Archive for October, 2006

Entry for October 31, 2006

October 31, 2006

We woke up today and immediately started getting the boat ready for a sail.  Rob and Sue were over around 9 am and we were backing out of the slip a few minutes later.  Unfortunately, we only made it about 50 feet until the boat ran aground in the middle of the marina because of very low tides again.  We were able to go forward and back while moving the boat slowly to deeper water and in a few minutes were out of the mud and heading for the channel.

It was a beautiful day with 10-15 knot winds from the south, sunny and very light chop on the water.  The boat was running very nice with Rob taking time to tune each sail.  We were soon sailing 8 knots with the wind on our beam and heading for the deeper water out in the bay.

We spent about 4 hours trying different sail configurations and different wind angles while adjusting the lines for best performance.  Rob was great with keeping our minds on the important aspects of sailing like making sure all the lines are coiled correctly and how to determine which lines need to be moved forward or back.

While out on the water, we had shut down the engine (makes it much quieter) and once again, it wouldn’t start from the cockpit when we started to come back.  I went downstairs and jumped the starter from the engine room and it started fine.  I will add that to my list (again!).

After we got back to the area of the marina, we decided to try anchoring so Laura and I could start learning the process.  Rob was at the helm while Laura and I were at the bow, We let out the anchor and chain and it worked fine.  While running the windlass to pull the chain back in, the chain fouled while going down into the chain locker and jammed in the windlass.  I couldn’t get it unstuck so pulled the rest of the chain and anchor up by.  hand.  Add to the list – check the anchor locker and reconfigure so the chain coils correctly.

We pulled back into the slip without any problems as the tide had come in and the water was deeper.  Some people here at the marina said this was the lowest they had ever seen the water level.  It was probably caused by the strong west winds for several days that tends to blow all the water out of the western shore.  Geez.

Our friends Mark and Chris Atkinson showed up for a visit later in the afternoon.  We had wine and cheese on Rob and Sue’s boat and moved to Second Wind for a pork tenderloin cookout.  Mmmmm.

Early night tonight and we’re going to continue tearing apart the ceiling in the aft cabin tomorrow.  I’m also going to check with the marina management on the quote they were supposed to give me on fixing the mast base and they still haven’t talked to me about overhauling the dingy motor.  It was a very nice day off….


Entry for October 30, 2006

October 30, 2006

Today was odd jobs and working deeper into our aft cabin ceiling problems.  Laura and I worked on the mainsail and purchased new line for the roller furling.  It’s the line that pulls in the sail around an aluminum pole that is secured to the top and bottom of the main mast.  I’ll try to put a picture in a future blog entry.  Anyway, the line we replaced worked great and we exercised it by pulling out the mainsail and rolling it back several times.

Laura and I then worked in the aft cabin pulling out rotted plywood and taking apart molding and supports.  We still haven’t come to the end of the wet wood.  I opened a work-order with the marina and one of their lead people came down around 4 pm.  He agreed with our assessment of the problem and will give me a quote / timeline tomorrow on the marina staff fixing the mast securing problems.  Rob, Laura, Sue and I will fix the ceiling by installing new plywood and fiberglass / epoxy for waterproofing against future problems.  Rob and Sue are the epoxy experts so we are really relying on them for assistance.  Rob and I spent quite awhile trying to remove the aft cabin hatch hardware so we could loosen all of the naugihide (sp?) headliner and pull out the remainder of bad plywood.  It’s a work-in-progress

We did a little shopping for other projects on both boats and I spent a little time working on our stereo and non-working secondary navigation systems.  I didn’t make much progress other than to remove a lot of unused wiring while tracing existing speaker wires.  Here’s a good example of how this boat is configured – there are 8 speakers on the boat run by a car-type stereo with a CD changer.  Only 2 of the speakers work and the CD changer is inop.  There are wires running everywhere from the navigation station with nothing labeled.  One of the first investments we made was to purchase a mid-quality label maker at Home Depot so we could prevent future problems like this.  I’ve already labeled all of the 12v starting and charging system.

I’ve been working with a few vendors on other projects.  The apparent-wind-indicator is not working because the windvane on the top of our mast has the tail broken off.  The replacement part is about $15 but we are still trying to determine the exact model we need.  The vendor for our wind generator has shipped the replacement blades that were destroyed by the previous owners and it’s going to be great fun watching Rob attach them to the generator sitting about 3 feet above the top of our mizzen mast.  The line we use to secure Rob to the mast only runs to about 2 feet below the top.  He’s going to have fun jostling himself above that to install 3 blades attached to a hub (6 foot diameter) onto the generator shaft.  I might have to help….  I’ve also been emailing the manufacturer of our water maker (makes fresh drinking water from ocean water) because the previous owner said it was not working.  I have pretty good instructions on how to re-commission the watermaker after I buy a new pre-filter (it has 2 very fine pre-filters – one 50 and the next 5 microns).

We had dinner with Rob and Sue on our boat tonight and a couple bottles of wine afterwards.  I hopeful my futures at Story Winery in Amador will be ready before I run out – we only brought 2 cases down with us packed in our clothes. 

We’re all anxious to leave here for warmer weather and the problems in our aft cabin ceiling and the real unknown right now.  There are several other projects in-the-works but this is the only one with so many unknowns.  Rob and Sue are having a new canvas enclosure built for their cockpit (they came all the way here out in the open) and I’m a little worried they will leave right after that before we are ready.  Oh well, if that happens, we’ll try to catch up down-the road.

We are going sailing tomorrow morning if we can leave the dock.  For some reason (wind, moon, whatever) there have been record low tides here the last couple days and our boat has been immovable in its slip because the water is so low our keel is in the mud.  The weather has been great and tomorrow is suppose to be the same – 70s and light winds.  I’m really looking forward to a sail.  We haven’t had the boat out in over a week and can’t wait to enjoy all the sailing upgrades we’ve made to the main and mizzen hardware. 

Entry for October 29, 2006

October 29, 2006

Today was another work day for the crew of Second Wind.  Laura and I started out with our normal showers (at the marina) and breakfast (sausage and pancakes on the boat) then went to work on projects.  We mounted the Weems and Path clock that I just got back from repair along with the matching barometer.  We put them in the salon above the mirror and pictures of our family.

We then went out on the deck and started tuning our main mast.  I noticed it was slightly curved to port and we adjusted the standing rigging to straighten it out and hopefully help with the sail “dancing” problem we’ve been having.  Our mainsail is rolled up on a long aluminum pole (50 ft?) right next to the mast.  When the wind blows from the right direction, the rolled up sail starts vibrating from side to side in the middle with the wind helping.  It’s attached at the bottom and top so the middle is left to itself.  A friend told me his did the same thing until he tightened up the aluminum pole.  I did that until I had almost all my weight on the ratchet and it still danced.  So we adjusted the rigging (the wire lines holding the sides of the mast) until it was perfectly straight.  It still didn’t help and we are still looking for a solution.

Laura then worked on sewing more of the canvas zippers that were coming undone while I tore apart our fresh water system.  The previous owners have each added their own touch to the water system (pumps, accumulator tanks, hoses. Etc.) to the point where it was a real mess and the pressure controlled pump never shut off.  So I bought a new microprocessor controlled pump and pulled out everything the other guys had installed.  It took me awhile because I was trying not to drip / spill / splash water over the engine.  That was stupid.  I ended up getting everything drenched anyway and I should have realized that marine engines can take a little fresh water.  Anyway, Laura helped me finish it and it works beautiful.  I installed one pump and took three bags of trash (old stuff) to the dumpster.

We then went to Rob and Sue’s for dinner / cocktails.  Their dock is a lot livelier then ours (and they help) and everyone was out on the dock having a little get together party.  Our appetizers fit right in and we ended up ordering a pizza to join everyone else in the lounge.  There must have been 40 people in the marina lounge.  About 3 times as much as I’ve ever seen before.  It was cool.

Oh.  Jack left this morning and we were sad to see him go.  He was an excellent addition to our “family” and he will be missed.   We exchanged phone numbers and addresses so we will hopefully get back in touch down-the-road.  If you’d like to check it out, his web site is

We went for a walk after dinner with Rob and Sue for a couple miles.  I found out Susan has an excellent singing voice and I’m going to break out my guitar shortly to hear just how good she is.

Time for beddy-by.  Tomorrow we’re going to rip out more of the ceiling in our cabin so we can remove all the damaged plywood and I will attempt to get someone of quality from the marina to come down and take a look at the problem and recommend a repair.  They always seem very backlogged and it takes weeks to get anything done.  If that happens with this repair, Rob and I will attempt it ourselves.  I’ll keep you informed….


Entry for October 28, 2006

October 28, 2006

Today was bad news for Second Wind.  We had a very big storm last night with 40 knot winds from various directions and pelting rain.  When we woke up this morning, the floor in our cabin was very wet from the dripping ceiling.   I went up into the cockpit and tried to find where the water was coming from.  Rob and his friend David helped me trace the water to leaks around the base of the mizzen mast.  Our cabin ceiling was saturated and we started tearing out rotten plywood after removing the headliner and molding – obviously this had been going on for several months / years.  It was awful and I was feeling sick to my stomach.  We had to cut out part of the headliner to get to the rotten plywood in the ceiling and it appeared the compression post that supports the mizzen mast is not doing a very good job of supporting the mast.  It does seem to be supporting it adequately right now but it would never hold up in a heavy wind while powering the boat.  That’s probably the good part of this story that we found the problem while at the dock and not at sea.  Anyway, we decided to leave it alone for now and I will talk to the boatyard on Monday morning about how to best fix the mast support.  After that, Rob and I will clean out all the wet wood and lay in some new plywood before replacing the headliner.  Yuck!

While this was going on Jack decided to fix our manual fresh water pump in the galley sink.  This is a foot actuated pump that takes water directly from the tank and squirts it into the sink via a separate faucet.  If we lose electricity on the boat, we can still get water from our tank.  Jack spent a couple hours rebuilding the pump then found the hoses near the pump connection were rotted and letting in air.  He cut a small piece of the ends of the input and outlet hoses and re-clamped them to the pump.  It was working great after that.

We had dinner on Second Wind with Rob, Sue, Jack, David, Laura and I downstairs in the salon because it was getting cool again.  Six of us around the salon table was cozy but nice.  Sue brought chicken enchiladas along with rice and refried beans.  Jack brought chips and dip, Laura baked an apple crisp for desert.

The weather the next couple days is supposed to be sunny and warm.  We’re looking forward to some nice weather.  The last week was 10-15 degrees below normal and the winds have been howling.  I didn’t sleep much last night listening to the wind blowing through the rigging.  It’s only 8 pm right now and I’m ready for bed.  I’ll try not to dream about rotted wood.

The picture is one Rob took from the top of our mast yesterday.  Those little people down there are Laura and I.

Entry for October 27, 2006

October 27, 2006

Well, today was decision day for much of the work we’ve been planning.  Check this out –

We decided to have our canvas bimini replaced and the zippers repaired on the rest of our cockpit enclosure rather than having a full new enclosure built.  This saves us about $1,500 and we are assuming we won’t have anything up but the bimini once we hit warm waters.

We placed the orders for our new stove and a large inverter (supplies normal 115 volt house power from our batteries).  The current inverter on the boat is old and will be difficult to maintain.  I’m also thinking it’s contributing to our starting problems as I’m reading many articles from other boaters having problems with this system charging their batteries.  The stove will be shipped truck because it’s large and over 75 pounds.  This order was over $2,500 and we should be receiving everything in about a week.

Yesterday Rob, Jack and I worked on Second Wind and replaced many of the lines used to control the sails (our running rigging).  We took a list to West Marine and I spent about $400 on new “ropes”.  Rob went up the mast again (twice) to try and retrieve an unused windvane that we could cut apart and fix our broken unit.  It turned out the unused windvane was still up at the top of the mast because it wouldn’t come off.  He pounded on it for awhile than gave up.

Yesterday I also finished up the work on our new battery.  Even with the new, big honkin’ battery, the motor was still turning over slowly so I completely revamped the wiring of our batteries and charging circuit.  I woke up about 4 am and designed a new configuration in my head while lying in bed.  I connected the new battery directly to the starter and moved the largest cables to it.  It will be supplying up to 1,000 amps when the motor is cold which is much more than the other batteries will be supplying to keep us in comfort while supplying 115v house current through our inverter.  When I was done, the motor was starting beautifully.  At the touch of the key it was cranking very quickly which it had never done before.  There still might be a problem with the starter after it gets warm but the starting battery and associated circuits won’t be a contributor.

While I was working on the battery cable rerouting, I asked Jack or Rob to crawl into the bilge and help with moving cables.  Jack quickly volunteered and was down in there for about 1 ½ hours.  He noticed one of the belts on the engine was a little lose and there didn’t seem to be a way to adjust it.  He kept asking for tools and I only paid a little attention because I was trying to fight with huge batteries cables and force them into places they didn’t want to go.  Anyway, about 1 hour into the work Jack figured out how someone had welded a piece here, cut away a piece there and reconfigured the belt pulley like we’d never seen before.  Once he figured it out, it was very easy to adjust and he probably saved me 3-4 hours of working on my head sometime in the future when I would have to adjust that belt.  He was able to just crawl under the engine and sit down.  THANKS JACK!

Because of the cold and drizzle today, we decided to take a shopping trip to Wal-Mart and other stores in that area.  Rob, Sue and Jack came with us and we just about filled up our Explorer with goodies for all 3 boats.  We’re becoming very good friends and I’m wondering how long Jack will stay here and wait for us.  We’re still planning on being here for Thanksgiving and are not sure about Rob and Sue.  They are contracting for new canvas on their boat which will probably take 2-3 weeks.  Rob keeps mentioning on nice days that, “this would be a good day to head south” and I know he wants to leave as soon as possible.  Jack has no other reason to stay here (in the cold) other than good food and many laughs we are having together.  I hope he stays for awhile.  It would be awesome if our 3 boats left here together and traveled south for awhile as a team.

We received several packages we ordered today.  Our new life jackets arrived and we adjusted them to fit us perfectly.  They are great and I won’t mind wearing it all the time when we are sailing.  They are the kind that you just wear like suspenders and automatically inflate if you hit the water – they don’t get in the way of you doing things.  They also have hooks and lines that attach to a life line on the boat so we won’t get washed overboard with a rouge wave (well….  maybe I’ll still get washed overboard but I’ll be hanging off the side from the tethers instead of watching the boat sail away without me) .  Unfortunately we haven’t bought one of these life lines to attach the life jacket to yet but it’s on the top of our list.  We also received a new fresh water pump which I will install either today (when I get done with this) or tomorrow morning.

Laura is baking a spice cake for desert tonight.  Jack spent some of this morning making chili as his contribution to dinner.  Mmmm.  I’m getting hungry.  Oh well, I guess I’ll go work on the new water pump.  See y’all later…..

Entry for October 25, 2006

October 25, 2006

Yesterday our friends Rob and Sue arrived on their sailboat “Mandate”.  They left Albany almost 2 weeks ago and have sailed down the Hudson, off the coast of New Jersey to Cape May then up the Delaware Bay and down Chesapeake Bay.  We had our first party on Second Wind last night with them and the crew from 2 other sailboats they sailed in with.  I drank a little too much at the party and paid for it a little today.

Rob and Jack (who is single-handed sailing his Hallberg-Rassy sloop down the coast) came over this afternoon and started working through some of the projects on the books with our boat.  We changed out the starting battery, went through all the rigging and lines then hoisted Rob up both masts so he could inspect everything from the top down.  The picture is of him working at the top of our mainmast 60 feet up.  We also took down the mizzen sail which was showing a lot of wear and had several places where the threads were pulling out.  Laura and Sue worked on sewing the sail all afternoon and we decided to go out to dinner together to CoCoMo’s.

The last couple days have been busy with repairs and finding the right repair parts – mostly using the Internet.  We have a quote to replace our canvas and are trying to decide if we want to spend the money now or wait until it gets worse.  I’d also like to replace our house batteries (used for running everything except the engine) and upgrade the battery electronics.  I’ve worked with the local NAPA on a great deal on the batteries and could save about $500 on the upgrade if I did it now.  The last major upgrade is replacing our stove and I’m trying to figure out the best way to get a new stove delivered to the marina.  I should probably work on ordering that tomorrow.  Oh, the new blades for our wind generator should be shipping tomorrow so putting them up on top of the mizzen mast will be a big project a few days from now.

The next few days should be very busy and I’m going to try and make the best of the additionla help we have available with Rob, Sue and their friends here.  I’m already working on my list…..

Entry for October 22, 2006

October 22, 2006

Today was cool and drizzle in Deltaville.  I spent the day troubleshooting the starting problem from yesterday and working on the shower sump system. 

My troubleshooting entailed documenting the entire battery and charging system on the boat.  This took me about 12 hours of rutting around the engine room and just about every floor hatch to trace wires and write them down.  When I got done, I created a Visio diagram for the schematic and verified it was correct with a few tests.  Oh la la – someone’s been playing in places they shouldn’t have been.  Several things are mis-wired or just plan wrong including the starting circuits.  Tomorrow I will purchase a quality starting battery and change the wiring to make it all good.  I still might have to buy a starter but there is a pretty good chance correcting the battery circuit will fix the problems.

The shower sump is like a large bucket way down in the bottom of the boat (the bilge) where both the showers and many drains run to.  The bucket has a pump and switch that are supposed to empty the bucket overboard when it starts filling up.  Unfortunately, this one isn’t doing its job very well.  I couldn’t get all the way down to work on the pump so it was time for “Laura the plumber!”  The picture is her working on the hoses coming from the pump.  We found that the hoses are mostly clogged and tomorrow I’m going to try and borrow a compressor from the boat yard and blow out the lines.  If that doesn’t work, maybe we’ll see how the fish around our boat like Drano (sp?).

Laura spent the day organizing our “stuff” and getting ready to reupholster the salon furniture.  She was measuring up a storm and found a fabric place (using the Internet) about 20 miles away.  Does it seem like everything is 20 miles away from here?  Good thing we have our car….

This week is supposed to be sunny but cool here (highs near 60) so we’re hoping to get the starter problem fixed so we can do more sailing.  We really love it.  The last time we were out it and had the gently breeze on full sails we just kinda sat there with “Life is good” grins on our faces.  It was awesome and we can’t wait for more of it.

Entry for October 21, 2006

October 21, 2006

Yesterday I did update the website with pics from Deltaville and our very packed car.  Check out the picture that Laura took of me down in the engine room.  That’s about as far as I could go down.  When she fixed the high-water switch, she was working down near my feet. 

Entry for October 21, 2006

October 21, 2006

Hello everyone.  Yes, I was delinquent yesterday in not writing the blog.  I spent most of the day on the computer looking for boat stuff (good life jackets, new stove, a million other things we need) and there wasn’t much good poop for the blog.  We decided to buy really good inflatable lifejackets since we’d be more apt to wear them all the time (they’re almost like wearing suspenders).  I think I saved about $250 by researching them on-line and buying from a discount place instead of the local marine store.  They were still $340 each but they even self-inflate if you get knocked into the water while unconscious (like when I get smacked by a swinging boom).  The biggest thing we did yesterday was find a liquor store – about 20 miles away in Mathews – to buy rum which we were out of.  Laura’s favorite beverage for after-hours is rum punch.


Today was cool but sunny and light winds so we went out for a sail.  While preparing to leave the dock, we noticed the wind was from the north when it had always been from the south before.  We worked on a new procedure for which lines to untie when and it worked beautiful.  We didn’t hit anything leaving the slip!!  We had a very interesting sail and got all four sails up together for the first time.  If you look at the picture which was taken from the bow, from left to right there is the jib, stay, main and mizzen sails all catching wind.


It was an interesting sail because of the wind.  We started out with very light but consistent winds from the north and sailed for about 1 ½ to 2 hours heading east-north-east.  Then the winds just about died and we drifted for about an hour trying to adjust sails so we could keep moving.  At times we were only doing 1 knot or less.  We were drifting toward a crab pot buoy so I decided to start the engine and move the boat away from it.  The engine wouldn’t even turn over.  YIKES!  We were about 6 miles from our marina in the middle of Chesapeake Bay with no wind and no engine.  Well, I wasn’t going to stand for that.  I went downstairs and the first thing I tried was jumping the starter solenoid (like starting a car without the key) and IT WORKED!  The engine started quickly and we kept it running.  We decide to motor back to the marina and started taking down sails.  We took down the staysail and Laura was working on taking down the mizzen when the wind picked up and started blowing 15 knots from the west.  HOLD ON TO SOMETHING!!  The boat leaned over about 20 degrees and shot up to almost 8 knots.  We were zooming!  We had a good practice taking down sails quickly and I pulled in the main and jib while Laura was putting the sail cover on the mizzen. 


With all the sails down we motored back to the marina and also docked without hitting anything.  WOO HOO!  We pulled in the slip and tied up so pretty you’d think we had done it a hundred times (instead of just 4).


I worked the rest of the day troubleshooting the engine not starting and don’t have a full root-cause analysis yet.  It’s a work-in-progress.  Those of you that know me understand I won’t rest until it’s resolved. 


It was only about 63 degrees today and we wore sweatshirts while sailing BUT I’M STILL WEARING SHORTS EVERY DAY!  It’s supposed to go down into the low 40s tonight and we turned on the heat during dinner.  We’ve paid our slip here for the next month and don’t plan on leaving until after Thanksgiving.  If it gets colder, I might have to starting wearing pants instead of shorts – NOT@!


Tomorrow I’ll be working on the starter and probably the dingy motor.  I haven’t tried to get that running yet.  I think it has cobwebs in it……

Entry for October 19, 2006

October 19, 2006

Today was another different day in Deltaville.  I think the weather changes here almost as quickly as it does in upstate NY.  It started out cool and foggy – not a good morning to be on the bay.  We were up early and decided to hit the laundry at our marina before everyone else showed up (there is only 1 washer and dryer).  When Laura got there just after 6:30, there were already 2 people in front of her.


Oh well, we did have our car here so we loaded up the laundry and drove about 20 miles to Gloucester for laundry and finishing up our shopping at Wal-Mart.  Laundry seemed like a game to me since I can’t remember the last time I couldn’t just throw the dirty clothes in my washer.  I’m sure it won’t be so much fun a couple years from now….


When we got back to the boat around noon, the weather was clearing and the forecast perfect for more on-the-job-training sailing.  We got the boat ready (secured everything and cleaned up a few clutterings) and were out of the slip by 2 pm.  Leaving the dock was a little more eventful than usual.  One of the bumpers caught on a piling while backing out of the dock and spun the boat quickly to starboard.  Our bow almost hit the boat next to us but just bounced off it a little (no damage that I could find).  The next time we will definitely pull in the bumpers before leaving…..


Our sail was awesome and we managed to get up a third sail, the mizzen.  We were running between 7 and 7.5 knots with about 10 mile an hour winds – very nice.  We took a little longer ride and practiced sailing on different points of the wind.  Laura and I quizzed each other on sail tuning for different wind angles and we both realized we had more studying to do if we were going to get this perfect.  However, we did manage to sail fine with many different wind angles although it probably wasn’t pretty if anyone was watching (we made sure there wasn’t anyone else around).


Laura was at the helm for quite awhile and more practice is required before she will be comfortable there.  My having “driven” many boats for several hundred (thousand?) hours gives me a experienced feel of the boat which I know she will get in not too long.  While she was driving, we turned around to come back to the marina and I went out on the deck to lower the mizzen sail.  I told her I was getting some experience working on the decks while under sail and she coined a new term- LAW – working on the deck while Laura is At the Wheel.  Our instructor in the Caribbean last summer coined the term “submarine avoidance” to describe the track our boat leaves through the water while she is driving – it’s still true (sorry baby).  J


Coming back into the dock I misjudged the turn a little and ran right into a piling at the front of our slip almost dead on.  (I thought the boat was turning faster – oh well).  I was able to back up a little and nose the bow around into our slip while feeling just a little embarrassed.  I keep telling Laura that when we get good at docking here, we’ll be able to dock anywhere.  It’s one of the worst setups I’ve seen in my many years of boating.


We went out for dinner (the first time here) and are going to call it an early night.  It’s raining lightly now which I find very relaxing.  My eyes are slowly closing…. Lots still left to do….