Almost Ready to Leave

It’s been a week mostly spent working.  If this was one of the blogs we follow about sailing, they’d show you lots of video about how we work and what is getting done. But most of the work we do isn’t that much fun to watch, or it’s research about batteries and inverters and sizes of shower sumps and fuel filters and such.  I get bored just talking about it.  So no work videos for you!  We have accomplished many upgrades and some that aren’t quite as done as I’d like… but we can do those some other time. It’s about time to leave this yard and head up into the Chesapeake bay.

We did manage a couple fun outings… One was to the Douglas MacArthur Memorial in Norfolk.  It is housed in the old City Hall building, built in 1849, and site of some interesting history.  On May 10, 1862  Union General John Wool marched into Norfolk, and the mayor,  William Wilson Lamb (I’m only giving his whole name because my dad’s name was Wilson and I think it’s cool) met with the general on the city hall steps and announced the surrender of Norfolk to the Union.

So roughly 100 years later it was remodeled into the MacArthur Memorial.  It has MacArthur’s grave and that of his wife, Jean.  The museum is huge, housing lots of interesting artifacts and a wealth of information.  MacArthur served an amazing length of time, in theaters all over the world.  Not always admired, in fact sometimes feared, he was always respected.  He defiantly had a major impact on the world.

The USS Wisconsin is right down the street from the MacArthur Memorial.  Again, a great museum, and then the ability to roam around a HUGE battleship on a self guided tour.  Self guided means I have to read every sign, and Cherryl eventually wears out and patiently reads while waiting for me.  They even had a two chair dental clinic on board.

Those huge guns fire projectiles about the same weight as a VW.

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One poster had an interesting philosophy…

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With the water rising so much, there is far more debris in the water – mostly logs and tree branches.  The Army Corps of Engineers is supposed to keep the waterway safe and clear.  We saw this barge mounted crane, and evidence that it had plucked a lot of junk out of the water, but never actually saw it working.

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Tuesday we went back to Colonial Williamsburg.  We thought maybe we could spend an afternoon there, and see most of what we’d missed last time.  Wrong!  The museum itself could fill two days.  But we watched the wheelwright making a wheel hub with a hand chisel.  We learned that those old wagon wheels were far more complicated and sophisticated than I’d ever imagined.  We also spent time in the Joinery building, seeing cabinetry being created.  So really, the only trades they offer that we haven’t seen yet are blacksmiths, bindery, brick making, printing, leather working, tailor, weaver, milliner and gunsmith.  Ha!  You need a week in this place!

We did manage a nice dinner, and then a concert of classical music on period instruments.  Two violins were 17th century, which is pretty impressive that they can still play them.  More impressive was a viola from the late 1500’s!  These instruments are part of the museum collection, and only come out of safe storage once a year for this series of six concerts. The concerts are held in the Palace Ballroom, and lit by electric simulated candles, showing how dimly lit places were when candlelight was the only real option.  Photography was not allowed, so you just have to imagine how gorgeous it looked and awesome it sounded!

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We heard “Thomas Jefferson” give a tremendous talk about his life, what shaped him, and how things are going in his day.  It was spoken as if we were in Colonial times, and he did an amazing job of staying in the period.  It was also very interesting that these influential early Americans gave so much to create a land of freedom, and how we today seem to value it so lightly.  He also stressed the importance of good manners, and the art of compromise.  We could do well to listen to him!

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The wheelwright:

The joiner using a hand plane:

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A kit to experiment with garden layouts…

Ok, so I took a quick shot after the concert was over…

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We have been at this dock so long we feel we are pretty good friends with some of the other boats.  We are all feeling the need to get moving… the two other boats we have spent the most time with are leaving this weekend, and we are too.  It’s been fun.  Here is a picture of our friends on Worknot leaving.

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We have tried to get out on the kayak at least once a day.  One day I was busy so Cherryl took the kayak out by herself.  She made out like she was nervous about it, but as she zoomed off her body language said otherwise…

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One morning we woke up to thick fog… we could barely see the forest for the fog… it really looked etherial.

I know I keep saying no more sunset pictures, but tonight’s was so spectacular I had to share it.

 

 

Colonial Williamsburg

When the wind and rain died down from our visiting Florence, and before the marina’s yard and access flooded, we went to Colonial Williamsburg.  Not crowded at all… probably because sane people were worried about flooding or whatever.  But an absolutely beautiful day!

The pictures above and right below are the Governor’s Palace.  Very opulent, and not a good way to win the hearts of colonists who resented all the money the English King was trying to squeeze out of them.  They also made a big deal about how well fortified the palace was, with many walls amazingly weaponized. But a beautiful building and grounds…

 

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Williamsburg has a lot of wonderful buildings and period props, but what makes it really special is the great folks working there.  They are in period costume, and in period mindset.  If they ask you where you are from, and you reply “Colorado”, they look all puzzled and say they’ve never heard of it.

There are all kinds of trades being practiced, and you can watch and ask questions – it’s fascinating to learn how things were done.

Below is a shoemaker.  We heard the difference between a shoemaker and a cobbler – a cobbler is not in the same league as a shoemaker… he doesn’t make shoes, he repairs them.  “Cobbles them together”.  In the shoemaker’s shop, we also saw three lovely young ladies who (I think) were on a homeschool tour.

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A silversmith showed us how his craft worked, and as an example, the making of a spoon.  We had a sit down conversation on “current” events with a lawyer.

 

The capitol building is awesome, and a ways behind it is the gaol, or jail.  I understand one way to beat jail time if you were convicted of theft or murder, was to be branded on your hand with a “T” or “M”, and run out of town.  While this would be painful, the worst part is you would never be trusted in any other place in the colonies.  In an era when checking on a person’s credentials was impossible from a distance, this was a way to insure baddies couldn’t do harm elsewhere.

Looks like we got in trouble too, and had to spend some time in the Stocks.  I have pictures of my Dad in these same Stocks years ago!

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This is a fire engine, which pumps from a reservoir of about 100 gallons that we filled with a bucket brigade.  Four people on each side pump up and down on the handles, and the guy on top aims the nozzle.  They said the goal was not so much to put out the fire, but to keep it from spreading to neighboring structures.

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I loved the “cars”, even if only 2 horsepower.

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And of course there are dozens of quaint shoppes.  I love Chocolate, but not enough to buy (or buy for my daughter) this history of Chocolate.

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The King’s Arms served us a great meal, made all the better by the very witty and fun waiter.  Finished up with a fine Bread Pudding.  Fabulous!

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Rising Water

So Florence may be old news now, but her memory lingers on… in the form of rising water.

We think of water moving to level pretty quickly, but where there is a LOT of water, it takes a while to move.  If you pour honey on a plate, you can make it pile up in one spot, but it will then somewhat slowly spread out till it reaches level all over.  The water seems to work like that – huge amounts of water upstream can take some days to reach the ICW and a bit longer to reach the coast. Hence our rising water.

We measured where the water hit the dock on Saturday, and have been checking it since then.  We are up about 29 inches!  The good news is the boat floats, so no real problem.  A few minor logistical difficulties – the boarding door for our boat is now so high compared to the dock that we now board off the swim platform on the stern.

The road into the marina is in about 9 inches of water, so we moved the rental car to higher ground last night… which meant walking a half mile back to the boat, (in our waterproof boots) sometimes in 6 inches of water.  If the water got too much deeper I would be afraid we couldn’t get the car out safely.  (This morning those areas looked closer to 9 inches)  Another concern is that we are told when the snakes get flushed out of their natural habitat they will be seen swimming along where we are trying to walk.  I’m not big on snakes, and especially not in the water.  So walking in the dark was somewhat spooky.  We survived.

So here are a bunch of pictures of the area, taken yesterday and today.

 

 

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This is all supposed to be dry land!  In addition to the little boat, we’ve seen fish swimming across the work yard.

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Hard to tell where the real water is. The boat is in a working slip, the crane is on land. Pretty much.

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Not a lot of work is getting done on boats now.  The yard workers are spending their time  removing electric motors from power equipment, relocating stores and trying to protect the repair yard.  And we have no traffic in the canal.   The drawbridges south of us are closed due to high water, so nobody’s going anywhere.  I’ve heard that several marinas in key locations south of us were not too badly damaged – but now without power.  That’s good news for those headed south now.  We are still planning on going north into the Chesapeake Bay for a while.

So the winds have shifted this afternoon, and it looks like the river may be dropping a bit.  I guess the water on the roads and yard will take longer to dissipate.

I hope to put up more non-Florence stuff on Friday.  See you then!

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Florence Stood Us Up

Florence stood us up, and we’re OK with that.  But she certainly changed our routine anyway.  So I never posted what we did before we started preparing for her visit.  So here is a flashback of sorts…

We knew heavy weather was on its way, but several days out.  So we might as well enjoy the beautiful weather when we can!  So we got out the kayak, and spent a nice afternoon pedaling around.  You might notice we propel it with our feet… it is a Hobie Mirage Drive kayak.  When you pump with your feet, cute little fins oscillate back and forth under the kayak and move you quite briskly through the water.  You can even select reverse and back out of the way of, say, an alligator or whatever.  We saw a few other kayaks, some with dogs on board, and a bunch of boys jumping off the railroad bridge.  That made me think of boys that Mark Twain might have written about.

 

We also explored the back side of the marina.  There are many sheds to shelter boats.  Some are only a roof, some are enclosed on three sides.  Many have 2 or 3 boats end to end inside.

Sunday we went back down to the Outer Banks.  Bodie lighthouse (pronounced “body”) is not quite as tall as Hatteras, and the stairs are apparently weaker because they make a big deal about only one person on a flight at a time.  Because the weather was already starting to move in, the rangers warned us that they might close the lighthouse to climbers at any time, and even if we’d not made it to the top, we’d have to immediately start down.  After repeating that, they got into their regular speech, and said to take our time, don’t rush, we had all the time we wanted, etc.  Kinda funny.

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From there we went to Kitty Hawk and Kill Devil Hills.  It is amazing to picture in your imagination what it was like to fly their gliders here, and then the first powered flights.  I’ve read that the first powered flight would have fit INSIDE a 747.  Length and altitude.  The ranger told me that Orville died about 9 months after Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier… So think of the change he saw in flight in his lifetime!

There is a metal sculpture of the Wright Flyer that you can climb on… so of course I had to help Orville in his momentous flight!

 

We also spent some time in Manteo.  I think it is named after an Indian, who pronounced his name Man-Knee-Oh, but liked the letter “T” so much he put a silent one in the middle of his name.  Whatever.  Manteo is a very picturesque town, but by the time we got there it was starting to rain, and Florence was scaring things into closing.  There was a beautiful Elizabethan Garden that we took one picture of, then ran back to the car as the rain started.

 

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Monday it was back to work on the boat, and prepare for whatever Florence was going to give us.  I’ve already written some about that, so all I need to say now is that she pretty much ignored us.  Even though severe damage has occurred south of us, and is still going on, we had nothing but some wind and rain.  Grace felt restless, moving quite a bit in the wind, but we really had no issues.  We changed our minds a few times on whether or not to remove the bimini canvas (our sun-shade over the flybridge), but when the winds got to 15 knots it was rattling its framework enough that it was rattling me.  So when the wind died down again for a bit, we took it off.  I’d thought it might be difficult, but it was easy as pie.  And I like pie.  We’ll see how hard it is to put up again!

So the highest wind I saw was 19 knots (22 mph) and I can’t see that the water level changed more than a few inches.  I have never appreciated being snubbed more than this non-visit by Florence.  Thank you all for your prayers and concern!

 

 

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Flirting With Florence

For the last couple of weeks, we have woken up every morning to blue skies with puffy white clouds, glassy smooth water, and not a trace of wind.  This morning the sky was overcast, the water had small ripples, and we were showing the wind at about 10 knots. (11.5 mph)  Now the wind is up to about 15 knots, and it looks like our water level has dropped a few inches.

The marina is pretty full now.  Boats lined all along the face dock here, and in the boathouse sheds on a small canal in the back of the boatyard.  Boat owners are walking around, checking their lines, checking out other’s lines for ideas, and chatting about what we think is going to happen.

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All Lined up Waiting

 

We have seen many tanker trucks pumping into the marina’s fuel tanks, probably in case shortages occur or if there might be contamination of local supplies.  Another boater here was asking what kind of range we have, since fueling stops south of here might be unavailable for a long time.  I believe we could make it to Florida with our current fuel, but we are still planning on going north before we turn around, so we can top off there.

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On a different note, many people over the years have asked me why I chose dentistry as a profession.  I tell them that growing up I never understood people’s fear of the dentist – our dentist was a good friend of the family, he never hurt me, and he had pretty ladies working for him that pampered me and made me feel great! (And I had a crush on his daughter, but I can’t admit that in print)  I said I wanted to be a dentist like Bob.  Maybe I couldn’t change the whole world, but I wanted to treat as many as I could like Bob.  So last night I was very pleasantly surprised when my dear old friend Bob Homer called me to see how we are doing.  We had a nice long conversation – great fun!  Thanks for that Bob!  So now all of my patients who like me (Both of them) can know they are thankful to you too, Bob.

Here is the drawbridge just upriver from us.  It seems to be all back to normal, but with virtually no traffic on the river now, it’s hard to tell.  The massive concrete counterweights move down, rolling back on the huge rounded guides beneath them as the bridge leaves move up.  Kind of fun to watch. There are railings all around the tops of the concrete counterweights, like you could have dinner parties up there, but I don’t think you’re allowed.  And your canapés would definitely slide off if they opened the bridge.

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Cherryl just took a picture of me typing… so here is a shot of a shaggy old guy blogging!

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Unwelcome Guest Reconsiders Visit

This morning we got a nice anniversary gift (It’s our 42nd!) in the form of a revised weather forecast… Florence will probably shun our area and head south instead.  We are still gearing up for strong winds, heavy rain and significant flooding, but feel much better about our situation.  Virginia has recommended evacuation of everyone in Zone A, which (Right where we are) but that was over a day ago and now I don’t think it is needed.

We are really in a good place, and have water and power to cook and even run the air conditioners.  We will still have an escape plan (Rental car loaded and ready to go) but I really don’t think we’ll use it.  So we delight in the Grace of God, and in reminders like the great picture above. Before today we never gave much thought to the fact that the water is high over any dock – just pilings in the water.  Maybe that’s what tomorrow will bring! (Thank you my precious dental team for that picture!)

The weather NOW is still beautiful… if we weren’t from Colorado, where we’ve seen it go from 75 degrees to a blizzard in an afternoon, we’d have a hard time believing heavy weather is on its way!

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There has been almost no traffic on the canal, (Partly because the drawbridge was inoperative (Now it is running normally)) (Can you nest parentheses in prose as you do in mathematics?) except for boats coming here to tie up.  This morning there was a short parade of Coast Guard boats, and later a Police boat.  We have noticed a lot of helicopter traffic and a few fixed wing planes flying over.

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Last Night – Very Calm

This morning all was still looking beautiful…

So thank you all for your prayers – don’t stop… we’re not through this yet, but it is looking far less fearsome now.

An Unwelcome Guest

It seems we might soon be entertaining an uninvited and unwelcome Guest… Named Florence.  She seems to be very pushy, trying to crash our party.  So, we are close to facing our first hurricane.

We are in a pretty safe spot.  We are several miles inland, on the Intracoastal Waterway in Chesapeake Virginia.  We are tied to a dock facing the canal, a few hundred yards south of a drawbridge and maybe almost a mile to a lock system.  There are tall trees on both sides of the canal, which may be a natural windbreak, or may fall and be potential boat busters.  We are taking all the precautions we and any others here can think of, except moving.  There is no safer place within traveling distance; in fact, many boats are coming here for safety.  We are making fender boards to more strongly protect our boat from hitting the dock.  We will remove all the canvas from our bimini (the “convertible top over the flybridge), the dingy, and the sailboat. We will remove all the covers and cushions from all the seating on the bow and on the flybridge.  We will double and triple our dock lines.  We will disconnect our power cord from the dock if it looks like flooding will take out the dock power.  We have a gassed up rental car, which will be placed on higher ground within walking (wading?) distance in case we need to leave the boat.

We hope to stay on the boat however.  We have over 400 gallons of fresh water, which is far more that the people we saw with shopping carts full of water bottles today in the supermarket.  We have enough diesel fuel to run the generator for weeks. We have plenty of propane and empty holding tanks.  Locals here say they think we might get a ton of rain, a lot of flooding, and high winds.  One said he was here for Matthew and the water rose about 4 feet, but he did fine.

Most of today, and I’m guessing most of tomorrow and Wednesday will be spent firming up preparations for our unwelcome guest.  I would not be disappointed if she no-showed!

One other interesting occurrence… two nights ago the drawbridge just north of us was hit by lightning!  We heard that it knocked out the automation, so they can only open it manually, and will only do that at 6am and 6pm until it’s fixed.  When they opened at 6pm tonight, there was a literal parade of boats coming south, most of which are going to weather the storm here.

So we are planning on staying here unless Florence turns out to be a category 3 or 4 or more once she hits land.  Then maybe a short road trip.  I’ll try to keep you all posted.  We would appreciate your prayers in the meantime, not only for us, but all who are meeting this unwelcome guest!

(All three pictures were taken today.  Above was a couple of hours ago.  Perfect weather!)

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This is the bank across from our boat. Nice day, huh?
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With weather so beautiful it’s hard to believe what they say is coming!

All is not Glamour

We know we will be staying at the Atlantic Yacht Basin for a while… they come highly recommended for Yacht work, and we have some things going on.  More on that in a minute.  Because we will be here a while, we have rented a car.

Having a rental car extends our reach on land considerably.  On our way to church, we saw a sign advertising a Symphony Under The Stars in Chesapeake City park.  Bring a chair, sit on the lawn, soak up the music!  The Virginia Symphony Orchestra played a wide variety, from Beethoven, Bizet and Verdi to Richard Rogers, Andrew Lloyd Webber and John Williams.  A magical evening!

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A Ride through the Great Dismal Swamp

That sounds really attractive, doesn’t it?  The Great Dismal Swamp (yes, its real name) really is famous, and one route of the ICW goes right through it. It was a popular place even in the mid 1600’s for people to hide from the law.  George Washington had proposed making a canal right through the middle of the Dismal Swamp to expedite commerce and transportation.  It was eventually completed by 1805, entirely dug by hand, mostly by slave labor.  I guess it’s fitting that it was later an important stop on the underground railroad, where many slaves could rest and regroup in their flight to freedom.  There is a story about a hotel built on the canal, in the middle of the swamp, on the border of Virginia and North Carolina.  Gamblers loved it, because if “the law” came, they just moved to the other end of the room, out of their jurisdiction.

There is another route called the Virginia Cut, that avoids the canal through the Dismal Swamp.  We’ve heard that there are too many shallows in the swamp canal, so we opted for the Virginia Cut.  But we did have to check it out that infamous Swamp Canal!  So we loaded the bikes in the car and set out to ride the Dismal Swamp Canal Trail, an old road along the canal that is now restricted to feet and feet pedaled wheels. The Parks and Recreation folks have signs and brochures all over saying be careful of the bears.  Lots of signs!  So I really hoped we’d see a bear, but no luck.  We hardly saw the canal!  The forest (jungle?) is so thick that even though the road was only maybe 100 feet from the canal, we could only get glimpses of it occasionally.  One place they have cleared so we could see not only the canal, but a stone mile marker.  Apparently they had these 1,000 pound stone markers all along the canal, but when it was later widened (Steam power this time) they just plowed the markers under.  Several have been found, and who knows how many are still buried in the mud?

 

Cape Hatteras

Cape Hatteras may have the most recognized lighthouse in the country.  Congress decided one was needed there, and completed the first lighthouse there in 1803.  It was 90 feet tall, which proved too short to be seen far enough away, and its raw sandstone exterior was hard to distinguish from the background.  In 1853 they added 60 feet to the top and painted the top half red and the bottom white.  Because of structural problems, it was replaced in 1870.  When they tried to create a foundation for the new lighthouse, they hit water at four feet deep.  So they made a clever “floating foundation” of large timbers placed below the water table, and huge stone blocks placed over those.  The new lighthouse was almost 200 feet tall, and painted with the now famous black and white candy cane spiral.  The lighthouse was 1,500 feet from the shore, and now tall enough to warn ships farther out to sea.  But the sea was eating away the island!  As the shore got closer and closer to the lighthouse, every attempt to stop the erosion failed.  So in 1999 they decided to move the lighthouse.  Probably because of the unique foundation, they were able to jack it up, build a rail system to the new location, and push it to its new home!  It was placed 1,500 feet from the shore again… and I was told the sea has already eaten over 100 feet of that away.

There are supposedly 269 steps in the circular stairway set along the inside of the walls.  I didn’t count them, but I did step them.  Signs warned that it was strenuous, and temperatures could reach over 90 degrees inside.  It was over 90 outside!  But after the hot climb, the view and the breeze on top was well worth it!

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Sunsets are so amazing, but I can’t shoot them all the time!  So here are a few reflections instead:

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Now for the not so glamorous 

I think I mentioned that we have gotten some water in our hydraulic system.  That’s a bad thing.  The only points in the system where that could happen are in the hydraulic oil coolers, which are like radiators that run the hot oil through tubes surrounded by cooler seawater.  If one of the little radiator tubes leaks, we can get water in the oil.  But there are three of these coolers.  So we have sent them all off to get tested, cleaned or replaced as needed.  I just heard the biggest of them has a small leak, so good news is it looks like we found the problem, bad news is it’s the biggest.  Whatever.  Not sure how long that will take to get replaced.  In the meantime, we are trying to get contaminated oil out of 8 miles of high pressure hoses.  Not easy.

We are also getting new sumps put in to catch the water that the air conditioners suck out of the air.  The old Venturi vacuum system that has worked for years seems to be worn out, and I’m tired of trying to fix it and having all the water end up in the bilge.  So with the new sumps in place we will have a dry bilge again.  I can hardly wait!

We had some confusion with the AIS and the corresponding GPS and VHF antennas.  (Does this sound high-tech and impressive?)  (Maybe if anybody cares enough to ask I’ll try to explain it sometime)  They found some sort of feedback loop that was confusing the network, and now with that removed it all seems fine.  Only half a day’s work.

We also need to upgrade a failing video board that is making my new cameras cut in and out, mostly out.  Hope that gets installed next week.

And last but certainly not least, our battery bank is showing its age.  We will probably need to replace 24 batteries, each about 100 pounds.  And get a new inverter to replace our backup system that doesn’t work.

Our dingy was in pretty sad shape when we got it.  (It came with the boat)  We have cleaned it up on the outside, but not until this week could we thoroughly clean inside the console, the anchor locker and the aft compartment where the battery and bilge pump live.  Well, the bilge pump sat there, but didn’t live.  I found corroded wires that when redone let it work well.  There was a VHF radio that was also dead – corroded beyond repair.  So I removed it, and removed its antenna.  I got a new antenna installed, and a new radio and Chart Plotter are scheduled to arrive next week.  Some of the backing for the seats were bad, too, so we’ve gotten new backing and are having the badly worn/stained upholstery redone as well.  By this time next week our little dingy should be almost like new!  We still don’t know what to call it… any suggestions on a name??

So here is a short video of a long day’s work… you’ll see me install the new stern nav light on the back of the outboard, discover we’d gotten the wrong spark plugs, replace the antenna, solder or heat shrink all connections, and finally get the right plugs installed.

So you can see that this week has been a lot of work, and we are only partly done.  Cherryl has made some more fantastic sourdough bread… you can see through the hatch in the galley the back of a tech working in the engine room, and Cherryl’s latest sourdough bread cooling on the counter!  Everyone is working!  Unfortunately, a lot of the working time is really waiting time… waiting for guys to show up, waiting for ordered parts to arrive, waiting for parts to get repaired or remade.  So working on patience is still work, right?

If you need to stay in one place and have work done, this is a very pretty place to do it…

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Looking aft, at Southern Star behind us and across the canal
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A museum across the canal is scheduled to open soon…
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Tug and barge going quietly past us (really!)

A beautiful wooded trail runs along the canal on the other bank:

 

 

The other day I noticed a big Nordhavn (Another brand of trawler) going north on “our” canal.  Shortly after that I saw a large trawler north of us, but headed back our way.  At first I assumed it was the same boat, returning from fueling up at the marina.  But then I decided it was prettier than the Nordhavn (Prejudices showing up here) and decided it just might be another Selene!  Yep, it is a beautiful Selene 58, and it is now docked right in front of us.  A very nice couple, who have only had this boat less than 2 months!  He told me they had looked seriously at a Selene 53 a couple of years ago, a sister ship of ours named Voyager.  I corrected him… That was not a sister ship, it was this one!  We renamed her.  He may know more about my boat than I do!  A very nice couple I hope to get to know better.  They have sailed around the world in a sailing yacht, and now are in this gorgeous Selene trawler. Way cool.

 

 

music by bensound.com   –  royalty free music