Monday, May 26, 2014

Thumbs down on The Weather Channel

It was Memorial Day weekend and good weather was promised. On Sunday afternoon (after a cloudy and cool Saturday), we checked The Weather Channel and were told that there was no rain in Groton, just 15 mikes south of our marina. Just one look at those clouds and even the the dumbest, first year weather reporter would be able to tell that it was going to rain.

And rain it did. Not a nice spring shower but a real, windy downpour with lots of hale. Nice going, Weather Channel. As the storm approached, the National Weather Service was cautioning heavy rain. What were you guys watching, The Cartoon Channel?

OK, rant over. We had a nice weekend with many returning boaters now back in their slips. Seems like the number of grand kids increased, but that's fine. There were a few more boat dogs, too, and they are also welcome and fun to have around.  Last year's favorite, a black lab puppy named Lena, grew into quite a beautiful young lady. May that should be "girl," since she kisses anyone within 20 feet.

We're still putting things away and sorting out the boxes of stuff that we took off the boat last November. Everything will fit, we're sure.

Since it was a holiday weekend, Frances took the lead in organizing a Sunday afternoon pot luck dinner. For the group at our end of the dock, this is always something to look forward to. Since the rain had stopped, at 6 PM, Frances gave the word and out came the food.  There was just about anything that you could want. Even Lena, the black lab, who never eats people food, vacuumed up the dock for anything that had been dropped.

I think we tasted about everything and everything was really good. We have to give a special mention to Sue's Kielbasa. Check out the end of the video. That woman can cook!

Frances took some stills of a couple of our friends. First, Rob, who knows a lot about, and enjoys, great food.

and then John, the only person we trust to run our boat.

He looks grumpy, be he's not!

Here's the video from Memorial Day.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Time to unload the boxes

And God knows, we've got lots of boat stuff to unpack and put away. Not quite sure why we did such a good job of packing up last fall, but now we we pay the piper. No big deal though. Frances knows where everything goes. Right Frances?

Last weekend, there were only a few boats back from winter storage but this weekend, A-Dock had begun to fill up. It was great to see our old friends and a couple of boats that were joining us for the season.

The warm sun and cool, dry air brought out the group.

Our project for Saturday was to install a reading light next to Frances' side of the V-berth. No big deal, but we like to do it right, exactly where Frances wanted it and with no wires showing anywhere. That took us two hours to snake a power cable but in the end, it was worth it. No one will ever be able to tell that this little light wasn't original equipment.

On Sunday morning, we noticed a little water dribbling out of the air vent for the fresh water tank. When we checked, we found that the original equipment back flow valve that prevents city water from getting back though the pump into our on-board water tank had failed. Our water tank was bulging from the city water pressure so we shut off the city water hose and ran from the tank for a while. Sure enough, that was the problem so we'll have to order a back flow valve and replace it next weekend.

Bill was wounded crawling around the plumbing. We assume that he'll live, but Frances just had to take a picture.

We really like Norwich. Sure, it's 12 miles from New London Ledge Light, but for us, at least, it's the perfect place to keep our boat or, if we were someplace else we liked, a great place to visit. We've had the advantage of docking with folks who live here and have been a great source of information about where to go and what was happening.

We've attached 1 minute and 40 seconds of video showing Norwich harbor. After seeing it, we hope you'll visit.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Back for the summer

We left our winter storage boatyard on the Connecticut River at about 10:30 AM on Wednesday, May 7, for the 33 mile trip down river to Long Island Sound. It had been raining for days and we grabbed the first nice day that had come along. The rain put lots of floating debris in the river and we dodged that stuff all the way to Essex. Here's a picture of what Frances calls the "40 ft. Prop Buster." We passed it , luckily, well off our port side.

It was cold on the river with the wind on our nose but once we turned east in the Sound, we had almost no apparent wind and it was time to take off the jackets and sweaters.

We did have some fun trying to open the two bridges on the Connecticut River. We've been under each one maybe 100 times but this year, the water was higher than usual, so we called each on Channel 13 for an opening. (They open on request before May 15.) From a distance, the East Haddam Swing bridge looked close.

The bridge tender said we'd make it, and with antennas down, we cruised through, very slowly with about two feet to spare.

Next it was the Old Saybrook railroad bridge. That did look too low and we again called for an opening. We were asked to wait for a train, which we did. When the train has passed, the bridge tender told us that a boat like ours had just gone under. "No problem, Capt.," he said. So under we went, again. The bridge tender was nice enough to say that we had at least a foot of clearance. Relax pucker factor. The Sound was just ahead.

Frances always take a picture of Old Saybrook light and here's this year's post card to the beginning of our summer:

The trip down the Sound and up the Thames was uneventful. (Frances caught a nap on the way.) It got a lot warmer as we approached Norwich and by the time we got there it was hot and without any wind. The lack of wind enabled us to dock effortlessly (for once).  Once tied up, we buttoned up the boat and headed off to collect Frances' car in Portland.

We were back down to the boat on Saturday and today to start putting things away. Late morning, some of our other dockmates began arriving and we've attached a video of how that went.

Both of these boats had to dock against a 20 mph wind and an outgoing current and in the narrow fairway we have, that isn't easy. We've included the video because we thought they'd like to see it. These two Captains got caught in a difficult docking situation. Haven't we all? God knows, in conditions like today, we'd still be out there tossing lines and going around for another try.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

In the water!

On Thursday, May 1, we got the call. "Your boat is in the water!" Perfect. We jumped into the car and headed to the boatyard to check the lines. Everything looked fine except that the rain earlier in the week had pushed up the river level and the current was running at 5-6 mph amid a number of floating trees. Not problem. We still had a few things to do before we left for Norwich.

On Saturday, we fired up our little generator to charge the batteries. There isn't any electric or water on the docks right now but we're used to that, too.

After a new minutes of charging, the generator went into quiet mode, indicating that there was very little load on it. Then we gave each carb a tablespoon full of gas and off they went, with good water flow through the exhaust system. We let then run for about 15 minutes at 1,000 rpm to top off the batteries.

While the engines were warming up, we checked the transmissions and the hydraulic steering - all just fine.

It is nice sitting on the fly bridge and listening to those old engines

The boat was pretty dirty and we had brought an extra 100 ft. of hose from home. That, combined with the 50 ft. of hose we keep on our summer dock, was just long enough to reach a shore-side water source. We turned on the water and "pow" the hose burst right next to the faucet. We cut the end off, added a new hose connector (amazing what we keep in stock) and turned the water back on. "Pow" and the hose burst again.

We have to admit that the 100 ft. section of hose has been in our garage, unused, for about five years. We guess it aged out while hanging over a hook for all that time. Anyhow, it was off to Home Depot for another 100 ft. of hose. Cha-Ching!  $30 for hose that we hope won't burst when we use it again, who-knows-how-many years from now.

We hosed the dirt off the boat (thorough wash will be done when we get to our summer slip) and filled the water tank.

On Sunday, the wind really picked up. The water level had dropped about a foot but that left it 11 feet or so above its normal level. No one was going down river. We hope to do so next week sometime but we need to check the clearance at the East Haddam swing bridge. In fact, we need to get its opening schedule. As it is now, it doesn't look as though we can fit under the closed bridge, even with our antennas down. That could mean waiting up to an hour for the bridge to open. We'd rather not waste fuel doing circles north of the bridge.

With not a lot left to do, we devoted Sunday afternoon to cleaning.

Bill forgot is maid outfit so this will have to do.

We shot some video which we hope you'll like.

Hope to see all you A-Dock folks soon.