Sunday, October 30, 2011

The nor'easter in pictures and videos

The north eastern part of the US got clobbered by a storm yesterday that brought record early snow.  Just west of Manasquan Inlet (where we are) got close to a foot of snow.  We had a few flurries here but that was it. 

Looking at the news this morning,  there was a six car pile-up on Long Island.  I'm glad I don't have to drive any more.  Combine slippery roads with the worst drivers in the nation is always a recipe for disaster.

For us, it was all wind and rain.  It was raining so hard that the dogs didn't ask to get off the boat until well after noon, something that has never happened before.  Luckily, the wind was out of the northeast and so the waves in the inlet were minimal.

 My Home Cheapo weather station shows an average wind speed of 24 MPH yesterday morning, gusting to 30.  It got higher than that at one point.   During one particularly strong gust I saw it register 38 MPH.

The northeast wind pushed more water than normal into the inlet resulting in the dock getting a few inches of water over it.  I tied the steps to the piling so they wouldn't get swept off.

The waves were only a foot or so, but it was interesting to see them breaking on the dock.

The pic above shows a no-wake buoy being dragged underwater by the strong tidal current, which was pushing upstream.

The railroad bridge was left in a down position for some reason.  It's usually left up and only closes for trains.  The tide was so high that waves were breaking on it.

Finally, here are a few videos to give you a better idea of what it was like to be aboard a boat during all this- 

So what did we do all day?  Well, our diesel heater had sucked up water from the bottom of our tank and I had to drain all that out and get the heater working again.  Our three reverse cycle A/C units have all stopped working so the diesel space heater and a few electric heaters are all we have.  We then watched a couple of movies, Silverado (I like westerns) and Hocus Pocus (Pam's favorite Halloween movie).  We walked the dogs a couple of times, played on the internets, and just relaxed.

We'll stay put today to give the ocean time to calm down and plan on leaving for Atlantic City early tomorrow morning.  It's forecast to be below freezing tonight so we may have to wait for the ice to melt off the decks.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Bored On a Boat

It rained all day Thursday.  Today, it's forecast to rain and snow here in Manasquan Inlet, NJ plus it's blowing like stink.

Our Home Cheapo weather station in the pic above is showing a 26 MPH gust, a peak of 28 and an average of 19.    The latest forecast for the Jersey Shore is for gusts up to 60 MPH.  Thankfully, the dogs haven't asked to get off the boat yet.  It's almost high tide and a long step down to the fixed dock and they, or us, might get blown off the docks.

On Wednesday, I took a hiatus from boat projects.  Pam and I spent a lazy day watching TV (Judge Judy rocks!), played Parcheesi, and played rummy.  The dogs were bored to death too, and they can't play cards or board games to pass the time.  They just sleep.

Awwww.... Pam... Ruby died.  She was the best dog ever.   She sleeps like that sometimes, with a leg stuck up in the air.  Weird.

Traveling and living on a boat certainly makes you young again.  Just like when we were kids, we have to walk or ride our bicycles everywhere we go, and on rainy days we amuse ourselves with board games and TV.

I do have a boat project to do, though.  I hooked the fuel line for the diesel heater up to the Racor fuel polishing line which was just a half inch or so off the tank bottom.  The Racor didn't pick up any water at all when I ran it in fuel polishing mode and I thought we were good water-wise, but the diesel space heater sucked up a whole bunch of water and shut down.  Now I have to take it all apart and get the water out of there.   What a dummy I can be sometimes.   I really need to attach it to its own pick-up tube, I guess.

Friday, October 28, 2011

marinas and their amenities- or lack there of

As we find ourselves actually moving, ok, occassionally moving, I have come to realize how important a good shower is among other things. My idea of a good marina at this point is one that has floating docks, a nice restroom with a shower that actually sprays water from an appropriate height and with adequate water volume, places to walk the dogs, as well as grocery and liquor store within a 1-2 mile radius.

The best restroom facility including shower has got to be where we are right now. Hoffmans in Brielle, NJ. The downfall? no floating docks... and I swear before we leave here we're going to rip their docks apart due to this problem. (yes, I see non floating docks as a problem with a boat of our size ) Aside from the dock issue, this is a really nice marina. Grocery stores are a short bike ride away as well as a liquor store, there's a a great beach area also a short walk away where we can let the dogs off leash (only because it's off season) and the staff here are very nice.

The nicest marina we've seen so far? Liberty Landing Marina. It had great docks, a nice restroom and plenty of area to walk the dogs and shopping was a short ferry ride across the bay. Funny, cost wise, Liberty is about the same if not slightly less expensive than where we are now in a small town of NJ.

Atlantic Highlands Municipal Marina had great shopping, and good places for the dogs but thats it.... the shower facility sucked! The restroom facility itsself is neat and clean, but I think the staff there should have to take a shower in their own facility. The height of the shower head is waaay to high... I'm 5'3" and the shower head had to be another two feet above me! Women don't need the shower head that high, plus you couldn't adjust the angle. It was fixed. The spray from the head was all over the place. I was lucky if I had three streams hitting me at one time. I was dancing all over the shower stall to try and rinse my long, thick hair.  Even the marina in Ossining had a better shower than the one in Atlantic Highlands, and theirs was an old mechanic garage bathroom turned into a bathroom/shower. Atlantic Highlands was also my first experience with non floating docks. Two weeks of this has made up my mind that this is a very poor design for the boaters with dogs. I'm sure the lower cost of non-floating docks makes marinas think these are a great idea. The town of Atlantic Highlands is wonderful, though. Everyone there is so friendly and welcoming, I felt like we belonged to the community even though we were only passing through.

The other marinas we've stayed had nice facilities but nothing to rave about but also nothing outstanding to complain about either. So far, Castleton Boat club was probably the best when it comes to hospitality and their restrooms were actually really nice for a small club. I think because members actually use them as well as transients, so they make sure the showers are good.

Well those are my thoughts as we sit here in Brielle waiting for a good wind and wave window to head to our next port of call. I hope the next place has a good shower casue now I'm spoiled with such an excellent facility here in Brielle, NJ

                                             (this pic is actually from Stamford, last spring)


Thursday, October 27, 2011

How many fuel polishing systems is too many?

We're stuck in Manasquan NJ waiting for a weather window.  We've set an arbitrary limit of wind less than 15 knots and, since we're running down the Jersey shore, any direction out of the west to minimize waves.  Check this out.  This is today's NOAA weather forecast.


3 TO 5 FT. RAIN. VSBY 1 TO 3 NM.

5 FT.

1 TO 3 NM.



So it looks like we're going to be here awhile.

Yesterday's boat project was to connect one of the old Racors to the fuel tank to use it as another fuel polishing system, the Filter Bosses (hereinafter called FBs) being the other two.  I bent up the fuel pick up tubes on the FBs so they're about three inches above the tank bottom, while the Racor is about a half an inch above the bottom.  That means that the Racor should take the brunt of the abuse and be the first to collect crud and water in the tank.  Well, that's the plan anyway.

The Racor I connected is on the right, the one on the left being unused for the time being.  Between that filter and the Victory Beer is a yellow shut off handle. That's for the diesel space heater in the main saloon.  I also hiked a half a mile into town and bought 15 feet of 1/4" fuel line for that ($4 a foot!).  The heater was connected to the old Racors when they were the primary engine filters, but I don't want anything connected to the FBs, so I also reconnected the heater to the Racor.   I guessed at 15 feet, and I managed to connect the line with only inches to spare.  Hey, sometimes the bear eats you, and sometimes you eat the bear.

I'm trying to decide if I want the other Racor connected to it's own pick up tube and return so I can run them both simultaneously (there are two electric fuel pumps for these filters), or use Y valves to use the same pick up tube and return,  or if I should simply use a selector valve to switch from one to the other, like the FBs.   It's another one of those things that I need to process.

I think I've done enough fuel stuff for awhile since I was literally up to my elbows in diesel fuel, feeling for the bottom of the pick up tubes.  What could be nastier than that?  Well, since we're here for awhile, maybe I'll tackle the holding tank and the replacement of the deck fitting, which is buried behind cabinetry.  I also need to connect the two forward heads to the holding tank.  Right now, they dump directly overboard, which means they can't be used.  This isn't a big deal right now since we only use those heads for storage, but we'd like to get the middle stateroom operational so we can have guests.  That won't be an issue if we spend the winter in New Jersey, I suppose, since no one dreams of spending a winter in New Jersey, but if we ever get to Key West friends and family may want to come and visit.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The boat renaming ceremony worked, but you can't fix stupid

It was the dawn of a new day.   There's that dumb phrase again.

We had done all we could do.  We installed two sets of Filter Bosses, performed a boat renaming ceremony, and the weather forecast was good.  The stars were all in alignment.  Even Charlie the grouchy three legged cat was begrudgingly tolerating Gertie.

I checked the Filter Bosses for dirt and water and everything looked fine, so we fired up the engines and made the 100 foot trip to the fuel dock.  It was uneventful.  We took on 100 gallons of cheap diesel, only $3.75 a gallon.   Cripe, I remember paying 25 cents a gallon for gas, but I digress. 

Since everything was working well, we decided to leave Atlantic Highlands (New Jersey) and make a short hop to Manasquan, about 30 miles. We got underway at 9:30 on smooth glassy seas and calm winds and motored away from our home for the past seventeen days.  

Drift Away just hummed along.  Every half hour or so, I'd go down to the engine room to check the filters while Pam drove the boat. Everything was OK but I noticed a little bit of water in the starboard engine. Piece of cake. I switched to the #2 filter and the engine kept right on a runnin'. I loosened the lid on Filter #1, put a small cup under the drain, opened the spigot until I got pink diesel, and then closed the spigot. I switched back over to the #1 filter, and again everything kept right on a runnin'.

Back up to the helm where I enjoyed the pleasant day, winds out of the SE at 10 to 12 now, seas 1 to 2 feet, no problems. And then the starboard engine started to slow down. I flipped the Filter Boss switch but I was too late. The engine died. *&^%$@%^^%*!!

Back down to the engine room. I put a light on the Racor. It looked as clean as a whistle.  Clogged fuel line? I disconnected it and blew it out.  It didn't seem to be clogged.  I and hooked it back up.  Now what to do?  The filter looked clean, but I had to do something and so I decided to change it. Now, those of you who are careful readers may have realized what I had forgotten to do up in the second paragraph, under the pic of the dawn.
I reached for the T handle and it was already loose. I had forgotten to tighten it back down after draining the water out of the filter. I removed an engine filter bleed screw. Dry as a bone. It took about a half hour, but I got the fuel lines and engine bled and then I double checked to make sure I had tightened the filter lid.  I went up to the helm and started the engine.

You can install all the fancy dancy equipment on your boat that you want, but you can't prevent an idiot from screwing it up anyway.

The boat ran fine the rest of the way to Manasquan, and the vacuum gauges didn't budge.  As we approached the inlet, we got bounced around by a couple of morons in big sportfishermans who passed us and tossed HUGE wakes.   After docking, I put the Filter Bosses in fuel polishing mode and, sure enough, the starboard filter (the one with the pickup tube low in the tank) picked up a lot of gunk and water.  My 800 gallon fuel tank is actually two 400 gallon tanks, and even though I manually cleaned the one with the pickup tubes, I think that the water and much of the crud is coming from the other one.  Maybe today I'll see about manually cleaning them again.

It looks like we'll be here for the rest of the week unless the weather forecast changes. Right now, it looks like crap with strong winds out of the wrong direction.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Boat Renaming Ceremony

If you recall my previous post, I wrote about the new Filter Boss systems working great, but filling full of water.   I removed over five gallons of water from our fuel tanks before giving up for the night.  Yesterday morning, I pulled the access cover off of the tank and inserted a hose taped to a piece of copper pipe.  I connected that hose to a now unused fuel pump and stuck the other end in a jerry can.  I turned on the pump and got maybe a half a pint of water before getting only pink diesel fuel.  I couldn't believe it, since I was getting so much water in the filters the night before.  I turned on the Filter Bosses and they too got only pink.  I guess I had gotten practically all the water out the night before.

We've decided to leave today for Manasquan.  It looks like that's as far as we'll make it this week.  The forecast today is southwest winds 5 to 10 knots, which is fine.   But the rest of the week will be very blustery, with winds of at least 15 knots each day, gusting in the 20s.  I hope Manasquan is a nice town.   I've been there before but never got farther than the restaurants.

We also decided that we've had so much bad luck on our short voyage so far that we're not going to take any chances.  We held a boat renaming ceremony to appease Neptune.  We hiked into town and brought back a couple of bottles of wine.   I selected Fish Eye merlot.

I thought Neptune would consider favorably how much thought I put into my selection.   Despite the name, it tasted a lot like regular grape wine.

As Pam read the ceremony, I was instructed to dump half the bottle along side the boat from east to west, and then back from west to east.  

The dogs seemed to be enjoying all this as much as we were. 

Pam and I toasted King Neptune as Pam requested that the names Tiner Liner and Tinee Liner be expunged from his records and replaced with Drift Away.   She also ad libbed a bit and apologized for us not doing this sooner.  She then filled a glass with Fish Eye merlot and cast a bit on the water facing north,  south, east, and west.

Between the Filter Bosses and the renaming ceremony, I think we've covered the bases.   What else could possibly go wrong?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Snatching Defeat From The Jaws Of Victory

I finished the install of the two sets of Filter Bosses yesterday.  I had completed everything but connecting the wiring and selecting a place to drill the helm station full of holes to mount the remote switches.   After looking all around the helm, I decided that I couldn't decide, and so made a small panel to put them on, at least for now.   I cut the wires I had pulled to length and connected them to the terminal block and power.

You can a mess of wires in the above pic. Some are mine but most are from the previous owners.  Each set of Filter Bosses has six wires, a blue, a yellow, a red, a black, and a red and a black set that run from the switch to the actuator.  Since I installed two units, that meant twelve wires, including four pairs of red and blacks that I couldn't  mix up.   When I drilled holes to pull the wires through bulkheads and cabinets, I drilled port and starboard holes for the port and starboard Filter Bosses.  I also put blue tape labels on the red and black wires so I knew which were for the switch and which were for the actuators.   I finally finished all the connections and threw the switch.

They lit up.   I ran to the engine room and the Filter Bosses were lit up too.   I ran back upstairs and threw the switches, and than ran back down to the engine room, and yes, the levers were flipped from Filter 1 to Filter 2 on each.   They worked perfectly!   Yes, that, my friend, is a Victory Beer.

All of my labeling and careful cutting and crimping paid off (by the way, get yourself a nice pair of racheting crimpers.  Expensive, but money well spent).  

Time to get the filters operational.  The Filter Boss has a built in fuel pump, but the filters wouldn't prime, so I bought five gallons of diesel at the fuel dock and filled the four filters.   That did it, and in no time the pumps were humming and filling full of....   water.

Un-friggin'-believable.  We have about 300 gallons of fuel in our 800 gallon tanks.   The idea was to get from Connecticut to New York and then New Jersey where we would fill up where the price of diesel is much less expensive, $3.75 a gallon compared to $4.35.   We'd save $300 on the fill up.  But those of you who have been following this blog know that we've been here over two weeks, and the days have been warm and the nights very cool.   That means condensation.   Diesel fuel is lighter than water and floats on top.   The water is at the bottom of the tank, and the pick-up tubes pull from the bottom.  There must be a lot of water down there.

The Filter Boss has a built in fuel polishing system, and after running it for a couple of hours and draining water from the filter into a jerry can, I pulled five gallons out.   The port filter is now OK, but the starboard one is still filling with water.   Must be because the starboard pick up tube is lower in the tank.  Today I'm going to open the tank's access port and use the old fuel lines and fuel pumps to pump from the bottom of the tank, through an absorbent pad and then right into the bilge.    The pad will keep any oil and fuel out, hopefully.  Once the water is out, I'll run the Filter Bosses all day in fuel polishing mode (for my landlubber friends, the pump picks up fuel from the tank, runs it through the filter and then returns it to the tank, cleansing it of crud.  I don't know why it's called polishing.  Must be one of those nautical things that make no sense, like the rope on a sailboat that pulls in the sails being called sheets).  The filters are only 10 micron, so if there's much dirt floating  in there, they'll clog up pretty fast.  My replacement filters are 30 micron.

We were going to leave Atlantic Highlands today, but now it looks like the earliest we can leave is tomorrow.   I have a lot of confidence that these Filter Bosses are going to work out great.   Although they're very pricey, I'm very pleased with them.  And I'm pleased with myself for getting them installed and saving myself several thousands of dollars.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Filter Bosses- The Wires Are Run

It was the dawn of a new day.   What does that mean, exactly?  Every dawn is the dawn of a new day.

Whatever.  It was the dawn of a new day, and time to tackle the impossible job of running bunches of wires from the engine room to the helm station for the Filter Bosses.  To cut to the chase, it took ALL DAY.  Really.   I poked around in the middle stateroom a bit before deciding that the best route was to follow water hoses from the engine room to the sink in the head.  From there, it was up to a cabinet where I drilled four 1/2" holes and had to butt connect sixteen wires.  Then to the front of the cabinet where I drilled four more into the cabinet in the forward head, to the front of that cabinet (four more holes), under the sink to the front of that bulkhead (four more holes) and up into a cabinet in the forward stateroom where I had to disassemble some cabinetry to get access.   This is what I found. This is where other wires run into the cabinet under the helm station.   Sixteen more butt connections.    

Perfect.  I drilled three more holes, poked a coat hanger with a set of wires taped to it, and pulled a set of  wires three times.  After seven hours of drilling holes, connecting wires, and banging my head, I called it a day. 

All I need to do today is to figure out which wire does what and connect them to the two remote switches and a circuit breaker, and then see if the whole thing works.  Piece of cake.

Exactly when does it start to snow in New Jersey?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Filter Bosses- Almost Done

Yeah, I know, it seems like this project is taking forever.  But consider my day.

First, I'm sleeping in later than normal now that I don't work.  I got up at 7:30 today.  Then I have to take a shower (8 AM) and drink coffee and look at the internets (9 AM).   Walk the dogs, wash the breakfast dishes, clear the water filter screen, fill our water tanks (10 AM).   Get back on the internets and look for updates (10:30 AM).   I then get to the boat project du jour, which then involves a bike ride into town to visit the hardware/NAPA Auto Parts/True Value store(s).

I did make one mistake on the install.  I bought diesel fuel lines at the hardware store and installed them from the tanks to the filters and then found I should have used USCG A1 lines.  I bought said lines and used them from the filters to the engines.  Today, I replaced the non-USCG A1 lines from the tank to the filters with proper USCG A1 lines.   I also needed to drill and install fittings on the tank for the Filter Boss's fuel polishing return lines.   I bought everything I needed, but the hardware store didn't have a 3/8" NPT tap, nor did they have the proper side drill bit.  So I bought a 1/2" bit, drilled the hole, wobbled it a bit to taper it and make it a bit larger, and manged to get the fittings kind of self threaded in there.   I then applied a generous portion of plumber's epoxy to seal it.

As long as it holds until Annapolis, I'm good with it.

I bolted the filter for the diesel space heater to the wall, and bolted the old Racors to the wall on the opposite side of the engine room.   Those, I'll configure as a fuel polishing system.

So the two Filter Boss systems are installed with the exception of running the wires to the helm station for the alarms and switches.  No excuses anymore.  Tomorrow is the day.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

It's Too Wavey To Work

I woke up early this morning to the sound of the pitter patter of rain starting to fall on the deck.  The forecast today is for heavy rain and lots of wind.   I walked upstairs to find this.

Gertie has been getting off the boat at night and exploring the docks.  I'm guessing that she ran back to the boat when it started to rain and misjudged her leap and wound up in the drink.   How she climbed the ten foot piling to get back on the boat is anyone's guess, but I'll bet that fear was a motivating factor.  Poor Gertie.

I've scrubbed today's boat project of running the wires for the Filter Boss.  The wind is over 20 MPH out of the east, exactly where there is no protection here at Atlantic Highlands Marina.  We have two, maybe three foot waves slapping the stern of Drift Away and bouncing this 50,000 pound boat pretty good.  I can even hear the teak deck chairs sliding around on the flybridge.  
Here's a link to a YouTube video I just took.

It would be embarassing to get seasick while tied to a dock.   The wind is supposed to veer to the southeast tonight so things should ease up a bit, and Thursday calls for 20 to 25 knots, gusting to 35 out of the southwest, and Friday 10 to 15, gusting to 25 out of the west so there's time there to get the Filter Bosses done. 

I had hoped to get out of here Saturday, but the winds are forecast 10 to 15 and seas two to three feet.  Sunday looks better with wind 5 to 10, but out of the east which is the wrong direction for heading down the New Jersey coast.  We'll just have to see.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Filter Boss Is On The Wall

I finished installing new 3/8" fuel lines today.   A problem that I ran into is that the Ford Lehman 120 has a 5/16" connection.   A trip to True Value took care of that.   There's a smart young guy there who knows what he's doing, and he took it from the 5/16" engine fitting to a 5/16" coupler to a 5/16" to 3/8" reducer to a 90* 3/8" elbow to a 3/8" NPT to barb adapter. Perfect.  I biked back to the boat and screwed it all together, gobbing up the threads with thread goop and installed the engine fuel lines.  This required me hanging upside down,over the starboard engine,  and required the removal of the oil filter to get to it, but it's done.

I was going to stop at that point, but decided I really wanted to see something visible after two days of work, so I bolted the Filter Boss to the wall and connected the fuel lines.

This is for the starboard engine so I offset it slightly to starboard.  The next one will be mounted above this one and offset slightly to port.

Tomorrow is supposed to be very rainy and windy, and I'll spend it running wires from the engine room to the helm station to connect the alarm and remote switch.   Right now, though, I'm enjoying a victory beer a Judge Judy.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Installing the first Filter Boss, and Found a Problem

Sometimes I like to set goals for myself. Yesterday's goal was to do absolutely nothing. I'm proud to say I achieved my goal.

Today was a different story.  The first Filter Boss arrived today.  Pam and I were walking the dogs by the harbor master's office when I saw the UPS truck arrive.  I gave Ruby to Pam and beat feet for the office, snagged the package and rushed down to the boat where I unpacked it on the foredeck.   What a beautiful piece of machinery.  It kinda made me tingle all over.

I thought I'd leave the two old Racors in place and use them to polish fuel by running the lines back to the tanks instead of the engines, but I needed to remove this shelving unit to mount the two Filter Bosses.  Once I got looking at it, though, I decided to also remove the old Racors (at the bottom of the photo).   I'll move them to the other side of the engine room.  

Upon removing the old filters and the lines, I noticed that the NPT fittings were too small.   They're 5/16".  The Filter Boss uses 3/8" NPT fittings to connect the fuel lines.  This is good because a quick check of the Ford Lehman manual also says to use 3/8" fuel lines to the engines.   So I jumped on my bike and rode into town to buy 3/8" fuel lines and fittings.  Back at the boat, I was removing the old lines when I got to the valve where the fuel line connects to the tank itself.  There was a reducer that narrowed the line from 1/2" down to  a puny 1/4"!  I removed the two reducers, one for each fuel line and valve, and found them full of crud.   One was almost totally blocked.   I went back to the hardware store and bought two reducers down to the proper 3/8" size.

I never thought the filters looked to be so dirty as to stop the engines, so it's possible that all the engine failures we've had were due to the 1/4" bottleneck at those reducers.    And this is one of the nice things about doing these jobs yourself..

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Should We Do A Boat Renaming Ceremony?

Sailors are a superstitious lot.  Not me, though.  Maybe I should be.

Our boat's original name was Tiner Liner, named after the first owner, Mr. Tiner.  The second owner changed it to Tinee Liner.  We changed it to Drift Away, without a boat naming ceremony.  We also leave port on Fridays, something one is not supposed to do.  

If you've been following our blog, you know that we've had an awful time with clogged filters and engine shut downs, usually at the worst possible time.  The worst was when we left NYC on a Friday with a forecast for fair weather which turned out to be very wrong and we were hit with high winds and nasty seas, which shook up our fuel tanks like a snow globe and clogged up our fuel filters at the rate of one every ten minutes.  This forced us to change course for Atlantic Highlands behind Sandy Hook, NJ, where we are now as we await our new Filter Boss systems.

Yesterday, friends picked us up here at the marina and we drove to Glen Cove NY to surprise friends who just bought a beautiful Sabre and who held a boat renaming ceremony.  This is to appease Neptune who will smite any sailor who does not perform the ceremony.

I was thinking that maybe we should have a boat renaming ceremony when we arrive in Annapolis, but my buddy Chuck thinks that maybe we should have one before we try to leave Atlantic Highlands.  We don't want to be smiten by Neptune again.

On a sad, serious note, I just learned that this beautiful yawl that I photographed and put on our blog a couple of weeks ago hit a jetty off Barnegat Inlet and sunk. Thankfully, no one was injured, or worse.

Here's a link to his blog about the restoration of Ode to Joy.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

If The Kitten Wants To Use Your Tail As a Pillow, part II

It seems that Gertie really enjoys tormenting the dogs.  LOL!

We went for a bike ride yesterday, along the Bay Shore Trail.  We stopped a couple of miles into the trail to hunt sea glass for Pam's jewelry making.  We were only there for ten minutes or so when we heard  a loud clap of thunder.  We had left the doors and hatches open on the boat, so we hightailed it back.   We made it back in plenty of time, although we both had mud stripes on our backs from puddles because our bikes have no fenders.  The clouds were low and impressive.

We'll be in Atlantic Highlands for awhile.  The Filter Bosses are on their way and I'm looking forward to getting them installed and practically eliminating our worry of engine failure.    I think I'll use the old Racor 900s and the electric fuel pumps attached to them as a polishing system (for my landlubber readers, a way to cycle fuel through the filters to remove crud).   All I'll have to do is run the lines back to the tank instead of the engines.

We wouldn't be going anywhere for the next few days anyway.  The forecast is for gale winds, 20 to 25 knots, gusting to 35 knots with waves four to six feet.  The direction is out of the west, so some boats have left and plan on hugging the coast where the waves won't be as bad.  We're happy just sitting here at the marina.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Bought Boat Bikes

We're stuck here at Atlantic Highlands Municipal Marina for another week or so, awaiting the Filter Bosses I ordered yesterday.   Tuesday, Pam went out to run a few errands in town and came back with this.

She walked all the way out to Mike's Bikes on route 36 and pedaled it back.  I had to return the car we rented to drive to Annapolis and pass right by Mike's Bikes so I stopped and bought the guy version.  Well, I added a basket to it, which makes it a little girlie, but the  basket is very practical.   Enterprise Rent-a-Car gave me a lift back to Mike's Bikes and I rode back to the marina.   I haven't ridden a bike in over 30 years, but it's true what they say.  You never forget how to ride a bicycle.   After a slightly wobbly start, I was riding like the old days.

We took a ride down the Henry Hudson bike trail which runs from Atlantic Highlands ten miles to somewhere.   We rode to the end and back, a twenty mile trip.   The trail runs along an old railroad bed and so it's as flat as a pancake, so it was no big deal.  

Well, the only big deal is that the seat on my bike needs to be adjusted a little.  The guys reading this will know why.

I needed a boat project yesterday. I have two bilge pumps that I need to install, so I decided that now was the time to install the one in the forward bilge. I removed the old pump, installed the new, and tested it. It worked perfectly. I love it when I do a boat project and it actually goes the way it's supposed to. That rarely happens, it seems.

Yesterday was a whopper, wind wise.  Ten to fifteen, eventually building to over 20 at night, right from the east where the marina has no protection.   We had two to three foot waves hitting our stern and smacking us around.  I got up to check the lines and doubled up on the stern line and one of the spring lines.  We were bouncing pretty good, but the Panda 40 next to us was hobby-horsing like an amusement park ride.  I'll bet the folks aboard weren't too amused.

In the Gadgets-I-Can't-Live-Without deparment, I'm going to order a cool gauge that I saw at the boat show that will show the level of both the water tank and holding tank.  For my landlubber friends, it is important to know when the former is getting low and when the latter is getting full.   Each gauge is custom made for each tank so I took the measurements as directed and I'll mail the order in to Electrosense.  It will run on 12 volt, 24 volt, or a 9 volt battery.   I'm  going to take the easy way out and do the battery.  You can check out their website at

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

If The Kitten Wants To Use Your Tail As a Pillow...

We're sitting here at Atlantic Highlands Municipal Marina behind Sandy Hook, New Jersey waiting for a new shipment of Racor filters and a weather window.   The marina is behind a long breakwater that protects it from the west and north, and land protects it from the south.  There is a couple of miles of fetch to the east, and the wind is whisling out of (you guessed it) the east.  There are whitecaps and a one to two foot chop slapping us around.  The rain is spitting down and it's 58 degrees.  Still, the dogs needed to be walked. 

The dock we're on doesn't float and the tidal range looks to be four or five feet.  Sometimes we step up to the dock and sometimes we climb down.  This morning, the tide is unusually high and it was a loooong step down.   The dogs had to go potty so bad that they leapt without hesitation.   Sometimes they're fearless.

Other times, like this, they're trembling cowards.

If the kitten wants to use your tail as a pillow, it is best to let her.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Fuel, fuel, or fuel

Pam and I rented a car and drove from the Atlantic Highlands in New Jersey to Annapolis Maryland.  We arrived at 3:45 at the doggie hotel, which closed at 4 PM seems that we are always cutting things close nowadays.   We enjoyed a fantastic party with old friends.  It doesn't get any better than that.

Yesterday we went to the sailboat show.  No one seemed to be checkingd we got in even though we have a trawler.  We didn't look at any sailboats and only visited the vendor tents.  We got information about tank gauges, fuel polishing systems, and the Filter Boss by KTI Systems.

Our present setup is as follows;  we can carry up to 800 gallons of fuel which is in at least two tanks (I'm not sure how many).   Diesel is picked up from the tank, through a Racor 900 filter (one for each engine), to two engine filters and then to the injectors.   The idea is to keep dirt and gunk from getting to the injectors. 

If there's enough dirt in the fuel, the Racor filter will clog.   When it clogs, fuel stops flowing and the engine stops running.  This is not only inconvenient, but could potentially be dangerous.

Fuel polishing systems are all well and good.  They run and cycle fuel through it's own filter, eventually cleansing the fuel of gunk.   But heavy seas could still break off new gunk and clog the filter.

I had read about the Filter Boss before.  This is a system of two filters with valves and vacuum gauges.   When filter #1 begins to clog, the vacuum gauge indicates the condition and the valve is switched to run on filter #2.  The engine keeps on running until filter #1 is changed out.  They've added a nice feature to this setup now, an alarm and switch in the helm station.  when the filter starts to clog, just flip the switch and a hydraulic lever moves the valve for you.

So I think the immediate answer is a pair of Filter Bosses.   If we're clogging too many filters, we'll do a polishing system.   Yes, the Filter Boss will also polish fuel, but the paper filters have to be replaced.   Some units, such as the RCI Technologies Fuel Purifier, uses a centrifuge and baffles that can be cleaned.

So back to the boat today where I'll do some measuring and planning, and then order the Filter Boss.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Getting the Snot Kicked Out Of Us

We left Liberty Landing Marina with the promise of a good day.   The weather forecast was for 10 knots out of the NE, seas 2 to 3 feet.  As we left the Narrows and passed under the Verrazano Bridge, we clogged one of the 2 micron Racor filters.   The mechanic said we would.   No big deal.   I'm getting good at changing filters and bleeding the engines, and in just a few minutes I had a 30 micron in and the engine running, and we were off.   The weather was beautiful.

As we approached the Ambrose Channel, the wind veered to the east and kicked up to at least 15 knots, maybe more.    The waves were three to five feet and curling and Drift Away was getting bounced pretty good.   The Naiad stabilizers were doing a great job of keeping the boat from rocking side to side, but we were hobby horsing and taking spray over the bow.   I heard a crash in the galley and found a few things on the floor.   I put the breakable bottles on the floor and some small appliances and headed back to the helm, and then it happened.   We lost the port engine.   I dashed to the engine room, changed the filter, and got it running.   After ten minutes or so, it died again.   Back to the engine room.   At this point my memory is fuzzy as to which engine  died and when, but in the end, I changed five filters, and at some point we had lost both engines and were beam to the seas.    I'd manage to start one and it would run for a short time and then die. 

We decided to turn tail and run for relative safety behind Sandy Hook, running on one engine.   Just as we reached the point where land shielded us from the waves, that engine died and the ebb tide carried us back out into the snotty ocean.   We were close to the beach and I readied the anchor just in case.   Back into the engine room, trying to bleed the engines with little success.   The problem was the two engine filters on each engine.   I could get the first to bleed but not the second.   I finally removed the bleed screw on each engine's filter all together, which worked in the past, and after ten minutes or so, I got fuel on one of them.   I dashed up to the helm and got one engine to fire up and we limped the rest of the way into the Atlantic Highland Municipal Marina.   It looked pretty tight in there and so I handed the helm over to Pam and went back to the engine room to try to get the second engine bled.   I removed the bleed screw and turned on the electric fuel pump, and after just a minute or two got fuel.   I bled the rest of the lines, got the engine started, and we docked without further incident.

But this is the result of the crappy seas.

Needless to say, after spending a LOT of money to get the tanks cleaned, I'm not too pleased that we're still having fuel issues of this magnitude.  While we're in Annapolis, I'm going to buy a few cases of filters for sure.

I'm also considering rigging up a small tank, say 50 gallons or so, that I could fill from the main engine tanks through a separate filter using an electric pump.    I'll have to think about this more.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Shake Down Cruise? We Don't Need No Stinkin' Shake Down Cruise.

Well, we're still sitting here in Liberty Landing Marina.  We've been here since Tuesday night, and we'll stay here again tonight.  We ordered some parts that are due in today.

I haven't addressed the engines yet.  I'm pretty confident that the starboard engine quit for one of the following three reasons:

1.  fuel
2.  fuel
3.  fuel

I planned on changing both Racors and the four engine filters yesterday but my back is acting up (I've had chronic back problems for forty years).   So we decided to hire a marina mechanic to come over to do the job.  The labor rates here are probably as astronomical as their transient dock rates ($5 a foot per night, but hey, look where we are!  Not complaining) but it should be less than an hour's job.  The mechanic was supposed to come yesterday but didn't show.

Since we can't get Drift Away to Annapolis on Saturday for a party with friends, we've decided to just put the dogs in a doggie hotel, lock up the cats with a big bowl of food, and rent a car to drive to Annapolis on Saturday and return to the boat on Sunday.    We'll get to Annapolis when we get there.   We might even dilly dally and do some sightseeing on the Chesapeake first.

In other news, we are no longer sinking.   If you recall, Pam woke me up the other night with the news that  the floorboards were floating.  This is never good news on a boat and goes right to the top of the work list.   What it turned out to be was that the bilge outlet thru hulls that used to be above the waterline about an inch were now about one inch underwater due to the added weight in the bow for the extra chain and the big 80 pound Manson anchor I put there.  There is no vented loop or check valve on the line like there should be which would prevent water from siphoning back into the boat, so the bilge pump just turned on, pumped out the bilge, shut off, and all the water came right back in, and the cycle would repeat itself.   I stuck a wooden plug in the thru hull from the outside, switched off the pump and ordered a check valve from the marina as a quick fix, and once we're settled in Annapolis I will do it right by also adding vented loops.  The reason I'm waiting is because I need to modify some cabinetry to get at the sea cocks.   I will also haul the boat at some point and when I do, I should move the sea cocks higher.  The only seacocks that should be underwater are the ones that need to be, like head and engine intakes.

So here we sit in Liberty Landing Marina in Liberty Park with a view of the Statue of Liberty to the south, Jersey City to the north, and Manhattan to the east.   Not too shabby.

Since I'm pretty much out of commission, I've been spending my time surfing the 'net.   I posted our near sinking on an internet message board and one fella asked why we didn't do some shake down cruises before embarking on our trip.  I answered with one of my favorite Captain Ron quotes- "If it's gonna happen, it's gonna happen out there!".   I also wrote that we could have shaken down and cruised this boat, and I suppose that would have been the prudent seamanlike thing to do, but with the two of us having full time jobs, there just wasn't much time to do it. Besides, there is a difference. If I took a shake down cruise and broke down while I was working, I might miss some work and put a burden on the rest of my coworkers. Now that I'm retired, I can spend all the time in the world fixing Drift Away.

So to summarize, the definition of cruising is fixing your boat in exotic locations. The definition of a shake down cruise is fixing your boat in the same dull place you live.

We'll leave early tomorrow morning to ride the ebb out of The Narrows and we'll try to make Atlantic City.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Oh the troubles I've seen

So, I (Pam) don't often write on the blog, but after yesterday and then last night I felt I should add my thoughts to this adventure.

We had a wonderful run from Newburg to Liberty Landing Marina yesterday(Okay, one glitch at the marina, but I get ahead of myself). The day was a little overcast but the mist rising from the mountains was spectacular.

 As we headed south down the Hudson, we made good time traveling with tide and current. The debris was much lighter so the stress of having to dodge logs every two minutes was gone. I could actually look around and enjoy the scenery as I guided us to NJ.

My Navigator was even relaxed as he helped look for logs in the water and kept vigil for the barge traffic, which was very light.

 There was nothing much to dodge at all until we got to the harbor and the water taxis were everywhere like darn mosquitos! And the wakes... oh boy, the wakes were bad. We were getting tossed around like a toy boat in a bath tub. But again, we pushed our way through and made the turn to head in to Liberty Landing Marina.

The guys guided us letting us know where we were to go, a left turn in with a starboard turn next and the thrid slip in was us.. yep, I saw the two guys waving at us on an inside slip. I always turn the wheel over to Dave for the dockling manuevers since I have never docked anything larger than my 26' Tanzer that I used to single hand on a lake. No wind, no current, and no problem... but again, I digress. As I readied the lines and directed Dave to where the guys wanted us, he headed toward them nice and easy.
"Okay, you need to make your starboard turn"I yelled,  he had a look of panic as he said, "I've lost the starboard engine!" I'm not going to make that turn!"

My heart dropped as we're headed straight at a very large and very beautiful boat. I had visions of our bow sprit splitting it in half. Gathering my thoughts, I yelled at him to hit reverse and do it quick. Then I took a deep breath and we both gathered our bearings. He decided we needed to back out of where we were and go to a different slip. I relayed this to the guys on the dock who scrambled to find a dock we could easily back or pull straight into. Now all we had to do was back the boat out into a channel that had water taxis zipping in and out of, turn the stern starboard and continue on a backward course to the next opening at the other end of the fuel dock. I will not bore you with all the detail, but will say, David is a very good driver and manged (really I have no idea how) to do this whole dance without even coming close to hitting another boat.

Securely in the for the night and after a couple victory beers and quick dinner, we decided to head down to bed to relax and watch some tv in comfort. Not long, all the critters decided they were going to join us.  I looked at Dave and said I was going to sleep in the middle stateroom and for him to come up there after his movie was over. He agreed and off I went to peace and quiet with no animals.

As I lay in the bed unwinding from the day and deciding that yes, even though we do keep losing an engine, I love being here and doing what we do. I hear a noise... hmmm, someone is having a problem starting an engine? no... yes, that's kinda what it sounds like. I go outside, nobody around. I go back down to the stateroom, there it is again. I go see David.

"I hear a funny noise"

"What kind of funny noise?" he asks. I describe it and he says it sounds like the bilge pump and to lift the floor board to check. I took a handy dandy walkie talkie with me and yep, sure enough, water in the bilge, but just a small amount and the pump wasn't cycling off. Dave decided to just turn the pump off from the engine room.... as a small amount of water returned to the bilge we didn't worry too much. We laughed about the comercial with the German Coast Guard "Vat are you sinking about?" and I went back to bed and Dave went to finish watching his movie.

 I didn't hear him come to bed a while later, but I did hear Gertie jump off the bed somewhere in my foggy sleep and thought I heard "SPLASH"    my brain needed to work that out and then I sat bolt upright... thought, no, it couldn't have splashed... I turned on the flashlight and our center stateroom had about 8" of water flooding it! The floor boards covering the hall bilge and our bilge were floating.

"David! We're flooded!"

He sleepily opens his eyes, he'd only been in bed abut an hour and now the next disater of the day has presented itself. We're takign on water. dear God, did we hit something? Do we have a hole in the boat? All this at midnight. The next two hours we spent going over the boat and pulling every hatch we could to find the leak and trying to fix the leak, which we discovered in the engine room. Dave found the stuffing boxes had water pouring in. He got his wrench and tightened them down, problem solved, right? No, the bilge continued to fill about a foot, cycle on, drain, refill. I said to Dave as long as the pump continues to keep pumping it out, I'm going to bed, we're not sinking tonight. He stayed up for about two more hours and we have a long day of engine work in the morning. It is going to be a looong day for both of us.

As we sat last night, trying to figure out what was wrong, I had begun to laugh. He looked at me quizzically and I just hugged him. I love him, I love our boat, I don't love the problems but together, we can tackle anything. I just had to laugh, and no I wouldn't give up living on this boat for anything.....

The German Coast Guard Trainee

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Heading South- the Day in Pictures

Yesterday was a good day after taking Sunday off to recuperate from the wedding.   We took on 300 gallons of fuel at the Castleton Boat Club.

Pam pumped fuel while I washed up the morning's dishes.   Hmmm...  a little role reversal going on here?   LOL!

We got underway at 9:30.   The clouds lifted, the ebb current added a couple of knots to our SOG (speed over ground for you landlubbers) and we were on our way.  Rather than me rambling on and on about what we saw, here is the trip in pictures.

The above yacht is Freedom, a 104' 1926 Trumpy motor yacht completely restored in 2007.  Here is a link for those interested-

We arrived in Newburgh a little after 6 PM.    Stats- travel time 8 hours 38 minutes covering 66 miles, average speed 7.6 knots SOG, maximum speed 13.1 knots (a knot is shorthand for "nautical mile" which is 1.15 statute miles).

This morning showed that the debris around Newburgh is still considerable.

On my way up to the showers this morning (Tuesday) I noticed a big propane or welding tank wedged between the boat and the dock.  It was very heavy and I couldn't get it out of the water.   Things like that are a good reason why we can't travel at night.  I had briefly considered making the run from NYC to Cape May in one shot, but boat holing debris and dogs that won't use the poop deck preclude us from doing that.

It's foggy and raining this morning, so it looks like an inside helm station day for us.   This is the view south where we'll be headed in another hour or so.