Thursday, September 30, 2010

Hat's entertainment...

One of our most favorite things with ActiveCaptain is awarding hats for user-contributions. After a captain has earned 250 points for adding updates and writing reviews, they receive a highly-desired ActiveCaptain hat. We've mailed out hundreds of them.

Occasionally someone goes over the 250 point limit when we're in proximity. This calls for an official award ceremony. Truth be told, we're really just trying to save on mailing costs!

Over the weekend, captain PJ (Paul & Jo-Anne) worked hard to cross their 250 point level. This called for the ceremony with previous hat recipients Bob & Lynn and the consumption of Dark & Stormies onboard aCappella. Dyna & Dylan officiated but mainly slept.

Monday, September 27, 2010

25 Years

Those who have followed our blog for some time may remember that we were married the day Hurricane Gloria hit DC. So it somehow felt right when I woke early this morning to pouring rain. Today is overcast with the rain fluctuating between drizzle and pouring, and it's suppose to continue through tomorrow.

Our plan had been to go out for a nice romantic dinner tonight. But we'd rather do it on a night when we can wander the streets of Little Italy. So we'll have a good lunch in Canton and stop at the nearby Safeway for a couple off juicy steaks and grill out on the boat instead, with the kids.

We still have to figure out how to get remarried, something we do every five years, but that's another blog entry.

A hurricane on my wedding day. Storms on my 25th anniversary. I think this bodes well for the next 25 years.

I love you, Jeffrey.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Wash Day

I love the way my dogs smell. Not when they're fresh from a bath with the smell of soap and perfume but honest to goodness dog smell.

Unfortunately, dogs get a bad rap for smelling bad. It's not the dog that smells bad, it's the things that dogs generally like that smell bad - like river water. And Dyna and Dylan have spent some serious quality time in river water lately.

So when a rank aroma started greeting me each time I stepped onto the boat, I decided it was time to wash the dogs. You'd think that dogs who love the water as much as these two wouldn't mind a bath. You'd be thinking wrong.

But the deed is now done and in 24 hours or so the smell of soap will have gone away. Then I'll sink my nose into that soft fur and take a heavenly whiff.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Yankees in Baltimore...

It has been well established that our boat is filled with a Yankee crew. It seemed fitting that with the MTOA rendezvous over and our first wave of speaking engagements complete, that we'd spend time with some other Yankees. In this case, it was the New York Yankees.

Camden Yards is just a couple of miles from the marina. It's pretty incredible that we can walk off our boat and into a major league stadium within a half hour. We had no tickets but were able to grab some at the ballpark.

The game was pretty boring with Baltimore leading 3-to-1. One New York fan we were with even left at the middle of the 8th so as not to see his home team lose. At the top of the 9th, the Yankees put 2 men on base with A-Rod coming to bat. There were 2 outs and 2 strikes with everyone standing to possibly see the last pitch of the game.  Needless to say, A-Rod swung on the next pitch and hit the ball out of the park to win a half-inning later with a 4-3 final score.

A half-hour later and we were back with our own Yankees who were asleep on the settee wondering why they didn't get some of the hotdogs that they could smell on us...

Friday, September 10, 2010

Double stick/bumper retrieval...

It's our last day at Olverson's before heading out for a couple of nights of anchoring and then landing in Baltimore for a month of presentations and rendezvous'. The thing that we'll all miss the most is our morning swim. We've perfected the double stick/bumper retrieval method to allow both dogs to swim and retrieve without fighting over the object thrown. It also allows Dylan to swim further. Both kids are very proud of their retrieval skills.

We'll miss these morning swims...

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Down under

The projects are all being wrapped up and we're about ready to take off to Baltimore. One of the last things on the list is a dive down under the boat. I like to check everything out, especially the props, shafts, and struts, and do some cleaning of the water line. It's also good practice to try out all of the diving gear in case we need it in an emergency.

My 7 mil suit is designed for cold water diving. Here at Lodge Creek, the water temperature is about 85 degrees - warmer than the Bahamas! I could get away without wearing a wet suit altogether except for the jellyfish which swim throughout the creek. The suit is more for protection than warmth.

The bottom of aCappella looks good. It's been scraped clean to remove all of the marine growth and barnacles. New shaft zincs and a new 25 lb hull zinc were installed. I also had both tanks filled and did a complete maintenance check on all of the diving equipment.

We're officially ready to take off.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Envisioning provisioning...

One of the last and most important tasks we must do before releasing the lines and cruising off is provisioning - the job of having the things we need onboard. It's a big planning process in which Karen spends a good week of inventory analysis, estimating, and list making. It isn't just about food stores. We also plan everything from toothpaste to toilet paper. After 8 years of cruising, we have a lot of history and perspective - like we know we consume less beer that we think we do and use more paper towels than should be allocated to any pair of human beings.

The Mecca for all provisioning is Wal-Mart, Sam's Club, and Costco. It's one of the reasons why we track the location and provide phone numbers for all of those stores in ActiveCaptain. The closest Sams/Costco is hours away but there is a Wal-Mart Superstore in Tappahannock, VA, about a half hour away:

Our general strategy is to have all consumable products that we need onboard until the next time we'll be provisioning. In this case, that will be Thanksgiving. We also like to get all meat onboard and all non-fresh-foods. This means that we only need to find fresh vegetables and refrigerated items during our cruising. It significantly cuts back on the shopping we have to do week-to-week and also guarantees that we have plenty of food and supplies even if we have to stay in a remote place for a week or more due to weather (even if that means living on frozen vegetables).

Turning the provisioning plans into purchases is a big job. We walked into Wal-Mart rolling 2 carts. Some 2 hours later and $600 poorer, we walked out with 3 filled carts and another large job of getting everything back onto the boat.

Needless to say, I managed to sneak a few bags of special dog treats into my cart when Karen wasn't looking. As captain, my job is to make sure all crew members are happy!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

One of the best sounds in the world...

To a cruiser, one of the best sounds in the world is the sound of chain dropping over the bow to release the anchor into the sea floor. We had many opportunities to hear that sound over nearly 8 years while cruising on aCappella, especially over the 9 months of last cruising season. But there is eventually a price to pay for hearing that sound - the back breaking job of preparing the chain for a few more years of use.

With the slip next to us empty at Olverson's, we had a perfect opportunity to remove all 400' of 3/8" chain, treat the unavoidable rust, clean it up, and re-mark it for deployment. After hauling out the 600 lbs of chain, we realized that the first 200' was worn and rusty but the second 200' was almost new looking. Flipping the chain seemed like a good idea. So we split it up into 2 200' sections, treated the rust on the first 200' and cleaned it all up. It took 3 full days of work in 95 degree heat.

Every boater has their own technique for marking chain. None of them work. We've tried them all. With multiple days of prep and painting time, I used a cold galvanizing primer to cover the old marks and prep all the new ones. It took about 4 applications to each section to get it well covered. The top color coat was done in a bright orange color to hopefully show up in all conditions. It took 4-6 applications to get that properly covered - light coats applied after the previous coat had dried. At each marking, a bright yellow tie-wrap was also applied to give some length indication when the paint starts to wear off.

Many people mark their chain in different colors. In my experience, it's rare enough when you can actually see the marks after a year or so. My technique is to put 1 mark at 25', 2 marks at 50', 3 marks at 75', and 4 marks at 100'. That repeats for the next hundred feet. If I can't remember which "hundred" I'm on, I shouldn't be dropping the anchor.

Once we get to 250', the marks go on every 50'. The end of the chain is tied to the hull of the boat with nylon line which would stretch for another 100' and then snap in an emergency. All of the chain is stored in a chain locker which was also scrubbed and cleaned out. Guess who cleaned the chain locker? Do I have the best wife or what?

All we have left to do is to put the chain back into the locker. The sounds of doing that are likely to be anything but good.