Sunday, July 26, 2009

Karen loses the coin toss...

Cleaning out the water tanks isn't fun. We flip a coin to see who "gets" to do it. Karen lost. I just got my new iPhone 3GS with video capture ability and took this video of her having all the fun.

You need to turn your sound up to hear all of Karen's comments. I wonder how many more questions I could have asked before getting the sludge water thrown at me...

Karen: The coin toss was rigged! Now that there's concrete evidence of who cleaned out the tank this time, I'm pretty sure sure I know who'll be doing it next time...

Jeff: Concrete evidence? I have a video from February 2007 showing you cleaning out the tanks then too! You do such a good job with it - why would we change?

Friday, July 24, 2009

She Fits!

We loaded the new anchor into the car, drove to the Castine Town Dock, and lugged it down the gangway to the dinghy. Of course, several “friends” felt the need to comment on its dimensions while no one offered to help carry it. We didn't care. We know we'll be sleeping better. Our little Whaler had a bit of a time getting onto plane – I'm pretty sure I heard her saying, “I think I can, I think I can.” Once at the boat I lowered the Bruce down to Jeff in the dinghy. He disconnected the old anchor, attached the new anchor, and we pulled her up. She fit like a dream. I think she looks rather stately. We're off to Southwest Harbor for routine engine maintenance at our favorite John Deere mechanic – Downeast Diesel. The owner, John Spofford, is the best and has watched over our engines for the last 6 years. He's always been there when we had a question or needed help in any way.

We hope to do several anchor tests starting next week. It'll be a good chance for a shake down cruise and will give our crew some more experience before we leave on the 9 month adventure.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Washdown Complete!

The saltwater washdown is now installed and fully functioning. We're amazed that it went in without a single real hitch. Of course, we're not tempting fate, so we keep checking the staterooms where the hose runs through for leaks. This is not to say it was easy. It was the most complex addition we've undertaken on the boat so far. But for several days of effort we now have a way to save about 25 gallons or more of fresh water each time we anchor. Our plan is to anchor most nights on this cruise, so that's significant.

In light of our anchoring plans, Jeff decided to upgrade our anchor. Currently, we have four anchors: a Bruce, a CQR, a Fortress, and a Danforth. The Bruce is the anchor we use from Maine to Charleston. It works well in the soft, muddy bottoms from the Penobscot Bay to the Chesapeake. Unfortunately, the first time we anchored in the Bahamas we discovered (at 3 AM) that it is poor in hard sand bottoms. So we started switching to the Fortress and then back again to the Bruce - kind of a pain. The CQR was our backup anchor which we've never used and the Danforth is our stern anchor.

While we've only dragged anchor twice in 15,000 miles of cruising, Jeff has always worried that our Bruce, at 66 pounds, and our Fortress FX55 were a bit undersized. For the sake of many good night's sleep, we decided to get a heavier anchor that would also eliminate the need to switch mid-cruise. After much research, Jeff settled on the Rocna 55 (55 kg or 121 lbs). Unfortunately, the manufacturer had no experience with mounting a large Rocna on a newer model DeFever, so we were a bit concerned it would be too big for our bow roller. After some testing with cardboard templates, we decided to give it a try.

So off we went late last week to West Marine in Southwest Harbor (an hour and a half drive) on my 50th birthday - Jeff was smart enough not to put a ribbon on it and say, "Happy Birthday, honey!" - to meet the delivery truck. The next day we left to drive to Mystic, CT to talk at the MTOA NE Rendevous (great people, great fun) so we will have to wait until later this week for our first anchor fit test. Our hope is that eventually we can get rid of the CQR and maybe the Bruce to gain some needed space in the lazarette. Any one need a gently used anchor?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Progress At Last...

The weather finally broke on Thursday. It was a bright, sunny, perfect Maine summer day. Unfortunately, we had to stay home to wait for a shipment of batteries. Long story, short, we finagled a deal where all new batteries for the boat would be delivered to our house if we guaranteed we would meet the truck and off load them ourselves - over 1,000 lbs. of batteries according to the delivery guy. They were supposed to be here by noon leaving us the afternoon to work on the boat. They arrived at 5:45pm. Our months of weight training paid off as we moved them onto wood planks in the basement.

Fortunately, two more days of perfect weather followed with more rain Saturday night into Sunday morning. That left us all day Friday and Saturday, and Sunday afternoon to get things done - and we sure did.

We brought one each of the monster batteries (8D's at 169 lbs) for the bow thruster to the boat on Friday and Saturday. Our boat is still on our storm mooring about 2 miles from the town dock. Getting it down the ramp, into the dinghy, and then onto the boat was hard enough, but we then had to get it down in to the lazarette. Jeff rigged some line so we could lower them down in what we hoped would be a controlled way.

We used a technique we learned from Larry to surround the terminals before covering them with anti-corrosion spray. They're now installed and working fine. We still have 12 more Trojan T-105 batteries for our house and the starter banks but we've decided to bring the boat up to the dock to load those.

We secured the saltwater wash-down hose with tie-wraps for its entire length and cut the final hole in the bow deck. It turns out the deck is wood sandwiched between two layers of fiberglass. Jeff was fortunate to learn basic fiberglass skills a few years ago from a friend in the business. He over-drilled the hole, routed out some of the wood inner section, and coated it all with West System epoxy to keep water out. We also over-drilled the three screw holes and filled them to be drilled again when the epoxy is hardened. The deck fitting will go in this week covering the patch work.

Our horn has been slowly fading to the point where it's embarrassing - kind of like a Chihuahua bark on a Doberman. So replacing it was on our list. Of course, there was no way that the mounting from the old horn would match up with the new one. So not only did the old one need to be removed and holes drilled for the new one, but we had to repair the old holes. Out came the gelcoat and epoxy boxes again. We patched the bottom with 4 layers of fiberglass and filled the holes with epoxy. When we get a chance to breathe, Jeff will apply gelcoat over the repair and we'll never know where the old horn was!

On Saturday Jeff was finally able to coat the cap-rail on the bow and portuguese bridge with Semco. We removed the varnish several years ago (yes, I know it's beautiful to look at, but now I can just admire the labor of others). After, trying different things, Jeff settled on Semco - a teak seaker - and we've been very happy with it. We still have the stern left to do.

While he worked on that, I worked on the bow railings. I recently read a novel that described how in marriages of certain durations, tasks become the responsibility of one or the other spouse, for example, making sure there's toilet paper or monitoring the room temperature. One of my tasks is polishing the stainless steel. I actually don't mind it. I've tried several different products and really like StarBrite's Marine Polish with Teflon. I've even added it to Products and Tips We Love listing. It's easy to use and looks great. I've found that putting on a second coat soon after the first makes it last much longer and makes subsequent coats easier. It generally removes most of the discoloration but when it's been a long time since cleaning - like the first time of the season - I also use Nevr-Dull (another Product We Love) to remove the tough stains. Another trick I discovered is to leave the marine polish on for a bit before buffing it off. Unlike fiberglass polish which I find works best if you buff almost immediately, the marine polish actually works better if left to harden for 10-15 minutes.

Dyna and Dylan have enjoyed their dinghy rides to the boat and are learning to sit nicely while underway (well, sometimes anyway). Visiting the boat is a nice little adventure and each finds a comfy spot to sleep or to supervise our activities. How could we do it without them? Dyna has quickly remembered where to do her business. Dylan needs some remedial training. We're not sure what they're going to think in about 6 weeks when that dinghy ride turns into a 9 month adventure. They'll keep you posted.

We're getting some of the major projects done and it's beginning to feel like we'll be ready on time. If the weather holds we'll keep checking things off the list!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Here Comes The Sunshine?

As I write this it is pouring down rain - again - even though Yahoo Weather says "Light Rain." The rain and fog just refuses to let up. According to AccuWeather, we had over 8 inches of rain in June, our normal is 3. We have been going to the boat when it's merely been raining, as opposed to pouring with blowing wind. There have been trips back in pea soup fog. Most trips we've taken one or both of the dogs. They're settling back in and finding the places they like to sleep. But we've mostly been confined to doing indoor tasks.

The biggest job we've worked on was running hose for the saltwater wash-down. On the first trip we decided to cut two of the five holes we'd need. Somehow it always feels ominous when cutting a hole in the boat. The first hole went from the chain locker, which has an access door in the guest stateroom, to behind the curtained area. That took pretty much all afternoon and we returned home well after dinner time, much to Dyna and Dylan's dismay. The next time we decided to cut just two more holes and all four went in quickly without a hitch! Jeff spent one more trip pulling the hose from the master stateroom through an access hatch to the engine room which required one more hole. Dylan was there to help with that one. So now the hose runs from the chain locker at the bow, aft to the engine room where we will mount the pump. One last hole in the deck to connect the deck fitting and she's ready for a trial. Hopefully we'll get that done this week.

On July 4th we had an amazing break of afternoon sun so Jeff took Dyna out to help him install new site-glass material on the fuel tanks. They've become so discolored that we can no longer see the fuel level. Jeff heard about this special tubing called Tygon from another trawler owner who has had it for several years. He says it's still crystal clear. We'll see. He said it was about the smoothest project he's done to date, and was back earlier than predicted. He stepped in the door just before the sky opened up. Went to the annual July 4th party to watch the fireworks. Fortunately, the rain slowed to a drizzle just about 9PM so we had a beautiful fireworks display before the rain started again.

The job we are most anxious to get done is touching up the cap-rail. For that we need several dry days in a row. Fat chance. 7 weeks from today is our targeted take off date.....