Monday, May 30, 2016

Time to clean the outside of the boat

This probably isn't very interesting. Cleaning rarely is. But, our boat has been in a shed all winter and we did have Stanley Steemer come in and make the interior clean and fresh, so now it was time for us to make it look almost as good on the outside.

It's Memorial Day weekend and on Saturday, we brought down our pressure washer and began by blasting the grime off the foredeck. The pressure washer did a good job but we also used one of those scruffy pads to get into all the little spots.

Then it was down to the cockpit to do the real hands-and-knees cleaning. Not fun, but it was satisfying to see all the winter dirt disappear down the deck scuppers.

That took just about all day and as cocktail hour got underway, we decided to try our marina's new restaurant for dinner.

This is third operator of the restaurant in five years and to be fair, we don't think they knew what to expect on their first days of being open. When we got there, the place was mobbed and very loud. The staff wasn't trained and the food was a few steps below "okay," and that's being generous.

On Sunday morning (isn't it great to sleep, once again, on your boat?), Frances made to strongest coffee in the Western Hemisphere, which really hit the spot. We read The New York Times and then started the first big event of the season: get a pump-out. Once the waste tank was empty, we calibrated the tank gauge so that Frances will always know just how we're doing in that department.

We also, cleaned all 13 of the windows on the bridge and then tackled the upholstery, gauges and all the little spots that seem to trap dirt. We finished off the afternoon by cleaning the cabin windows.

We made a silly video of Sunday's activities just because we could. It's only about 2-1/2 minutes long but it was fun to put together.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

A Heart For Hailey

If you follow our blog, you know that it's all about the fun we have on our boat. However, we also have a day job, running our small marketing and communications company, Large & Page Communications.

We are lucky enough to have a long-term client, the Town of Windsor, Connecticut. While we didn't devise or produce the event shown here, we were asked by the folks at Windsor Town Hall to shoot some photos and video. 

This event was covered by the newspapers and the local NBC station and got the front page of our biggest daily newspaper, The Hartford Courant the next day.

The following is the press alert we distributed for this event:

"To show their support for 20-month old Hailey, the daughter of a member of the Windsor Volunteer Fire Department, Windsor town employees decided to arrange themselves in the shape of a huge heart on the Windsor Town Green, where they would be photographed from the top of the giant aerial ladder on the Fire Department’s “Ladder 1.”

Hailey is afflicted with Neuroblastoma, a form of cancer most often found in very young children.

Those participating in this event are asked to donate a minimum of $10 each."

The person who did all the legwork to make this work is the Town of Windsor official to whom we report. If we used her name, she'd be very unhappy, since she doesn't want to take credit for what turned out to be an event that really reflects how government and the citizens of Windsor work together.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Underway again...

At 10:30 AM on Friday, May 20, we started the engines and headed out for another season at our summer marina in Norwich, Connecticut. We chose to leave on Friday because it promised the best weather after a week of wind and cold and Small Craft Warnings in Long Island Sound.

We have a lot of experience and faith in our boat, but Long Island Sound isn't to be trifled with. Just 362 days ago, on the same trip, we trashed the inside of the boat over about 3 miles of the Sound. But not this year. The sea conditions were great.

The trip down the river (33 miles) was uneventful and even relaxing. There was little or no boat traffic on the upper river and only about several dozen boats out on the lower part. The engines ran perfectly as did everything else. Frances put things away down below and visited the bridge every once in a while to check out the scenery.

In about 2.5 hours, we were at Old Saybrook Light, where we entered the Sound. The sun came out and the visibility was about 10 miles. We could see the water tower on Plum Island across the Sound. We powered up to about 17 mph and turned east. What a wonderful ride. This is what boating is all about!

The 14.6 miles to New London seemed to pass quickly and that was because we were going faster than conditions normally permit for a boat like ours with older engines.

Once we were on the final leg into New London harbor, we noticed the Orient Point ferry also entering on our starboard side. Not a big deal; we see these ferries all the time. But this time, there was also a large number of small sailboats practicing just west of the channel entrance. We needed to pass that sailboat class, leaving it our port side and get into the harbor channel.

The ferry isn't small. It's a 300 ft. car carrier moving at about the same speed we were. We considered calling the ferry on VHF and then decided, WTF, let's just get in there! Anything is better than slowing way down and letting the ferry and it's wake bounce us around.

We pushed the throttles up and watched our speed increase. At about 3400 rpm we were flying (for us, at least) and we have to admit that the old boat really got up and went. Frances was sitting up on the bridge and the smile on her face was wonderful as she watched to speed increase on the GPS screen .

It wasn't a big deal. The ferry captain saw that we intended to pass the sailboats and enter the channel before him and he slowed down.

We ran up the Thames and soon were backing into our slip at the Marina at American Wharf in Norwich.  Let's hope that this summer, every time we back into a slip, it goes as well as this one did.

We spent the first night of our summer season on the boat with its sparkling clean and refurbished interior. The outside of the boat, however, really needs cleaning and we'll do that next weekend.

The next morning, a couple of other boats arrived and, instead of working, we spent some time sitting on someone's dock box for a chat.

Some things never change, luckily for us.

The guys did want to see our new Sirius Electronic Flare, a device that eliminates the need for pyrotechnic flares (the ones that always seem to be expired when you check them in the spring).

The four-legged dock mate in the picture is Bailey. She is friendly, playful and doesn't give a damn about electronic flares.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Starting the engines after winter storage

On May 13, after a busy work week, we took some time on Friday to start the engines on our old boat for the first time this season. Luckily, there were no issues. The old girls (our engines) started right up after they each got a few tablespoons of gas poured into their carbs. Nice to hear them idle with lots of water coming out of their exhaust pipes.

We now have 50 gallons of fresh water in our water tank and all the faucets and the fresh water pump work just as they did last fall. We'll pump most of that water overboard before we leave or while underway. No sense hauling all that extra weight for nothing.

We're glad that we have a reliable way to winterize the engines and our water system, despite many of the postings on internet forums to the contrary. No compressed air or special fittings needed, just common sense.

Once we got the engines going and the batteries charged, we shut things down and checked the fluids in the transmissions and the v-drives. The port transmission took about half a cup of fluid but everything else was where it was supposed to be.

On Saturday, it was time to bring lots of our stuff back to the boat. That included bedding, linens, etc. It's all still packed in those vacuum bags we love so much. Now someone needs to unpack it all and put everything away. Can you guess who we hope that will be?

There is more to do here than in previous years because this winter we removed just about everything in order to paint and rewire.

We must have made a dozen trips from the car to the boat. No dock carts here at Portland Riverside,  unfortunately.

On Sunday, we brought down a few more things, checked the electronics on the bridge and made a very half-hearted attempt to wash the front of the boat. We finally gave up because it was cold and the wind on the river was gusting to about 25 mph. We rarely see whitecaps on the river but we did today.

The weather forecast for the next couple of days is lousy but if  we get a good day, we'll make the run to Norwich and begin setting up Frances' summer home.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

The last few things before we go into the water

It has now rained on and off for a week. The boat is cold and since we took the electric heater home several weeks ago, we'll have to just deal with it. With any luck, next weekend the boat will be in the water and we'll be planning our cruise to Norwich where we'll be for the summer.

Our first task for this weekend was to install the zincs. We could probably have gotten away with using the old ones for another season, but why? To save the $72 cost of the zincs? Not worth it for us.

While we were down there, we inspected the shafts, props and struts. Everything looked good so we can cross them off of our list.

Next came the fun job of applying bottom paint anywhere that we saw the barrier coat showing though. The barrier coat is bright blue so it's easy to see where the yard crew blasted through the black bottom paint last fall. Not a lot this year, thankfully.

Applying bottom paint at the water line means that we had to mask that line first and that went fairly easily. Once the bottom paint was dry, we pulled off the tape.

Not very exciting pics, but with launching only days away, it's the best we could do.

The top for our bridge enclosure has become a problem. We usually take that home and clean it just before the boat goes in the water. When we took it down last week, we discovered that it was littered with bird shit. Not the usual splotch or two but lots of birdie BMs from one side of the top to another.

We tried scrubbing with lots of water and a stiff brush and while lots of it came off, the stains remained. Luckily you can only see it from above.

On Sunday, we applied the 303 waterproofing spray that we always use to the top but had to allow drying time so nothing was done on the boat on Sunday. Feels funny to be sitting at the desk writing a blog post this early.

We shot some video in which Frances shows off our stained top. Hope you enjoy it.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Stanley Steemer arrives

After a lot of negotiating and finally settling on a price, the Stanley Steemer folks arrived on Saturday morning.

The two Steemer representatives that visited the boat on Thursday to provide an estimate were obviously interested in signing us up for as much as they could. Not much to love with that pair, but after making some deductions, we agreed on a price and on Saturday morning as the time when they would do the job.

On Saturday morning, the truck pulled up and to our surprise, it wasn't the two guys who did the estimate, but this pair.

These two people are what makes a company like Stanley Steemer really work. He is friendly and interested in doing a good job. She is not only very cute but also interested where we keep the boat, how old it was, etc. In other words, the kind of post-sale customer experience that we all expect but rarely ever get.

He even showed us around the truck, which is not only super clean but a neat piece of technology.

Since the Stanley Steemer folks were going to occupy the boat while cleaning it, we drove to Norwich to put out our lines and fenders for the summer.

How did the Stanley Steemer treatment work out?
We have to say that we couldn't be more pleased with the Stanley Steemer cleaning. The carpets are free from 30+ years of grime and stains. The "fur" on our walls look like new. Yes, there were a couple of stains that couldn't be steamed out but in all, it was a good experience. We would recommend them to any boat owner, provided you are careful about the estimate.

The cleaning that we did cost about $200. We think that's money well spent on our boat.

While Stanley Steemed, we went for a cruise
 With nothing to do on the boat while it was being cleaned, we drove to Norwich to put out our docklines, fenders and boat steps. 

While we were there, we met our summer dockmates, Bob and Diane. They were about to bring their boat upriver from Gales Ferry and they invited us along for the ride.

Do we ever say no to a cruise on the river? Or a cruise anywhere? We were at the car in no time.

We drove to Gales Ferry and waited until Bob declared that the river was at its lowest point and then he fired up the engines and off we went though a very, very narrow passage out of the river.

Did we scrape on either side? Nope. Testament to a boating couple who know what they are doing.

After that, it was a warm, sunny ride to our marina. What a great way to begin our boating season.

Thanks Diane and Bob. We owe ya!