Monday, August 31, 2009

2nd Year: Waterford NY to Albany NY w/ boat problems

Monday, August 31, 2009
Now, why would I get out of bed in the early morning, smiling in anticipation of yet another great day on the water, heading south toward Waterford, NY?  I should know better – it is becoming that any day on the water with this #@#@+!#** boat has GOT to be a BAD day on the water.
Heading south toward Waterford, NY
And today is ANOTHER bad day on the water.  Let’s see.  If this is the new DeFever 50, then it must be bad or must be a bad joke.  Me, I’m sick of laughing and excusing this freaking boat.  DON’T go there….DON’T say to me, “well, it’s a boat”.  We have had this conversation too many times.

Today, coming into a lock in the Champlain Canal, which can often be tricky enough, trying to get the boat parallel, trying to get the boat secure bow and stern to the lock wall without scraping and damaging anything, I am scurrying from bow to stern, trying to tie the boat off to those tiny little cables or grab the slimy ropes hanging down – whatever I can reach quickly – the boat suddenly lunges forward, throwing me off balance and putting the squeeze & stress and strain on the one rope I do have tied to the bow as the boat surges forward.  I’m yelling at Andy – “hey!  WHAT are you doing?!”  Looking up, I can see he is perplexed and clearly not happy about something.

Another memorable moment aboard our new DeFever as something ELSE has now broken.  Seems as Andy put the boat into gear, we had no proper gears on the starboard engine. When he put the boat into neutral, the boat goes into reverse.  When he put the boat into REVERSE, there IS NO REVERSE.  Pushing the throttle into forward puts the transmission in neutral.

This boat becomes difficult to control, but he finally figured out what was happening and could then compensate.  We got the boat secured to the lock wall.  Exiting the lock, we tied to the lock wall and spend a couple of hours trying to figure out the problem (translate that into a # of phone calls to people who might/should be able to but  really cannot help us).  Guess what, the manufacturer of THIS PART has a phone number and address in Japan.  Not much use to us now.  Andy finally, after a lot of troubleshooting and trying a number of things, wired the gear cable to the gear shift lever, so now we have neutral and forward but no reverse.  To you non-boaters, we use reverse in conjunction with forward on the other engine to aid in docking and turning the boat tightly in a channel, etc.  Going truly backward is not too often done..

There is a great deal of barge traffic in this area as GE has been forced to clean up the waterway, costing them billions.   Health hazard wastes are scooped off the bottom as sludge and transported out of here by dump trucks.  PCP levels are measured constantly and all folks downstream are a bit at risk with their water supply getting contaminated during the clean up.  Nice mess.   of dollars.  Seems GE dumped lots of toxic waste into this portion of the Hudson and got busted for it.  No wonder GE is profitable and pays no taxes...just dump your stuff!!

Hold your breath!  Barge takes up a LOT of room!

 At any rate, our RayMarine Chart Plotter that has NEVER worked properly and that continually, often as many as 12-15 times a day, cuts off - decided to pull its usual trick.  With a narrow channel and a very large barge coming at us, the barge asked us to pull to the far side to allow it to pass.  No problem except the Chart Plotter FAILS yet again, leaving us wondering JUST HOW DEEP are we?  Without depth, pulling to the side is risky business as running aground becomes a real possibility.
Lady Captain.  I love it!
It is obvious I no longer have a sense of humor regarding the performance of this boat – or shall I say, LACK of PERFORMANCE of this boat.  Since the dealer and his personnel CANNOT find the problem, I say it is long past time for them to replace all this equipment.  We have lived with this RayMarine Chart Plotter cutting in/out nearly every day since we got the boat.  Can’t fix it?  REPLACE it.

Oh shit moment.  Think we'll make it under this time?
Off we went, finally back underway and still hoping to make Waterford by late afternoon, struggling with the boat through 7 locks.  The infamous bridge C-5 between lock 4 and lock 3, the sole reason we worked so hard to get the boat lowered from 24 to 20 and for this bridge alone, to 17 feet high by lowering and propping our radar arch down at the very beginning of this Triangle Loop trip,  turned out to be NOT what the ‘experts’ said.  The bridge is supposed to be  17’, but  something is off - the bridge was slightly under 17 feet – and we BUMPED.  We could NOT get through.

The water level gauge shows 17 feet.  This is NOT that!!! 
 The 2nd and 3rd bimini top steel supports were hitting the bridge, the first one having made it though.  I’m standing on top of the boat, as high as I can get, sweating that if we start crashing, I’m jumping into the water or getting knocked into the water.  I’m telling Andy we ARE NOT gonna make it and he thinks, “well, we made it through one bimini strut, what is her problem?” not realizing the bimini top increases slightly in height – probably to enable the rain water to dump off better.  He finally stops as he hears the scrunching sound and begins backing the boat ON ONE ENGINE backward because we still have this gear/engine problem and gets us out from under the bridge.

Both our guidebooks tell us that the lockmaster can call ahead if you are worried about your height; that they will lower the water pond UNDER you, so you can have a couple more inches of clearance.  We did all that.  We had lockmasters during the day tell us we were ‘fine’ and the lockmaster or two prior to this infamous problematic bridge did call, saying we were coming and ‘tight’.  To no avail.  Crunch.  Our request then to please lower the water pond was met with “No way”  That takes “two hours”……we had been told also that the process takes 10 minutes.  Long story short, if we wait the two hours, the lock would then be closed for the evening.   We needed to figure it out ourselves.  Maintaining a tight passage in the narrow channel and not able to maneuver the boat as well as I would have liked due to no reverse, I kept us in the channel while Andy dismantled the bimini top.  I kept wondering when he would slip and fall 3 stories down into the water, leaving me with a bum boat, trying to figure out how to get to him. Finally-- success and as we held our breath and I stood yet again on the top of the boat, we cleared with not a full inch to spare.

Hold your breath.  Here we come again, bimini down.

Why is Andy ducking?  I'm the one standing on the higher deck!

He is making me really nervous.  He's ducking way down & I'm the standing on top fool.

Headed under.  Hold ON!  Watch OUT!

Shit, shit, shit.  BUT we made it!

We stopped short of our destination, tying to the wall in Mechanicsville, NY for the evening, planning to head the few miles on to Waterford in the morning.  We’ll attempt to get this boat freaking boat fixed yet again.  Tried to hook to aft shorepower here….no power is coming thru, yet the box on the dock works as another boater plugged in a hairdryer to show us it works.  Remember, this AFT shore power was ‘fixed’ this week at Shelbourne Shipyard for god knows what amount of $$$$.  Two days later, and the first time we’ve tried to use it --- no aft shore power.  I really cannot take any more of this. WHAT could be the issue now?

We have been on this trip – the Triangle Portion – since July 2 when we left NYC Harbor and have spent over $14,000 in repairs.  Does ruin one’s appetite for travel at this rate.  The upcoming discussions with the broker who sold us this boat and the individual who did a lot of the work on it will most likely be testy.  I am not in a nice mood any longer.  I am considering a sail boat more and more every day.  We have so many problems with this boat that I cannot remember a day when we DON’T have one problem or another

Andy just told me to buck up – that we did have a bright spot today in our travels.  He reminded me of the two white round mounds that we saw as we traveled down the narrow Champlain Canal this afternoon.  I mean, the ‘white’ was very white.  Focusing carefully with my binoculars on the small boat anchored barely off the channel, I finally figured out that the white orbs were two butts gleaming in the sunshine as the couple lay, buck naked, on top of their boat, absorbing the sunshine.  How conspicuous we were, both of us madly twisting the dials on our individual binoculars, trying to see more!  Don’t know how Andy kept the boat in the channel…..grin
Along the waterway sights abound
Our friends, Tony and Breta, abroad Side by Side, were tied up here and threw  a “cocktail party’ for us, & inviting another couple tied to the wall.  It was clear I needed something to bring me down from my ranting and raving about our day and this boat!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009
The other boats pulled out later than they planned, having to wait til after the FOG cleared.  Pea soup, thick fog, leaving one unable to even see the channel markers was everywhere along the water, but not much on shore.  It’s obvious the weather is turning to fall with cooler (ie cold!) evenings over the warmed by the sun water and fog ensues.  I’ve got to recheck out cruising schedule – I don’t want to be cruising in 17-24 degree weather like we did last year as headed south from So. Carolina to FL!

Andy spent his morning on the internet, on the phone and finally located a U.S. company that handles the part on our gear that wasn’t working.  A couple of hours later, with me pushing/pulling the controls in response to Andy’s shouts from the engine room, “Forward!”, “Reverse”, “Neutral”, he got the thing FIXED and off we went.  This “break” turned out to be a gear cable that became misaligned in the electronic control box, most likely due to vibrations.  OK, I give on this one.  I will consider this a normal “it’s a boat” explanation !!

Off to Waterford, NY, we went, officially closing our Triangle Loop as we started up the Erie Canal here in early July.   We’ve crossed our wake; cruised more than 750 miles just for the 'Loop',locked up or down 99 times at least; traveled through two countries (U.S. & Canada); two states (NY and VT), seven rivers (Hudson River, Ottawa River, St. Lawrence River, St. Lawrence Seaway, Richelieu River, Three Rivers & can't remember )4 large lakes (Oneida;Ontario; Upper Rideau; Champlain) and five canals (Erie; Oswego; Rideau; Richelieu; Champlain).

An amazing trip - one that we loved & will cherish every memory of!

  We’ll stay here in Waterford til Friday morning when we pull out for Albany to pick up Bob and Chala.  We’ll scrub the boat, get the radar arch back up, clean the lines & big orange fenders that are black with slime from the Champlain Canal walls – the dirtiest of all the canals, shampoo our rug and couch and scrub even in the engine room.  In our free time, we’ll walk around the cute town and hit the grocery store.  Obviously, not every day is a beautiful cruising day!

Friday, September 4, 2009
A quick, uneventful cruise through our LAST lock, the Federal Lock, in Troy, NY, only a few minutes out of Waterford.  A brief, bittersweet moment!  No more up/down slimy walls (this one was clean, clean, clean!  Must have been scrubbed in anticipation of winter storage?!). 
Albany NY

Bob and Chala were waiting for us on the dock at the Albany Yacht Club – timing was perfect.  We both arrived at the same time!  How fun to have friends aboard.  Andy and Bob share high school memories and the same birthday and the same love of fine scotch, which Bob brought plenty of aboard for them to share!  We had a great evening grilling out and catching up!

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