Friday, March 27, 2009

New Window Screens From the Microburst


One evening in September of 2007 Castine experienced a “microburst.” We were home with Dyna and our new puppy, Dylan, when it hit. By the time I whisked the two dogs away from the windows, it was over - maybe a minute or two. I’m told that a microbust has winds as strong as a hurricane but hits in only a single spot and without warning. We were the spot. M/V aCapella was across the river on our “normal” mooring - as opposed to our storm mooring in Smith’s Cove, since no storm was predicted! After surveying the amazing damage in town the next day, which sadly included the loss of many old elm tress, we went out to check on the boat. Now our “normal” mooring has a 7,500 pound stone which sucks down 3-4 feet in that good Maine mud bottom. Even with that strong hold, the boat dragged the mooring 200 feet due to the strong winds!!!! The only damage was 3 missing window screens which we think may have blown to Kansas. Several calls trying to find someone to come to the boat to measure for new ones proved fruitless. Just not a big enough job.

On to plan B. I began sewing at about age ten and have made clothes, crafts, quilts, upholstered items, you name it. Heck, how hard could it be to sew a few window screens? Finding the material was relatively easy. Sailrite carried everything I needed online. Now I just had to measure the windows, cut out the screens and bind them. Piece of cake, right? Wrong! Dozens of heavy duty needles, lots of words I won’t list here, and one trip to the sewing machine repair shop later, and I was still shy of getting the final binding on. For that I went to a canvas shop in Bangor. Now we “just” have to get them to the boat to measure and install the snaps. Luckily for me that will be Jeff’s job.

Oh, and if you’re wondering about the screens blowing off in 2007 and not being replaced until 2009, well, last year we “improvised.” We decided we didn’t want to look like hillbillies on our next cruise.....

Friday, March 20, 2009

Why We Always Listen to Larry Eaton




I’m afraid our blog will often make reference to “Larry” so I’d like to take a moment to explain why, when it comes to anything to do with boats, we always listen to Larry. Larry’s grandfather, Mace, founded Eaton’s Boatyard here in Castine, Maine. It’s become one of those “Maine Traditions” for boaters. Mace Eaton became known as a master boat builder making beautiful wooden boats, most of which are still in use today. Larry’s father, Alonso took over the boat yard from his father and after much family turmoil the yard ended up with Larry’s brother, Kenny. For the next few decades Larry built a thriving boat management business in Ft. Lauderdale handling numerous mega-yachts such as Limitless, one of the biggest American-owned yachts at over 315 feet long. Over the years Larry learned many great techniques and tricks, from how to clean anything on a boat, to where to find obscure items, to how to put together an authentic Maine lobster bake anywhere in the world. We have spent time in several different yards in and around Ft. Lauderdale and Miami and have yet to find someone there who didn’t know about Larry. Even though Eaton’s Boatyard is proud NOT to have a web site, you can still find them on ActiveCaptain.

A few years ago Larry decided to “retire” back to his birthplace here in Castine. We were most fortunate that he agreed to take us under his wing. Larry still get calls from his many patrons begging him to help with difficult situations and sometimes he still obliges. Fortunately for us, he remains just a couple blocks away with advice and guidance. He has never steered us wrong, therefore, when it comes to boats, we ALWAYS listen to Larry.

One of the most beautiful boats in Castine (in my opinion), Leaf, was owned by Mace Eaton and has now been lovingly restored by Deane and Sandra Richardson. Visit Castine this summer and you're sure to see Leaf gliding past the town dock.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Foot Oil for Our Fender Holders???

It’s like pulling the string on the sweater. We now have beautifully clean fenders which makes the fender holders look like h%#ll. The boat came outfitted with a beautiful set of leather holders with soft “sheep skin” linings to protect the cap rail. They make placing the fenders (my job) a breeze and make us look like real professionals. Years of saltwater, sun, and a few bumps and bangs have left them looking old and tired. Replacing them is expensive - hundreds of dollars a piece! Our trusty friend and boating mentor, Larry Eaton, (you’ll read a lot about Larry in our blog) told us to try Neats Foot Oil. It’s a product developed for conditioning, and waterproofing shoes and boots, and it worked great! First we cleaned them with mild soap and water and let them dry throughly. Then Jeff applied three coats of Neats Foot Oil. It removed the scuff marks, gave the leather a soft, supple look, and put a coating on to repel water. And since it is not officially a “boating product” it is reasonably priced, about $7 for 32 ounces at a hardware store or online. We’ve also used Neats on the leather chafing gear for our mooring lines. They look great also! See other “Products and Tips We Love” on the ActiveCaptain web site.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Fender Cleaning - It’s Magic!



It’s hard to believe we’ve had aCappella for nearly 6 years! It seems like only yesterday we pulled out of Herrington Harbor on the Chesapeake Bay in dense fog for our first “solo” trip. This was after 2 days of instruction by an onboard captain. My knees were shaking but when we pulled into the Penobscot Bay a couple of weeks later, I felt like quite the salty-mate. We were fortunate to purchase aCappella “practically new” from two very experienced cruisers who had thought of pretty much everything when they outfitted the boat. But now our gear is looking a bit dogged. Ever mindful of keeping our cruising budget down we’ve decided to give our most used items a much needed face lift. Our first target - the fenders. Last year I stumbled on the MagicEraser which I gleefully used in the kitchen, the bathroom, the patio -- I’m pretty sure it is “magic.” Jeff had the idea to try it on our much scuffed up fenders. It only took one evening in front of the TV and they came out beautiful! See a list of other “Products and Tips We Love” on the ActiveCaptain web site.