New Smyrna Beach

Started: Daytona/Seabreeze, 29°13.79′N 081°01.26′W

Anchored: New Smyrna Beach/Sheephead Cut, 29°01.65′N 080°54.93′W

Log: 16.3 nm. Time: 3 hr. Engine: 3 hr.


Quick trip down the river from Daytona Beach to New Smyrna beach. Three separate lift bridges today. Other than that, very quiet.

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We’ll hang out here for a few days.

The Sheephead Cut anchorage is a delight. It’s close to things: a short dinghy ride to the historic Canal Street neighborhood.

As soon as we figure out how the VolTran transit system works, we may pick up some groceries while we’re here.

Until then, we’re breakfasting at Hottie Coffee. Free WiFi. Coffee. Power. Walkies.

Daytona Beach / Seabreeze

Started: St. Augustine Municipal Marina, #26, 29°53.30′N 081°18.44′W

Anchored: Daytona/Seabreeze, 29°13.79′N 081°01.26′W

Log: 57.1 nm. Time: 8 ¼ hr. Engine: 9 hr. Fuel: 46 gal.


Did not get up in a big hurry. Didn’t hustle to the fuel dock. Took our time taking on fuel and water. Washed the deck. A generally leisurely day.

We were planning on going just 20 or so miles to Fort Matanzas. Clearly, that’s not what happened. We got a lot further than we originally planned. And it wasn’t a pleasant trip. Mistakes were made.

We followed two other boars down the ICW.

When we got to the Crescent Beach Bridge, I put the hammer down so we could close up ranks and all get through together. It’s the right way to use a bridge — bunch up and share the opening.

Once through, I checked our ETA in Daytona. If we kept up the pace that the lead boat was setting, we’d be in Daytona at about 17:00 with sunset at 17:58. Hopefully enough daylight to find an anchorage in the Seabreeze area just north of Daytona Beach proper.

The Seabreeze anchorages are scary. They’re shallow. And most chart plotters get the tides wrong.

The Anchorage that’s called SeaBreeze North (mile 828.9) is charted at 7'-8’. We may have found those depths. 

The tidal swing here appears to be about 4’. 

7’ at high tide would be 3’ at low tide. That would be a mess with a 6’ keel. Red Ranger would hit bottom and then tip over and lay on her side. A very scary idea.

The deep part of Seabreeze North is in an area marked with underwater cables: do not anchor. Another boat was there. Anchoring guides show that folks do anchor in the cable area. We weren’t happy with that idea.

If we’d tried to poke around in Seabreeze North at anything other than the peak of high tide, we’d have been aground. With the apparent tides of 4’, we got out of there quickly.

It tuns out that the tide table used by my chart plotter is wrong. But we didn’t figure that out until much later.

We tried Seabreeze South (mile 829.2) which is just south of the bridges. It’s also shallow, but more like 8’-9’. The extra foot was a real comfort. 

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[Our depth sensor is 3’ above the bottom of the keel and about 3’ under the water line. When we see 8’ of water under our sensor, it is really 11’ of water. A small margin of safety.]

8’ at high tide with a swing that appears to be 4’ means we could be sitting in the mud at low tide. But our margin of safety means we’ll just be close to sitting in the mud.

The chart plotters switch to the nearest tide station. Around here, that’s a tide station in the ocean. Tides there are 4’. Tides in the river are closer to 1’. Maybe 2’.

So our panic about being in 7’ of water with a 4’ tide was unwarranted. It turns out that we would have been fine. And now we’re better. And unlikely to sit on the bottom at low tide.

The Memorial Bridge opens at 8:15 and then on request after 8:45. If we get started way early, we could shoot through Main Street at 7:45 which would let us hit the 8:15 at Memorial. 

We’re waiting for word from some friends. We may hang around here. In which case, why hurry?

Or we may meet them in Titusville. In which case, we need to get moving. It’s 47 miles, almost 8 hours if we can keep up a 6 kt pace tomorrow.

Gimli the Windlass

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Yesterday we dismounted the windlass to check out it’s internals. CA says it feels like it’s “grinding” or “rough”.

We took off the four huge bolts that secure it through the deck.

We took off the dozen 10mm bolts that hold the bottom in place.

What greeted our eyes?

Grease — and lots of it. The thing remains packed with what looks like good, clean grease. None seems to have leaked out. There didn’t seem to be foamy sea-water contamination of the grease. The parts we could see looked as clean and sharp as the day they were made. 

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We reassembled it and replaced it on deck. The “grinding” feeling may simply be due to the fact that we’ve probably used that anchor windlass more in the last year that it had been used in the last 15 years.

Preparation for Departure

To prepare for departure, we started with the Sunday breakfast at La Herencia. Wow. Cuban Omelette. Wow.

We really need to do some tidying up this afternoon. I need to put the possible anchorage locations into the chart plotter, for example. 

Monday, we’ll start heading S. It’s something like 5 days down the ditch to Vero Beach. It may take longer if we wait out the rain predicted for Tuesday by sitting at Ft. Matanzas.

Here are the potential stops.

  • Monday start from St. Augustine. ICW mile 777. We’ll need to get fuel and water before we leave. Monday night at Ft. Matanzas. ICW mile 792. Maybe 3-4 hours and that’s it.
  • Tuesday night in Daytona. ICW miles 828-830; Seabreeze or Memorial Bridge. Maybe 6 hours. Depends on the rain. If we meet up with friends, we may spend more than one night here. And we may take a slip at a marina instead of anchoring in the river.
  • Wednesday night in Titusville. ICW mile 877. Close on 8 hours. 
  • Thursday night in Eau Gallie. ICW Mile 914-918. About 7 hours.
  • Friday night we’ll likely make the Vero Beach Moorings. ICW mile 951. About 5 more hours.

We’ve done parts of this before. Last year we did the Daytona to St. Augustine through the ditch, heading north. We have a vague idea what it looks like.

Shopping

I’ve spent a fair number of hours shopping. And reading installation guides. And compiling lists of parts and interfaces.

We have four instrumentation problems.

  1. The ancient DMI wind speed, boat speed and depth instruments are — well — ancient. The bezels fill with condensation making them hard to read at night or in poor light. And they’re located awkwardly far from the binnacle.
  2. The tach doesn’t always work. The hour meter has never worked. The RPM’s are not calibrated to the new tach. And it flakes out periodically.
  3. No rudder position indicator.
  4. No radar.

The radar issue is the thing we’d like to solve first. The Si-Tex MDS-8 will integrate with our Standard Horizon chart plotter. It’s a relatively easy installation. Bracket. Wires. Done.

However. 

And this is a big however.

If we also plan to replace the DMI sailing instruments, then we might want a radar that goes with the new instruments instead of the old instruments.

Enter B&G.

If we get a B&G instrument package — speed, depth and wind — with a B&G Zeus 8 chart plotter, we can add a B&G radar to this package. We also upgrade to state-of-the-art SimNet NMEA2000 interconnection among instruments.

We can remount the Standard Horizon CP300i at the nav station with an SimNet-NMEA0183 interface so that it can participate with the B&G hardware as a hot spare/backup unit. 

I think that the B&G Triton Autopilot high-current system can drive our existing Benmar pump. If this is really true, it’s a huge simplification in the installation. It becomes a simple wiring problem with no changes to the hydraulics. 

We’ll spend a good bit of time hand-wringing over these two choices: inexpensive and simple Si-Tex vs. state-of-the-art B&G.

Some Momentos

Check this out. It’s 8.5” x 11” — a full page of letter-sized paper.

The city of Green Cove Springs has some kind of officious streak that causes them to issue this kind of document when you use the public pier.

So, what do you do with this when you tie up your dinghy?

Leave it in the dinghy to get wet or blow away?

Carry it around with you as a large, elaborate receipt? 

Someone has too much time on their hands to invent complex processes.

And this, too. 

“Saratoga of the South.” 

Without any horse racing. Nor could we find the Caroline Street of the Saratoga of the South.

St. Augustine

Started: Marsh Island, 30°23.74′N 081°30.41′W

Mooring: St. Augustine Municipal Marina, #26, 29°53.30′N 081°18.44′W

Log: 38.0 nm. Time 6½ hr. Engine 6½ hr.


Last of the Sweet Potatoes. CA bought a bushel. A bushel! of potatoes from the Merry Vale farm stand in Deltaville. In September.

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A bushel! $13.00

Four months later, they’re finally done. We’ve had a lot of good meals based on a bushel (!) of sweet potatoes.

Don’t try this with grocery store potatoes — they may not keep as well as fresh-from-the-dirt farm stand potatoes.

In other news, we picked up the mooring ball on the first try. I think we’re getting better at this.

It was cold. It still January. We’re still a bit too far north to be comfortable. Next near, we’ll try to move south more quickly. 

No mayday or pan-pan today. Just the endless stream of securité calls that you hear around commercial dockage and military bases. 

The Tolomato River was beautiful. The run between Jacksonville and St. Augustine ranks right up with the Waccamaw River as being a scenic wonder.

The St. Augustine Cruiser’s Net has an event tonight at Meehan’s — Claiborne Young of Salty Southeast Cruiser’s Net will be speaking. Don’t want to miss that. The Cruiser’s Net and Active Captain are the two premier sources of current information on the Atlantic ICW.

Mayday Mayday Mayday

Started: Green Cove Springs, Governor’s Creek, 30°00.72′N 081°41.26′W 

Anchored: Marsh Island,   30°23.74′N 081°30.41′W

Log: 42.6 nm. Time 7½ hr. Engine 7½ hr.


We’ve heard mayday calls before. They’ve always been far enough away that we haven’t been able to see what’s happening or help in any way.

Today was different.

Air temperature started at about 1°-2°C in the morning. The high might have been 10°C. It was cold. With a brisk 10 kt wind from the N. 

When we were docked in Ortega River, I had added a kind of “keeper” to the anchor system. It’s objective is to keep the anchor from flailing when it gets bounced off it’s roller. The keeper, however, binds up the chain under some circumstances. We had to undo the keeper just to get the anchor up. 

We started the day with CA freezing up on the bowsprit, struggling with the ground tackle.

The sky was clear, the sun bright and cold. The river was beautiful.

At about 13:00 we arrived at the F. E. C. RR bridge. Which is under repair. We  had to wait 10 minutes for a train to pass. Then we had to wait another 20 minutes for the poor bridge operators and maintenance workers to open the bridge open for us. We watched as we circled. A lot of workers in hardhats had to spend a lot of time wandering around.

The main street bridge didn’t involve as big a delay. But it did require us to wait while the maintenance workers moved their trucks off the bridge span.

By 14:00 we were through the bridges and making our way down the St. John’s to the channel between Marsh Island and Blount Island. We anchored there once before, and liked it. It’s a comfy day’s run from there up to Fernandina or down to St. Augustine.

Switch and Answer on 22 Alpha

There are two high, fixed highway bridges downstream from the Main Street Lift Bridge: the Hart bridge and the Matthews bridge. 

As we chugged up toward buoy Red 82, with the Stadium on our port side and the Hart bridge ahead, we heard the dreaded “mayday” exchange between Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville and some boater adrift in the St. John’s River.

We’ve heard this before, and listened with horrified fascination as the drama unfolds. There’s a lot of basic fact-finding that the Coast Guard goes through. Sometimes with crappy radio propagation and intermediate relay boats. How many people? Description of the vessel. Nature of the emergency. Does everyone have PFD’s on? Are there vessels nearby? 

There was a little bass-fishing boat — near where Hogan Creek dumps into the St. Johns — but they seemed in control. Even if they drifted, they’d just drift into one of the giant piers they were fishing near.

Dead ahead was a boat that might have matched the description. It was drifting with the ebb tide, up river, side ways, mid-channel. 

They claimed mayday, but they were only adrift. Technically, they had a pan-pan, not a mayday. If perhaps someone was having a heart-attack or had fallen overboard, then they had a mayday. Mayday is reserved for imminent loss of life. Out of control is less dire, and gets a pan-pan.

It's scary when your boat is drifting.

But it’s not imminent loss of life until you hit something and start to sink.

The patient Coast Guard questions revealed no drowning or sinking. It also revealed that they were alone. Since we felt they should be able to see us, we wondered if the boat dead ahead was really the boat in distress. We were less than a half-mile away, and yet, they claimed no boats were nearby.

But. They drifted past marker 82. And they were between the Main Street bridge and another bridge. They were near the stadium. They were a 26’ power boat. So. Lots of evidence pointed to the boat ahead. It was just the seeing us part that was amiss.

We saw a police chopper circling, too. More evidence that this was the boat. We cut in on VHF channel 22-A to tell the Coasties and the boaters that we would tow them to the Jacksonville Municipal Marina. It was less than ½ mile away. 

In fact, they were going to drift right past it, so towing them there was the least we could do. Since we’ve never towed anything with Red Ranger — not even Scout, our dinghy — we didn’t want to make a mistake. We could easily turn one boat in distress into two boats in distress.

The standard Coast Guard advice is to put on PFD’s (“Life Jackets”); we saw none being used by the two guys on the boat. 

I can see them being too scared to notice us in the middle of the river. We’re just a little sailboat against the background of big-city Jacksonville.

I cannot see them being too scared to find their PFD’s. That’s just epic bad seamanship.

Tow-Line Bridle

CA grabbed one of our big (¾”) dock lines to rig a towing bridle across our two aft cleats. 

While she rigged, I circled the boat. She told them what we were going to do: take their line, pull them to the municipal marina right in front of the stadium.

Note: We have no local knowledge. None. We saw the docks and decided to tow them there. It wasn’t until afterwords that we figured out what the docks really were. They looked like nice docks. Suspiciously empty. But with a big face dock that we could drag them to. We hoped.

After a few passes — and some hurried conversation with the Coast Guard — we made a pass with the boat hook out. They tossed us a little scrap of line. CA looped it through our bridle and threw it back to them as quickly as possible. 

“Make it fast to a cleat. You can drop off under your own control,” she told them two or three times. Before we drifted too far, they looped it on a deck cleat and we were reasonably secure. They had fed it over the bow pulpit and down to a cleat. We didn’t want to spend a lot of time fixing that kind of poor seamanship. After all, they didn’t have PFD’s on, either. We could have spent all day on the basics.

The good news: no river traffic, relatively flat conditions, a 1-knot current that I could tow them into, Mr. Lehman loves a heavy workload, Red Ranger has a right big prop.

We eased them over to this municipal marina. With the current against me, I could slowly and gently crab them over to the face dock. They turned their wheel and drifted into the dock. One of the two boaters jumped ashore to secure the boat. After some coaching from CA, the other crew cast off the tow line. After some more coaching, he retrieved it. CA was patient with the poor, half-frozen schlub.

Lessons Learned

It wasn’t a real mayday, so we were lucky. Our first attempt at rendering assistance was simple and involved stuff we could figure out.

We’ve been pulled off sandbars several times by passing boats. We still have a lot of payback for all that kindness. But we did our first one and didn’t botch it up.

During the after-action review, CA had one improvement for our towing technique. Next time, she’ll feed the tow bridle around the cleats so that she can cast it off from our end more easily. Apparently, she’d fed it the wrong way around the cleat, so that it was jammed down hard under the tow load.

Green Cove Springs — Saratoga of the South

Yep. Looks like Congress Park. Little Gazebos. Trees. Grass. Very cute.

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Here’s our official home address: 411 Walnut Street. It has a cute “Main Street USA” look. Sort of gentrified. We joke that we're on the 9th floor. Odd side of the hall looks out over the river. Really nice.

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Here’s the facility that actually handles our mail. They’re out in the burbs. Lovely folks. Very helpful. But a long walk.

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Glad we took the walk, though. Not only did we get the last of our Christmas cards, I got my new passport and some money from Nauti-Nell’s consignment store. 

We’re going to meet up with Dream Catcher for dinner somewhere locally. They’re finishing up some rework and are hoping to splash Monday. We’ll find out more tonight.

Then we’re expecting to freeze as it drops to -2° C. Tomorrow we may call the Main Street bridge in Jacksonville to schedule an opening and work our way up the St. John’s to Marsh Island. From there we should be able to make it to St. Augustine and pick up a mooring for a while.

We need to dismantle the Simpson-Lawrence Windlass and see what’s going on inside of it. It’s not happy. It feels “wrong”. It’s been wrong since the cold snap in Wrightsville beach, maybe even earlier. 

Green Cove Springs

Started: The Marina at Ortega Landing, 30°16.61′N 081°42.79′W

Anchored: Green Cove Springs, Governor’s Creek, 30°00.72′N 081°41.26′W 

Log: 18.5 nm. Time 3½ hr. Engine 3½ hr.


Feels good to move after a month at dock. 

The boat works. The St. John’s River is very cute.

The Active Captain anchorage in Governor’s Creek is a good distance from the free dock and downtown Green Cove Springs. There’s not much protection, everything’s exposed to the long reach to the NNE up the St. John’s River.

A better place to anchor is near the public pier: 29°59.670′N 081°40.460′W. Still exposed, but a shorter dinghy ride to the good coffee shop, Spring Park Coffee.

Tomorrow we want to walk up to the famous 411 Walnut St., address of St. Brendan’s Isle mail service. The actual facility is not at 411 Walnut. It's out on route 315, nearer Governor’s Creek, where we’re anchored.

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The little town park looks vaguely like Congress Park in Saratoga, NY. Then we found the local paper with a headline “Saratoga of the South.” I guess that nails it down. It’s not just us that see echoes of Saratoga here.

Red Ranger still has dampness and mildew issues. CA has found one porthole gasket that’s not good. One leaky lifeline gate. The chainplates need some attention. Also, we need to get out of North Florida. It’s a famously lethal combination of warm damp days, and cold nights.

So far, the apparent leaks are all relatively small jobs that we can tackle on down days when (a) its warmer and (b) we’re tired of moving the boat and want to just play quietly.

One other job like the leaks is the black goo between the teak slats on the cockpit benches. We need to carefully ream out the old goo with the Fein Multi-Master, tape the slots and slather in new goo. It takes 24 hours to set up — in warm, dry, sunny conditions. There are a lot of slats, so we’d probably do this one section at a time. 

Vacations: Vegas, LA and the Bahamas

Ahh. Vacation. Seems a little odd when we live on a boat. But time off the boat makes the time on the boat all the sweeter. You can play, too. We’re thinking more seriously about the “Guests in the Bahamas” alternatives.

We visited our kids for the pan-holiday celebration: Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, Martin Luther King and The Commodore’s Birthday.

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Las Vegas. Red Rock Canyon. Plus we got a behind-the-scenes tour of the Elara Grand Vacation Hotel. Our daughter is one of the supervisors there. It is the premier spot on the strip.




LA. Levitated Mass. Also the Turrell Retrospective and Calder and Abstraction, too. the Space Shuttle Endeavor.

Also, our first AirBnB stay.  It worked out great. Our host was great and his finished garage was ideal for our comings-and-goings.


What a contrast: Vegas has unlimited free parking paid for by gamblers LA has no parking unless you’re clever and lucky or want to pay a valet.

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The only thing we didn’t get a chance to see in LA was the {RV}IP Lounge. If you want to know more about the lounge, watch the movie, Let’s Ruin It With Babies. Our son did the post-production sound. 

That was our whirlwind tour of the west. We’re talking about having the kids visit us in 2015 for the next pan-Holiday celebration. 

Bahamas Bound

Here’s how we think the “Red Ranger in the Bahamas” can work. If we meet you in Staniel Cay, then you have a choice of where to stay. Red Ranger has room for a couple in the V-berth and another couple in the saloon. You can stay at a vacation house rental, if you don’t want to stay on the boat.

AirBnB has a few places near Georgetown on Exuma Cay itself. Plus a few whole villa rentals ($700/night) scattered around the Exumas. $700 a night seems hefty until you split it four or six ways.

We really liked Staniel Cay. There’s good snorkeling. Good day sailing. A good bar. Good beaches to walk on. A bakery.

For folks who are interested in a more nautical vacation, we can do a variety of longer one-ways or round-trips. So far, we’ve discovered two comfy one-week trips.

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Sailing from Nassau to Staniel Cay allows you to fly to Nassau, sail to Staniel Cay and then fly out of Staniel to return to the US. The trip is short enough that the odds of missing the return flight are quite low. It’s still possible that weather could be so awful that we can’t make it. Last year, we dawdled down there between February 20th and February 28th.

A Staniel to Nassau trip allows you to fly to Staniel Cay, sail to Nassau and then bask into the warm glow of the Atlantis Resort Casino to wash off the salt before flying back to the US. Last year we did this between March 6th and March 13th.

We have reason to believe that we can do this again.

Tilt says: “People ask why we’re going back to the Bahamas. Really. They ask. The fact that we’ve done it eight times before ought to be all the answer anyone needs.”

The two-week trip is Nassau to Staniel Cay and then back again. It took us almost a month last year, but we stopped at a lot of places along the way. Doing it in two weeks just means fewer stops, more sailing. Depending on the weather, it may also mean stopping short of Staniel Cay in order to make it back to Nassau to make air connections.

If you want to visit these spots vicariously via Google Earth, here’s our Winter 2012-2013.KML file with the anchorages. When you click the link, your browser should try to download the file; open it with Google Earth. Or, you can control-click the link, save the URL and paste this into Google Earth.

Apparently, the weather is more clement in March and April than it is in February. Email or call. The most important rule is that Red Ranger has to be there before you even get on a plane; allow for some last-minute jockeying around if the weather doesn’t cooperate.

Ready to Go

Now that we're back on Red Ranger we can install the Alpenglow light in the main saloon.

Wow.

The cave-like Red Ranger is gone. It’s a different boat.

We’ll get a few more 1# propane cans for our cabin heater, top off the water, and head down to Green Cove Springs for a few days. Then to St. Augustine for a while. Then Vero Beach. Then the Miami area: No Name Harbor and Dinner Key.

Somewhere along the way, we’ll reconnect with our burned up inverter and reinstall that.

One of those little solutions

The problem is stuff that’s loose in the head when we’re under way. In the ICW, a few things rolling around the counter tops don’t count for much. But on an offshore passage, loose bits wind up getting scattered around the head, making life unpleasant.

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The commodore saw a picture of this somewhere.

We just saw Sundance-winner Primer, and we’re a little confused on cause and effect. Perhaps we left this picture for ourselves. Perhaps we’re asleep in a coffin in a storage facility, or perhaps like Schrödinger's cat we exist in past, present and possible futures, too.

She saw a picture of jars strapped to a piece of wood with hose clamps. It looked like a really good idea. 

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☑︎ Wood. We save wood scraps in a box in the engine room.

☑︎ Peanut Butter Jars. Given the suggestion (from our selves in some alternate future?) she started saving these. Reuse is better than recycle.

◻︎ Hose Clamps. We had most of what we needed. Sailor’s Exchange had the rest of what we needed. Slightly used is just as good as new. And cheaper.

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☑︎ Fasteners. Yes. We try to buy plenty of wood screws and washers. I have a bad habit of buying just what I need. A much better habit is keeping a supply of the common sizes and shapes around the boat.

☑︎ Stainless steel pipe hanging strap is something we had, also.

New we have an elegant storage solution for about $1.00.

Departures

Three Whitbys left the Ortega River this morning, heading for slack tide at the railroad bridge.

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Joie de Vivre

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Creola

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Hold Fast

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Joie de Vivre and Creola

We’re so jealous.

That Smell

We had a kind of a smell the other day on Red Ranger. A new and unpleasant smell.

Found the cause.

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Not happy about that.

It was a Samlex/Cotek ST1500-112 Pure Sine wave inverter with a 30A transfer switch and a 30A circuit breaker.

Emphasis on the was.

Clearly, something in the wiring harness wasn't up to the 15A draw of our space heater. It appears to be a serious design issue.

How bad would it have been if we’d pushed up to the stated limit of 30A?

Full-blown fire?

We’re pretty unhappy with this.

We know that the circuit breaker worked once because we fired up the shop vac one day with the space heater running. That tripped the breaker straight away. 

But this appears to be something that was not enough current to trip the breaker, but enough current to melt the wiring harness.

I’ll be talking with the distributor to see what they can do to help us out. They seem to be big, reputable, and focused on inverters for a variety of markets including marine, household and RV. We’ll see if they’re able to stand behind their offerings.

For today, though, I’ve got to rig some kind of transfer switch in place of the relay system that was part of the inverter. 110V AC. 30A breaker on the shore power side. A pretty serious undertaking.

Whitby Rendezvous — JAX

The BIG rendezvous has traditionally been in October in the Chesapeake. 

However, since CA is now the president of the rendezvous for this year, she’d like to see more rendezvous in more places.

Voyager II, Creola, Red Ranger, Joie de Vivre, Hold Fast

Voyager II, Creola, Red Ranger, Joie de Vivre and Hold Fast

What are the key ingredients? Whitby/Brewer boat tours, a meal and a presentation.

Last night, we had all three elements!

  • Boat tours of Voyager II, Creola, Red Ranger, Joie de Vivre. Common problems. Various solutions. A great way to socialize. A kind of moving party. (Hold Fast was at the other marina, a long, cold walk.)
  • We ordered 5 pizzas and spread out in the Marina lounge.
  • Myron of Hold Fast showed his rudder design. It is a huge improvement and doesn’t involve any “incremental” modifications. Except for the internal bronze structure, it’s a replacement. It's based on a proper aerodynamic design so that it doesn’t stall out the way the Whitby small and flat rudder does.

We talked boats, cruising, families, weather. The proper escape route from the Ortega River: 45 minutes before the tide turns at the railroad bridge.

I think this is the design Myron was talking about. http://airfoiltools.com/airfoil/details?airfoil=ls013-il

I’ll be gathering details.

Next Rendezvous? Miami, around the time of the boat show. Perhaps at No Name harbor. Perhaps at dinner key. Stay Tuned.

Propane Problem: Pressure but no Flow

Here are the symptoms: full pressure and no flow.

Pressure gauge reads 80 psi just like normal.

Propane solenoid clicks just like normal.

And.

No gas. Zero. Nothing flowing.

Here’s the secret: turn the gas off at the cylinder. Disconnect it. Wait for the gas to hiss out. Reconnect it, turn the gas on. Listen. Pressure goes up to about 80 psi, just like normal and then there’s this little “click” inside the cylinder.

The too-much-too-fast safety device just clicked in. The tank’s runaway gas safety valve just flipped closed because the gas was flowing too quickly.

We’ve seen this a few times when it’s been very, very cold.

Today, we took just about everything in the propane system apart: pressure regulator, solenoid, various bits of plumbing. Everything seemed to be working perfectly. Everything.

But no gas.

Some research online revealed a procedure that will likely make the safety valve happier.

  1. Turn off the gas. Open the fittings. Let it all bleed away.
  2. Turn on the solenoid so gas could flow to the appliance.
  3. Open the cylinder valve very slowly. Very slowly. Slowly ease it through the first turn or so. Let the pressure rise slowly.
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What don’t you hear? You don’t hear that internal click of the runaway gas safety valve shutting.

New Stereo

After sorting that mess out, I could finish cutting holes in the woodwork to install the new stereo. The Fein Multimaster did an elegant job of taking out a hole that was almost exactly the right shape and size.

Once the hole was open, I could connect up the wiring harnesses: power and speakers, antenna, USB and ignore the bunch of other connectors for subwoofers and what-not that we don’t have.

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And now we have a stereo that will connect to an iPhone wirelessly. And it receives local FM stations without a lot of hiss and noise. It apparently will also receive VHF WX channels for marine weather. The USB connection allows us to “burn” a “mix tape” of tunes on a USB flash-drive and plug that into the stereo as a music source, also.

And it’s elegantly small enough that it fits into a piece of paneling that previously was just blank wood. The old stereo is gone and that frees up some storage in another cabinet.

Merry Christmas to Red Ranger.

New Year Jobs

New Years Eve: Red Ranger, Creola, Joie de Vivre and Voyager II. Pizza, a little champagne. Whitby 42 talk. I waved the camera around, but didn’t even get half the group. Rick got some better pictures, I’ll try to post them.

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CA has washed just about the entire deck. Carefully. Hands-and-knees. Scrub brush. Soap and water.

She was stopped by two days of steady, driving rain. 

That’s a good rinse, I guess. But keeping the boat closed up when it’s cold and rainy means the interior gets damp, too. There’s condensation everywhere

We think we may have found another deck leak. Emphasize “may”. We find the evidence on the floor, but finding the source is trouble. It could be about anywhere.

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We’re (finally) running low on sweet potatoes. We left Deltaville with a bushel of potatoes. When they’re farm-fresh, they keep well. We’ve had months of meals from a $13.00 bushel of potatoes. Good deal.

We have our new Fusion MS-RA205 stereo. That means I have a job to do. Something other than helping CA move the hose around and turn the dock water on and off.

We’re going remove our Charlie Noble. We pulled out the Dickinson heater. We doubt that we’ll ever replace it. So the flue and related hardware are all going overboard. And that means plugging the big-old chimney hole in the deck. 

I think a Vetus Athos mushroom vent is just the thing. I think it is likely to fit the existing hole. It should seal up reasonably water-tight. And it can be opened in warm weather to be a vent.

CA’s dad sent us a link to an insane YouTube video: Fishing Boats in Rough Sea. Somehow, he got the email version with some nonsense about Columbia River. The video is captioned as coming from New Zealand. It shows a very difficult river entrance.

  © Steven Lott 2016