Our mission -- Space, the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enter .. OOPS, sorry, I got carried away. Let me start again.

Our mission -- Warm Waters and Great Weather: The final frontier. These are the voyages of the Motor Vessel Traveling Soul. Its five-year mission: to explore strange warm waters, to seek out new forms of recreation and new civilizations, to boldly go where no Brown, Applegate or Higgins has gone before.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Herrington Harbor North (15 July - 30 July)

There are two Herrington Harbors, North and South. Herrington Harbor South is identified as a “resort marina,” and their facilities reflect that. It has a large, flower-shaped swimming pool attached to a bar-restaurant. There are also water aerobics classes, a fair restaurant on site (see my review below), a catering business with several venues for large parties (think wedding receptions), fancy family-style bathrooms with showers, slips for 60+ foot boats and a refueling station. Herrington Harbor North, on the other hand, is touted as a “working marina,” with a number of DIY repair facilities, businesses focused on fixing boats and a boatyard for major repairs. Nevertheless, there is a restaurant (Calypsos) a short distance away, a 25yard long rectangular swimming pool in which you can do laps, the restroom and shower facilities are nice and clean, and the grounds are immaculate. For full time cruisers like us, I think HHN is the better deal while HHS is probably better if you can only spend weekends on your boat. Needless to say, we are staying at Herrington Harbor North. (It also costs about half as much as HHS and, as you know, we have to save our Boat Units for the maintenance and repair of Traveling Soul.)
Shortly after we arrived at HHN, I found Zimmerman’s Boatyard – the same Zimmerman’s that was in Deltaville. Tom Hale, the Service Manager, had the membrane for the water maker and the connector to make the head stop leaking that had been sent up here from Deltaville. I told him that while we were generally satisfied with the work that had been done in Deltaville, we were not happy with the fact that that winch went out shortly after we left. Tom was sympathetic, but not THAT sympathetic. Anyway, we now have Tom working on replacing the winch motor itself – enough with playing around with all the peripherals – when that is done, every component of any significance will have been replaced at least once. After that, the damn thing better work.
Oh, we got some good news. You remember that Boston Whaler that caused all those problems for the winch? We sold it! When we were in Deltaville, we visited Urbanna, VA. We met a dockmaster/yacht broker and mentioned that we were looking to sell our Whaler. Out of the blue he called and said one of his customers had lent his 11 foot Whaler to his grandson and didn’t have the heart to ask for it back. Since he owned a 60-foot Hatteras that was built to carry a little Boston Whaler, he wanted one to take its place. We didn’t make a fortune on the deal, but we did make enough to make a nice down payment on the inflatable we want. Moreover, he doesn’t need the dinghy until we go back down to Deltaville this September-October. This sounds like a perfect deal for us.
With all that good news, we had our share of awkward moments as well. I told you about the toilet gasket. It connects the salt water hose (that brings in the salt water to flush the toilet) with the bowl itself. Connecting it is easy, you just slip it in the hole, give it a twist, make sure the rubber gasket is set and tighten all the things that tighten. It is so simple a five year old could do it – a five year old boat repair genius, that is. I am telling you, I sat there twisting and turning that piece, flipping it on its side, trying to arrange the components differently, I tried everything I could think of, but could not get that connector to connect. In defeat I went back to Zimmerman’s and told Tom that I needed some help. He sent Wade, a young man who graduated from high school last year. Wade took a look at the problem, got out a piece of sandpaper and sanded the connector for about five minutes. Then he put it in where it was supposed to go and attached all the other pieces. Let me say that again. He took out a piece of sandpaper and sanded the piece for five minutes. I could have done that, but I usually think that when you get a widget from the manufacturer it ought to fit into the hole. That just goes to show you how much I know. GRRRR!!!

Ann marking our anchor chain with tie-downs.

The only other piece of maintenance we have accomplished so far concerns our anchor. Eventually, I think, we are also going to have to get a bigger anchor, but before we do that we had to re-mark our chain. If you will recall, in the past I have discussed how much chain we need to let out under certain conditions. The only way to tell how much chain we have let out, of course, is to have pre-measured and marked it. Different people mark their chain in different ways. Some use different colors of paint every 20 or 30 feet, but that eventually rubs off in the salt water and has to be redone. We used to buy little markers at West Marine, but those flimsy plastic markers don’t do well when grinding against 220 feet of hard steel chain, so we have started using plastic tie-downs.
We put three or four tie-downs through the links of the chain every 25 feet. We use red for 25’, white for 50’, blue for 75’ and yellow for 100’, then we repeat (red for 125, white for 150, etc.). The tie-downs worked well as a replacement for the West Marine markers, so we hope they will work just as well when they are the primary method of marking.

Caylin, Gavin and Grandpa playing Tic-Tac-Toe

We have had a number of visitors while here. Our friends Dave and Joan have visited and, in fact, took us to Annapolis one day. Tim Carrie, Caylin, Gavin (our son, daughter-in-law and two of our grandkids) all came to visit. The notion was that we would all go to the pool and swim our little hearts out. BUT … you guessed it, it was cold, wet and rainy the day they came. So, the kids watched videos and their dad worked on his dad’s (i.e. my) computer.  

I told you that Dave and Joan came to visit. When they come we often go out to eat. So let me give you a review of four different restaurants we have visited since we have been here: Skipper’s Pier (across Tracy’s Creek in Deale), Calypsos (just outside the gates of HHN), Mango’s (on site at HHS) and Restaurant Normandie (in Annapolis). Over the years we have discovered that Chesapeake Bay restaurants that are on or near the water are renowned for three things: slow service, mediocre food and high prices. Once in a while you find an exception, and finding that exception is why we all keep going – that and the wonderful atmosphere and the usually beautiful water view. Now when I said we try to find an exception, I didn’t mean that we try to find a Bay restaurant that has fast service, good food and reasonable prices – we are not that naïve – but we are looking for at least one dish that is good, reasonably priced and/or is served faster than molasses.  Well, Skipper’s and Calypso’s did not disappoint; the service was as slow, the food as bad and the prices as high as we remembered them.  Mango’s however, surprised us. Now don’t get me wrong, it took forever to get our entree, the server forgot to bring me silverware until she was asked for the fourth time and the prices were way out of line. But we each ordered a cup of Maryland Cream of Crab soup as an appetizer – and it was to die for. Not only did it taste scrumptious, but there was actually extra crab piled in the center of the soup. It was delicious.
Ann and our friend Joan in Annapolis,
just after feasting at the Cafe Normandie
Café Normandie is in a different category. It is a small French bistro on Main Street in Annapolis and does not purport to be a Bayside restaurant. Among the four of us we split two appetizers – honey glazed Brie and Crab filled avocado (and I do mean filled!) and had four nice, but not extravagant luncheon entrees. Everything was delicious, it wasn’t THAT much more that we paid at the Bayside eateries and the service was superb. So here are the three lessons I learned: (1) Mangos has wonderful Maryland Cream of Crab soup –go as often as your cholesterol and waistline can afford it. (2) If you want atmosphere and cool water views, and will be satisfied with the equivalent of bar food and a couple of drinks, Bayside restaurants like Calypsos, Mangos and Skipper’s are the place to go. But (3) if you are anything approaching a “foodie” and are looking for something tasteful, you need to go elsewhere – and Café Normandie in Annapolis would be a good place to start. Now see? Don’t you think I would have been a great food critic for the Post, the Times or the local Herrington Harbor North Newsletter? I would call it “The Adventures of a Boating Gourmand.” That way, I should be able to start deducting things from my taxes. Like a boat maybe??  
 I will probably be able to give you more restaurant reviews in the coming weeks because we have had to change our plans. We were going to go to Gangplank Marina which is downtown Washington, DC and within walking distance to most of the sights we would want to see. Unfortunately, the doctors want to do surgery on my foot on 23 August. I used to be a big-time jogger, running 5-6 miles per day – and then going really crazy on the weekends. Well, I can’t do that anymore and sometimes even have trouble walking any distance. The surgery should fix all that, but I will be in a cast for 4-6 weeks. Now you see the problem. Why should we go to Gangplank to be within walking distance of all the sites if I can’t walk to them? So, I think we are going to cancel our plans for Gangplank, stay here for another month (maybe taking a few overnight cruises), and then head for points south. I know those of you who look forward to the traveling stories on our Blog are going to disappointed, but no more than we are, I assure you. But we will try to keep you interested until we head back into the land of the deadly man-eating fly.
ANN’S NOTES:   I have been keeping busy doing things inside the boat where it is air conditioned  J I just do not remember Virginia being so flipping hot…Yuck
Lord knows what can be done with some
K-mart shelving, a few bungies, and a little velcro.
I am excited about our Boat Warming party and it made me get to some reorganizing that needed to be done. I have been avoiding turning the shower in the ‘train room’ into a pantry… I had to give up that idea and put shelves in the shower stall. Michael wanted them to be ‘ocean ready’ meaning that they would stay in place in rough seas. Well … those shelves and what is on them are NOT…repeat  NOT going to go anywhere. Between the bungy cords and Velcro, Traveling Soul could be in the Perfect  Storm and nothing  would happen to those shelves.

It seems like a lot of the boat repairs and improvements are getting finished. Of course there will always be something that  needs to be done on a boat … but the list we had is shrinking. I am so thankful that the Boston Whaler is sold. We have already looked at some dinghies and we are just trying to figure out what kind will meet our needs.
We have had a good time since we have been back in Virginia, having our little car has really made that possible. Sharing this boat with friends and family is wonderful.  Spending time with Caylin and Gavin is fun for me, I miss taking care of them, so any time spent with them is wonderful, even if it a cold, wet, rainy  day. We still got out to the play ground and had fun … saw a duck that quacked back at Gavin when he talked to him … also saw a small river otter swim under the bridge we were standing on. Caylin  was  busy being fearless on the jungle gym, she has no fear of heights and will climb to the top of any play structure. That is my granddaughter !!
That is about all for now … stay tuned for the boat warming party results…
Traveling Soul…OUT

Monday, July 16, 2012

Up the Chesapeake (10 July – 14 July)

Oh my Gawd! You will never guess what we saw. Ok, maybe some of you military or naval types who keep track of everything moving might have an idea, but I’ll bet most of you don’t. Are you ready? Well, you are going to have to read through half of the blog to find out. After all, I keep my blog in chronological order and wouldn’t want anyone to think less of me because I put something out of order. BUT when you find out you will truly be impressed!

Ok, back to Deltaville. Although it is a nice enough place, it was time for us to leave. We wanted to be boating again, as opposed to complaining, or paying, or crying – or usually all three. On Tuesday we cranked up the engines and … well we went up the creek about ¼ of a mile and took on fuel in our newly-repaired aft tanks. Then we cranked up the engines and … went up the creek another ¼ mile to Zimmerman’s dock so we could run the fuel through our system for the first time to make sure it worked. And THEN we really cranked up the engines and set out for the Rappahannock River and points north!!!
It was a bit choppy out and we re-learned a couple of lessons. After we have sat in port for a while, we sometimes forget that everything needs to be tied down before we set off. The sea was rough enough to knock many of the books off of our bookshelf (Darn! I keep meaning to fix that!) and some of the stuff in Ann’s galley cabinets was rearranged by the sea so when we opened the cabinets, well, you get the picture. Again, we had seen all of this before and we either know how to prevent it, or we know how to ensure it does not happen again. We just need to get off our duffs and “git ‘er done.”

Sunrise on the Great Wicomico. It is a good thing
you can't smell the fish processing plant!
We only went about 30 miles that first day and spent the night on the Great Wicomico River at Sandy Point, which is one of our friend Sharon’s (on Finally Fun) favorite anchorages. When we first got there it was idyllic. Sandy Point juts far into the Great Wicomico forming kind of a hook with the anchorage in the middle. There wasn’t a boat around, the skies were blue, we were well protected from any weather that might come up and all was right with the world. About an hour after we got there, though, the wind shifted just slightly. For those of you who don’t know, Irvington, VA – which isn’t too far away – has a fish processing plant, and fish processing plants stink.  The smell played with us through the night; as the wind shifted so did the stench. Although it was never “overpowering,” at the end of the night we decided that we would save this anchorage for Sharon and that we would use it only in an emergency to get out of the weather.

Apparently we weren’t the only ones to have smelled the fish because on the way in and later out of the Great Wicomico we saw a huge pod of about a dozen dolphins. I think this is the furthest north I have ever seen them in the Chesapeake. I’ll let Ann talk more about that below.

Wednesday’s cruise was longer; it is about 50 miles from the Great Wicomico to Solomon’s Island on the Pawtuxet River. Solomon’s is a very nice, kind of touristy place and we have been there often. Previously, on our boat Sans Souci we had always gone to a marina, but this time we decided to anchor. It looked like it would be fairly easy to drop the hook in one of the many small coves along Mills Creek. These coves were surrounded by very nice houses, most with docks and boats in their back yard and it seemed like they would be very quaint anchorages.

Unfortunately, anchoring wasn’t as easy as it looked. You see, we all have our phobias. One of mine is to anchor with inadequate “scope.” Scope is a measure of the angle between the anchor on the bottom and its tie-off point on deck; it is indicated by the ratio between the amount of chain you have out compared to the depth of the water (plus the bow’s distance above the water).  You can get away with a 5:1 scope in good weather, but more is better until you get to somewhere around 10:1, then that is as good as it gets.  Some of the coves were 10+ feet deep. Add that to 6 feet of freeboard and we needed to have a minimum of 80 feet of chain (16 x 5 for a scope of 5:1). Add to that a boat that is 50’ long and you have 130 feet between the anchor and the aft end of the boat. Now realize that a boat at anchor can swing 360 degrees, depending on wind and current, and you can see we really needed coves that were a minimum of 260 feet wide – and some of them weren’t, or at least didn’t appear to be. Anyway, we dropped anchor at three different locations before I found a cove where I was comfortable – comfort being relative. We spent the night there, and it really was a nice, quaint little anchorage.

Mike and the Ass't Craneman hooking up the Boston Whaler
The next day we decided to take the dinghy down and go to town. Well, let’s just say that the winch didn’t work as it was supposed to, and while we got the dinghy down, we could not get it back up.  This was a problem. We knew we couldn’t tow the Whaler all the way to our next stop, so we went to Zanheiser’s Boat Yard and asked if they could help. I have to say they were very accommodating. If we could get the boat and the dinghy to their Yard by 12:30, they would use their crane to put the dinghy back on board. Am I a little bit upset at Zimmerman’s, the boatyard that did our work in Deltaville? Well, let’s see, they replaced two parts, used three different technicians, charged me $1000 and said it was fixed. Yea, I am a little bit upset. Anyway, we decided that if we couldn’t use our dinghy to go see the town that we would just take a slip for the night at Zanheiser’s Marina, walk to town, and stroll through the shops and what had changed.

We had to leave Zanheiser’s the following day because the whole marina was booked. That was okay with us because we had been downtown and seen what there was to see. Ann suggested that since we had already “done” Solomon’s that we might as well head up to Herrington Harbor and spend the night anchored in Herring Bay rather than find a new anchorage in Mill Creek. I agreed and after stopping to fill up our wing tanks we headed out.

Ann with her "sunbrella" at a monument to
boatmakers at Solomon's Island, Maryland

My Lord was it a beautiful day for cruising the Chesapeake. It was probably 75 degrees with a nice little breeze, we had following seas almost the whole way and it was just glorious. I am just going to pause here to remember how great everything was ………………………………………

Ok, I am ready to go again. Off in the distance I saw a ship anchored about 2 miles from the shore. That is weird, I thought, as I didn’t think there were any towns in the vicinity and why would you want to anchor a ship in the middle of nowhere? It was kind of oddly shaped and, from our angle, I thought it might be some kind of Chesapeake Cruise Ship that we hadn’t seen before. Ann though it might be a ferry. It was still several miles off in the distance, but I kind of scooched over towards it. I didn’t want to get too close, but I did want to know a little more about it.

I guess we were about a mile away when I heard on the radio, “Motor Vessel approaching the ship anchored at (Lat Long), this is Sea Fighter, over.” Well, the Lat and Long he called out were just about where that oddly shaped ship was, and I was on the only motor vessel I could see, so I responded. I forgot exactly what he said, but he wanted me to give them a little more room. I was perfectly willing to do that, but before I did, I had to ask. “Roger,” I said in my best radio-talkese,” What kind of ship are you?”

“A Navy research ship,” was his reply. Okay, now I know that Navy research ships are designated AGORs (Auxiliary General Oceanographic Research) and that they do not have FSF 1 Sea fighter on its side.  Now in the old days I might have just chalked this up to some secret the navy wanted to keep and that I would probably never discover. But not nowadays. Within minutes, Ann had looked up FSF1 and we knew more about Sea Fighter than we wanted. There were about 20 lengthy entries. Here is the first section of the Wikipedia Entry.

“Sea Fighter (FSF-1) is an experimental littoral combat ship under development (2005-2008) by the United States Navy. Its hull is of a small-waterplane-area twin-hull (SWATH) design, and provides exceptional stability, even on rough seas. The ship can operate in both blue and littoral waters. For power, it can use either its dual gas turbine engines for speed or its dual diesel engines for efficient cruising. It can be easily reconfigured through the use of interchangeable mission modules. Helicopters can land and launch on its deck. Smaller water craft can be carried and launched from its stern. The vessel is being developed under the program title Littoral Surface Craft-Experimental (LSC(X)) with a hull type designation Fast Sea Frame. The first vessel has been assigned the hull classification symbol FSF 1 and also has been referred to as the X-Craft. The vessel was designed by British company BMT Nigel Gee Ltd (formerly BMT Nigel Gee and Associates Ltd) who continue with a role in the development of the vessel.”

FSF1 Sea Fighter at anchor in the Chesapeake Bay.

Navy Research ship my pitooty. I mean you would think that even the Navy could come up with a better cover story than that. But the real question, of course, is what it was doing in the Chesapeake? I don’t know of any military facilities in the area it was anchored. I do have some notions of what the ship might have been up to, but good secret-keeper that I am, I will keep them to myself – at least until the Boat Warming Party then I will spill my guts for a beer.

We were lucky in that our anchorage in Herring Bay worked out just fine. It was a little rolly, but that was okay. There was very little protection from the wind or currents so if had been nasty out we would have had to move or kept an anchor watch. But as it was it was the end to a wonderful – though mysterious – day.

ANN’S NOTES: It has been an interesting week to say the least.

I have to disagree with the strength of that awful stench the fish plant gave. Words just cannot describe the smell. Never again will I stay in the Great Wicomico River...stinky...stinky...and again stinky.
We did have a lot of practice in our anchoring routine...as the anchor person I just step on the "up" or "down" botton on the deck. All the math stuff is not my 'thing' and Michael can do that ratio thing in his head...not me...I just step on the button that controls the windlass. It sounds easy -- and it is most of the time -- but as you may recall while we were in the Bahamas, I was the one outside in the wind, rain and whatever else the weather had to offer. Just saying...
I do have a new toy to play with while I bring up the anchor. We now have a salt water wash down system for the anchor. Remember when I had to clean out the anchor locker and how yucky that job was? Well...I now can wash off the anchor as I bring it up and get most of the mud and smelly junk off the chain and anchor. Good thing I have long legs and arms to control the water and the button for the windlass at the same time. Now the down side of this new system is that while working with the water of the Chesapeake Bay in the summer there are ... Jelly Fish...they FREAK me out. They, or parts of them, get caught in the chain or the line of our snubber. They look like big pieces of snot just hanging there and they can still zap you if you touch them or parts of them. I do have the meat tenderizer just in case I get stung...I won't let Michael pee on me ... just saying.
Now for the spy boat...X boat?...X files?...something to think about would you not agree? I just love my Droid phone. I had the articles for that before the boat was out of sight... I love the net and freedom of information act.
I do have a wild life report :)
10 July 2012    1 pod of  12 dolphins
11 July 2012    1  pod of 12 dolphins...I think the same ones we saw the day before and 1 semi-playful dolphin that broke off from the pod.
I was a happy Boater !!
Traveling Soul ....OUT

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Deltaville III (26 June - 9 July)

Finally, everything is done – well, almost everything. We need a membrane for our watermaker and since the main factory is in California, it didn’t get here in time. The service manager at Zimmerman’s in Deltaville is having it sent to Zimmerman’s sister boatyard at Herrington Harbor North (HHN is our next destination) so they can put it in there. Also one of our toilets leaks – yes, it is in the master head, which is the one they fixed. On the good news side, both we and the technicians know what is wrong and they have ordered the part to fix it. On the bad news side, it won’t arrive for another week or so either, so it is also going to HHN. And lastly … remember the winch that they were supposed to have fixed? Well, it is partially repaired, but not completely fixed. Tomorrow, I am going to try to fix it by turning the screw they told me to turn. If that doesn’t work, we are going to get a new winch motor. Period. Dot. I am really tired of the winch problem; it can’t be THAT hard.
Anyway, everything else seems to be working. We are going to try it out over the next four days as we head north towards Herrington North.  Originally we had planned to take seven days to get north, but because we had to make reservations at the marina before we knew exactly what our departure date would be, we had to cut some days off. Still, I think four days should be enough to put all our new improvements through their paces. Before I tell you everything else about our summer intentions, let me cover what has happened in and around Deltaville.

While we were waiting for all the repairs/improvements to be finished, we took a look around the area. On Monday, we went to the Deltaville Maritime Museum. Although it was interesting, it wasn’t exactly what I envision when I think about a museum; there simply weren’t that many artifacts. There were a bunch of model boats and ships, a whole lot of pictures and a great deal of written explanations as to what went on in and around Deltaville during both the Civil War and the late 19thand early 20th Centuries, but there weren’t many “things.” The exception is the restored FD Crockett, a long-bottomed buy boat that plied its trade around the Chesapeake from 1924 until the mid-1990’s.
Model of a Chesapeake Buy Boat in the museum

We didn’t do much on Tuesday, and on Wednesday we had a very quiet Fourth of July – until that evening. You may remember that when we were traveling up the ICW we met a sailboat called Outpost. In fact, since we had anchored close to each other one night and since we were the only boats in the area that went “outside” the following day, we struck up a little conversation over the radio. It turned out that they were from Weems, VA – not too far from Deltaville – so we exchanged phone numbers. On Tuesday, we called them and asked them if they wanted to come over to the boat for a drink. They did, and we probably spent three to three-and-a-half hours talking about the ICW, boats, boating, etc. Later this month, they are heading up to Long Island and intend to spend some time in the NYC area. We hope they have a lot of fun and that we see them again next year on our way up the ICW.

The last weekend the boat was in Deltaville we went back to Northern Virginia and stayed with our friends Dave and Joan Wolf. Before I go any further, I need to say something. I am not sure it would have been possible to embark on our little adventure without a great deal of help from outside. Yes, we could have rented a storage locker (at a couple hundred dollars per month) to store what’s left of our belongings. Yes, we could have hired a mail drop to handle our mail, and yes we could have sold our car and spent more time and money on Enterprise Rentals to get around. But doing so would have made our adventure much more expensive and much less fun; we really like having the freedom of possessing a car, even in beautiful, downtown Deltaville and we like having people we trust on the other end of our phone requests. While a lot of people have helped us, we really need to thank our friends Dave and Joan, and our son and daughter-in-law, Tim and Carrie. Without Dave and Joan storing our “stuff” and helping with some time-consuming logistical chores, and without Tim and Carrie sorting our mail, taking care of our car and handling even more of those logistical chores, our adventure might not have been possible. Ann and I take out hats off to all four of you. We also promise that – now that we know a little more about what we are doing – we will try to call on you less and less.

Anyway, back to my discussion of the area in and around Deltaville. On the way up to Northern VA, we decided we just had to stop and read those historical markers along the highway. Now you might think that would be an interesting, but easy task. You would be wrong about the “easy” part. Remember this is very close to Jamestown, Yorktown and colonial Williamsburg, so Rte 17, the main road between Deltaville and Fredericksburg has a LOT of historical markers. In fact, it was nicknamed by some alliterative-loving Richmond bureaucrat, “HistoryLand Highway,” so you can imagine how much history is recorded on markers. In case you doubt my comment about an alliterative-loving bureaucrat, an alternative name for History Land Highway is Tidewater Trail – and they are both on highway markers all along the road!

Mike in the pilothouse of the Crockett.
By the way, did you know that Marine Lieutenant General “Chesty” Puller is buried near Deltaville? Did you know that within 50 years of the founding of Jamestown there were plantations in the Middle Peninsula and towns along the Rappahannock to ship goods – principally tobacco – back to England? Did you know that on August 20, 1670 John Lederer and Col. John Catlett left a small settlement south of the Rappahannock River, following the River valley north, where Lederer noted "vast herds of red and fallow deer which stood gazing at us”? And did you know why they did that? Because they were looking for California and the Pacific Ocean! See, you can learn history by traveling our country’s highways and byways.

Okay, I told you we would write a little about our plans for the rest of the summer. We leave Deltaville on Tuesday, 10 July. We will then take about four leisurely days moseying up the Chesapeake to Herrington Harbor North. If that marina sounds familiar to some of you, it is because we kept our former boat, Sans Souci at Herrington South, a somewhat nicer, but far more expensive marina. Herrington North, though, has a pool, a workout facility, a restaurant on-site, and a West Marine right next door – and it’s only about 45 minutes from DC where our friends, family and doctors reside. In short, we have left the 3-hour drives from Deltaville to northern VA behind. Hurray!
We plan on staying at Herrington North for about a month, then taking about a week to meander down the Chesapeake and up the Potomac to Washington, DC.  We will be staying at the Gangplank Marina for another month and will be literally walking to the Smithsonian Museums and other DC sites (including, I hope, a Starbucks!). That should take us to the end-ish of September after which we are heading back down to Deltaville to get ready to head south along the ICW to the Exumas. Now, all of that may change – as Ann says on boats we have “intentions” not “plans” – but that is how we hope the rest of the summer will unfold.

Okay, Okay, now something important. You need to write this date on your calendars: On Saturday, 4 August, we are having an “Open Boat” party or maybe a “Boat Warming.” Anyway, we are inviting all our friends and family to come to Herrington Harbor North to see our boat, have a few libations and enjoy some munchies (haven’t decided what kind of munchies, yet). And the answer is YES! If you are among the first 100 people to show up, you can even see the infamous heads about which you have read so much! And if you are lucky, I mean really lucky, we might even let you put salt in the Lectra Sans! We have already sent the invitations, so if you didn’t get yours and are going to be in the area, please, please, please let us know and you will receive one. Now, some of you who reside in California, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, the UK  and other places (we actually have some readers in Russia) probably got invitations. If you can come, please do! But, of course, we don’t really expect you to make it. However, we don’t know where some of you are and we would hate to assume you can’t come because you happen to be a state or two away.

Anyway, I hope to have a new entry in a week-and-a-half to two weeks and Hope to see you on 4 August!!!!

ANN'S NOTES:  As you can tell there is a small time warp in this addition to the blog. Let me explain the time and date difference. While some of the boat repairs/improvements where being done at Zimmerman's boatyard, Michael and I were in Arizonia visiting our moms. We left on 18 June together and returned on seperate dates. Michael came home on the 25th and I returned on the 30th. Michaels mom is doing well and we hope will be visiting us on the boat in October. My visit with my mom was one that had to be made. My sister Liz is living with her for a little while longer,thank heaven for Liz. Since my step-dad passed away, my mom has not handled things very well. A lot of the military paper work was very confusing and the papers were everywhere. Anyway...the lesson learned from this visit is have everything in order...your will, insurance, retirement papers...anything legal put it all together and in a file. Believe me...it will be much better for you and any family member that comes to help you. My mom is going to be ok...it will just take longer than we thought.

I am happy to report that my new stove/range is working nicely. Granted I have not made a big fancy meal as yet...why ? you may ask ? Answer...it is too FLIPPING HOT :(     The thought of turning on anything that produces heat just makes me want to run in the other direction. Yes... we have AC but I try not to turn it on during the day. The mornings are usually nice with a slight breeze but then the sun comes out and heats up the day. If you don't know I am NOT a hot weather girl...Maine is looking like a great place to spend the summer if you ask me.

I am really looking forward to our month in Herrington Harbour North. I have made a few doctors appointments, just the usual stuff, and it will be a much closer drive. Also the up coming Boat Warming party will be fun...I hope you can come and see us.

 I also want to thank Dave and Joan and our son Tim and daughter-in-law Carrie for all the time and effort they put in to make this adventure work for Michael and I. We are truly blessed to have them in our lives and I love them all very much.

Traveling Soul....OUT

Monday, July 2, 2012

Deltaville II (18 - 25 June)

In our last episode, you may recall we were in beautiful downtown Deltaville. We told you why we were there, what we were doing in and around this booming metropolis, and we referred somewhat cryptically to “improvements” we were having made on the boat. Well, if this were a TV episode, it would be called the “reveal,” if it were a little more sophisticated it would be called the “denouement” and if it we had built up the anticipation a little more diligently it would be called the “climax.” In any event, here is the list of projects on which we have asked the Zimmerman boatyard to work while we were in Arizona and where we currently stand:

If you look closely, you can see the stainless
steel protection at the front and the side of the bowspirit
·         Bowsprit protection: As many of you will remember, we replaced our 45 pound CQR-clone (aka hinged plow) anchor with a 66 pound Bruce because I did not believe the CQR-clone was heavy enough to hold a 55,000 pound boat.  When we did so, we did not realize that the sides of the new, larger anchor would come up and bang the bowsprit. In fact, it has severely chipped the fiberglass. So, we have decided to protect the areas where it is being chipped with some stainless steel. Status: Done
·         Salt water washdown. When we were in the Bahamas, the sea bottom in which we usually anchored was sand. So, when we were ready to leave an anchorage, both the anchor and the chain came up fairly clean and ready to use again. Well, when we got to the ICW we learned that there is a lot more mud and gunk at the bottom of the most of the world’s anchorages that there is sand. (Ann swears it is warm, yucky and has the consistently of baby poop. As for me, I try not to play around in baby poop enough to know, but I will admit that is looks a lot like shit.) We also learned that this yucky stuff seems perfectly designed  to stick in the links of the chain as well as to the anchor. So, when we pull up 100 feet of chain that has lain in the gunk for one or more nights, we pull a lot of gunk onto the front of the boat. About the only way to get it off the boat is to go through all 220 feet of anchor and clean it out link-by-link. If you don’t believe me, you can ask Ann; it was not one of her favorite boat tasks. Even worse, unless you remove it almost immediately, some of this gunk can, in fact, stain the bow of the boat. It took several applications of my favorite cleaning product – FSR or Fiberglass Stain Remover – to get rid of the stain.
To eliminate that problem, we are having a pretty powerful saltwater washdown pump put on the boat. (I think it will be about 60 pound of water pressure per inch.) Basically, it pulls saltwater out of the sea and into the hose. All Ann has to do is to aim the nozzle at the chain as we bring it up and blast the gunk away before it gets on the boat – at least that is the theory. Lord, I hope it works! Status: in progress
·         Battery monitor: If you look back far enough in this Blog, you will find a number of references to our battery banks and trying to find out what is happening to them, particularly when we use the inverter. Now we have figured out some of the stuff that is happening, but we have asked Zimmerman’s to install a Xantrex LinkPro battery monitor. It is supposed to tell me, among other things, how many amp-hours are left in the battery bank. Status: Completed

·         Heads: While some of you may have forgotten our Battery Escapades, I am sure none of you have forgotten our Head Adventures. Well, the saga continues, but these aren’t really repairs, these are attempts to get in front of our problems.  First, I have to tell you that, after we spent a couple of boat units on them a couple of months ago, two of our heads continue to work as well as expected, but we have never been able to get the aft-most head (in the master stateroom) to work. In fact, we were told it was beyond repair. Well, after long consideration, much counting of boat units, and a great deal of concern for those of you who will come to visit us on the boat in the future (You better come, darn it!), we have thrown a couple of BU’s at the master head. We are not getting a new Lectra San, instead we are getting a brand new, high tech, Purasan. In a future entry I may try to detail the differences between the old fashioned Lectra San and the new fangled Purasan, but for now, let me just say that while the Lectra San relies on the salt in the sea water, the Purasan does not. Instead, we have to buy tablets to put into the Purasan – and make sure we have enough for a Bahamas trip. That means we will never have to put salt in the toilet again – even in the most brackish of water. (For those who don’t know, the Chesapeake’s water is not very salty; in fact, the further north you go, the less salty it is and the more salt we would have to add.) So, for the Lectra Sans we will have to continue to add extra salt for every flush as long as we are in the Chesapeake, but not for the Purasan. Our long term plan is to replace the other two Lectra Sans over the next two years. Status: Completed
We have asked Zimmerman’s to make one other modification to our heads. Both Lectra Sans and Purasans are classified by the Coast Guard as an MSD I’s, which “is a flow through discharge device that produces effluent having a fecal coliform bacteria count not greater than 1,000 per 100 milliliters and no visible floating solids. This type of device is typically a physical/chemical based system that relies on maceration and chlorination.” MSD I’s are supposed to be permitted everywhere EXCEPT in EPA-designated “No Discharge Zones,” where you are supposed to use an MSD III -- which is “a device that prevents the overboard discharge of treated or untreated sewage or any waste derived from sewage,” which means, basically, that you have to use a holding tank. (To complicate matters there are some state and local law enforcement officials who do not understand what MSD I’s are and assume that if you are not using a holding tank that you are dumping your … er … untreated stuff overboard.)
Anyway, we want to make it so we can use our holding tanks, either when we are in a No Discharge Zone or when the Lectra Sans do not work. So, we asked Zimmerman’s to put in a switch that will allow us to do just that. They did so, but in the process they discovered that two of our thru-hulls were frozen open and needed replacement. (Thru hulls are exactly what they sound like. They pass through the hull to either suck water in or blow something out.) It’s always somethin’ ain’t it? I do not like thru-hulls frozen in the open position, so, of course, we had them fixed; it is, after all, only a boat unit or two. Status: Completed

A not-very-good-picture of the new stove
·         Stove: Another major issue was replacing the stove. As most of you know, Ann not only loves to cook, she is very good at it. Me? I am not so good at cooking, but I can be one hell of an eater. Anyway, there were three problems with our stove: (1) It was 20 years old, (2) it cooked around 50 degrees +/- too hot, and (3) it was difficult to keep pots and pans on the stove when the boat tilted just a little. Clearly we needed a new stove.

The old stove

Ann really wanted a ceramic, smooth-top stove.  Unfortunately, the only smooth-top stoves we could find were 30 inches wide (the standard width); our space was 27 inches. No matter how much we looked and no matter how hard we tried we couldn’t fit a 30 inch stove into a 27 inch space. So, we bought a coil-top 27 inch stove. It seems to work okay, but time will tell. Status: Completed

·         Winch repair: This one is a repair/improvement. Most of you remember that the winch for our dinghy went south a couple of weeks ago. The first day Zimmerman’s technicians were here, they fixed the winch. It turns out that it wasn’t the electrical connections at all, but instead was the clutch for the winch. Five minutes after the tech fiddled with the clutch, it worked. Since they had it out and were working on it I asked them to replace the cable that pulls the dinghy up. When they were doing so, apparently the remote switch burnt out – so they replaced that also. Because they had to wait for parts, they didn’t finish until yesterday, but now it is done. Status: Completed.

·         Swim platform rub rail: When we use our dinghy we have to get on and off via the swim platform. The problem is that the darned Boston Whaler is just high enough to fit under the platform. In the past, when one of us got out, it would pop up and catch the rubber protective edging, which we call the rub rail (because it is designed to protect the boat from “rubbing” against the dock or anything else). Well, when it caught the rubber, it lifted it up and started tearing the places where it was screwed onto the swim platform. There were about 50 screws holding it in place and five or so tore through the rubber so we knew we would need to fix rubber, but then we had a bigger problem. If you will recall during the “Big Blow” at Marsh Harbor, the dinghy (which we had tied to the back of the boat), was constantly thrown under the railing, then it would bounce back and up, tearing even more of the rubber – until the rub rail was almost completely torn off. We decided that when we had it repaired, we would have a different kind of railing (stainless steel) put on so the dinghy would never again tear it out. Status: Completed

·         Fuel Tanks: Our boat has two main fuel tanks that carry 200 gallons of diesel fuel each. It also has two auxiliary tanks in the master stateroom under the bed that can another hold 150 gallons each. Several years ago, we were told, the previous owner decided he didn’t want to use the auxiliary tanks and stopped filling them. If we wanted to use the aft tanks, we had two problems.

Microbes, in the form of bacteria and fungus, are present in all diesel fuels. Long periods of fuel storage can create ideal opportunities for microbes to grow in fuel tanks. After they reproduce, the microbes die.  As they die, they fall to the bottom and form a “gunk” at the bottom of the fuel tanks. (This is, of course, not to be confused with the “baby poop” gunk that comes up with the anchor and chain.) Over a period of years, a lot of this dead-microbe gunk can form at the bottom of the tanks. So, before we use the fuel tanks we had to have them cleaned out. Moreover, since the tanks had not been used for a long time, we did not know whether microscopic cracks and pits had formed in the tanks and the associated hoses, so we had to have the tanks pressure tested to make sure when we put fuel in the tanks that it would stay there. The total estimated cost would be $2000 - $2500 dollars.

So why, you ask, did we care about carrying extra fuel? As we cruised up the ICW we learned that fuel costs can vary by as much as a dollar per gallon depending on where you refueled. If we could carry 700 gallons, we could fill up at locations where fuel was least expensive and skip those marinas where it cost a lot.  My back of the envelope calculations showed that we could probably save $750 for every thousand miles we traveled. Since the distance from the Chesapeake to southern Florida is about 1200 miles and since we go up and down every year, we could save $900 each way. Moreover, in the Bahamas, fuel costs at least a dollar more than the highest price in the US. Since we thought we might cruise 1000 miles after we get to the Bahamas, that would be another $750 in savings. In a year, we could save somewhere in the neighborhood of $2550 – which is more than the cost of the improvement – or more than two-and-a-half Boat Units. Status: They are pressure-testing the tanks even as I write this sentence. I am writing another sentence and they are still testing. Still … still … Ok, it is going to take maybe 24 hours so I should probably move on.

·         Water maker: Do we need a watermaker? No. Do we want a watermaker? Yes. Let me explain our thinking.

We have three options: (1) No watermaker, (2) Have our current watermaker fixed – assuming it can be fixed, (3) buy a new watermaker.

In the Exumas (the portion of the Bahamas where we plan on going next year) and further south in the Caribbean, water can cost 50 cents per gallon or more. A new watermaker, however, costs $10,000 (no, that’s not a misprint, 10 whole boat units) – plus another BU or two for installation. You can buy a whole lot of water for 10+ BUs – even at 50 cents per gallon.

Over a six day period, Ann and I use about 200 gallons of water – which is about the capacity of our water tanks – including water for washing dishes, cooking, and taking some very short showers. It does not include water for washing clothes – which is a big water user. Typically, we would spend 6 days at anchor, then go to a marina for a day or two and use the marina’s water to clean the boat, take long, hot showers and do the wash. Let’s say that comes to another 200 gallons. So, we would spend $200/week on water. Now let’s be very optimistic and say that we might have guests come to visit for two weeks out of a month, and that they, too would use 200 gallons (that is not quite true, but I am trying to keep things simple). That means we would spend $800 per month on water for Ann and me and another $200 for guest water. In a month, therefore, we would spend in the neighborhood of $1000. Since we plan on spending about 4 months or so each year in high-cost-of- water-area, we would spend abut $4000 per year on water.

A second problem with having no watermaker is that we lose freedom. Let’s say we and another couple are on a cruise. Our tanks hold only 200 gallons, so at least once during the week and more likely twice, we are going to have to visit someplace and take on water. Even if it is only Ann and I, we would have to stop for water every 6 days.

Between the financial cost and the loss of freedom, we are not big on having no watermaker. A new watermaker can run on batteries, so we could have it on most of the day. It can produce 10 – 15 gallons per hour which means that we would never run out of water. In fact, we would produce excess water. (I already thought of it. No, we can’t sell the excess; it is against the law for us to sell anything in foreign countries.)Anyway, it would pay for itself in three or so years.

Our watermaker is 20 years old, runs only on AC (i.e. when the generator is on) and produces only 7.5 gallons per hour (at best). However, we have to run our generator about four hours per day anyway (to charge the batteries). Four hours at 7.5 gallons per hour amounts to 30 gallons per day.  Over six days, we would produce 180 gallons – or almost half of our total weekly requirement. Over four months, the cost of water would be $2584; we would save $1416 per year with a repaired watermaker.  Since the cost of repairs would be ~$1500, we would pay for it in about a year. Moreover, while Ann and I could stay out for quite a while alone, even if we had guests we could stay out almost six days, or we could run the generator just a little bit longer each day and stay the whole week. 

Bottom line, we are trying to get our watermaker fixed. Status: In process.

Some of the new eisenglass on the flybridge
·         Eisenglass Replaced: In our last entry we told you about replacing the eisenglass – the clear plastic surrounding our flybridge. Actually, eisenglass is supposed to be clear. Ours is very foggy, foggy to the point where sometimes I can’t see through it well enough to drive the boat. It was also so old that it was cracking. If that wasn’t enough, it wasn’t configured the way we wanted it. Normally, when we are on the flybridge, the weather is good and we like to open the eisenglass and let the glorious breeze flow through. It was configured in such a way that we couldn’t open it up as much as we wanted; some of the panels didn’t open at all, and some of them didn’t open enough for us to enjoy the breeze. So, we asked the folks at Custom Canvass to replace the eisenglass with a combination of new eisenglass and staratglass. (Strataglass is similar to eisenglass, but is thicker, lasts longer and is generally better.) The job is now finished and it looks great. We are satisfied. Status: Complete.

·         Cushions: We have eight outdoor cushions, all made of white vinyl. We keep the two cushions for the bow seats in the salon behind the sofa so they are in very good shape. The six cushions for the flybridge, though – maybe not so much. Because they are in the weather a lot, mildew grows on them, they get stained and because they have been used for twenty or so years, the fasteners that are supposed to keep them in place do not work. In short, we needed to do something about the cushions. Ann thought the best solution would be to get them covered in sunbrella fabric which is the same fabric that we use for canvass throughout the boat.  On the bad news front, the lady who does cushions is semi-retired and works only occasionally. On the good news front, she has agreed to do our cushions. On the bad news front, she had some members of her family come to visit and she has not yet finished them. On the good news front she should be finished next week. Status: In process.

·         Entertainment Center and Wet Bar: In our saloon we have a large cabinet that is about waist-high and stretches across the width of the room. It contains a wet bar and an entertainment center. We are completely satisfied with the wet bar and, though I add shelves to it once in a while, don’t want it touched. The entertainment center is a different story. Right now, it is configured to house an old-fashioned Sony TV and three stereo components – a receiver/amplifier, a CD player and (are you ready for this?) a four track cassette recorder-player. (Remember the boat was built in the 1990s.) And, for us, it is good that it has the four-track. The best way for us to play our iPods is to plug them into a gizmo that connects to the four-track, which in turn is connected to the amplifier. The music comes forth loudly and clearly. The system itself is connected to four very good speakers, two in the salon and two in the galley, which can be used together or separately. The bottom line is that the set-up we have is very usable, though I must admit that we kind of want to get it updated with a larger flat screen TV and 21st Century entertainment center components.

Here is the problem. The cabinet is custom-made to hold the components we have. Flatscreens do not have the same dimensions as the televisions of yesterday, so we would have to modify the cabinet significantly. Now I suspect you are beginning to get the picture; custom modifications to a custom cabinet call for some serious woodwork – especially when we want all the varnishes matched – and serious woodwork means big boat units. The estimate we got for that and a few other little pieces of woodwork was five-and-a-half-boat units. To be honest I think that estimate was high. We are not going to need much material and 60+ labor hours seems a bit high to me. Needless to say, we are not going to get the work done by Zimmerman’s. Instead, I am going to look around and try to find someone who can do the work for less. Meanwhile, we will continue to watch our old-fashioned square TV and listen to our iPods on our four-track. Status: On Hold

Unfortunately, when people start taking apart your boat to make improvements or repairs, they frequently find other things that need to be fixed. We had two things happen: (1) The techs found that many/most of our sacrificial zincs were worn out, and (2) we need new cutlass bearings. What are sacrificial zincs? Any time you have two different metals that are physically or electrically connected and immersed in seawater, they become a battery and some (generally small) amount of current flows between the two metals. The electrons that make up that current are supplied by one of the metals giving up bits of itself-in the form of metal ions-to the seawater. This is called galvanic corrosion and, left unchecked, it quickly destroys underwater metals.
The most common casualty of galvanic corrosion is a bronze or aluminum propeller on a stainless steel shaft, but metal struts, rudders, rudder fittings, and even engines are also at risk. The way we counteract galvanic corrosion is to add a third metal into the circuit, one that is quicker than the other two to give up its electrons. This piece of metal is called a sacrificial anode, and most often it is zinc. In fact, most boaters refer to sacrificial anodes simply as zincs. It would be hard to overstate the importance of maintaining the zinc anodes on your boat. When a zinc is gone, the metal component it was installed to protect begins to dissolve-guaranteed. Now zincs cost a little bit and so does the labor, but the cost isn’t that bad – especially compared to the potential consequences. So we had them replace all the zincs.

They also noticed that our cutlass bearings are failing and sadly, they are not quite so cheap. On boats with inboard engines, the engine spins the shaft which, in turn, drives the propeller. A “strut” – usually in the shape of an inverted “V” sticks out from the bottom of the hull and holds the propeller shaft in place. The job of the cutlass bearing is to fit between the shaft and the strut to reduce friction and to hold the shaft steady  as it spins. As the cutlass bearings wear out, we will feel more and more of a vibration as we increase the RPMs. Unfortunately, each set of bearings cost about $1500 and the labor to put them in is probably another BU each. Moreover, we have to have the boat hauled out of the water so the workmen can get at them. Overall, when we have them replaced it is going to cost us in the neighborhood of 5-6 BUs. Because we are spending so much money on all these other repairs/improvements we deferred having the bearings replaced. We’ll probably have to have it done this fall.

We still have a few more things to do. We have to sell our current dinghy and buy another one, we have to get someone to look at our generator, we have to sell our CQR-clone anchor and probably buy another (bigger) Bruce, and we have to buy and install a new electric oil changer. We’re not quite where we want to be yet, but we’re getting there.

Ann's Notes: Michael sure did alot of typing in this edition of the addition of the blog...I don't think I can match the amount of words he used.

I must say my new stove is very pretty...I did try every which way to get a new flat ceramic cook top and I could have -- but at the cost of many more boat units. It is hard to believe that none of the big companies make 27 inch ranges, the standard size is 30 inches. I guess I will just have to wait and get the flat-top range when we live back on land . I did however learn ALL about the different types of ranges, there is the drop-in,which is what we have, the slide-in and the free standing .They also have a Sabbath Mode in some ranges. Look it up, I found it very interesting so I even learned something new about the Jewish religion.

I think all the repairs and improvements will make our time spent on our beautiful floating home much more pleasant and safer. Please do come and visit and see for yourself how much fun it is. We will welcome you with open arms and a drink of your choice.
Traveling Soul...