Spring Cleaning and Maintenance 2007
22 April 2007 | Whortonsville, NC
Doug and Sheryl leaving Ensign Harbor
We managed to get Southern Star home from the boatyard last weekend without incident and we were looking forward to spending some time getting her in shape for the season. I had not done a great job of keeping her clean while in the yard but in my defense, I have noticed that boats end to stay much cleaner when they are in the water simply because there is less dirt in close proximity. The very first mate was not happy with the overall cleanliness of the boat so she made it her priority to attack the boatyard grime, pollen, and ever present mold and mildew. My plan was to get the ship's systems in as good a shape as her cabin so we could relax and enjoy some spring sailing.
Friday April 20, 2007
I officially became a home-based associate this week. Working from home eliminates driving to Charlotte each day. It's also very handy when we are going to the coast and I get to start 35 miles closer to the boat. We left at 4:30 and arrived a predictable 5 hours later. The weather was a little cool than we had hoped but we got the cabin heater going and were very comfortable while sleeping.
Saturday April 21, 2007
We rose a little earlier than usual on Saturday because there was a nautical flea market starting at 8 am in Oriental. We had a Southern Star special breakfast of coffee and instant oatmeal and left for town. Our friends Doug and Sheryl had set up to sell some of their extra gear but we were shopping for bargains. I bought a spare transducer for our depth sounder and some hard to find hardware. Judy bought an ice crusher for a really good price.
We returned to the boat around 10 am to commence the chores. My weekend goal was to change engine oil and filter and replace the fuel filter. These are the two messiest maintenance chores and I wanted to get them both done and out of the way. Changing engine oil in an automobile is a fairly simple task. You just drain the oil out of the engine into a pan or container, replace the filter and then pour the new oil into the engine. The process is a bit more complicated in an auxiliary sailboat. The diesel engine is always located as low as possible and in the bowels of the vessel. Draining anything from an engine in this location is impossible. Even if you could remove the oil pan plug, it would be difficult to drain anywhere except into the bilge where the spillage would end up in the river. This is a definite No-No. The only practical way to remove the old oil is to pump it up through the dipstick tube. I use a hand pump and each time I do, I swear I will have a better arrangement next time I change oil. It is almost impossible to pump the black sludge out of the engine into a container without getting it on the cabin sole (floor) and all over your hands. Changing the fuel filter is equally as nasty because when you remove the filter it is full of fuel which makes a mess, then after you install the new filter, you must "bleed" the air out of the fuel line which requires opening a port near the filter and leaving it open until pure fuel (no air) starts coming out. I managed to get both jobs accomplished without alarming the first mate too much. I did a few other tasks as well. I re-installed the teak door for the starboard side of the engine compartment that I had fixed last week at home. I also did a passable repair on the 12-volt outlet on the navigation station. I'm afraid it will need to be replaced but maybe it will last for a while.
The whole time I was busy with my chores the first mate was busy with hers. She thinks I don't notice that the boat is much cleaner and neater when she is around, but I do notice.
She uses vinegar to clean the boat. It does a pretty good job of getting rid of mildew and other grime and I think it has a fresh clean smell.
Southern Star is officially ready for the season. She has new bottom paint, clean shiny topsides, a clean cabin and fresh oil in the engine. I hope she feels as good as she looks because she is in the best shape since she has been ours. If we waited for everything on the "list" to be done, we would never go sailing, and that is not an option. At this writing we are planning a sailing trip next weekend. Boat chores are hard work and we were both ready to relax by late afternoon. We debated whether to go into town to get dinner, or just cook something aboard. Cooking aboard seemed to be less of an effort so Judy cooked one of my favorite meals, salmon cakes, rice and green beans. It was delicious and we were both hungry. After dinner we showered and visited with Bill, Susan and their dinner guest Art, aboard their new old Pearson 35 Bona-Fide. We turned in as soon as we got back aboard Southern Star.
Sunday April 22, 2007
The first thing on the agenda for Sunday was a happy birthday phone call to my Dad who is celebrating his 84th. He seemed to be in good spirits. I did him a favor by speaking the greeting and not singing. We started packing and getting ready to leave. This usually takes a while because we have so much visiting to do. A simple trip to the car to take a loaded cart can easily take 30 minutes. We work this into the schedule because we enjoy the visiting much more than the packing.
Sunday was a bit of a sad day for us. Our friends Doug and Sheryl (pictured above), who I have mentioned many times in previous logs, left Ensign Harbor for the last time today. They are moving their boat Prudence to New Bern, where they plan to live aboard for most of the summer in anticipation to their multi-year cruise to the Caribbean. We wish them all the best. They will be missed at the dock. We do hope to see them at least a few more times this summer before they head south.
We left Ensign Harbor about 9:30 and headed for Raleigh. Our son Matthew was at NC State for a special event that he helped organize when he was in school there. We plan to meet him for lunch and take him to the airport for the flight back to Boston. We enjoyed a fine trip this time and hope to be back on the water as early as next weekend.