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.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

June and July Catchup (Herrington Harbor North)

I know some of you are probably wondering why we didn’t publish a blog entry in June – or July for that matter. Well the simple answer is that we didn’t do much of anything interesting and go much of anyplace worthwhile. The more complex answer is that both the boat and I were in our respective hospitals for maintenance and repairs. I was, once again, much more impressed with the people hospital than the boat hospital. In fact, this is the second boatyard that has lost our business forever and ever and ever. Before I discuss work on the boat, let me say just a little about my own “repair and maintenance” experience.

I have now had FOUR – count ‘em FOUR – operations on my Achilles tendon. As a reminder, the first was for severe tendonitis, the second was to repair a rupture that occurred as a result of the first, the third was to cut out an infection – and repair damage to the tendon – that occurred as a result of the second, and the fourth was to dig out the a piece of infected suture that was left over from the third. Yeah … that’s what I say. A-N-Y-W-A-Y, my foot now feels better than it has in ages. I can do “toe raises” on my right foot alone – without pain – for the first time since the process began. In short, I firmly believe that the evil pseudomonas bacteria has been banned from my body and my Achilles tendon is well-recovered.

At the same time I was in the hospital, we had the boat out of the water in the Deltaville Boatyard. We gave them a list of projects that needed to be done. While I wasn’t sure they would get to all of them, I thought they would work though the higher priority projects – boy was I mistaken. I have listed all the projects and the action (or lack of action) at the end of the blog (for those who just HAVE to know the details). For the rest of you, let me summarize.

I call this, Portrait of a Butterfly.
 (You have to think about nice things when dealing with
boatyards -- otherwise you'll go bonkers!)
We asked them to do as many of the 20 projects as they could in the time they had. In the event, they accomplished only FIVE of them with varying degrees of professionalism, but with an UNVARYING desire for our money. One of the five projects they completed was the repair of two of our air conditioners that weren’t working. I told them that if they needed to, they should replace one or both. They reported to me that neither needed replacement, just sealing some leaks in the system. Great! I thought. And while I thought $2200 was a bit much for filling some leaks, it was certainly cheaper than replacing them. As it turned out, of course, one of the air conditioners failed – barely two weeks out of the boatyard – and needed to be replaced anyway, to the tune of $3500. In essence I wasted a grand at the boatyard.

I also asked them to wash and wax the boat. They washed and waxed the hull for $2000. Last year at Herrington North, I had the ENTIRE boat washed and waxed (while in the water) for around $1300. I’m just sayin’ …

As I said we didn’t do much during the months of June and July, we did take a couple of cruises. We brought the boat from Deltaville to Herrington North, our favorite marina in the northern Bay. The cruise up was great; the weather was wonderful and the seas were perfect. We spent the night anchored in Smith Creek, a tributary of the Potomac River. We have stayed there before and it is every bit as lovely as we remembered. Although there are some buildings in view, Smith Creek is mostly surrounded by nature in all of its glory. One of the exceptions is a farm house on the south side of the creek that plays the national anthem and raises the flag every morning at 0800. We also discovered that there is a restaurant near the entrance to the creek. Now from the way it looks from the outside, it surely isn’t one of those kitschy restaurants to which the nouveau riche flock on the weekend. It is either one of those place that primarily serves locals with wonderful food, or you have to pull the flies out of your mashed potatoes. We’ll never know until we go there!

Lightning at Herrington Harbor
 While at Herrington North, we took a weekend cruise to Solomons Island, Maryland, a kind of touristy place that we like to visit. Our friend Joan Wolf was on the boat and we were going to meet Dave at Zahniser’s Marina. As we approached the Naval Air Station at Pawtuxet River we saw a number of things flying around, i.e. a couple of different kinds of helicopters, a Boeing 707, some F14’s AND a bald eagle! Yes, a bald eagle! We were cruising down the river and noticed a dead fish in the water about 100 feet ahead of us. Just then, a fairly large bald eagle swooped down to pick it up. It seemed, however, that about the same time I saw the fish he saw Traveling Soul and made a quick calculation as to whether he could get the fish and get away before colliding with us or not. He apparently decided that discretion was the better part of valor and continued his swoop away from the boat. At the closest, though, I would guess he was somewhere around 50 feet away. They are magnificent birds.

Since it was Joan’s birthday, we had dinner at the Drydock Restaurant. Unlike most Bay eating establishments where you pay exorbitant process to get good food, good service OR great views (pick two out of three), at the Drydock you get all three. Seriously, it is one of the nicest restaurants on the Bay. In addition, my wife, the magnificent cook, has expanded her repertoire – she has now made some homemade tonic, as in tonic for drinks. So, on our boat if you ask for Vodka and Tonic, you don’t get some regular old-fashioned, store-bought tonic water, you get Ann’s special, home-made tonic. No, we aren’t going to tell you how to make it, you have to come and visit to find out. (We’ll even provide the vodka!)

Door Before
We still have one more set of repairs for the boat – those that the boatyard did not do. Those will be made by our friend and (seemingly) only trustworthy repair-person we know, Rick Nissan (and his son Tyler). We are also going to bite the bullet and pay an exorbitant amount for some internal decorating. We will publish more details – and even some pictures – when they take place. However, in preparation for the changes we decided we HAD to re-varnish the doors. As most of you know, that doesn’t mean just re-varnishing, it means stripping and re-varnishing. We decided to make it a two day affair. I am going to hold the blog for a day so we can get some pictures of the new doors in.
Door Aftet

Ann’s Notes: As Michael has told you the summer months have been rather slow…as far as cruising goes. That does not mean we have not been busy. I like coming back home to catch up on my friendships and seeing my family. I have also been kept busy practicing my nursing skills, thankfully I won’t need to use them on Michael any more. It has been a long two and a half years dealing with the Achilles surgeries and the healing. I can now talk about that ordeal in the past tense … Michael is well and healed (a small pun was intended) Michael even bought a new bike and has been very loyal to it in the daily rides…except on weekends. I know I should get off my butt and do more … I have my yoga and walking. And now I have a new and unwelcomed pain in my neck. I will not go into details but I will just say that getting old is not for sissies.

We have done a few DIY projects…the port and starboard doors look really good. Picking out the color of stain was a two day talk fest…no matter how hard you try matching the color of teak on a twenty plus year old boat is not easy. We also took all the varnish off the swim platform steps and swim ladder.  After five coats of teak oil, they also look new. I have also replaced a port screen…I will not name, names…but one little girl we know sleeps on the top berth when she is on board and likes to open and close the port window.

I have been trying new recipes, one a week at least. I found myself cooking the same meals over and over again. I wanted to add some fun and spice (so to speak) in my cooking. Since we are dock side and have a car to get to the grocery store, I have had the time and the means to try something new. I have made some rather good meals, most are low cal but Michaels favorite, pecan chicken, is as far from low cal as a recipe can get – butter, heavy cream … but YUMMY!!!

Not much to report on the wild life…seeing the eagle so close was amazing. Some of the Osprey nests are empty…the teenage birds have learned to fly and are on their own and heading south. The big migration of Monarch butterflies is well under way. One thing I noticed and am happy about…NO JELLYFISH in the Bay this year. Some say the winter was too cold and that somehow prevented the jellyfish from mating??? Hey…I am an just an observer, not a biology expert.

Thanks for reading…stay tuned for more adventures. We promise to be more productive in the future!

Traveling Soul…OUT


Annex 1: The Repair List

As I said, we asked the Deltaville Boatyard to repair the following items. They accomplished only the first five.

·         I have already discussed the air conditioners.

·         And the Cleaning and waxing

·         Repair/replace seacocks. This is the major job that needed to be done this season and the reason the boat had to be taken out of the water. For those of you who don’t know boat engines are cooled by massive amounts of salt water circulating through them. For each engine, the water is pulled through a hole in the hull of the boat (called a thru-hull). The hole is covered with a seacock. The seacock is like a valve that can be shut off if there is a malfunction and water starts pouring into the boat through the aforementioned thru-hull.  On our boat, the seacocks were stuck in the open position, so if something catastrophic happened we would not be able to close the seacock. As you can imagine, this could be a very bad thing so we wanted to have them repaired. It was probably around a week-long job. It looks like they did a very good job on these.

·         Repair fresh water leak. I could have done this if I could get back where the leak is. The problem is that it is waaayyy back there. I needed someone who is more nimble than I. So far, so good.

·         Check all batteries and replace as necessary. One day tops. They did this on the last day we were at the boatyard.

·         Repair the Bowsprit. I had a small run-in with a piling in Vero Beach just before we left for the Bahamas. We need to have the gelcoat repaired and made to look whole. It might have taken one to one-and-a-half days. Another great job.

The rest of these items, they didn’t even attempt.


·         Repair hatch to flybridge. This hatch that leads from the salon to the flybridge has been repaired so many times (by both the previous owner and us) that it is just about unfixable. We need someone with a good imagination and some woodworking skills to figure out how to repair it this time. Moreover, we want it repaired so that we don’t have to do it again in another couple of months. One day, maybe two tops to get it put together again.

·         Draw electrical system diagram. I really don’t know how the entire DC system works. I know where the battery chargers are, for example, but I do not know which charger charges what bank of batteries. I know that the panel in the engine room implies that the alternators charge specific sets of batteries, but I don’t think they do. I just want a high-level diagram of the electrical system. One day tops.

·         Repair scratch on the starboard side of the transom. This resulted from a slight accident. It really shouldn’t take more than a half-day.

·         Repair dinghy repair. We had a hole in and repaired the dinghy in the Bahamas. Our repair was not particularly professional; the pontoon deflates over a period of ~one week and the repair is an eyesore. We need it fixed so the pontoon holds air and the repair doesn’t look quite so bad. Maybe a day.

·         Repair Middle Head. The head does not flush properly. I think it can be done in half a day, but I would give them a day if they needed it.

·         Repair/replace port#1 outlet and fuse. We have had the others repaired in about 2 hours each.

·         Check Electrical cords. I would like someone to check all our electrical cords to ensure that they are operating as designed. I am afraid that one or more might be bad. Again, three cords, one

·         Watermaker

o   Repair. I am not sure what’s wrong, but the motor seems to run roughly. Could it simply be that I need a new membrane?

o   Replace seacock handle

o   Pickle.

o   Okay, I have seen all this stuff done by a competent repairman. It shouldn’t take more than a few hours, but if it takes a day-and-a-half, I can live with it.

·         Replace forward bilge pump switch at the helm station. I am going to try and fix this before I leave. If not, the switch that turns the switch to “manual” does not work. It can probably be done in two hours.

·         Repair door to fresh water wash down on aft deck. Half-day maybe?

·         Generator

o   Repair generator “start” system. Our generator does one of three things when we try to start it. (1) Starts right up and runs beautifully. (2) Starts, runs for 3 seconds, then dies. It will start up after we continue to try starting it. (3) Nothing. It is like the switch isn’t working, but it isn’t the switch.

o   Remote oil filter for generator

·         Check trim tabs. I don’t need them very often, so am not willing to pay much to have them fixed. But if it is simple, I would like them to work. An hour?

·         Take out icemaker and make storage space in salon. Door should either look like the existing cabinet doors or should be louvered (accordion). Maybe a half-day? The difficult part will be the door, I suspect.