Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Boy, did we clean up!

No, not at the casino. This cleanup was on our boat.

Things were a little grimy after a winter in the shed so we arrived on Saturday of Memorial Day weekend with everything we'd need to make the old Silverton presentable as summer nears. That included buckets, our pressure washer and more cleaning products than we knew we owned.

Upon boarding, we realized that we had better provide some good things to eat, as well, so off we went shopping. Out came the list; do we have a filter cartridge for our city water connection? Nope, so off to Mal Mart to get two (so we'll have one for next year). Then we went  to the supermarket(s) for all the edibles that we always keep on the boat. By the time we finally got back to the marina, our enthusiasm for cleaning had waned a little (and cocktail hour was rapidly approaching) so we had dinner and hit the bunks determined to make the most of Sunday.

Sunday was bright and cloudy but nothing would stop us. With hoses, buckets and extension cords deployed, we began doing a truly thorough cleaning. After scrubbing all of the superstructure, decks and cockpit, we removed a large section of carpet that we had used in the cabin (to protect the real carpeting) and vacuumed everything in sight.

That included moving Klobo, our Ikea-sourced sofa, which seemed much heavier than when we assembled and installed it seven years ago.

We also removed three place settings of Corel dinnerware, which we have never used. Good quality paper plates make the boating season so much more fun.

By the end of the day, we sat down to make a list of the next load of freight that we'd need on the boat to make it a really fun summer or, what could we take off the boat to make the trips to the gas dock more enjoyable.

Frances put together a great dinner on Sunday night and while she managed to stay up, Bill was asleep before the sun went down.

Monday morning brought rain and most of the inmates of A-dock disappeared early. The boat looked nice and clean even in the rain.

We loaded up about eight bags of stuff that we wouldn't be needing and headed home about noon. Knowing the New England weather as we do, next weekend could see 100 degree weather or it could rain all weekend. Whatever it does, we'll be ready.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Underway again for summer, 2017

It took us longer than expected to get everything together and our schedules aligned so we could head out for the trip to Norwich. That's the best 62 mile cruise we take each year. We had everything set for May 17 but that's the day Donald Trump addressed the graduating class of the Coast Guard Academy, so the Thames River in New London was closed from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The weather for our trip looked ideal with seas of one foot or less and winds from the south at 10 m.p.h. and that's exactly what we got except those winds were cold and right in our faces as we went south on the Connecticut River.

We have rarely seen the water at the Connecticut River bar as smooth as it was. The only un-smooth thing was having to change course quickly to avoid an Old Saybrook police boat that cut across the inlet right in front of us.

In doesn't look close here because of the wide angle lens on our cam but they came within 150 feet of us. Yes, we know the rules: in this situation we're the give-way vessel but I had restricted visibility on our starboard side due to the height of the jetty. Once I cleared the end of the jetty, I had to steer hard left to keep from running into him. No big deal. We understand the importance of keeping a proper lookout even if the Old Saybrook Police doesn't.

Once we got back on course and headed east down the Sound it was so smooth that we could leave the wheel where it was for five or ten minutes at a time. Frances fell asleep in her bunk. We passed a couple of sailboats motoring along under bare poles. Not a great day for sailing.

We made great time, for us. Four and one-half hours, dock-to-dock. Twenty-eight hundred RPM gave us a consistent 16 miles per hour. We know, that's not very fast for most power boaters but we're conservative with our old Chrysler 360s.

Soon we were back in Norwich.

 Looking forward to another summer with our boating friends on A-dock."

As usual, we shot some video. Here, we've edited about an hour of the voyage down to about 7 minutes.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Back in the water...

Late in the day on May 9, the old girl was eased back into the water. It's been cold and somewhat rainy so we haven't gotten a chance to do much to get her ready for the cruise to Norwich.

However, this weekend, we did get a chance to start the engines. Just a tiny squirt of gas into the carbs and off they went, with lots of cooling water out the exhausts. Always good to hear that merry tinkle.

We run two banks of batteries: two Group 27 Sears Marine Diehards for the starboard engine and two Group 24 no-name batteries for the starboard engine. The then-new no-name batteries were given to us by the previous owner when we bought the boat and we installed the Diehards at the same time. That was in 2009.

This year, it was pretty obvious that the no-names had reached the end of their useful life. There was just enough juice to get the starboard engine running. Since we're careful about stuff like this, bought two new group 24 marine batteries (brand named Duracell) from Batteries + Bulbs in Manchester, Conn. The price was right and since our favorites - Sears Diehard - aren't around any more, we settled on these. After 8 years of service, it will be interesting to see how long the old Diehards last.

Fresh water pump

When we tried the fresh water pump this year, it blew a fuse. That's odd since it worked fine last fall when we used it to distribute potable antifreeze throughout the boat's plumbing. It's also odd because we rebuilt this pump two years ago and since then, it has worked perfectly. Needless to say, we're not fans of Shurflo Aqua King II pumps. But, to make things easy, we bought yet another pump at Defender Marine and by the time you read this, will have installed it.

We rarely use this pump. It's nice to be able to run fresh water from our tank while underway but other than that, its main use in in winterizing the boat in the fall. Too bad it's not what the manufacturer claims it to be.

A step up for Frances
We have some plastic kitchen steps that Frances has used to get on and off the boat when we are visiting a marina with floating docks other than out own. Our boat has high side decks and with her short legs, getting on and off can be an issue but the little plastic steps have worked, provided we tied a line around them so they didn't blow off into the water.

This year, Frances isn't as strong as she used to be and we thought it would be a good idea to reinforce those plastic steps in a way that would give her an extra step up. Enter the Frances Steps V2:

Now she has an extra 7-inch step, which we hope will make it easier for her to get on and off during our summer travels. Note those big eyelets for securing a line. Hey, it's what we had in stock.

Security Zone
Our intention was to drop a car off in Norwich on Tuesday, May 16 and then take the boat to Norwich the next day. Turns out that isn't a good idea. A call to SeaTow confirmed that President Trump will be making a speech at the Coast Guard Academy graduation on May 17 and the Thames River in New London will be closed. Best guess? 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

No problem. We'll go up the river the next day. Our hope this that the President will have something inspiring for those Coast Guard cadets to hear. Not, "look, I'm President" or "how I beat Hillary" but something that reflects the dedication shown by those young Ensigns.

We don't do politics here but sometimes we think that those young officers deserve some encouragement. God knows, they have worked for it.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Bottom painting and loading up

On Saturday, we arrived at the boat full of energy. Time to finishing painting the bottom, which be began last Sunday.

But first, let's do something fun (at least for us). Put the new registration stickers on the boat. Makes us feel good that now we're legal until April 1, 2018.

Then we popped open the last of our bottom paint, grabbed a roller and a brush and crawled down to where the sun doesn't shine. Two hours later, we came up for air since the bottom was now painted so the little sea creatures can't stick to us. An added benefit this year was that while we painted, we also cut away about a hundred feet of fishing line that was wrapped around our prop shafts. That's a first for us.

Then we sat down for a brief rest, all the while confirming that painting the bottom of a boat is among the worst boating-related jobs we could think of. (The head-mounted light adds quite a lot of charm, don't you think?.)

Time now to start putting stuff back on the boat. Even with a ladder involved, it's easier to do it here than it is in Norwich, There were many trips up and down that ladder.

Normally Frances would be here to help but she isn't feeling all that well and we decided that it would be best if she stayed home.

On Sunday, we put things away inside the boat and then checked the engines, transmissions, thru-hull fittings and hoses. Once we're in the water, it's nice to have that stuff taken care of. Of course, this year, as we go to start the engines, we'll remember that THE SEA COCKS FOR ENGINE COOLING WATER ARE CLOSED! It only takes seconds to destroy the impellers on the sea water pumps if they are run dry.  Guess you realize how we know that!

We do that because we're not usually there when the boat is put in the water and we like to know that every sea cock is closed until we get there and open them. That only seems sensible to us.

Before we left on Sunday afternoon, we took a look at the river. The crew was busy at work using their crane to put more docks in the water. Now that the boss is back from Florida, the crew is working extra hard.

There's some video. Just a little over three minutes and hopefully painless.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Cutting a hole in the hull and other boat stuff

We hope to be back in the water in about two weeks so it was time to deploy our dock fenders and boat steps. That meant taking a half day off on Friday and making a road trip out of it. We loaded the steps and fenders in the old station wagon and then took a leisurely drive to our marina, The Marina at American Wharf in Norwich. It was a beautiful day, perfect to play around on the dock.

We put the fenders out on the dock and pulled them nice and tight. That's where our boat will rest on for much of the summer.

Then we only had to put the boat stairs exactly where the were last year. Luckily, we marked the dock before we left last fall so it was easy getting the stairs right where Frances can use them comfortably.

Now all we need to see in this picture is our boat tied up right there.

Saturday and Sunday were a blur of fun boat activities. We planned to install a much-needed garboard drain midships and that meant cutting a hole in the hull. Here's what a garboard drain looks like. It's really just a plug in the bottom of the boat that can be opened once on land, to drain out old bilge water, much of which is condensate from our air conditioner.

We measured thrice before we used this 1-inch hole saw to cut the necessary hole.

The plug that came out of the hull was 5/8-inch of solid fiberglass. We like solid!

With the garboard drain installed, we moved on the next annual task: installing the zincs. We have ten and we dutifully scrubbed all the surfaces clean and installed new ones. We don't want our boat eaten away by corrosion, do we?

Then we began the most hated, dirty work on the boat: Painting the bottom or, more correctly, putting on bottom paint wherever the crew last fall blasted it all off with their power washer.

Several years ago, we scraped the bottom down to the Gelcoat and applied a barrier coat of green paint. Each year, over that, we apply a coat of ablative black bottom paint. Wherever the green barrier coat shows through, we need to reapply some back bottom paint and that's what we are doing now.

If you are smart enough to pay someone to climb under your boat and roll on this black paint, we congratulate you. Every year, we say that we will never do this again, but we do. This just might be the last year that we come home with black dots on our face.