Saturday, April 27, 2013

Surprise! The boat is in the water

Getting the boat in the water on a particular date in the spring at Portland Riverside can be problematic. Months ago, we put Act Three on the list to be launched on April 23. Our friend Rob, who has a Luhrs 34 Express, put his boat on the list for the same date. We both expected our actual launch date to be at least two weeks later than that.

We were surprised on Tuesday afternoon when Karen from the boat yard called to say that our boat was in the water.  We drove down after work to check things out and there she was, in the well.

We climbed aboard and checked things out. No issues that we could see. No water streaming into the bilge. Just a lot of dirt from 5-plus months in winter storage.

Luckily, we had spent one late afternoon waterproofing the roof of the bridge enclosure.  We hung it off the deck in the back of our house and sprayed it with 303 Fabric Guard Water Repellent. (They don't pay us to mention the product name. It just seems to work.)

On Saturday, after tending to some important business stuff, we gathered up the sections of the bridge enclosure and headed back down to the boat.  By now, it had been towed into a slip.

Watching me (Bill) install the 12 sections of bridge enclosure is really good for a laugh.  The top is the most difficult and we noticed that it had shrunk ever so slightly, probably from the water repellent. The 11 side pieces, all of which zipper together, should be obvious, but somehow they never are. In a hour or so, we had them all installed. Looked pretty good to us.

We just had to sit down in the helm chair and look out the front. There's our Roadmaster up there waiting for us.

With the bridge enclosure up, we took a shot at starting the engines.  After all the re-wiring we did last winter, we wondered if everything was connected properly.

We primed the port engine with a teaspoon of gas, turned the key and after one preliminary fart, off she went.  Great water flow out the exhausts and the engine settled down to a nice 600 rpm idle without stalling.  Excellent oil pressure and charging voltage and as we watched, the electric choke opened and the engine temperature came up a little.

Then the same routine for the starboard engine. It farted twice before settling into a nice idle. No issues that we could see.

With all new transmission and throttle cables now installed, we checked the transmissions. Smooth, easy shifting forward and reverse.  All that work last winter has paid off.

The fly bridge looked like home. I wish we could have shoved off for a little cruise.

Even the gas gauge was good news, although we've learned not to reply on its accuracy.

We took one more picture as we left for the afternoon. She may be a little dirty but we think that even after 33 years, she looks okay.

That's our friend Rob's Luhrs next to us.  For you sharp-eyed readers, notice the similarity between the hulls?  Luhrs and Silverton were made by the same company and shared 34 ft. hulls. Actually, we like our boat better but Rob would probably say the same thing.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Waxing a boat is not like waxing your car

This is what our shed looked like this weekend. We were alone here just two weeks ago but now that the weather is nice, everyone has arrived. Ahead is Tom's Egg Harbor. That's his wife and daughter painting the boot stripe. Next is a 28 ft. Luhrs that desperately needs a new deck. Don't know the owner but he his been here (and has needed a new deck) for years. Next on the left is a 1936 Wheeler, owned by Larry, a home improvement contractor. Larry's Wheeler is absolutely beautiful and when we first met him, his kids were little. Now, his teen age son works on the boat with his dad.

Next is a 31 ft. Silverton. Don't know who owns it. It stayed in the shed last summer. To the left is Mike's 1984 Silverton 34C. The picture doesn't do it justice. It is very well kept. Mike owns a machine shop of some kind and says that his wife loves to boat, as long it is tied to the dock. At far left is a Trogan 32 that appears to be a nice one.  This boat has been in the shed for several years so who knows what's going on there.

There was little left to do on Saturday except keep on waxing, so that's what we did.  We're compounding first and then waxing. It's amazing how much crap comes off the hull once you apply the compound. The cloths used to take the old compound off are clogged and dirty after just a few feet of the hull. Luckily, we hit the Dollar Store for a bunch of cheap towels and they work great. As soon as we get home, we throw them all in the washer and then hang them out to dry for the next day.

The Connecticut River is behaving nicely. The water is high but not flooding. Our in-water date is scheduled for April 23, but that's not going to happen. There are lots of big boats here and once spring arrives, some of the owners of these boats flip the crew $100 or so to get in the water ahead of those of us who have put our names on the schedule.  We're used to it. It's just the way things happen upriver.

There are two boats in the water. A good-sized motor sailor and a 32 ft. Nordic Tug.  As we took this picture, the owner of the tug came out and yelled, "Do you want to buy her?"  No likely.

No damage to the boat yard to speak of over the winter. Here are two spiles (pilings) that broke off at the "scum line," which is where the poles exit the mud of the river bottom. The little old guy who comes up the river every spring to replace broken spiles is now long gone.  Sorry we didn't get a picture of his barge, pile drive and mini-tug.

We did get the new water deck fill installed, finally. There were problems in locating the new fill in the old hole in the deck and we had to fabricate a new mount out of a piece of PCV. Looks okay and now it can be opened without a wrench.

Didn't take any pictures of us polishing. Too boring. We guess that all this compounding and polishing is good exercise. The results aren't all that great. The hull is now very smooth to the touch but the hull isn't glassy smooth. We may have to live with that.

As we left, we couldn't help but take one more picture of spring at Portland Riverside.

 Back again soon, hopefully in the water.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

We can't seem to wear out the ladder

But we certainly tried to wear out the ladder on Saturday.  We're trying to compound and wax the hull and at one point in the afternoon, we had mentally counted climbing up the ladder 40 times. We lost track after that and as you might imagine, as we write this, we are bone tired.

The Connecticut River is fairly high but nothing very alarming. If the spring melt and the resulting freshet continue as they are, we should be able to get in the water in three or four weeks.

Today we saw the first boat go downriver. It was a 34 ft. Silverton from Petzold's, which is just north of us in Portland. He was running with engines at an idle or just above and he was making at least 8 knots. Good luck to him, whoever he was.

We paid our $220 bill at the boat yard and immediately started a new tab with the purchase of new zincs. Has anyone noticed? These things have gotten increasingly expensive. We put two new zincs on each shaft and a new one on each rudder. The boat yard didn't have the little ones we need for the engine water intakes, so those were ordered.

You've probably seen zincs before but since we took pictures...

As you can see from the zinc shots, we're going to have to touch up the ablative bottom paint. Before we began that, we taped and repainted the starboard boot top stripe.  As you can see, it's fairly worn after two summers resting against the big fenders we use to keep ourselves off the dock finger in Norwich.

We didn't repaint the port side stripe because it has held up nicely. In our summer slip, that side has no finger and hence, nothing to rub against.

The starboard side stripe looked fine after painting. We used a 3-inch roller and tipped with a brush.

The photo makes the stripe look uneven but that's just the reflection. It looks fine.

As we compounded and waxed the starboard side of the hull (and the parts of the port side that we could get to) we noticed that at the bow, just under the anchor pulpit, there was lots of staining and discoloration. That's one spot we can't see or work on during the summer.  We rubbed out all the crap and black stains and waxed that area.

Let's write yet another check
On Sunday, we noted that it was April 14, the last date we could get a discount on our summer slip. We called the Marina at American Wharf in Norwich and luckily Ian, a nice young marina employee, was on duty to take our check. We gave Ian $2,711.92 ($75.00 per foot plus Connecticut sales tax) and had a chance to catch up on some marina gossip.

 Our dock box was still there and there was even a boat or two at A-dock. It's nice to walk the dock even though it's still a little early.

 Then it was off to Portland Riverside for an afternoon of fun.

As noted above, the "fun" consisted of applying ablative bottom paint to the spots where it had worn off the green barrier coat.  Using paint left over from last year (we waste nothing), we crawled under the boat and used a 3" roller and a small brush to cover the exposed spots. That actually only took an hour, a lot less time that we had predicted.

Then it was back to compounding and polishing the hull. This project isn't leaving the hull super glossy but it does make it very clean and smooth. We think we may have to live with the hull the way it is. After all, she's 33 years old.

The port side of the hull presents a problem when it comes to putting up our ladder to polish. There is a boat on a trailer quite close to us on that side. In fact, so close that we can't squeeze in between.

We may be able to find someone with a strong  back to help us push it out of the way a little.

Before we left, we checked on the condition of the Connecticut River. It's doing quite well, it turns out. The weather has been good for a slow snow melt in Vermont, so the river is high but doesn't look as though it will flood.

This ladder is usually at a very steep down angle. Today, it was horizontal.

Looking down river, the water is high but as almost always, beautiful.

Looked as though the electric had been hooked up. Or, maybe not.

See you next weekend.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

You know it's really spring when....

... you put on the new registration stickers. This is the first time we have climbed up in that area and it just reminded us how dirty the hull sides are.  We're going to really have to apply ourselves to getting those black stains off and returning the hull to at least something close to clean and shiney.

We sat down one evening earlier in the week and made a realistic list of what we really have to do before the boat goes into the water.  On Saturday, we tackled a number of the easy things, easy, that is, until you really have to do them.

We started with the new water fill deck fitting. We got the crappy old composite one out but had to hold onto the water hose. If that slipped down below the deck, we'd have to go hunting for it. You can't beat ViseGrips when you need an extra hand.

We bedded the new deck fill with BoatLife caulk but, of course, the new deck fill is slightly smaller in diameter than the old one so we'll have to come up with a little adapter before we can screw it down.

We know. The deck looks very dirty. We'll get that all cleaned up soon.

Next was the navigation lights. Ours were the dimmest we've ever seen so we bought a new pair at the Defender spring sale. The lights that were on the boat were definitely OEM junk and the ones we bought during the Defender sale were new Chinese exact copies of the originals. The mounting location meant that we needed lights with a 45-degree angle of exposure and these were the only ones that did that. At least the new lights had gaskets where the old ones didn't or if they ever did, they had long dissolved.

What we really wanted was LED navigation lights but we couldn't come up with any exact replacements. We thought we'd buy these from Defender and then change the bulbs to LEDs.  Wrong. The LED bulbs for this use are $17.75 each from Since we paid less than $20.00 for both of the new navigation lights, we'll stick with old fashioned bulbs for now.

Next was the aft bilge pump. We have two: one under the floor near the galley and one aft, in a well. The aft pump was on the boat when we bought it. Once again, we gave in to the Defender sale and bought a new Johnson 2,000 GPH pump to replace the aft pump. We mounted the new pump and wired it to the existing Rule float switch, which seems to work perfectly.

The Johnson pump is made in the USA and has an excellent warranty. There are still things we do properly here in America.

As I post a picture of the pump well in which that new Johnson pump is mounted, I can almost hear readers saying, "Ewwww.!

True, that spot is full of old oily water, caused by the PO over 30 years of spilling oil into the bilge while changing oil filters. We've installed remote oil filters that let us change the oil without spilling a drop.

We'll clean that pump well with some Simple Green when we get into the water.

Cleaning and waxing the hull
On Sunday, we began this project in earnest. We're using Shruhold Buff Magic, a paste-like compound to try to bring the hull back from years of neglect. That's to be followed with wax.

We got many recommendations for Buff Magic and even watched the videos to see how it worked. Needless to say, the boat in the video looked brand new after only 10 minutes of video. That wasn't our experience but we have a much larger boat and the gelcoat on the hull may be in much worse shape than the boat in the video.

We began on the starboard (sunny) side.with a couple of relatively small test applications. We tried applying it by hand and with a polisher. There didn't seem to be any difference. We tried removing the Buff Magic by hand with a soft towel and with the polisher. Again, not much difference.

The hull after Buff Magic was very smooth, almost like glass, but there were still patches of what must be old, oxidized gelcoat. Not bad, but not like a mirror.

We spent 5-1/2 hours on this today and got 3/4 of the starboard hull done. We used a few muscles that have been dormant this winter, so that's a good thing.

As we left the boat this afternoon, we thought that it was about time to clean up the cabin and put away our tools.

Did we really use all that stuff over the winter? I guess we did.