Mon 18 Jun 2012
Anchored in Cape May, NJ
[photo: Emlen Physick hose museum]
You know it was cool when Duane goes for the sheet and the blanket. After all three of us got snuggled into the berth, it wasn't too long before it was comfy. The captain always sleeps better in a crowded anchorage when the wind is light, and it had moderated a lot since we sunset. One boat close to us left this morning at 0600, so that is better until someone else goes there.
The coffee tasted especially good this morning (always does on a boat for some reason). Duane started some minor boat repairs. The drawer will not stay closed because the flimsy piece of wood broke, so a piece of aluminum stock went in its place. The fresh water pump keeps cycling for a few seconds every 5 minutes or so, which has to indicated a leak, but none can be found. At least the strainer got cleaned.
We lowered the dinghy (loving the modified transom lifting strap) and then cleaned up and took the bicycles to the Corinthian Yacht Club just W of the CG property. As suggested in the ActiveCaptain site, for $5 you can tie up your dinghy there and use their bathrooms. It was nice knowing someone was there watching over the dinghy and they even wanted our cell phone in case of a problem.
We biked up to the E end of Washington St and then W all the way to the pedestrian mall. It was a nice ride; despite the narrow streets and sidewalks, Cape May seems pretty bicycle friendly, even having some bike lanes along some of the main roads. There were many attractive Victorian homes we passed, but we needed to get to the mall where the trolley tour started by 1100. It seems petty to mention it, but a woman in line for the tickets kept asking so many questions that the trolley was almost full when we finally got on and we had horrible seats with no ventilation or chance to take photos.
The 45 minute tour was very interesting and entertaining with the humor the elderly woman added, often jesting with the male driver. About half of us got off near the end of the tour at the Emlen Physick house museum. It was yet another very old home that had only part of its original furnishings, but the tour was again, interesting and entertaining.
One note of interest for my aviation buddies, just after the tour guide instructed us to put or cameras away aince interior photography was not permitted, a B-17 roared overhead for some local event that we had previously been unaware.
Afterwards, we were quite a bit past our normal lunch time so we found a nice place in the mall (Jackson Mountain) and dined al fresco while we watched the parades of people stroll by. Our lunch was very tasty and both of us brought half back for supper. We detoured to the hardware store for the repair item and took our time coming back along the same street. This time we got a few photos, but there are so many mature trees close to the homes that it is not easy to photograph most of them well.
We stopped at the WaWa market, which is really just a convenience store and Diane got just a few items for tomorrow. We plan to re-provision in Beach Haven at our next stop up the coast.
Dinner was the leftover lunch and after all the biking and walking, it was another early night. Most cruisers we know don't stay up late.
Sun 17 Jun 2012
Anchored in Cape May, NJ
[photo: Coast Guard cutter near our anchorage]
Duane could not sleep past 0350, mostly trying to figure out the best way to leave a dock with 1 knot of current behind you and an expensive boat ahead of you. At least with a cup of hot coffee by 0410, the solution was clear. It turns out that like so many predictions, it was wrong; the current at the time of departure was barely 0.2 knots, so it was a non-issue. It was our first pre-dawn departure of the cruise, however, so that was something.
Getting out of the channel at dead low tide gave another pucker factor as we saw less than 6 inches under the keel at one point. Given the astronomical tidal current predictions and the actual wind conditions, we did the best we could. It was far from ideal, but in a 5.5 knot boat, you just can't have the current with you even most of the way traveling our route. In our case, we had some wind for motor-sailing for about half the passage, but it was on the nose for the second half.
Having the current with you is good, but having the wind simultaneously against you means the waves will be higher and steeper than usual. Coupled with Delaware Bay's mostly shallow water, it can be very nasty if the wind pipes up near 15 knots or more. It just got there today near the end of our passage (stronger than forecast), but we were fairly close to the W side of the cape so the fetch was not too bad.
We both had our warm sailing gear on and Duane found himself putting his hands in the fleece-lined pockets pretty often. Our conditions could have been so much worse, but you can see how the shallow Delaware Bay can be a very rough passage at times.
Going through the Cape May canal was a bit frustrating as the current was roaring against us and it took 1.5 hours to go about 6 miles. We are now anchored off the E end of the Coast Guard station property, but the anchorage is a little crowded and we are a bit closer to one boat than I would like.
Our early dinner was the last of the crab cakes (1 pound of crab meat goes a long way), some fresh snow peas and Caribbean-style rice. Duane almost immediately took a 2-hour nap after having so little sleep the previous night. Diane spent quality time with Clyde in the cockpit, although it was getting colder by the minute.
Tomorrow we explore Cape May and weather permitting (forecast looks good) we leave into the Atlantic Ocean for a passage N to Beach Haven. While in NJ, we will be in close proximity to some nice beaches, but the air temperature is too cold for Diane to enjoy it.
Several more boats joined the crowded anchorage before Duane did the final survey of the evening. Despite Duane's nap, both of us retired by 2100.
Sat 16 Jun 2012
Docked at Delaware City Marina, DE
[photo: sharing the C & D canal with a larger veseel]
We are finally on our way after a delay of 8 days. There was zero Internet again this morning, so I cannot check the weather except for the NOAA VHF radio.
As expected, with where we are in the monthly tidal cycle and with the N winds for the past couple of days, the current was against us most of the way up the bay. It finally turned in our favor as we entered the C & D canal, as planned. We are not complaining, but if we were headed S, we would have had a strong favorable current for a long time, plus the wind helping us. In our case, we had a weak favorable current in the canal for a short time. All in all, though, we made the 48 miles in 8.5 hours.
We elected to go into a marina at Delaware City, DE, which required exiting the canal with a favorable current and immediately turning N for well over a mile against a strong current in order to come to the marina from the E. The dockmaster and dock hand were great and we had no issues coming alongside the dock. After getting secure, they spun us around 180 degrees using the current and the dock lines so that we are facing to leave in the morning. This is helpful since the width of the waterway isn't much wider than our boat length and maneuvering with a strong current makes turning around risky.
We tied up at 1730 and paid the bill around 1800. Tim the dockmaster, was very eager to show me all the Internet sites he uses to help Captains plan their passages up and down the Delaware Bay and it took a while to get out of there, but it was very helpful. Diane had planned that we stroll the brick-lined promenade and then walk through the small section downtown. It was really quite charming, in its own way. It was not a touristy downtown at all.
Back at Diva Di, we heated the last of the lasagna, Diane made a delicious salad, and we dined in the cockpit. When Duane dropped a crouton on the cockpit sole, Diane tossed it overboard and by happenstance there were 3 ducks that raced form under the dock to get it. Clyde was very entertained by this, so when they came back our way after dinner, I fed them some bread pieces while Clyde watched in awe.
Rather than leave at noon tomorrow to catch the most favorable tidal current and then get to Cape May near dark, we will leave at 0500 and expect to have a decent run down. The winds are expect to be low in the morning, yet probably enough to get a little boost. Everyone tells us that we don't want strong sailing winds because they make such steep, choppy waves in the shallow bay. We believe them.
Fri 15 Jun 2012
Docked at Worton Creek Marina
[photo: cute Bed and Breakfast in nearby Chestertown, MD]
This is finally our last full day in Worton Creek. It is nothing against anyone here; we just really need to be getting on with the cruise.
Even starting before 0700, I could not get all the rest of the engine back together and all the hoses (including a new one) re-routed and connected before John came by at 0830. I finished 30 minutes later and he got free a little later to run the tests. All looked good, so we cranked it up and had no fuel flow. We had forgotten to turn the fuel tank valve back to open, but soon it was purring like a kitten (well, maybe a lion with indigestion, since it is a diesel engine). John clocked off my job and left me to run the engine under load and monitor it for leaks, strange sounds, and temperature using the infrared thermometer.
All was good 30 minutes later, so I shut it down and used a cooling fan to let it cool down. When it was, I removed the valve cover, rocker arm assembly, and glow plug bus bar to access the cylinder head bolts. Rather than wait for John, I re-torqued each bolt (they all needed a little) and it was good. It is now cooling further for John to do a final "cold" valve clearance check.
Diane has been understandably upset with the major disruption of the boat interior and I haven't been too happy that the cockpit and surrounding area have lots of greasy fingerprints from all the trips on and off the boat. It is difficult to climb in or out of the cabin with the ladder missing (the engine is under the ladder) so grabbing the boat in various places is required. Once the re-torque was done, I set about cleaning up everything as best as I could and then Diane and I re-stowed everything we could. I next scrubbed all the greasy marks off the gelcoat and scrubbed the cockpit area, while Diane did a more thorough job cleaning below. We both feel a lot better now (Duane more than Diane).
As we were stowing the bypass cooling pump, Diane asked if I wanted it in the locker which is very difficult to access since we wouldn't need it again. I remarked that if we keep it handy, we are likely not to need it again. After a brief pause, she said if we needed that again she was flying home. With no pause, I said I would be joining her.
After a short while, John came back aboard to do the final valve clearance check. There were some minor adjustments to be made, and then I buttoned up the rest of the engine, put the cover and ladder back in place and stowed all the tools. Diane and I walked to the marina office to pick up a few last supplies and Duane went to pay the bill.
On the plus side, there was no charge for the 7 nights we stayed at the dock and used their facilities, and they even gave us the use of the electricity at no charge, which I thought was especially generous. Also, the total cost of the parts was considerably less than originally quoted because we had not needed many of them and the ones we really needed were obtained from the Kubota dealer (minus the 100% markup that Universal Marine adds).
On the negative side, the mechanic's time was a bit more than I had hoped for, even though it appeared to be an honest accounting of his time. The total turned out to be a BOAT buck (Break Out Another Thousand), almost to the dollar. It would have been much worse almost anywhere else we would have been for this work, so we are grateful for that, and to Harvey for the recommendation.
After paying the bill about 1630, Diane and I went to the pool with a refreshing beverage. There were some boisterous pre-teens in the pool, but we could tune out their constant chatter and even their splashing. Within an hour, they were gone and we had peace and quiet. Before long, however, it was time to shower and get dinner going. It was a simply re-heat of crab cakes, potatoes, and broccoli with some fresh avocado brightened with some lemon juice. Dinner at the restaurant may or may not have been better and it was $100 we didn't need to spend.
Thu 14 Jun 2012
Docked at Worton Creek Marina
There was, indeed, enough breeze and coolness to the air to sleep comfortably. When Duane awoke around 0600 to let Clyde out in the cockpit, it was actually very cool, and time to put the coffee percolator on the burner. Diane arose fairly early and we had our cereal in the cockpit. It was a good thing, too, for seeing all the gleaming stainless steel tubing reminded her that I still needed to finish part of the starboard side midships. Furthermore, she knew it was best to get it done before the sun rose above the tree line. It was good she remembered or I would have had to endure a long, relaxing, cup of coffee and my book. LOL
The weather is very nice, with mostly sunny blue skies and a gentle NW wind. It will be out of the N or NE over the next few days, so if we leave Fri we will be traveling with the current and against the wind and it will be choppy. Diane has been briefed that the plan is a longish day up to and through the Chesapeake & Delaware canal to Delaware City. Then is will be a fairly long day to Cape May, where we plan to spend 2 nights. Then it will be another long day to Little Egg Inlet and Beach Haven where we plan to spend 2 days. After that, the target is Manasquan Inlet for a quick overnight, and then a relatively short day to Sandy Hook where we expect to spend 2 nights. That is about 275 miles in 7 days, but with the rest days in between, we hope it won't seem so bad.
As of 1145, the parts had arrived and Duane retrieved them from the office and confirmed on the boat that they were the correct ones (yay!). I started doing a final cleaning up of the gasket surfaces and am now awaiting the mechanic to return from lunch and we will get going.
Well, the overall outcome of the afternoon's work was good, but we encountered several delaying problems and the engine is still not quite together and tested. First, the gear case gasket was not exactly correct. There are 4 O-rings that need to have clearance on the gasket, so I suggested we open them up. A hole punch didn't work since we found out the gasket is thin metal covered in thin rubber and the punch wouldn't cut it. The final solution was a carbide nib in an air grinder using the old gasket as a reference. That put us back over an hour and at least $100.
Diane had wisely left the boat with the bicycle, but went the long way to her chosen destination and was dehydrated when she finally made it back. She then headed for the pool to leave us to our task.
Near 1700, we had the majority of the engine reassembled, but the mechanic wants to run the engine as a test and get it hot. When it cools we will re-torque the head bolts and check/adjust the valve clearances. John was agreeable to continue into the evening, but I know that we would still not be in a position to leave early tomorrow, so why push it. We will carry on tomorrow morning and hope that we can catch the northerly current around 1300 and get at least to the entrance to the C & D canal.
Duane cleaned up the boat a bit and headed for the shower. The pool was already locked, but having hand-washed the clothing and sitting wet in the breeze at the top of the hill cooled him off quickly and thoroughly.
Dinner was excellent and well-deserved after the day's ordeal. We had made crab cakes earlier in the morning and heated them along with the leftover mashed potato/onion mixture and some fresh broccoli.
It is a very pleasant evening and we were reading in the cockpit when a dock-mate came calling. Slightly different than the original story, it turns out that his boat was not tied to the dock properly and when it drifted away with a wind shift, the electrical cord ripped the socket out of the power pole. I helped him re-connect all 4 wires to the connector and reattach it to the pole. His wife confirmed that all was working OK and I went back to our boat.
It will likely be an early night again tonight.
Tue 12 Jun 2012
Docked at Worton Creek Marina
[photo: finally got the engine apart enough to replace the camshaft]
We had quite a rain in the early morning, but left the air conditioning on to help lower the humidity. Looking at the deck and cockpit, however, you would never suspect we had a hard rain since it was still marred with recent bird droppings and the remains of hundreds of insects. It bothered me enough that I got out the brush and soap and did a quick job of cleaning it off.
We both slept later than usual after our revelry the night before and got to see Harvey off in the boat and Sara off in the car. I then tackled disassembling the engine as far as I could in about an hour. Trying to track down the mechanic is difficult because he is being pulled in many directions and there is always somebody with "just a quick job" that needs to be done. The only thing that prevents me from getting too concerned is that we are still awaiting parts for the reassembly, so we are not necessarily losing time.
Our new buddies (Craig and Peggy) with the fuel pump problem look to be fixed (that was one of the "quick jobs"), but they are staying the night anyway. We expect to see them later and hopefully we will be celebrating some measure of progress on our engine by then.
Near noon, the mechanic arrived and we got to work in earnest. Working alongside John was a real pleasure. He obviously knows what he is doing, and he is willing to share and discuss along the way to the betterment of your knowledge. We had the cylinder head and gear case off in less than an hour and while John took the head to the shop to scrape off the gasket residue and remove all the flaking paint, I stayed at the boat to carefully clean the block. You don't dare let any residue fall into the crankcase where it could clog the narrow oil galleries.
When John returned, I had the sad task of reporting that the gear case gasket was obviously wrong. He then opened the head gasket package and confirmed that it was wrong, too. Not a good feeling. We hoofed back to the office and got the parts manager, James, involved. Working in our favor was the fact that I/we had supplied the exact model number and serial number of the engine, but at the same time, the crew here at Worton Creek did not have a parts list for the M-35B and so used the M-35 parts list. So, they very specifically ordered the wrong parts, although they rely on their suppliers to cross-check them in cases like this.
Based upon what I overheard, I don't think they have any intention of trying to penalize me financially for the mistake, although we will lose another 2 days. If all goes well, we will have been here a full 7 days, which is a long time.
After moving as many of the parts and stuff as possible, I put the engine cover and ladder back on so we could exist in the boat with a little room, but the kitty litter box was not in its normal spot and there was litter tracked all over the boat by morning; Diane was not at all happy.
I got off the boat to have a last visit with Craig and Peggy, who served some tasty snacks. After that nice visit, I moved to another boat owned by Dick and Judy since they said they had lots of cruising info to share about our points north. I was there for a short while and enjoyed the company and the info.
Back at Diva Di, I reheated the lasagna for us and it was mighty tasty on a wet, dreary evening. Unfortunately, the humidity and warmth got to Duane in the middle of the night so he went out in the cockpit and switched the shore power cable from the A/C receptacle to the house receptacle. We have two separate cords that could have been used, but one was stowed where getting it would have been a nightmare due to the engine parts scattered about. It was easier to just switch the cable.