Monday, December 24, 2012

December 19, 2012. Happy Birthday Allyson.
So I was inside one of the new Bavarias the other day when I encountered this odd little pillow thing. Instead of the traditional armrests one might typically find there was this table pillow.
The armrest continued up and around the small table at the end of the settee. What the purpose is, I don't have a clue although it would be handy if you spilled your beer. Now that we're here for the winter we're going to have to deal with the cold. Its been pretty decent here so far but on the few days that its gotten cold, I thought there was a good chance I might die. When I talk about the cold we've seen I’m talking 40 degrees. 20 degrees just might prove fatal. The engine has also been removed from the boat and sits on a pallet beneath the boat, so progress is being made. Oh, and its almost Christmas, so from our crew to yours click here for our own holiday special.... MERRY CHRISTMAS

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

December 5, 2012.

Sometimes all you need is a warm place in the sun.....

Sunday, December 2, 2012

December 1, 2012.

I could say I've been out of touch, unable to log in, too busy or have some type of writers block but I'd be lying. I've just been in a shitty mood and I'm not sure why. I was having a hard time seeing the humorous side of anything, why, I dunno. Its not like I was rooting for Romney. I sat down and started to write a dozen times but I was unimpressed with my efforts. I think I might be pouting. I've been watching through Facebook as friends and acquaintances head south for the season. I'm happy for them but I'm dying a bit as well. I checked our log and by this day last year we had already bagged a dozen bugs. Uggh. But I'll get over it. Anyway....

Things at work are going really well. We fixed a record amount of broken boat shit this year and broken cruisers have been fixed and have gone south. The yard is 85% full with winter storage boats and it looks like everyone we've committed to will fit. There’s even a reasonable amount of work to keep everyone busy for the winter.

The Veranda is on the hard and disassembly has begun in earnest. First thing on the list was the pulling of the mast. It went pretty well and the mast now lies beside the boat rather than protruding upwards towards the sky. After removing the mast the next thing was the removal of the hard bimini and dodger to allow access for the engines removal. It was a lot more difficult than I had envisioned but the obstructions are gone.

Before being able to remove the engine the generator had to come out. Anyone familiar with my personal piece of shit Fisher Panda generator knows that getting this abomination out of the boat was to be my highlight for autumn. It might have been the sight of the generator lying on a pallet under the boat that broke my personal funk. Ding dong the witch is dead.

The engine has been stripped in an effort to shed some of its reported 500 pounds. Everything has been disconnected and enough levers, fulcrums, inclined planes and block and tackles have been used to make an ancient Egyptian green with envy. One last bit o' finagling on Monday and the mighty Westerbeke will leave the boat after a 27 year stay.

After that there will be a few months of painting, rewiring and re-plumbing before the new engine (hopefully) slips into place. It feels good to be back on the horse....

Thursday, November 8, 2012

November 3, 2012.

We've just finished up a very busy week. We ended up pulling 35 boats from the water last weekend. Then on Monday and Tuesday we monitored everything as Sandy swept through. The rest of the week was spent putting boats back in the water and getting the boat winterization ball rolling for the boats that stayed on the hard.

My Mom lives at the Jersey shore, pretty much right at ground zero as far as Sandy is concerned. Her house is 13 feet above sea level so her only damage was the loss of a few roofing shingles. People living a short walk away had their houses destroyed so she was very lucky. Unfortunately shes got no electric and it looks as if it could be a while before power is restored.

I was talking to her on Thursday evening and asked her what she did that day. She told me that she spent the day sitting in the car. Excuse me? It was 50 degrees in the house so she spent the day reading the newspaper sitting in the car with the windows rolled up depending on the sun beating down to stay warm. Crap. There’s some really cold weather in the immediate future so I talked Mom into coming to stay with us.

Shes not up for a drive like that so on Saturday morning I drove up to Jersey to pick her up. Fortuitously, I have a customer 70 miles up the road thats had a battery failure and I can swing by and hook em' up with a new one. So I was on the road before 0600, met the owner and had the battery in before 0800 and was sitting Moms driveway by 1100. Nice.

Now my Mom is staying with us in Annapolis until power is restored in her part of New Jersey. So what I’m getting from this turn of events is that maybe there might be a higher being in charge of everything after all. I mean, what are the chances that we go south for 6 years in a row and when we opt to stay here Mom needs us.

Higher being, dumb luck or just plain ol' Karma, I dunno but for us, things are working out just fine.

Monday, October 29, 2012

October 28, 2012.

Lets talk about the weather. I don't really want to but if I don't I’ll be the only one on the east coast not talking about the weather. Sandy is being a bit of a bitch. Early in the week she looked as if she was going to stay well offshore. Then in midweek there were predictions of an abrupt turn to the west. Damn.

Last year during hurricane Irene we kept the Veranda in her slip and dutifully checked her lines all night. The wind blowing the water out of the Chesapeake was canceled by the higher than normal tides. So we sat in our protected slip with no ill effects. Was there some risk? Yeah. Did we dodge a bullet? Maybe.

So, faced with our second relevant hurricane in 2 years we decided we were living on borrowed time and pulled the boat. A couple of dozen boaters called up asking to be pulled before Sandy's Monday arrival. So we spent Friday moving boats around on the hard in an effort to make space for the sudden influx of new boats.

Then we spent Saturday and Sunday pulling and blocking about 30 boats. We worked for a bit on Monday finishing up last minute details and we're as ready as we're gonna be. So we sent everyone home and now we'll play it by ear.

We're safely tucked away in our rental home. The wind is in the 20's, the tide is normal and for now, things look good.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

October 16, 2012.

Yeah, its official. We're dirt dwellers, albeit temporarily. Because of the stayin' up north due to the whole tearing the boat apart for the refit thing we needed a place to live. Hopefully a place warm enough that I would not have to write a blog post where the words icicles and testicles appear in the same sentence.

We have friends that are heading south for the winter on their sailboat. Fortunately for us they have a lovely home here in Annapolis that they've agreed to rent to us for the winter. So we're moving to Beverly..... Hills that is, swimmin' pools, movie stars. Yeah, yada yada...are there anymore words to that song? I dunno. Yeah, anyway, for the time being we're now officially CLODS (Cruisers living on Dirt).

We thought we'd move in over the course of a few days but the plan accelerated itself a little bit. All my clothes filled 3 cardboard boxes and Christys only filled 4 (not counting shoes of course). Since we were ahead of the curve we grabbed all of our food and headed over to the house. When I say “grabbed our food” I’m talking 2 truckloards.

The townhouse is laid out very much like the townhouse we left behind in New Jersey including a large closet style pantry. Christy started filling the pantry as I lugged boxes of food upstairs and a funny thing happened. Before we knew it every shelf was packed and the pantry was officially full. And we still had a shitload of food in boxes. I guess this is what happens when you stow food in every nook and cranny on the boat; you end up carrying a lot more food than you imagined. Storing can goods under the seating in the living room like we do on the boat would be a little awkward so we'll have to work something else out.

I even found a few surprises. I gave up milk chocolate last year but we took some dark chocolate with us to the Bahamas. I had some every once in a while but was under impression that we had run out so imagine my surprise when I uncovered this little stash. Since it won't fit in the pantry I'm gonna have to take one for the team and eat it all as quickly as possible.

Autumn is happening around us, we're firmly entrenched on land, the boat comes out in a week or so and then the real work begins....

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

October 13, 2012. So its boat show time again. Every year its pretty much the same ole’ same ole’. The same boat manufacturers showing this seasons latest and the greatest.  Every once in a while there’s something new that makes you stop and say WOW.  Sometimes it’s “Wow”, how cool or why didn’t I think of that but a surprising amount of the time its more like “Wow, What the hell were they thinking”.  A new trend I saw this year was the deck mounted winches on the new generation of catamarans. In the past the winches were mounted on the cabin top somewhat in the helmsman’s line of vision.  So to get rid of this possible safety issue the trend seems to be to mount the winches down on an angled panel adjacent to the instrument panel.  The way the lines are now led up and over a stainless plate mounted on the corner of the cabin top just seems kinda wrong to me.
Years ago lines had to be led “clean”.  Now it seems that with stainless plates, electric winches and fancy schmancy high strength line anything goes. I do enjoy looking through the vendor booths in search of something new and cool.   Since we’re starting our refit I did spend some quality time with the people at Garmin and Beta Marine.   But on a whole I’ve become a little boat show cynical.  One thing that hasn’t changed for me is using the boat show as an opportunity to meet people.  I interact with a lot of people on the internet by either reading their blog or by them following ours.  I said it before but it always freaks me out a bit meeting people who’ve been following our blog and know so much about us before we’ve met. This year we met 3 new to us couples.   Just before the boat show we were able to spend a few hours with Paul & Deb of s/v Kelly Nicole.  We took the skiff out to their boat and picked them up for a little river cruise followed by dinner at Davis’ Pub.  We’ve been following each other’s blog for more than a year so the playing field was a little more level.  They’ve been sailing in Lake Ontario for years and their plan for warm latitude sailing has been suddenly accelerated.  It was good to finally meet them as they headed down to Florida to start another chapter in their sailing life. Then there was a guy I met through work.  Mike was in the yard to sea trial and ultimately buy a beautiful Baba 40.  He recognized me from the blog and we did get to spend some time during the work day talking about boats. Finally while we were walking through the show we ran into Walt & Sally.  We’ve chatted through the blog so they knew we had alcohol in common so we immediately headed over to Armadillos for a couple of cocktails.  We talked about all things boating and were enjoying each others company when the phone rang.  It seems there was a problem at the marina. A customer had left earlier in the day in his sailboat and was reporting an issue.  He said he sailed away earlier in the day and now out in the middle of the bay the boat wouldn’t start.  He said he was going to sail back to the dock and could I be there to help them in docking.  I assured him that with the crowded harbor and the current wind direction sailing onto our docks was not an option.  I advised him to sail close to town and to call TowBoat US to aid him in getting onto the dock.  He agreed but imagine my surprise an hour later when he called and said that he had gotten the engine started and was now safely tied up at our dock BUT now the engine won’t shut down.  Won’t shut down?  He swears the engine won’t shut off.  Crap. He seems to be pretty unfamiliar with his boat so we’ve got to get up and head back to the marina. So we said a quick goodbye and headed back through the boat show. We pushed our way through the crowd with a sense of urgency. We made it back to the water taxi and after a short wait we were whisked back across the river. We double timed the short walk back to the marina and headed down to the waterfront. Sure enough, when we walked up to the boat it was still running. The owner started going through his theories on what was going on or whose fault it might be. I stepped into the cockpit and glanced at the engine panel. He had the key off and the engine was still running. Imagine his surprise when I explained to him that when you shut the key off you were shutting off the power to the panel which includes the kill button. It turned out that he was trying to start the boat by pressing the large red button clearly marked “Off”. But conversely he was trying to kill the thing by just turning the key rather than pressing the big red button. Once I was sure that Captain Alzheimer was all straightened out we headed home to the boat to start packing. Thats right we're moving....

Thursday, October 4, 2012

October 2, 2012. I'm noticing a disturbing trend. On my Monday morning jaunt to work I used to catch the sunrise during the trip. Now I leave in the dark and if I’m lucky I catch a predawn display.....Ugh, the days are getting shorter.
October 1, 2012. So what do you mean that even though I didn't open my thru hull but yet continued to pump furiously and the hose blew off and drenched my Electro San's circuit boards in fecal matter that I didn't bother to clean off and the thing failed that its not a warranty issue? Yes, that was one sentence.
I mean, if you drench sensitive electronics in fecal fluid and don't bother to clean it up are you really surprised that it fails? And then when you show up to have it repaired you're surprised that its not a warranty item? Seriously? I thinking that people like this flush the most intelligent part of their body down the commode in the morning. And hey look its Boat Show.....

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

September 21, 2012.

Lets talk about something we all have in common.  Thats right, death.  The big D, the final D.

Two years ago a dockmate, Tom, passed away.  He was a full time liveaboard and one day he just didn't make it topside.  While thats sad enough, the fact that his boat is still sitting there unattended after 2 years makes things just a bit more gloomy.

A leaking thru hull allowed the water to rise above the engine.  As a result the boats interior is pretty well shot and the engine may never run again.  The problem was addressed but the boat still just sits, slowly falling into disrepair.  Even the poor dink is starting to fade away as it grows weeds.

The impetus for this topic is driven by a recent death that struck a little closer to home.  Davey, the longtime travel lift operator at the Annapolis Harbor Boat Yard passed away this week.  He had been a fixture on the waterfront here in Eastport for more than 30 years.  He was soft spoken and kinda gruff in a monosyllabic sorta way.  He was good at his job and didn't suffer all.  Whether it was regular tasks on a normal day or in a middle of the night emergency,  Davey was a cornerstone here at the boatyard.

His passing deeply hurt those who knew him best.  My boss, Johan decided to write a farewell tribute of sorts, when I read his thoughts on Daveys passing I was truly touched by the sentiment he put forth.

“Few times in life can any single person affect so many. This was the case with David Sells. During the week Davey, as his coworkers and friends called him worked diligently in the boatyard between First and Second streets in Eastport. He was the last lift operator for Trumpy Yachts, the first for Annapolis Harbor Boat Yard, the first for Steve’s Yacht Repairs and he retired a bit over a year ago much to the disappointment of many that had the privilege of working alongside him. His work ethic, dedication and timeliness have never been matched by anyone before or since. When the travel lift that Davey ran for nearly 30 years was sold and being disassembled Davey was the last to say good-bye, even signing the support  just before the last piece was pulled apart.

Friday night through Saturday the other side of Davey came out and there was an entirely new character to be introduced as “Budweiser Dave.” Bud-Dave was always the life of the party! The first one to be on the dance floor, the last one off the dance floor and always with a Budweiser in his hands. At times he was like the energizer bunny… never stopping except for a fresh beer or a quick pit stop. Then just as quickly he was back on the dance floor. He shared his passion and enjoyment of life with anyone that would listen and more than likely a few that wouldn’t. A gentle man that took his job seriously and his playtime just as seriously.

This morning on September 13, 2012 David Sells passed away. He is survived by a loving family and more friends than any person could wish for in a lifetime.

In memory of Davey and Budweiser Dave please join us for a beer lifting this evening from your location of choice. The only requirements are your beer must be a Budweiser and close friends should be nearby. Davey, you will be missed by many and always in our hearts with memories of the great times we had together. “

So on Friday evening after work all of the employees stayed to hoist a Bud in Daveys honor.  What was even more touching was the fact that we weren't alone.  More than a hundred locals had heard the news of Daveys passing and joined us in tribute.  Customers, boat brokers (apparently they do have hearts), competitors, friends and even the barkeep from Daveys favorite watering hole all showed up to pay tribute.

Once again Johan stepped up and gave a moving speech as he epoxied a huge plastic Budweiser bottle to the top of one of our pilings in remembrance of a good man.  Godspeed Davey.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

September 8,2012.

Last night we decided to have a rum tasting. The plan was for people to bring a bottle of rum cleverly disguised in a paper bag. Our friend Dawn acted as master of ceremonies and doled out shots from the bottles marked 1 through 6.

The general consensus is that #1 may have been turpentine. #2 was much better and an instant crowd favorite. #3 was nice but nothing special while #4 jumped to the top of the list along with #2. #5 & #6 were also judged as being quite tasty but not extraordinary.

While our methods weren't very scientific I did note a few things that I thought were interesting. On the second trip through the bottles, #1 wasn't really that bad. After 2 trips through the bottles we held the voting. 3,5 & 6 all received 1 vote while there was a see saw battle between 2 and 4 with 4 coming out on top at 5 votes to 4. Another thing I noted was that 2 trips through the bottles was all most people could stand. They had found the “good stuff” and wanted to concentrate their efforts there. Evidently “Rummies” are into snap judgments.

4 was clearly the winner but what was interesting was the fact that #2 was so well received while #5 was deemed just “okay” when in fact when unwrapped they turned out to be the exact same rum. Was #2 considered so good because it followed the turpentiny #1? Was #5 only mediocre because it followed the superior #4? There’s definitely going to be more research involved.

For the record:

#1 Brugal from the Dominican Republic

#2 Plantation, a Barbados 5 year

#3 El Dorado, a 15 year old rum from Guyana

#4 Ron Zacapa, a 12 year old dark rum from Guatemala

#5 Plantation, a Barbados 5 year

#6 For some reason exactly what number 6 was eludes me. Numbers 1 through 5 might have something to do with that.

As an added bonus we retired to the boat just as the evenings conversation turned to politics. By the time we'd walked the 75 feet down the dock the debating had become heated but thankfully we were well clear of it.

Monday, September 3, 2012

September 1, 2012.

September is upon us. How in the hell did that happen? Every other year the summer has literally dragged by as we work towards autumn looking forward to the moment we can once again head south. This year, BAM, summers gone and there’s only 399 days left to departure.

As you all know we're making the most of the opportunity and giving the Veranda a major refit. The first draft of our “To Do” list is pretty extensive.
Some of the items are necessary while others have made the list due to convenience. We'll be off the boat for a few months so I’ll be able to really tear the boat apart rather than to try and work around us living in the boat.

Removing the generator and replacing the engine are the biggies. We'll tackle those once we're out of the water. In the mean time we've started addressing what we can. The new mattress is in place (we might as well be comfortable while we're here) and the new stove now lives in the galley.
The old anchor chain is now gone from the locker. Once the anchor locker has been repainted there will be 200 feet of new 3/8ths G-4 slipped inside.

So we've knocked a few of the smaller items off the list but every journey starts with a few steps....

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

August 26, 2012.

Warranty item or not?

We removed a customers starter and even though the label clearly guarantees a 5 year warranty I'm thinkin' thats pretty much not gonna happen.

If he had opted to install the multi-purpose starter/ bilge pump float switch then things might be different. But since he allowed his ordinary run of the mill every day starter to become completely submerged I don't think its a warranty item.

Its not often you get to see a starter with a high water mark on it. Captain, since starters are not designed to be submersible, I'm pretty confident that they're going to expect you to pay for a new one.
August 25, 2012.

Love can make people do irrational things. But then again what I consider to be irrational might seem reasonable to another. So I won't quibble but....

Once upon a time a gentleman from Australia met and married a wonderful girl and they happily sailed their Gulf 32 for years together. But now the Gulf is long gone and his wife has since passed. But for the man the prospect of hunting for and purchasing a sistership to his beloved sailboat has become a quest.

And here in Annapolis we have the object of his desire, another Gulf 32.
He had the benefit of emailed descriptions and pictures before he journeyed halfway around the world to finalize the purchase of the boat of his memories. We were given the job of preparing the boat for shipment on a freighter to the land of the didgeridoo.

While he was here he had to prepare a ships inventory list to satisfy Australian Customs. I was handed the list and while perusing it I came across a few curious items. It seems that in the galley there's 2 squabs. Squabs? Small edible birds? Thanks to the Olympics I now know that a shuttlecock is neither a bird or a penis with a bus pass. Squabs, hmm, I dunno. Further down the list there's 4 seat squabs listed in the forward cabin. And 2 more in the salon. There’s also a squab extension and a squab back piece. WTH?

Among the 200 plus items on the list there’s also a “1 length green rope coxin sheet”. Exsqueeze me? So far Wikipedia has been no help. One of the guys seems to remember gasket material being referred to as coxin but hes a little fuzzy on that. So maybe “green rope coxin sheet” might be stuffing box packing which could be construed as being “rope gasket”. I dunno, we'll see.

The scope and detail of what needs to be done to prep a boat for shipping down under is staggering. Australia and New Zealand seem to have the most stringent rules for an undertaking like this. The bilge in this 30 year old boat has to be SPOTLESS. The fuel and water tanks are empty. The fuel filters are empty and even the refrigerant in the air conditioning system had to be evacuated. The boat had been power washed 2 years ago when it was put on the hard but now its being done again to blast off the copper
film thats formed across the bottom. All the underwater bits have to shine with no evidence of sea life clinging in the nooks and crannies.

Once the mast is down all the rigging and boom will join the rest of the topside unboltables down inside the boat for the journey. I hope he finds what hes looking for....

Saturday, August 25, 2012

August 24, 2012.

Beneteau has their line of Oceanus sail boats and Jeanneau has their Sun Odyssey series. This 40 foot Hanse is an example of the new Hanse Thighblaster series. Having the throttle and shift controls 8 inches off the deck makes boat handling a breeze...if you're a short 8 year old. The boat does come with a leaning post type bench that bridges the aft end of the cockpit but why use that when you can just squat your way across miles of water.
Wow, Johnny, have you been working out? No, I just picked up my new Hanse 40 Thighblaster. Besides the obvious benefit of a lower body workout, there’s no more reason to go below when nature calls. Since you're already squatting anyway.....

Monday, August 20, 2012

August 19, 2012.

We live on a small tributary just inside the mouth of Back Creek. We work right at the mouth of Spa Creek. In the mornings I usually make the short trip on my bike. But on the weekends I often take the company skiff, Bird, home.

Bird makes it possible for Christy & I to take a slow bell cocktail river cruise on Sunday afternoons. We could do the same thing in the dink but Birds size makes it possible to share this simple pleasure with friends. As much as I enjoy this unsophisticated ritual my favorite thing about taking Bird home is the ride to work on Monday morning.

The rising sun, the days breeze has yet to build and thousands of boats all riding quietly in their slips makes for a simple pleasure that tugs at my very being. I actually look forward to those Monday mornings....

Sunday, August 19, 2012

August 18, 2012.

A large trawler showed up the other day with what I thought was an unusual request. He's got this fabulous microwave hanging over the stove and he wants it removed.

He would rather have a range hood installed over the stove. Um, okay. Captain you do realize that the microwave has a built in range hood that seems to work just fine. You do. Okay, as you wish, out with the nuke and in with the hood.

Friday, August 10, 2012

August 5, 2012.

Lets talk about something new. Tugboats. Not actual working tugboats but the tugboat style cruising trawler.

They're kinda cool in a slow boat, nice accommodations, cruising kinda way. There's several different types plying the local waters. And just like sailboats each tug family has its fans and detractors. Some are lightly built while others are tanks. Some are spartan while others are opulent. But they're all of the genus Powerboatus Relaximus.

Near the top of food chain are the Kadey Krogens. We've done a ton of work on two of these beauties recently. One of the tasks that peaked my interest was the owners request that we add a sailboat to his deck.

He's got an upper deck with a crane to lift the dinghy from the deck and safely plop it into the water. Space is kinda tight but sure captain we'll see what we can do. He wanted a Lazer on board. They're 15 feet long, 54 inches wide and weigh about 130 pounds. One of our employees has a Lazer so I got him to bring it to work so we could try it out in different spots.

First we tried anthwartships on its side. We were considering fabricating a stainless steel rack that would work in conjunction with the stern rail to keep the boat in place. Sounded like a good plan, the mock up was received with mixed reviews so we changed tacks. Lets try stacking them.

At 15 feet the Lazer was a little much for the space available so we went with the Lazer Pico. Its a little wider, and 2 feet shorter and turned out to be a great choice. We fabricated 2 cradles that plug into receivers recessed into the deck. The Lazer sits securely in these cradles. Bridging the Pico we designed a stainless steel folding rack to support the dink. It also fits perfectly into receivers we built into the deck. The dink sits in its own set of cradles and when the whole enchilada is strapped down its actually pretty slick.

So now the owner can launch his dink. Fold and stow the rack and then launch the Lazer Pico. We've done a ton of work on the guys boat like new televisions, washer and dryer, toilets and a hundred lesser things. But it was the stackable dinghy/ Lazer combo that really wowed him. Score one for us.

When I said some tugs are built like tanks I wasn't kidding. A 26 foot Nordic Tug was being delivered to us on a trailer to be splashed. While the delivery driver was sitting at a red light a drunk driver rear ended the trailer. The boat and trailer were pushed up onto the truck and the drunk drivers car was totaled. The trailer was pretty much torn in two pieces yet the tug escaped with practically no damage. The U-bolt at the bow was bent over and the keyway in the rudder post was sheared so the rudder can swing freely. There was auto paint on the rudder but it wasn't bent. The key and U-bolt are easy repairs, the trailers totaled, the towing truck has major damage but the boat came through practically unscathed. Go figure.

And while we're on the whole tugboat theme. A couple of years ago while working for another company with Bob and Dullard I had the opportunity to work on an unusual trawler. I made that key on top of the boat spin while the boat is underway. Cute, quirky, dumb, I dunno but the other day I saw it go by and it still spins.

Monday, August 6, 2012

August 4, 2012.

We watched the movies Food,Inc and Forks Over Knives recently and as a result we've decided to try eating healthier. So now I'm a vegan. Christy likes to point out that I'm not actually a vegan but I am trying to adapt to a vegetarian lifestyle.

With this in mind I had Christy stop in at the local Chinese restaurant to pick up a take out menu. Imagine my surprise that when she brought the menu home it was in Spanish. ¿Que? Si, esta en Espanol. I dunno, I guess the local Mexican population eats enough Chinese food to make these menus warranted.

Back at our marina Christy has always had a little something growing. Last year it was strawberries hanging from the boom.
This year its a watermelon plant our friend Laura planted in a huge pot on the dock. Damn if it didn't spit out a pair of watermelons. These dock melons yielded some picture perfect really tasty fruit.

Although they were boat sized....

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

July 22, 2012

Its been a while since my last post. I haven't been uninterested or lazy. Its just that we've both been busier than a one legged man in an ass kicking contest. I'll try to do better.

When a mechanical thing that used to be silent starts making obnoxious grinding noises most people would take this as a bad sign. Most people would stop using the suffering item and get it checked out. Unless they're a power boater. I kid about power boaters because its fun. I'm sure most of them love their country and their children just like normal people do. They just seem to be in a rush. Half of them don't understand what “No Wake” actually means and when shit starts to break they don't have the time to be inconvenienced and don't stop using the complaining part. Once complete and total failure has come about then its time to bring the boat in to get it fixed. Oh, and can you get done by this afternoon. No, I don't have plans to use it but just in case an instantaneous urge to powerboat strikes me I'll be needin' that badboy. Christ.

A midsized Sea Ray came in with an interesting problem. The cockpit deck covers both engines and the majority of the boats systems. There’s been a bit of groaning, grinding and chattering going on for almost a year every time the captain opened this aft deck. The deck weighs upwards of 300 pounds and is pushed up by 2 electrically controlled pistons. Until finally one day, there was much noise but no lifty.

One of the pistons has failed completely and the other one has been trying to do the job for both of them. This extra strain has resulted in the piston shearing its mounting hardware and poking its head straight up through the deck.
So the deck is in the down position with one piston broken and the other sticking up through the deck.

It the event of dead batteries the manufacturer has taken steps to ensure that the deck can be manually opened. There’s a Beckson plate near the top of each piston and the top of the pistons are secured by clevis pins. So you can reach your hand in and pull the cotter ring and pop out the clevis pins. Unless some complete buffoon has come along and decided to re-engineer the damn thing and replace the clevis pin with a bolt and Nylock nut. Why would they do that you ask. Because they're buffoons. Thats what they do when they're not out in their car driving slow in the left lane.

The Beckson plates are only 4 inches in diameter and so is my forearm. The holes were placed perfectly in the exact spot as to be totally useless. If I stuck my arm in up to the middle of my forearm I could just get fingertips on the bolt. If I jammed my arm in up to my elbow than the bolts were right in the middle of my forearm and I couldn't get a touch on them at all. Several of the guys tried but there was no joy in broken Sea Rayville.

Since one of the pistons was already disconnected we used 5 guys to lift and pry until we had enough of a gap to get a guy in under the deck to disconnect the damn lid. New pistons have been ordered and once the deck is repaired the boat will be returned to its owner.

Monday, July 2, 2012

July 1, 2012.

Every other weekend I have to work on Saturday morning. This weekend was my “off” weekend until the phone rang at 0650.

We had a pretty vicious blow come through late Friday night. There were gusts to 70 knots with the majority of the blow being between 20 and 50 knots. I should have thought ahead and realized that I should run down to the marina in the morning to make sure everything was alright. But I figured that Kervin, who had the Saturday this week, would call me if anything big happened. I was asleep when he called but I *think* he said something about bedroom gymnastics without proper stretching and now his back is out and could I run down there because the marina is a little worse for wear and he can't stand upright.

Big trees were strewn about all along my route to work. The marina and surrounding hood are all without power so I was a little apprehensive about what I would find when I arrived at work. There was shit in the water that didn't belong there. There was stuff on the land that I've never seen before but all the boats at our docks were still floating safely having suffered the storm with no ill effect.

The only big issue was one of the boats blocked for sale at the local broker had his genoa partially deploy. Usually they make you take your headsail down when the boats are going to be on the hard for an extended period of time. But this guy had put a bolt through his furling drum so it couldn't spin thus preventing an accidental deployment. But Mother Nature scoffs at the plans of man. He insisted it would be fine and I let him get away with it. That won't happen again.

While the drum didn't spin, there was enough looseness in the wrap of the sail for the wind to get in.
It filled the top third of the sail and did its best to reek havoc. The sacrificial covering is shredded and now tangled in such a manner that the sail can't be opened or completely furled without a trip up the mast. I wrapped it as tight as I could but we'll have to deal with it properly on Monday. I'm just glad the boat didn't come off the stands.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

June 28, 2012.

A guy called us yesterday and asked if we could take a 30 foot Sea Ray off a trailer and put it in the water for him. I figured it would be a quickie and since the travel lift didn't have a whole lot on its schedule, no problem. And then the boat showed up.....

The upper superstructure had been removed for trailering and was lashed to the foredeck. From the ground the boat looked pretty run down but whatever. We just have to launch it and it leaves for a slip at a marina down the river. After we had the boat hanging in the air the captain explained to me that he has to return the trailer to Baltimore but he'll be right back.

Fine. We'll launch the boat and put it in the only space I have available until he gets back. As the boat was lowered into the water the true condition of the boat became apparent.

The upper helm station was hanging down into the cockpit by its electrical harness and steering cables and there were boat bits strewn everywhere.
Once the boat was in the water but still in the slings its standard procedure to check the bilge for leaks. Abner, the lift operator raised the cockpit floor and almost shit himself. We picked the boat back up a few feet. We normally adjust a leaking stuffing box when we launch a boat but this was something much more involved.

Both engine seacocks were open but both sea strainers were missing their lids.
There’s zero battery power so the bilge pump doesn't work and there’s already substantial water in the bilge. So our guys grabbed a portable pump and dropped it into the bilge and pumped her dry.

We closed the seacocks and lowered her to try it again. Both stuffing boxes were leaking like sieves and one of the seacocks was loose in the hull and gushing water. So we snatched her back out again while a call was placed to the owner. It turns out hes not the owner but a marine mechanic and this gem is his clients newest purchase. He promised to be back in an hour and asked us “to please, please not block her up on land”. He'd stem the leakage and get her outta here. Fine.

An hour to Baltimore and back is impossible but after an hour and a half I was having nightmares about just having inherited a yard queen. Two hours later he was back. Three hours later the leaks were sealed and a towboat arrived to haul her away.

Just a few random shots so you can appreciate my dilemma....That clump of fur in the sunbeam at the base of the companionway stairs was the remains of some unfortunate critter that decided this was a good place to die.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

June 25, 2012.

Lets talk about shore power cords. Even the most anal boating enthusiast takes their shore power cord for granted. No moving parts, plug it in and forget it. Whats to worry about. Who cares that this connection provides the 70 million megajoules of power needed to run your air conditioner, hair dryer, toaster oven and microwave. Preventative maintenance is for worry warts.

Twice this week we've had power cord incidents. The first was a large sailboat that needed repair. We had to drive to the boats home marina and pick it up to bring it to our facility for service. When the delivery crew tried to unplug the boat from its cord they found that it was welded together. Combine crappy connections, complete neglect with prolonged exposure to the weather and its not surprising that failure at this simple connection is so common.

When we called the owner to tell him that his boat was ready he was floored by the fact that we had to remove his burned cord end and replaced it with a new end. Since HES never had a problem with it he was certain that WE must have screwed it up. Yeah, thats it Cap. You got me, I was just tryin' to pad your bill by an extra 30 bucks. Its got nothing to do with the fact that you haven't looked at that connection since the spring of 67 when you last unplugged your boat. Christ.

Today we got a call from a guy who said his battery charger didn't seem to be working. There was power at the pedestal. The shore power cord checks good but no power is getting to the charger.
Upon further exploration it was discovered that the receptacle mounted in the transom had some issues. You know, corrosion, crappy connection, molten plastic and fire, the usual stuff.

Friday, June 22, 2012

June 17, 2012.

The hand of God is upon us. Anybody who really knows me just read that and said WTH? I have a real hard time believing in a higher power in charge of everything. I understand that organized religion provides great comfort and fellowship for millions of people. I don't care if you pray, worship, chant or tap dance at midnight under an Elm tree. As long as it makes you happy and doesn't hurt anyone else then I'm all for it.

I say that I live my life according to Karma. I try to make a positive impact with everyone that I interact with. Could you imagine the state of the middle east if everyone just tried to be pleasant to everyone else rather than blowing each other to bits in the name of religion. Anyway....

The tall ship Sailabration was going on in Baltimore and we had a fantastic offer to attend. There were dozens of tall ships in the harbor complimented by a Blue Angles air show on Saturday. My boss was borrowing a friends multi million dollar power yacht and taking a dozen or so friends up to Baltimore for the festivities. And we were invited. Woo-hooo.

So I was pretty excited about going until I shared Saturdays plan with Christy. That was when she told me we weren't going. Excuse me? Why the hell not? She laid out her concerns. It was going to be about a 6 or 8 hour day, on a boat with strangers. We don't know anybody, what if they get seasick, what happens if somebody brings a screaming infant? Seriously. Those are your concerns?

I can get along with anyone. So what if they're strangers, I can be strange too. Vomit, just another use for scuppers, not a valid concern. Lazarette is actually French for “screaming baby receptacle”. Just open up the lid, slip the screaming child inside amongst the fenders and docklines, close it up tight and the noise goes away. Come on Honey, we're going. She tells me I can go, but she is not. I'm bright enough not to accept that offer. But Honey, its tall ships AND the Blue Angels. Nope, not going. Crap.

So we were at an impasse with no resolution in sight. And that was when a higher being settled the matter for us. At 0700 on Saturday morning our head clogged. And not just any clog. I'm talking a clog of biblical proportions. A clog so heinous that it required the complete removal of every section of sanitation hose to find and remove the blockage. Of course, it was in the last section I removed but I did find it. Lets just say it took several hours with head funk running everywhere to remedy.

The only bright spot of the whole debacle was that the town pump out boat arrived earlier than anticipated and relieved me of having to try to deal with this mess with a full fecal tank. Praise God.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

June 14, 2012.

Its not all work for us while we're here. Its close but there is some time for some fun. On Wednesday evenings here in Annapolis racing takes center stage. One of my co-workers has a slip right near the center of the action. On breezy Wednesdays we grab some drinks and join them for pizza and race watching.

For me the most interesting part of the race course is the section that transits the mooring field just 300 yards short of the finish line. From week to week the wind direction is often different and that combined with the amount of boats on moorings it can make the finish not so cut and dry.Sometimes the last 600 yards is a downwind drag race while other times it becomes a tacking duel through an obstacle course.

This week the wind was such that it was a bash towards the mooring field and as they turned towards the finish line the spinnakers popped out. Dozens of boats in different classes attempting to overtake each other under full chutes while blasting through a crowded mooring field made for some exciting times.

Time and again trailing boat would attempt to pull off a pass in front of our “reviewing” stand. Boats would cover the lead guy and as they caught up to him they would pull out to windward only to have the lead boat use one of the moored boats to shut the door on the attempt. Then every trailing boat would veer across their stern and try to slingshot past them through their lee.You can see it in this 3 picture series. The red spinnaker is trying to hold off the overtaking white guy. The white guy hits the reds lee, luffs and its sayonara sappy.

It was the same thing over and over. One unsuccessful pass after another as every one of them had their spinnakers luff as they struggled to pass on the leeward side of the guy they were chasing.

It was as if each trailing boat was only watching their owns sails and the position of the guy they were chasing. If they would only look 200 yards ahead of them they would have been able to see how their attempt at passing was going to play out before they had to suffer through trying it.

Finally one guy covered the guy he was chasing and then as the door slammed on him he veered out to starboard and roared down the opposite side of the moored boats. He had a bit more distance to cover but he had slowed his opponent enough and literally blew by him as he drove for the finish line.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

June 12, 2012.

The customer is always right. Thats the expression. However the expression is not “EVERY customer is always right”. Most customers are right, some customers are wrong but when you reveal “right” to them they embrace it and because of their willingness to accept whats right, they become “right” themselves. And then there’s the other 1%, the dumbf@k.

Today I dealt with a dumbf@k. This couple has lived on their boat for 15 years. They've decided to swallow the hook and sell their boat. We pulled the boat from the water and blocked it up for a local broker. As a result of being in constant use for 15 years there’s a few items that need to be taken care of before the broker is willing to dedicate any effort by showing the boat. So we have a very short list of repairs to make.

One of the items was to remedy the “odor” in the head. So I climbed up into the boat to gather the necessary intel to give a proper estimate as to what it might cost to eliminate the airborne foulness. The inch and a half poopie hoses were of 3 different varieties. Ancient black hose, some newer white hose and some clear hose. I've never seen clear poop hose but it would be kinda cool to watch the corn from last nights chili con carne as it made its way to the holding tank. Then there was the leaking manual pump to pump shit overboard and what I believe to be the prototype for the original Jabsco toilet. Even more suspect than the 20 year old toilet was the shelf it sat upon. 20 years of overspray and general head funk had taken its toll on the bowls now sagging, soggy support structure. Can you smell what I'm sayin' here?

I called the owner to give him my opinion that 15 feet of new hose, a new manual pump, a new toilet and rebuilding the toilet base would do the trick in exorcising the malodorous smell. He was already a little peeved that we wouldn't “fix” the floor in his galley by gluing the delaminated flooring back into place. I told him that it would take between 8 and 12 hours to cut out the bad section and repair or replace all the bad substructure and to install new flooring. I had to explain that what we endeavor to do is “fix” problems while what he was asking us to do was “hide” the problem. Huge difference, especially if our names going to be connected to the “fix”.

At one point I thought we had been disconnected. It turns out that he was probably just counting to ten. He was furious that I was insinuating that their head was a shit hole (pun intended). But its really the only way to “fix” the problem because there’s not enough potpourri on the planet to “hide” this one.

He was screaming, I was mondo polite which only seemed to make him madder. After I got off the phone with him we arranged with the broker to have the broker talk to the customer and relay his wishes to us as nobody should have to talk to a dumbf@k like this guy.

While we're waiting for a head odor remedy decision to come through the grapevine from the owner I sent a mechanic onto the boat to knock out the other small already approved items from the punch list.

One was to find and fix the leak at the galley sink which had destroyed the flooring. I wonder how long this has been leaking?

My favorite by far was the tach remounting. The owner left a proper mounting bracket on the boat for us to install. The mechanic opened up the panel and found that the tach was held in place by a catchers mitt sized wad of duct tape globbed over the tach from behind. What was even more interesting was the condition of the tach.

It works, we could mount it with the new bracket and a potential buyers surveyor would never find it. We just won't do it. Somewhere down the line that tachs gonna fail and when they see its condition they're gonna shit. Then they're gonna see that we “installed” it just before the sale and who's gonna look like the bad guy. Ain't gonna happen.

I'm just glad I don't have to make the phone call.....