Monday, September 14, 2009

2nd Year: Kent Narrows, Chesapeake Bay - Repairs & Other Stuff

Monday, September 14, 2009 PM
A long stop in Chesapeake Bay @ Mears Marina
Ah, we will be here for several weeks, awaiting repair of the Raymarine ChartPlotter that has been shipped back, repair of the CD Radio, repair of the windless and some other 'fixes'.  Andy & I are amusing ourselves with cleaning the boat - scrubbing, waxing, cleaning engine room, etc.  Took 3 days just to scrub our bimini top; will take  a week to wax the boat - top side only- phew.  Much needed work and our forced stop is a good thing.  Finally Fun will look like new when we finally finish. 

Eric & Carol
Never a boring moment aboard.  Had two sets of friends, back to back this week visiting us on their way elsewhere.  Eric & Carol, friends for more than 30 years, stopped by, as did Judy & Charles, my friend since high school.

Each evening was great, sipping wine, remembering our past lives and sharing tall tales.  We have several other friends in the area we hope to catch up with - Ellie & John, aboard ADIOS, are in Baltimore and will head south at the same time we will in Oct.  Dan & Char, whom we've charted with in Desolation Sound, live here and we hope to hook up shortly.  Again, the beauty of boating is friends everywhere that we get to see!

Now beginning our third week here at Mears Marina, still under repair.  Good news is that we have a working CD radio - our island music is blaring as we work aboard now!  We are still waiting for the Raymarine ChartPlotter to get fixed and shipped back to us; awaiting work on the windless to be done and get the gelcoat repaired.  We have met with the Broker and our claims against the manufacturer for the shaft problems and for the electrical generator problems are moving forward.  Andy spends his days sanding and varnishing (7 coats) the aft teak rail; changing oil in various and sundry places down below in the engine room and fixing the toilet pumps.  I'm scrubbing cushions and everything else and catching up on paperwork.

All is not hard work.  John & Ellie came by from their mooring in Baltimore in a rental car.  We had fun sightseeing in St. Michaels and Easton and just catching up with each's travel stories.  Bob & Chala showed up with a loaner auto for us to use while we are here!  We'll go to the Annapolis Boat Show together.  Andy & I will also meet up with friends from Novartis at the Boat Show and go to dinner with Mary O. & her husband, Neil.  I'm biking a few miles every day in this cool sunny weather in between my chores.  Our target date to pull out is Monday, October 18, to slowly head south, following the warmer sunshine. 

View from our aft deck at Mears Marina

Waking up each morning, peering out the windows to view the early morning sun, mist over the water and our resident heron fishing for his breakfast, reminds me how much I love being on the water and living on a boat.
 In spite of my significant frustrations with the mechanical problems that are driving this Type A Perfection Oriented Personality crazy, I can't imagine being anywhere else and can't imagine moving ashore.

There is a special peace about living aboard, watching the water and the wildlife all day, all night.  Simply being outside all the time, smelling the air and feeling the breeze and sunshine brings a calm and a smile all the time.  I often think back to my 'former life' of busy days and nights; rarely outside except to walk to and from the car; overbooked, overscheduled;  too many personal plans cancelled and postponed, all in the name of work.    Ahh, glad to be rid of the rat race.
Off our aft deck as the sun sets at Mears Marina
Enjoying friends aboard
Life is wonderful!!

Andy, likewise, certainly enjoys all this.  He has been quick to say, however, that I love this lifestyle more than he does, but that he wouldn't change anything.  We both look forward to the next adventure, the next cruise around an unknown corner and to seeing new places and making new friends.  This is far better than we ever imagined!  Of course, given our lack of experience when we started, we didn't know WHAT to imagine!!!!

Monday, October 12, 2009
Just returned from five fun filled days in New Orleans, LA, getting to visit with my middle daughter, Stacey, and having a reunion of friends from middle school in Stuttgart, Germany.  Imagine, catching up with friends from 50 years ago...Bob Newman, Bob Flourney, Chantal Day Andrews,  & Jack Hopke & spouses or significant others.  Jack  as acting tour director, hosted us at his house for a great gumbo dinner and arranged a great few days  in Lafayette for us all.
The group + spouses about 45 years later!
We attended a Cajan Festival complete with great bands, much dancing, wonderful food tents (ah, chowing down on shrimp, gumbos, alligator, rices) and on and on.
Dancing at the Cajun Festival (none of us!)

A highlight was having a BBQ dinner at the home of our former football coach, Capt. Newman and his wife, now well into their 80's, but full of memories of us as young kids -- Chantal & I were cheerleaders and the guys all played on the RAMS team. Laughing, reminising, choking up and thoroughly enjoying the adults we have all become, we  vowed to  get together again in a few years, including our much beloved Coach!
Sharon, Jack, Coach, Bob N, Bob F, Chantal

Our 1962 yearbook & a RAM cake - ahh, memories!

October 16, 2009 Friday
Still tied to the marina dock in Chesapeake Bay, now freezing to death it seems like, especially after sweating to death in New Orleans 80 degree heat!   Cold, rain for past few days and expected for the next few days.  Way time to be GONE from here!  Repairs are just finished (we think and hope).  Can you believe, our RayMarine Chart Plotter we have had NOTHING BUT TROUBLE from since Day One was finally returned (after sending in both Chart Plotters and other equipm,ent that works with it) and the problem, according to the paperwork returned by RayMarine was that they did NOT finish the job the first time we sent it in.  They actually admitted that in the paperwork send back to us.  Technician said "found the mod VDR-0808 was not finished when here last...the tape was not placed across the three power pull thrus on the CCFL board which is known for comm problems.: He went on to state that there was damage to the power connection terminals" -- probably because they did not do a good job first time around?!!

Granddaughter Makenna playing with the windless Aug. 2011
The windlass was worked on as it had not been set properly by the manufacturer and was wobbling; steel bolts with only minimal nuts and washers had even bent and the windlass was certainly not solid.  It was set in basically layers of balsa wood which clearly showed the impact the windlass was making on the wood -- chewing  at it!  We added a ring of steel and beefed it up and used appropriate strength/size washers, nuts & bolts.  Lots of photos were taken and hopefully, the manufacturer will learn how to do this right the first time next time around.  Our dealer did agree to pay for this one.

October 14 - 16, 2009
Ego Alley in the dark at Annapolish
With friends,Bob & Chala, back on board for a couple of days to party, we attended the Annapolis Boat Show in the cold and rain, rain, rain!  We had a good time, in spite of the weather, but certainly did NOT climb on many boats...too raw out. We shopped the tents and displays, which protected us somewhat.  We all had a great time celebrating the guy's birthdays - both will be 70 on the same date - Oct. 25...amazing how two best friends from high school share the same birth date! 

Ah, five straight days of rain.....hunkered down and caught up on 'stuff'. Boat still hasn't gotten waxed...think Andy was doing rain dances during the still of the night............

Sunday, October 18
ping ping zing zing, rattta rattta tat..........What the Hell?  Sounds like raining UPSIDE DOWN from the galley sink as I finished the evening dishes.  Without the water running, this sound was LOUD....A shout to Andy -- 'something is WRONG!" 

 Brain engages and we both realized a hose had burst somewhere and water was spraying underneath the sink.  Bumping into each other as we charged down into the master bedroom, we were met with a cloud of steam and HOT water pouring out of the bathroom ceiling, all over everything.  As Andy ripped out panels, I was afraid something would electrocute him ---- a hose did burst...a hose encased in a STEEL cage like thing -- the steel had ruptured and so had the hose, spewing out all that water. 

Blown out hose

Andy finally got it all shut down and I slopped up the mess.   Long story short, upon investigation, who ever in CHINA that installed this hose, had too much hose left over and so this person twisted it around and around, thereby putting KINKS into it that finally, with the vibrations from the boat, wore it out and wore it through, allowing the break....geeze 

I'm totally convinced this boat is a lemon....on and on and on........the dealer paid for this repair.  He pays for the little ones, but not the major big expenses that have failed (the cutlass bearings and the generator problem totallying about $12,000+).  We are certainly not finished with these issues and are investigating a number of things, including analysis of the cutlass bearings 'made in a very fine factory in Tiwan'....  We bought a new boat so we would not have to deal with a lot of repairs.  Joke is on us!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

2nd Year: Hudson River to Kent Narrows, Chesapeake Bay

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Down the Hudson River
Off we went, on our way toward fulfilling a dream of Bob’s  -- to cruise down the Hudson River.  He and Chala will cruise all the way to their house in Chesapeake City, MD with us – a least a week, weather permitting.  An uneventful cruising day on a spectacularly beautiful day.

West Point
Chala & I kept the binoculars glued to our eyes, as beautiful home after beautiful home passed by.

Love the lighthouses along the way

On the west shore we passed the Catskill Mountains; passed by Poughkeepsie & Hyde Park (home of FDR), Vassar College and the Culinary Institute of America which we wished was open so we could eat a grand meal there.  We passed Pollepel Island, home of a medieval fortress built by Frank Bannerman, a Scottish immigrant and weapons dealer.   It is spectacular, but due to a fire, uninhabitable nor can one get on the island due to the danger of the crumbling castle.  We watched West Point go by – what a fortress! And Sing Sing Prison.

With horrific currents and blowing wind, we finally got tied up to the dock at Front Street Marina in Newburg, about 2/3rd of the way to NYC.  In luck, a city festival was being held so we walked the long blocks of food vendors, pigging out on Polish, Mexican & misc. foods and taking in the sights.  Back on the boat, it did not take long to ‘crash’ as we were tired from the day’s travels.  Guess what – already feeling ‘ripped’ due to the $3.00 a foot charge to dock, the Marina failed to give us a heads up.  A tiki bar & restaurant, located on the dock approximately 50 yards off our stern,  was rip roaring all night long, til 3:00 am. The music actually vibrated the bed continuously and between that and the laughter, conversation, etc. needless to say, I got NO sleep.  I even heard the “LAST CALL for ALCOHOL” at 1:45 am, but it wasn’t til nearly 3:00 that the place got quiet.  Ugh .
Don't even THINK of staying at Newburg Marina!!  Tiki Bar is just behind Finally Fun
Sunday, September 6, 2009
Big stuff passes us by!

The cruise through the middle of NY Harbor never fails to inspire awe and a faster heart rate.  We just missed (good planning and some luck!) the tug boat races through the Harbor but did get to see a number of the tugs chugging their way homeward after the ‘race’.

Ferries abound in NY Harbor

Never tire of the view of NYC

Sharon, Chala & Andy

Lady Liberty is as beautiful as ever and we again, cruised very close to her on our way to Great Kills Harbor, our destination for the evening, way south of the city near Sandy Hook.

NYC from the rear view
We thought we had reservations for a mooring ball at the Richmond County Yacht Club, but had certainly been mis-informed.  We learned no space was available as we turned into the little harbor.  Luckily, we were able to get dock space at the next over club, Great Kills Yacht Club and quickly slid in.  We weren’t even tied up thoroughly when we had two invitations to dock parties celebrating Labor Day.  Never one to miss fun, we quickly grilled our dinner, ate and prepared our wine and drinks to carry around with us as we ‘crashed’ each and every party of the dock.

Boater Rule:  When invited somewhere,  always bring your own drink!  Remember, it is difficult to restock one’s supply, so use up your own stash!  We were warmly welcomed at each dock and felt right at home.  We met some great people instantly, including a Polish man and his Polish cousin, who had a good time with Andy, all speaking Polish.  Me, I got them to write down places that are a ‘must see’ in Poland.  I so do want to pull off a trip to Poland in search of Andy’s roots!  We tumbled into bed rather late – forget Boater’s Midnight – must have made the real 12:00 tonight!

Monday, September 07, 2009
Labor Day!  Weather is beginning to get a little dicy and we have long offshore passages to make – 2 or 3 down the coast of NJ; across Delaware Bay and into the Chesapeake Bay to drop off Bob & Chala.  We pulled out about 9:00 as we had visitors aboard bright and early – remember that Southern ‘ya’ll come”??   They did!

Not our best day on the water – we rolled and rolled most all the way with 15 knot winds and seas of only 3-4 to 6 feet, but most of it beam…ie hitting against our side, making the rolling worse.    Chala & Bob got very very quiet and Andy turned green, finally losing his breakfast many times over.  The table and chairs strapped down on the aft deck kept sliding back and forth & I was afraid the chairs on one side might go overboard.  No way, however, was I going down there from the fly bridge to better secure them!  We made it the six hours into Manasquan Inlet with me watching the autopilot carefully along with Bob, while Andy hung over the side.  Poor man.  Wonder why he refuses to take sea sick pills?
Chala, Andy & Sharon admiring the view down the Hudson River
Green Andy had to take the wheel to bring the boat in thru Manasquan Inlet, which was rip roaring at that time with all the wave action.  With rocks and rock jetties on both sides of the narrow passage, I looked over to the port side and saw a smaller boat washed up on the beach, with USCG standing by.  Clearly, the guy had NOT made the inlet safely, and washed up on the beach.  As we were coming in, big that we are, all these little power boats are like bees on the water, all coming out – mostly under pretty full power to get through it all.  And all in our way!  Andy hung for a minute or so, but there is no easily controlling the boat like that and one bad wave could ruin your day.  About the time he begins muttering about all those little boats in the way, Bob & I in unison said – ‘screw the little boats, just GO”.  Which he did, full throttle and we were safely in.   I must say, it was a breath holding few minutes until we got safely past the rocks and into the calm of the inlet.  Those little boats made in and/or out too and they are MUCH more able to maneuver than are we!

Docking at Hoffman’s Marina, at Brielle, NJ, just inside the Inlet, with a lot of help again due to strong currents, we recouped and finally went for lunch at 4:00 PM!  Even Andy was now hungry!

September 8, 2009
A LOT of discussion went into today’s decision to travel via the NJ ICW rather than cruise outside in the Atlantic.  Seas are building and so is the wind.  Frankly, no way Andy wanted to have another day like yesterday!  So, after much discussion, checking of charts and a phone call to the local Boat US folks, we decided to travel the ICW.  This route has a ‘bad’ reputation due to very shallow water, but Boat US and some other local folks say that as long as we stay in the channel we will be okay.  Right off the channel the water turns to below shallow!  Me, I’m nervous – doesn’t Boat US make their $$ by pulling people off sandbars, etc.????  Sure, folks, easy trip!  Grin

Departing closer to high tide, with more water under us, we will attempt to get to Atlantic City.  We’ll play there a day or more, depending upon the weather and our ability  make it to Cape May and across the Delaware Bay.
Coming into Atlantic City

8 hours  later -- We MADE it to Atlantic City. Only had to call BoatUS one time to pull us off a shoal!  True story -- how embarrassing.  In a very confusing part of the channel, where there are several channels, one inattentive moment and poor choice of the proper green and we were OUT of the channel, hard aground.  Took about 45 minutes to get to us and get us off, after much pulling!   No harm done, thank goodness we are back in sand and no longer in rock!  Remember, our last bump cost us about $3,000 in Lake Champlain to fix both props. 

Weather is coming in nasty nasty so we will play in the rain here in Atlantic City tomorrow with Bob & Chala, seeing the sights in our raingear.  We hope to be out by Friday with improving weather.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009
All fake storefronts!  Back of a casino...
Weather coming in, having today gone from small craft warnings to gale force winds.  Looking ugly.  We'll stay tied at this marina til it passes and hope to pull out Thursday, heading south to Cape May.  We washed the salt off the boat, giving her a fairly good scrub; put on our raingear and headed to check out the Atlantic City Boardwalk and casinos.
Bob, Sharon & Chala in Atlantic City

Sad place, kinda seedy and the folks walking around look as though they need to be saving their pennies, not throwing them away at a craps table or slot machine.  We all agreed it is very depressing to be here.

We found a slightly brighter spot by taking a cab to the other side of Atlantic City, off the boardwalk to Borgatas Casino - a much 'higher class' place, packed with people and upscale shops and restaurants.  We wandered around about 30 minutes, grabbed a lunch and decided we'd all had enough.

The saddest I saw was the woman sitting at a slot machine, wired to her oxygen tank on wheels, smoking a cigarette!!!  AND she was in the NO SMOKING section.  We decided she was suicidal - either to kill herself or let one of us non-smokers do it for her.
View from Finally Fun across to Atlantic City
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Still stuck, weather worse, but hopefully it will pass during the night and we can be outta here.  Howling wind and bouncing boat with things going bump in the night.  If weather permits, we're planning to pull out at 8 AM heading south toward Ocean City and then with a rising tide, go on all the way to Cape May, all along the ICW.  I hope these winds have not blown all the water out of the shallow bays and canals....or created a few more shoals.  Guess we will find out tomorrow the hard way.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Whoa!  What a night of storming! A good lesson on how the weather professionals cannot predict Mother Nature perfectly.  I was up almost all night, starting with a night owl attack, piddling around on the computer and what ever else caught my attention.  The wind and waves certainly DID!  The storm increased in fury and the boat was bouncing and slamming.  At 1:00 Andy was up and shortly thereafter, Chala crawled out of the forward cabin.
The USCG Station across from Finally Fun.  Waves blew over the roof there!
We all watched the lightening display and the huge waves crashing way way UP over the Coast Guard Station across from us.  The waves rolled into the inlet, massive looking rollers that 'waked' us continually.  I so wished I had tied the boat up differently but had no intention of going outside to change anything around.  We estimated the winds at about 50 mph and they clocked around just like a hurricane, with even a 'lull'.  We all went back to bed about 2:00 am, but Andy & I were back up at 5:00, watching the weather on the computer.  Tornado warnings had been added and the 'gale' extended during the night from ending at midnight  to ending at 2:00 to ending at 5:00 and finally an update with the storm ending at 9:00.

Finally Fun tied to the end of the dock

Baah, we hunkered down for yet another day stuck in Atlantic City, tied to a dock.
We spent our day watching 9-11 memorial services on the television and remembering where we were and what we were doing on that awful day.

Saturday, September 12, 2009
OUTTA HERE, Finally!  Much discussion again on whether to go 'outside' in the Atlantic or down the shallow ICW to Cape May.  My 'greenies' did NOT want to risk the ocean again and would rather spend their remaining days stuck on sandbars somewhere along the NJ ICW!  Okay, another call & discussion with Boat US regarding local information and any new more shallow spots.  With careful attention to when high tide would occur, we pulled out at 10 AM, heading south.  Bob, in charge of the chart navigation, hunkered down and watched our progress very carefully, plotting where we were at all times.  Lots of discussion from time to time and lots of searching for the next green or red and we made it safely without a single 'bump'  all day. Checking into Utich's Marina, we were so tired we did not walk into Cape May, but went as far as the local lobster restaurant where we celebrated our safe passage and toasted to a great 10 days aboard with Bob & Chala.  Tomorrow we'll be in MD and dropping them off outside their home, right on the C&D Canal.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Still with NO sunshine - now about six long days -- we pulled out of Cape May toward Chespeake City, home to Bob & Chala.  Uneventful trip with the sun finally peeking out mid-afternoon.  No room at the dock for us in Chesapeake City, so we kept with our original plan, dropping our anchor in front of their home.
Bob & Chala's house on the C&D Canal

A kind neighbor met us in his run-about, and lent it to Bob for the evening and next day so none of us would have to launch our dink or Bob's boat.  Many thanks!  After delivery pizza and salad at Bob's, Andy & I were back on the boat and asleep probably before 9:30.  Why are we so tired?  Boating, although very relaxing, is still hard work, requiring sharp attention at the wheel and with the charts.

Monday, September 14, 2009
Ah, Chala & I went grocery shopping and fresh produce is back on board!  We pulled the anchor before noon, heading to Mears Marina in Kent Narrows, our boat's home away from home.  This is where we purchased Finally Fun and spent many many months here getting her commissioned, repaired and re-repaired.  Repairs are yet again in order as are discussions with the broker as to many of the issues.  Ah, well......someone just FIX this #$#&*boat.