Monday, December 12, 2011

Thoughts on flying home

Along with getting rid of more tangible assets there are digital assets to be dealt with.  I found this little composition on my jump drive from 2009.

I’m coming down from the sky to the flats of Colorado, miles and miles outside of Denver.  The airport here is way out in the flats, away from the mountains.  The terminals are huge and lonely, separated by acres of pavement. Most people here are on their way to somewhere else. Denver is a convenient hub for flights crossing the continent. Once in the airport I ride the motorized walkways not because the distances are too far but just for the novelty of it all. Walking briskly on the walkway moves you along at the speed of a run. I use the layover to explore both ends of the terminal and to get some exercise.  Back at the gate, all the humans queue up in an orderly fashion assisted by the sign posts with groupings and numbers so there is no dispute about who goes first. We all stand around and check our voice mail and email as if something of import must have happened in the two and a half hours we were in flight, disconnected from our worlds.

Then later, on the plane over Kansas, headed to Tennessee, I have a gin and tonic in a little plastic cup with a little plastic stir stick.  This is not my drink but is my father’s drink and I celebrate his passing when I ride on airplanes.  I munch on nuts and read Ernest Hemingway’s “A Moveable Feast” and get all nostalgic about Paris. As he’s all about writing and what it takes to write well and as the gin and tonic and the altitude is having its affect I decide to write, and to write in the style of Hemingway.

Because of the gin and the writing I get a little sad. When I think of all the miles I’ve traveled, all the places I’ve been, and all the people I’ve known I realize I’ve made and lost many connections.  Yet one connection that survives is the family, the ever shrinking family. That one thing stays a constant in my life. No matter what I do or where I go or what’s happening in my world I always go back to visit the family.  Every year or year and a half there is that one short trip, usually a long weekend where I go to first sit across a restaurant table from my brother then later sit on my mother’s couch and hear how everyone’s lives are going.

We are everyday strangers who know each other too well.  Our common bonds are of blood, not of the mind.  I cannot sit still that long when visiting at home and even though I try to be patient I just have to get out and walk sometimes. The lack of stimulus puts me in a coma of sorts and I feel that someone is trying to draw me back into a world I left years ago.

My ears just popped so that means we are descending now. The plane is bouncing around a little bit as we move through the cloud layer.  We’re about 45 minutes out.  I’ve got the cell and my brother has his cell and he will take pride in timing his arrival at the baggage claim at the exact right time factoring in the arrival time and how long he estimates it will take me to walk through the concourse to the pick up. And that will be one focus of our conversation as we glide into the night towards his house. We will take pride in our timing and bring it up later at Mom’s when she asks about the flight.

I’ll sleep in a strange bed and the sun will rise two hours too early. When I visit Mom’s on Saturday she will have a bottle of red wine waiting and I will praise her purchase no matter what she has for me. She’ll have her Bloody Mary at 1:00 PM and maybe a glass of something with dinner then everyone will go to bed early and I’ll stay up and read in the guest room because of the time difference.  I’ll probably knock the Hemmingway out this weekend then resort to whatever I can get my hands on. I’ll eat too much, sit too much, and have a tearful hug goodbye.  When I think about it, with all this time in between us, I said goodbye years ago.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Goodbye, Hello

From this

Goodbye to yard work
Goodbye to water and gas bills
I’ll miss the hot tub
I’ll miss the big kitchen
Goodbye cleaning the gutters
Goodbye weeding and pruning
I’ll miss having a guest room
I’ll miss parking in the driveway

Goodbye big mortgage
Goodbye debt
Hello monthly rent
To this
Hello freedom
Hello a major milestone on the path to live aboard.
To this

Monday, October 31, 2011

Offer made, offer accepted

We had the realtor office open on Wednesday, had about 8 realtors show the house over the next 3 days then we had a well attended open house on Sunday between 1:00 and 4:00. That afternoon an offer came through with a time limit of 9:00 PM. I accepted the offer and on Monday we have signed papers.

Next steps include the inspection and appraisal and if all goes well we'll be out of the house on December 6th. It's happening fast and that's a very good thing.

Presently looking for a nice place to rent for a year or two, wanting to stay in the neighborhood so as to be close to friends.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Wonderful Cape Cod for sale in Victory Heights.

Wonderful Cape Cod in on quiet street near Victory Heights Park. Charming updated home with fabulous NW gardens. LR with gleaming hardwood floors, coved ceilings, & fireplace opens to generous DR. A great updated cooks kitchen. Three main floor bedroom. Newer 3/4 bath and updated full bath. Generous family room adjoining kitchen. Patio & storage. Newer roof, new paint inside & out, refinished floors, updated plumbing, gas furnace & more. Quiet neighborhood minutes to park & amenities

We take off our shoes at the door, hang up our clothes, hide everything in closets and drawers. This place looks like nobody lives here... and I feel like I don't live here. It's a hotel. It's a model home. It's a glossy page in an architectural magazine. Open up one of the two back yard sheds and it's a different story. Junk piled floor to ceiling and musky, dusty smell. Our smells have been condensed and crammed into two little sheds.

Living sparsely is good practice for when we live on Traveler. I'm learning how to put things back as soon as I've finished with them. I'm learning to have less of everything, less socks, less shirts, less pots and pans.

Less is good and it's good to have less.

Get over here and buy this house right now!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Time out for Traveler

Two big chores:
1. The fitting out of the boat
2. Dissolving possessions ashore

I'm been concentrating on chore #1 because that's the one I'm most interested in. But I sure can't enjoy the fruits of #1 until #2 is completed and #2 is a bear.

Last fall I had a new roof and gutters installed on the house. Then in the spring, we re-landscaped the yard. In July and August I had the foresight to paint the exterior of the house. So at the end of August (and the start of the rain) the house has that street appeal thing going big time.

Other important tasks are accomplished like getting the crawl spaced cleaned and re-insulated and having the old underground oil tank decommissioned.

Turning now to the interior, the nest is in a constant state of upheaval. Move everything out of one room. Paint that room. Rip up the carpet. Then go on to the next room. This week the painting should be just about wrapped up and we'll be ready for the floor guy to refinish all those scuffed up and newly exposed fir and oak flooring. There is nothing like moving everything you possess to tell you how much stuff you still have crammed into a house. But, we push forward and know that it's got to go somewhere. We hope to have the house on the market before the day of the dead.

Having the house on the market will be a minimalist adventure as we fill up some driveway storage PODs and try to live with as little as possible inside the house. After all, the goal is to have perspective buyers come inside and imagine all their stuff there.. not my stuff. Our realtor friend, Peggy Smith with Lake Realty has been so very helpful with suggestions for colors and vendors. If there were only more hours in the day and I had the energy to keep working through them then we'd be on the market sooner.

It's like pushing a giant ball up a hill. You just keep the pressure on and take it one step at a time. Getting out of this house will be a huge milestone. Just as getting Traveler purchased and fitted out is a milestone. No house means no yard to maintain and no house payments to make. We'll be happy renters for a while until we can move to the boat. The idea of downsizing is very appealing.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

San Ysidro border crossing closed

After securing Traveler the best we could, with canvass in place and docking lines doubled we grabbed a taxi to the Autobus station and took the ABC bus to Tijuana.  There we found that the San Ysidro border was closed!

Border closed?  How can that be?  Terrorist plot? Are we at war with Mexico?  Maybe a drug cartel his holding the immigration officers hostage.  Nope. A wooden overhead canopy collapsed onto several vehicles at the crossing, sending 11 people to hospitals and creating a traffic nightmare as thousands of border crossers were diverted to the Otay Mesa Port of Entry. That would be us.

In the pandemonium we found an official looking cab driver who took us on a wild ride to the Otay Mesa crossing.  $15 each for a 15 minute carnival ride weaving in and out of traffic lanes.  We hopped into the dusty queue not knowing that it would take us three hours to get to the revolving gates.  Three hours in the hot sun. Three hours without sustenance.  Three hours without a pee break. 

Then to the MTS #905 bus to the Iris Trolley stop.  The driver, off her shift, called her supervisor and got permission to take a bus load of stranded riders to the Trolley.  We all rode for free, chanting and cheering.

By that time Alaska flight 885 had left San Diego without us.

Hours later, ensconced in the Vagabond Hotel at Shelter Island, I convinced the Alaska supervisor to cut us a deal on return flights early the next morning to Seattle.  Crack of dawn flight home and so tired that I napped away the day, calling in sick to work. 

I'm miles away from my boat.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Checking in at Ensenada

Monday morning we called the dockmaster Rogelio Gregg on VHF 77 and he walked down to meet us.  A little paperwork and we were all set with gate keys and directions to the Centro Integral de Servidios (CIS) to check into the port.

After breakfast and a nap we all walked over to CIS and began the check in procedure.  The operating hours are 9:00 AM and 2:00 PM.  It took us 1.5 hours to complete, this with no lines.  The next time I'd leave myself about 2.5 hours just in case there are other boats checking in at the same time.

Immigration: All crew got tourist cards. Filled out forms and submitted to Immigration officer. He processed these and sent us across the room to the bank where we paid $262 pesos each. Then we brought our stamped receipt back to Immigration for our cards.

Port Captain:  Same building, same room. Here I used my Visa card to pay the arrival tax for the boat of $306 pesos.  We had to present our tourist cards, crew list, and boat documents. We went outside and made a couple of needed copies of documents.

Bank:  I took the packed from the Port Captain to the bank and here I paid for a temporary import permit at $49.50 dollars on my Visa.  The permit is a very pretty document and sticker that you put in the window of the boat and it allows you to keep the boat in Mexico 10 years.

Customs: I went to customs (same place) and listed all the gear on the boat.  I then pushed the button and got a green light and we were done.  What happens if you get a red light? Possibly someone comes to the boat and does an inspection.

Cantina:  We had to then report to a cantina for the obligatory fish tacos and cervezas.

Marina:  Back at the marina Rogelio made copies of my documents and we were done for the day.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


We headed offshore about 5 nautical miles and sailed down the coast with a 10 knot breeze pushing us at about 5 knots.  Wonderful sunset at the Coronado Islands then on into the darkness.  We swapped one hour watches until 21:00 then switched to two hour watches in teams of two.  So Connie and I took the 22:00 to 02:00 shift and Chris and Keith took the graveyard shift from 02:00 to 06:00.

We had to slow the boat down so as not to enter the Bahia Todos Santos til daybreak.  Chris had concerns because he could not see both lights on Islas Todos Santos but later found that our chart was old and the newer chart showed one light inactive.  I took my shift at 06:00 and took us into the bay (Bahia) and around the breakwater at Ensenada harbor.  We went straight to the dock without a problem as I had previously identified Baja Naval marina on Google Earth.

Lessons learned: Since we'd figured that the trip would take about 14 to 16 hours we decided to travel through the night as to arrive early in the morning to approach the harbor in daylight. In retrospect we could have left Mission Bay early in the morning, say at about 04:00 and got in just at sundown. Then we'd just tie up at the marina and wait till the morning to check in. Thus we'd avoid having our sleep patterns disturbed.

Friday, September 9, 2011

San Diego to Ensenada

Slowly and surely we've progressed towards our intended goal. After months of refit and repair we're ready to move the boat down the coast to Ensenada, Baja California Norte, Mexico. Connie and Scott fly in on Friday. Chris and Keith come in on Saturday and we leave Sunday afternoon.

Friday, we cleaned the boat and mounted the new stern light ($99.00). Saturday, with Chris and Keith there hauling on the halyards I ascended the mast to mount a new windex and to check the anchor light/tri-color light.The windex needed at least 4 hands to assemble so I had the deck crew pre-assemble it and send it up in a bucket.  I then I fastened it to a mounting bracket on the mast cap. the Tri-color lens was cracked right between the clear anchor lens and the tri-color top lens so I called down for some duct tape to do a temporary fix.

With everything stowed on deck and below we went through our off-shore checklist and left the dock on Sunday at about 13:00.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Yard Sale Complete - finally...........last weekend

The yard sale went very well last weekend but gosh it was a lot of work. We spent all day Saturday creating lots of display surfaces and then dragging all that crap out of the shed and the house. Considering the fact that neither Scott nor Connie had a clue as to what things sell for at yard sales we decided to bring in an expert. Our friend Lindor came by and set to re-pricing and rearranging. By nightfall we were ready and I wrapped the entire driveway full of sale items in big plastic tarps to protect everything from the dew and thieves.

Then Sunday, sans Connie, we started selling... and selling... and selling. As items were sold, Lindor moved things up towards the front, always keeping interesting items close to the street. Lindor approached each customer, gave them the speel and sent them to me with their money. I had to keep going to the house to stash the cash.

Monday with about 70% of everything sold still saw lots of traffic as people searched through the worthless stuff to find something, anything they could buy. By the end of the day we were exhausted.

What we did right:
Advertise in Craigslist... three separate times, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday.
Put out signs... four of them, leading from two major roads
Priced items correctly... I think
Negotiated when necessary... We had some tough customers
Had some really good stuff.... Can't take it on the boat now, can we?

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

San Diego - August Trip

Alaska Air Seattle to San Diego and five days exercising the boat.  Met brother Bernie again and we worked, cleaned, fixed, ate, drank, slept and checked the systems.  I reviewed reefing the main. Bernie fixed the reefer thermostat. I spent a bundle getting the EPIRB maintenced with a new 5 year lithium battery and hydrostatic release. We hoisted the dinghy on deck.  Saw fireworks and a rock band.

Traveler's Perkins 4-108 looks and runs great and mostly everything else necessary for a proper sea passage works well.

We got to see the Travel lift hoist all sorts of boats out of the water including this 62 ft monster ketch that had leaking centerboard problems.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Just another hump day Wednesday

And once again, I hauled myself out of bed, made my tea, jumped on a crowded bus and stood in the aisle all the way to the Convention Center station in downtown Seattle.  Then I had a pretty nice one mile walk up the hill to work.

When you are working a real 9-5 job, projects around the house just seem to stretch off into the distance as far as the eye can see. Weekends and week nights are not enough time.  Oh well, I should be glad I have a job and that I have the time to ease into this sailing life.

Now this guy in the picture above is already doing what he loves.  Old Pops here sided up to our table in La Paz last spring and sang us a few tunes before fleecing us of all our spare pesos.  I want his job.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

What's left on the refit task list?

Does the list just keep getting longer or is it actually getting shorter?  Seems like as I tick items off the list there are always new ones going on the list.  But assuredly, the major items, the important items are being resolved and we are now getting to the "nice to have" category, which we all know is optional, or maybe put-off-able.

I'm including this picture here so that as you read this very dry list of boring tasks you can feel refreshed looking at this fresh picked lettuce, Connie's mysterious but smiling face, and a her stylish Sponge Bob Square Pants designer smock.

On our next trip to San Diego I'll meet my brother Bernie again and we'll tackle a few chores:

Get engine serial number for Mexico permit.
Visit Conspesca for fishing licenses (or decide to dump the fishing pole overboard instead)
New hydrostatic release and battery for the epirb.
Purchase a bosun’s chair and windex then go up the mast to survey the rig and install the windex.
Practice rigging a preventer.
Practice reefing the main, dropping the roller furler, rigging the staysail. All that silly sail handling nonsense.
Service the watermaker.
Replace the positive battery supply cable with a larger one.
Re cable grounds from engine mount to battery box so my monitoring systems works for all loads.
Check all running lights.
Raise and lower the anchors a few times then remove anchors and rodes and inspect chain. Reeve line at bitter end so I can cut it loose quickly if needed. (note to self: place sharp knife near anchor locker)
Replace the MOB pole.
Replace some portlight window gaskets.
Get rid of the old rusted outboard motor.
Practice putting the dinghy on deck and deflating it. 
Experiment tying the dinghy to the davits.
Measure boat, stem to stern and waterline to masthead.
Take her out and exercise the engine and sails.

And then there are the remaining few big ticket item$ that will just have to wait:  

New Single Side Band radio with antenna tuner and Pactor modem so we can receive grib files.
Purchase and install a Hydrovane self-steering device.
New life raft.
AIS system.
Install a margarita blender

Traveler is operational again

After an extended effort by Chingon fabricators the new exhaust is in place. They finally had to come to the boat, spot weld the connection in place, then take it back to the shop for finishing.

Here is a list of engine related repairs completed:

Rebuilt alternator with good spare.
Rebuilt starter/solenoid with good rebuilt spare.
New water pump with good rebuilt spare.
New hot water heater with new hoses to and from engine.
Four rebuilt injectors.
Rebuilt injector pump.
Clean primary and secondary fuel filters.
Heat exchanger serviced.
Exhaust manifold gaskets replaced.
Propeller shaft gland repacked.
Bilge cleaned.
New exhaust system. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Humpty dumpty goes back together

Notice the four shiny rebuilt injectors, the very shiny rebuilt fuel injection pump, the somewhat shiny starter with new solenoid and those two sexy red power cables.

We had two mysteries going on at once.  Somehow, something nasty was getting into the bilge and somehow diesel fuel was getting into the crankcase.   When we had an oil analysis done they said there was a high level of diesel fuel contamination in the crankcase.  Starting with the injectors and working back to the fuel pumps we found the source.  And by "we" I mean Bradley.

When he took off the fuel injector pump the bottom stud was loose. This was allowing diesel to escape and drip into the bilge.  This loose fitting also allowed diesel to get into the crankcase. While we had the fuel injection pump off we went ahead and had it rebuilt.  And a heli coil fixed the stripped bottom stud.  


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

New exhaust system

During the survey, Bob pointed out the rusting stainless steel exhaust in the starboard cockpit locker. It had been weeping for some time and the steel was starting to go.  He said:   "Stainless steel exhaust pipe elbow and riser (as seen from starboard lazarette) is badly rusted and requires close inspection and repair or replacement as required."

After consulting with a few people we decided to pull it out of the boat and see how much it would cost to fabricate a replacement. Earl from Destache Yacht Service disconnected the long stainless steel exhaust system and through a heroic effort was able to get it out of the boat.  Bradley then took it to Chingon CMF in San Diego for a quote.  Their price is $1940.58, a sizable chunk of the boat kitty... but it is stainless steel!

I had been trying to figure out how the exhaust system worked.  On Platypus the hot gas and coolant mixes in a big mixing elbow on the side of the engine. From there it goes to a big round bucket of a muffler then out through the transom.   On Traveler the exhaust and coolant are not combined near the engine.  The exhaust goes into the center of a jacketed stainless steel pipe and the coolant travels through the jacket.  This jacketed pipe runs all the way aft to the bottom of the starboard cockpit locker then does a 90 degree turn vertical topping out just short of the cockpit seat.  There the gas and liquid are mixed and dumped overboard via a sturdy rubber hose, thru hull, and valve.  Here is my crude drawing. Click on it for a larger view.....

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Fix up the house, play a little music

We joined Chris, Bill, Amy, and Maya for the fourth of July at Kingston.

Then we went to work painting in between rain showers.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Meanwhile, back at home

Meanwhile, back at home here in Seattle we continue getting the house ready to sell. The yard landscaping is completely done and looks fantastic. I've pressure washed every inch of concrete and the outside walls of the house. And we've almost finished the exterior painting on the siding. Next I'll do the trim. The house has a new roof and gutters from last fall. So from the outside we are looking good. Inside is another matter. We need to paint but more importantly we need to get rid of all that stuff in all those rooms and cabinets and closets.

Moving from land to sea will be quite the challenge, but I think the purge will prove to be a wonderfully cathartic experience.

The garage sale prep has begun! We've got sticker and have begun tagging items with their prices. Our hope is to fill a couple of rooms with nothing but pre-priced garage sale items. Once we have everything identified we will schedule a Saturday and advertise on Craig's list. What was I thinking accumulating so much crap?

No this is not my stuff but sometimes if feels like this is what my yard looks like.

Engine work

Engine work is proceeding with me in Seattle.  The four injectors have been removed and taken to the shop to be rebuilt.  One of them was way out of adjustment.  The exhaust manifold is off as is the starter assembly.  The starter is being rebuilt also.  Brad's assistant Earl is upside down in the cockpit locker trying to snake the exhaust system out of the boat so we can take it to the fabricator to see how much it will cost to build a new stainless steel one.

This is a diesel injector...

Got a call from the Coast Guard.  It seems that my bilge accumulated some water from the packing gland on the prop shaft dripping and it finally got high enough so that the automatic bilge pump activated.  There must have been some spilled oil in the bilge because it put out a rainbow plume on the water that the Coasties were able to trace back to Traveler.  Coast Guard officer Ashley was very nice but firm in our conversations as we talked about what my next steps should be to prevent more rainbows in the water.  The bilge is now dry and we've got absorbent pads in place to see where the oil might be dripping from.
Here is a picture of the Coast Guard rushing to my boat slip at Driscoll Mission Bay.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Dennis E. Hadley RIP

Dennis Hadley, former skipper of the 42 ft. cutter Traveler died today June 29 2011 at his home in San Marcos California.  Dennis and his wife Joan lived aboard for 15 years and cruised 4 of those years in Mexico.  Dennis and his brother brought the boat back to San Diego in December of 2009 bashing up the coast from Mazatlan .

Here's a quote from Dennis, "Hanging on a hook in Chacala, or sitting on the bow in a 30 kt. blow in Bara De Navida is something you just don’t put out of your mind when you come back to the states. It’s something you can explain, you have to live it to appreciate it to it’s fullest. We have Traveler on the market for sale, and yet I don’t think that’s what I really what to do. I want to come back down to Mexico and hang out in some bay and think about all those other people in the states that have to work every day and can’t go cruising because of whatever."

Friday, June 3, 2011

San Diego - June trip

My fifth trip down now and I’m cashing in air miles with Alaska Airlines. Alaska has a great non-stop from Seattle to San Diego that takes only 2.5 hours. Got in late, rented the car, picked up the bottle of rum, and found the boat. Saturday morning the jets woke me and I cleaned up the boat while waiting on Brad to come by with my new charging system.  He did and we pulled out the old sweaty batteries, acid dripping down the sides and on my pants and on the deck and on the dock….

I cleaned out the battery boxes and Brad removed twenty pounds of wiring and assorted regulators.  Then off we went to West Marine to trade those eight nasty wet cell batteries for two big 8D 245 Amp/Hour AGM house batteries.  By then end of the day Brad had me back on a 12 volt system powering the house circuit.  Sunday I cleaned the boat of all the shore grime from sitting on the hard for a week. 

Monday Brad brought me a Group 27 AGM starter battery and he spent hours rewiring and installing an automatic charge relay, an alternator regulator, a battery/solar monitor, and a solar regulator.  This now is a simple system that has smart charging from solar panels, alternator, or shore power.  Whether from the sun, the diesel, or shore, the incoming current will charge the batteries in three stages:  bulk phase for rapid charging with constant current, absorption phase for topping the batteries off to 95%, and float phase to hold the batteries at full charge without overcharging.  I’ve got enough coming in from the solar panels to keep the house bank and starter battery charged.  All this with running the refrigerator, some lights, music, and some navigation gear.  Can’t wait to try it all out.  One of the unknowns here is the auto-pilot. I’m not sure how much it will draw on extended trips. Everyone says you should have a wind vane steering system.. but I digress.

My charging system consists of the following:
(5) 2.5-amp solar panels
Blue Sky Solar Boost 25 amp charge controller
Heart 1200 watt inverter
Blue Sky IPN ProRemote charge controller and battery monitoring system
Balmar ARS-5 Voltage Regulator
Slue Sea Automatic Charging relay – Isolates house loads from engine cranking
ProMariner 2 bank, 20 amp battery charger
Two -8D 245 Amp/Hour AGM house batteries
One Group 27 – 92 Amp/Hour AGM starter battery

On this trip I also cleaned up the dinghy and mounted my Tohatsu 8 HP outboard that I had shipped via Fed Ex from Seattle to Mission Bay.  When I opened the cover on the old Nissan outboard that came with the dinghy I saw the carburetor was totally rusted out.  There was still gas in the tank, gas in the carb.  The engine is probably useless after being exposed to the salt for all this time.

Next trip we attack the engine.  I need to replace the rusted exhaust and the exhaust manifold gasket.  But the engine itself might need rebuilding or replacing.  I’ve having an oil analysis done and can only hope for the best. 

We won’t even think about those teak decks yet… Cosmetic, right?

I need a new battery for the epirb.  Must put together a laptop with navigation, AIS, GPS.  Get the radio licensed. And I’m sure 18 other important items.  There is so much stuff to think about!

Now I’m about out of money and need to concentrate on getting this house fixed up and sold.  With Connie working full time and me working full time we don’t seem to make enough progress.  But we will push onward and with luck will be able to leave this fall.  Or maybe we will have to keep the boat in Ensenada for the winter and stay in Seattle and work through another cold miserable winter. 

No matter what, we have to move the boat to Ensenada September 10 -14 before the state of California slaps a use tax on us. 

Sunday, May 1, 2011

San Diego - May trip

The next trip down my brother Bernie met me at the airport after flying in from Nashville.  We rented a car and made our home on the boat for a week.

We ordered and installed a new water pump and Bernie rebuilt the old one for a spare.  We had the alternator rebuilt and tested our spare alternator too. The tachometer was not reporting so we feared that we had no battery charging off the alternator. The list of repairs was growing. I had Paul from Fleming marine come out and he found two leaks in the refrigeration system and got our freezer and frige working for us.  Cold beer on the way! 

We had an appointment with a diesel fuel tank cleaning guy down in Shelter Island so we took the boat out from Mission Bay in the early morning into very dense fog and headed south down the coast looking for the entrance to San Diego Bay.  I had my first scary navigation as I used radar, a handheld GPS, a paper chart, and the depth sounder to feel my way down the coast.  The wrapped some kelp around the prop shaft in about 50 foot of water so I stopped the boat and reversed the engine to clear it.  Then we tried to stay about a mile off the coast in 100 foot of water to avoid more kelp beds.  Entering the bay just next to Point Loma, still in a dense fog, dodging large ships we saw on the radar, I hoped we were in the right place.  Then the fog cleared and I saw Point Loma looming up on our port and buoys Green 7 and Red 8 just ahead…spot on! 

We met with the fuel guy there at Harbor Island and he inspected and cleaned the two 65 gallon fuel tanks. We did not find the fuel crossover hose. He also cleaned the bilge for us. Then we filled up with 100 gallons of diesel at $5.00 per gallon.  On the way back up the coast we noticed the bilge filling up so we ran the bilge pump a couple of times.  Then later, at the dock, popping open a beer I checked the bilge again and it was way high and looked oily.  So I started ripping up floor boards and as I got further and further back toward the stern I saw a river of red liquid running forward.  Back at the stern I could hear a hissing sound. Finally I pushed a bunch of wires out of the way and did see the fuel crossover hose at the bottom front of the two fuel tanks and it was pissing a strong stream of diesel into the bilge.  That was the missing hose we couldn’t find and it was pouring my 500 dollars of diesel into a bilge that could not possibly hold all of it.

It was 5:00 PM and the yard was closing.  My brother came whistling down the dock thinking he’d done his day and was headed for the Crown Royal.  When he saw me jumping around frantically he came aboard, went to the stern, got down on all fours and found that leak.  Then he shoved his hand down, found the leak and stuck his finger in the dike just like a good dutch boy.  He said, “I’ll hold it til you figure out what we’re going to do about it.”

I got through to the receptionist at the Driscoll yard office and she got the last guy in the yard to agree to bring the travel lift around and haul us out. Otherwise we stood the chance of spilling diesel fuel into the water and risking a huge fine.  I took her to the lift and we hauled her out just as the diesel was almost reaching the engine pan.  We used bungs to hold a pressure pad on the hose and that slowed down the stream somewhat.  Now at least if we had to pump overboard, the fuel would go into the yard containment system instead of the bay.

We got the fuel tank cleaning guy (who we were not too pleased with for not finding the crossover hose in the first place) on the phone and he showed up at 8:30 PM with a truck and a pump and two 55 gallon drums. We emptied all the fuel into the two barrels. The boat stunk so I got a hotel room and collapsed. Bernie crawled into the vee, shut the door and opened the windows and crashed.  What a day!
With the boat out of the water we went ahead and got the fuel crossover line replaced and started on the bottom work.  I popped some blisters on the bottom (big mistake because I kinda got carried away) then contracted with the yard to fill them with fiberglass.  When Ovidio (our fiberglass repair man) drilled into the bottom of the the rudder and skeg, water started dripping out.  Quite a bit of saturation there.

After cutting into the soft part of the rudder and giving it lots of thought we agreed that Ovidio would 
take the rudder down to glass, do some patching, then wrap it with more glass. We also had the skeg reinforced.   Damn!  That was an expensive fix.  We had the bottom painted and put on new zincs of course. 

Brad Destache came by to look at the electrical charging system and we enjoyed tearing into the various boat electrical systems and talking to him about upgrading them into the current decade. Traveler had two battery banks of four (six volt) batteries each. The batteries were off-gassing madly.  Brad left to go prepare a quotation for me to look at later.  I then got on a plane and returned to Seattle leaving Bernie to finish up in the yard and see the boat put back into the water.

The next week when they splashed the boat Bernie had the yard mechanic Joe aboard.  Once in the water they cranked up the engine but no water was coming out of the exhaust.  So Bernie looked down in the engine compartment and found the water intake thru hull valve closed.  He opened it and sure enough we had coolant.  Someone dockside hollared out that they could see water being pumped out now from the bilge pump exit so Bernie went down again and this time found that the water pump hose had popped off the pump because someone had forgotten the hose clamp.  Simple enough to fix.  However, the bilge pump kept pumping.  This time the water was found coming in around the new packing gland that I had installed the week before.  I had not tightened it down enough so it was steadily pouring a stream into the bilge. Joe and Bernie tightened that and slowed it to a drip.

Somehow they got the vessel to the slip there at the marina and we arranged for Joe to keep an eye on the boat after Bernie left so we wouldn't have to worry so much about it sinking at the dock.  So there she sat, with a new fresh hull, rudder, skeg.  New water pump, new thru hull valves, rebuilt alternator and a cabinet full of red wine just waiting for my next trip. 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

San Diego - April Trip

Now that we own the old tub it is time to start fixing her up.  Connie and I flew down to San Diego from Seattle for a week of scrubbing and sorting. We got in late, rented a car and immediately bought a bottle of rum. San Diego has plenty of all night liquor stores, especially on Sports Arena Boulevard on the way to Mission Bay.  Tom had brought the boat from Harbor Island up to Mission Bay the week before. What a nice guy!  He left early and so had fog all the way.  So now the boat was waiting for us at Driscoll Mission Bay, a place I’d never seen before. 

Rum in hand, we dialed up the address into the iPhone and navigated at 1:00 in the morning to Mission Bay.  We found the side door to the yard and tried the key that they’d mailed to me and Voila! We were in.  Anticipation:  walking a strange dock in the dark looking for a boat we last saw a month ago.  Looking for our new home.
We found the slip, and the boat, all locked up tight.  I’d brought a flashlight so we could see while we set about dialing in the combination…. And it didn’t work.  Did I write down the wrong lock combination?  When all else failed we sat on the back deck and opened the rum.  I fired up my laptop and started going through various documents stored on my jump drive until I found the correct combination.  Then we were in.

Into our new home for a week, we broke out the clean sheets we’d brought and the sleeping bags and cleared the aft berth.  All snug in our new home we slept till the early morning jets leaving Lindbergh Field woke us at 6:30 AM.

With gusto we attacked various portions of the boat.  We started with the galley and the aft cabin, thinking that’s where we’d be using the most.  All the bedding and curtains came out.  Some went to the laundry, some to the dumpster.  We emptied the galley storage and washed or dumpstered what we found there.  Then we scrubbed every surface, all drawers, ceiling, walls, floors, everything. Whew!
We ended the trip with a visit to the Bali Hai where we sampled their famous Mai Tai and got a little tipsy.  San Diego, what a great place.

Then throughout the week we worked our way from stem to stern poking our way into every cubbie and finding an amazing amount of stuff.  We found replacement parts galore, tools, wire, cable, line, and every kind of nautical gizmo you could think of.  All seeming to be about 20 years old.

We went sailing a couple of times and really enjoyed that.  The ocean seemed so big!  But the boat was solid and we were very happy.  The alternator didn’t seem to be charging and there was oil in the bilge but we called the previous owner and he gave us some clues.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Survey recommendations

There is oil and water in the bilge. The bilge must be cleaned of any oil before operating the bilge pump, and the pump tested before the vessel is placed in operation.

110V receptacles must be upgraded to GFCI

Propane tanks must be stowed in a dedicated locker, with the tank rigidly secured against movement, and/or where any vapors escaping the tank will drain overboard and not into any enclosed spaces on the vessel.

Safety signs must be installed at gas appliance and/or at propane tank.

The stern and anchor light (clear) lenses are faded and frosted. Replace.

The following through-hull valves are frozen (immobile) and must be repaired: (3) cockpit drain/bilge discharges in port lazarette and (1) in aft lazarette.

Some identified switches should be labeled at the electrical panel and throughout vessel.

Replace wire nuts with marine grade butt connectors.

Batteries must be secured and/or contained in a liquid-tight, acid-proof container. Batteries and battery installation is in poor condition and system needs to be inspected, repaired &/or renewed by a certified marine electrician. Batteries appear to be overcharging and venting out excessive amounts of battery acid. Bus bars have excessive wires & cables connected to terminal posts and most all of the connections are corroded.

The liferaft was last serviced in 6 / 04. 3-year service is required.

A yellow 12V wire behind the navigation equipment electrical panel is connected to bus bar, but loose on other end. Remove wire.

110V wiring of this vessel consists of yellow, white and green wires. Extreme caution must be exercised to ensure yellow “hot” wire of 110V system is not confused with the yellow 12V “negative” wires. Where possible, it is strongly recommended to replace original 110V wiring with approved marine grade wiring with proper color schedule as per ABYC E-11 specifications.

The back of the AC panel is not covered. Install plastic cover to protect against possible electrocution as per ABYC E-11.14.6 recommendations.

Lanyard attaching the water light to the horseshoe buoy is wasted and requires replacement.

Vinyl tubing used on fuel tank vent system is not to code. Replace existing hose with USCG approved type A-1 fuel hose.

Engine blower ducting is crushed and severed under port quarter berth. Repair.

Handle for engine seacock valve is missing securing nut and handle tends to fall off into bilge. Replace securing nut.

High-level bilge pump discharge hose is badly kinked and restricts water flow.
Intake hose for manual bilge pump lies unsecured in bilge and lack’s the required strainer or screen. Repair.

Man overboard pole is resin deficient. Coating of resin is needed to strengthen fiberglass pole and protect against skin irritation if/when touched.

Boat survey notes

Inspection Notes: 

Sails were opened during survey. 

Vessel's rigging was not examined aloft.  This report does not include a rigging survey. From examination on deck, the rigging appears to be in satisfactory condition.

The engine was operated during survey, and from external examination it appears to be in good condition. This report is not an engine survey.  

Tanks are not fully accessible for inspection and surveyor cannot speak as to their condition, but they do not appear to leak at this time.

Bottom inspection:  Shaft, strut, rudder, prop, thru hull fittings, keel and underbody wetted surfaces inspected and found in apparent satisfactory condition.

The bottom paint is in fair condition.    

The hull bottom is noted to have scattered medium to large blisters, but are not structural in nature.  Monitor.
 When percussion sounded, the rudder sounded mushy and 2-3 areas of delamination were heard.  Rudder should be repaired at next haulout.

Fuel filter is very dirty.  Fuel tanks and fuel system should be cleaned of any dirt, debris and sediment, which most likely is present.

The starboard headsail sheet is worn in one area and should be replaced. 

The upper 3-way valve in head is frozen.  Recommend replacing the rusted through-hull valve under the head sink, and valve under the forward bilge area (aft of the sump pump) at first haulout, as both are moderate to heavily corroded.

The shower sump tank has no cover and the pump is not working. 
Alternator belt is loose and requires tightening.

Stainless steel exhaust pipe elbow and riser (as seen from starboard lazarette) is badly rusted and requires close inspection and repair or replacement as required.

Slight exhaust leak of engine was seen during sea trial.  Exhaust manifold gasket is possibly source of leak.  Investigate and repair as required.

Slight water leak seen coming from inlet hose connection to water pump.  Repair.

Shaft log leaks excessively while running and drips when idle.  Adjust nut.

Teak plugs are needed where teak decks have been re-screwed.  Repair.

Not working at time of survey:  refrigeration system, spreader lights, (1) lite in fwd. stateroom, and water maker.

With recommendations complied with, this vessel is a suitable insurance risk for its’ intended purpose of local coastal pleasure.