Monday, October 31, 2016

Reader Poll

Placida, FL


What is this blog about?


It started in 2005 as away to keep family and friends informed of our status.

It morphed into a chronical of the cruising life.

My writing style is simple. I write about what I observe. Some observations are introspective, others not. A new please has become part of Libby and my vocabularies; "That's bloggable.". Sometimes I keep a backlog of 25 or more bloggables in my queue waiting for a post. So when we are away from the boat for extended periods, my observations turn to non- boating things.

Some readers don't like to see non- boating stuff here, others do. What is your feeling? I put a poll in the upper right corner of this page. I'll leave it up for two or three weeks.

Fine Print In Absentee Ballots

Placida, FL
More on the paint project tomorrow. Meanwhile, Libby and I filed out our absentee ballots yesterday. Jenny forward them to us. They just arrived.
In addition to the ballot, we must also fill out an afadavit. Libby handed me one, I signed and dated it. But after the fact, I noticed a sticker with Libby's name, in small print. Oh no, I is he'd the wrong copy!
So then I signed and dated my copy. Libby had to cross out my signature and write her own. I'll wager that will invalidate her vote. Sorry, my fault.
I do believe that they do everything possible to throw out all the absentee ballots they can get away with.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Hull Paint Project, Part 9

Placida, FL
Finally! We have a day's result that looks like a big improvement. Hip hip hooray.
We now have two top coats on the port side. It looks uniformly white. The texture is eggshell, but we have one (maybe two) more coats to go.
We came close to our targets today regarding coverage and time. One quart covered 60% rather than 50%. It took us 2.5 hours to paint (after two hours to sand yesterday's job). But at the end the paint started hardening in the can again. It was warmer today.
We are pleased and relieved. The end is in sight. Photos will follow.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Hull Paint Project, Part 8

Placida, FL

Well we completed the first day of the redo of the top coat. It went much better this time. I think we are on the regular to a successful completion. But:

  • We vowed to put it on THIN this time. Our target was to paint half the boat with one quart of paint. It covered 3/4 instead of 1/2.
  • We vowed to go slower this time to avoid errors due to haste. We went too slow. The poor life of this two part paint is 2-3 hours, minus 30 minutes wait before starting. It took us 4.5 hours to finish. At the end the paint started acting funny. By the time I realized that the paint was hardening in the can, some of it was already on the boat. I had to scramble with rags and thinner to wipe off the last 6 square feet.
SO, tomorrow THIN (but not quite so thin), and SLOW (but not quite so slow). Sigh.

We are also having trouble with the foam roller covers from Jamestown. The say "solvent resistant core" but the foam layer bedding coming off very soon, and bits of foam start coming off with the paint. We used 5 roller covers this morning for 3/4 of one coast. I'm going to try a different brand of covers from the local Sherwin Williams paint store.


Hull Paint Project, Part 7

Placida, F L


Cruising friend Greg have me the following advice.Thanks Greg.


With a DA sander use 100 to 120 grit to sand hull (light hand)

1 For your 32' boat, 2 quarts of top coat should allow you 3 coats on the hull.

2 Mix 16 oz top coat, 8 oz brushing converter (LET STAND 30 MIN) and at least 8 oz
brushing reducer(should be slightly thicker than water)

3 Wipe down boat with acetone and tack surface.

4 Use 4" hard foam roller.

5 Coat roller with paint and roll nearly dry in pan (repeat).

6 Touch roller to paint and roll in pan only to spread paint on roller (not to dry).

6 That should give you enough paint on roller to cover 12"to 18" sheer to boot.

7 Paint should be even coat with bubbles.

8 LIGHTLY tip vertically (you are breaking bubbles not spreading paint)
Leaving the last 2 " of bubbles un-tipped. This will keep you from having a hard line.

9 Roll the next 12 to 18" and tip.

10 When you get to the stern stop and check to make sure you have enough paint to finish
second side. If no mix more, if yes keep moving.

11 Stop, repeat next morning.

Almost all of that agrees with what RickW at Jamestown Distributors said.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Hull Paint Project, Part 6

Placida, FL

Here is the expert advice I got from Jamestown Distributors after they read my previous blog post and looked at the picture.

Looking at the picture, it appears that the paint ran and left brush marks. Causes are usually too thick a coating was applied and having thinner on the brush will cause the paint to run.
After sanding the paint down, be sure to clean the surface well using denatured alcohol on a rag, then wipe dry with a clean dry rag.

We suggest thinning the paint 5 - 10 percent, use a foam roller. Prior to rolling, run the clean roller over some tape with the sticky side up to remove any particles on the roller. It may look clean, but this really does make a difference. Roll on a THIN coat, if thinned properly it should lay down smooth without the need to tip. For the first coat you will need to do a light sanding before the second coat. If that works well with an even smooth finish then do the same method for the second coat. If you are still getting sags and runs you are not rolling it out thin enough.
 I still have doubts about it being too thick. I'm an engineer and I do things by the numbers.  THICK or THIN are not numerical,  ml/ft^2  or  ft^2/ml are numbers.  If I spread it twice as thin as last week, I have enough paint for 6 coats, but the quantity ordered was supposed to be enough for only 2 coats.  Nevertheless, next time I'll spread it as thin as I possibly can.

My personal theory about the mistake was using thinner on the tipping brush.  It was running thinner that created the problem.  We won't do that again.  I did it because a YouTube video on roll and tip, talked about thinner on the tipping brush.  Note that now I am advised to do almost no tipping at all.

Of course, everyone else in the boat yard, plus all friends and relatives all have their own advice to give; and (guess what) the various advisories don't agree with each other.  I can't allow it to be a project designed by committee.  But I'm going to call Greg and ask for his advice.

Our Status: On Sunday we finished the hard work of sanding off the paint.  We could have been ready to repaint the primer coat today, but the package with the new paint won't arrive until Wednesday.  We'll have to waste some time until the.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Hull Paint Project, Part 5

Charlotte Harbor Boat Storage

We are in the process of sanding away the botched paint job.  It is very difficult because this paint is very very hard.  It will take 5 days power sanding to finish.

Here is a picture showing the bad job.  I spray painted black over the top, then I partially sanded it to make the imperfections visible.

I have three theories of what went wrong, and no good way to verify which it is.

  1. We did not spread the paint thin enough.   Countering that, the can says coverage 100 square feet.  I spread it 150 square feet. On the recommendation of Jamestown distributors, I bought 6 750 ml cans of paint to complete two coats.  We used only 2 cans on the first coat not 3.  Still it seems too thick.
  2. We moved too fast.  We did the whole 300 square feet in one 4 hour period, 7-11AM when the temperatures were within the allowable range.  That means a lot of moving ladders, and little time to revisit painted places and tip and re-tip 10, 20, 30, 40 minutes later.
  3. When tipping with the brush, we might have been too generous with paint thinner on the brush.  It would be running dripping thinner, not paint that ruined the job.
Any thoughts?

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

A Major Shift in Plans

Port Charlotte, FL

This morning, Libby and I bought an RV permanently sited in an RV park.  Based on that, we also decided to go slow on the paint project; and do it right.  Given that, we don't want to hurry to Marathon to get a mooring ball before they are all gone.  Instead, we'll leave Tarwathie on the hard until next spring when we hope to go to the Bahamas with Pat & Walt.

Don't get alarmed.  That does not mean that we are in poor health or that we are giving up cruising. However, I guess it does move us more firmly to the status of part-time cruisers rather than full-time cruisers.

I don't need to explain myself to blog readers, but I will anyhow.  Here's the real story.

  • Recently we visited cruising friends Pat & Walt in Vero Beach.  They mentioned that one reason for buying a house in Vero was financial security.  Pat said, "If all our money is in the stock market, and if the market crashes, we would be screwed."  Owning real estate is a disaster hedge.

    How true. With this RV we will have a place to live at a cost affordable enough that we could survive on Social Security along if all our savings were lost.  It makes sense.

  • Cruising friends Darrrick & Sharon last year bought a trailer in Florida.  They still have their house and boat.  We decided to visit them this weekend, to take a break from painting.

  • Well their place, Olde Mill Stream RV Resort in Umatilla, FL is a jewel.  The same things that appealed to Sharon & Darrick appealed to us.   It is not an RV campground, not a trailer park.  It is restricted so that customers can live there only 8 months per year.  That eliminates permanent residents and 100% of the clients are snowbirds like us.

    The RV park also has lots of amenities.  rec room, pool, a lake, tennis, pickle ball, free storage for small boats & canoes, gated, good security, very affordable, no taxes to pay.
  • Umatilla is in central Florida.  Cracker country.  It is far enough from the maddening crowds of both coasts to be like a time machine looking 50 years in the past.  Nowhere near Umatilla will you ever see a Hillary Clinton yard sign.  But yuppydom is not far away.  The outer fringes of Metropolitan Orlando are only 5-10 miles away.
  • We bought an older RV, a 2000 Franklin Park, 39'.   The price was only as much as a 5 year old used car.  The price also includes a years park fees/rent prepaid.   This is a so-called destination model RV.  It is designed to live in rather than to be mobile.  It sits permanently tied down to the site in the RV park. Don't ask me the difference between this RV and a mobile home.  It is designed to avoid the laws regulating mobile homes.
  • Libby and I look upon this as an experiment.  If this alternate part-time life appeals to us, we'll keep it.  We'll divide the year between visiting the kids, and Tarwathie and the RV.  If we don't like it, we'll drop the idea, sell the RV and we won't loose too much money.

  • In case of financial or medical disaster, we have a backup housing solution, and a very pleasant one indeed.
So meet, ... (we haven't named her yet.  Suggestions welcome.)

    p.s.  To many of you, this trailer looks small.  To boaters like us, it appears HUGE!   For example, all the clothes we own will only fill about 5% of the hanging closet space.

    p.p.s.  I've written before that the thing Libby misses most while cruising on Tarwathie is the lack of her own garden.  I miss most the inability to own a Lazy Boy recliner chair.  Now, we'll have both.

    Saturday, October 15, 2016

    Hull Paint Project, Part 4R (Reject)

    Charlotte Harbor Boat Storage, Port Charlotte, FL

    Ay ay ay,  I have to eat my words from yesterday's post when I said all went well.

    I inspected the work last night before sunset.  IT WAS TERRIBLE! :-(.    We missed several spots entirely.  There were ripples, drips,  brush marks, and "orange peeling" everywhere.  It was certainly far from the mirror finish we hoped for.    I tried hand sanding the imperfections with 400 grit sandpaper.  But that top paint dries hard as diamonds.  The hand sanding did nothing.  

    I decided, "No painting Saturday.  I'll take a day to sand off the imperfections before continuing."

    This morning I went to Home Depot to get some sanding discs finer than the 220 grit that I already have.  Turns out that 220 is the finest grit they sell.

    I started sanding with the 220 grit paper.  After 5 minutes I noticed a spot the size of a dime where I over sanded through 3 coats of paint, all the way down to the grey primer.


    OK, what the root cause?  After reflection, I see that we were in too much of a hurry.   We painted the entire hull in the 3.5 hour time window from 0730 to 1100 when the sun angle and temperatures were within limits.   Clearly that was too fast.  We hastened to roll, then tip, then move the scaffolds and ladders to the next spot, and we barely finished by 1100.  That did not leave enough time to revisit the spots previously painted to look for drips or ripples forming, and to tip them away with thinner before they dried.  I now realize that each section needs to be revisted and potentially re-tipped every 10 minutes up to an hour.  We were going much too fast.

    Also, I realized that with white-on-white, that neither Libby or I could see the missed spots in the bright-bright Florida sunshine.  They only became visible in the weaker light before sunset.  Again, a symptom of being hurried.    In sunlight, we need to get down at the ladders and peer at the hull from all possible angles to see missed spots.

    What to do now?   I don't want to be too hasty again  If I over sand, it will make a bad situation worse.  We are going to take 2-3 days off, go to visit Darrick & Sharon and I'll think this through before continuing.   That also gives time for any blog readers to respond to this with advice.  I need good advice.

    p.s.  I've been taking pictures every day, but I was planning on publishing them at the end.  The imperfections aren't visible in my pictures.


    Edit: I was able to find 320 grid discs on even though the local stores don't carry them.

    Edit: I should also mention that Libby and I are very adverse to living in a boat yard.  That contributes to our hurry-up-and-get-the-job-done disposition.

    Friday, October 14, 2016

    Hull Paint Project, Part 4

    Charlotte Harbor Boat Storage, Port Charlotte, FL

    We did the first top coat this morning in 3.5 hours.  Nothing special to comment on.

    We will do the 2nd coat tomorrow morning, then cover the sides with tarps because of the possibility of rain.  The chance of rain is 20-40% every day from Saturday afternoon through next Friday.

    I think we have enough paint to do three top coats rather than two.  I can hardly wait to see how good the final product looks.

    Thursday, October 13, 2016

    Hull Paint Project, Part 3

    Charlotte Harbor Boat Storage,  Port Charlotte, FL
    Hooray, the primer coat job was done this morning in 4 hours.  (Good thing too, because by the time we got finished, the sun became really hot.)  

    Here are a few of the noteworthy things, including the boneheaded stunts.
    • Panic at first paint can opening.  The can was only 1/3 full!  WTF!  But then I realized that the can was oversized to leave room to add catalyst and thinner, and to stir it without spilling.  That's sensible, but it also means that the price wasn't $50/quart it was $150/quart!
    • The primer paint goes on really thin, and the color coverage is not very good.  No problem, the finish coats are supposed to provide the cover.
    • I feared running out of paint.  We had 2 cans to cover 300 square feet.  I heard one place that the coverage was 120 square feet, but we could thin it to 150.  Then another source said only 100 square feet.  I feared that we needed one more can.  But it worked.  We painted every square inch planned without a single drop of paint left over.
    • As I was working on the stern, I looked down at our car parked close in.  Oh no, it had paint drips on the roof, and the windows!  I scrambles with thinner and clean rage.  All the spots came off.  Whew!  Boneheaded stunt.  I moved the car far away.
    • I used foam roller covers just like Jamestown Distributors recommended, but the foam dissolved in the paint and fell off the roller.  I finished the last little bit of the starboard side holding the foam in my fingers.  It got my gloves all painty.  When I got down, I saw white fingerprints on the rub rail where I braced myself getting down.
    • Libby refused to wear the safety glasses.  Some of the paint thinner splashed in her eye.  It was painful, and she felt at risk up on the scaffold while blinded.  I guided her down, poured clean water in her eye, and dabbed it with a rag a few times.  It worked OK, no injury and no remaining redness.
    • With that stuff in her eye, Libby took off her disposable gloves.  Then she forgot to use new gloves when resuming her work.  Got her hands all covered with paint.
    • I bought too much of the thinner because of a misunderstanding between me and the Jamestown Distributor expert who I consulted.  I'll return the extra.
    • It worked well to paint the east-facing starboard side 0730-0930 when the sun was low and the temperature was in the 70s, then move to the shaded port side 0930-1130.  By 1200 both sides were in the sun and the temperature was in the 90s.

    [p.s. I know that lots of regular blog readers just wait for the next boneheaded stunts I pull.  I sure seem to do my best to keep them entertained.]

    Wednesday, October 12, 2016

    Hull Paint Project, Part 2

    Charlotte Harbor Boat Storage, Port Charlotte, FL

    Prep is complete,  materials in-hand, painting starts tomorrow.  Here was my shopping list (exclusive of boatyard and living expenses).

    When you cruise full time and own no house or storage bin, space for stuff is very limited.  Some of this stuff, like planks and sawhorses, and box fan, I'll have to leave behind on the "free table".  I'll try to hang on to the Dewalt sander, but I really have no room for it.   Buying tools to be discarded after a single use goes against the way I was brought up.

    Tuesday, October 11, 2016

    Port Charlotte, FL

    I didn't realize it until staring at this picture for a while.  Those pilings were too short.  I'll bet that the storm surge lifted those floating docks right up over the tops of the pilings.   Pilings should be 12 feet higher than the highest tide.

    Reviewing the picture below, the tops of the pilings appear to be only 7 feet higher than the water.  I can't tell if the picture was at high tide or low tide.

    The Emotional Aftermath

    Port Charlotte

    Our thoughts continue being dominated by the plight of our friends B&J after loss of their boat to Hurricane Matthew.  Libby and relate entirely to their feelings.   Death of a family member is a close analogy.  

    B gave me permission to post his pictures.   They too are heartbreaking.   They show both before (10/7) and after (10/8) scenes.  B&J look so pleased with their preperations before the event.

    In the after pictures, note especially the concrete dock sections.   We boaters are trained to think of those things as completely solid and safe.  Not true compared to the power of nature.



    The pilings remain.  Docks and boats all gone.

    Wind Chaser

    Wind Chaser

    Wind Chaser

    Wind Chaser

    Wind Chaser

    That plastic foam is from the docks.

    OMG, look at those concrete dock sections.

    These two boats from the same marina were lucky.  They blew away to the grounds of the Ladys Island Airport

    Monday, October 10, 2016

    Devastating Loss. Tragic.

    Port Charlotte, FL

    [The names below have been changed to protect the privacy of our friends.   I'll call them B&J and their vessel W]

    We got a horrible text message last night.
    Very bad news.  W was destroyed by Matthew.  He took all the docks and the 25 boats in the marina.  The house is in good shape with a tree leaning on the roof.
    Just last year, B&J bought a house in SC.  They chose it because of the nearby marina where they could keep their beloved boat W.   They have been cruising on W for 20 years.

    Libby and I could hardly sleep last night imagining the horror of B&J learning that bad news.  Next to the death of a family member, it is hard to imagine a more personal tragedy.

    After 20 years of cruising, and tweaking the boat and its contents to make it a home (or a second home), your very identity becomes entwined with the vessel.   That's how Libby and I feel about Tarwathie.

    No insurance settlement check could do much to ease the pain.

    Many people have asked us this year, "What will you do after cruising?"   We don't have an answer, but we have been talking about it.  High on the list, is to tie Tarwathie up to a dock someplace and become "live aboards" instead of "cruisers"  We couldn't stand giving Tarwathie up.  I mention this to help explain how devastating W's loss must have been to B&J.

    B&J our hearts are with you.

    Sunday, October 09, 2016

    Hull Paint Project, Part 1

    Charlotte Harbor Boat Storage

    OK, it's time for me to start telling what we are up to.

    1. Al Hatch, the previous owner painted Tarwathie with Awlgrip.  Typical for Al, he did a beautiful job.
    2. On our maiden voyage with Tarwathie I put a horrible gash in her side. I felt terrible.  Blog post here.
    3. Since then, 11.5 years, 60,000+ miles, 200+ lockings,  and who knows how many dockings, and dinghy tie ups, we have accumulated quite a bit of so-called dock rash.  On your car, you call them paint dings.
    4. Libby has been after me to repaint for 4-5 years.  It is too expensive to get done professionally.  I had an informal quote of $10-$12K!
    5. We were going to do it last fall in Green Cove Springs but I chickened out.  Now is the time.
    So, we are repainting the hull above the water line, not the decks.

    1. I was going to use Awlgrip, but it is so particular in how it is applied.   I am an amateur, and the humidity is awful, and we get a bit of rain almost every day.  After consulting with Rick at Jamestown Distributors, I chose Epiphanes 2-part polyethylene paint instead.  It will arrive here next tuesday.
    2. As part of the prep, I'm doing what my friend Greg taught me.  Paint it with black spray paint, then sand off the black.  That makes all the high and low spots visible.  Do that twice and the hull will be a smooth as a baby's bottom.

    Who is that vandalizing Tarwathie?  Oh, it's me.

    OMG, What was I thinking?

    3 hours later, black is sanded off, hull smooth as a baby's bottom.  The grey spots are where I sanded through the white paint to the grey primer.  Each such spot was a ding.
    Next up, one primer coat, two finish coats, 5 days cure before splash.

    p.s.   More than half the dings came from the public docks at one of our favorite places, Vergennes, Vermont.  I'll write a special blog post about that this winter.

    Friday, October 07, 2016

    Doomsay or Happy Talk?

    Port Charlotte, FL

    I see a controversy in today's news about whether NOAA's weather forecast do or do not exaggerate dangers.

    I listened to Governor Scott's news conference on the radio today.  He said there was danger of a 10 foot storm surge in downtown Jacksonville from the Saint John's River.  I called my friend Terri who lives nearby.   She said only 4-6 feet near the mouth of the river and 1 foot in downtown.  Did the governor exaggerate by a factor of 10?

    Libby and I, like many other cruisers, grow weary of the ceaseless alarmist tone of NOAA weather forecasts.

    It is a valid debate question whether or not to err on the side of caution when making public warnings.   On the other hand, I heard Dr. Dean Odell on his radio show say that the normal level of anxiety in today's kindergarten kids was considered neurotic in the 1950s.   Adults too and our society as a whole I think show sings of neuroses and too much anxiety.   Anxiety and helicopter parenting will not prepare children to beome tomorrows adults very well.

    I got an email once from a NOAA weather forecaster commenting on this blog.  I had written about a severe cold front that hit us near the Little Shark River.   He scolded me for being out on the water in the first place, citing how many Floridians are killed by cold fronts every year.  If we all listened to him, nobody would ever sail across oceans or circumnavigate.

    On the whole, government employees appear to be most motivated by avoiding criticism.  Failure to give a sufficiently scary warning about Katrina is severely criticizes.  Overly scary warnings making people afraid to go outside ever is only mildly criticized.

    So, what is the right balance in life?  I recommend the 80-20 rule.  Live with the most common 80% of risks without worry.  Avoid only the most severe 20% of risks.

    Edit: That needs clarification.   I mean risks to you and your family personally.  If a weather event approaches threatening to kill 100 people in an area with a population of 1,000,000  the chance of it killing you is only 1/10,000.

    Thursday, October 06, 2016

    How Hurricanes Impact Cruisers

    Port Charlotte, FL

    I'm on a hurricane break from my painting chores.  Actually, we are far enough away that we will see only minor weather effects.   But it lets me sit back and think about others.

    • P&W left their boat on a mooring in Vero Beach.  They are out of town.  Chances are, that their boat will be OK.
    • B&S interrupted their migration south.  They won't resume until the coast is clear (pun intended), and after hearing that the ICW is clear of shoals and debris, and that facilities are reopened.
    • B&J are planning to defy the evacuation order and stay at their house with their boat at the marina nearby.  Chances are, nothing bad will happen to them or their boat.
    • My niece K&P, bought plywood to board up thier house.  Other friends, D&J are hurricane veterans.  Their house has long had hurricane shutters.  P&W new place in Vero has modern high-tech three pane safety windows that claim to be immune to a coconut strike at 200 mph.
    • We hear of fellow cruisers stuck in the Bahamas.  Chances are, that some of them will loose their vessels, but keep their lives.
    • We have many friends still in Boot Key Harbor in the Keys.  The chatter today is that most of them did nothing to prepare for the chance that the hurricane might make a surprise turn.   Libby and I are probably like them.  We have perhaps too much faith in the weather forecast technology.
    • We know first hand only one man who just rides them out at sea.  This man had a CSY 37, a famous boat at least as seaworthy as a Westsail 32.  He sails single handed.  He told us that his boat was sandblasted by a hurricane at sea.  It stripped all the paint off.  But he, and his vessel escaped major damage.
    It is the last story that's hardest to accept.  Mariners have always said that storms are best weathered far out to sea. Up at Hampton Roads, the US Navy fleet all leave port when warned of an approaching hurricane. I can't dispute that wisdom.   But it sounds awful.  I believe that Libby and I are like most modern cruisers.   We do it for fun.  We seek fun, but we really really avoid discomfort and unpleasantness.  We also jealously guard the safety of our home, Tarwathie.  

    I think that my conclusion is that cruisers of earlier times were made of sterner stuff.  They accepted more risks, and more discomfort.   There are a few of them still around.  Hats off to them.  

    Wednesday, October 05, 2016

    I Screw Up

    Charlotte Harbor Boat Storage, Placida FL

    Long term readers of this blog know that I screw up often, and that I usually confess my mistakes on this blog.  This is yet another case.

    I learned in the past that if I shut down the refrigeration system, that the R134A coolant leaks out and air leaks in.  If it stays cold, no leaks.  I think it was 6-7 years ago the last time I let it get warm and the last time I needed to add coolant.

    So what about the summer?  In 2013, I left the solar panels in place and the refrigeration system turned on at normal temperatures for the whole summer as we tourned the USA by car.  It worked fine.  When we returned to Tarwathie in the fall, there was ice in the freezer and all was well.

    I did the same this year, but the outcome was bad.  One of the wires from the panel connections was pulled loose, cutting solar capacity 50%.  The fridge plate was cool, but not cold.  Worse, the batteries were totally sulphated, and useless.

    We had the boat yard put straps on Tarwathie while we were away.  The straps attached to augers in the ground to prevent tip over in case of hurricane.  It is possible that one of the techs tripped on the solar panel wire when working on the straps.   The water level in the battery cells was full.  That indicates that the problem happened very soon after we left Tarwathie last spring.

    My mistake, risking $250 worth of batteries to avoid a $150 charge to have a tehnician suck the air out and put new R134A in.  Because it went wrong, I risked $150 plus $250 expenses. :-(  Bad strategy.

    But I repaired the panel wires, and then set my smart charge controller to do an "equalize charge".   The batteries seem much better today.  I'm going to equalize a second time.  If I'm lucky, the batteries can be rescued 100%.

    In case you don't know, sulphation is a condition that happens to lead-acid batteries when they sit long times with a low percent charge.  It can happen to flooded, sealed gel cell, or AGM batteries.

    The symptom of sulphation is that the battery acts like there was a large resistance in series.  When drawing a load current, the voltage sinks to overly low values.  The other day, with the fridge drawing 4 amps, the voltage was 11.6 volts.   But when charging, the voltage goes to high values, even 14 V long before the battery is charged.

    The cure for sulphation is the so-called equaliztion charge (I prefer to call it the desulphating charge).  For me, that means charging up to 15.2V for one hour.  I'll recheck the water levels afterward.  With gel or AGM batteries, one has to be very careful with equalizing charges because of the risk of overpressure.

    Hurricane News, I don't expect much effect way over here, but:
    One very ugly forecast scenario is for Hurricane Mathew to make a circle out in the Atlantic and return to Florida after a week with a direct hit on Miami and the Keys.  OH NO!
    Also, the marine forecast from Jupiter Fl for Thurs:
    I sure hope that nobody is out there in the Gulf Stream that day.   Remember that North winds are in the direction opposite the Gulf Stream.  That causes highly dangerous "square" waves.

    Tuesday, October 04, 2016

    Binge Labor

    Charlotte Harbor Boat Storage, Placida FL

    So we're back, what next?   Well, three or more weeks of hard work, and unpleasant living conditions.  I don't mean to whine, but the fact is that the maintenance/repair cycles of cruising boats is not uniform.  It comes in binge sessions.

    It is also an old adage, that starting on the first day you leave your boat unattended, it begins to deteriorate.   Overall, Tarwathie fared well.  No major leaks, nothing missing, nothing broken.  However:

    • The water in the toilet bowl evaporated leaving a disgusting black residue.
    • The hand pump on the toilet is nearly frozen.
    • There is either something very wrong with out batteries, or with our refrigeration system.  I'm trying to correct that now.  More on that subject tomorrow.
    • There are rust/grease stains in many places on the top deck.  That will take lots of cleaning.
    • There is water in the engine compartment.  It must be leaking in from the cockpit, hatches.
    • I think there is a slow leak at the starboard side chain plates.  I tried to repair that last winter in Boot Key Harbor, but it didn't work 100%.
    • The kitchen sink drain foot pump is not working right.
    • Good news, almost no mold or mildew.  We used Sun Packs with formaldahyde before leaving, but those are supposedly good for 3 months only; we were gone 6 months.
    But our big project is to paint the hull above the water line.  That's the project we bailed out on in Green Cove Springs last year.   Lots more on that in coming weeks.

    The big impediment to our work is the fiercely hot sun.  We can't work at all 10AM-4PM on sunny days.  We hide out in the air conditioned library those hours.  When it is cloudy and cooler, it rains, and we can't paint in the rain.

    Also, in coming days I'll write a blog covering the time since we left Vermont.  We had a geat time.

    One more slight worry.  Hurricane Mathew.  The probability of it coming here is nearly zero, but you can never be sure.  Anyhow, we can be glad we are not in the Abacos Bahamas today.  Here is their weather forecast.

    Abacos, Bahamas, Thursday:     10% Precip. 
       Hurricane conditions likely. Showery rains containing strong gusty winds and heavy downpours at times. High 86F. Winds SE at 80 to 100 mph. Chance of rain 100%. 3 to 5 inches of rain expected.

    Monday, October 03, 2016

    Home Sweet Home

    Charlotte Harbor Boat Storage

    What a welcome sight to see Tarwathie waiting patiently for us. Inside, everything appears to be fine also.

    We plan to splash in three weeks. I'll blog every day.