Friday, September 30, 2011

Chevy Gets Even With Gertie

I've posted before about how Gertie terrorizes all the other animals aboard Drift Away.   When Charlie (the three legged cat) walks by, you can bet that Gertie will pounce on him, holding him around his neck knowing that if he lifts a paw, he will fall over.   If one of the dogs is happy and wagging its tail, Gertie views it as toy and grabs it with claws and fangs.   Chevy, the big male pit bull, is especially afraid of Gertie, and any attempt to assert himself as the alpha male resulted in a swat on the kisser.  Well, last night Chevy got even.

We got back from a long, hectic day of running errands.   Pam cooked up a nice meat loaf dinner, and afterwards I suggested we go up to the Castleton Boat Club's clubhouse for a cocktail and some socializing.   Halfway there, Ruby started whining at us.   The two dogs were sitting on the bow watching us heading up to the club.   Pam went back to lock them inside and I went up to the club to order the drinks.  Upon arrival, one of the members asked "Are you the guy who was just walking the two pit bulls?".   Yes, that was me.   "Go get them!   We love dogs here!".    Ummmm....  I dunno if that's a good idea.  They're very playful and...   "We don't mind.  Go get the dogs!".   Bugsie, a very nice beagle/terrier mix looking dog was in there and it looked like it might be OK.   Well... Okaaay...

I met Pam part way as she was coming up the docks.

"They say to bring the dogs."

"What?  Our dogs?"


"You know what they're like."

"They don't care. The people in there are all dog people and they want to meet the dogs."

So we got the now very happy dogs and brought them into the clubhouse.   Ruby and Chevy saw Bugsie and all hell  broke loose.   There was running and playing and wrestling and prancing.   I started to yell at them, but was told in no uncertain terms that it was just fine.   They all like dogs.  The club doesn't even have a leash requirement.  So the dogs played and we relaxed.

We did the usual boater thing of "where are you from" and "where are you going".   We also told them that we were getting married on Saturday and that we would be gone most of Friday and, of course, Saturday.   "Don't worry about the dogs.   We'll come get them and take them off the boat."   Wonderful!

We had a very enjoyable time.   I've only been here a few times, but every time I've met only very nice people.   What a great club.

It was getting late and we had much to do, so we excused ourselves and walked the dogs down to the boat, off leash.   We were getting close, and then Chevy saw Gertie on the dock, exploring as she likes to do in new places.   For some reason known only to Gertie, she turned and ran towards the boat.   To a dog, anything that is running away is prey, and Chevy took off like a shot after her.   Gertie must have paniced and timed her leap to the boat wrong, because we heard a KERSPLASH!  


We both looked and didn't see her.   Was she under the dock?   Under the boat?  Pam ran aboard to get a flashlight.   Which way was the current flowing?  Even though it's a river, it flows both ways depending on the tide.  I ran up to the bow and got on my hands and knees, but no Gertie.   Then to my left I saw a paw come over the dock and set claws into the wood.   Then another, and then Gertie was on the dock looking like a... well... a scrawny wet young cat.

SHE'S OK.  SHE'S ON THE DOCK...  not for long as she scampered up the steps and onto the boat, and inside and dove under the sofa.   A pool of water came oozing out from underneath.   Pam was laughing hysterically.   She pulled the sofa out and managed to grab Gertie and wrapped her up in a towel.   Gertie looked very angry.  

Chevy, do NOT chase Gertie!

Chevy smiled back at me.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Kingston to Castleton- Dodging Logs and a Rant on Wakes

Yeah, I know.  This dodging logs thing is getting old.  Try actually being on the boat!  One must have constant vigilance and watch for what lies ahead.  Luckily, most of the debris is small, chewed up by the commercial traffic with their steel hulls, but there is still plenty of big stuff to contend with when you're in a plastic boat.

We also passed a couple of more sunken boats.

I've seen little recreational traffic on the Hudson on this trip.  In the past, I'd see dozens of boats headed south.  On this trip, I've seen only a handful.  I suppose it's because the Erie is closed due to the severe flood damage it incurred and the only way out for the Great Lakes boats is up the St. Lawrence and down Lake Champlain and the Champlain Canal, a really big detour.  When we got close to Albany we started seeing more southbound boats though, mainly Canadians on sailboats.  They have their masts unstepped to travel through the canals and then step them either here at the Castleton Boat Club, where there is a do-it-yourself crane, or to one of the marinas in Catskill.

I'd like to add a note here about wakes and slow passing.   We've all seen the clueless idiot powerboaters who pass other boats and docks with their bows pointed skyward, tossing the biggest wake possible.   This is a real problem for a sailboat with its mast down and on stands.  With its mast down,  a sailboat will rock violently when waked because of its low ballast and because the damping action of its standing mast isn't there.  Some serious damage and possible injury could occur if the mast were to fall off its stands.  Take a close look at the following boats and you can see the problem.  Imagine these boats rocking violently, snapping side to side like a wet dog.  No matter how well it's tied down, a big heavy mast has a lot of inertia and can come loose, especially on the pointy end where there isn't much side to side room for the legs of the supports.

And here's a note to you sailboaters.   You're not blameless here either.  If you're motoring along at five or six knots and being overtaken by a powerboat,  he will have to pass you at seven or eight knots to get by, hitting you with a large wake.   You should  slow down to a crawl so the powerboat can also slow and pass you at a no wake speed.  

Even Drift Away, a 50,000 pound 46 foot trawler, has been waked pretty good by passing boats.   I actually turned on my Naiad stabilizers (fins on each side of the boat hooked up to a gyroscope that kick when the boat starts to rock to keep it level) on the Hudson because of boat wakes.

There, I've said my piece.   I feel much better now.  Thanks.

We'll be here at the very nice Castleton Boat Club until Sunday when Pam and I will beat feet for Annapolis and the boat shows.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Newburgh to Kingston- Dodging More Logs

Tuesday was not the best of days.  We intended to leave early but thick pea soup fog and a heavy debris field kept us on the dock.  All  the fancy electronics we have on board are useless in detecting logs and other hull and prop damaging debris and we needed at least 500 feet of visibility to negotiate our way.  Finally, around 10:30 the fog lifted enough that we could leave.

The problem now was the tide.   It was rising fast and we had a two knot current pinning us against the dock.   We were broadside to it.  Pam really wanted to go and I decided to give it a shot, but no matter how hard I tried I couldn't get us off.   We finally left a little after noon when the current slowed enough for us to back off and then turn into the current.  

Once underway, it was more of the same... dodging logs and the worst of the debris, running through the small stuff.   Once the sun came out and it got warm, it was very nice to be sitting on the flybridge and watching the world go by at seven knots (about 8 MPH for my non-boating friends).  We soon passed the old railroad bridge at Poughkeepsie, no longer used as such and now a pedestrian walkway.

If you look closely, you can see four people on the bridge watching us pass.  Or maybe trying to see if they could time it perfectly to spit on us.

There are train tracks on each side of the Hudson.  The east side is for passenger trains, which are many.   The west side is for freight trains.   There was a problem up above Poughkeepsie.   A freight train was stopped, and we saw many odd vehicles on the tracks headed north to fix whatever was wrong.

The Esopus Lighthouse is one of my favorites, and it looks like it is being restored and well maintained.

It was a beautiful day and Pam and I were loving being on the water and appreciating the tranquility of it all.   Just before entering Rondout Creek we passed this...

It was a sobering reminder that it can end as quickly as it began.  Many boats were lost due to Hurricane Irene and then Tropical Storm Lee.  An entire club's boats were destroyed when they were washed over the Troy Dam.

The Rondout Lighthouse marks the entrance to Rondout Creek and Kingston.

We met Pam's dad, Ted, in Kingston.   We stayed at the Kingston Municipal Marina, had a fine dinner in one of the many restaurants on the waterfront, and turned in early.   Tomorrow, Pam drives the truck north for a couple of appointments and Ted and I will make the final run to the Castleton Boat Club.

I'll probably jinx it, but I have to say that running this boat is very enjoyable, when it stays running.  The problems we had were brought on by myself.   I should have inspected the tanks had had them cleaned before we left.  I would have saved the price of 200 gallons of diesel, but more importantly we would have saved a whole bunch of time and wouldn't have felt so pressed to get here.  

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Ossining to Newburgh- Dodging Logs

In my previous post, I wrote about the starboard engine quitting just north of the George Washington Bridge.  I spent the next three hours changing filters and cracking bleed screws in the 110 degree engine room to no avail.   We limped into Westerly Marina in Ossining on the port engine and yesterday morning a young mechanic named Greg looked the situation over.  In no time, he discovered that the fuel tank pick up tube for the starboard engine was above the fuel level in the tank.  He bent it down and the problem was solved.  I marked my fuel tank dip stick at that level and marked it "empty" so that I'll know when I'm getting critically low.  Greg also opened and closed the gate valve that opens and closes the pipe between the two tanks.   I think what I'll do the next time I get diesel is to fill the tanks and then close the valve, keeping the aft tank as a reserve.

We left Ossining about 3:30 yesterday after taking on 200 gallons of fuel. Heading north up the Hudson, the only marina that could accomodate a boat our size would be in Newburgh (besides Haverstraw which was only five miles above Ossining).  We had three hours of daylight left, and about a half hour of twilight to make the 25 mile trip so we revved the Ford Lehmans up to 1800 RPM to beat feet.  

As we pulled out of Ossining, we saw the Java Sea, a tug that passed us in the East River.

Check out these fenders!

The Java Sea was going the exact same speed as Drift Away, so I kicked the RPMs up to 2000 to get by her.   It took forever but we finally did.  

The Bear Mountain Bridge is always a beautiful sight to see, except for all the debris in the river this trip.

The Java Sea was now about a half a mile behind us.   As we rounded a sharp bend in the river, we saw this coming our way.   Pam headed for the east side of the channel.   This barge and the Java Sea would meet at the bend.

The two tugs met at the bend and there was much revving of engines and each turning hard to starboard.   I can only imagine the language in the pilot houses.   Dang it!  Cripe!  Stuff like that.

Pam is doing a great job dodging all but the smallest stuff.  The debris fields come in big ribbons. I think what happens is that the debris winds up on the banks when the tide drops, and when the tide rises it all floats off at the same time. Pam basically runs parallel to each debris field, looks for an opening between logs, and then cuts through.  There are also numerous stray logs to avoid.

The light was fading fast, but the scenery was beautiful.

The last five miles was tough because of the fading light.  You can almost see Newburgh five miles in the distance in the above pic.  The island in the middle of the channel is Pollepel Island, home of Bannerman Castle.  It has an interesting history which you can read about at this link-

The last few miles in twilight made it difficult to see the flotsam.   We arrived in total darkness with logs floating all around the marina. I used reflections from lights at the marina and the restaurant next door to see the bigger logs. I went in dead slow pushing the flotsam aside and shifting into neutral when I figured the bigger stuff was close to the props.  With an audience at Billy Joe's Ribworks watching, we went in right towards the restaurant, executed a 180 degree turn (port engine forward, starboard engine reverse, full right rudder), and made a perfect Captain Ron landing at the dock.

We leave today for our first leisurely cruise, going as far as we can go before stopping for the night.   We're now awaiting the pea soup fog to lift so we can get underway.  We could leave now and use the chartplotter with radar overlay to find our way, but we'd miss the scenery.   Where we wind up today isn't that important.  Pam's father, Ted, will drive down to meet us where ever we wind up, and tomorrow Pam will drive north for a couple of appointments and Ted will crew on the final leg to Castleton, and Pam will meet us there tomorrow night.

Monday, September 26, 2011

A new record! Six hours without a breakdown.

Unfortunately, we were on the water for eleven.

City Island was a nice little stop.  We walked the dogs up and down the main boulevard, marveling at al the large number of restaurants for such a little place.   Back on Drift Away, drinks on the back porch were made better by the nice sunset.  Note that boat behind us.   The owner is very meticulous, and spent several hours washing it while we were there.

We left City Island at 6 AM.  That was a fiasco.  I thought we had no current, but apparently some current had us pinned against the dock.  As soon as I started to pull away, some unseen force would push us right back against it.   We eventually got off, but only with some help from the guy on the boat behind us that we hit and then scraping the starboard side of our boat along another dock as we left.

It was dark, but the Simrad chart plotter and radar made it easy.  The new Simrad NSS12 allows us to overlay the radar right on top of the chart, so it's simple to tell the difference from a buoy and a fishing boat. 

Soon we were under the Throg's Neck Bridge and on the East River.  The trip along the East River is always enjoyable.  There's the Riker's Island prison boat and other oddities of interest.  The critters didn't seem too interested, and were in their now chosen spots for the boat ride.

Riker's Island prison boat.

We needed to hit Hell Gate at slack high tide, which yesterday was 8:39 AM. We were the only boat on the river, which caused this lake sailor some concern. Did I read the Eldridge tide tables right? Soon though, I took comfort when I saw a tug pushing a large raft up of barges, three wide coming up behind us. Pam was driving and I was navigating, and I decided to take a wrong turn into a channel that leads to La Guardia Airport to let him pass.  Pam thought I had made a mistake, but I assured her it was a brilliant strategic maneuver.   She didn't buy it.

As we got near Hell Gate, I could tell we were arriving too soon.  Current was pushing us faster than I figured.  I was considering slowing down and waiting, but was I being a wuss?  Then I noted that the tug pushing the barges (now ahead of us) had practically stopped.  I suggested to Pam that we should too, and we did.  I was watching my watch, and with only a short time until the ebb started at Hell Gate I saw the prop wash from the tug.   He accelerated and we followed behind him, allowing his three-barge-wide load to clear a path for us.  We arrived at Hell Gate only twelve minutes early and it was a  piece of cake.

You can see the radar overlay on the chart in the pic above.  The big red blobs are boats or buoys, and with the chart underlay it's easy to see which is which.

After Hell Gate, it was a piece of cake.  Pam followed our barge buddy down the East River.  He's on the right in this pic, with another barge passing him to our port.

The rest of the ride was uneventful, and I'll spare you the usual photos of South Street Seaport, the Battery, and the Statue of Liberty.  Yes, of course we took the photos.  It's obligatory.

We took a right at the battery and headed north up the Hudson.  There was a fire boat there to greet us, shooting big plumes of water everywhere.  

How did they know we were coming?  It will be one of those mysteries that we'll never have an answer to.

The trip up the Hudson was also very nice, and I will again spare you the photos of the cruise ships, the Intrepid aircraft carrier which is now a museum, etc.

We had just passed under the George Washington Bridge.  It was about noon, and Pam asked "Can we run the generator at the same time as the engines?"   Of course, said I.  "I'll make hot meatball sandwiches for lunch." said she.   Sounded good.   Down into the engine room I bounded and I fired up the small generator.   As I was headed up the stairs, I heard Pam yell "DAVID!  WE LOST THE STARBOARD ENGINE!". 


Yes, we did.  It stopped dead.   Crap.  We continued on the port engine which would only push us along at 3 knots against the foul current.  I spent the next three hours in the 110 degree engine room where I changed all the filters and bled the engine.   I restarted the engine four or five times, and after running through the fuel in the filters, it would die again.   Further investigation showed that the small generator's fuel line is tee'd off the starboard engine's fuel line.  Somehow, starting that generator screwed up the starboard engine.  I'd reached the end of my mechanical ability, and to make a long story short (I know, this is already too long) we're now sitting at Westerly Marine in Ossining awaiting yet another mechanic.

Pam was very tired and I was exhausted.  We took the dogs for a quick walk and then went to the Boathouse Restaurant next to the marina for dinner.  We met the Harrisons, a very nice couple who belong to the yacht club next door.   We chatted for a time, as boaters often do.   We enjoyed very fine food, fine conversation, and a beautiful sunset.   The Harrisons left before us and after our meal, we were told that they bought us dessert.    How nice is that?  Pam had cheesecake and I had a hot fruit cup with a crumb covering.   It was gooooood.

This morning's email contained a sunset photo that Pam Harrison sent to me, since I didn't bring my camera last night.  One of those sunsets to remember.

Pam also took a pic of Drift Away.  We had to navigate through a narrow entrance in the breakwater and make a tight 90 degree left hand turn onto the dock.  Not a bad job considering I had only a port engine, eh?

Thank you for the pics and the hospitality, Mr. and Mrs. Harrison.   After a rough day, it was a perfect ending.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Three Hours Without Breaking Down. A New Record!

So far Drift Away has made four trips under her own power.   The first was Westport to Stamford, a total time of two hours.  The second was Stamford to Norwalk, which was one hour, and then Norwalk back to Stamford.   The  third was to be our big one and we went a total of two hours before both engines quit and we had to be towed to Oyster Bay Marine to have our tanks and wallets cleaned.   Today was a record, from Oyster Bay to City Island, a total of THREE HOURS!

We saw many nice homes and fine yachts along the way.   These people really do need a tax cut like Republicans say.   Just think how many more people they could employ with another coupla hundred grand or so to toss around.

Check out the greenhouse on the roof!  Maybe they could hire another gardner?

Nothing like having your own lighthouse.

Hey, with a nice tax cut, this guy could buy another tank of fuel!

I think the critters are getting used to their house moving.  Instead of looking concerned and pacing all over, or quivering at my feet, they seemed to be taking it all in stride now.

All except for Charlie.   He's the three legged Siamese.   After the last fiasco when he voided out of every body orifice he had, he spent this trip locked in the forward head.   As it turns out, he had no issues at all.   Maybe because it was a fairly calm day, and up there it's quieter.

City Island is a nice place, although I don't know why they have so many restaurants here.    Maybe it's a lot busier during the summer, I dunno.   We took the dogs for a walk from one end of the island to the other.

Tomorrow we leave at 6 AM or thereabouts to hit Hell Gate at slack high tide.   From there it's to the battery and then north up the Hudson. 

I checked the Racors and I don't see any sediment at all, so I think Mac and Nick did a really good job.   Ask for a raise, Mac and Nick.    And you better give it to them, John.   After my bill, you can afford raises all around!

All kidding aside, I want to re-emphasize what a great job Mac and Nick did, and what great employees Oyster Bay Marine has.   All the dock guys were great (Hi Peter!) as well.   Consider them for whatever boating related needs you might have.

OK, let's try this cruising thing again

The boat is fixed.  Mac and his helper Nick were here until 8 PM last night finishing up.   They pumped out and cleaned the 800 gallon fuel tank, made new gaskets for the tank access lids, installed the new spin on engine fuel filters, and bled the air out of the lines.   The engines fired up and ran great.

I tried to give Mac a tip but he wouldn't take it.  He's a young guy with a wife, two year old, and a new house and could probably use the money.  I told him how much I appreciated him staying late to get this done for us and that he should take the money and take his wife out to dinner, but he declined.   Everyone I've met here at Oyster Bay Marine has been top shelf and I can't say enough good things about them.    Oyster Bay is also in the process of installing a 55 ton travel lift, so anyone needing any kind of service should certainly consider them.  

The plan today is to make the short 17 mile trip from Oyster Bay to City Island which is just outside of the Throg's Neck Bridge.    We'll leave for the East River at 6 AM Sunday to catch the high tide slack current at 9 AM at Hell Gate.   From there it's past Manhattan to the Battery and then hang a right and go up the Hudson.

Meanwhile, in the interesting news category, a 130 foot mega-yacht pulled in next to us last night while Pam and I were enjoying our back porch and happy hour.   It was out on a mooring with a couple of other mega-yachts and came in to the big fuel dock, making the other big yacht here look tiny in comparison.   It was interesting to watch the crew scampering all over it with concerned looks, getting it ready for the owners' arrival.  The gangway went out and the canvas lashed to the railings.   They took on a quick 1,400 gallons of diesel so they could run their generators all night (forcing us to close all our ports because our stern is next to theirs).  Finally, a Range Rover pulled up to the head of the dock and the owner and his wife appeared with their entourage, one handling their four perfectly matched Black Labradors.  One crewman offered his arm to the lady and they stroled down the dock.   He helped her aboard and then, since it was lightly raining, he toweled off each dog and escorted each up the gangway and onto the boat.

This yacht is certainly gorgeous and I admired it a lot.  I especially like the way it's lit up at night.

Very pretty.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Really, you can go potty on the boat.

We spent Tuesday night on a mooring after being Seatowed into Oyster Bay Marine when our engines quit.  That would be the first time we hadn't been on a dock since we've had the boat, and the first time the dogs couldn't get off to do their business whenever they wanted. 

The critters didn't get it, especially the two dogs.   Chevy kept pacing all around the boat looking for a way off, and then he'd look at me and WOOF!   Pam put a couple of mats and some piddle pads on the foredeck and tried to explain to the dogs that it was OK to go potty there, but they refused.

Ruby looked sad and confused, and Chevy kept looking over the side for a way out.  Finally, we gave up and hailed the marina launch to take the dogs to shore.  This would also be the first small boat ride for the dogs.   Chevy seemed to enjoy the ride, but Ruby cowered at my feet and shook like a leaf.   When we go to the dock, Chevy charged up the ramp dragging Pam behind him.   The first patch of grass he came to, he let loose.   Poor guy.

Yesterday morning, Brian the mechanic came aboard Drift Away.  To make a long story short, he agreed with my assessment that crud in the tanks clogged up the fuel system.  Why?  Because he didn't get any fuel when he tried to bleed the system either until he removed the fuel line attached to the pick-up tube and blew it out.  It was clogged up real good, just like my old 1930 Pontiac used to do.  I got real good at pulling off that fuel line and blowing it out, but I don't want to do that on this boat.

We were hip-towed from our mooring to Oyster Bay's dock so the mechanics can work on the boat easier, and so that 200 gallons of diesel can be pumped out of the boat and the tanks can be scrubbed clean.  Luckilly, we have four access ports the size of small manhole covers.

So what Brian did, at my request, was to re-attach the second Racor so that each engine has its own filter.  He also ordered new fuel filter engine attachment fixtures for the Ford Lehmann's.  I had an awful time replacing the engine filters when the engines died because it is darn next to impossible to get the upper gasket to seat properly.  Gravity kept pulling it out and it took me near an hour to replace both filters on one engine.  Brian said it was a well known design flaw on the Ford Lehmanns and there are replacement fittings that use simple spin on filters.   I told him to go ahead and overnight them from California.

Brian goes on vacation to Myrtle Beach today and Mack the mechanic takes over.  I guess Mack will be removing the four huge access plates to the tanks and scrubbing them down and then pumping our 200 gallons of black gold out.  He'll then install the new engine filter systems, we'll take on a hundred gallons of new diesel and we should be good to go.

The weather on Friday looks horrible.  Heavy rain.  If we can get out of here, though, the plan is to get to City Island or somewhere close to Hell Gate so we can make the run through early on Saturday morning.  The ebb at Hell Gate starts at 7:48 AM.   If we wait until Sunday to do it, the ebb is at 8:39 AM, a more civilized time I guess, but we need to get to upstate New York ASAP.   Only nine days to the wedding.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Getting Seatowed

This boat has been running perfectly.   That is, until we cast off our dock lines to begin our long awaited cruise.

Thanks to the wonders of our wireless Verizon hot spot, I can actually update our blog from the middle of Long Island Sound.

3 PM- Update.

We're sitting on a mooring now at Oyster Bay Marine.  They'll have a mechanic come over early in the morning to "assess the situation".  

What happened is that three miles from Stamford the starboard engine shut down.  Since both engines run off one Racor fuel filter, I started looking for problems on that engine.   I opened the bleed screws and pumped the lift pump but got no fuel.   So we ran on one engine for another hour, and then that one shut down.   I changed the Racor and both fuel filters on the engine but still no fuel.   My guess is that a lot of crud came off the walls of the fuel tanks because I added a couple of hundred gallons and raised the level to where it hasn't been in 20 years.    I thought I was OK with the tanks because it was stored with no fuel in them, but I guess that's not the case.

So here we sit on the mooring.   I'm going to wait a few hours before running a generator to let the sediment settle down.   I'll keep everyone updated when I find out what's happening tomorrow.

Meanwhile, the dogs seem to be concerned that there's no way to get off the boat.   I still haven't started working on the dinghy so they can't get off on that.   Pam put down piddle pads and pointed to them.    Ruby sat on one.   Hey, it's a start.

Monday, September 19, 2011

It's Always Something...

Gilda Radner wrote an inspirational book called "It's Always Something".   Although Gilda was dealing with more serious issues than broken boat things, I think "It's Always Something" is a good way to describe owning an old boat.   Maybe we should have named Drift Away "It's Always Something" instead.

Pam and I tried to get our dinghy registered at Connecticut DMV on Friday. It's a 13 foot Boston Whaler. After three hours there, we were told we can't register it because it wasn't listed on the bill of sale for the big boat. We showed the clerk a pic of our boat, "Look, it's attached to the roof." said I. Pam chimed in, "It's like buying a house with appliances!". Nope no deal. So we're going unregistered.  We'll have to stay at marinas so the dogs can get off the boat until we can get it registered somewhere.   Or maybe I can row it.   Or maybe I'll get rid of it and buy a new one.   The Annapolis Boat Show is coming up and maybe I can get a deal there.

So back to the boat Friday afternoon and I painted the stern.  Part of it was still wet on Sunday morning.  I mixed the Interlux "Perfection" (HAH!) two part paint carefully and stirred it well.   Don't know what went wrong.  The guy came Sunday morning to put the name and home port on.   This morning (Monday) the paint is still wet in spots.

The electronics guy was almost done, but called in sick on Friday and Saturday. He came back Sunday to try to finish up. Today, Monday morning, his tools are still here so he must have more to do.  I spoke to him via cell phone and he said the rudder indicator was working backwards.

Saturday I demolished the V-berth. It used to be two singles but a previous owner converted to a queen and added it's own head.

At first, I was disassembling it screw by screw, but after a time I decided to let my size 11 shoe finish it up.  I left the head because it's very nice, but I ripped out the furniture and drawers and put it back to two singles. It's a very nice storage space now.

Gary, one of my dog park buddies, came Saturday to powerwash the upper deck to remove 20 years of dirt, crud, and loose paint. He came back Sunday to finish. He was going to paint the decks with non-skid on Sunday with Interlux Deck paint but the directions say you can't walk on them for TWO FRIGGIN' DAYS after painting. So they're staying primed. Gary, it looks GREAT bud.  Thank you for taking two days out of your life to do that for us.  You're the best.

Pam and I drove the '56 T-bird and my Tacoma truck to upstate NY today to leave them at her dad's. We took the train back with Megan, Pam's daughter.  Three hours up (the T-Bird hit 85 MPH moving with traffic and drove like on rails!) and seven long, long hours back on the train.  Megan drove Pam's car back to upstate last night.   We're now car-less.
I decided it was time to plan our first trip, from Stamford to New York Harbor.  This involves heading west through Long Island Sound and into the East River.  This is a beautiful and fun boat ride but requires passing through Hell Gate, which is where the Harlem River and the East River meet.    The tidal current combined with the river current can produce standing waves and four knot currents.  Since Drift Away only does 8 knots tops, we want to hit it at slack high tide which gives us minimal waves and favorable currents.  

We had planned on leaving on Monday and so the idea is to find slack high tide for September 19th (3:30 PM) and then find the distance using charts.    Divide the distance by boat speed and subtract that from 3:30 PM and that gives you your departure time. 

One very nice feature of the Simrad electronics is a tides page that displays the tide cycles for your position.  We can't leave our marina at low tide because it's too shallow and as this pic shows, we have to leave well before (or after) 10:31 AM.

Here I am trying to walk the dividers over the chart.

We've decided, at the last minute, to replace the batteries on the boat on Monday and leave on Tuesday. That's two 8D house batteries, one battery for the generators, and one for the windlass. They're probably original on this 30 year old boat, and one of the 8Ds is OK but marginal. Since we've spent so much money on the boat so far, what's another boat buck?   New batteries all around!

So now we're leaving on Tuesday. One more day for boat projects will be good. I need to unfreeze a frozen deck fitting, the one for the pump-out. Nothing has worked to free it so far, so next I'm going to try a heat gun on it to see if I can melt whatever has gunked it up, hopefully without setting the boat on fire.   If that doesn't work, I'll have to figure out how to remove the old fitting and install a new one.

So all the major boat projects are just about done.  We've stopped the deck leaks, have two working engines and generators, have 95% of the navigation electronics installed, and myriad other tasks.  Just when I thought we were done spending money on stuff and could focus on cosmetics, Pam asked me to open the refrigerator door.   Why?   Just do it, said she.   So I did, and it fell off the hinges and onto the floor.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Clam Pearl

Pam and I went out to dinner about a year ago, to the Mansion Clam House in Westport CT. She had trout, I had linguine with fresh clams, some chopped and some in the shell. I bit down on something hard. I pulled it out and looked at it. It was a pearl. I showed it to Pam and said "Look what I got in my clam", to which Pam exclaimed "EEeeeew! A fish eye??!" No, a clam pearl.  We saved it, of course.  Pam decided that she'd like it as her engagement ring, with a special meaning she'll never forget.  She had the "eye" side of it mounted down. 

We're going back to that restaurant in Westport on Friday, and will show it to the owner.

In boat news, we're running a bit behind. Both generators are now running (YAY!!), $23,000 worth of equipment fixed for $2,300. ?The mechanic who worked on Drift Away's name is Dave Ackermann and I recomment him highly. If you need diesel work in the Norwalk area, consider Dave at Norwalk Cove.  

We moved the boat back to Stamford today because Norwalk Cove Marina is setting up for next week's boat show and the place will be really busy over the next few days.  I was a bit nervous because the marine forecast had a small craft advisory due to a cold front moving through at 2 PM with winds 10 to 15 gusting to 30 MPH.  We got at our dock in Stamford at 1 PM, just as it started raining.

The electronics install is almost done. As it turns out, we are missing two cables. The NSS chartplotters are on an ethernet network and many other things are on the Simnet and we need to connect them together. The parts will be in tomorrow and we should finish that project.

Tomorrow I also need to hie myself to motor vehicles and register the Boston Whaler, and then I need to sand and paint the stern so the sign company can apply Drift Away's name and home port.   

I sent my US Coast Guard documentation application in July. Still don't have it. I called them yesterday and they said they work on applications based on the time stamp when received. They're up to June.

I also just found out that we really need a mail forwarding service. The post office does it, but they charge an outrageous $15 a week. I can go private for $12 a month.

We still hope to leave on Monday, although I hear that the Hudson is flowing very quickly and it's full of debris, and we'll be going upstream, the wrong way. Cross your fingers.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Dirty Gertie Jumps Ship

Dirty Gertie is a six month old kitten.   She's named Dirty Gertie because she's an orange tabby with black markings on her ears, top of her head, and backside like she crawled under a leaky old car.  Since she moved aboard a few months ago, she's ruled the boat.  Both dogs are afraid of her, and Charlie the three legged siamese doesn't stand a chance.   When Gertie decides she's going to tackle Charlie, she tackles him.   When she decides she's going to chew on Chevy's tail, she chews on it.  When she decides she's going to cuddle up on the couch with Ruby, she cuddles.

I can imagine Ruby thinking "Don't....  move.... stay... perfectly.... still...".

Gertie is very strong minded.   When she decided she was going to jump ship, she jumped ship.  She's never been off our boat at the marina in Stamford, but something is different here at the service dock in Norwalk.   There's a 70 foot yacht next to Drift Away.   It's about the same age as our boat, but much nicer.   I was sitting on the aft deck the other night admiring it when I saw Gertie strolling down the dock.   I yelled at her "Gertie".   She spun around, looked at me, stuck her tongue out and put her paw to her nose and wiggled her fingers at me and then jumped about five feet onto the railing of the yacht.   Being a responsible adult, I did what any of you would have done....

"Pam, your cat is on the yacht next door."

"What??!"    Pam ran over and stuck her head in the railing and called Gertie with her cute little sing-song voice.  "Geeeeertie.   C'mere Geeeeertie!  Gertie Gertie Gertie!"   Gertie climbed farther away on the bow and smiled at Pam.  

I tossed Pam a bag of cat treats.   Pam shook it.

Gertie loves cat treats.  It was her downfall.

Pam caught Gertie and put her back on the boat.   But now that she knows that there are other boats besides ours, boats that are much bigger and nicer, she gets off the boat every night to explore them.  Last night I saw her on a 40 foot sailboat and a 45 foot sportfisherman.    Who knows where she goes when I don't see her.

In boat news, the electronics install is almost done, and I just moved the boat to the fuel dock, took on 200 gallons of diesel, and then back to the service dock. I didn't hit anything, but I put a big dent in my wallet.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Getting Unplugged?

For  many years, I was a news hound.  I'd read the local papers, watch the TV news mornings and evenings, and research issues on the internet.  I was very involved in my local community.   As a small town businessman, I saw the need for a BID (business improvement district) and waged a successful campaign to get one.   When our local YMCA decided to move out of our town and build a palatial building out of reach of local kids, both financially and distance-wise, Pam and I organized a group to form a Boys & Girls Club and served on its board of managers.   I also post daily on several message boards debating everything from politics to sailing.    That's all changing now.

We stopped working only a week ago, September 2nd.  Sure, we're busy working on the boat getting it ready for our cruise, but there's also a lot of down time, like this morning as I write this blog.   The TV is off, even though it's September 11th and I'm sure there's many talking heads spouting off that at one time I'd be interested in watching.  Not only am I not interested, since we all know what they're going to be saying, but we don't watch TV news hardly at all anymore.  Heck, we don't watch TV anymore.   We're much more content to sit on the back porch (aft deck) and quietly read until it gets dark (8 PM now) and then just talk. 

I'm decompressing.  Not that I was working in a high stress job.  I wasn't.  I worked for Dutchman, the manufacturer of a very cool sail flaking system for sailboats (also a nice boom brake and effective mast track system).   But I always felt a need to stay connected, and while I at my lunch at my desk everyday, I'd check the hometown newspaper and CNN websites for news updates.  Not so much anymore.

In my working years, vacations were fun but not stress relieving.  I knew I'd be headed back to work in a week or two and resume my normal routine.   That's not happening now as Pam and I are on an open ended vacation, perhaps a permanent one.   I feel like I've crossed the finish line of my last race.

Have any of you loopers and cruisers and retirees experienced the same thing?   Kind of a "OK, I've done my bit, now it's time for me"?

Pam is not at my level of relaxation.  She's filled with angst about our upcoming nuptuals, about running out of time to get things done.  I'm more pragmatic.   We were planning on taking Drift Away up the Hudson to the Schenectady Yacht Club but that's not happening.   Their docks were destroyed by Hurricane Irene and then Tropical Storm Lee.   The Erie Canal is closed too, along with the Waterford Canal Center which was our backup plan.   The Troy docks were destroyed so that's out, and the federal lock in Troy is closed until all the boats that went over the dam from the Troy Boat and Canoe Club are raised from the bottom.    I contacted the Castelon Boat Club and luckily they survived the storms and floods and we can stay there, so that's the new plan.

So I try to reassure Pam that it will all work out, one way or another, and we will get married on October 1st, and that we will somehow get our '56 Thunderbird, my truck, and her car to the cow barn for winter storage, and we will make it to Annapolis for a party with friends on October 8th, whether we make it in Drift Away or rental car.

Yesterday's boat projects were to clean, toss, and organize, and I think we did a good job of it.   Today's project, weather permitting, is to finish priming the deck and to paint the stern.   We ordered lettering and it should be coming this week.  I think things are coming together nicely.   Pam, not so much. 

Friday, September 9, 2011

You're BAD DOGS!

We've had rain in biblical proportions here in the northeast, the likes of which hasn't been seen since Noah.  Dispite that, the dogs still have to go out to go potty.    So it was when it was raining particularly heavy.   Ruby was standing by the door and Chevy, the appointed spokesperson of the doggy crew, came to me and barked in no uncertain terms that they needed to go out NOW.    So I donned my old yellow slicker and out we went into the deluge.   They galloped up the dock and waited for me to get there to open the gate (I don't gallop anymore).   When I opened it, they ran to the parking garage where they immediately began chasing each other and playing.  A parking garage is a totally inappropriate place for doggy play, so I chased them outside and to the marina's small fenced in grassy area.  

They seemed to be fine with the downpouring rain.   I was not.   I could feel the rainwater creeping in through the seams of my yellow slicker.   After about ten minutes, they were still running and playing and I was starting to shiver.   OK kids, time to go back to the boat.    They ignored me and kept playing.   OK, time to go back to the boat NOW!  More ignoring.  I yelled at them and told them they're BAD DOGS and need to get back on the boat RIGHT NOW. I think I actually heard them giggle as they ran away, scooting under the pine trees to roll in mud.   I decided to divide and conquer.   It took some doing, angry words and such, but I finally got Chevy to go back onto the boardwalk where I herded him to our dock.   Ruby, not having a playmate, followed.   Back on the boat, Pam could tell that I was soaking wet and in a foul mood.   She asked what was wrong and I told her how misbehaved her dogs had been.   Pam is always a cheerful person, and she cheerfully locked Chevy (who was covered in mud from head to tail) in the helm station and whisked mud-caked Ruby off to the shower.   After a few minutes, a much chagrinned Ruby appeared and Chevy went to the showers next.  For my part, I decided it was scotch-thirty.

The next morning it was still raining hard.    Ruby was at the door and Chevy was standing in front of me, woofing to go out.  Pam knew that I was still angry at her dogs and it was much to early for me to declare scotch-thirty again and so she took them out.  

Pam has much more fashion sense than I do.

In other developments, yesterday Drift Away left the dock for only the second time.   We moved from Stamford to Norwalk to have the  generators looked at.  We should be here for a week, I'd guess.  

This was also only the third time I've docked this boat.   The other two times were easy, once to a big gas dock for fuel and the second to our winter home, also a big gas dock.   This docking was much more difficult.   I had to get this 46' boat past a 70' shiny yacht, make a 90 degree left turn without hitting it, and then a 90 degree right hand turn into a very narrow slip.   I took my time and used the engines to turn the boat, putting one in forward and the other in reverse to slowly turn into the slip.   I'm very proud to say that the docking went perfectly and I didn't hit the shiny yacht nor the dock.   Not bad for a sailor.