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.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Most of June and July 2013: Herrington Harbor

Well, we’re off again. But before we write about our trip around the northern part of the Chesapeake, we wanted to talk about all the maintenance we have had done while the boat was sitting near Deale, Maryland in Herrington Harbor North (HHN) Marina. So, for those of you who like to read about our travels, you will have to wait until next time where we will write about our trip to Baltimore, Kent Island, St. Michaels and Cambridge. I know, however, that there are some of you who are more interested in how our systems are operating. This Blog is for you!

The Captain Mike is up and is almost as good as ever. The operation was clearly a success, the antibiotics worked, the scar is looking good (I am hopeful that what one of my grandson’s once told me is true: “Chick’s dig scars.”) and I am captaining our boat, walking, swimming and riding a bicycle – everything but running. I have to wait another three-and-a-half months for that. As you will see below, I like to remind myself who the repairmen are and how well they did on any piece of boat equipment. In my case, the first set of repair people were members of the team at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, headed by my orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Scott Shawen. The other team, which stuck with me both before and after the hospital, was the Traveling Soul Team, which took care of me on the boat. That was headed by my wife Ann, who changed my dressings and did all those other things that can be a bit yucky until I was fully healed.  

Reupholster Anyone who saw our sofa and chairs before this summer can tell you that we either needed to get new ones or reupholster the old ones. We chose to reupholster. The initial estimate from a person in the marine reupholster business was over 6 Boat Units. You heard that right; six BU’s for reupholstering a sofa. We could buy a brand new leather one for that. In fact, we could probably buy two! Needless to say we got another estimate that was a little more reasonable and chose to go with that one.

Our newly upholstered sofa. Less that SIX Boat Units!

I suspect Ann will want to tell you more, but when they delivered the sofa back to us, the reupholster-er(say that 5 times fast!) had a little surprise for us. He put in some panels and gave us storage room! I would guess somewhere around 25 to 30 cubic feet. As soon as Ann saw the additional storage room I think she fell in love with the reupholster guy.

Engines While on our way up the ICW, a day or two before we arrived at Herrington Harbor, our Synchronizer failed. A synchronizer is a fairly simple mechanical device for keeping both engines at the same RPM. (Keep in mind, however, that “simplicity” of mechanical devices at is a relative term). It is important to keep the engines at the same RPM for several reasons, two of which are particularly important to me. The first is steering. When one engine is running faster than the other, the boat is essentially “pushed” away from the center line by the faster running engine making it difficult to control. Second, you consume extra fuel when engine speed is out of alignment. You are basically “wasting” the fuel used by the faster running engine. And most of you know how I feel about wasting money.

It is certainly possible to adjust engine speed manually. But my tachometers are hardly finely-tuned instruments; they are “off” by 50 RPM or so. This isn’t critical – unless you are trying to keep the two engines at the same speed. The bottom line is that when I first bought the boat I thought the synchronizer was modestly useful. I now consider it to be very important. Since I was going to have engine people on the boat, I decided to also ask them to change my fuel filters, too.

It took them a while, but they figured out what was wrong and made the appropriate repairs. We have yet to receive the bill. My guess? A BU or so. Oh, but there is more – that, I will discuss in my next entry!

Air Conditioning.  We have four separate air conditioners on board. One of them – the one that cools the guest staterooms – went south. We asked Nate Horton, of Horton Marine Services, to fix it. The reason I like Nate so much is that last year – as some of you might recall – after we had paid several people to make our watermaker work (to no avail), Nate took the filter and the tubing going to the watermaker, and raised it above the waterline. Somewhere along the line we had lost the prime to the watermaker pump. That was all. Thirty minutes of labor and he fixed the whole thing. At that point Nate became one of my best friends and I decided that I was going to give him all our watermaker and air conditioning business.

I called and Nate came out to fix the broken air conditioner and help us “summer-ize” the watermaker. When he left, everything worked. Literally the next day, another air conditioner (the one that cools the galley) failed, and before he returned the original problem (with the guest room a/c system) had returned. Since our son and his family were going to spend a couple of nights on the boat, we needed to have the repairs done immediately. He was out the next day at 7:30 AM and fixed both of those problems, but determined that the reason the guest room air conditioning had failed was that there was a leak in the system. He would need to come out and fix that later.

I know, I know, you re beginning to wonder how good Nate really is. Well, frankly, so am I. We’ll see when he sends me the invoice for the extra work he is doing. If he bills me for everything, then maybe I will have repaid him for his work on the watermaker and our relationship needs to come to an end. But if he gives me a break on the price – well, then, maybe I will continue to use Nate and his services some more.

Electrical Some of you may remember the problems we have had with our inverter and our battery monitor. In fact, I have accumulated acres of spreadsheets and done hundreds of calculations trying to figure out what was going on with the system. Well, I finally hired a guy from Marine Technical Services (MTS) to help me figure out what was happening. It took him a little bit, but after he figured out that the folks at Zimmerman’s in Deltaville had hooked up my battery monitor incorrectly we could at last figure out what was going on. In addition to the fact that the folks at Zimmerman’s had incorrectly hooked up my battery monitor (oh, had I already mentioned that?) the automatic charging relay (ACR) was acting up. Well, since I really didn’t need an ACR, (I have enough battery chargers without it) I just had them disconnect it. Although we haven’t yet anchored out, we have experimented with the modified system and it (knock on wood) appears to work.

Here is a picture of the Chart plotter with the AIS overlaid. You can see some other AIS boats in the lower left corner. In act, the pone near the word "Rocky" could be the one in the photo below. And you wonder why I want to know all about them!

A ship we would have seen on the AIS!
Electronics Since the technicians at MTS figured out my inverter system, I asked them to put in the newest improvement to Traveling Soul – an Automatic Identification System or AIS. All commercial vessels are required to have a Class A  AIS. The AIS automatically transmits (via VHF) a vessel’s name location, speed, direction of movement, type, size, destination and a bunch of technical details about any commercial ship in the area, which a receiver can turn into a graphical display on the chartplotter.  Recreational vessels are not required to, but can have a Class B AIS that does the same thing. (I would guess somewhere around 5% of recreational vessels do.) So, we can now travel around at night and have the name, location, etc. of all commercial vessels in the neighborhood. AND if some of our friends have a Class B system, we will be able to “see” them and call them whenever we are close.

Visitors I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the visitors we had while at HHN.

·         Our son, daughter-in-law and two grandchildren (Tim, Carrie, Caylin and Gavin) visited twice – and one time they stayed over for two nights. Caylin and Gavin are turning into real swimmers and boating-life lovers.

·         Our friends Dave and Joan Wolf also keep their boat Sans Souci at HHN. They were frequent visitors and helped us in innumerable ways while we were at the marina.

·         Jerry and Lee Ann Hyatt from the Sailing Vessel Bella visited along with the newest member of their crew DiDi – a dog). Jerry, you might recall, was my “consulting orthopedist” (the orthopedic surgeon who gave me some very good advice) that we met in Spanish wells. Lee Ann was a former hospice nurse. Luckily, I didn’t need her advice, but she and Ann hit if off very well.

·         Bill and Regina who we had met in Nassau on their boat Meant 2 Be. They were visiting in the area and brought their newest granddaughter to visit.

·         Karin Cash is a long time friend of Ann’s who used to work with Ann in hospice came to visit and spent two nights with us.

·         Our friends, Jim and Jane Hawkins also visited. We are hopeful that this is the first of many visits!


ANN’S NOTES:  As you have already read we have had a pretty busy summer. My main job was to keep track of on-going doctor’s  appointments…keep the social calendar updated… make sure we were up on time for the repairmen ( they seem to like the 7:30/8:00 AM time frame)… check the pantry and fridge so we had  plenty of food and drinks…and  know where the pool passes were at any given time.

I did get a chance to reconnect with some of my girlfriends and meet them for lunch. I do miss them very much when we are away from the VA/MD area but our friendships are strong and we just pick up where we left off. A true sign of a strong and lasting friend.

Michael is correct about the brief love affair I had with Ray the sofa man . When they were taking the sofa apart in about ten pieces , so they could take it to the shop and reupholster it, both Michael and I made a comment about ALL THAT SPACE under the sofa that was not being used. I wanted to call and ask them if they could make storage for us but I have learned that once you ask for `extra`  things it can cost more money…SO…I let that request and phone call go. A week later when the sofa was delivered back to the boat, all pretty and looking new… Ray (I was not in love at this point) said he had a surprise for us. He reupholstered the sofa AND MADE STORAGE. That was the point that I feel in love with Ray. He asked me if it was ok that he made all that extra space for us…if we did not like it he could change it back…are you KIDDING ME?  I am pleased to announce that all the space is NOT filled up and we still have room for items if we need it. I also went thru the two guest cabins and removed what was extra in there and now have empty space for our guests to stow their gear. By the way, when you visit remember to bring a duffel bag, not a suitcase, as they are harder to fold in half and stow.

I had all my usual doctors and dental appointments and passed with flying colors. I did have my annual eye check up with my ophthalmologist and talked to her about not wearing glasses. They are really a pain. I only need them for reading, so I have to switch between my reading glasses and my sun glasses many times during the day. The solution was an old one. I once wore only one contact lens – in my left eye – to help me with up close distance. I even had Lasik done on my left eye and it worked for many years. Age, however, is catching up and I had to wear glasses…but not any more…one contact lens in my left eye and the glasses are a thing of the past. I am loving it.

This wildlife count is going to just an all around count…not broken up into days…

It has been a busy month…no dolphins but a lot of land and some air based animals…

·         It was an excellent year for the Monarch butterfly, as they were everywhere. There were also a few Swallowtails

A monarch
·         I saw three turtles

·         Many red-winged black birds

A swallowtail -- or so Ann tells me.
·         The Osprey also had a productive year, many nests had three or four babies. Most years the average is two or three. Most of the ospreys are gone and the big nests are empty. It really does get noisy when the “teen-age” birds are learning to fly…lots of talking going on between parent and child in the form of screeching.  The parents also fly between the teenagers and the nest so they cannot land. Needless to say…like most teenagers they are letting the parents know they are not happy with their lesson. I am sure they are saying something like “this is not fair” and the parents are thinking “yeah..it is time to fly with the big birds and leave the nest…get over it” or something like that.

Thanks for reading our blog.

Traveling Soul…OUT