Tuesday, September 11, 2018

The annual Blue Mass cookout


On September 7, we unloaded our stuff at the boat and headed to the nearby East Great Plain Volunteer Fire Department in Norwich for the annual cookout held as a fun raiser for the upcoming Blue Mass to be held at the Cathedral of Saint Patrick. As I'm sure our readers know, a Blue Mass is held for active and retired law enforcement officers and their families.

Needless to say, it was fun. Our A-dock folks all sat together and enjoyed a great steak dinner, grilled by dock mate Lou and his son Tim.

Of course, there was a raffle and in the photo above, dock mate Sue reacts to dock mate John T. as he wins $120, which was the top raffle prize.

We shot some video even though it has nothing to do with boating. Just nice people turning out to support an event that is important to the entire community.




Thursday, August 30, 2018

Cruise to Greenport II

After waiting out several weekends of bad weather, we shoved off for Greenport to see our friends Ellen and Dave who were away during our July visit.

Once again, we left on a Thursday and came back on Monday. Weekdays are ideal for getting to and from a slip at a popular marina such as Mitchell Park. Friday afternoons are very busy and Sunday mornings almost equally so. We heard  the Captain of a 100 ft. yacht on the radio refuse to tie up at his assigned spot because it was too narrow. "This boat is 25 ft. wide and we will not fit," he said. Then he took is 100-ft. yacht someplace else.


We met lots of nice boaters (as we almost always do) and our friends, Ellen and Dave, found us and spent some time catching up on what we and they had been up to. On Saturday night, we all went to dinner together despite the fact that it's not easy to find a restaurant on a weekend night during high season.

Claudio's
Claudio's, the East End's most famous restaurant, was sold and is now owned by new people, although the iconic building and the docks remain unchanged. We had a reservation and were seated promptly in a noisy dining room. No problem there; it was a Saturday night in August. The food was another matter. I know we're just New England rubes, but isn't dinner supposed to be hot? I guess not because our's wasn't. One of us ordered the "Fisherman Platter," that was not hot, devoid of flavor and probably right off the frozen seafood truck from Brooklyn. Our advice? Skip Claudio's, at least for now.

Fire boat
When we got there, a large part of Mitchell Park's east pier was taken up with a 300 ft. ex-NYFD fire boat, which is being restored by volunteers. The fire boat was there as a fundraiser and at about 1 P.M. on Sunday, they fired up its engines and backed it out into bay. Once there, they turned on the boat's dozen or so water cannons and let the people in their go-fast runabouts get wet in the spray. Pretty cool, I'd say, although no pun intended.


We left an almost empty marina on Monday morning. As the temperature approached 90 degrees, we had a nice cool ride down the Sound and visited our old Buddy, "Smokey" at Shennecossett Yacht Club in Groton for 143 gallons of gas. Best gas price in this part of Connecticut and you can't beat Smokey's conversation.

"American Wharf, this is Act Three!" No response
Very few boats seen as we covered the 15 miles back to our home marina in Norwich. As we went farther  north, the temperature went up. It was going to be warm, very warm, once we tie up.

Once we had our marina in sight, we called them on Channel 68 for some help docking. This is exactly what we always do and all we need is one person to grab and tie down one stern line.

Nothing heard on the VHF so Frances called the marina on the phone. Answering machine picks up, so no luck there.

So, in we go. We back into our slip and slowly drift away from the finger, as we knew we would. Frances takes our boat pole and hooks a dock cleat and drags the boat close enough so we can temporarily fasten a stern line. Our boat is docked and everything is fine. The two senior citizens at the end of A-dock have returned safely once again.

We find the new marina manager driving out of the parking lot and let him know that he and the morons who own (and are trying to sell) this marina have forgotten that some of us expect that dock help would be available during business hours as it has been for many years. Wide-eyed, he promises that it will never happen again. We'll see.






Thursday, August 9, 2018

Finally getting underway

 It seems we hung around the marina until after the July 4th holiday. Time to get out of here and, like previous summers, we decided to go to Greenport to see friends and blow the cobwebs out of our boat.

When we arrived at the Marina at American Wharf in Norwich this spring, the first thing we were greeted with was a letter telling us that there would no longer be any fuel. It seems the marina's fuel tanks had reached their mandatory end-of-life and had to be replaced. Management felt that was too much of an investment so they had them removed. All that happened before they sent out the bills for this year's slip rental, which contained a 6.25% price increase.

The owners of our marina screwed us once. They won't do that again.Wouldn't you think they would have known about the fuel tanks when they bought the marina 5-6 years ago?

As a result, the marina is now half empty and those of us who have been here for a while are shopping for new slips for next summer.

However, we did get some boat things done. We did a thorough cleaning and the boat looks great inside. He also had the side cabin windows tinted to match the back sliding door that we did last fall. It was fun to take down the dusty old blinds and really amazing how much bigger the inside of the boat looks. And for you skeptics, if anything, it improved the performance of our air conditioning.


But, in the meantime, the city put on a good fireworks display for the fourth and we loaded up for a 39 mile trip to Long Island, once we found some gas, which we finally did.

The ride to Greenport was uneventful and we were surprised at how few boats were at Mitchell's. We arrived on a Wednesday and really enjoyed the beautiful weather. By Friday afternoon, word was circulating of rain and threatening east winds that were approaching. Some of our dock neighbors left on Friday afternoon; we shoved off early on Saturday morning.

The east wind had fully developed by then and our trip down the Sound was close to as uncomfortable as we've seen it. Frances was trapped in the cabin holding on and we had to do a lot of corrective steering up on the bridge. Our air draft is about 13 ft. and we were taking big doses of water through our one open front bridge window. It took a while but we made it just fine. The boat just keeps going!

But, enough of the sea stories. We know that we all have some to tell.

Here's a little video, excluding the dramatic return trip home.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Back to Norwich for the summer

Despite the inconsistent weather, we had the boat ready for its scheduled launch date and this year, they hit it right on the head. Despite that, we had to wait a few extra days to let the storm and rain debris clear somewhat and on May 14, we went down river.

 As soon as we left the dock in Portland, we encountered our first log. It was one of many that day

Despite the cold conditions, once in the Sound the wind was behind us and the water smooth. We ran at almost 17 miles per hour and we at New London in what seems like no time.  We know. Seventeen miles an hour is nothing to most of our boating friends but it's pretty speedy for us.

The docks at Portland Riverside are better but still a little shaky for Frances and while she is much better, she was a little unsure about getting on the boat, so Bill took that 62-mile trip alone.

No problems and the boat ran perfectly although it was cold and Bill wore a heavy winter ski jacket for almost the entire way.


 Once we got to Old Saybrook, the weather and the sea state looked a lot better

 
 As Bill attempted to back into our slip in Norwich, there was Frances waiting.

"Attempting" to back in is pretty accurate. The wind and tide were running and it did take a number of tries to get the bat secured. Frances remembers six attempts; Bill can't believe that he was so inept. He does remembers finally making a good approach on his third attempt only find that he was almost in Lou and Jane's slip next to ours. Oh well, there's nothing wrong with being close. Eventually, we made it.

Now we have to do the annual boat cleaning but if the weather is nice, that will be just fine.

Looking forward to a great summer with all  of our boat buddies.

Here's some video from the helm of the trip:




Sunday, March 25, 2018

Back to the boat after the snow


 It's March 24 and it's finally warm enough to get back to work on our list of boat projects.  The snow is gone, even though we had the third "nor'easter" storm earlier this week. Nor'easter is now a TV weatherman term meant to keep us glued to our TVs. That works, of course, even though the last storm didn't leave enough snow here in Hartford to shovel.

Okay, back to boating. We arrived at the boatyard with two things on our list: Replace the hydraulic lines on the trim tab pump (one of which was leaking) and install our newly rebuild starter on the starboard engine.



The trim tab part went well enough. We trimmed the hydraulic hoses back and installed new fittings. Those fittings turned out to be hard to find. The local shops had nothing. Boat US had lots and we ordered four. After three weeks, Boat US couldn't figure out where those fittings were. So we ordered four more from iboat, which is located is one of the nation's boating capitals, Utah. I had our hydraulic fittings in hand in six days. So much for Boat US.

The new fittings were installed on the trim tab pump lines in minutes but to see if the pump now actually worked, we had to add automatic transmission fluid up to the "full" line on the pump. The full hole in the pump is really small, smaller than anything we had on board, so we'll have to hunt up some really, really small tubing to fill the pump and then test it.



Then came the starter. It was on the starboard engine and it worked okay but not anywhere near as fast as the port starter, which had been rebuilt three years ago by our favorite auto/electric guy in Middletown, Connecticut. It took our guy two months (they knew were were boaters in winter storage) but now, the 30 lb. original Chrysler starter was ready to re-install.

After a lot of surveying the installation area, we managed to get the starter in position and when we finally had it seated, bolted the damn thing down and reconnected the power cable.

Once that was done, we straightened up the cabin and dragged our bags back to the car. But, the weather was so nice, we decided to check out the dock and the boats in storage. Looking at boats is one of our favorite activities and we burned up a few minutes doing just that before we left.

The video is below. We'll be cleaning up our old and somewhat dirty bilge soon.








Saturday, February 17, 2018

"Your channel will no longer be eligible for monetization"

Really? Gosh, what should we do?

Nothing, it appears. In the last five years, we've posted a hundred or more videos to include in our blog. On You Tube, we have have more than 360 "followers," a term we really dislike. Many of them have contacted us to comment or simply say, "we like your videos." Some have become friends.

The last time we looked, we had earned something over $3.00 for all of that work. No problem, we never began posting videos to make money. So, we'll continue to post videos of our boating adventures and You Tube can continue to make whatever money they can on our efforts.

Our faithful Admiral, Frances, has visited yet another doctor and has received some what we were told is really useful medication. She's not strong enough to throw lines to the dock hands yet, but knowing that woman, she will be. Figure two more months and she'll be climbing up and onto the boat and letting us know it's OK to get underway.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Ice in the river

We haven't accomplished anything on the boat due to the extended period of cold weather that we've been having. (If you are a nearby boating buddy, we know that you already know this, but our readership spans the nation after all).

It began with a week of very cold temps, not out of the ordinary for late January or early February. There was also a couple of minor snow storms and then a drastic change in temperature upward for a couple of days and to see 45 degrees during the day at this time of year is certainly not what we'd normally expect.

Just a few days of warm weather started the snow melt north of us and that raised the level of Connecticut's major rivers. Then it got cold again, but this time colder than anyone expected. Early on January 14, the temp in our car measured -7 degrees at 7 a.m.

As you might expect, we hearty New Englanders watched as most towns banned on-street parking, closed the schools and issued threats of electrical outages. There were long lines at our local supermarket and once again, we wondered what people do with all the bread and milk that they buy when faced with winter weather.

But, you'll be glad to know, we survived and due to Frances' superior culinary skills, did so over some damn good dinners. We did shovel some snow but there's nothing wrong with some exercise when you are otherwise trapped indoors by the cold.

We visited the boat earlier this week, mainly to charge the batteries. While we were there, we shot some video of the river. As of today (five days after our visit) the river is closed at East Haddam due to an ice jam. Two small (65 ft.) Coast Guard boats have been unable to break the ice dam and the bridge over the river was scheduled to be closed to traffic today while they made another attempt.

There are a number of missing spiles (pilings) at Portland Riverside, were our boat is, but nothing really serious. We have a couple of small boat projects that include refurbishing our trim tabs and doing some minor electrical wiring, but those can wait.

If you are among our friends who decamped for Florida (thinking of John T. here), good move this year.