Saturday, April 19, 2014

Paths of Destruction

With all this recent thought about the dreaded "H" season, complying with my insurance requirements, and moving the boat, I was doing a little research on the paths and landfall locations of hurricanes along the eastern U.S. seaboard.  I came across an interesting site from NOAA that you might find interesting:

It is a searchable database of hurricane tracks and strengths displayed on a map.  You can search by a variety of parameters (the image above was a search of the West Atlantic Basin from 2008 to 2012).  Something entertaining to play with while the weather continues to be cold, rainy, and windy outside.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Map Lines and Deadlines

Sorry I haven't been posting much in recent days.  When I haven't been working my day job, I've been trying to solve a problem I have.

According to my current insurance I need to be north of Cape Hatteras by the beginning of the dreaded "H" (hurricane) season.  This season runs from June 1 to November 1.  Originally, we didn't think this would be an issue since we wanted to see the U.S. East coast and this bigger restriction fit with our plans.  Of course getting the first house ready to sell took much more time than we anticipated and some other things have conspired to throw a wrench in the works.

The best option for moving the boat north would be to make a few overnight hops "on the outside" (going up the coast instead of the ICW).  Unfortunately, my wife is busy and can't come help so I'm by myself in Georgia and needing to move the boat pretty far up the coast in a month and a half.  Given my current level of experience, I don't think it would be wise for me to do an overnight passage alone.  This leaves me needing to find a deckhand to make the trip(s).

Right now I think I have a friend coming to help me move the boat from Brunswick to Charleston or so.  From there, I still need to figure out the best option for continuing the trek north.  I thought offering the chance to spend some time on a boat with room and board paid for in exchange for a minimum amount of help would entice some of my friends, but apparently not.  Maybe I'm not selling it does "come spend a few days basking in the sun on catamaran instead of shoveling that snow back home" sound?

I also need to figure out my "final destination".  I'm thinking somewhere in the Chesapeake.  I'd like to find a place that is reasonably priced and near "services" so I can get some work done that I simply cannot handle (I'm somewhat sewing and welding challenged).  While Annapolis is probably an excellent location for everything sailboat repair, I think that location usually comes with a high price tag.

So, I have been spending a lot of time looking through Active Captain, checking for marinas and services and their prices and trying to come up with a loose plan for how to get north of our insurance line before the deadline.

On a semi-related note, part of the reason my wife cannot come down right now is good news in that she will be closing the sale on her father's house.  Apparently the housing market is pretty good in Denver right now, at least for smaller homes.  We had listed the house at what we thought was a fair price for the renewed condition and in less than a week we had numerous offers and were under contract for over asking price.  We really need to get our house on the market soon.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Another Impeller!

In my last post I mentioned that I've been focusing my recent attention on my dinghy (a.k.a. family car).  While I work on the registration and debate the best way to fix the leaks in the Caribe RIB, I figured I would look over the motor and see if I can get it running.

The motor is a 15 hp, 2-stroke Yamaha engine.  Using a manual I found online (the previous owner didn't leave me the hard copy), I opened it up and went through all the basic checks to make sure the controls work and it had at least a reasonable potential to start.  While mounted on the storage mount, I hooked up the gas tank and a clamp-on adapter to provide fresh water for cooling.

It took a couple tries, but the motor did fire up.  Of course, the stream of cooling water failed to appear from the appropriate hole in the motor housing where it is supposed to be found.  Since running the engine without cooling water is very bad, I quickly shut down the engine.  With my recent impeller experience, I figure there is a very good chance that this is the problem.  Now, where do they hide the water pump on an outboard motor?

Looking through the manual, I found that the water pump is actually located in the lower end of the motor on the drive shaft.  I guess it makes sense, but it certainly isn't a convenient location for checking the impeller. Guess I will need to disassemble the engine just to check and see if my suspicions are correct.  As I've learned to do, I consult Google and YouTube for additional information on the process and I found this video that demonstrates the general process.

A little more complicated than replacing the impellers on the inboard engines, but it doesn't seem too bad. I locate the impeller (actually a kit, more on that below) at a local store and begin the process of checking and changing the impeller.

Motor on the cockpit table...where else would you work on it?

I remove the lower unit containing the transmission and the water pump housing just like it shows in the video (except I disconnected the transmission linkage before I removed the other bolts).  I disassemble the water pump and viola, the culprit of my lack of cooling water is found.  Another destroyed impeller.  As I've learned, it is very important to locate all the pieces of the impeller and I dig through the passages and am able to find enough rubber bits to account for the entire thing.

Disassembled pump, another destroyed impeller found.

Yamaha did something kind of clever with the pump.  Instead of just providing the impeller, they provide a kit that contains not only the impeller, but also replacement walls for the housing and a few other bits so you can rebuild the water pump and all of the working surfaces are new.  They do this with simple stamped metal parts so the entire kit costs about the same amount as a single impeller for my Westerbeke engines.

New shiny pump walls.

With a refurbished pump, I reassembled the motor.  I did check the lower unit (transmission) oil before reassembly.  With everything back together, I put the motor on the storage mount, hooked everything back up and gave it a try.  As soon as the motor fired, a good stream of water came shooting out of the motor housing just like it was supposed to. Another impeller problem solved.

Of course the engine only ran for a minute or so and then sputtered to a stop.  I probably need to get some fresh gasoline, but at least now I know the motor does run and seems to be in better condition than I suspected might be the case.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The "Car"

Living in a house on land, you generally have a car (or two....or three).  When your house is a boat floating on water, you have a dinghy or tender...and they are often referred to as the family car.  You can probably imagine that a dingy is a handy thing to have.  When we purchased our Leopard 38, it came with a rigid inflatable dinghy and a motor.

The "car" hanging on the back of the "house".

The dinghy wasn't in the greatest shape.  In particular it has a rather ugly patch that slowly leaks and the tube fabric is looking rather worn and...well you may have seen some of the other issues in this post.  And I have no idea what condition the motor is in.  So I've been debating how much more money I should invest in the dinghy or if I should just replace it.  I hate just throwing things away, but I also don't want to throw good money after bad. After some mental debate, I decided I would try to resurrect the dinghy.

I'm not really worried about how "ugly" it is (after all, if someone wants to steal a dinghy, do they want the shiny new one or the faded and worn one with patches...right?), I just want it to stay afloat without having to pump it back up while we are using it. Someone recommended a product that is somewhat similar to automotive fix-a-flat that sounds like it might help seal up any leaks in the inflatable I might give that a try.  I was also talking with a guy that suggested that, particularly since we will have dogs, that we find or make dinghy "chaps" for the tubes using Sunbrella or similar fabric.  This would protect the tubes from the sun, chafing, and dog claws.

But first, since the boat will have a motor on it, we should probably register it.  Just like you have a license and registration for your car, most U.S. states require a registration for any boat that has a motor on it (this isn't an issue once you get out of the U.S.).  And just like your car, most states will recognize a registration from another state on a temporary basis. There seems to be a bit of debate on the internet over the need to register if it is strictly being used as a tender (only to go from ship directly to shore with no side excursions).  Since we will be in the U.S. for at least a little while, and we would like to use it more like the car to do a bit of sightseeing and other trips without having to "drive the house around", it seems to make sense for us to register it.

We have a bit of a dilemma, though.  You see, I technically live in Colorado right now but the dinghy will likely never be in Colorado so it doesn't make sense to register it there.  Of course, we will also be rather transient and most places seem to want a permanent mailing address and some require it to be in their state.  I don't think they'll accept "s/v Rover, Somewhere in the Atlantic, USA (sometimes)".   Of course, in a bit of irony, many states also want you to register your boat and/or dinghy if you are in their state for a given period of time (we don't intend to hang out in any one place that long).  This time seems to vary from 50 to 180 days depending on the state and is the what they use to determine your area of "primary use".  So you could easily be considered the area of primary use by several states and therefore require multiple registrations.  But without a mailing address....well, you get the idea.  It can make the head spin.

I think for now I'll try registering my dinghy in Georgia.  I'm at least here now and their registration fees don't seem too bad.  Or maybe I'll need to get one of those James Bond rotating license plate gizmos for the dinghy so I can register it everywhere as I go....yeah, right.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Look Ma, It Really IS A Sailboat

Other than a very brief period during the sea trial, about a 1 minute stint in the ICW near Palm Coast, and our brief period before the engine impeller imploded on our trip up to Brunswick, we never have really had a chance to actually sail our Leopard 38. Something I remedied this past Friday.

It was supposed to be good sailing weather with blue skies and winds around 15 knots out of the southwest.  I just couldn't pass that up.  Since my wife is not around to go sailing with me, I conned Doug on s/v Pieridae, a friend I made here at the docks in Brunswick, to go with me to do a little actual sailing.

We left the docks around 10:30am and motored down the East River to "the bridge".  Once we made it under the bridge, we raised the sails and shut down the engines.  There is just something about a sailboat cruising along without the drone of the engines in the background.  It was nice.

The Brunswick Sidney Lanier Bridge
We sailed down the St. Simons sound on a nice broad reach with the boat making between 5 and 7 knots.

St. Simons Sound

It was grueling work...but someone had to do it. ;-)

A "rough" day as the captain

We went through the sound, past St. Simons Lighthouse and through the inlet out to the Atlantic Ocean.

The Atlantic with sails unfurled

It was a beautiful sail.  A few times we were running with the wind dead at our backs and we managed to keep the boat wing-on-wing for a little while (for my readers not savvy on sailing, this is where the wind is behind you and you have the Mainsail off to one side and the Jib or Genoa off to the other so the wind can "push" on both sails)

Sailing win-on-wing

Of course, since the wind was behind us leaving, it was on our nose as we came back.  We spent some time beating (tacking) back into the inlet and past the St. Simons lighthouse.  It had been so long since I really sailed a catamaran, that I screwed up the first couple of tacks and got the boat in irons.  Doug actually suggested we try back-winding the Genoa to help push us through the turn and that is when I remembered that was actually what I was taught to do.  We then had a good amount of practice with that maneuver as we crept our way back into St. Simons sound.

Tacking torward St. Simons Lighthouse

Unfortunately, during our return, both the wind and the outgoing tide conspired against us.  Each tack seemed to produce lower and lower forward movement (referred to as Velocity Made Good) toward our goal.  The points in the zig-zag pattern of our track on the chart plotter kept getting closer and closer together.  Deciding that we needed to get back before dark, we reluctantly fired the engines back up, furled the sails, and motored our way back to the marina.

When we got to the marina, the wind was blowing over 25 knots or so across the docks and that made it fun getting Rover back into her slip.  But with a little help from dockside, we got her safely back home.

Boy it felt good to get the boat out and sail.  I only wish my wife had been here to enjoy the day with me.

And thanks to Doug for being crew and ships photographer on the trip.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

House for Sale - Yay

We (ok, mostly my wife) hit a major milestone yesterday.  We got the first house on the market.  When my wife inherited her fathers house, it had the original 1959 kitchen and bathrooms.  Old oak cabinets, burnt orange Formica counter tops, and no dishwasher. Brown, blue, and red shag carpets, ugly yellow linoleum and even a popcorn ceiling with glitter in it in the great room.  The house was a sight to behold.

Despite troubles with two different handymen, the update of the house is finally complete.  My wife picked out all of the colors and we did some of the work ourselves as well.  I may be a bit biased, but I think she did an absolutely awesome job.  I have no doubt that the house will sell quickly and make someone a very nice home.  What do you think?

Front Elevation
Entry and Great Room
New Kitchen
Main Bath
Main Bath Vanity
2nd Bath Shower
If you happen to know someone that is looking to downsize or looking for a nice starter home in the north Denver metro area, this 850 square foot home plus full basement might be a good option.  New kitchen with new stainless steel appliances and granite, new bathrooms, new carpet, contemporary refinished wood floors and paint, new energy efficient windows, heat and AC, detached over-sized 2 car garage.  I think it really is move-in ready.

And I think my wife should be very proud of the work she has done here.  Hopefully it will help it sell to someone that can appreciate all the work put into it.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Free Beer

Hehehe...wonder how the title of this post will impact blog traffic. Well, read on...the offer is there.

In my last post I mentioned that I met the folks at Diving Into Cruising via my blog.  They sent me a note after recognizing that my "Christmas Card" post was a picture from St. Augustine.  Well, shortly after they sent me the cool video they did of my renaming ceremony included in that post, I met another couple that found me through this blog.

John and Mary from Moondance arrived at Brunswick Landing Marina, where I am currently docked, late last Friday and sent me an email after they arrived.  We got a chance to meet in person Saturday.  They came over to Rover and found me doing what I do a lot of these days...fixing things.  I was working on my windlass that decided that it only wanted to work going down and not it's more important function of pulling the anchor back up and I was cleaning up some more poor wiring practices trying to rectify the condition when they arrived.

We had a couple beers and swapped stories on embarking on this cruising lifestyle from repairs, enhancements, cruising plans, and the journey of going from complete novices to cruisers.  We then met for dinner at the local pizza place after I finished up a few chores on the boat where the stories continued.  We had a nice evening and it was great getting to meet yet another couple that share the dream of cruising.  Of course I forgot to bring my phone or camera along so again I have no of these days I might remember to do that.

As it turns out (and if my memory were better I would have put this together before we met) they are the new owners of the nice Fountaine Pajot Tobago that my wife and I looked at in Miami.  It was the cleanest of the boats we had looked at and I'm sure they will be happy with her.  I think they have a very nice boat.

The Tobago 35 when we saw her in Miami

At this point I've either met or have been in touch with people that have bought or looked at several of the boats I ran across while we were shopping for ours.  While the cruising community is very transient in nature it seems to be a fairly tight knit group and I have to admit I feel closer to to many of the cruisers I've met in person or on the internet than I ever did with most of my neighbors back in the 'burbs.

And that gets me to the title of the post.  If you ever find yourself in my area and would like to talk about this crazy thing we are doing, feel free to drop me a line.  I've added a widget on the right hand side of the blog so you can send email from there without having to play the email address riddle game I was using to avoid posting my email address and ending up on a thousand spam lists.  I'll have a cold (if the refrigerator cooperates) beer waiting for you.  And if you are not in the area but want to chat by email instead of on the blog, please feel free to do that as well...but sorry...I can't email a beer to you. ;-)