07/20/2011, Up North
I've had inquiries from a couple of friends wondering what's going on with us, since I haven't written in the blog lately. Well, we're not with Earendil. I guess I figure that life on land is not worth blogging about. But I will do a quick fill-in for all of you.
Living aboard with the boat on the hard was difficult. Living aboard on the hard with the engine being replaced would have been really difficult, especially since the daytime temperatures were staying in the 90's. So we packed up our stuff into the new old car (now affectionately know as the Land Barge or Grandpamobile) and headed off north.
The first weekend we came back to Western New York and our roots. This photo was taken Sunday afternoon on June 19th after the crowds for the Father's Day Breakfast had left the Tuscarora Yacht Club. It was great to see all of our old friends and all of the people who had inspired, instructed and encouraged us. TYC is a big part of why we are now living aboard (or will be again soon, I hope). That first weekend we also visited our families and then headed east to visit Jon and Arlene at Fairpoint Marina on Little Sodus Bay.
From there we headed west and came to Saint Clair Shores, Michigan, where we have been staying with our daughter and grandson. Our grandson, Adler, just turned two the second of June and it has been great to get to know him again. He is much more verbal than when I left him last December. He may be more articulate and more opinionated than his momma was at that age, and that's saying something. He's loads of fun and a lot of work. Taking him out for several hours is much more tiring than a sail of the same duration. I can't wait until he's old enough to sail with us; with the rate he's growing and learning it won't be too long.
Meanwhile, work on the boat continues. Gary has been keeping an eye on things and sent some photos that enabled us to stop what might have been a mistake in the design of the arch we're having built on the stern. They were supposed to send us sketches of the design before work began, but Gary's pictures showed the beginning of the arch and no sketches. I called and that got straightened out. There's also been a setback for the marina and us in the engine rebuild. The new v-drive transmission didn't fit down between the stringers in the engine room. The stringers make up the frame of the boat. St. Augustine Marine Center brought in their marine engineer and they decided to take material off the inside of the stringers and add it back on the outside. That also meant they had to move a number of electric cables that ran along the outside of the starboard (right) stringer. In addition, they found our old propeller shaft was too short for the new set-up. We agreed to pay more, they are giving us the shaft at their cost and shaving some profit from the labor side, but in the end we all hope to be happy with the outcome. I'd be more concerned about someone messing with our boat frame if it wasn't a marina that actually builds boats. While we were there they pulled a 76-foot trawler (the Walrus) that had been built there. It's a beautiful boat and the reviews seem to be good, so we're hoping they're as successful with our alterations.
Today I finished making new covers for our cockpit cushions. I brought the old covers and tore them apart and used them as my patterns. It wasn't an easy task, and without the actual cushions, I'm not sure how they'll fit.
So that's about it. I'll update the blog again once we have more progress.
06/12/2011, St. Augustine Marine Center, St. Augustine , FL
Earendil was pulled on Wednesday. Here she is up on jack stands. Our new car is parked next to her. We bought that on Tuesday, it's a 1998 Ford Crown Victoria. So we are officially Americans again. I put photos of Earendil coming out of the water and being moved across the marina in a new album in the gallery.
As soon as we got the car, we went out and bought a room air conditioner, which sits in the companionway and keeps the salon pretty livable in the 90+ heat. We have a hard time getting the cool air back to the aft cabin, but it's OK. What's worse is having no usable toilet on board. It's not very convenient to have to climb up out of the companionway and over the air conditioner, then down a ladder and then walk across the yard to the bathroom.
We are trying to get all our business done and things lined up so we can come north for a while. So far the insurance survey is finished, the sails are at the sail shop, the dinghy is being evaluated to find the slow leak, the bottom is scraped and the chip in the keel partially repaired. Bud emptied our extra cans of fuel into the tanks and our dinghy fuel into the car. We have a contract for replacing the engine, and a quote for cleaning the engine room and bilge while the engine is out. The rigger has been on board and will give us a quote soon. We still have to get a quote from the fabricator on reinforcing the floor under the batteries (which we will do) and building an arch (which we want to do, but may not depending on the other estimates).
Just before we leave we'll take everything we can off the deck and lash down everything else. We also need to disconnect the companionway steps and the batteries, to make it easier for the marina to pull the old engine out and install the new one.
We hope to head for Detroit later this week. I'll post when we do.
06/06/2011, St. Augustine Marine Center, St. Augustine , FL
We moved the boat today to St. Augustine Marine Center. We will be having a new engine and new shrouds installed here. We had the in-water part of our insurance survey done. The boat will be pulled in a day or two and we will have the survey finished. We've gotten one quote on an arch, but that was pretty high, so are getting at least one more. When we got here we took the main and jib off. We're having them cleaned, inspected and repaired. We're going to clean and pack the staysail ourselves, because it's small enough for us to handle. I took this photo of Earendil at her new dock with her sails off, waiting to be picked up.
Meanwhile, we're shopping for a cheap used car, which is very painful. We've contacted several private sellers but the only two that replied were obvious scams. We've been to twelve dealers and driven seven and a half cars. The half was an Olds Intrigue whose front end was so loose we didn't get it off the lot. So far, no car. Since we're in the used car market we find that used cars are at a premium because of the success of the cash for clunkers program. Somehow we missed that last fall when we sold our cars. Our policy of buying high and selling cheap continues. Anyway, the bikes are back on the road, so that's good.
Before long I imagine we'll be heading north. I'm still not sure if I'll fly up ahead of Bud or not. I'll update the blog once the work starts and our plans gel.
We moved the boat about 4 miles yesterday to this marina along the San Sebastian River. Now instead of being along the ICW and right across from the historic downtown section of St. Augustine, we're along US 1. But the upside is that we're very close to a grocery store and West Marine and other shopping, and this place costs about a third what the municipal marina costs. And it's still clean and pretty nice and has a laundry.
I haven't heard back about boat insurance, so we don't yet know if we will stay here. It would be nice not to move the boat further north. The problem with going north is that I haven't found a good boat yard between Brunswick, GA, where the insurance wants us, and Savannah. And we don't want to take the boat all the way back to the north side of Georgia.
We took advantage of our new location today and did some shopping. Bud went grocery shopping this morning. When he came back I borrowed one of the marina bikes and went to Target, or tried to go to Target. Target is right down US 1 on the left (as you're going south). On my first attempt I rode the bike on the wrong side of the street so I wouldn't miss it. I rode a bit over 2 miles down and didn't see a Target, but I'd passed a K-Mart, so I turned around and went in there. I got some of the things we needed and headed back. I still didn't see Target.
Bud told me I'd ridden right past it. I looked it up on the computer and saw it was just 0.8 miles down US 1. After lunch I set out again. This time I was going to stop first at the Pet Supermarket to get Fuzzy some food. We'd been out of the kind he needs for a while and had been mixing rice or potatoes with his food every night to cut down on the protein. He's so old he can't handle a lot of protein. I found the food we used to buy him and got a bag and the four cans they had in stock. That was heavy enough that I decided to bring it back to the boat before I went back to Target. Then I headed out again. This time I was on the right side of the road, and I saw Target, set well back from the road behind trees with no sign out on US 1. I crossed the four lanes of traffic and the median strip and rode up to the bike rack. I went to lock the bike and realized I'd left the lock in the bag of dog food back on the boat. So I rode back to the boat again. Finally I arrived at Target with the bike and lock and was able to go inside and shop. At this point I'd biked about four miles in 90-degree weather with high humidity. I was dripping with sweat. I took my time shopping so I'd cool down before I had to leave. I did find a round cookie sheet (or pizza pan) small enough to fit in our oven, so that was a success. I also got a new laundry bag. We'd been using an old one of our daughter's. It worked find, but the cloth had a stiff coating on the inside that was starting to crumble off and would get on the clothes and then on the floor every time we used it. I had gotten a new entry rug for the bottom of the companionway at K-Mart. The one we had there we'd meant to replace before we left Wilson, but hadn't gotten around to it and then never had the time or opportunity since.
So I guess you could say we're settling in here, I just hope we can use this as our base for the summer. The photo is of the pavilion at the marina, which used to be Oyster Creek and is now River's Edge. It's not the new grilling station at TYC, but it will do.
05/19/2011, St. Augustine Municipal Marina, St. Augustine , FL
We made it back here yesterday. We passed this "houseboat" along the way. We remembered this from the way down, it's still there and appears to still be used as a residence, although it's obviously not moved.
We came back to the municipal marina and are about 3 slips from where we were last January. Gary stopped by and we talked for a bit. Bud and I were pretty tired, so that's all we did. When Gary left we made a simple supper on the boat and went to bed.
This morning we started to tackle the things we need to address. Bud started working on the outboard for the dingy. I started to research insurance companies and marinas. After Bud emptied the carburetor float bowl again the engine ran. We have a device used to feed water from a hose to an outboard cooling system (we've kept it for some reason from our first boat, an inboard/outboard). So Bud has been able to run the dinghy engine while it's clamped to the stern rail of the big boat. He ran it until it warmed up and then changed the oil again (which was foamy). He's going to run it some more tomorrow and then do another oil change, but it's running pretty smoothly now.
We were also able to empty our forward holding tank, which didn't get successfully pumped out using the hand pump overboard when we were crossing from the Bahamas nor when we used the pump out at Port Canaveral. This time we had to open the viewing port of the tank (very stinky) and use a pipe hooked to the marina pump out nozzle run right into the tank. The marina made the pipe because they have run into this problem before. Once the tank was empty, Bud sprayed out the inside with water and I sprayed water down the opening you usually use for pumping out. That may have been the problem as Bud said quite a bit of gunk came out when I did that. Anyway, we hope we have that tank working again. While they had the pump out hose at our boat we pumped the aft tank. Unfortunately for the marina, when the guy went to leave he couldn't find his new pipe attachment. He had laid it down on the finger dock. The only thing we can think is that the hose knocked it into the water while we were pumping the aft tank.
And Bud drilled a hole for a pin through our new flagstaff. I sanded the flagstaff and applied a first coat of teak oil. After another few coats of teak oil we'll mount our new flag.
I called a marina in the area that seemed to have good rates. I also have an agent in Jacksonville working on finding reasonable insurance for us (hopefully). Gary came by in the afternoon and we drove over to the marina I called. It seems like a reasonable deal so we signed up for a dock for the week. We'll be moving the boat over there tomorrow. If the insurance works out we'll probably change to a monthly rate and that will be our base for the season.
The bad news in all this progress is that I talked to the guy at New Jersey Diesel who was supposed to have parts for our Lehman-Peugeot. He didn't, but kindly offered to make a few calls to try to see what was out there. He called back about an hour later to advise us to repower with a Yanmar. Parts for our engine just aren't available anymore. So once we know where we'll be staying, we'll be shopping for a yard to install a new engine.
Now that we're here, I'll update this blog only every few days or as something changes, just to keep folks up to date on our off season progress.
05/17/2011, Halifax Harbor Marina, Daytona Beach, FL
Well, we're back on the Intracoastal Waterway, this time headed north. Dock lines and the electrical cord get left on the deck, because we won't be heeled under sail and we know we'll be plugged in again at night. It's nice to have 110 every night, to run the air conditioner, to have TV and to charge the computer. It's nice to use the electric coffee maker in the morning. We may not be able to do that all season, but as long as we don't have a dinghy running we'll be at docks, so we might as well enjoy it.
And it's still beautiful to be out on the water. Florida, for all it's people and hustle is still full of wildlife. Today we saw dolphins and manatees and turtles (we think loggerheads). We passed a little island covered with pelicans. I took this picture as we passed. We thought it might be a rookery, but it looks like there are other kinds of birds, too.
We continue to go slowly. It took a while for the wind to start today and by the time the wind picked up to fill the staysail, so did the tide. We had it going with us while Bud was trying to hold the boat in place and wait for a bridge to open. Not long after that we passed the inlet and now we were going upstream...slowly. But we persevered and made it to this municipal marina with floating docks (no pilings) and even though the wind was blowing like crazy when we pulled in to the dock, we had no trouble.
And there is a West Marine right at the marina. We knew we were back home again when we spent 45 minutes and $350 at West Marine. Tomorrow we are headed to St. Augustine, and once we get there we will try to figure out what we're going to have done to the boat, where we'll have the work done, and where we'll be while it's done. There's also a lot of work we want to do ourselves, and we need to figure out where and when we'll do that. The idea of doing a bit of work each day on the boat while you're cruising didn't seem to work. It's hard to clean and polish when you have no good source of fresh water. You're reluctant to do other repairs since you know if you break something or lose a part you will probably have to have it's replacement shipped to you. So the boat gets a minimum of attention and you really need to do a deliberate maintenance stop. I don't think it has to be in the US (in fact, it's probably cheaper in some other countries) but since we needed to come back here for our family this is where we'll do the work.