Sunday, October 27, 2013

Rollin, rollin, rollin.....

October 26, 2013.

From Elizabeth City to the southern end of the Pungo Canal is 76 miles. With sunrise at 0720 and sunset at 1818 that leaves us with about 11 hours of daylight. 76 miles is ambitious so the answer is obviously leave in the dark. We'll get up at 0630 and be underway 15 minutes after that. And a funny thing happened on the way to this plan.

The alarm went off, I jumped up, hit the head and was brushing my teeth when Christy asked why I was up so early. We have our old chartplotter mounted next to the bed and I use it as a drag alarm. I set the range for 80 feet so when we're anchored in a tidal creek it wakes me when the tide swings us so I can make sure all is well. The drag alarm only beeps 4 times so when it went off, I hit the alarm clock, the drag alarm stopped. I thought that the alarm had gone off and was up brushing my teeth at 0430 instead of 0630. Crap. Back to bed for 2 hours.

Its cold, we do what we have to to get south. One benefit of this is seeing the sunrise from the cockpit as you head south.
Another benefit is punch drunk, sunrise selfies in your the cold weather wardrobe...

Breaking Away

October 25, 2013.

Because of all the new equipment and systems on the boat I agreed with Christy to do the Chesapeake in a series of jumps rather than our usual overnighter. It's always easier to deal with issues in the daylight.

We left Annapolis at 0900 on Tuesday and headed out into a calm bay with very light winds.
I usually don't like motoring but the new engine only had 2 hours on it so it had to be broken in sooner or later. We ended up sailing for about half the day so we got to try out the new mainsail that I still had never raised. Either power or sail, the boats pretty fast. I'm happy. The only issues we had the first day was getting used to the sound of the new engine and some smells. At first we thought it was something burning but I guess it was just everything in the engine room getting cured by the first prolonged bout with heat. We anchored in the Mill Creek side in Solomons Island for our first night on the hook in a year and a half.

Wednesday morning we woke to heavy rain and debated heading out. Then we did. We had cold, we had rain, we had wind. It was dreary and miserable but we also had ample wind from a good direction and we blasted south. We had wind with the tidal flow at the mouth of the Potomac so it was flat and fast.
The rain did abate long enough to see some of the icebergs of the Chesapeake along our route.

On Thursday we had a nice day of sailing down to Mill Creek in Hampton Roads. With 3 days underway under our belts we decided to apply ourselves.

Transiting Norfolk can be a pain in the ass. And the pimple on that ass is the Gilmerton Bridge. The Gilmerton is closed from 0630 until 0930 every day for rush hour. We timed our leaving from Hampton Roads to allow us to make the 0930 opening.
We caught a train bridge, missed the Gilmerton, circled for an hour, caught another train bridge, seriously?

We got to the lock at the Dismal Swamp after it should have been closed and made it in by the skin of our teeth. It turned out that the reason the locking wasn't done yet was that the temporary lock keeper was slow a shit. We didn't get out of the 1100 lock until 1230.
The lock keeper assigned which boats would leave first so we were stuck behind 2 tiny boats that cruised the swamp at less than 5 knots. Fortunately they stopped at the welcome center and we roared the last 5 miles to the second lock. Which had started the locking process early. Damn. We thought we were condemned to spending the night in the swamp when the lock keepers conscience got the better of him. He drove back down, reopened the bridge, reopened the lock and let us and 2 other boats in. We all locked through quickly and while 2 of the boats opted to anchor at Goat Island we decided to try to cover the 19 miles to Elizabeth City in 2 and a half hours before dark.

You don't want to be doing this section of the ICW in the dark. Crab pots, cypress stumps and Boogeymen are around every corner. We were in the last few turns when sunset came, we had a corner to go when Nautical Twilight ended and we arrived at the bridge in the pitch damn dark. We were happy though, once through the bridge we were going to anchor in a familiar spot so we called and requested a bridge opening.

The bridge keeper answered immediately, stopped traffic, hit the big “UP” button and nothing. He called down and said he was having a problem with the bridge. What is it with bridges today? Damn. He opened the gates and traffic started across the bridge again. He let traffic clear and tried the whole process again. Success!

We drove a couple hundred yards and dropped the hook after a 12 and a half hour day happy to be in North Carolina

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

October 23, 2013.

We finally managed to break away after 18 months in Annapolis. The big reason we opted to stay in Annapolis for the winter was to give the Veranda a facelift. I guess a facelift is a bad analogy, it was more like a multiple organ transplant.

The refit included the installation of a new engine and the removal of the God forsaken Fischer Panda generator. The engine room was completely stripped down to the bare walls so new soundproofing, engine bed and lighting could be installed. The mast was pulled from the boat and painted. Then I rewired it with all new lighting and a new radar before being restepped. We even went for a new Schaefer Roller Furler. I moved the location of the raw water strainer, the dual Racor fuel filters, the fresh water pump and its manifold and I installed a proper monster of a bilge pump.  There was also a new oven, a new head, new chain, a new windlass and chaps for the dinghy.

We completely changed the arrangement of our nav instruments in the cockpit. We eliminated 3 separate nav pods by upgrading the chartplotter to a more modern unit that could interface with the rest of the equipment as one central display. Then we decided to go with a Maretron wind instrument. Its a bit pricey but has no moving parts and gives you barometric pressure, air temperature as well as wind speed and direction. I'm sure it does some other crap but I just haven't got a handle on all the new toys yet. The new Airmar transducer supplies depth and water temperature. The new digital radar and all the other toys display their info on the new Garmin chartplotter.

One of the biggest changes was a new mainsail. That upgrade almost killed me and its the only thing we didn't do ourselves. I dropped the old sail off at the sailmakers in January and left a 33% deposit and asked to pick the new sail up in June or July, no rush. Imagine my surprise when I walked in in 6 months later and the sail hadn't even been started. I got a sob story about lawsuits and an aborted take over. I did get an assurance that the sail would be done without fail by September first. I've done business with him before and recommended this guy to others so like an asshole I believed him.

I walked over to the loft in the first week of September and the place was pretty much empty. There was a guy sitting there and he introduced himself as Scott Gibbs of Evolution Sails. I explained why I was there and he said “Oh no, not another one”. It seems that the former owner of the sailoft had taken more than a few deposits and failed to produce those sails. Evolution Sails had bought his business and was now embroiled in a huge legal battle with the former owner.

I was like, “that sucks but where does that leave me?” Because it is all about me, ask my wife. He assured me that Evolution Sails would stand behind the previous owners promises. They honored the price and the deposit that the previous owner had kept for himself, showed up the next day to measure the boat and promised a new sail in 2 weeks.

It did take a bit longer than that but to be fair I wasn't the only customer to blindside him at the time. They came and installed the new sail but thats when I found out that they don't actually make the stack packs but farm them out. The problem was that there was a backlog of 5 to 6 weeks in getting a new stack pack. That would have run us into November and you know how we feel about the cold.

I'm not sure what she said but on Friday Christy called him up and must have pitched a bit of a bitch. On the following Tuesday morning Scott Simmons for the Cambridge Canvas and Coverloft showed up to measure the boat. He called me that afternoon at work and told me he'd be by the next day for a dry fit but needed some fittings installed on the mast.

When I got home that night Christy hoisted me up the mast and I installed the fittings for the Lazy Jacks even though I thought it was probably a waste of time. Color me surprised, no shocked, when I got home on Wednesday evening and the new bag was done and installed. A new stack pack measured, fabricated and installed, 2 days.

As far as I'm concerned Scott Gibbs from Evolution Sails stepped into a mess of a situation and saved the day for us on the Veranda. And as for Scott Simmons of the Cambridge Canvas and Coverloft, he only performed an f'ing miracle. Kudos.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


has left the building.  Annapolis has been good to us but its time to go.....

Sunday, October 20, 2013

October 7,2013.

Lets talk healthy crap for a bit. My wife has me on a diet that includes coconut oil as a staple. She uses coconut oil for all cooking ie sauteing, baking and as a substitute for butter across the board.

Christy just had me read a book titled “Alzheimer’s Disease, What if there was a cure?” by Dr. Mary Newport. It was VERY interesting and made me glad to be a coconut oil user.

One of the cool things about coconut oil is that above 76° Fahrenheit its a liquid. Once the temperature falls below 76° the oil congeals into a Crisco like solid. Its nice when you can look at a jar of coconut oil and tell the temperature. Now if I could just get apple pie to give me the wave height and wind speed we'd be all set.

At the end of the book are a few pages of typical coconut oil recipes.
Christy made the coconut oil fudge yesterday and its absolutely delicious. You have to eat them quickly though. When you take them out of the fridge they start to melt as soon as they hit the magical temperature.

I know we're (read that, Christy) are a little over the top when it comes to healthy eating but the diver who cleaned our bottom made me think we might be headed in the right direction after all. She showed up and cleaned the bottom so we can depart soon and she presented us with our bill plus a hand out on the 20 benefits of using apple cider vinegar.

Christy has had apple cider vinegar as a part of our diet for about 2 years. So the benefits of ACV were not new to us but it was comforting to see that we're not alone in our dietary eccentricities.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

October 13, 2013.

The Annapolis Fall Sailboat is ending tomorrow. Its been a great year if you're selling foulies. Its done nothing but rain ridiculously hard for days. I don't remember it ever raining this much on consecutive days.

We didn't even go to the show this year as we're both just so busy with work and getting our boat ready to head south. The highlight of my workweek was when an owner came back from running errands and thought my toolbag sitting in his cockpit looked like a promising spot to stand his wet umbrella. My toolbag is sitting high and dry under his bimini and he thinks it would make a perfect umbrella stand. Idiot.

Oddly enough when he went to claim it to go back out it had disappeared. It was nowhere to be found. Perhaps he left it on the bus or a gust of wind blew it over the side. There was some wind. Some.....

Sunday, October 6, 2013

October 4, 2013.

Tom was an old guy down the dock. He was like 56 or something, maybe a little older, okay, maybe 15 or 20 years older but anyway, one morning he didn't make it topsides. He passed peacefully in the night in the aft cabin of his Hunter 45.

Tom was living alone and several months passed before somebody came to lay claim to the Hunter. By the time the family showed up to claim the boat it seemed that close to a year had passed and the marina owner was sitting there with a year of back slip fees waiting to be paid.

During the back and forth between the parties the boat partially sank. It went bow down a foot but was pumped out and floats just fine today. The family looted the boat for anything of value and left the boat to sit. The marina owner did what ever it is that they do to take possession of the boat. He now owns it free and clear, wants to sell it and called me about seeing whether or not the Hunter would run.

I went over to check the boat out and was surprised at what I found. It's powered by a 75 horsepower Yanmar. There’s some really bad corrosion on the injectors and the turbo is a solid wad of rust but other than that it wasn't as bad as I expected. Its got an 8KW Kohler generator that was in decent shape with only 289 hours showing on the clock. It looks as if the high water never got as high as either the engine or generator.

The salon floor will need to be completely refinished as the water seems to have made it up to the forward floorboards. The house bank lived under the salon floor and thats where it died when the water rose above it. All the moisture being in the boat has really compromised everything in the electrical system and grew some ferocious mildew throughout.

All of the wiring below the floors will have to be replaced as corrosion is just rampant. I opened up the electrical panel and found rust on the screw heads of the entire negative 12 volt bus that was so bad I couldn't tell if the screws were Philips or slotted. The starting battery for the engine and generator lives high and dry behind the electrical panel. Unfortunately it looks as if it had frozen and split as the battery box was full of acid.

SO the new owner wants to sell the boat and wants to know what runs and what doesn't. He doesn't want to invest any money other than me doing the minimum necessary to try and get the engine and genset running. Tom moved on to the ethereal realm of the eternal beam reach 3 years ago and I don't think he ever left the dock in the 2 preceding years. Five years without being run is a long time for any engine. Throw in excessive corrosion and the prospects look dim.

I brought a new starting battery and a few gallons of diesel down to the boat to see whats what. I installed the new starting battery and gave the generator a flick of the switch just to see if it would even spin. There is voltage at the starter but the solenoid doesn't move at all, just a muted buzz. Attempting to introduce an artificial harmonic vibration (beating it) didn't help. The main engine spins over by hand but it doesn't crank over either.

So it looks as if its going to be listed with a non running engine and generator. She's going to need a complete rewiring and some cosmetics below. The refrigeration and air conditioners are rusted wads that still work but who can say for how long. The chartplotter boots up but doesn't see its antenna, the radar can't find its radome and about a quarter of the breakers in the panel don't work. On the bright side though, for an unloved boat the topsides are in remarkably good shape.

I looked at comparable boats (in decent condition) on yachtworld and they all seem to be between 100K and 160K. The owner doesn't want to invest in starters and other assorted parts that might get the Hunter to fire up. It looks as if hes going to be listing her as unrunning. If she goes for 60K it could be a fabulous deal for a dreamer with the soul of a gambler or possible grounds for divorce.  It'll be interesting to see how it plays out.