Sunday, July 26, 2009

July 25, 2009.

The Generator Chronicles.

Hello from Spa Creek. I’ve been working a lot and I generally get home in time to eat dinner as it gets dark. As a result I really haven’t had the time necessary to take our generator apart.

I was able to determine that a small adjustment screw was stripped. Unfortunately, the screw is captive in the generator and the only way to access it is to split the case. It’s not something I wanted to do but it is what it is.

Since I have Saturday off I brought all my tools home from work and went to work on the genny. The first thing I had to do was drain the engine oil. While the oil was draining I started some peripheral disassembly. When I pulled the injector pump from the side of the case I was heartbroken as I peered inside.

There in the bottom of the now empty crankcase was a large piece of the generator adjustment casting. Damn. I got it all apart and the screw that I thought was stripped, was indeed. But now instead of drilling it oversized and retaping the hole I’ve got to order the entire arm on Monday. Crap. At least the casting for the arm also includes the screw assembly so it’s like 2 birds with 1 stone. I hope it’s in stock. But then again Fisher Pandas are such unreliable pieces of shit that I’m sure the parts department is well stocked.

The weather here has been partly cloudy with a chance of thunderstorms every night for the last week. We’ve been without a generator for over 2 weeks now and the solar panels have just been able to keep up with the demand. Lately though the sun just hasn’t been cooperating and we need some generating.

Fortunately for us, our magical, jet setting friends from Inamorata are about to head out to do another show. This means that they’ll be gone for several days and their brand new Honda portable generator will be home alone. With an extreme stroke of luck, Christy called them just as they were heading out the door. They had a quick stop to make at the boat and then would be gone until the middle of next week. Christy asked to borrow the Honda, they said “sure, no problem”, I dinghied ashore, jumped in my work truck and met them at their boat.

Of course, as soon as I got back to the boat with the generator we had small craft warnings and a brutal front come through. It started to rain like hell and I didn’t want to run their new generator in the rain so we’ll have to wait until morning to make some power.

Until then Christy and I will sit here with Molly and Tucker and our 2 house guests, Jake and Gus watching it rain. Jake and Gus are a pair of Westies that belong to our friends on Alibi II who are out of town for the weekend. Until they get back and pick up their dogs I shall be known as Noah.....

On a semi interesting side note. Yesterday I got to work on a Downeaster named Alexis that supposedly formerly belonged to Billy Joel. Ya know as in the song, Downeaster Alexis. I was unable to detect any scent of Christie Brinkley. It might have been the same boat or it could have been a powerboater bullshit story, I dunno, either way it was a gorgeous boat.

Post Edit: I just googled up the Downeaster Alexis. It turns out that Billy Joel did have a boat of this type but it is called the Downeaster Alexa not Alexis. F#*king bullshit artist powerboater.....

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The mooring balls are a little close together.......

Sunday, July 19, 2009

July 19, 2009.

We’re still here in Spa Creek. Being so close to the park gives us an opportunity to watch as others spend their weekends communing with the water.

On most weekends a bunch of newbie kayakers will show up and be led through a series of kayak safety lessons.
It’s pretty interesting to watch as the class is taught to flip themselves over and then right themselves. There seems to be a lot more to the whole kayaking thing than I had realized.

There was some type of big family gathering up in the park and one guy spent the better part of the day taking small kids out in a canoe for a trip along the waterfront. It was kinda cool as he taught each new canoeist how to handle their paddle. If you look closely you can see that had flotation attached on either side of the canoe to make things safer.

Another fairly new trend on the water is kind of a Polynesian based water sport. You stand on what amounts to a large surf board and use a long handled paddle to propel yourself along. Some people look really at ease while others seem to be a little more hunched over and

concentrating on staying balanced. I guess it would be a good workout.

I finished a big project the other day. A guy’s 400 pound generator died recently. The engine side of the generator had failed. There was no room to separate the generator side of the unit from the engine while it was still down in the generator room. So I had to build an arch over the generator so we could use a come along to lift it out of its hole in the middle of the salon.
After we got the generator out, we split the engine off and one of the other guys drove it to South Carolina. There’s an engine place there that stocks this same engine but needed ours as a core trade-in.

So we had our brand new engine in just 2 days. The first thing I did was to paint it white so it matched the rest of the generator.
Then it was off to the boat to mate it back up with the generator so I could drop it back down into place. It was a bit of a chore to get the thing out of the truck and carry it down the damn finger pier and
onto the boat but “Bob” and I were able to pull it off without any major injuries. It took the better part of the day to put it all together, drop it into place and then reconnect all the associated hoses and wiring. It all went well and the guy is back in the energy making business.

In an ironic twist of fate, our generator is once again giving me fits. It wouldn’t start and I traced the problem down to the fuel shut off solenoid. We ordered the part and once it arrived I installed it and met with limited success. The engine now starts and runs, but it runs in an overspeed condition. When the generator runs at too high an RPM it generates too much voltage and can quickly destroy your electrical system. The generator has a governor that controls the speed of the engine. We’ve had problems several times in the past so I’ve become somewhat of an expert at setting the governor. But try as I might, I cannot get the engine to run at the correct speed. Its driving me crazy…….

Friday, July 10, 2009

July 9, 2009.

This evening a guy stopped by the boat in his dink. His boat is anchored nearby and he stopped in to say hello. It turns out that he’s also from New Jersey and had met us just before we departed 3 years ago. He and a buddy boat are here in the Chesapeake for a 2 week cruise. Back in Barnegat Bay we kinda stuck out like a sore thumb. We’re a fairly large boat with a lot of solar panels and a wind generator. Not a very common sight back on the bay. Anyway, he remembered the boat and stopped in for a quick hello. It’s hard to believe that we’ve been gone for 3 years already.

As for us, life’s been treating us pretty good. Christy’s been taking care of a lot of our boat chores and I’ve been working. Work has actually been a pretty good gig. I like the fact that it’s always something different.

It’s also been eye opening. No matter what kind of boat maintenance woes we might have it seems that somebody else has something worse going on. I met a woman the other day whose father died and left his sailboat to her and her husband. They love the boat and are using the boat as much as possible. Unfortunately, it seems that Dad didn’t actually believe in taking care of his boat.

It’s a bit Spartan but nice enough. Unfortunately the boat needs thousands of dollars worth of work to get it back in normal running condition. It needs belts and hoses, an oil change, a raw water impeller and a new transducer for the depth sounder. An external oil line is rotted to the point of leaking. The raw water sea strainer actually has a hole rotted right through the bottom of it. There are literally 20 things on their immediate “to do” list. When presented with the estimate for the list of repairs she never broke her smile and said “great, when can you have it taken care of”. She obviously still in her “new boat” infatuation stage.

I usually bitch about people who come in and drop the hook like they don’t have a care in the world. This couple was from the other end of the spectrum. When they dropped the hook they didn’t

actually set it but they did spend over an hour at the bow monitoring the situation. They alternated between gingerly touching the anchor rode to “feel” if the anchor was dragging and looking all about. It seems that they drag fairly regularly. I guess they didn’t get to the page about actually setting the hook but at least they’re conscientious in their ineptitude.

The other night Christy made some cookies that looked less than appealing. I forgot to put on my poker face when I saw them. She was a little disappointed in the fact that I might find something unappealing just because of the way it looked. Alright, she was pissed and forbade me from having any. After a day or so I was finally allowed to partake in these treasured little gems of culinary delight. Looks aside, these are the best damn cookies I’ve ever eaten. Ever. I’m not just saying that because I want more either. I even served them to friends the other night (after dark) and they thought they were fantastic as well.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

July 4, 2009.

First off, Happy Fourth of July. We hope everyone had clear skies and an unimpeded view this evening.

Jerry Lewis used to do a huge telethon every year to raise money for finding the cure for Muscular Dystrophy. I’m not really even sure what Muscular Dystrophy is but Jerry seemed pretty sincere and worked very hard to help in its eradication.

The whole pink ribbon thing has really taken off. Everywhere you look there’s a walk or a cycling event or some other well attended function looking to raise money for the fight against breast cancer. It seems that great strides forward have been made in survivability and a cure is surely in the near future.

But, what about stupid? There are no telethons or marches to raise money in an effort to fight the plague of “stupid” that ravages our nation. Do you know why? I do. You can’t cure stupid. Try as you might…dress em’ up , send em’ to school…they can earn diplomas, degrees and honors of all types and still be stupid as a stone. (a quick apology to all the stones that I’ve lumped together with that unfortunate bit of stereotyping)

Through exhaustive research into “stupid” I’ve uncovered a chink in the DNA of stupid people. They seem to completely lack or at least have an undeveloped “common sense” gene. The lack of common sense seems to be at the root of the epidemic of stupidity running unchecked today.

Yesterday we met stupid head on, or should I say bow on. We’ve been anchored in Spa Creek in Annapolis for 2 weeks now. With the advent of the holiday weekend the river has been getting increasingly more crowded with both anchored boats and boat traffic.

There’s a constant parade of powerboats taking a slow river cruise. Most boats have several people on board as the local boat owner takes his “out of town” company for a quick “Gilligan”. (A 3 hour tour, a 3 hour tour) We’ve had no less than a half dozen boats sporting “Annapolis” as their home port try to anchor near us here in the river.

It seems that being from Annapolis and having a boat does not actually make you a mariner. I guess living here with your boat at a dock, going out for a sail and coming back to the dock doesn”t get you a lot of anchoring practice. I know I’m a bit of an anchoring snob but I gotta say, most of these people couldn’t drop and set a hook to save their lives. I mean its truly pathetic although quite entertaining. This has nothing to do with stupid, it was just an observation, the stupid part is coming up……

I had yesterday off because of the holiday. We spent an hour during the afternoon jerry jugging water out to the boat. It takes me about a minute to drive the dink to the water dock. Once there it takes about 5 minutes to fill the 2 jugs and then it’s another minute back to the boat.

I was on my sixth trip when I arrived back at the boat and I could tell Christy was pretty pissed. (It’s an awareness I’ve developed) It seems that the 40 foot powerboat that’s floating 60 feet off our starboard side had just hit us. Christy had just poked her head up from below figuring that it was time for me to be back with the water. Instead of me heading her way she was shocked to see a forty foot piece of shit powerboat 3 feet away and broadside to our bow. There were 4 adults and an older teenager on board and none of them had any idea that they were even near us.

Christy screamed out “hey!” and they all jumped an turned just as our second anchor sitting in its bow roller started to dig a very satisfying gouge into their port side. The “captain” started to yell at Christy to fend him off as his “crew” sat there dumbstruck. Christy was already on her way forward, grabbed the boat pole and was able to clear him from us as he drifted down our starboard side. She was also able to give him a good reaming and to point out his shortcomings as a mariner.

He was screaming that he had one engine out and was unable to maneuver. Oh my God, only one engine, how will they ever survive? He almost hit the boat behind us before he decided to use his remaining engine and move off into the clear. Once clear of the anchored boats, his boat was facing down river so he took off. The f*#ker just hit and ran us.

At about this time I got back to the boat with our jugs of water. Christy filled me in on what had just happened. I pulled the dink around to the front of the boat and checked for damage. Fortunately we were unmarked. Christy assured me that he has a ten foot long reminder of our encounter along his port side. The 45 pound CQR is a decent anchor and makes a hell of a ball point pen.

I know that I promised to leave out the names of some boats in an effort to protect someone from embarrassment but in this case I think that it’s warranted. So if you are ever anchored anywhere in the Chesapeake and return to find that your boat has been damaged by another boat that did not stick around to make amends…….. It was probably the Pussy Cat, a 40 foot older powerboat with a 10 inch tall faded pink cove stripe out of Severna Park, Maryland.

The fun didn’t end yesterday. This morning we woke to find a small powerboat anchored in front of the sailboat ahead of us. After a getting our shit together we were headed to shore in the dink when I realized that the powerboat had moved dramatically closer to the boat in front of us.

We swung by the sailboat and asked if that was their perception as well. The woman on board replied “ Oh Christ, yeah, he already dragged between all of us earlier this morning and it looks like he’s moving again”. This is like a 19 foot cuddy cabin, tiny assed powerboat. There’s literally 5 knots of breeze…...if that and he’s dragging. We moved alongside him and rapped on the hull. He popped up and said “Oh no, not again” and went about fixing the situation.

I wonder if I could start a grass roots movement, maybe even a telethon in an effort to do some stupidity research. There’s gotta be a cure. Hmmm, maybe I can get a government grant.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

June 30, 2009.

There’s been nothing of note to report as of late, unless you want to read about work. Works been pretty good. There’s been something different every day, which is good.

It’s especially fun being here in Annapolis because so many cruising boats are coming through. I had to cure a starting problem for a cruising boat just yesterday. The cool thing about it was that since they were on a mooring down in the basin I got to take the bosses Boston Whaler down to the mooring field to do the repair. It was the furthest I’ve ever driven a powerboat.

Before noon today I had to go about 20 miles out of town and fix a fuel delivery problem and then take the boat out for a test drive. It was a little disconcerting to be taking someone else’s boat out without them being on board. The guy didn’t have a GPS and his depth sounder wasn’t working. So I’m on an unfamiliar boat, with no depth sounder, no chart, in waters I’m unfamiliar with and hey look, is that a storm cell headed my way.

Fortunately the boat was a smaller Beneteau and handled like a dream. I backed it out of the slip and smartly down the fairway. She spun around nicely and I made several passes up and down the vaguely marked channel. I had no idea if I had 6 inches or 6 feet under me, it kinda sucked and my ass was sore from being puckered until I once again approached the sanctuary of the slip. I just got the boat tied up, closed up and was unloading my tools when the small front hit. It only poured for a few minutes and it wasn’t as bad as it looked.

In the afternoon I installed a FRESH water anchor wash down on a large powerboat. I can’t even begin to imagine having enough fresh water that I could afford to rinse the mud from my anchor in fresh water. It’s funny to me just how much my definition of “decadence” has changed since we’ve been cruising. Oooh, unlimited fresh water, how decadent.