Sunday, April 27, 2014

We're ready...

...but the boatyard isn't ready quite yet. The high water (that has now receded completely) set the launching dates back somewhat. We let everyone know that we're ready to go into the water so now we'll just have to wait and see when they get to us.

We stored the inflatable on the foredeck covered for the winter and we removed that cover on Saturday. The tubes were still nice and firm although we had deflate the air floor last fall to help us get the the boat up on the deck. We're sure it will be fine for another season.

Our plan for summer is to position the boat farther forward in its slip so we can drop the inflatable from the davits on the swim platform and actually use it once in a while.

We're going to run the boat to Norwich with the inflatable right where it is now, so we selected some lines and figured out how we can tie it down.

We dragged out our "bottom painting" clothes for today. We won't nauseate you with what we looked like but we did get under the boat and rolled on some black bottom paint where it was needed. We don't get a lot of marine growth on the boat where we are in Norwich so painting the spots where the barrier coat was showing through isn't all that difficult, although crawling around under there isn't the highlight of our spring season.

We also loaded up our boat bag with a lot of the stuff that had accumulated during the winter. It's amazing how many parts ad tools there were. Before we left on Saturday, we sat down on the helm seat on the fly bridge for a few minutes and thought about turning those keys and waking up the two old ladies down in the engine space. They're aging nicely but we're sure they are as anxious to get underway as we are.

Sunday was cleaning day
 The drop-leaf table in our cabin is the winter workbench. Frances covers it thoroughly and by this time of the year, it has quite a collection of stuff on it. Today, all of that was sorted and put away or taken home. Beginning to look a little more like summer.

We also got out the shop vac and cleaned all the carpeting. It's just a 34 ft. boat but it's amazing how many little corners and spaces there are to vacuum. We shot some video of this process but it's too boring to bother with.

Before we left, we did shoot some video of what was today, a very busy place. Just one lane left for the many cars and trucks to get in and out. The river is at a normal level and a a few boats have been launched and are now gone. We understand that we're number 6 or 7 on the list to be launched so let's hope for some good weather this week.

We couldn't help but shoot a few shots of a 50 ft. Ocean that the bank repossessed this past week. We always hate to see anyone lose their boat but we guess that if you don't make the payments, that's what will happen. We understand that the bank is going to pay to have the boatyard launch the boat after which they will have a Captain take it south to Maryland for auction. Too much boat for us.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Last winter in a minute and 45 seconds

Yes, that's Frances as "The Wild Thing" at the New Britain Museum back on January 20. It's one of the 167 pictures we took during the winter and, as you can see, not all of them had to do with the projects we were doing on our boat.

We promised ourselves that we'd do some fun things this winter and we did.

As part of our effort to re-sharpen our video skills, we've been experimenting with what video folks call "The Ken Burns Effect. Burns, who produced so many great documentaries, uses a technique that brought life to still photographs by seeming to move his camera across each photo, moving in or pulling back and transitioning to a new pictures at exactly the right time.

We're certainly not in Ken Burns' league but we did manage to combine 19 still photos into a sequence of just one minute and 45 seconds that follows the work we did on our boat during the winter.

This probably won't mean much to anyone but our summertime dockmates but what the hell, it was fun and interesting to do.

Next time, we'll add music.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter weekend...

Happy Easter, everyone.

The weather was perfect and we began Saturday morning with a repair job to the top panel on our bridge enclosure. It had to be taken down so we could clean it. It's been exposed in the shed all winter and really needed a good cleaning. (Note to self: Next winter, throw a tarp over the top so we won't have to go through this again.)

It seems that when Bill took the top down last weekend, he managed to pull one of the zippers loose from the top. That piece is one of two that that hold the center bow on place. It was only about six inches that needed to be re-attached and luckily Frances, expert seamstress that she is, arrived with special needles and thread to sew the end of the zipper back in place. It took a while but it looks like it will hold nicely.

Once that was done, Frances treated the remaining stitching with something called Fray-Check, which adds a lot of strength to the old thread.

We accomplished this repair by hanging the top from the deck that runs across the back of the house. We hold the top in place with a half dozen spring clips. Once the sewing was complete, we washed the outside of the top with a hose. We've done this many times before and we find a good method is to spray some household cleaning solution across the top of the Sunbrella and then hose it down from the top, which allows the cleaner to flow down over the top when we hit it with the hose. Nice to see the brown rinse water become clear as we run the hose across it a number of times.

Once the top was really dry, we treated it with 303 Fabric Guard Water Repellant. Paying $26 for 32 ounces of this stuff is close to larceny but we have to admit, 303 really works. We're not even sure that we needed to apply the 303 to this top again. It never leaked a drop last summer (even in some really heavy rain storms) but since we had the top up there to repair, why not? Luckily, we had some left over from last year.

High tension on the fly bridge
Once we arrived at the boat, it was time to correct an old problem.

Several years ago, we had a surprise autumn storm that dumped a foot or more of snow on us in October. Act Three was still in the water waiting to be hauled out. So much snow accumulated on the bridge enclosure top, that it bent the stainless tubing that supports the top. The side curtains still fit but the entire enclose was loose and we decided to see if we could fix that outward bow.

Our solution (if it works) was to connect a cable between the two bent sections and use two turnbuckles to slowly pull the two sides together. We turned each one to tighten up until you could play middle C on the cable.

Really poor river level forecasts
We wish that everyone would realize that the Connecticut River rises above its normal level every spring. Since it drains a large portion of Vermont, New Hampshire and a lot of western Massachusetts, to say nothing of just about all of central Connecticut, why are we seeing "flood warnings" from every TV station and even the National Weather Service, all of which should know better?  We have some ideas about why this occurs, but we won't bore you with them.

As it is, our April 29 launch date will be delayed. That's not a concern for us, since we assumed that the freshet would come and then go, which it is doing now.

Easter Sunday
We were interested in getting the bridge enclosure up, now that it was repaired and cleaned. First, we had to remove our crazy cable that was supposed to straighten the center bow on the bridge enclosure. It actually did, a little. The starboard bow was much more true; the port side wasn't. The top looks and fits fine and it's just us who see the slight bend.  We'll try again next winter, maybe.

We had intended to touch up the bottom paint today but we badly underestimated the time it took to clean both sides of each of the 11 side curtains and then re-mount each one. It ended up taking the entire afternoon but we have the cleanest bridge windows you have ever seen.

Here's a little video of Frances sewing the top followed by some shots of the river as it slowly began to recede.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

When the new registration stickers goes on, it must be spring

Okay, we only were able to put the registration sticker on one side because the marina has a car parked right next to the boat; too close to get the ladder in there. But, they'll move it soon. While we were up there, we removed the boat name and applied and extra one we had from last year. The fact that it was crooked always bothered us. At least now it's straight.

Next it was time to take a look at the zincs. We have one on the bottom at the end of what could be called our keel, a big one on the transom, two on each shaft and one on each trim tab. The only ones that showed even a little disintegration were the ones on the shafts. We could have squeezed another season out of them, but we decided to buy four new shaft zincs ($10 each) and install them.

The curtains that close off the open side of the shed were finally open so installing the zincs was a little easier. It's nice to have light in there again after that long winter.

The cutlass bearings felt nice and tight and it looks like we'll only have to touch up the back ablative bottom paint. Luckily, we have some left from last year.

We needed some stuff from the storage box in the engine space and while we were down there, we checked the coolant level in the engines' heat exchangers. All fine there, too.

The last task for Saturday was the one we weren't looking forward to and that was to change the fuel filters. For us, that means shifting the furniture around in the cabin, pulling up the carpet and opening a large hatch. Before we unscrewed the first filter, we staged the new ones upside down in their boxes, and filled them with fresh gas. We used a filter wrench to remove the old filters and put them upside down in those same boxes. We ran a film of motor oil around the filter gaskets before tightening them down.

No pictures here as we were trying not to spill any gas and we needed both hands for that.

We really wanted to see how the old filters looked since they have been in place for three seasons. That's a couple of thousand gallons of gas and with all of ethanol concerns, we really thought that they'd show some trapped material. But, no. After carefully pouring out the gas (both were full) there was not as much as a grain of sand in the bottoms of the filters. They looked brand new. Granted, we couldn't examine the filter elements themselves but they sure looked clean.

The boatyard was full of people and vehicles, almost to the point of not being able to drive out. We've noticed something about those vehicles each spring. Many of the owners of the bigger powerboats drive large turbo-diesel pickup trucks and sailboaters drive the smallest little economy sedans. We guess that tells you something.

Sunday: Taking down the bridge enclosure
This is another hateful job but we have to take the  enclosure down so that we can clean and waterproof the top. Our enclosure is built so that the side curtains (all 12 of them) are fastened to the top, so they all have to come down before the Sunbrella top can be removed. We've done it many times before but all that practice doesn't seem to improve our speed. It took us about 30 minutes to get them all laid out in the cockpit on a bed of towels. We've attached a video, but to keep you all awake, we compressed that 30 minutes down to about 90 seconds.

Not that it should be news, but the Connecticut River has risen quite a lot. It has now gone above the well where they launch the boats and has begun to creep up into the yard. We've been through this many times and we don't think there will be much of a problem beyond slowing down the launching schedule a little. We shot some video of the water level and of Wayne, our boatyard manager, moving his crane up away from the river to make sure it doesn't end up in the river.

For you gearheads, the crane (it has pulled four engines from our boats over the years) is more than 45 years old. The reach with the Gib arm that you see in the video is 80 feet. The engine (a GM 6V53N diesel) has been rebuilt just once. Nice to see older equipment like that still operating.

Here's the video.

One other thing: You may see a commercial run before our video starts. We allowed YouTube to do this because it just might mean some income for us, although with our small viewership, that's not very likely. If it annoys you, just hit "skip ad."

Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Plumber Has Left The Building... We mean the boat

We are very glad to finally finish the installation of new water lines and a new water heater. It took longer than we expected primarily because this is a boat and on a boat, things never go the way you expect them to.

We left last weekend with the bilge blower in our hand. It had probably been replaced over the years and the mounting was just too poorly thought out to simply stick it back in there. So, we brought it home, fabricated a new mount for it that re-oriented it motor up, cleaned up the wiring and when we got down to our favorite spot behind the port engine on Saturday, the blower mounted perfectly.

While crawling around back and forth over the port side V-Drive during the past month or so, we damaged one of the passive ventilation system air outlet hoses. It's just dryer hose and fairly easy to fix. Once we did that, we remounted the port engine's coolant recovery bottle and closed the engine hatches. It will probably be a few weeks before we can safely fill the water tank and check all the new water connections, but for now, we were happy to move on.

Then it was time to tackle to the rest of the "list." That's all the other stuff we said we'd do over the winter. It's amazing how much fun it is to do these easy things after crawling through the bilge for a couple of months.

 Sunday, another nice day
Lots of small things were accomplished on Sunday. We began with the easiest, or so we thought. Replace the AC duplex outlet near the galley. We've probably installed a hundred of these things over the years, but this one turned out to be difficult to the tune of 30 minutes spent on a five minute job.

Like all boats, our Silverton's AC wiring is done with stranded wire. This outlet had spade lugs to make the three three connections to the screw terminals. They fit the terminals in the circa-1980 outlet that Silverton installed, but they were too small to fit the screw terminals on a new outlet. There was also just barely enough space to access the mounting screws. Sure, we got it installed but it didn't look like much of an accomplishment to start off our Sunday..

Then we mounted the hand vacuum cleaner on the wall above the port v-berth. It's been sitting on a shelf above the berth since we got it and it was time to get it up out of the way and route the wiring to its wall wart.  OK, this one really was easy.

Then we thought we'd mount the new reading lights over the two v-berths. Frances had selected the locations after much discussion. She's going to have to re-think the port side, we found, but the starboard side would be perfect in the location she choose.

Since we don't have a 12 volt DC source in the v-berth, we ran an wire from behind the lower steering station (the wiring for which we rehabilitated a couple of winters ago), through a wall then through a locker and along a shelf to the wall that separates the v-berth. It was completely hidden until we got to that last wall. There we hid it behind a length of surface-mount conduit.

The LED reading light looked fine when we finished.

It will be perfect for reading while stretched out on our bunk.

Before we left, we shot some video of the boat yard now that it has come alive with lots of people working on their boats. It's nice to see some action, finally.