Sunday, May 31, 2009

5200 In My Hair!

It's been a busy week. The boat goes in a week from Friday and there is much left to do. Jeff installed new engine room blowers and a new VHF antenna on Thursday. We began prepping our “Castine dinghy” for its launch date next week. We have two dinghies, one inflatable which stays on the fly-bridge of aCappella and a 13 foot Boston Whaler that we keep at the Castine Town Dock in the summer. The Whaler allows us to easily cart the dogs, ourselves, and lots of gear across the river to our mooring. Truth be told, it's the dog's favorite boat as we often use it to take them swimming at Indian Bar.

Today we left very early to spend the day at the boat. Our main task for the day was to remove the shrink-wrap and put up the bimini. It has to be completed in a single day as once we remove the shrink-wrap the upper helm is exposed to the elements. Taking off the shrink-wrap, that's kind of like opening a present - it's fun. But putting up the bimini? This is always a frustrating task which tries the marriage. The absolute worst part is putting the anchor light back up. It's a 5 pound pole that I must hold above my head for hours (he claims moments) while Jeff applies 5200 sealant and puts in the screws. To add insult to injury, this year a glob of 5200 landed in my hair! Yes, a thoroughly waterproof, resistant to everything sealant ended up in my hair (on a boat with no water, on a Sunday when nothing around was open). As the wind picked up and dark clouds gathered, we rushed to apply the canvas and miraculously finished before the sky opened up. After a few other minor tasks were finished, we climbed into the car for the nearly 2 hour ride home. We decided to reward ourselves with a DQ Blizzard on the way home. It was great but doesn't help the fact that I still have 5200 sealant in my hair...

Friday, May 22, 2009

Putting Her Back Together

Somehow it always feels better when we're putting things back on the boat than when we're taking them off. It's the start of new adventures! This week we put our newly cleaned blinds back up in the salon. First I washed the windows and woodwork as it is so easy with nothing on the windows. We started testing equipment. One of the new chargers Jeff installed last time didn't seem to be working - %$#&!. We took a trip to Home Depot to buy new fuses only to discover it was the outlet splitter that wasn't working -- good news actually. Our speed sensor stopped working last season so we played with that a bit. Jeff is guessing it's a problem with the wiring, so that goes on the list for next time. Jeff replaced all of the engine room zincs. The massive hull zinc is about 30% used but since it is so easy to replace now, we're putting on a new one so the holes had to be measured. We'll keep the old one and monitor the new one during our cruise. If it wears too much Jeff can always dive and put the old one back on. We took some initial measurements for the new saltwater washdown we're installing. The job will be bigger than we had hoped - aren't they always. But we figure this will cut our fresh water usage by about half - an important consideration in the outer Bahamas and of course, if we're lucky enough to get to Cuba! More cleaning, organizing, etc. The most pleasant part of the process is thinking about our trip and what things we will want aboard - happy thoughts. We didn't get our list done as we had to get back to Castine for a cocktail cruise on a friend's new (to him) Grand Banks. We had a beautiful little trip up the Bagaduce River on a perfect evening! Bill will also be heading south next winter and we're making plans for our paths to cross. Happy thoughts indeed!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Prepping the Blinds and Canvas

There are just some jobs that need to be done every year, This week's jobs were cleaning the window blinds, and cleaning and waterproofing the bimini canvas. Castine, being essentially an island, has exorbitantly high water costs. When we bought our house over 16 years ago, we inherited a marshy backyard. A clever contractor suggested we collect up the water using a series of french drains, dig a well to store the water, and use it for watering the gardens, washing the cars, etc. Brilliant! We have a usable backyard while saving on our water bills. However, living this far north we can't leave the pump in year round due to freezing. Last week we installed the well pump and washed the cars. This week we tackle the blinds and bimini canvas. We laid them out on the driveway, washed them with mild soap, and let them dry in the sun. Particular attention was given to the bimini top as we wouldn't see it again for some time. Then a coat of 303 High Tech Fabric Guard spray was applied. We've used this for years and find it works quite well - it even repels the seagull droppings! We'll let the canvas dry for 2-3 days and do another light coat of the 303. The blinds will be reinstalled on our next trip to the boat and the bimini will go back up when we remove the shrink-wrap in a few weeks. We're making progress indeed!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Installing the Chargers - Well, That Was a Bore!

This week the new chargers arrived so we planned on installing them right away to give us plenty of time before our launch date to deal with any problems we might encounter. We left first thing in the morning armed with extra tools and with Jeff having carefully read all the instructions. I looked to face another day of crouching in the engine room, and running up and down the ladder for needed items all while attending to cuts and bruises. And I had my own list I really wished to get to. Well, while I did get called 2 or 3 times to bring an item or two, and there was one request for a paper towel to clean up blood, the units went in without any real hitches. It was kind of creepy!

I was happily left to tackle one of the things I like best - organizing. I decided to do the galley as the engine room hatch is right there which allowed me to be available if needed. One of the things I decided to do before we left in August was to go through every drawer, cabinet, closest, and cubby to purge them of items we have not used in the past 6 years - excluding safety items, of course. I then reorganized each area and noted any items I felt we should add. For example, since Jeff and I started weight training a year ago, we drink 1-2 protein shakes a day - we need a blender! So the galley is done. I took home a boat bag of items and now have several empty drawers and extra space in some cabinets. A successful day indeed!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Our Onshore Transportation

We've sketched out our itinerary for our winter cruise, bearing in mind the wise sage who coined, "The most dangerous thing on a boat is a schedule." We'll meander down the east coast, spending a few weeks on the Chesapeake Bay where we're giving a couple of talks, ending up in Brunswick, Georgia at Brunswick Landing Marina sometime in November. We plan on spending about 2 months in Brunswick. As we used ActiveCaptain to peruse the area, we noted that several important services, such as the grocery store, were a short trek from the marina. So we've decided to bring our folding bikes out of mothballs. We purchased these bikes about ten years ago for a previous boat we used for "island hopping" in the Penobscot Bay. Unfortunately, these models are no longer made because we really like them and would love to add them to our list of "Products and Tips We Love." They're full size 15-speed bikes which easily fold in half for storage. We pulled them out of the basement, washed off the dust, greased the gears, pumped the tires, and adjusted the brakes. Then we took them for a spin. They worked great! The only issue is our very tender backsides. Well, we have the summer to toughen them up!