Thursday, October 29, 2015

Tarwathie's Soul

Green Cove Springs, FL

One of our most beloved possessions on board is our ship's clock.  The sounding of the ship's bells every thirty minutes, and the ritual of winding the clock every few days are sources of delight and "being at home" feelings of wellness.  When at sea, Libby and I actually change the watch at eight bells.

We have struggled to keep the clock running over the years.  It is getting more and more difficult.  Also, all the exterior shine and lacquer are worn.

I recently learned that we can have Chelsea Clocks restore the clock to new condition.  I'm sending it away today to get that done.  They won't tell you in advance how much it costs.  Time will tell.  No matter what they say, it would be hard to say no.

Tarwathie will feel incomplete while the clock is away.


Green Cove Springs, FL

The other day, Libby and I watched the movie Gremlins on board.  Perhaps we shouldn't have done that because the following day, we were besieged with electrical gremlins.  I'll explain.

  1. When we returned to Tarwathie, the batteries seemed to be in fine condition.  But when I checked the water levels, I could see the plates exposed.  It took 3 liters of water to. top them off.  After that, the batteries performed poorly.  The voltage dropped to 11.8 volts in the morning, but when 5 amps charging current was applied, they charged to 14.2 volts in only 30 minutes.  That is a sign of bad batteries.

    I fear that leaving the boat for 5 months with the solar panel controller set to run an equalize cycle every 30 days, used too much battery water.  My bad.
  2. To verify, I hooked up the shore power.  But that did nothing.  "Oh yes," I had forgotten that our shore power charger failed just before arrival in Green Cove Springs last spring.  I am very unhappy with that charger.  I bought it for $400 reconditioned.  It had three banks.  Every two years, the bank in use failed.  This year the last bank failed.
  3. I ordered a new charger.  It is a small simple Genius Charger, that cost only $59 new. (More on that in a future blog.).  The picture above shows the old charger next to the new one.

  4. The day after watching the movie, I set out to remove the old charger and install the new one.   Of course things are never as simple as they seem.  The lengths and the types of connectors for the new charger were totally different.  I couldn't just swap chargers.  I had to rewire.
  5. So I did install the new charger and I did rewire.  When I first turned it on, the LED lit, but I got no charging current according to our Link 10 battery monitor.  What the heck?  It seemed unlikely that the brand new charger was defective.
  6. I hooked up a manual automobile battery charger that was laying around.  No charging current?   What the heck?
  7. I started the engine.  Plenty of charging current showed.  What the heck?
  8. I disconnected the automobile  charger and put the Genius charger back.  This time not even the LED light turned on.  What the heck?  Things seemed to be going downhill.  As I stood there scratching my head, I overheard a snatch of someone else's conversation.  He said, "Do you have power?"  "Aha," I thought, the whole pier is blacked out, "I hope I was not the cause."   Next I got in the car to go to the grocery store.  I was shocked to see that all of Green Cove Springs and the whole region up to 7 miles north of us was blacked out.  "Thank goodness," I thought, "I didn't cause all of that."
  9. I reasoned that I must have made a wiring error. So I shut everything up and resolved to revisit it in the morning.
  10. During the night, I abruptly sat up in bed with the answer.  I had connected the new charger directly to the batteries, but that bypasses the shunt that the Link 10 uses to sense current.  The next morning, I woke and rewired once again.  Everything works now.
Whew.  Darn gremlins.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Vasa Test

Green Cove Springs, FL

I was shocked to read the news this morning.  It said that the recent incident where a whale watching boat, Leviathan II, sunk near Vancouver Island, BC was caused by a wave coming when the 25 passengers were all on the port side.  What!  WTF! I thought, "Have we not learned the lesson of the Vasa Test after 400 years?"   I'll explain.

In Stockholm, Sweden on 10 August 1628, the new ship Vasa was subjected to the normal stability test before casting off for her maiden voyage.  They ordered the crew to run back and forth, port to starboard.  Well, the Vasa flunked the test.  She nearly capsized, and the test was hastily cancelled.  She then cast off, and a few minutes later, the first gust of wind caused her to capsize and sink. (She was salvaged in 1961, and you can see her in the Vasa Museum today.)

I'm sure that any experienced boater would question the story of Leviathan II,   We have all seen motor vessels that size, and it sounds unbelievable that 25 passengers on the port side could make her unstable.  The Leviathan II was licences for 46 people, but many similar sized day cruise boats carry hundreds of people,  By definition, no captain could act fast enough to prevent all passengers from rushing to one side.

It must be that the Leviathan II would not pass the Vasa test.  How can it be that such a thing could be allowed to happen in this modern world?  Aren't all of today's licensed vessels required to pass a modernized Vasa test?  I am shocked.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Warning, This Will Melt Your Heart

Green Cove Springs, FL

Our great grandaughter Anna, just barely 1 year old, is a delight. Watch this video and decide for yourself.

Kudos to videographer Dave, and to the proud parents Harley and Sara.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

OMG, Poor Women Bloggers

Green Cove Springs, FL

I read a very interesting article today.  It was about a woman violinist who writes a blog (like me).  She has published her blog for about 10 years (like me).   Unlike me, she collected more than 1000 obscene comments from her blog.

Then the OMG moment happened.  If our blog was written by Libby instead of me, then she would have collected a similar list of obscene comments.   I never considered that.

In Marathon, I teach seminars on writing blogs.  It never occured to me to mention this sexist aspect of the Internet.  I will mention it in the future, and suggest that women blog authors who might get really upset by inappropriate comments, might have to disguise their identity as a man for defensive reasons.  That's sad.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Sunrise Video Replaced

Green Cove Springs, FL

I couldn't get the video of the sunrise to work right, so I replaced it in the blog with a serie of still pictures.   They are spectacular.

To see them, click here.


Green Cove Springs, FL

It is a happy moment for a boat (and the owners) when she splashes in the water.   The water is Tarwathie's natural environment.

This morning at 0730, that's what we did.  Shown below, starting from her place in the Holland Marine yard, ending tied up at the dock at Reynolds Park Marina.  The last two photos shows her dock space from the air when every dock space was occupied by 5 US Navy destroyers.


Monday, October 19, 2015

Ready-Not Ready-Ready-Not Ready-Ready-Not Ready-Ready

Green Cove Springs,

We are on the schedule to splash tomorrow.  I had only one more thing to do before leaving: check out the engine.

So this morning bright and early, I opened the engine compartment. I added water to the batteries.  I checked the coolant and oil. I drained the fuel/water trap.  I checked the primary fuel filter.  Uh oh; the Racor filter was dry, and the chamber almost empty.

What could that be?   I switched from Starboard to Port tank.  No change.  I pulled the fuel line to the filter.  No fuel came out.  I pulled the fuel line at the tank.  No fuel came out.  I could see on the sigh guages that we have plenty of fuel.

What could it be?  I concluded that the fuel lines must be clogged with sludge from the summer.   In 10 years, we have never cleaned the tanks (the procedure is called fuel polishing).  Therefore, we asked the boat yard to call their fuel polishing guys.  They said that it sometimes took a week or more for them to show up.  Uh oh.

But only 30 minutes later, the fuel polishing guys showed up.  Horray.  They put in their lance and started working.   The fuel that came up was "excellent" quality fuel according to them.   There was almost no sludge.   We did find a few bees in both tanks.  Bees must enter via the vents.

Next theory,  the fuel lines themselves must be plugged.  The remedy is to use compressed air to blow out the fuel lines backward.   They did that.  Fuel flowed freely from the starboard tank, but not from the port.   Oh well I thought, that's good enough.  When the engine runs, we have a slight vacuum to help suck the fuel out.   So the guys cleand up and left.

So I had to put stuff back and reconnect the fuel line to the filter.  Uh oh, no fuel came out from either tank.  We were right back where I started in the morning.   This time, I thought harder.   We got out the electric blower used to inflate the air mattress when camping.  I stuck the nozzle of the blower down the tank fill and turned it on.  Fuel flowed immediately.   I did the same on the other tank and it worked also.

I conclude that my real problem is that we need to start a siphon to get the fuel up above the top of the tanks then down to the filter.  By sitting so long, we broke the siphon.

Oh well, I'm not unhappy about spending the money for polishing.  I've been wondering about the condition of those tanks for years, and the money was worth it for peace of mind.

By the way, how our our tanks clean after more than 20 years, whereas others build up sluge every year or two?  The answer is that we use our boat.  We use several tank-fulls of fuel every year.  We do not let the boat sit unused for extended periods.

So, by the end of the day we are once again ready to splash tomorrow.  We'll hang around here at Reynolds Park Marina for a few days.  We have two weeks to kill before the Westsail Rendezvous November 6.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Sunrise at Mills River Overlook

Green Cove Springs, FL

I'm going to start pushing our best pictures from the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Today's are a dawn sequence.  I forced Libby to get up an hour earlier than normal and to get into the car for a 2 mile ride to The Mills River Overlook.   It was worth the trip.

The view started with The Moon nearly in conjunction with Venus and with Jupiter.  (I can't see Jupiter in the photo, but it was there.)

The sunrise was spectacular and worth the effort.

The fog in the valleys looked like a lake.  A lake the side of Champlain, or perhaps the size of Lake George.

The camera faced East for the sunrise, but the sky behind us in the West was also tinted pink.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Hot Hot Hot

Green Cove Springs, Florida

We are back on the boat, but there are two projects to complete before splash.

  1. Replumbing the sanitary system.   Before leaving GCS last May, we noticed black water dripping from the discharge through-hull.   That shouldn't be possible; especially since the sea cock was closed.   I theorized that the pipes were clogged with salt.   A few years ago, I replaced the section of pipe closest to the toilet.  It was so salt encrusted that the 1.5 inch pipe was only open the diameter of a fat pencil.

    That project is now finished, but my theory is proved wrong.  The rest of the piping was not blocked by salt.  But I improved things anyhow.  We have not used the ability to dump overboard since the last time we were in the Bahamas.  I therefore simplified everything and piped the toilet directly to the holding bladder.  No Y-valve, no hand-pump, no connection to the sea cock.  The sea-cock I permanently blocked.
  2. The big proect is to repaint the white part of the hull above the water line with Awlgrip.  My friend Greg is advising me.  He insists that it is not as hard as I imagine and that I can make it look almost as good as a professional spray paint job.  I'll report again when we are finished.  It will take a week.
The real obstacle is that it is so hot and the sun is so intense that I find it difficult to work outside in the afternoons.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Home Sweet Home

Green Cove Springs, Florida

You should have seen the expression on Libby's face as we drove into the boat yard, and spotted Tarwathie sitting there.    Libby is very happy to be home again, and so am I.  

Tarwathie awaits us in Red-White-and-Blue

We are still de-summerizing the boat, so last night I offered to take Libby out for dinner.  She insisted that I bring food back so that we could eat in our home.   Last night we slept very well.   It shows how powerful the emotional tie to home is, and how much we missed her while being away for 5 months.

Tarwathie was in good shape.  No mold or mildew inside.  The onlhy apparant damage was that I found our Windex laying on the deck shattered.   Oh well, in the years before Tarwathie we were accustomed to breaking a Windex at least once per year.

We have one plumbing project, before splash.  I'm also waiting for permission to paint the hull above the waterline.   If we paint, we'll be here 10 or more days.  If not, we will splash in two days.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Proven: We Love Nature

Blue Ridge Parkway, NC
Asheville was a dissapointment. We went to the art district, but we got eel hours before they opened. We went downtown, but aside from the world's best gem and mineral store, there wasn't much to see. But learned that the Parkway was reopened, so we threaded our way through hectic and scary Asheville traffic to the Parkway entrance. As soon as we got on the Parkway, all the pressures of the world fell to the side. We could go as slowly as we want, stop at each and every overlook, and enjoy the beautiful nature. The evidence is clear: we love nature much more than populated places and much much more than any city.
Peak fall colors are still 2-3 weeks away, but it is still beautiful. From the overlooks, we can see the subtle color differences depending on elevation in the nearby mountains.
The Mt Pisgah camp site is beautiful. I changed plans and signed up for 2 nights instead of one. Hiking the trails will be our main activity today.
Near our camp is an overlook named Mills River :). It is the only one with clear views both East and West. It is ideal for viewing sunrises and sunsets. I was there this morning 30 minutes after dawn. The mountains in the light and the valleys all full of fog were spectacular.
Next time we hit a library, I'll post pictures. We have many to choose from.
I also see from the literature that there is still much of The Blue Ridge Parkway that we have not seen. It is 450 miles long. I'll add that as a special future goal to do it end to end sometime in the future.
P.s. The ranger warned us about bears. We didn't see or hear any. However, last night I twice heard an animal cry that I can only describe as a high pitched scream. I think I heard that sound once before in West Charlton NY, it was a lynx. Could that be what I heard last night???

Monday, October 05, 2015

Plan A. No Plan B. No Plan C. ...

Zebulon, NC

I got up early to check weather before departing.  

Our Plan A was to head for the Blue Ridge Parkway and to camp out.   I found that much of the parkway is closed.

Plan B was to skip the rain drenched Carolinas and head for Georgia or Florida on I95.   I found that I95 is closed for 70 miles in SC.

Plan C, I'm working on right now.  We will drive to the Asheville, NC area.   We hear that Asheville is very nice and the far western part of the state was affected less.  Don't know where we'll stay the night.  I'm checking Asheville advisories now.


Sunday, October 04, 2015

OMG, The Beauty

Zebulon, NC

Tomorrow we leave Zebulon and head for the Blue Ridge Parkway.    We will be camping and heading south.   Probably reach the JAX area by Friday or Saturday.

Meanwhile, I want to share one of the most beautiful pictures ever (no is is not a woman).  I don't have rights to post it here directly.  Click on this link to see it.

You can read about it here.

Friday, October 02, 2015

Blub Blub

Zebulon, NC

Boy what a wet month.  It has rained almost every day since leaving Vermont two weeks ago.

That hasn't slowed Libby down from working in Dave & Cathy's garden.  She been out there every day in the rain working.   When Dave saw some of the things she did, he said, "Awesome.."  I think Libby learned a lot from Jen.

But other activities have been curtailed.   Libby and I planned to leave here and head south with out camping gear this weekend.  But I posted before about tent camping in the rain.  The forecast around here for the next few days calls for 2-10 inches of rain.  Too wet.

I also hoped to go on a canoe excursion with Dave.  I thought a two day trip with overnight camping would be great.  But that too had to be cut back.  I almost cut it to zero because of rain, but then I thought of what we had to learn when we lived in Sweden -- you just have to learn to go outside and have fun anyhow, even in the rain.

So our compromise was a day trip on the Neuse River done hurriedly before the hurricane arrives (since then they say the hurricane won't hit here).

Using Google, I found an excellent launch ramp and a rural stretch of the river.   It was between Goldsboro and Smithfield, NC.   I was worried about low water and impassible stretches, but the rain gave us deeper waters and swift currents.  (Next week after up to 10 inches of rain, it could be flooding.)

Anyhow, it was fun.   We went upstream about 5 miles.   We found an island in the river where we could stop for lunch.   Stopping points on the river are few because of steep river banks.  Libby and I had the same problem on the Conneticut River.   Dave got checked on TJ's canoe transport and operation.  We plan to leave TJ with Dave over the winter so I really hope he gets to use it.  Cathy too likes canoeing.