Tuesday, October 17, 2017

St. Michael's to the Alligator River

Whew!  There are some stories to tell about this last week!

St. Michael's Crab & Steak House
Lynn and I spent two days in St. Michael's  - the first evening after arriving we went to the St. Michael's Crab & Steak House down on the harbor waterfront.  The rain had finally stopped but with high tide there was some water to ford getting there.

The food was pretty good - we both had crab dishes; mine a crab cake and hers a crab imperial.  Mine was delicious!  That was one healthy crab cake with little or no filler.  Big chunks.  Vegetables indifferent.  But that's not why you go there, anyway.  Crab.  Steak.  Go for that.

Main Street, St. Michael's
The next day, after Lynn finished her meetings, we went to wander around town.  St. Michael's is a cute little town that has amongst other things, a lot of restaurants and a winery, a rum distillery (Lyon's), a big salvage store (like antiques but not that old) and a lot of gift shops.

We had to go to Awful Arthur's Seafood Company for lunch because, well, with a name like that how could it be bad?  It couldn't.  They had amazing oysters on the half shell and we both had a great salad with fried oysters on it.  Odd, but the salad with fried oysters on it (6) was like $15, but the half dozen fried oysters alone as an appetizer was $12.  The salad was a better deal, frankly. 

After lunch, Lynn wanted to see the Lyon Distillery.  She had had them give a talk at one of the get-togethers and wanted to see the thing face to face, as it were.

Nothing would do but we had to taste all their rums.  They're not aged, but they are 'rested' for a couple of months in barrels.  They also make a vodka and gin. Unfortunately, their distribution is fairly small so you probably won't see their rum any time soon.

I'm not a big rum drinker, tending towards aged spirits (like Zapata rum, for instance).  I found these young and harsh.  But that's from an aged scotch drinker, so there's that.

Lynn had been threatening to make a chicken in a pot.  My disbelief in the process was strong.  But it was the night for it.  Guess what?  Not only is it possible, but it was terrific!  And afterwards there was chicken soup!  Brilliant.

The next day we were leaving for the southern Chesapeake, Solomon MD harbor.  It was sunny and humid and getting hotter.  Really hotter.  The 1400 log entry was, "38° 41.2N, 76° 23.9W SOG 6.8, COG 170° Engine 2000 rpm, 190°, 45#.  Fucking hot and sunny. Virtually no breeze.  We had to throw the last of the horses overboard today."

Solomon Island marinas
We found a gorgeous anchorage up the Mill River past Solomon Island.  It was time for a swim - Lynn convinced me to join her - she was quite enthusiastic about getting in the water.  

I think we had beef stew for dinner.  It was delicious!  Also, it cooled down and started misting.  Terrific.   During the evening we discussed going up the Patuxtent River to St. Leonard's Creek.  We took some time to choose an anchorage but way up the creek is Vera's Beach Club.  It is as surprising a find as you could expect. 

As the evening progressed, the skies became cloudier and the wind windier.  Thursday we left fairly early, on our way about 8am.  It was windy with small craft warnings.  But, hey, Pelican isn't a small craft.  We bashed our way out the Patuxtent River bound for the Piankatank River because I like the name.  After clearing the southern point of the river, we headed on a course of 170° and set a single reefed mizzen and reefed jib.


With the winds at 15-25, gusting to 30 out of the east and the seas at 3-6 feet we blew down the Chesapeake at a blistering 7.5kts SOG.  I must say, alone I would not have been out there but Lynn convinced me and I'm so happy she did!  What a sail!

Wolf Trap Lighthouse, Chesapeake
We reached the Wicomico River, just south of the Potomac.  As we turned into Ingram Bay, I furled the jib and started the engine.  Burning rubber smell, tach reading zero.  Not good.  Bad belt, probably, but not the place to fix it in the conditions we had.   

While travelling up the bay under reefed mizzen at 5.5kts we had a pod of dolphin playing with our wake and bow wave.  It was the first time Lynn had seen them.  She was thrilled, talking to them and pointing them out.  It was beautiful to see them again through someone else's eyes.

The plan was to sail into Cockerell Creek to anchor and fix the motor.   But we couldn't point high enough.  So we put out the jib and looked for another protected bay up the river to stop in.  As we passed Sandy Point on the port side we saw two boats already anchored.  Lynn steered us in and chose a spot to drop the anchor.  We furled the jib, and under mizzen she put us right where we wanted to be.  I dropped the anchor and as Pelican blew back, the anchor set and we were there.

Dammit, I wish you lot could have seen that!  It was perfect.  Quiet, professional, and efficient!   It was like old-timey sailing.

We were happily exhausted.  The wind was still up, but with the short fetch Pelican rested lightly on her anchor.

Lynn on the helm under full press of sail
The next day was Friday the 13th.  Sadly, Lynn's time with me on Pelican was growing short.  We had to make it to Norfolk, VA.  The wind was still up but moderating.  We got underway around 9 am.  We motored out to the Chesapeake with another dolphin escort.  What a beautiful way to start the day.

Winds were 15-20 so we raised all the sails when we got on course!  Lynn was on the helm grinning the whole morning.



video
We hand steered the whole day until we got to Thimble Shoal Light just outside Hampton Roads entrance.  After a rather unprofessional dropping of the main (my fault but here's what I found out: Pelican will heave to with grace and comfort. That's nice to know.)  Anyway, we proceeded into the harbor under jib and mizzen.   Once we turned down battleship row, we dowsed them as well and continued under power.

Here's the thing - just as we arrived to Thimble Shoals it started to rain.  And then it rained harder.  We travelled for another hour or so and arrived at Waterside Marina in down town Norfolk.  Now, I'd never been there and I knew it was across the Elizabeth River from the Tidewater Marina (where I have been) so I tried to get entrance directions from the marina hands.

Picture this: it's rainy and grey.  We're tired, wet and cold. It's getting dark.  Where is the entrance?  The directions  are to go to the battleship and look for the entrance.  Guess what?  Battleships are grey for a reason.  So we went really slowly until there was a GREAT BIG LIT UP SIGN, "Waterside"  right above the entrance.  That would have been a useful tidbit of information.

Anyway, easy in, easy tie up. 

The Waterside Marina is nice, small with good floating docks.  But it's near Norfolk's Waterside which is noisy.  A small park with big national restaurants and lots of activity on the weekends.  If you're looking for exciting things to do, this is the marina.  If you're looking for quiet, go to Tidewater Marina across the way.  For instance, we got in late Friday night and at 7 am Saturday they were doing sound checks with house music.

We wanted to go to a breakfast place so we wandered off to a place called 3 Way Cafe, but it didn't open until 10!  WTF?  It advertises breakfast and brunch.  I guess we just wanted breakfast too early.  Anyway, we met a couple, Brian and Wendy who gave us the bad news.  But nearby was d'Egg Diner which we all went to.  It was really good with friendly service.  I'd definitely go back!

After breakfast we walked to a nearby Enterprise car rental place and picked up Lynn's rental tank.  She had ordered an Altima but ended up with the biggest, blackest SUV I've seen.  I think an Armada.  What a tank.  A tank with comfort but a tank nonetheless.  We drove it to a local garage to park it until Sunday.


Battleship Wisconsin & I
Then we wandered off to the battleship Wisconsin. Man, that's a big ship.  I wouldn't want whomever's running that bad boy pissed off at me! 

We spent a lovely few hours wandering around the museum and ship.

But then it was nap time, don't you know.

We had a quite dinner.  Sunday, Lynn was heading home because someone needs to keep the world running.  Meanwhile, it was time for me to see my friends Bob and Nancy for brunch.

They met me at the marina where we were supposed to have brunch at Stripers, but it was closed until 11 and worse, it was under construction.  So off they took me to Leaping Lizard Cafe.  The bloody marys were great, the food excellent (although if you get the crab cake benedict, ask for extra hollandaise sauce beforehand.  You'll be glad you did.)


Cape Charles Light
After brunch we took a tour of the Cape Charles lighthouses and the beach.  They're on a military base and we had to show our IDs - mine was a license.  Not sure what that was all about, but Nancy had a real life military ID so we were completely cool.   Then we took a tour of Virgina Beach which has changed an incredible amount since I was there.  I suppose it's good for the state but it's just a tourist trap now.  Oh, well.

I had to get back - a big day was in the offing.  I was going to leave Norfolk at 5 am to catch the bridges.

I did even better than that.  I left at 4:38.  Once I got my bearings I was able to get down to the Gilmerton lift bridge pretty quick.  Guess what?  The rail bridge was closed next to it so I had to wait.  Feh.  When I got to the Great Bridge lock, I had to wait for shift change (a few minutes) and they locked me through for the 7 am Great Bridge opening!  Yay!

Old Cape Charles Light
But then, bummer.  The Centerville Turnpike Bridge was closed until 8:30 so I had to wait for an hour.  Feh.  But there was a Pearson 31 right behind me so when I tied up to the fuel dock there at the Centerville Marina, I had them come alongside.  I met Ron and his friend.  Ron was a Nuke, too, but an ET.  That was interesting.  He worked at Three Mile Island during its excursion (not his fault - he was off that shift) but stayed and retired from the company.   I hope to see them again.  We were going to meet at an anchorage just beyond Coinjock.

I had planned to stay at the Midway Marina and Hotel in Coinjock but I was there around noon, too early to stop. I had flown down the Currituck sound motor sailing at 7.5 kts steady.  There was a 15-20 kt breeze or so that was way aft of the beam and I had the jib out.

Well, I passed the anchorage about 2pm, also too early to stop.  Besides the wind had piped up quite a bit to like 25-30.  I decided to go for the Alligator River Marina, which made me cross the Albemarle Sound with following wind and seas.

This I can say:  I was very happy to not be going the other direction.  It started to rain, the wind was gusting over 30, and the waves short, steep, and up to 3 feet.  Even the autopilot was having trouble.  But I was flying!

I backed in!  Like a pro!
I arrived at the Alligator River Marina at about 5:30, cold, wet, and tired and where the grill was closed.  Feh.  One of the people I met at the Centerville Turnpike Bridge told me they had the best fried chicken in North Carolina.  Well, I had to try that.

Sadly, before lunch the next day, a truck ran into the power line and the grill went down until after closing.  So tomorrow, before I leave, I'm gettin' me a basket of fried chicken!

Well, that's about all for now.  Lots of adventures happened, lots more to go!  Oh, and someone suggested a font change.  Let me know if you like it.

Monday, October 09, 2017

Castle Harbor Marina to St. Michael's

While at Castle Harbor Marina (which, if you ever have the chance to visit, I highly recommend) and my guest, Lynn, was out doing work things I had the time to get my folding bike out and explore.
One of the tributaries the Cross Island Trail crosses

Not far from the marina is the Kent Cross Island Trail which goes, as you might surmise, from the west end of the island to the east, ending at a nature park near the Bay Bridge on the west and the Kent Narrows bridge on the other.  I'm guessing it's about 10 miles long or so.  It is beautiful mostly with sections rather near industrial sites.  But is flat and paved so I can manage it.  It's great for walking and riding.  A lovely way to spend one or more afternoons.

The weather has been warm and increasingly humid.  Apparently tropical storm Nate has been working its way towards the Chesapeake.  It's been sunny, but every day the cloud cover has been more dense.

Anyway, I've been reading about the Kent Narrows, how shallow, how fast the current, blah, blah, blah.  Not recommended for sail boats and so forth.  But going all the way around Kent Island to St. Michael's is a six hour trip.  No one of the marina staff really had any experience (power boaters) so they could just surmise it was passable. 

Lynn met a couple passing Pelican Sunday morning while I was indisposed and they indicated it was not only passable but a nice trip.  His brother-in-law had a six foot draft and regularly went that way.

So, there you have it.  We left at high tide at 8 am, got to the bridge for the 8:30 opening and passed with no depths less than 7.5 feet, even in the entry channel.  The only thing I can say is, go at high tide if you draw more than 5.5 feet.

The other thing is that the wind was out of the south pushing water up the bay and rivers so its effect was to reduce the current through the narrows.  The bridge tender was exceedingly nice and the transit was without problem as I had hoped.  It was my first bridge opening this trip.  Well for some 7 or 8 years, to be sure.  It's like falling off a bike - you never forget how to do it.

Under sail with Lynn at helm
The wind was out of the south, south west at 10-18 knots so once past Parsons Island south of the narrows we set sail towards the Chesapeake because we had time and there was wind.  Predicted 20-25 kt winds didn't arrive and we managed to sail to within a mile or so of St. Michael's.  It really was a beautiful day for that, and Lynn is a good sailor.  We worked really well together. Man, can she trim sails!

We arrived at St. Michael's around 1:30 or so and tied up at the T-head of G dock, right in the heart of the museum!  Wow!  It's like being kings or something.

Pelican At CMM G dock
On the next T-head is another Pelican who caused some confusion as we both came in at the same time.  Met them at the office and they're nice people.  He said that he'd never run into a situation like that with two Pelicans.  I have.

Today, Nate is passing over with gale warnings on the bay.  We're staying put and leaving early tomorrow for maybe Solomons Island or farther if we can make it.

It seems like all my pictures are cloudy and grey.  I'd like to take some sunny ones.  Maybe tomorrow!  Oh, wait.  Here's one:



 


Thursday, October 05, 2017

Finally, the Chesapeake!

Here I am at the Castle Harbor Marina on Kent Island, MD.  It's a lovely not-so-little marina that's well protected. It's really easy to get into with a jetty protected channel that reveals itself as you line up on it. 

On site there are two restaurants - a pub and a sushi place.  I can attest that the sushi place is both popular and good. 

But, you're asking, how did I get here?

You'll remember the engine issue.  I figured all the replacements would do the job, and truthfully, in calm waters the next afternoon I left to transit the C & D Canal.  Reverie had left earlier and indicated they'd anchor behind Reedy Island just south of the eastern canal entrance.

In calm water with little breeze, the engine ran fine - stumbled once or twice but nothing continuing.  Done and dusted, I thought.  After anchoring and puttering around for a while, it was bed time.   Sadly, because neither Reverie or I had dinghy or motor we couldn't get together for cocktails.  A sad moment, to be sure.

Turkey Point exiting C&D Canal
The next day, I left around 7:30 am to get the current, mostly, through the canal.  It turned west around 9 or so and off to the races!  I was anchored in Turner Creek on the south side of the Sassafras River below Ordinary Point (which really is very ordinary, but still, I'd think a better name could have been come up with.  I suppose there's a story somewhere.)  In theory, there was a place I could sneak into to tie up to and visit the park.  But too shallow. 

Anyway, anchor down, cocktail in hand, evening to enjoy.  But the interesting thing is that the engine ran faultlessly.  

The next morning, I headed in to anchor near Georgetown, MD to meet with an old friend, Jim Affleck.  His ferry is a rather powerful jet ski.  As he was occupied until lunch time we went off to the local place, Twinny's for some good, inexpensive food.  Apparently there was a cheaper place but they closed.  Given the town of Galena is literally 300 feet by 300 feet it's surprising there were two to begin with.

Anyway, we both ate a hearty lunch for $25 including tax and tip!  My kind of place.


The day continued with no small amount of vodka and various mixers, including my friend, Ken's, special drink - vodka, tonic, blueberries and lime.  Very refreshing on a warm day.  Dinner at The Granary right at Jim's marina. Not bad.  It was, I must say, a very pleasant day spent in good company.  Thanks, Jim!

Wednesday came and the plan was to end up at Castle Harbor Marina (remember that?) to meet another friend. 

Motoring down the Chesapeake all was going well until the engine started to die again.  There was a great deal of swearing.  Surprised?  Don't be.  While the engine is running sort of I took the cover off and see big air bubbles coming through the Racor filter.  It happens, apparently, when the fuel tank is half full (or empty depending on your bent).  I tried adding fuel to see if that helped.  No.  It didn't.

More swearing.  I'm basically drifting in the middle of the Chesapeake whilst trying to manage this issue.  There is nothing to do but take fuel from a 5 gallon jug and returning it there. The new fuel pump will pump 5 gallons out in less than an hour.  But it's enough to get to the marina and fuel up the main tank, which I do.

The afternoon and this morning (Thursday, October 5) are spent trying to find a leak - I removed the pickup (no leak) check the hose to the Racor.  Reseat the lid.  Run engine, no air leak.  So for now that's done.  I think there was a leak at the top of the tank but I can't explain it.  If not, I'll know in about 40 hours.

Well, more adventure to follow!





Saturday, September 30, 2017

Good Judgement Comes From Experience...

Experience comes from bad judgement.  This is a truism.  Today, I gained good judgement in bucket loads.

My trip to Manhasset Bay was spectacular!  Wind on the beam, jib and jigger and flying along at 7 knots!  Beautiful day. 

I met, over the radio, Matt and Kim of Orca, a 48 ft ketch and it was the first contact from having the AIS - it is really something!  They continued on to City Island, knowing we'd meet in the morning for the tides.

 I arrived, got fuel, and settled down on a Manhasset Bay Yacht Club mooring arranged for me by my friend, former Commodore, Dan Brown.  What a guy!  Sadly, we couldn't connect.  On the way back, then.

Friday morning I woke up at 4:30 to make the East River currents in my favor out the Verrazzano Narrows and, in theory on to Sandy Hook to wait for weather.  But the reports weren't good.  So with help from my friend, Laura, I decided it was the day to go down the coast to Cape May to miss some awful weather.

Off I went - apparently Orca and another boat, Reverie, were behind me.  It took Orca until Atlantic City to pass.  Most of the trip was uneventful.  Sunny day, clear night, low winds, small seas.  Pelican was running well.  Unfortunately sailing wasn't an option.  But I got to listen to my podcasts, so there's that.

This trip was interesting for another reason:  contact with the outside world.  There was no place without service for phone or internet.  Facebook, sadly, was my watch mate in the dark hours of the night.  That's new, and maybe a little disturbing.

I arrived at Cape May Inlet at 2:30am - the wind was out of the south west so the entrance was pretty straight forward.  Note to others following in the night: The jetties stick out some distance from the lights marking their ends.  Give them a couple of hundred feet of berth.

The range lights at the head of the entrance are really helpful. Pay attention to them.

It took me about an hour to get through the canal.  It's not long but at night hard to see the marks and know the way.  Chart plotters are the cat's meow.  I would not have attempted the traverse without them. Even if it's only an app on your phone.  I recommend MX Mariner for Android.  It also connects to Active Captain.  You can also use Open CPN which could, in theory, connect to your electronics and do your autopiloting.  But that's another story.

As I exited the canal at the west end around 3:30, the wind was about 12 to 15 on the nose going up Delaware bay.  Not bad.  But by 4:30, it was `18-25, and by 5:00 gusting higher.  The waves were steep and short, perhaps 2-4 feet.  Very uncomfortable but completely do-able.  Pelican is pretty strong.

But then the engine started to sputter.  Then it wouldn't keep headway. So I unfurled the jib and fell off thinking I could sail to a shoal of 9-15 feet, drop the anchor, do the repairs, and be on my way.  This is where the bad judgement comes in.  You can't reasonably anchor in 2-4 foot seas, and worse, the bottom is hard.  Even an 80lb anchor and chain won't hold or grip, although it did slow me down some. 

Even with snubbers, the windlass took a real beating.  It cracked the fiberglass it's mounted on.  Now, I had to get the anchor up with little or no strain on the windlass. 

I got the engine to idle and let it bring me up to the anchor.  With patience, a great deal of swearing, and a lot of stress I got it up.  Now with hardly an engine I decided to retreat.  This was what should have been done first given the conditions.

When the poop hits the fan, go back.  Unless it's safe to stop.  Now I know the limits. 

It was a brilliant downwind sail back to the Cape May Canal - in fact I sailed halfway through it, only taking the sail in when a bridge was I was approaching a bridge.  Fortunately in the calm, the motor worked again and I got into Utsch's Marina safe and sound around 9:00am. 

Here's something:  They remembered me from my passage with Dan and had a gift bag for me.  That was very nice.  And they didn't laugh at my, um, docking.

As I came in, I got hailed by Reverie, with Donna and Ken, asking how I liked the marina.  They had anchored in the canal and were having trouble holding.  A little while later, they made a reservation and now we're off to dinner!

Yay!

Anyway.  fuel filters changed, new fuel pump installed.  Engine runs.  Let's see what happens.





Thursday, September 28, 2017

Now we're getting going!

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of activity - installing AIS (MMSI 367373060 if you care), last minute shopping, loading of tools and storing of other stuff. 

I suspect I've taken too much. 

This morning, final fill of the water tanks, filling fuel and jerry cans (I carry 6 for an additional 180 miles of motoring), putting the last of everything either away or where it won't cause issues, and generally getting to go.

The plan is a shakedown to Manhassett Bay today (about 3 hours) and early bed time.  Tomorrow morning, up at 4, off to catch the ebb through the East River around 6 am, and off to either Sandy Hook, NJ if weather and waves are not in my favor or out to Cape May if it is.  About a 20 hour day or so. 

After that, it's all gravy until Beaufort, NC - the next offshore passage.

Sorry for this short entry but it's a start. 

Sunday, September 03, 2017

Big doings on the hard

It's been three or so years since Pelican's last haul out and for that reason as well as some major projects I've been putting off I toddled off to Nichols Yacht Yard in Mamaroneck, NY. 

In my humble opinion, they are the best yard in the area.  Dennis, the manager, is the most customer centric manager I've seen anywhere - always a smile.  And very easy to talk to.  A font of information.  Arturo, who runs the lift, Robbie who runs the yard, and all the other crew take care of vessels as if they own them.  If I have one gripe about the yard it's the shower nozzle.  It's one with a needle spray and it hurts my head.   

Downtown Mamaroneck is a short walk away.  The Mamaroneck Diner on Post Road has good food served quickly and is generally not crowded.  Mamaroneck Avenue has loads of restaurants from the inexpensive to the wildly so.  Guess which ones I went to.  Also on Post Road is Brewer's Yacht Supply and Hardware Store which has probably everything you'll need for your projects, although it can be expensive.  The people who help there are knowledgeable and really do help.  Good for an hour or so browsing.

Here are the projects I wanted to complete:

  • Close deck drain holes at or below the waterline as they had been redirected to the cove strip area of the boat a week or so before.  That's four 1-1/2" holes to fill.
  • Replace the stuffing box. I think 40 years of service is enough for one.
  • Move the head overboard from an inaccessible area to a new spot below a recently cut hatch in the head sole.  That's another hole to fill and a new one to make.
  • Paint the bottom
  • Add ring nuts to the rudder as an emergency steering system.
  • Close over the port water tank with plywood.  My friend, Leigh, did that.  He's a wizard with wood.  I, on the other hand, know how to make splinters.
  • Replace man overboard pole with a better, more modern solution.
Holes ground out to 10x thickness

The biggest job, by far, is the fiberglass work filling the holes.  A good angle grinder and the sanding cloth wheels makes quick work of grinding off the mushrooms of the through hulls and widening the holes for patching.

This work isn't hard, really, or even interesting.  It's just a lot of it.  First, grind out the head of the through hull.  Then remove the hose/valve from the inside.  Put a piece of Gorilla tape over the hole on the inside of the hull.  This prevents several tons of fiberglass dust from getting all over the boat. 

Next, dish out the hole from the center - about 10 times the thickness of the hull.  But no less than 6" or so.  I use epoxy and biaxial cloth from Raka Industries.  They have epoxies for all purposes but I use their medium thickness, medium hardener which give decent working times in warm weather.  Also, they mix simply with a 2:1 resin to hardener ratio.  You don't need pumps or anything.

Cut the fiberglass in circles starting with one the full diameter of the dish and concentrically smaller by about 1" in diameter.  I usually start with about 6 or 8 circles.  For really thick hull areas you'll need more.

Here's a tip.  You may want to try to use squares.  Don't.  They will peel off from the corners and fall off.  It will make you angry.  Make the circles. 

When working on overhead or downward facing areas, use some colloidal silica to thicken the epoxy.  Otherwise your patches will fall off.  You don't need much - you're not making a putty. 

After mixing thoroughly with the silica, apply epoxy to the cleaned ground out area and to the largest circle.  Apply the circle and use a epoxy roller to roll out the bubbles and make sure the cloth is saturated.  Continue to apply the circles in decreasing diameter until you've got them all in.

At this point, the hole is repaired once set up.  Six layers of biaxial cloth is stronger than any other part of your hull.   At this point, I just add more circles to build up the thickness.

Finally grind smooth-ish and fair with epoxy and fairing compound.    It may take a couple of coats to get it right.

Easy peasy, right?  It just takes time and patience.  It will take two or three days because you have to wait for the epoxy to set each time before grinding or sanding.

In the meantime, leave it alone.  The urge to touch it is great.  At least it is for me.  I should have taken more pictures but sadly, I didn't.

The next project which was to move the head overboard discharge to an accessible position was done.  I struggled with what to replace the seacock with for months - Bronze or Marelon. Back and forth.  Finally, I decided on Marelon.  I had good luck with it on my Ranger 30 20 years ago and it's only gotten better.  So that's what I used.  With help from a friend I measured and gooped and installed and hey, presto!  Now I can reach it.  I had already cut a hatch in the head sole to try to access the old one  (with no luck), so now it's right there.

How to replace a stuffing box:  first you must worry about it for a few years.  This is important because it makes you plan the job.  In theory, it's easy.  Disconnect the shaft and slide back, unclamp old stuffing box and hose, slip new one on, reconnect the shaft and Bob's your uncle. 

One of my least favorite jobs is disconnecting the shaft and removing the coupling.  In most boats, the coupling is a friction fit which in the intervening years has become a rusted fit.  Because the 424 has a V-drive and because the engineers at Walter really thought things out and made the coupling a clamp fit with the coupling itself self-aligning as long as the drive was in the correct place disconnecting it would be easy peasy.  And it really was, excepting, of course the location and the need to work upside down and backwards.

One of the disturbing things I found was that all 8 bolts on the coupling were loose - barely more than hand tight.  A friend of mine had the same issue except his eventually sheared as more and more bolts fell out.  Something to put on the checklist, I guess.

The new stuffing box came with hose and clamps from  Buck-Algonquin, who also make seacocks.  I've used their stuffing boxes before and they're well made as well as decently priced.  The bronze parts of the boxes almost never fail.  The rubber hose, as heavy duty as it is, is the weak part and it's the thing that needs replacement every 40 years or so.  (Really, more often.  Whenever you do any shaft work it should be replaced.)   So although I thought it would be two days to do that job, in reality it was less than one.

So that's three jobs down.

Rudder rings installed
The next job was easy - rudder rings.  You may very well ask what they are and what they're for.  This is old school.  Really old school.  There are three basic modes of failure to rudders and steering systems.  The first, of course, is the cable and drive.  The cables, chains, pins, sheaves, axles, and so forth that get the rotating motion from the binnacle to the rudder post can fail in many, many interesting ways.  The result, of course, is no steering or stuck steering.  Releasing the cables from the quadrant will allow steering with the emergency tiller (like anyone wants to do that for more than a few minutes). 

The next point of failure is the shaft.  In some vessels, the shaft is hollow and can corrode nearly all the way through, usually in the gland that seals the shaft and prevents seawater from entering through the shaft bearings.  At that point, of course, the emergency tiller is useless because it's no longer connected to the rudder.

The third point of failure has to do with the construction of rudders.  Typically, they are foam filled fiberglass shells with the rudder post running vertically towards the front, with tangs welded to the rudder post spreading out towards the rear of the rudder.  These tangs are what really transmit the torque from the rudder post throughout the rudder.  Sadly, the weld that holds them to the rudder post is susceptible to corrosion if constantly wet and when they break, the rudder post turns but the rudder doesn't.  In theory, they don't get wet.  In practice, many times they do shortly after the rudder is constructed.

So, to deal with these types of failures, often the top aft side of the rudder has either a hole or two eye nuts connected through the rudder to attach lines to.  The lines run up the side of the hull to winches or whatever and they, acting in unison, allow the rudder to be moved from side to side.   People who have used them say they're really hard to use but having no steerage at all is far worse.

The next job was painting.  It's not rocket science.  But it does take patience and the ability to roll paint on in thin coats.  Also, wars have broken out about what kind of bottom paint to use.  I use Petit Hydrocoat because paint and I are not on friendly terms and it washes off with water.  Also, it's relatively inexpensive and it dries quickly on a nice day.  Recoat time can be 2 hours allowing complete painting in one day.

I used to use Super Shipbottom, a paint made in Florida by a man and his wife that worked so well because it was 60% copper and had no talc in it.  Talc is the carrier for the bright colors in bottom paint but serves no other useful purpose so his paint was not great at colors - they all had a purplish tinge.  But,  boy did it work.

If you have any desire to make your own bottom paint, Super Shipbottom is for sale.  The company, I mean.

Anyway, the key to a long lasting bottom paint job is make sure the paint on the hull is in good condition even if it no longer works, remove all loose paint, wash the bottom with soap and water and rinse well.  Put new paint on with short nap rollers (1/4" or 3/16") in thin coats.  Put at least two coats on the entire hull.  On high wear areas, like leading edges and waterline down about a foot, put three or more coats.  Done this way a good paint job should last three years without too much cleaning.

The last job was physically easy.  Get rid of my man overboard pole and replace it with an SOS Dan Buoy.  This is a weighted bag you toss towards the man overboard and it self-inflates like a life vest.  It has straps that the poor bastard can hang onto for extra floatation and a light that turns itself on.  The owner can recharge it with a kit and it doesn't take up all the space of the pole.  Highly recommended.  Sadly, as a single hander, I have no one to throw it to me but I live in hope of a mate. 

That's about it for this haul out.  The next chapter is installing and configuring my AIS and replacing the VHF antenna and wire on the main mast.

See you on the water!



Monday, August 21, 2017

The New Adventure Begins



I know it's been a while since I posted (like 7 years!  Yikes!)  but in the interval I started a marine service business, made lots of friends and hardly ever took Pelican out.

That's about to change.

There's a new adventure afoot and it's causing me to work on Pelican on projects that have been piling up for the last years as I worked on everyone else's boat.

One was replacing the port water tank that leaked since I purchased Pelican and caused me to only use the bow and starboard tanks for a mere 110 gallons of water.  Now I'm back to the full 160 gallons.

First, I had to uncover the old tank - the leak was somewhere near the bottom so there was still a few gallons of water in it.  With the cover plate removed water was out in short order with a wet-vac.

That was the easy part.

Next I had to cut the tank out.  That was the hard part.  Also messy.  When I say messy I really mean disasterous.   First with the top open I could see the construction and figure out where the main cuts could go.  Interestingly, if I do the starboard tank I know that all I have to cut is the tabbing but that I figured out too late here.

Also, I figured out that not all vacuums are the same.  I was using the Home Depot vacuum that fits on a 5 gallon pail to catch the dust except for this:  the filter does not catch fiberglass dust.  As I was cutting I looked over to see it blowing the stuff out the back into the v-berth.  That was annoying.

Cutting fiberglass is always difficult but there's a great blade from Rigid - it's a metal cut 4.5" cutoff blade with diamond edges.  It's amazing and makes quick work of it.  It also makes a terrific mess.

All in all, it took about 3 hours to remove the tank in pieces. 

Then it took another three or four hours to clean the boat.  It's amazing how much dust I made. 

It should be noted that I wore a professional mask while working with the fiberglass.  Highly recommended.  In fact, do not work without one.

Finally I laid the bladder tank in the void.  It fits beautifully.  It's a 200L (52 gal.) tank from Plastimo.  It differs from others in that the interior bladder is replaceable - the outer cover is where the strength comes from.

As an aside, it turns out their life rafts are built the same way - replaceable bladders in cordura bags.

Finally, all hooked up and filled.  One of the nice things about the bladder is that there's no vent.  It's not needed.

I'm really happy - let's see how it lasts.  I have a spare, just in case.  Both of them together were less expensive than one of Vetus' tanks.  So there's that.

Another project I've wanted to do since I purchased Pelican was to redirect the deck drains directly out the hull instead of below the waterline with no seacocks.  A stupid and dangerous design especially since two of the hoses had never been replaced (since 1978) because they were hard to get at.

At haul out (future post) the through hulls will be removed and glassed over.

My life raft has been recertified by the lovely people at LRSE in Tiverton RI. They let me watch it being inflated (from an air system, not the cylinder.  That's because you only get three cylinder inflations before you have to replace the raft).  

Here's the raft unpacked from the case and unfolded.


This is the raft inflated until the relief valves lift (how you know it's completely inflated to the proper pressure).
 Finally, this is removing all the equipment for inspection and replacement where required.

LRSE personnel talked me through the opening, what's in the raft, what will be replaced and generally were very helpful.  It turns out the expired food (high protein and calorie cookies, really) not only were still good, but tasty as well. 

The last project tackled here at the marina was to redirect the deck drains out the side of the hull.  In my effort to minimize holes in the boat below the waterline I decided to remove the deck drains - they are 1.5" just below or at the waterline and did not have seacocks.   Worse, two of them still had original hoses on them because they're too hard to access.  So, nearly 40 year old hoses.

They had to go.  I have no pictures but let's say two were easy, one was harder, and the last was nearly impossible.  But job done and at haulout, holes will be plugged.

Well, that's about it for now.  In another day or so Pelican is off to be hauled out and work finished for the major projects.