Year 2, Week 3: The good and the bad

Guests over the weekend. Took Red Ranger out into the Bay and bashed around a bit to be sure things are working. So far, so good. Rigging all stood up. Sails worked.

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Since we’re leaving soon, I can’t start anything big, which is a good thing, too.

The mechanic finally checked our engine alignment. The shaft is bent.

We had put in the work order to check this months ago. Months. End of June.

Now. The last week, with feet to the fire, the yard finally checked the drip and found that there’s whipping which means either engine alignment or bent shaft.  

Disconnecting the coupling and rotating the shaft manually reveals (finally, today) that the shaft is bent.

A replacement takes a week to make.

The yard has put us way behind schedule for getting to the Whitby Rendezvous. We probably won’t have our boat there, because it’s unlikely that they’ll have a new shaft installed (and tested) in time. 

We may have to pay for a second haul-out, also.

I don’t mind paying for the shaft. I do mind paying for a second haul-out. And I mind the immense delay before sending a mechanic down to the boat to actually look at the problem. 

We’re starting the farewell process: Baloo, Motu, Monday Morning, Sapphire, Tilt, Liquid Therapy. We’ll miss them all. And we’ll meet new people, too.

Back in the Water Again

Looking almost good. Almost.

✔ We’re afloat. ✔ New paint. ✔ New chainplates. ✔ Fixed up woodwork. ✔ New Solar Panels. ✔ New Anchor Snubber. ✔ New bilge pump plumbing. ✔ Restitched Yankee.

And.

About that drip. And the Propane.

At some point last year, CA noticed that our bilge pump had run.

On some boats the bilge pump is expected to run. On some boats the pump is expected to run several times each day. We have an Aqualarm digital bilge pump counter so that we can monitor that kind of thing.

A traditional “stuffing box” shaft seal keeps the ocean (mostly) out by imposing a tight, but not too tight, seal around the shaft. Too tight and there’s friction which will damage the shaft. Too lose and there’s annoying amounts of water. Just right and the water intrusion acts as a lubricant for the Cutless bearing. (Also known as a stave bearing.)

We have a dripless shaft seal. There are two low-friction plates jammed hard against each other. One is surrounded by blue rubber and is attached to the hull of the boat, keeping water out. The other is attached to the steel drive shaft; it acts as a cap on the rubber tube. Further, we have a hose to force some exhaust water out through the Cutless bearing to lubricate it.

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We have no good reason to see any water come in.

When the bilge pump ran, CA checked around to see where the water was coming from. That’s when she noticed the drip from the seal. This can’t be good.

It’s a slow drip. 

But it should be a no drip.

Expert Opinion

As part of the launch, we had the mechanic that installed it look at the seal, both on the hard and in the water. He rode around as I put the transmission in and out of gear and ramped up the RPM’s.

He saw that Red Ranger has a problem.

Her shaft is “whipping”. There’s a motor mount out of position. This means the shaft is not precisely aligned with the Cutless bearing. That causes wear on everything: motor, transmission, shaft, seal, bearing. All bad.

Next step is a motor alignment.

That should (hopefully) also dry up the seal. If it doesn’t, it means something is screwy with water exiting the Cutless bearing. That’s a weird problem to have.

Sail Stitching

The massive SailRite LSZ1 sewing machine isn’t so helpful for making Floating Leaf Tiny Quilts. It’s okay, but it’s overkill for 4 small 10″ seams.

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But for replacing blown stitching on the yankee, it rocks.

It’s sort of awkward lugging it up into the cockpit, but that’s the easiest place to work on sewing a sail.

Shop-Vac Shenanigans

Mini-Me (our one gallon shop-vac) may have been destroyed by the sanding operation. I cleaned it as best I could.

I ran it for a while to be sure the dust was blown out and the filters were reasonably clean.

But CA ran the poor vacuum today. The wildly fluctuating RPM’s and smell of ozone meant that the brushes had finally succumbed to the fine particulate from sanding. Oops. Sometimes these are fixable. Sometimes it’s easier to replace the whole thing.

I suspect the sander is not long for this world, either.

Lesson learned: Don’t Sand. Just scuff the old paint up.

Propane Problems

We finally burned through our 20# propane tank. We had it filled in St. Augustine, week 21, about nine months ago. At the time, the propane dealer was unhappy with the tank. We couldn’t get propane out of it. It weighed a ton (it wasn’t even close to empty) and he couldn’t get propane into it.

The valve or float seemed to be jammed.

Eventually he bashed it around enough that it finally freed up. He topped off the propane and it’s been working right well ever since then.

Now that it’s empty, we can replace it with a simpler Blue Rhino tank.

Simpler? How can Blue Rhino be simpler?

First, our aluminum tank has reached it’s service life and needs an inspection. While that’s no real problem, the float did jam on us last year. We’re not interested in the risk of having that go bad again.

Second, filling is annoying. Many marinas and most grocery stores can swap out a Blue Rhino tank for cheap. Getting a ride to a propane dealer is sometimes challenging. Also, some public transportation companies frown on carrying propane tanks on the bus.

Other boaters caution us that cheap Blue Rhino steel tanks turn into horrifying rustballs. An aluminum tank is the only logical choice for sailing across oceans.

For the next few years, we think we’ll be coastal US cruisers with some wintering in the Bahamas. When we decide to make the big jump past the Bahamas to the Caribbean, we’ll reconsider our propane situation. 

Since our locker is configured to hold a 20# and a 10# horizontal tank, I’ve got some work to do so that it will comfortably hold two 20# vertical tanks. Mostly, I think I have to take the Fein tool and cut out the little wooden blocks that secured the brackets for the old tanks.

Amazing Progress, How Sweet the Sound

Monday (Year 2, Week 2: Finishing Up) I was having a sphincter-clenching moment because things were not done and time was running out. Quickly.

Then, yesterday, Wes showed up with the last of the chainplates. I still have to install them, but they’re here.

Grayson showed up with the last of the carpentry. And made final adjustments so that it fit perfectly. We still have to sand and seal and varnish the woodwork, but, it’s here.

The other two gallons of bottom paint arrived at West Marine, allowing us to start painting.

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Today,  I was excited to be able to put the last chainplates back in and then put the last ¾ gallon of bottom paint on the boat. (The last quart we save for Friday to put on the spaces occupied by the jackstands.)

We had the dripless seals looked at today, too. It shows some signs of wear, possibly because we ate a crab pot and had a line (and some floats) banging down there for quite a while. (See “DelMarVa Circumnavigation—Days 10 and 11” for details of that situation.)

That gives us Thursday to clean and stow and start buying groceries.

Thursday late or Friday early we should be able to launch. We’ll have some follow-up work from our mechanic to see if the shaft and engine are truly happy.

Guests on Saturday and Sunday.

It may just fall together as hoped.

Dinner was a little pot-luck with Sapphire and Inspiration. Sapphire had a half-bushel of oysters left over from another party. We threw those on the grill. Inspiration had a load of crabs from I’m not sure where, but we cracked and ate those. We brought a big pot of beans and rice including poblano chilis from Tom’s garden. 

Year 2, Week 2: Finishing Up

We’re ready to paint. That should only take about a day.

We’re ready for the last six of our chainplates to be made. The mainmast is complete. All ten of those chainplates rebuilt, the rig tensioned as best I could reset it. The six mizzen chainplates are still pending.

We didn’t refinish the hatches very completely.

We didn’t replace the water tank.

We’re almost out of time before the Whitby Rendezvous. 

Much to do. Running low on time to do it.

Book

Since changing blogs, I haven’t kept up with our reading. Current read-aloud book is the Mistborn Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson. 

Sanding

There are two schools of thought on sanding the bottom.

  • Do.
  • Don’t.

We’ve read a bunch of material on the “do” approach. The paint itself says this.

"PREVIOUSLY PAINTED SURFACES: In Good Condition: Remove loose paint by sanding with 80 grade (grit) paper, wipe with Special Thinner 216."

We’ve talked to some folks who suggest that we are doing too much preparation by painstakingly sanding the entire hull. Emphasis on the pain.

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The “remove loose paint” clause is confusing. I may be sanding too aggressively. Way beyond remove loose paint.

We’ve also found this kind of information online. [Emphasis theirs.]

MICRON EXTRA – Uses Bilolux technology to reduce slime. Good for all boats in all waters. Can be relaunched without coating and can be applied over existing paints. Remove loose paint by sanding with 80 grit (dry) and wipe down with 216 thinner. If you have a good strong application of any Micron technology paints on your hull, no sanding is required for a recoat. Simply powerwash the paint, scrub with a brush, let dry and reapply at least two coats with brush, roller, airless or conventional spray and extra in high wear areas. Colors: Blue, Green, Red, Black, Shark White (gray), Brown and Dark Blue.

No sanding is required for a recoat. Simply scrub with a brush. I’m guessing this is a stiff steel-bristle brush that will remove loose paint. I’ve heard that a Scotch-Brite pad does well, also.

For example, there’s this on the Interlux forum.

The Micron Extra w/ Biolux and the Micron CSC are in fact compatible and the power washing/scrubbing with the Scotch Brite Pad would be plenty suffice.

If changing paints only requires scrubbing with a pad, then using the same paint may only require some scrubbing with a pad. Apparently, Interlux disagrees internally on exactly how to sand: the can says 80 grit, the experts say a Scotch-Brite pad.

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Some sanding appears necessary. What’s at issue here is precisely how much sanding.

I bought some “N95” dust filters. The first one turned pink from the bottom paint dust. An old Tyvek suit we had laying around has seen it’s last paint job. 

Perhaps I’ve done too much. I’m hoping that extra prep is not too harmful. Just wasteful of time. And potentially destroying our shopvac with fine particulate everywhere.

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Next step is wash down with the 216 solvent. And then roll on the paint. Hopefully we’ll be done soon.

Wax On; Wax Off

I think we’ve got an acceptable coat of polish on Red Ranger’s hull. It’s not really great. The boatyard folks can lay on a great finish. But. It’s better than the finish has been in a long time.

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You might be able to see the line in this picture. On the right, is the proper hull color after some polish.

On the left is the somewhat oxidized finish before having polish applied.

It’s subtle, but it’s all I’ve got to show for three days of buffing and polishing.

At the bottom right, on the brown (formerly red) stripe, there’s some reflection of the morning sun. The finish is almost shiny. From certain directions. And there are some white splotches where the stripe has chipped away.

Maybe next time, I’ll do a better job. If we allow more time for the haul-out, I might be able to put on several coats of polish.

It’s a tiresome process. Arduous may be a better word. 

If you do it on a regular basis, you may build up some upper body strength. But for those of us who do this kind of thing once every two years, it’s painful.

And it’s only the start. After polishing comes sanding. Same motion. But with poisonous dust.

The ‘Stash Issue

The ICW ‘stash is a common problem. 

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The ICW stash

In this picture, you can see that brown wave-shaped area in the bow. 

There are lots of suggested remedies for the ‘stash. Here are a few.

Yes. The last one really is tub and toilet cleaner.

If I was a real scientist, I would have tried each one on a separate area of the hull so I could compare.

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I’m not a real scientist. I never even played one on stage. (I did play King Herod, once.)

Here’s what we did instead.

  1. Wash with plain old boat soap. This is just the basic rinse with water, scrub with soap and the super long brush and rinse with water.
  2. Scrape the vinyl residue left by the fenders. Wipe down with acetone to clean off anything left over after the scraping.
  3. Wipe some Pure Oceans Hull Cleaner on the front-most 10’ with a sponge. It didn’t seem to be working well. Ugh.
  4. Spray some lemon juice on the next 10’. Take a break for dinner. Come back. The lemon juice seemed to work about as well as the expensive Hull Cleaner. There were real gaps in the brown. Yay!
  5. Buy 2 liters of lemon juice and a spray bottle fitting. Trim the pickup hose on the spray bottle to fit the lemon juice bottles. Spray a liter of lemon juice on each side. This is a pain in the hand. But, a good, thick layer of lemon juice, left on until it dries seemed to take off a good deal of stain.
  6. Rinse. Looking better. But not really very good at all. Ugh.
  7. Pour Pure Oceans Hull Cleaner into the liter bottles. Remove the lemon juice label just to be sure. Spray this down the hull. One liter per side. Sprayed on thick. 
  8. Apply some ScotchBrite pad to the thickest buildup of algae. Abrasives are not a good idea: gelcoat is relatively thin. I think that a putty knife might be better than an abrasive. But I had the ScotchBrite pad handy, so I used it. After using it, I thought about it.
  9. Wait until the hull cleaner dries.
  10. Rinse. Looking really good. Yay!
  11. The white stripe above the bottom shows the most discoloration. For this we wiped on some The Works with a sponge. Then rinsed it off fairly quickly. Not much waiting. And just a little elbow grease on this pass. Mostly a final touch-up to scrub off the most persistent stains.

At this point, it doesn’t look new, but it does like right good. There was no small amount of water used in all of that washing and rinsing. 

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The stain was only about as high as we can reach standing on the ground. So all of this was done without benefit of scaffolding.

It does mean spraying chemicals over your head. Chemicals you don’t want in your eyes or hair. (The lemon juice isn’t so bad. The Hull Cleaner and The Works, however, require glasses and a hat.)

As near as I can tell, the Pure Oceans Hull Cleaner and Lemon Juice are head-to-head equal in cleaning power.

Since we have a half gallon of Pure Oceans Hull Cleaner, we’ll probably use that next time, too. Then we’re probably going to switch to The Works. We’re told it doesn’t require two passes; we should have started with that, not finished with it.

Year 2, Week 1: Haulout

Started our second year living about Red Ranger by hauling her out of Jackson Creek.

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And washing her for the first time in—at least—two years, maybe closer to 30 months.

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Of course, we had barnacles everywhere. And “soft growth” (algae) that was right thick.

So far, we haven’t found any blisters in the hull.

There are numerous chips where the paint hasn’t bonded perfectly well to the hull. That requires a little sanding and prep work.

Otherwise, we have three huge jobs (40’ long, 6’ under water, 4’ above water, 2 sides: 800 sq. ft.)

  1. Wash the topsides. This is brutal work because of the ICW mustache. It’s a brown stain from the waters of the ICW. This requires scaffolding. Unless you’ve got a mile of planks, one person washes while the other person does nothing until it’s time to move the scaffold. 
  2. Sand the bottom. This is brutal work because the bottom is covered with poisonous paint. Sanding raises a dust that’s hazardous, and requires breathing apparatus. Plus the sander must be connected to the shopvac to keep the dust from blowing all over hell and breakfast. Unless you have two shopvacs, this is a one-person job.
  3. Paint the bottom. This isn’t so bad. Yes, you’re dealing with expensive ($100/gallon) paint that’s lethally poisonous. But. You don’t have to be very neat. Just glop it on.

Great Success

Four big things yesterday.

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1. The Battery Filler. Totally works. Waited until a few hours after the sun went down and the batteries had finished charging. Put the pickup hose in a jug of distilled water. Pumped in at least a quart. I guess they were low. Need to do that more often, I guess.

The yellow valves replace the old caps. The “T” fittings with black hoses with red caps join all the cells into a kind of tree structure. Water goes in one and and flows down all the branches of the tree. Once the cells are full, the little float valves stop the water flow. It’s a Flow-Rite Pro-Fill, purchased from www.JanWP.com.

Can’t pump the bulb? Good. Batteries are full.

2. The A/C is at Nauti-Nell’s. Maybe someone wants a CruiseAir 16K BTU unit. It was heavy and awkward and painful to get up the companionway ladder. But it’s gone and we have storage. 

I still have to remove the raw water pump, some writing and some hose. But that’s a rainy day job when we don’t feel like moving the boat.

3. Boatlife Life Calk around the chainplates. It barely takes an hour to do the 8 that needed to be done. But now we’re covered if it should rain. And we’re really half-way through.

4. The Hole where the A/C controls used to be. Oh. That’s hideous.

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What can we do about that?

Wait, we just tore apart three decorative boxes that had teak veneer plywood that matched the interior perfectly. If only one piece could be salvaged. This piece was just barely big enough vertically. It was a pretty haphazard shape. I did my best to square it up aligned with the cabin wall grain.

You can’t tell from the picture. But that’s okay, you’re not missing much.

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Yes, it’s just plywood. But. A little sanding and some magic marker around the edge, four screws and we’re good to go. We can’t move the magazine rack to cover that hole, it’s covering the unstained area where the heater used to be.

At some point, we think we can stow the bass guitar in that corner of the saloon.

The A/C Issue

Another issue to wrestle with: the air conditioner.

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We’ve used the forward A/C twice in the last two years. About a month ago when it was hot. About a week ago to test it after I pulled it out to get at the chainplates.

It’s been hot. Really hot.

But.

We’ve been using the fans and been reasonably comfortable. We’re going to add a fan in the forward cabin for guests. I already put in a 12V outlet for it. Plus a dual USB charging station for phones.

The A/C has two requirements that don't travel well.

  1. It requires shore power. Something we rarely pay for. This summer has been special because CA has been working for the marina. For most of the past year, we've had almost zero shore power available. 
  2. It requires raw water. Something we won’t have for the next three weeks while we're on the hard painting the boat. The one time an A/C is really necessary is when we're doing summer repairs on the hard. 

IMG_1736So, a sophisticated $1,500 reverse-cycle heat pump has proven to be approximately useless on Red Ranger. It’s appropriate for a boat with a pemament dock; it’s not a fit for our cruising agenda.

We already tore out one of the two huge units, back in November 2011. Cindy Ann Improved the Galley. I Made a Hole.

In order to replace the starboard lower-forward chainplate we disconnected the A/C again. CA decided not to reconnect it. We’re slowly coming to realize that summer haulout and repair is the norm, a dry-land A/C is more valuable than an in-the-water A/C.

I also have to remove the raw water pump and some wiring. And we can have another hole in the hull plugged. 

Wiser heads than ours use ordinary domestic units for those summer haulout days when it's intolerably hot. A $150 home unit works well enough and doesn’t need to be repaired or maintained. If it doesn’t work, replace it. Serenade bought one for use while they worked on the boat this summer; they turned around and sold/donated it to one of the boatyard guys just prior to launch.

A 5,000 BTU “portable" unit would just about fit into the upper shelf in the hanging locker. It could use the exising Charlie Noble (chimney) as a vent for hot air from the A/C. $400.

Chainplates Halftime: 8 down, 8 to go

The machine shop did an excellent, outstanding, amazing job of cloning the first 8 chainplates. 

It took some beating to get the new ones into the boat. Mostly the beating was because the new steel was perfectly straight and the fiberglass knees are slightly irregular. 

The trick appears to be this. Get a few bolts through, tighten them down good and hard. The slight flex will bring a few more holes into alignment. Eventually, all five bolts are tightened down hard.

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The mainmast top spreaders are next. They're ⅜″ steel instead of ¼″. Once those are done, I can tighten down the mainmast because it will be all done.

I think I can do all six mizzen chainplates in one big batch. I can rig the two halyards forward. We have two backstays. That should do while we’re on the hard.

As I write, we’re not 100% totally, totally done. We still haven’t put Life Caulk into the openings yet. That’s tomorrow’s chore. It doesn’t take long. After putting 8 chainplates in and taking two more out, I was just too tired to face caulk.

Then it started raining. 

So I scrambled around putting tape around each opening to minimize water intrusion. 

Chainplates, Chapter 2

We spent part of our summer dismantling Red Ranger to get at the chainplates. They seem like massive blocks of steel. Except. While stainless is chemically tough, it’s not really all that stiff. I learned this while westling with 12′ pieces of bar stock.

See Week 46: Deltaville DaysWeek 47: Deltaville Weeks, and Week 48: More Deltaville Weeks

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This week, we finally got in contact with the local machine shop on Lover’s Lane, here in Deltaville. 

Wes said that he’ll see about put it on Freddy’s list of things to do. 

I pulled 8 of the 16 chainplates: almost all the mainmast plates. Rather than wait for a phone call, I brought them over to Wes’ shop on Monday to talk with Freddy myself. I figured it was good to have the stuff queued up on Wes' desk rather than wonder if Wes was going to call me back.

Freddy didn't have the ¼″ by 1½″ 316 stainless bar stock required for the job.

I went back to where Wes was working (painting a boat) to talk with him about raw materials.

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Wes suggested I drive his truck up to BMG Metals in Richmond.

So I went back to Freddy, got the details on ordering bar stock. Who to talk to. What to say. Freddy gave me backup directions in case Google Maps quit on me. 

I spend the morning driving Wes’ truck to Richmond to get bar stock for my chainplates. 

It was almost like working for a living.

I may have to make a second trip to get 12 feet of ¼″×1¼″ stock for the mizzen.  Or Freddy may be able to cut down the stock I already bought. I may have to get four feet of ⅜″×1¾″, or Freddy may have this already on the shelf.

A 12′ piece of ¼″ bar stock is surprisingly flexible. Not rope or chain flexible, of course. But it seemed like it was about as flexible as a long piece of wood molding. 

Since Freddy had me drop the steel on the shop floor, under foot, I’m hopeful he’ll get to it early this week. We’ve dawdled away a big piece of the summer and need to pick the pace here in the last three weeks before we leave for the winter.

Battery Filler

Highly recommended product: The Pro-Fill system from Jan Watercraft Products

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I saw the video. Discovery recommended it highly as a great simplification in topping off the water for large battery banks. We have four Trojan T105 Plus batteries, and the two in the back of the area are almost inaccessible. 

The battery fill system involves a little float valve that won't accept water when the battery is full.

The janwp.com website, however, is a relic from 2001. It's ASP .net, with a busy layout, overuse of tables, and it's riddled with broken graphics. It has a "Well it worked on my computer" look about it. 

As a professional, I always follow the "webmaster" link to provide feedback on that kind of thing.

Want a shocker?

The owner called me. On the phone, to discuss the issues. It turns out that it's an obscure old ASP add-on and the hosting service can't support it properly.

Wow. 

Now I feel obligated to work with him on fixing them.

The product seems to be ideal for inaccessible batteries. It appears that the Jan WP company is spending their time on product support and not wasting time on web marketing. And maybe that's a good thing.

I can't wait to install it.

Waterman Wedding

The marina had a wedding reception for a local waterman. That means a lot of deadrises tied up to C dock. Plus a tent. Plus a DJ. Plus some music.

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There were perhaps five visiting deadrises.

It is the official Viginia state boat.

The good news is that they weren't (generally) all running their over-sized engines at once.

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They generally have large engines that produce high torque at low RPM's with small water-lift mufflers (if they have a muffler at all.) They can be loud. Plus, because of the way the muffler works they have a crazy irregular beat to the engine noise. A kind of characteristic deadrise throb that carries over the water for miles.

The helm position is almost always ¾ of the way aft and on the starboard side. In a proper old-school boat, the steering is a stick with a wire loop to pull the rudder: forward for port, aft for starboard. A nicer boat will have a wheel and a Teleflex-style push-pull cable, but the wheel will be transverse mounted (i.e., sideways.)

Fuel Consumption [Updated]

The question arises, how much did we spend on fuel? What's the cost of bopping up and down the coast?

As they used to say, Your Mileage May Vary. If you're planning your first big trip (like we were not so many years ago) you'll need to think through your fuel gallons hour, and your fuel price per hour. Your speed over ground (SOG) varies with current and wind, so sailors tend to work by time not distance.

This requires an analysis of our various logs. The engine log, for example, isn't a simple spreadsheet. That leads to an interesting sidebar in Python programming to parse the Omni Outliner file and create a summary.

Here's what we get as a summary of our expense and engine maintenance logs. 

Year Gallons Engine
Hours
$
2010-Move Aboard 185.5 135.0 ?
2012-2013 632.9 533.6 $3,257.98

The dollars appear to be just diesel. However, our purchase and usage logs don't agree. So, we have to fill in the gaps with assumptions.

Here's the summary, with the all-important gallons/hour number.

Gallons/Hr1.53
Average $/Gallon$5.15
Year 1 $/Hr Fuel Cost$8.17

The overall price of fuel reflects buying a lot of this fuel in the Bahamas (at $6.50 per gallon) as well as the US.

The fuel cost is for the 398.6 engine hours the first year.

I have another log book to analyze to figure out how many miles we went. There may also be some fuel purchase information there.

Birthday Party

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Happy Birthday Marja! Thursday was a big old party out in the parking lot by Motu. We saw Sapphire, Tilt, Baloo, Serenade among others.

Summer Wind was there, too.

We met them last year in Elizabeth City.

See "Week 6: Get Out of Town (Point) for Hurricane Sandy" for the first time we met Summer Wind. It turns out that we have met Sapphire elsewhere, but none of us can remember where.

CA Goes Crabbing

Even more foraging fun. Miss Ingy taught CA how to use a crab pot. She got four Jimmies her first day.

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In addition to the crabs, she also got some ugly-looking Oyster Toadfish (a/k/a Mudtoads.)

It's a bit of a struggle getting the crabs to stay in the six-qt. pressure-cooker. They can (and do) jump out, and can skitter around the galley really quickly. The Old Bay doesn't even slow them down. In fact, it may piss them off.

Once you get him cornered, however, you can use the crab gloves or tongs to put him back in the pot where he belongs.

The pressure cooker isn't too deep. It's only a six-quart pot. But it has the perfect steamer tray, so we can glug in water (and vinegar), stack the crabs, layer with Old Bay and start steaming. 

The first night, we did the "not under pressure", standard approach, which recommends ½ hour of cooking.

You can read about pressure cooking here on the Blue Crab Info forum. We tried a version of that the second night. Boil for 5-10 minutes to get them settled down. Add Old Bay. Steam under pressure for 2 more minutes. Much less propane use.

Yum.

I think this means we're going to buy a folding crab pot to drag around with us. There are a bunch of choices here. http://www.chesapeakecrabbingsupply.com/crab-pots-crab-traps 

But perhaps something like the SMI trap might be better. Or maybe the Danielson

We tried both the big, commercial-style fixed trap that Miss Ingy has as well as the smaller "snap trap" that they use. The smaller traps, with sides that flap open and are only closed when you pull it up, requires you actually pull the trap up once in a while to remove the crabs. The larger, commercial-style traps don't require any attention. 

CA Goes Fishing

That was fun. And now we know a little about how it all works.

Brooke and CA doing a rebait.

Brooke and Susan from Liquid Therapy showed us the basics of catching Croaker.

Brooke likes a 2 oz. weight, and two number 4 hooks. He suggests synthetic blood worms in resealable plastic pouches. If you have squid, you use blood worms on the bottom hook and squid on the top.

Croaker and Spot

We had live bloodworms, instead of synthetic, so CA learned how to cut them and mush them up the hook.

She also learned how to handle the fish. How to extract the hook. How to save them in a bucket because we don't have ice.

Brooke showed her how to kill, descale and gut. When we were done, we had a nice snack-sized portion of Croaker. CA did the whole thing herself.

Yum.

  © Steven Lott 2016