First Boat Check January 2014
22 January 2014 | Whortonsville, NC
For obvious reasons our trips to the coast are much less frequent in cold weather, however it is necessary to check on our vessel periodically no matter what the weather. I am really lucky to have a first mate that sticks with me through thick and thin. When I expressed an interest in making the trip knowing that the daytime temps were going to be in the low 40s, night time in the high 20s with a howling west wind at 20 to 25 knots, she said “OK but I have had a long week and I would rather not cook”. So her only condition was that we go out to eat on Saturday night. I venture to say that most ladies’ response would be “Have a nice time!” It has been this way for, dare I say it, over 40 years so it is not like we are newlyweds or anything. It is really great to be married to your best friend.
This is not our first trip of this nature so we know how to mitigate the cold. We have a small propane heater that we use when it is really cold. The cabin of a 30 footer does not have many cubic feet of air so a super hot propane flame heats the air in minutes and begins to heat objects in 30. Don’t get me wrong, a portable propane heater on any boat is an exceedingly bad idea under all circumstances. Not only is it an extreme fire hazard the flame sucks all the oxygen out of the air in a very short time. We leave the hatch open a bit directly over the heater for ventilation and never run the heater unless it is in full view of at least one of us. As soon as the heater is extinguished it is placed out on in the open air of the cockpit until it is needed again. A portable electric heater, warm clothes and plenty of blankets in the Vee berth make it comfortable enough if we don’t linger too long.
Saturday January 17, 2014
This was our first trip to the boat in the New Year. We left at about 8 am and stopped for breakfast at IHOP in Ashboro. It was ok but not great. We made stops for gas and groceries. We were in no hurry; the goals for the weekend were check on the boat and crank the diesel. On the way, we started talking about dinner. We decided to call our long time friends Richard and Frances. They have restored a beautiful home in an older neighborhood in New Bern.
We arrived at the boat at 1:30 to less than great weather. It was cloudy and about 40 degrees. To add insult to injury the wind was making at least 15 knots at our protected dock. We unpacked and started the electric heater. We wanted to go for at least a short walk to stretch our legs and knew this would be the warmest (if you can call it warm) time of the day. We walked down to Point Marina and turned around. I called Richard to invite them to go out for dinner and luckily they did not have plans. He called back in about 30 minutes and asked if we wanted to go to a specific restaurant. They had planned to cook anyway and invited us to eat with them. Well, we have eaten their cooking before so the decision was a complete no-brainer. We quickly accepted their invitation.
We turned the propane heater on in the cabin and sat down to read, relax and get warm. Nick stopped by to make sure we could connect to the dock’s WIFI. He had been working really hard to provide WIFI on the dock for some time now and had it working, mostly. He had installed a new WIFI booster (for lack of a better term) in the bathhouse. I was getting a great signal even in the cabin but I wasn’t able to get past the security. He gave me the password and I was off and running. WIFI is not a necessity but it sure is nice, and Nick provides it at no cost, so that makes it even better.
We left at about 4pm to go to New Bern, about 35 minutes away. We wanted to make it an early evening because we knew the electric heater would not keep up with the cold and we wanted to run toe propane heater for a while before we turned in. Richard and Frances had not only cooked a meal it was a regulation dinner party. Dinner was nothing short of excellent. We had not seen their home restoration work for a while and were properly impressed. We had not seen them in a while and it was great to catch up. Their boat had recently been in the yard and Richard filled me in on the gory details. Most trips to the yard include gory details. Anyway, their Catalina 36 is in Bristol condition now and they are looking forward to some warm weather and sailing adventures.
We got back to the boat in time to run the propane heater for a couple of hours to get the cabin warm. We slept warm and well.
Sunday January 19, 2014
Sunday is “up and out” day for us and this Sunday was an “early up and out”. I woke up early, which is unusual. Judy usually gets up early, starts the coffee and has a nice read before I get up. I had rested well and was ready to get up so since there was no reason to tarry, we packed up and headed out. The only negative of the whole weekend came when I tried to crank the diesel. I engaged the glow plugs for a full minute and pressed the started button. The cabin lights dimmed severely but the engine made no effort to turn over. I know the batteries are ok so it must be an issue with the starter or the motor itself. I am hoping for a starter motor issue. Diesel engines and cold weather do not play well together especially an engine that has not been cranked in more than a month.I know from experience that I can do more damage than good when it comes to the engine. Reluctantly, I will email our friendly neighborhood marine diesel mechanic ( KA-CHING KA-CHING) and ask him to have a look.
We left much earlier than usual, about 9am. The first mate wanted to stop an one of her favorite antique shops on the way home. How can I refuse? It was a great weekend except for the diesel incident but when you own a boat it is always something. We left early enough to enjoy the early evening at home and maybe we will get to enjoy our grandchildren on the holiday Monday.