Tuesday, January 28, 2014

When its 18 degrees on our back porch...

... It's time to watch some of last summer's videos.

This particular weekend (July 20) we were at Greenport, NY. We always try to arrive before Friday and leave after Sunday so we're not part of the boating carnival that happens when everyone arrives or leaves at once on a weekend.

This was Monday morning on a cloudy but not unpleasant day. Our new friend, Larry, (35 ft. Mainship with dead batteries)  helped us with the lines. Larry and his wife were fine. They had someone drive out from the city and get them some new batteries.

The fireboat at the end of the dock in the video is a former NYFD boat and right now, it's a restoration project.

Anyway, time to enjoy the water for a few minutes. I know Bill sounds a little harsh about Frances being on deck while underway, but that's only for her safety.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

A little too cold for boat work

We did get to the boat on Saturday but inside that metal shed it was about 29 degrees by the thermometer in our galley. We stayed for about 90 minutes while the batteries charged but with the heavy coat we had on, we couldn't even get our arms inside the galley cabinets to see if we could disconnect the old water lines. We finally gave up. It would have been warmer if we had gone skiing.

During the past week, we did find a replacement faucet that had the same general design as the old leaky one. The "marine" faucets were ridiculously expensive and the ones we saw at Home Depot and Lowes were just too ugly. Frances remembered seeing one very much like our old one at Wal Mart last summer. We stopped at our nearest Wally World and found five of the faucets in their tiny plumbing department. One of the five was still sealed in the original box so we grabbed that one and paid $46.00 for it. Turns it, it looks pretty good and fits as it's supposed to so that item gets checked off the list.

Once home, we decided to test a new video camera by making a video. It's just Bill working on our boarding ladder steps so it will be of marginal interest, and that's being kind.

We shoot video as part of our business and recently had to upgrade our equipment to High Definition to satisfy the TV and cable stations. We sold our Sony ENG camera to a church in Berlin, Conn. and invested in a new and, it turns out, much more capable Sony HD camera. We just needed to test it and get some experience using it since it is very different from the last generation of Sony broadcast cams. Here it is set up in Whirlpool Studios or more accurately, in front of our washing machine.

Turned out that the color was very nice even under fluorescent light (that this camera adjusts for automatically) and Bill got to wear a wireless microphone just like the TV people do. Aside from his remarkably bad posture, everything worked just as it should. We'll edit it and insert it here just for the hell of it.

On Sunday, we had business deadlines to deal with so we worked most of the day.

Frances loves birds and as we've posted before, we found the perfect bird feeder. We set up a cam and photographed some of our local birds feeding on a cold, snowy afternoon. Turn up the sound so you can hear our background music.

We know. It isn't about boats, but we still like to watch the birds and have Frances identify each one.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Taking a day off from boat plumbing

Before heading down to the boat on Saturday, we stopped at the Home Depot in Glastonbury, Conn. and found the place not very busy. We were steered to the plumbing department manager who turned out to be a nice guy. We asked a lot of questions about PEX but his answers were limited to the brand of PEX that Home Depot carries: SharkBite. Nice stuff, but the fittings are expensive and there are some downsides, it seems, to using SharkBite PEX in our boat application. At least they seem like downsides for us, who aren't plumbers by any means.

To make the visit even more informative, the plumbing guy at Home Depot asked us why we were even considering PEX when we could use ordinary marine water hose. Good question and one that we will consider before we go much farther with this project. We'll talk to Rob, our expert about this.

After Home Depot, we went to the boat and began to figure out how we were going to drag new hose (PEX or not) from the engine space, though a bulkhead into the area under the cabin sole and then into the galley.

Under the sink in the galley, we can't seem to reach the "T" that taps hot and cold water for the galley faucet. We removed the stove and that gave us a little more access. We stuck a camera at arms length back behind the galley sink and that showed an unopened box of spaghetti right in our field of view. Frances must have tossed it back there sometime last season or the season before and it landed beyond the shelf under the sink. We were just able to reach it and remove it after which another picture showed that the "T" fittings we need to access are underneath an air conditioning hose.

Bad photo, but you get he idea. We're going to have to pick up that AC hose (which we can't reach right now) to pull up the hot and cold water "T" fittings.

Next we opened the engine hatches and crawled down between the engines to make a sketch of the path that both the boat's cold water and the hot water take from the boat's water tank, the city water connection and the hot water heater.

Our "schematic" isn't very pretty, but it does show how the old water hoses are connected. It does omit one more connection and that is a "T" in the cold water line in the head that goes to the marine toilet, but that's all new and we aren't going to change it.

Taking a day off
On Sunday, we spent the day at the New Britain Museum. We promised ourselves that this winter, with fewer boat projects, we'd take some time and do fun things.

The New Britain Museum is one of our favorites. We wanted to see the "Aloha" exhibit of Hawaiian art. It seems that the museum's first director, Sandy Lowe, was Hawaiian and his exuberant personality instilled lots of interest in Hawaii among the wealthy families of New Britain in the 1920s through the 1950s.

As a pleasant bonus, we also saw the extensive exhibit of Maurice Sendak's many drawings and children's books. We all remember "Where the Wild Things Are" but we learned that this was only one of the 63 books he wrote or illustrated.

On the way out, Frances adopted her "Wild Things" pose.

It was truly a day well spent.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Removing a leaky faucet

We have a couple of water-related goals here. First, install a new hot water heater, then replace all of the water lines from the water tank/city water inlet all the way forward to the galley with PEX hose and fittings. While we're screwing around with the plumbing, we want to replace the faucet in the galley, which leaks and for which there is no known fix.

If you're not asleep now, you will be soon because it gets even more complicated. To replace the faucet in the galley, we have to lift up the sink high enough to get at the hot and cold water connections and the faucet mounting nuts.

Or that's what we thought.

Once we got under there and removed the wing nuts and brackets that we thought held the sink it in place, we discovered that Silverton had also run a bead of adhesive around the edge of the sink. That sink is not going to come out on our watch or anyone else's unless the entire galley counter top comes out.

But, while we were inside that cabinet, we were able to access the heat exchanger on the AC unit. It was thoroughly clogged with crap. That will take some time to clean with our shop vac.

What we need for this is a basin wrench and we don't have one so on Sunday it's off to Home Depot to buy one.

We've added some video that you can skip. It's just Bill telling us that we were going to remove the faucet. He should probably just keep his day job.

After trying to get this faucet out for much too long, we finally had it. We must have dropped to the floor and reached into that cabinet 50 times and yes, we know, it's good exercise. The basin wrench was of no help but using a combination of other tools we finally got the hose adapters and the mounting nuts off.

One other notable thing from this weekend. Among Frances' Christmas gifts to Bill (and the boat) this year was this Kobalt flexible light. During the winter, we usually use those clamp-on reflector lights but rigging and positioning them is a pain in the butt. For this job under the sink, they wouldn't fit. Enter the Kobalt:

This thing is completely flexible so you can bend it in any direction or curl it up so it will stand up by itself. The light is a very bright LED and power comes from a rechargeable battery that screws into the end of the flexible arm. At the end of the day, you unscrew the battery and plug it in. We used it for about seven hours and the light was just as bright when we recharged it as it was when we first started using it. It even has a little light to tell you when its charged.

We love the name "Kobalt." Isn't that the stuff that sucked up all of Superman's powers? Ah, no, we have been corrected. That was "Kryptonite." Still like that name, though. How about, "Honey, why don't you have a cup of Kobalt before we go to bed?" Nope that doesn't work.

We could try, "I've just had my driveway resurfaced with Kobalt?" That sounds pretty manly. We think we're on to something.

Another great reason to share on a blog
Luckily, we didn't buy any PEX hose or fittings to replace the old water lines because our friends and dockmates Rob and Carol Ann left us a message on last week's blog post letting us know that domestic and marine PEX fittings and hose are different inside and outside diameters. That saved us some money! We think that we'd better talk to Rob about this before we buy anything. He has a lot of experience with both household and marine plumbing (and a lot of other things).

Before we left on Saturday, we shot some video of the Connecticut River. A few days ago, it was frozen to four or five inches and the Coast Guard cutter Bollard came through to break a path. On Saturday, when we shot this, it was almost 50 degrees and the melting ice had clogged up right in front of the marina. It was also pouring rain.

Sunday, January 5, 2014


No opportunity to get back on the boat this weekend. We had some snow (not a lot) but with that snow came some very low temperatures. Just not a good time to be crawling around in the bilge.

We did do some research on the new water heater plumbing. Specifically, we asked others on the Silverton Owner's Club website who had done this sort of thing and we got several recommendations for using PEX tubing and fittings. We thought that PEX was a brand name, but it isn't. It's a type of flexible tubing and fittings that are now very commonly used in both housing and boat construction.

Then we watched several of the dozens of videos on YouTube to find out how PEX works. Looks like just what we need. PEX-A blue for cold and red for hot water. Seems we have to separate the PEX tubing from the water heater by about 18 inches using a copper line, but that should be relatively easy. Apparently, we'll also need a check valve at the cold water inlet of the water heater.

We're not sure why we keep using the term "relatively easy." Nothing on these old boats ever comes close to being easy. We think we can pull new PEX hot and cold water lines into the area under the galley sink. Once there, we have to disconnect the old hoses and connect the new PEX lines. To do that, we'll have to disconnect the sink and tip it up to get access the faucet connections. Right now, we can't reach that far under the galley to reach the clips that hold the sink in place. We're going to need really long arms to pull this off.

But, it's just boating.  We'll find a way.