Sunday, July 28, 2013

Checking out a new camera on A-dock

Saturday was one of the few rain free days we had here this past week. Our weekend was a little shorter than usual because we had to attend a Sunday wedding, but on Saturday, we decided to check out our new low cost video camera, a Panasonic HX-WA03. We've only had this camera for a few weeks (one cruise) and we have to say, we are impressed.

By way of background, we own a lot of professional video equipment, which we used in our business for years. The world changed and now our Sony DVCAM equipment is no longer useful, since the world has changed to all digital.

Since we didn't have any digital equipment, we decided to try something new. The Panasonic HX-WA03 that we recently purchased is far from professional and its $179 price probably reflects that. But it works really well. In fact, it will do some things better and faster than our old Sony equipment did.

It's a little odd looking, with its pistol grip styling, but it feels pretty good in your  hand and you can easily drop it in your pocket.

We mounted it on our bridge and recorded some footage on our trip back from Long Island.  The video was very acceptable and we included that in the blog post previous to this one.

This weekend, we decided to just shoot the usual amateur stuff: our marina and the folks who keep their boats there.  The YouTube video shown below is the result.

It took us two hours to edit 13 minutes of video down to the 3+ minutes you'll see here and even at that, our "video" still needs a lot of work.

The Panasonic HX-WA03 camera is waterproof (to a degree) and its battery lasts for an extended period. The camera also takes 16 mp still photos and has a built-in flash. This isn't great, but it works. Here's a still photo I took on our bridge.

The camera a comes with some built-in memory but you need to add an SD card to get any real recording time. We opted for a 32 gb card and that was another $30.

It has an "18X" zoom, but only 10X of that is optical and even at 10X, you must have very steady hands. We've illustrated that in the video.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Finally out of the marina and on our way!

Between the weather and work, we haven't been able to go anywhere until this weekend. On Saturday morning, we headed out for Greenport, Long Island but first, we needed to stop at the fuel dock. What a way to begin a cruise. We took on 126 gallons of gas for about $605. That's not really that bad considering that the last time we fueled up it was last October when we left for winter storage.  Since then, we traveled 140 miles on 120 gallons of gas. Well, that's the way we like to think about it.

The trip down the Thames river was uneventful but when we turned west in the Sound, the predicted wind (from the west) was certainly there. Ten knots, they said, but there were whitecaps all the way, which says 15 knots or better to us.

Gardiner's Bay, which is usually a lot easier than the Sound, was really kicking up and there wasn't a boat in sight. We pounded west along Long Beach Island and then near Shelter Island, there were some wind gusts that must have topped 25 knots.

Docking at Mitchell Park Marina in Greenport was, well, interesting, although the crew got us in.

Once settled, Pooka came to life and became his usual self. Pooka loves the boat but hates going anywhere in it.

We went out to dinner with our friend Ellen and her new BBF Dave. Good conversation, expensive dinner, but that's what summer is all about sometimes.

Our marina friends Frank and Barbara had come to Greenport the day before in their beautiful 351 Silverton "Last Resort." We tried to take some pictures of their boat but were only partially successful.

Docked behind "Last Resort" was a 1983 Mainship. The owner, Larry, had just bought the boat and had run it all the way east on the Sound to Greenport from Manhaset in Nassau County. That's a very long ride. Unfortunately, Larry had let his refrigerator run down his engine batteries. Frank lent him a generator but nothing was going to charge those batteries. Eventually, Frank and Barbara had to leave and Larry bought a new battery to jump start his engines. You meet interesting people as you cruise around.

Franks and Barbara left our dock before I had a chance to race up the pier and take some footage of them leaving the marina. We'll get a better shot next time

Here's a little video that isn't meant to be unkind. We've all found ourselves in this situation.

When it was time to leave on Monday morning, we fastened our new video camera to the upper helm and recorded the scene as we left Mitchell Park Marina and headed out to the breakwater. We shortened this sequence to keep you awake. It actually took us 7 minutes to reach the Greenport Breakwater.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Cabin window implodes!

On Thursday, July 11, as Frances was washing her breakfast dishes in the galley, one of the two sliding glass windows on the starboard side of the boat disintegrated with a crash.  Frances said it sounded like the window was "hit with an AK-47."

Bill was at home working and this photo and several others were taken by a dock mate. That was very handy since when Frances called to relate what had happened, she also emailed the photographs.

Frances spent a lot of time cleaning up the glass and when Bill arrived on Friday morning, we finished with a Shop Vac. There was a lot of glass from that approximately 22" x 25" pane and this photo doesn't include a whole hell of a lot more that was sucked up by the Shop Vac.

We cancelled our planned cruise to Long Island and set about creating a temporary plywood patch.

Pretty classy, huh? At least it keeps the rain out.

We got some references to local glass companies from the folks on A-dock. We eventually selected Ruby Glass in New London and visited them on Friday afternoon. They will come to the boat on Monday morning and get an exact measurement and provide an estimate for the replacement glass. Unfortunately, this is 1/4-inch thick tempered, tinted glass so it's not something that they will have in stock. They estimate 7 to 10 days to get a replacement.

Even with all the things we have done to this old Silverton, we have never removed those windows so we put out a call for information on the Silverton Owner's Club website. By Friday morning, we had our first answer: yes, the windows can be removed by pushing the window up into the upper track and then pulling it out over the top of the lower track.

We didn't have to remove the broken window because there wasn't much left of it. When we get a replacement, we will have to remove the other long section of sliding glass because it is installed outside of the broken one.

Not to beat a dead window too much, but it is useful to explain that this window doesn't have a frame but it does seat in a vertical section of aluminum that has a lock.

There was lots of broken glass embedded in the channel and on Saturday, we used a small punch and a hammer to knock all of the fragments out. That left a large quantity of what appeared to be silicone sealant in the channel. To get that out we forced lengths of paper towel into the channel and soaked it with Goo Gone. (It's amazing what Frances has "in stock" on the boat.)

After four or five applications, the Goo Gone cleaned out all the old silicone. We applied that blue painter's tape to the window channel so all this abuse wouldn't damage the black finish.

Over the next day or so, just about everyone on the dock came for a look and a number of people offered suggestions as to why the window imploded. There was certainly an undercurrent of "why did a window break on your boat (and not on mine)?"

We really don't know. The first guess was lightening but while there was storm, it had passed by the time with window let go. There was no lightening damage of any kind to the boat.

Someone suggested pressure on the glass from the weight of the cabin roof and fly bridge but the remaining three sliding windows operated freely and certainly weren't under pressure.

Also discussed was a strike by a BB gun from across the fairway. We guess that's possible but to hit our window, the angle would probably just cause a BB to just bounce off. There was a 34-ft. SeaRay in the next slip so making that shot with a BB gun would be very difficult.

One dockmate offered a really thoughtful guess and he's one of those people who really knows boats (ex-Navy and now a diesel engine technician), so we thought his idea sounded at least, likely.

His theory boiled down to temperature or humidity difference between the inside and outside of the boat. Frances likes the boat cool and keeps the AC set at 75 degrees. That means that there could have been as much as a 20 degree difference in temperature between the outside and inside surfaces of the glass when it broke. It is 33 year old glass. Maybe that section of glass just couldn't take it.

Perhaps it was humidity, although we are over our heads knowledge-wise here. The outside humidity when the window broke was probably 90+ percent. Inside the boat?  Who knows, but it is really dry. Maybe that's another possibility.

I guess we'll never really know. We didn't waste the rest of our weekend, though. We washed most of the boat, re-sealed our new hatch (two small leaks appeared since we installed it) and mounted a new bracket to hold our flag.

Hopefully, we'll head out next weekend for Long Island. If you spot a Silverton 34C with a 1960's woody station wagon look, that will be us.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

A very warm Independence Day

At our marina here in Norwich, Connecticut, the local Chamber of Commerce elected to have their traditional fireworks display on Friday, July 5. They fire them off from a barge located just off our docks, so we always have a great view.

After weeks of rain, the weather decided to cooperate. In fact the weather was almost too good with the temperature at 85 degrees on Friday, 90 on Saturday and by noon on Sunday it was approaching 93 degrees.

The plan this year on our dock was to have a pot luck dinner on Friday night before the fireworks. Everybody brought something and that's always fun.

We erected a big Taylor Made umbrella on our back deck to give us some shade. Friday afternoon our dockmates amused themselves with numerous boat visits and chats in the shades of the umbrellas.

Frances fed some of our bread to the swans (yeah, we know you're not supposed to do that) and found that those swans have quite a snappy beak.

Our dockmate, John, mixed up some of what he calls "moonshine" and offered it around. Everyone had to drink out of the same jar and they all did. Our port side neighbor Janie took a slug. Not exactly a cooling drink for a hot day, apparently.

If you were lucky enough to have a waverunner, this was a good afternoon to go for a ride.

A local radio station arrived and immediately erected one of those hideous air-powered figures followed by a plane that circled the marina towing a banner with their call letters on it.  In our opinion, we could have done without both but our marina is located around a public park so there's no keeping out the promotional trash.

Our starboard side neighbor, Louann, was celebrating her birthday with friends and she had to wear the official A-dock birthday crown while she opened her birthday card.

Dinner time rolled around and out came the food with the dock boxes serving as tables. Everyone grazed and enjoyed themselves. Our home made Chili received a cool reception but the mini-cannolis we brought from a well known Hartford Italian bakery were very popular.

As it grew dark, Tinkerbelle Casey arrived to entertain us. When not performing, Casey is the grand daughter of a couple on our dock.

The fireworks went off on time and were just fine, particularly for the little kids. We didn't take any pictures but we guess you know what the fireworks looked like.

Sunday dawned even hotter than Saturday and by mid morning, the pool was filling up fast. We're not really pool people but the kids just love it and the shade isn't bad for the parent-lifeguards either.

Next weekend we hope to head out for a weekend on Long Island. Let's hope the weather remains as good as it was this weekend but maybe a little bit cooler.