Archive for October, 2008

Entry for October 30, 2008

October 30, 2008

SUCCESS!!

We received the part and installed it without major problems. The engine is running now to verify everything is working good. We’re securing everything for the 48 hour off-shore trip to Norfolk and plan to leave within the hour. Weather looks excellent except for very cold tonight and we’ll probably be wearing everything we have on board to keep warm.

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Entry for October 30, 2008

October 30, 2008

Today is day 4 in our Sandy Hook anchorage and we’ll probably be here at least one more day. The wind was still howling through our rigging last night but it’s supposed to calm down today.
Yesterday while running the engine in the morning to charge our fridge, I heard a little different sound coming fron the front of the engine. A diesel engine is pretty loud on it’s own so I’m surprised I could hear anything. I let it run for the hour then checked everything closely. After digging around for 20 minutes, I eventually found a bad bearing on one of the belt pulleys. I spent quite awhile on the phone trying to track down a new one but one of the boats owners in the past 27 years had modified the belts to accept a larger alternator and water pump. One company said they had a replacement pulley for $295 – Yikes!
Sometime during these calls I noticed the pulley had a pressed-in bearing which had a number on it. I used my phone to access the Internet and found the replacement bearing for $4.95. I had it shipped overnight (another $45) and should have it today. Now I just hope I can remove the old bearing and install the new one without problems.
It was 48 degrees IN THE BOAT this morning when we finally decided to pull off the 4 blankets covering us. We run our little Honda gas generator to charge the batteries and run a space heater to keep warm days and evenings. Gas usage hasn’t been bad with about 6 gallons in 3 days.
I’ll write again later to let you know how the engine work comes out.

Entry for October 27, 2008

October 27, 2008

Howdy all. No Internet access here so I’m typing this on my phone.
We’ve decided to wait out the high winds predicted over the next few days instead of fast-tracking the off-shore run to Norfolk. The forecast winds have been getting higher everyday and now are 30-35 knots for tonight thru Wed.
We are anchored in Atlantic Highlands, NJ and just filled up our fuel and water tanks so we will be fine if we can keep warm.
Current plan is to leave here for Cape May late Wed or early Thru. I’ll update this in a couple days.

Entry for October 25, 2008

October 25, 2008

We have the boat anchored in a very protected spot on the southeast shore of Haverstraw Bay just 20 miles north of NYC.  We could just about see the Tappan Zee Bridge from here if the weather was clearer.

Yesterday, (Friday, October 23rd), we left our summer dockage marina a little after 8am.  We were up and ready to go around 7 am but when I went up into the cockpit, I couldn’t see out the clear windows and couldn’t wipe them off.  The dew had frozen onto the plastic overnight.  The temperature was 20 degrees and there was very heavy frost on our decks and the dock.  We had to wait until 8am for the Sun to thaw out the plastic windows enough for us to see.

After motoring down Catskill Creek onto the Hudson, we entered a Twilight Zone of heavy fog caused by the cold air and warm water.  It was so thick we couldn’t see river marker more than 200 feet away from the boat.  I wasn’t too worried because we had cruised this area all summer and had great instruments in our radar and GPS.  The fog lasted until almost 11 am when we were between Saugerties and Kingston.  Then the skies cleared and the Sun finally warmed us up.  I don’t think it went above freezing until after 10 am – the frost on our decks stayed frozen until that time.

We motored south on the Hudson all day.  Around 2 pm we decided to put up the 2 aft panels of our cockpit enclosure.  These were the only two panels we hadn’t rebuilt this summer and they had been in storage for the last 2 years.  They were very cranky and moldy.  It took Laura almost an hour to clean them and stick them next to the engine room to soften up in the heat.  They actually went on pretty easy considering how long they had been rolled up.  By 3 am we had the cockpit completely enclosed and were warm for the first time since leaving the dock and turning off our heat.  We took the door off the engine room and let the heat from our engine warm the boat and cockpit.  I watched the thermometer next to me climb from 50 degrees to 74 degrees over the next hour as we both pealed off extra layers of clothes. 

Shortly after 5 pm we anchored about 5 miles north of West Point on the eastern shore of the river out of the ship channel for our first night on the anchor since May.  I was apprehensive but slept pretty good – probably because I was very restless the previous night.

We woke around 7am to the wind howling through the rigging.  The forecast for Saturday and Sunday is very unsettled with a big storm front coming through on Saturday night.  We carefully chose an anchorage which was very protect from the south as the forecast was for southerly winds of 25 gusting to 35 in storms.

Pulling up our anchor was no problem and we started day two of our journey into a 20 knot wind and light chop on the water.  We motored south past West Point and the Bear Mountain Bridge as the Sun was allusive behind rain storms.  Entering Haverstraw Bay the wind picked up to 25 knots and it was a little bit of a wild ride crossing a 10 mile bay with the wind and waves just off the starboard bow.  Several waves hit the starboard side of the boat and drenched our decks and cockpit canvas but we stayed dry inside.  Fighting the wind and waves our little engine was working to keep us above 3 knots when we would have been going 6 knots on calm waters at that RPM.  We finally motored behind the lee of the anchorage around 1 pm and dropped the hook in a rainstorm and 30 mile-per-hour winds.  The anchor set great and we spent the afternoon finishing up our work to get the boat ready for sea.  We dropped the dinghy and pulled the outboard up on deck and onto its rail-mount.  Laura’s been securing everything below and I think the only thing we have left is to figure out what to do with the printer and fax machine. 

Tomorrow after this storm passes we will motor south past Manhattan and under the Verrazano Bridge before crossing the lower bay to Sandy Hook.  We’ll anchor behind the Atlantic Highlands Marina breakwater after filling our fuel tank at their docks.  Then we’ll decide on the best day to head off-shore for Cape May and points south.  Right now it looks like it may be a short stay with west winds predicted for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.  Those are perfect for that leg of our trip as we’ll sail on a beam-reach with the wind off the land and very little waves.  The only problem will be COLD weather.  The forecast is for highs in the 50s with lows in the 30s but that is a great incentive to be a little aggressive with moving south.  We should be in Chesapeake Bay or Norfolk, VA by Thursday.

Entry for October 23, 2008

October 23, 2008

We’re back on the boat after dropping the car at Laura’s parents and having a great dinner with them. The car is winterized and covered so should be fine until we return in the spring. Laura’s brother Steve and his wife Debbie came over for desert and coffee so we had a little time to chat before our big good-byes.

Laura’s parents drove us back to the boat (53 mile drive each way) and we had a tearful good-bye with them. They’ve been great to us this summer with lots of free stuff every time we visit – from eggs (Laura’s mother tends the chickens), veggies from their garden, apples in the fall and just about anything else you could want from a farm. They will be celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary in December so we wish them all the best.

Today we did a 5 hour grocery run – 2 ½ hours at Wal-Mart to fill a cart to overflowing then 2 ½ hours at the boat to unload and put away the 44 bags of groceries for $500. I did a few minor jobs around the boat but basically we’re ready to go. Everything looks great with the boat, the freezer is full with about 5 months worth of meats and every cabinet is chocked full of canned goods and baking stuff. The only thing we haven’t done is fill the fuel tank but we have plenty to get to New Jersey where it’s about 80 cents cheaper than here. We’ll take on about 75 gallons there (1/2 of our tank) which was our usage for the entire summer – charters included. This is a pretty inexpensive boat to run and we’re hoping to save fuel on our trip south by waiting for good weather to head off-shore and sail a lot of the way.

The next week looks pretty crummy weather-wise. There is a storm coming Saturday night with high winds and thunder. We’ll try to find a nice, protected anchorage on the Hudson for that one. Then, mid-week, there is another cold front coming through which will bring us daily highs in the low 40s. YIKES! We’ll probably be waiting that out anchored in Sandy Hook, NJ until we get decent winds for the overnight sail to Delaware Bay. The weather will determine if we run another overnight from Delaware Bay to Norfolk, VA or cruise down the Chesapeake for several days.

I’ll update the blog in a few days to a week when we get Internet access again. We’ve really gotten spoiled at the marina all summer with free Wi-Fi and cable TV. But, after dropping off the car, we’ve again severed most of our ties with the land and will live the cruising life for several months again. We’re both really looking forward to it!

Entry for October 21, 2008

October 21, 2008

Slight change in plans – we’re leaving this Friday for Florida!  Our charter for this weekend did not happen because of the weather so we are getting the boat ready to head south NOW!

 

It’s Tuesday evening and we’ve had a VERY busy day.  Yesterday we spent most of the day up north at Cossayuna Lake installing canvas on a camp that Laura and I made over the past few days.  We had gotten this canvas job from a friend and it went pretty well.  When we got back to the boat, Laura finished up the port-side canvas for our cockpit which she worked on all day Sunday.  We also found our electrical lines lying on the dock.  The marina had pulled out the electric on the dock.  I guess they had told me that was going to happen but I was hoping it would be later in the week.  Oh well.  We survived 18 months in the Caribbean without dockside power.  I guess a couple days won’t hurt us too much.  (Can you tell we’re spoiled by being at the marina all summer?)

Today I started getting the boat ready to head south.  Here’s what I did while Laura started working on the starboard-side cockpit canvas –

  1. Ran the engine for an hour to warm up the oil and charge our refrigeration that had been off all night.
  2. Had coffee and breakfast
  3. Shutdown the engine and drained the oil
  4. Did one load of laundry at the marina
  5. Changed the engine oil filter
  6. Started to change the oil in the Honda generator but it wouldn’t start
  7. Fixed the Honda generator
  8. Changed the oil in the generator
  9. Tried running the boat heating system off the generator – still wouldn’t start the compressor – bummer
  10. Did a second load of laundry
  11. Ate lunch
  12. Took our empty propane tank and one empty 5 gal gasoline jug into town
  13. Deposited old engine oil at Advanced Auto Parts
  14. Ordered spare sparkplug for generator (will be in tomorrow)
  15. Drove to propane filling station.  Waited while he filled our tank
  16. Filled gasoline jug at gas station
  17. Returned to boat and put away propane tank in spare locker
  18. Put away the full gasoline jug
  19. Fixed drain in aft deck locker where I keep the gasoline jugs
  20. Filled dinghy gasoline tank
  21. Lowered dinghy into the water for testing outboard motor
  22. Started outboard (fairly easy) and took dinghy for test spin
  23. Raised dinghy back on davits and secured for voyage south
  24. Took car to Hudson for shopping
  25. Stopped at canvas shop for new sewing needles – found some that would work but had to jabber with the owner for awhile
  26. Stopped at bank to cash check
  27. Drove to Jiffylube for oil change in car
  28. Ran car through car wash
  29. Went to Staples for a few business things
  30. Went to Price Chopper to bulk up on meats for the freezer
  31. Drove back to Catskill
  32. Stopped at Post Office to have our mail forwarded
  33. Unloaded car and brought everything down to the boat

While I was doing this, Laura completed almost the whole canvas piece for our starboard side of the cockpit.  The port side had taken her almost 3 days so I guess she’s getting better!

Tomorrow I’ll put all the snaps in the bottom of the port canvas while Laura is finishing up the starboard side.  Then we’ll head up to Ballston Spa to see our friends before having dinner with my family. 

On Thursday we’ll do a final HUGE grocery at Wal-Mart to complete our stock-up.  Then we head up to Laura’s parents for dinner with the family and putting the car to bed.  They will give us a ride back to the boat and we’ll be all ready to go early Friday morning.  YEA!

The picture was taken on our last charter of the season.

Entry for October 19, 2008

October 21, 2008

It has been quite a while since we updated the blog and the last few months seem to have zoomed by.  The chartering was good in August but very slow in September.  I guess everyone going back to school but the kibosh on vacations. 

We spent most of September working on the boat – mostly cosmetic stuff.  The biggest job was to take off our bow rail to have the navigation light mount welded at a local shop.  It’s been held on by a hose clamp and electrical tape for several months but finding someone to do stainless welding has been a chore.  I finally negotiated a welding date with the guy down the road and, early in the morning, Laura helped me take off the 24 bolts holding the rail to the deck.  We loaded the rail onto the top of our Explorer because it was too big to fit in the back of the car.  After returning from the drop-off we started working on the bow.

The bow pulpit is made of wood and had large square holes where the anchor shanks originally were pulled up to the boat.  Someone in the past had filled in these holes and bolted anchor mounts to the front of the pulpit.  This was a good way to fit larger anchors to the boat but whoever filled the holes didn’t do a very good job.  In fact, one of the pieces of wood used as a filler had blown out with a wave somewhere in the Caribbean last year.  We glued it back in with epoxy but while functional, it didn’t look very good.  With the bow rail off to the welder, we had an opportunity to make everything look nice. 

We started by sanding the entire pulpit with a power sander to get out the rotted wood and epoxy that had run.  Then we filled all the holes and covered all the bare wood with epoxy.  After drying, a final sanding made everything smooth and nice.  Two coats of marine paint later and the bow pulpit looked like it was made that way. 

The next day we picked up our welded rails and re-bedded it back onto the boat.  After a good cleaning and polish, we had a very nice looking – and very functional – bow pulpit.  YEA!  Our 3 days of work looked awesome!

We also worked on the toggle at the base of the mainmast which had broken a weld.  Sometime over the last couple weeks we had been talking to Laura’s brother and he mentioned they had a portable welder that the boys used on their cars and around the farm.  Laura’s nephew Steve brought it down to the boat and welded the toggle back together.  He ran a lot of extra welds to strengthen the whole toggle and it looked pretty good when he was done.  While doing that job I noticed our main outhaul block which was attached to that toggle was cracked and broken.  I ordered a new one and replaced it a couple days later.

Our BBQ grill had corroded over the past 2 years and the burner was just about useless.  I hadn’t been able to find parts so I spent a day fixing a spare grill we had stored since we bought the boat.  It took some tinkering but I finally got it working – good thing since the marina has taken in their grill for the winter.  Then, last week, I found the parts for our main grill and I replaced them a couple days ago.  It seems to be working good and we’ll try out a couple steaks tomorrow.

Laura has been working on a few canvas jobs including a big one for a friend’s family.  She is making 4 large panels to cover their camps screens on the porch over the winter.  That is her (our?) big project for this week.

As October approached interest seemed to pick up in the chartering business and last weekend we had luncheon charters on both Saturday and Sunday.  The weather was awesome for October (sunny and mid 70s) and both charters went great.  We have two charters again for this coming weekend.  The Sunday dinner charter was the result of a barter with a local air-conditioner guy so it will be great to pay him back for fixing our cooling system earlier this year.  We are getting a few inquiries for the October 25 – 26 weekend and I hope the weather isn’t too cold by then to enjoy the outdoors.

We plan on leaving for the trip to Florida right after that weekend – probably the 27th.  After a 3 day motor / sail to New York City we’ll wait in Sandy Hook, NJ until a good weather window for sailing down the coast.  We’ve talked about trying to make Norfolk, VA in 3-4 days from there and skipping Chesapeake Bay this trip.  As usual, the weather will control the decision and we’ll take whatever we get.  Give us 4 days of good sailing and we’ll shoot for Norfolk.  If we only get 2 days we’ll head up Delaware Bay and work our way down the Chesapeake with day-sails.

The picture is Steve welding our main-mast toggle