Sunday, June 29, 2014

This just in... Frances' Special Bird Blog

 We've revised this edition of our blog to include a new feature, "Bird News From Frances." First, a question: Can you identify this bird?

Frances knows a lot about birds and can often identify them just from their call. The bird shown above stumped her. It was photographed by a dock mate who saw perched it on the bow rail of his boat. If you know what kind of bird this is, please let us know.

Mallard Mans Up To Help Mate

In most northern-nesting ducks, males play little to no role in brood care. In fact, most male ducks abandon the female when she begins incubation or shortly after her eggs hatch. The bright plumage of the drakes may attract predators, so the male ducks rarely attend broods. Most female ducks usually remain with their broods until they are nearly on the wing. However, female ruddy ducks, diving ducks and sea ducks may remain with their broods for only a few days or weeks. Ducklings in these groups are well insulated and adapted to deep-water habitats; thus, they can avoid predators by swimming to open-water areas or by diving, and need little parental care.  In other words, male ducks duck…This daddy duck did not.  (Photo taken this weekend at our marina.)

 Meanwhile back to on our boat....
We spent this beautiful weekend doing stuff around the boat. Frances and Pooka, The Boat Cat have finished moving in for the summer and the inside of the boat looks great with everything finally put away.

But, as with any boat, there are always things to do. Our inflatable needed air and we pumped that up.  There were a few items that we needed to buy and, since we are going to take the boat out next weekend, we needed to make a list. If you've been boating for any length of time, you know how important the "list" can be.

We also spent some time on Saturday removing and bypassing a connector that connects the starboard engine to the the upper and lower helms. The rubber coated connector wasn't in good shape and it took us the better part of two hours to carefully remove it. Okay, it's been in there since 1980 but we feel better knowing that it is no longer something that we depend on.

Next weekend, our current plan is to leave on Saturday for Napatree, better known as Watch Hill, RI. We've been there many times before (as has everyone else is these parts) and by the time we get there, it will be crowded with boats. The chart below shows where we are going. The numbers are waypoints that we've set over the years. Lets hope for good weather.

On Sunday afternoon, our dockmates Ron and Lou Ann returned from Greenport, where we were last week. Interestingly, they said that when they arrived in Greenport on Friday night, they were the only boat in this beautiful marina. We had the same experience a week ago when we arrived on a Thursday afternoon. Perhaps the cost of fuel ($4.60 at our marina) had something to do with this.

We shot some video of them docking. Where we dock, this is never easy but they did a great job. We hope our next cruise ends as effortlessly as theirs.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Watching them park a barge

I guess "park" isn't nautical enough. What we watched, while at Mitchell Park Marina in Greenport, was a crew from Coastal Marine Construction dock a 100 ft. spud barge attached to a small tug.

It seems that one of the piers needed some extra pilings added and that's what they were doing. They don't drive the pilings in but use a water jet to sink them into the seabed. Quite a thing to watch.

At about 4:00 PM each day, they move the barge from the work area to the inside of one of the marina's piers. It stays there until the next work day, at which time they take it out to the work area and begin with another piling.

The tug is only about 30 ft. long and from what we could see, had just one engine in a "Z-Drive" setup. It was strapped to the barge so the barge and the tub moved as one giant vessel.

Pros like this do it without any drama; every person seems to know what to do.

Hope you find it interesting.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Mitchell Park Marina

We finally got a good break in the weather and left for Greenport, Long Island, on Wednesday, June 18. (We like to arrive and leave on weekdays, if we can, to avoid the craziness of lots of boats all trying to dock - or leave - at once.)

The weather was supposed to be good, and it was. We had 10-15 mph winds from the west and that gave us a bumpy ride across the sound. No problem, though.  Once into Gardiner's Bay, things calmed down a little and we had a nice cruise down along Long Beach.

Here we are approaching Plum Gut, the entrance to Gardiner's Bay from Long Island Sound. The "Gut" can be rough depending on the tide, but today is was smoother than the Sound. For those of you who pass through here regularly, the marker in the foreground is Red 2 "PG." Beyond that is Plum Island Light.

There are several marinas in Greenport but our favorite is Mitchell Park Marina, which is located right downtown on Front Street. The marina and its adjoining park are beautifully maintained and the marina staff is first rate.

For some reason, even in mid-June, the marina was almost empty. It began to fill up as the weekend approached.

We shot some video of our arrival. It won't be very interesting unless you're a boater, but we'll look back on it next winter and really enjoy it. We asked to tie up at "B14" which is a T-head. No sense in working if we don't have to; just pull up and hand the young man the lines.

We quickly slipped into vacation mode. 

Of course, there was Frances' signature flowers.  We did take a short walk to the local IGA in search of basil. We found some that were not up to Frances' standards but she needed basil so we took what they had.

The basil completed what Frances needed for dinner. First tomatoes of the year for us.

Everything needs a little more garlic.

The first night we were there, our only neighbor was the "Hannah B," a 125 ft. Westport.  No rich folk partying however, just one crew member who turned on some lights inside the boat at night. We might add that said crew member needs a little more training. He forget to take in the flag at 8 PM.

Lunch at The Chequit
Whenever we're in Greenport, we like to take the ferry to Shelter Island and have lunch at the Chequit Hotel.  

It's atop a hill in Shelter Island Heights and we like sitting at a table outside under a huge tree and enjoying the magnificent view of the harbor. Frances claims they serve the best mussels she has ever had. Everything taste good with a view like this.

After lunch, we walked down to the harbor and toured the shops in the heights. Lots of beautiful boats and a great bay full of moorings. The shops weren't worth the visit but who cares when you are in a place as nice as this?

Our morning walk
On Friday, we took our usual early morning walk through Greenport. The village itself has a population of only about 2,200 but that number swells during the summer. Front Street has quite a few shops and each year, we check things out to see what's new and what isn't. Many of the places shown in the video (The Coronet, the Arcade, the Rhumb Line, Claudio's, and even White's Hardware) seem like old friends to us. There's a story connected to most of these places for us, but as they say, "You had to have been there" to appreciate them.

Back home
All good things must come to an end, they say, and our trip to Greenport ended perfectly, that is to say, we backed into our slip in Norwich without having to do it twice. We mounted a rear-facing cam to collect the last few minutes of our mini-vacation.

Skip forward, if you like. Good backing takes some time!

Replacing a deck hinge and some well-needed cleaning

The mate to this engine hatch broke a few weeks ago and we were able to find a replacement, although a much heavier hinge. Installing it was somewhat difficult since we had to get behind the hatch when it was open. But, it finally worked out. We bolted the new hinge down with #10 stainless machine screws and lock nuts, a lot better than what Silverton used to mount the old hinge

We'll replace the other hinge on that side and the other two on the port side next winter. No sense taking time in the summer to do stuff like that.  We'll also clean up the footprint left by the old hinge. For now, it will be fine.

We're still putting things away on our boat and the cockpit needed to be cleaned to get rid of all the dirt that accumulated during winter storage.  Since it was beautiful day, Bill got down and did some scrubbing. That's pretty boring, we know, so we reduced that 90-minute job to just about 10 seconds to keep you all awake during this video.

Frances has moved onto the boat for the summer and of course, Pooka, the boat cat, also arrived in what has become his summer cottage. He is not only a beautiful cat, but also one with a great memory. The first place he went upon arrival on the boat was his favorite haunt, a clothes locker. He even knows how to help open the door. Amazing that a cat could remember all that from six months ago.

Pooka also watched through the screen door as Bill scrubbed the deck. He had no interest in helping but that's fine with us. This paws are too small to really be of any help.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Not quite ready to go cruising

Frances spent a lot of time this week getting the interior of the boat in shape for a cruise to Greenport, Long Island but come Saturday morning, it was clear that were weren't going to make it. She left the display shown above where she had carefully clipped all the little non-slip pieces that we use under just about everything, to dry in the sun. Looks like her sandals needed drying, too.

There was still a lot of stuff to put away and Bill wanted to change to spark plug wires on both engines to avoid doing any more damage to our Mallory YLM distributors, which, we recently learned, cannot tolerate solid copper or stainless plug wires. The instructions that came with our distributors make that pretty plain but frankly, we had never looked at what plug wires we had installed on these engines when we first bought the boat. Sure enough, they were solid stainless, so they had to go.

This is the starboard distributor with all but the coil wire changed to the correct wires. God, what a job getting those new wires on the outboard plugs. On that side, the engine is very close to the water tank and there's very little room to get the wires to seat on the plugs. We did it, however, with a minimum of cuts and bruises.

As Frances got things squared away inside the boat, we had the time to fix a loose connection in our waste tank monitor and check the fit for a deck hinge that will replace the broken hinge on the engine hatch on the starboard side. Thanks to a member of the Silverton Owners Club for a reference to the seller of this 1/4-inch thick engine hatch hinge. It doesn't have the same footprint as the old hinge, but we'll fix that next winter. Before you ask, yes, we are replacing both hinges on that engine cover.

We shot some video that you will probably find as interesting as watching paint dry.

We stored our inflatable on the foredeck for the winter and to get it up there, we had to deflate its little keel. During the cold winter, the sides deflated a little and at this point, with it mounted on the swim platform, everything needed to be repositioned and reflated. Reflated? Seems like that's a real word. We thought we made it up.

We went at that project after a brief shopping trip to get dock flowers. Frances got a really nice ones. (If you are from Norwich, yes, they came from Malerba's).

The video (reduced to six minutes or so) won't win any Oscars but it's fun to watch next winter when the snow is blowing against our windows.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Getting ready to enjoy some cruising

It has finally gotten warm enough so we can appreciate being outside on our boat. Our marina looks great with everything in bloom. We spent the weekend getting things put away (still not there yet) so we can take a trip to Long Island to see our friend Ellen who has a birthday coming up.

Following our personal practice of never arriving, if we can possibly help it, at a transient marina on a Friday or Saturday afternoon when the docking traffic can be fairly crazy, we'll head out to Long Island on Sunday and leave on Tuesday. It makes the cruise so much more enjoyable. Luckily, we both have work schedules that will permit that, most of the time.

 Bill got busy helping with the general cleanup. Frances likes to hang things over the bow rail to dry using plastic spring-loaded clips. Bill came back from retrieving some of that stuff, ready to clip anyone who came along.

As we slaved away at finding where to put all of our stuff, dockmate Joanne came by with the water melon, just to keep us nourished. Nice to be around people who always have great things to eat.

Speaking of things to eat, Frances came up with a great dinner on Saturday night. It was cod with her special spices, which is always perfect. It was nice for us to stay in the cabin and chat while the cod cooked. It got pretty cool in the evening but our berths were nice and warm even without any heat from the AC unit.

Frances is a really good cook but, as we all know, cleaning up on a boat can be a challenge. Frances takes it in stride. She likes to build dish dryer sculptures like this one. Believe us when we tell you that properly done, one of these artworks can survive in a seaway.

This weekend, our marina was host to the "Nina" and "Pinta," reproductions of the original Columbus fleet. They looked fairly impressive and lot of folks visited to see them. We did wonder if there was a big diesel engine in each of them. Sails are impressive but power is reliable.

All in all, it looked like the beginning of a great summer. We'll watch as those slips fill up.