Norwich, CT this early. Thanks to the mild winter and the complete lack of a spring freshet on the Connecticut River, we arrived last weekend and now it's time to find, reconnect and reinstall all the stuff we need (or think we need) for great summer on our boat.

First off the weekend was greeting our old dockmates and meeting the new ones. Then we began to unpack the things we took off the boat last fall and wonder where some things went. "Did we bring that home last fall?" was a frequent question, followed by "I can't find ______!" Bear in mind that we're not new at this. We've been doing it for years. Still, it's fun and we're sure we'll find everything eventually.

Saturday was an early night after a great dinner cooked by Frances at home. We were both pretty tired and hit the v-berth just after it became dark. Pooka, our boat cat, was on board for the first time and seemed to take up exactly where he left off last fall.

We had a bunch of things to do on Sunday morning but it seemed better to sit down and have an extended chat with our dockmate John, who has almost as many hours running our boat than we do. Then it wa time to get down to work, We installed the Sunbrella cover over our front windows that cuts the air conditioning load when it get really warm.  Note the characters and other things lined up inside the lower windows ready to go for another season.

We love those little RV type water filters and we installed one on our water line. We don't drink dock water but it's nice to know that what comes out of our faucets is at least free of marina water line scum.

Our Christmas present to the boat last winter was Taylor-Made boarding steps. It  took a while to attach the railing and get the thing screwed down in the right spot, but what a pleasure to be able to walk three steps and then step onto the boat.

Our nice big tan fenders were only in the water for a few days when we went in the water in Portland, but they needed a good scrubbing.

Note Bill's new short summer haircut.

The boat received another Christmas present, a ship's bell and of course, that had to be mounted. It's engraved "ACT THREE," and it's a Bevin Brothers bell, made right here in East Hampton, CT. Bevin Brothers has been making bells here for 179 years. Frances always buys the perfect present and we think that we and ACT THREE will enjoy hearing this bell ring for many more years.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The foiled-by-the-coil caper

Time to leave Portland, CT, the place where we have spent most of the weekends over the past six months and head for our summer slip in Norwich. 80 miles. We've done this trip many, many times before but this year, we have many new things on the boat. Exhaust system, cooling system, fuel lines and carbs and lots of rewiring.. Everything is new and while an 860 mile trip might be the best place to initially test everything, that's what we were going to have to do.

Saturday morning (after doing the car drop-off routine on Friday night0, we fired up the engines at 9:00 AM. Nice how the engines start almost instantly now. Off we went on a very cool, damp morning and for about 12 miles everything worked perfectly.  Then, entering Haddam, the starboard engine stopped as though the key had been turned off. We tried to restart it but it simply wouldn't. As we turned around to head back to the marina, Frances took over the helm and we went below. Not easy to steer on one engine but Frances did a great job.

It soon became apparent that we had no spark at the starboard engine. We tried to see if we could draw a spark from the coil but it was dead. We chugged back up the river and some kind folks at the marina took our lines. We docked almost perfectly, due in part to our skill but maybe a little bit more due to the lack of wind and current in the river.

It took us 10 minutes to swap the coils and as we thought, the former starboard distributor was stone dead.  We headed off to a nearby NAPA (that happens to run by a boat guy) and as we walked in the door said, "Mallory distributor. Not good. We have replaced dozens of them." Our two Mallory distributors are exactly 11 months old and probably have no more than 50 engine hours on them. Apparently, Mallory sells them but doesn't manufacture them. That takes place in China with what would appear to be very poor quality control.

Armed with a new coil, we went back to the boat, installed the coil and fired up the engines. Our trip to Norwich would have to wait until tomorrow.

Sunday morning, we shoved off at 8:50 AM. It was still very cool but the river was running out slowly, saving us a knot or two. There was still some debris and small longs in the river so we had to keep a careful lookout, even though we were the only boat around.

 Bill got colder and colder and finally had to borrow a pair of very stylish gloves from Frances.

Frances took a brief cat nap.

We were cruising at 12-12 mph and in a little more than an hour, we were at East Haddam. Someone must have told the bridge tender that we were coming because for the first time we could remember, they opened the bridge for us!

Well, not exactly. It seems that there was a small sailboat that asked for the opening. Made us feel important for a minute or two anyway. We have to admit that we can pass under the Haddam Swing Bridge without opening it.

In another 90 minutes were were in Old Saybrook and admiring the inner lighthouse. I think we take this picture every time we enter or leave the river.

Then one more picture of the outer light and we were into the Sound.

Directly ahead was Plum Island on the horizon. Visibility was nearly unlimited.

We had expected an east wind at about 10 mpg but it was the from the west instead. The seas were 1-2 ft. as predicted. We turned east and made the 15 miles to New London in about an hour. Love it when the tides work for you.

When we entered New London harbor, there was another pleasant surprise waiting for us. The railroad bridge over the Thames was also open!

You can't beat that welcoming sense you find in Eastern Connecticut.

As we went up the river, we passed all the spots we have gotten to know so well. But here's a question for you. (We ask this every time we go up or down the river.) What is this building? All we know is that it is in Groton, just north of the bridge.

It wasn't long before we were passing familiar sights.

And, of course, Eastern Connecticut's economic engine (kinda, sorta).

Lots of our dockmates were working on their boats when we arrived in Norwich and with their help, it only took us three tries to back into our slip.

HOLD IT!  STOP!  COME ON BACK!  After six months of winter storage, those words are music to our ears.