09/05/2010, Maimi, Florida
What's a sailor to do when he gets stuck on land for a while doing projects at home? You get back on the water on a cruise ship. That's right--Tracy and I are headed for Miami for a four day cruise on the Norwegian Cruise Ship Sky. We got a call a few weeks ago from Norwegian asking us if we would be interested in taking a very much discounted trip. Well we have been aboard Norwegian a time or two and since we were just about done fixing things around the house and I would be back from my diesel school in New Jersey, what the heck. Let's go!!
We've been off the water for the last three months and the call was to go back to the water again and hey--we'll even let them pamper us for a few days.
As I type this, we're sitting in a U.S. Airways jet headed for Miami after a nice flight to Charlotte. The beverage cart is getting wheeled down the aisle and we are raring to get back out there. Now this time the circumstances will be a bit different. No more getting up at 0 dark thirty to up the anchor and head out for another cove or hoping that the engine starts when you turn the key. This time, we will let someone else do it and we will sit back and enjoy ourselves.
We leave Miami on Monday afternoon for Freeport on Grand Bahama Island then over to Nassau on New Providence Island. The last day is at their private island of Grand Stirrup Cay for a bit of fun in the Sun, well maybe some rain. At least that is what is forecast for the next few days. I guess time will tell. We did pack some rain gear just incase but being sailors, what the heck, a bit of water won't hurt us.
Any way, that what we are up to so stay tuned for more of our little get away. I'll post some pictures as soon as I can.
I tried to upload some pictures of class, but I screwed it up and now I'm locked out of that ability. I'll try and get this problem corrected and get them up as soon as possible.
08/26/2010, Union, NJ
For those of you that have been following my blog, you might remember that I signed up for a diesel school in Newark, NJ. Well, I just finished my three day class and it was GREAT!!!
I set out for New Jersey on Monday to make sure I got here easily in time for class on Tuesday. Only one delay--getting out of Denver which almost made me miss my connection in Charlotte, NC. Got in to Newark, NJ and took a taxi to my hotel--Garden State Motor Lodge Motel a couple of miles from the school. Not the best, but nice and clean and off the BUSY Route 22 with all its trucks and cars. It's also $30.00 less per night than the Holiday Inn the school recommended. I skipped renting a car as I was going to be in class all day and at over $100 a day for the car, I could take taxis to the hotel($42.00) and the New Jersey Transit goes right past the school so for $1.50, they practically dropped me off at the front door in plenty of time for class. Our teacher(Larry Berlin) even dropped me off at the hotel after class each day. Larry has been with Mack Boring for 41 YEARS!! He knows his engines inside and out.
The first day, we covered the basics of diesel engines. There were six of us in class with 5 sailers and 1 power boater. As the class was geared to sailers, the power boater only stayed for the first day and is returning for the power boat class in October.
All of us brought our own owners manual and parts books. Now Mack Boring specializes in Yanmar engines but the class covers just about every type of engine which is why we all needed our own manuals. We were each referring to them all through each of the classes. The classroom has at least 8 different models(from a single cylinder engine to a 6 cylinder model) We covered EVERYTHING on the engine(part by part) the first day with lots of question and answer sessions. Only one of the students had a Yanmar engine, but what the heck, a diesel engine is a diesel engine. The cases and arrangement of the different things on the engines may look different, but an engine is an engine. While I have taken at least two beginner classes while in Washington state and have lived aboard our boat for the last two years, I still learned a lot not only during the first day but lots more during the second two days.
During the last two days(class getting up close and dirty with an engine) we took off the raw water pump, as well as the fresh water pump. On to the heat exchanger and on and on. Take it off, inspect what we had in our hands and put it back on all with Larry right there showing us what we had to work on and what to do to take it off and how to put it back on(the right way). Today, we took off injectors(plus he showed us how they work and what makes up an injector, as well as working on tightening the cylinder head bolts. On to adjusting the valves with wrenches and feeler gauges. Heck, I even got to wear long pants for the first time in almost 6 months.
For all of you out there that have a diesel engine and want not only a "how to" if you are feeling insecure about your engine or are new to this type of engines, I can't say enough nice things about this school. Now you can take one at the Annapolis School with it's two part school as a bigger price or take this two part class as back to back over just a three day period and get knowledge as well as nice and dirty digging into an engine that if you screw it up, what the heck, it's not your engine and Larry will show you what you did wrong. It's a win win school.
I've added a few pictures of the school and the classroom. If you have any question, please feel free to leave me a comment and I will get back with you.
08/18/2010, still stuck in Aurora
It's been a year since we took off from Port Townsend and we've covered a lot of miles since we left. Out Juan de Fuca and down the west coast of the USA and Baja. Up into the Sea of Cortez and then the trip home to Colorado.
First the intermittent fog as we made our way out Juan de Fuca and then our first sighting of a whale right beside the boat(I could have jumped on his back). Heading south along the coast watching for crab pots and freighters and enjoying the sail. Into Newport, OR and meeting up with friends and fixing things that went wrong during our first passage--transmission cooler and a broken propane hose. The transmission cooler wasn't broken, the transmission was(later repaired in Los Angeles) and the broken hose leaked propane all over the inside of the cabin. We're lucky we didn't go boom on the trip. We put big fans blowing lots of air down into the bilge to make sure all of it was out. The hose had been replaced earlier as the original wasn't up to current code. I put the original back on and it has served us well ever since.
Off for parts farther south--Fort Bragg, Crescent City and on to San Francisco where we met up with our son for a few days. Off again for Santa Barbara and The islands off the coast of California where we spent several weeks.
At Catalina Island, we blew the oil cooler for the engine and I luckily had a replacement after listening to sound advise from another boater(Jay Wiggins on Moon Angel) to always have spares on board as you never know when they will break. Ours developed a hole and allowed sea water to get into the engine oil(really bad for the engine). We had the transmission taken out and repaired for the third time while in Los Angeles. It's been fine ever since(YEA!)
On to San Diego where we installed our short wave radio so me could make contact with the outside world as our cell phones wouldn't work in Mexico.
There were lots of stops along the coast as we made our way south. We even got a shoreside view of Pebble Beach golf course.
In November, we crossed over into Mexico and made our way to Ensenada for checking in and getting used to the ways of Mexico. On down the coast as we made our way toward Cabo San Lucas. Along the way, our hydraulic steering blew and we had to limp into Cabo where we spent the better part of a week getting the parts and fixing it.
Around the horn of Baja California Sur and up into the Sea of Cortez. Trapped for 6 days in Los Frailes by strong winds from the north and then on to La Paz. Our son joined us for a nice Christmas holiday where I got stupid and poured water into the diesel tanks. That slowed down the festivities but we got it cleaned out and took off for the islands just north of La Paz. Back to La Paz to let our son off so he could go home and then slowly up the Baja coast toward Escondido and on Bahia Conseptcion. Back to La Paz and over to Mazatlan.
Up the mainland coast to Topolabampo and on the Guaymas and San Carlos for our haul out and our trip home in Mid June.
It's been a great year of exploration and adventure and a tremendous amount of learning. We had a lot of great times(seeing our son and exploring the many towns and villages we stopped at) along with a few bad times(things broke). We are lucky to have a great boat to sail(and motor) on as we have covered well over 4,800 miles in the last year and over 7,000 if you throw in our trip to Juneau in April of last year. Not bad for some novices who knew so little about the realities of really sailing the big bad ocean. Having been lake sailers for so many years(since 1981), let me tell you, there is a big difference between the two. Yeah, the sails pull the same but moving up from a 26 foot boat with systems that can be counted on one hand to a 46 footer that I'd have to take my shoes off to count all the systems on her has a real learning curve. It's been a steep hill but we've made it so far and have no intension of turning back. We'll be in Colorado till the hurricane season ends and then return to San Carlos and do a few more jobs and repairs and then head back out for more places south.
It's not all been fun and games and relaxing as everyone imagines, but the good has far out weighted the bad with the bad being a distant memory and the good still being what is remembered so well. We hope that what comes next will be as good as what came before.
Oh, the picture at the top is my hat. I bought it a couple of years ago at one of the boat shows and it finally started coming apart when it got washed(boy was it dirty) when we got home. I guess only the salt residue from sailing was holding it all together.
08/17/2010, still stuck in Aurora
We're in the home stretch!!! The trim is just about done. We walked around the house on Sunday and looked at each remaining piece of old trim to see if it had any swelling and needed replacing. Only one window is now under observation and one piece between two windows. We had to judge each since we are quickly running out of the 3.5 inch wide boards while we have a good bit of the 5.5 inch board left. We'll make the decision as to wether they will get done or not today. Then, all we have to do is go back and touch up all the paint around the house. Some of the paint on the siding needs a second(or third) coat. Most of the trim needs another coat but I doubt it will get it as we are quickly getting over this long and tedious job. Every night, our best friend is Motrin or Tylenol.
Yesterday was spent cutting and manicuring the grass around the house. I'd put another layer of fertilizer on it just over a week ago(just before a big rain) and it took it to heart and the growth took off. It took two plastic bags to hold it all. Normally, it only takes one. I even took an edger and cleaned up the edges and then vacuumed around the sidewalk to get up what was left of the clippings. I'm sure my parents are laughing(some where up there) as I hated mowing our grass and doing yard work growing up and now I'm out vacuuming my grass! I have to admit, our house and grass looks great this year. We've now been back just about two months and it shows.
Today, I go in for my physical to make sure all is well and get prescriptions refilled. Boy what fun. Then off the pick up parts we ordered(more spares)for our Honda Generator. Another mufflers(last one is on its last legs) as well as a new pull cord mechanism as I'm sure one of these times I'm going to pull on the cord and the mechanism is going to fly apart. She's well over 10 years old and the salt water over the last 2+ years has taken their toll.
The rudder for Sloop to Nuts(our local boat) is almost ready for her bottom paint. Probably this afternoon. After 6 coats of epoxy, she's all sealed.
And the jobs just keep getting clicked off.
08/14/2010, still stuck in Aurora
And so goes the trim. Rip off the old(carefully), scrape off the old caulk from the siding, measure the old board, cut the new. Then Tracy puts the first and many times the second coat of paint(rotten paint-don't buy Valspar paint) on it(easier that way). Then hold the board in place and fit it--recut--fit it again and nail it up and move on to the next board. Once we have a few windows done, and Mother Nature starts thinking of raining, we start to clean up the back deck(where we work) and I start applying caulk to the edges and seams of the boards. I got lucky and found a caulk from GE that matches the color Tracy picked out for the trim boards so that makes the last touch up paint job easier or not necessary. I like this caulk much better as it doesn't leave a big mess and wipes off my hands easily. It dries to rainproof in three hours so the rain threat is lessened. The last thing we do is remove all the nails from the old trim so we can stack the boards so the trash man will take them away. I have to cut them into three foot lengths so he will take them(not that Waste Management is picky mind you) plus bundle them with twine into easily manageable piles.
The worst job was doing under the sliding glass door on the back deck. We'd built the deck back in 1997 and luckily had used stainless steel screws so they came right out(most of them). I had to custom fit the new trim board as it had to be jammed between the bottom of the door and the ledger board that fastens the deck to the house. As with most boards, it was 2.25" on one edge and 2.75 on the other end of the board. No saw(not circular nor band saw) I had could cut the board lengthwise(this is a HARD board) so I had to use a hand saw to do the job. Being a rough cut( I couldn't cut a straight line if my life depended on it with a hand saw-line or no line on the board), I had to use a belt sander to smooth it out so it would fit properly. Then on goes lots of caulk into the area and in goes the board with lots of nails and it was done. Re screw the deck boards and on to the next window. The nice thing about this stuff is that it will never absorb water so there will be no more split boards around out house where water is prevalent(North side).
We're about 70% done with a few more windows to do and a few edge boards needing attention but we have lots of trim left so we will probably change out some boards that while they don't look that bad, could use replacement. Why not if we have the boards just sitting there. Better us that to sell them to the neighbor and then find we need them in a year or two when we return home again.
I think we may take today off as the past week has been tough on both of us(it sucks once you are past 50). We were both pretty well wiped out yesterday by the time we stopped working and got the back cleaned up and tools put away.
Oh, to be back on Zephyr enjoying a nice quiet deserted cove some where along the Baja coast. Yeah, I know it's hot and humid there but the jobs are easier.
The picture at the top is of one of our local friends that goes in and out of our yard. We've had them for years so I keep them well fed when we are home. Tracy took out an ear of corn a week or so ago and one(a mother squirrel) came right up to her and urged her to get that ear of corn out for her to nosh on. She was less than a foot away from her. No fear!