Monday, May 13, 2013

Final Entry For Awhile. Thank You All.

It's been quite a ride, both blog-wise and Drift Away-wise.   Our first blog entry was January 13, 2011 and was titled Beginning of the blog of Drift Away, our 1980 46' Cheoy Lee trawler.   Including this one, there have been 633 entries since then, and over 200,000 page views.  One of our followers, MarkJ, happened to be the 100,000 hit.  He then prided himself on being number 200,000 and was kind enough to send this screen shot.  We have 90 regular followers, for which I'm grateful.  Each of you will be receiving a bottle of Dom with a thank you card.

I've tried to be honest in showing our lifestyle in this blog.  And that's what it is, a lifestyle blog.  It's not a cruising blog really, because we spend so much time in each place that we stop that we like.  We cruise, but at a glacial paces.  It's not truly a liveaboard blog because we actually move from time to time.  And move we did.  1,429 nautical miles.

We left Seaview House Marina in Stamford on September 20th, 2011.  Our intended destination was Liberty Landing Marina in New Jersey, but we lost both engines and were towed to Oyster Bay in Long Island.  Not a good start.  It's all in Getting SeaTowed.  But Pam and I eventually made it to Albany, got married, and then headed south.  Our worst time on Drift Away was losing both engines off Sandy Hook in very rough seas.  One to two foot seas was forecast, but kicked up to six footers, which shook up all the gunk in our old fuel tanks.  Luckily, I don't get seasick easily and I spent hours in the engine room, getting one engine at a time to start and move us a bit before it died again.  It's all in Getting the Snot Kicked Out of Us.  We spent almost three weeks in Atlantic Highlands while I fixed the problem of fouled fuel tanks for good, installing a fuel polishing system and two Filter Bosses.

Since that time, we've traveled all the way down to Florida, and Drift Away has been pretty much flawless.  In total, we've traveled 1,429 nautical miles, which for my landlubber friends is 1,643 statute miles.  We've gotten together with many friends along the way, most of which we've met through the internet.  Not a crazy one in the bunch.  Oh sure, a tad off center perhaps, but aren't we all?

We've made many new friends too.  Perhaps our fondest memories are our liveaboard friends and locals that we met at Isle of Hope Marina in Savannah.  Sadly, all those liveaboards have moved on, and it will never be the same, but I think we captured the spirit of that group fairly well in this blog.

This is the final blog entry for Drift Away for some time.  We're heading out, towing a U-Haul full of our stuff and headed for Bleecker New York where we'll begin the process of putting down roots and building our Unabomber homestead.  You can follow our progress on that blog, Bleecker Mountain Life.   Like restoring Drift Away, we'll be doing much of the work ourselves, which should be pretty comical.  As you know, I don't sugar coat anything to make myself look good.  I do stupid stuff all the time, and I'm pretty proud of the fact that I still have all of my fingers and appendages.

We'll be busy all day today loading up the U-Haul here, then driving to Brunswick to fetch the rest of our stuff out of storage, and then spend a few days driving up to Bleecker in upstate New York.  Internet coverage will be spotty, but I'll update Bleecker Mountain Life as often as I can.  I'll be looking forward to seeing you there.

Although I just found out the cabin we're renting has only a woodstove for heat, we plan on staying there through Christmas and then returning to Drift Away and heading south more.  Unless Drift Away sells.  Who knows?

Last night's  sunset.

Sunrise, sunset
Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly fly the years
One season following another
Laden with happiness and tears

See you in Bleecker. Or I'll see you here in January 2014.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Chevy and the Crazed Cat, and Final Maintenance

We took the dogs off the boat yesterday morning for their potty break.  We had just gotten down to the end of our long long dock when a snarling crazed cat came charging at the dogs.  Ruby was spellbound and froze.  Olivia was curious until a swipe at her nose, at which time she howled like a little girl dog.   Well, I guess that's OK since she is a little girl dog.  Then the cat went after Chevy.   The cat swiped at him and got him on the nose, and he jumped back.  The cat went at and got him a second time and he jumped again.  Chevy then got a cold icy stare on his face and I saw a lip go up.  If the cat came a second time, it wouldn't be good.  Just then, a fella came sprinting from the bathrooms calling his cat's name and got between the cat and Chevy.   After some effort, he finally scooped up the cat.  It was then that Ruby realized the cat meant harm.  All of the cats that Ruby has known have been friendly and so it took Ruby a minute to catch on.  Then she decided she was going to kick some serious cat butt, but luckily was on her leash, as were Chevy and Olivia.  That cat had a death wish.

Sorry, no photos.

Back at the boat, it was time for engine maintenance.  I needed to change the oil in the two Ford Lehmans, including the injection pumps, and the two Onan generators.

I had purchased one of those Shurflo pumps mounted on a bucket but after three hours of pumping, it had only removed about a gallon and a half, and each engine holds three gallons of oil.

This is the lousy contraption in the pic above.  That little itty bitty black tube is stuck down into the crankcase through the dipstick tube, and the 12 volt motor is attached to the lid of the bucket.  I think if I just removed the dipstick and cap on the valve cover, it would evaporate faster.

So I hied myself over to St. Augustine and bought a manual oil extractor pump, which worked much better.  I had each engine drained in a half an hour apiece.

The new manual pump also has a hose that sticks into the dipstick tube.  You pump the handle a couple of dozen times, creating a vacuum, which extracts the oil.  No muss, no fuss, little work.  The old Surflo piece of crap is now being used as a bucket.

The injection pumps were a piece of cake, made easier because I 1) have the manual and 2) read an excellent description on how to do this on another blogger's site - The Trawler Beach House.  I could recount how I did it here, but why reinvent the wheel?   If I went into detail, I'd have to include all the comical spills and oil squirting everywhere, including all over me, and who'd want to read about all that?

It was 100 degrees in the engine room because I had to run both engines and both generators to heat up the oil and to suspend crud.  I spent most of the afternoon in there.   Right now, I'm about to rehydrate with my third victory beer.

Tomorrow I'll fire up everything and look for leaks, and then change the transmission fluid on the two trannies.  The engine room will be done.   Then I'll remove the bimini for summer storage, tarp the Whaler, and generally do anything I can to avoid packing.  I'd only be in Pam's way.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Final Stop- Green Cove Springs.

Yesterday was an easy day.  It only took a bit over three hours to cruise from Jacksonville Landing to Green Cove Springs, and that was at a leisurely 1500 RPM and 6.5 to 7 knots.  I figured we'd arrive about 12:30 or so.

We had slack current so it was perfect to cast off the dock lines.  It was also perfect to sit and wait for the train trestle to open.    It's always open unless a train is crossing.  Must be a train is coming.

We waited and waited for about fifteen minutes for the train that never arrived.  But then the trestle opened, letting us pass before closing behind us again.  Must be a really slow train.

Have you noticed my tendency to leave off the word "it"?  I should have written "It must be a really slow train", but I don't speak that way, and I was taught to write the way I speak to communicate effectively.  I guess we upstate New Yorkers speak in a sort of shorthand.  Anyway....

Goodbye Jacksonville!

Hello Sea and Air Crash Recovery.   I hope this was only training.

The dogs were in sleepy mode.  They were awakened way too early for their potty walk.

Top secret Navy air base.  I can't tell you where it is on the St. John's River just north of Jacksonville.

Weird green plane.  It must be to throw off the enemy by making them think you have no taste.

The entrance to Doctor's Bay.  I wonder why they call it that?


Pam was lounging on the foredeck and the autopilot was taking us down the bay.  I was keeping "watch".   Suddenly, debris the size of the Titanic was in front of us!  With no time to flip off the autopilot and change course, I threw the engines into reverse (for my landlubber friends, I slammed on the brakes).  We stopped with only feet to spare.   I need to keep better watch.  But in my defense, I'm really bad at seeing things and can't find anything where Pam tells me to look.  It's a guy thing.  It's no wonder the two lookouts didn't see the iceberg.

12:22 PM.  Am I good or what?

"The Wall" at Green Cove Springs Marina is huge.  Drift Away feels little.

They take their cleats seriously (for my landlubber friends, that's huge).

Pamela relaxing on the aft deck, admiring my huge cleat.

The sun sets over Drift Away.  No, we're not sinking.  It's a step up to the dock.

Last night's sunset.  Not Golden Isles quality, but very nice.

So tomorrow we start packing and arranging.  I also need to look at a minor exhaust leak on the port side.  This may involve carpentry work and a jigsaw.  I'll let you know.  I also need to change the oil on the engines and generators, remove the bimini, and a bunch of other stuff.  Our planned departure day is Monday.


Friday, May 10, 2013

Cumberland Island to Jacksonville, in Photos

Yesterday was an absolutely perfect day.  Light winds, sunny skies, and temps a moderate 85 degrees. Yes, that's right.  Our blood has thinned, and I start thinking about a jacket when the temperature drops below 75 degrees.

We were ready to get underway at an unbelievable 8:30 AM, quite a feat for us, especially considering that we had to Whaler the dogs in to shore for potty break.  What caused us grief was trying to unplug the 80 pound Manson Supreme from Cumberland's muddy bottom.  But after about twenty minutes, we finally had it secure and were underway.

As usual, I took a bunch of photos to share.

Twilight the night before.  That's the secret sub base.

Fernandina Beach.

This guy caught a small shark.

Don't poke your finger along the waterline.  You'll make a hole and the boat will sink.

Olivia was so tired that she fell asleep like that.

Friggin' Pelican mating dance.  The guy on the left thought he was pretty hot.  The lady on the right didn't seem too impressed.  Typical.

Don't like to bottom paint?

At first I thought it was an eagle.  It was an Osprey, maybe an immature one.

This knucklehead was about to pass that sailboat on a turn, with us approaching.

No, I'm not name calling.  See?

Pam liked this boat.

We stopped at Sister's Creek Bridge because the tide board said we had 22 feet of clearance.  We air draft 22 feet, so we called the bridge.  He said there was 4 more feet in the middle, for 26.  There was a boat approaching as we were doing our bridge dance, so we waited.  It was Summer Wind, a blog I've been following for a couple of years now.  Hey, Dick and Elle, your blog is long overdue!  Time for an update!

For my landlubber friends, see the white vertical board?  That tells you what the bridge clearance is as the tide changes.

Looks low.

We left Sisters Creek and hit the St. Johns River at exactly the wrong time, halfway to low tide.  We had a lot of current against us as the St. Johns River was emptying out.

It was flowing at three knots.  But we've dealt with strong currents before.  No big deal.  While our speed through the water was a constant 8 knots, our speed over ground was down to 4.8 at times.

Pam liked this house.

Jacksonville Port.

Uh oh.  Look what's coming up from behind.  No, not the little boat.  The one behind it.

We had lots of dolphins.  So many that I was sure Chevy was going to jump off the boat.  Notice the cool water turbulence from his dorsal fin.  Enlarge the pic to see it better.

Another Friggin' Pelican.

Our Navi-Nut (patent pending) worked flawlessly.  As usual.

Epiphany called for a slow pass, always appreciated.

Home of the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Jacksonville Landing's free dock is just past that blue lift bridge, at the orange roofs on the right.  This is a great spot because of all the restaurants.  We spent half the money we saved in marina fees at Fionn MacCool's Irish Pub.   

I had predicted a 3:30 PM arrival.  I'm good.

Honey Fitz, JFK's presidential yacht, which is making a fund raising tour for charities, passed by.

What a gorgeous boat.

Notice the Boys & Girls Club flag.  They'll be doing fund raisers for the clubs all up and down the east coast, giving rides.  Look for it.

The flag pole on Honey Fitz.

Drift Away.

Thought I'd try some hand held night shots.   

The lights were beautiful.

Olivia was on sensory overload though.

And just when I thought the evening was over...

I saw Pam at Fionn MacCool's ordering a chocolate dessert.

Jacksonville is a great stop, but be prepared for something completely different from, say, the seclusion of Cumberland Island.  Jacksonville is hopping.  Pam sat on the bow and listened to live rock music, and then sat on the stern and listened to a rock/Irish group.  People were dining just a few yards from Drift Away, so we were challenged in keeping the dogs from barking hello to everyone.  But as I'm sitting here at 6 AM writing this, the colorful lights are dancing on the water as the city awakens.  Certainly worth the stop.

And don't worry about the current.  The St. Johns River flows both ways, due to the river's current and the tide.  Sometimes it's flowing pretty good, sometimes it's slack.  I think current makes docking easier, actually.  When Pam and I passed under the lift bridge and needed to head to the dock wall, we had about two knots against us.  I just idled Drift Away in forward gear and slowly drifted to the dock wall, barely making forward progress and mostly just slid sideways until we nudged up against it.  Easy.

Today it's the final 25 mile push to Green Cove Springs.  It should be an easy day.