Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Shhhh! Don't say it out loud, but it appears that everything on the Kittiwake is working!!

The refrigerator, the shower sump, the dinghy motor, the electrical system, the LectraSan system, the bilge pumps, the washer/dryer…no problems remaining!  Dan did the oil changes, the antifreeze change, engine tune up on the starboard side and will do the port engine in the spring when we return.  I am so proud of my husband, his talent, his can do attitude, his fortitude. 
This week we’ve taken the boat out of the slip a couple of times, just for fun and for practice.  I’m comfortable driving the boat, except for those close quarters.  Sitting in the captain’s chair and looking at the slip – it just looks so small!  But, I’ll keep practicing and one day I’ll feel more at ease.  Out in the middle of the river yesterday, I just decided to turn the Kittiwake 360 degrees for the fun of it.  It’s pretty easy with two engines – just slowed down to idle speed, put the starboard engine on forward and the port engine on reverse – she almost turned on a dime!  We also tried out the dinghy for the first time.  We had the engine serviced, and it works like a charm.  The dinghy rests on a cradle on the top of the boat.  To get it into the water, you connect it to a crane-like device, called a davit, pick it up, then swing it to the side and drop it into the water.  Not difficult, but not something we’ll want to do often.  And, frankly, with Max as our passenger and his needing to get to land several times a day, we will not be anchoring out much.  One enhancement we will consider is the installation of a davit on the aft of the boat, which will lift and lower the boat from just a few feet above the water.  It’s a much simpler and quicker way to utilize the dinghy.

On Wednesday, we plan to head down to Norfolk.  It will take us about two days to get there.  We want to have Dan’s grandsons, Eric and Jared, come to visit us and take them for a ride.  They live in Chesapeake, Va.   Next week, we will come back to this marina, winterize the boat, and leave her for the winter.  
This picture is of our dinghy, with Dan and Max.  We didn't try to take it out with Max this time, because getting him in it was enough!  Notice there's not much room - not sure if all three of us could even get in there!

Saturday, September 30, 2017

And the Saga of the Refrigerator is Really Over Now!

The refrigerator....AGAIN!  
Well, as I ended the last posting, I related that the refrigerator was back in the cabinet and all was well.  Not exactly, as it turned out.  The temperature in the freezer never got below about 32 degrees, which meant that the refrigerator compartment never cooled below about 50 degrees.  After talking to the technical people with the company, it was decided that we needed to take the refrigerator back to the place where we bought it – about an hour’s drive away.  Once again, Dan took the sliding door and its track from the main entrance, then wrenched the fridge from its cabinet and out the door.  He had help getting it over the railing, into a wagon, and on to the truck.  Of course, I had had to pull out the two ice chests, buy some ice, and transfer the contents of the refrigerator.  (Freezer items had been left in our chest freezer on the fly bridge.)
Dan and I drove to the place, and left the fridge with them for about 3 hours.  They replaced the fan (which wasn’t starting) and the control module for the compressor.  Back on the truck, back to the boat, hauled it back into the boat and into the cabinet.  Voila!  It started to cool right away, and by that evening, the freezer was at zero and the fridge compartment was in the acceptable range.  We decided that the next time the refrigerator had to come off the boat was when we would sell the boat!  What an ordeal.
Gena gets into one of the compartments in the bottom of the boat.

Watching Dan get into and out of the several compartments for maintenance on the boat, I had sworn that I would do ANYTHING to avoid getting in there!  But, it’s just not fair that Dan has to do everything.  He is the mechanical and electrical expert, but I should do whatever I am able to do my part.  We needed to add salt to the LetraSand system, a simple enough task.  So, I removed the hatch cover, got down inside the compartment, and took care of that task!  It wasn’t as tough to get out as I had feared.  I feel good that I was able to do that much.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

….And other maintenance issues that have been dealt with, as promised!

1.  Washer/dryer:
When we first moved aboard the Kittiwake, I ran a load of wash in the combo washer/dryer.  It will only take a small load, but it is such a blessing to not have to use the marina laundry facilities!  While the dryer portion of the cycle was running, we discovered that the vent to the outside of the boat was not connected.  This caused steam to stay inside the boat – never a good thing.  Like anything on a boat, the unit is a tight fit in a cabinet.  Fortunately, there is an access panel to the rear of the unit from the guest berth.   Since this was far down the list of things to be fixed, it took a few days for Dan to get to it.  He had to pull the unit out of the cabinet, then contort himself to get the dryer hose reconnected to the outside vent.  Now, I tend to run one load just about every day – it does take a while to go through both the wash cycle and then to dry the items.  But, again, what a wonderful asset to have on board!
2.  Shower:
The first time I took a shower on board, I didn’t know that the shower sump pump needed to be turned on at the electrical panel.  Oops.  The sump filled, then ran over, making a mop up mess in the hallway.  After that, I knew to have that pump on (actually, we keep it on now).  But, we still ended up with water in the hallway – not as much, but enough to be a  nuisance.  Dan took the sump and pump and hoses apart, to discover that the filter was clogged from use.  Yuck – it’s one thing to have to clean out our own hair, etc., but this was probably years in the accumulating.  Anyway, it’s all good now – no extra water in the hallway!!
3.  Lectra/sand sewage treatment system:
With this fairly sophisticated system, sewage is treated with salt and electrical pads that render the sewage perfectly clean and able to just be pumped overboard – Really!  Proven fact.  There is a panel with lights that confirms the successful treatment.  Unfortunately, the message we got was that the treatment was NOT successful. With Dan busy on other systems, I took it upon myself to read the manual and investigate.  The first possibility of a problem is that the electrical pads were dirty.  The solution is to use a solution of muriatic acid, let it sit in the system for an hour, then flush.  Still, it was not successfully treating the sewage.  Next, the suggestion is that the system isn’t injecting salt, or enough salt, to make the treatment work right. It was time for Dan to investigate, meaning he had to go into the compartment where the Lectra/Sand system resides.  In order to work on the engines, the Lectra/Sand system or the generator, Dan has to contort himself to lower into the appropriate chamber, tucking his head to avoid hitting on the floor above.  Getting out is a real trick, too.  Good thing he’s a thin and still fairly agile person!  When he examined this system, he didn’t like the look of one connection to the submersible pump.  The pump is in a vat that includes salt and water.  We have to periodically add salt to this system.  The connection was bad, but the pump was totally dead anyway.  We ordered a new one and it should be here today.  In the meantime, to determine if the lack of salt was the only problem in the system, we add a couple of cup or so of salt each time the toilets are flushed.  Yay!  The system is happy and is correctly treating the sewage now. 

I already described the extensive work done on the electrical system – took forever, but we are now in a much better position.  We have an inverter that will service us very well, while underway or anchored out.  We have a generator that works (after the mouse nest was removed and wires replaced!).  Dan has replaced many of the ceiling lights with more efficient LED bulbs.  He has replaced a hinge on the cock pit gate – it was broken and had been sort of fixed.  It looked bad.  Now, it’s good.  We have cleaned the outside of the boat, which takes scrubbing.  Dan polished the horn, something that the Coast Guard requires on the boat.  The air compressor that powers it works just fine.

All in all, we are feeling much better and much more ready to cruise!  The next few days, Dan plans to do a tune up on these big diesel engines, a cost of $500 to have it done.  My Dan has the skills and know-how to do it himself.  Fortunately, the previous owner had installed an oil change system, which makes changing the 3 gallons of oil for each engine much easier.  We are very fortunate that the Kittiwake had been very well maintained until the last two years.  But, the owner had been ill, and the boat had not moved much in that time.  Boats don’t like to sit still – thus, here we are bringing her back to being in good shape.  Sometimes, I think about other couples who buy a used boat.  If Dan wasn’t as talented as he is, we would really be in a fix – at the mercy of anyone who wanted to be hired to do all this work!  We are so lucky!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The Refrigerator Saga.....

September 26, 2017
The story begins when we returned to the Kittiwake around September 5.  We had left her for about 5 weeks to go home and take care of some business, prepare for a longer time on the boat.  When we left, the boat was plugged into electricity, so we left the dehumidifier and the refrigerator/freezer running.  I had left just a few things, plus some meat in the freezer, so that I wouldn’t have to immediately run to the store upon our return.  Coming into the salon, we immediately were assaulted by a nasty odor.  Turns out the refrigerator had stopped working at some point, leaving the things inside to thaw and start to rot.   Retch!  Cleaned that up, started to fiddle with the refrigerator and electrical panel switches to see if we could get it going again.  No soap.   I tried to find a repair person who could check out the unit, but no one was available in the near future.  Dan felt that it might be a simple matter of the refrigerant having leaked out.  But, Dan was invested in other issues, so I made the executive decision to just buy a new refrigerator.  The previous owner had maintained excellent documentation, so I called the place where he had bought the refrigerator 12 years ago.  They had one that would fit in the cabinet!  Yay!!
Getting the old refrigerator (1) out of the cabinet and (2) out of the boat was quite an ordeal.  The cabinet was very tight, and getting the unit out of the main door was made possible only by removing the track and frame of the sliding door!  So, out the door, into the truck, and away I went.  I got very general directions for the local recycle center – after cruising up and down the 2 lane highway no less than 4 times, and after asking 3 or 4 very nice people, I finally found it.  There was no sign and no sight of the place from the road.  Weighing the truck first with and then without the refrigerator, they then paid me $7.20!  Woot woot!
The place where I could purchase the new refrigerator was about an hour’s drive away.  The nice young man there loaded the new unit on the truck, and charged me only $1,700+ !!  Returning to the boat, we wrestled the new unit inside and into the cabinet.  It was just slightly taller than the old unit so that last quarter inch that had to go into the cabinet had to be just forced.  Yay!!  I was so excited!  At least that one issue was resolved with nothing but a little time and a few ‘boat bucks’!  No more working out of an ice chest!!  We had to leave the refrigerator sitting for a day to allow the oil and whatever to collect back in the base – it had been shipped on its side, and that was my instruction.  Hard for me, since I am not a patient person at all.
Next morning, I joyfully went on a grocery shopping spree, buying things for breakfasts, lunches, and dinners.  I bought a few frozen things for times when I wanted just a quick easy dinner.  After waiting about 20 hours (that’s close enough to a day, isn’t it??), I fired up that new fridge and loaded it with all my purchases. 
Fast forward until the next day….opened the freezer to get something and realized everything was thawed.  I was just sick.  We cycled the power to the fridge off, waited a few minutes, then on again.  It did start up again and the ice cube tray I put in the freezer as a test froze in a couple of hours.  This bit of delightfulness repeated itself over and over in the next days.  It would run for a day or two, then quit.  Cycle the power, get it going again…..  Until one day, it wouldn’t restart.  That was, I thought, a bit of bad/good news.  An intermittent problem is very difficult to solve.  Now, at least, we had a hard failure.  This was just as the weekend started, so no technical support until Monday.  Got out some ice chests, put groceries on ice.

Now, while I’m mostly dealing with the refrigerator fiasco, Dan and our friend, Mike Steele, were hard at work on the electrical system on the boat.  Because of that, we weren’t sure if the refrigerator problem was because of a fault with the refrigerator or with an electrical problem on the boat.
Shall I make a very long story short?  It was the boat’s electrical system causing the issue with the refrigerator.  They had installed a new and more powerful inverter and had put it in a different location than the last one.  That meant running very large new cables to and from the inverter plus rewiring the entire electrical panel for the boat.  They never actually found exactly what the problem was, but during some reworking of the electrical panel and outlets, the problem did get resolved.  Imagine my excitement.  After running the kitchen from two ice chests for about a week, plus walking around this large refrigerator that was in the middle of the floor for several days, it was time to put it back in the cabinet and back into service! 
You would think the refrigerator saga was at an end, right?  Wrong.  The guys wrestled the refrigerator back into the cabinet, and IT WOULDN’T TURN ON!!!!!  They checked the voltage from the panel and at the outlet, after having to remove the refrigerator AGAIN.  Voltage was fine in both places.  But, there was some wiring and a very small circuit board at the bottom of the back of the unit – in the wrestling of the fridge into the cabinet, that little circuit board had been broken.  Of course, this happened after business hours and the availability of that part couldn’t be ascertained until the following day. 
Thankfully, the following day, today, I called the local store where we bought the refrigerator, and they had the part we needed.  Phew.  So, I drove back to the place, actually hedged my bets and bought TWO of the circuit boards, only $11 each.  After installing it and carefully following the circuitry picture provided by the vendor, we now have a working refrigerator….knock wood.

More on other maintenance issues in another issue!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

This is the view from the end of our dock - the water is like a mirror this morning!  I got my new camera yesterday - YAY!!  So, now I will be posting pictures often.
Today, our friend, Mike Steele, and Dan will finish the work on the electrical system on the boat.  This means that the inverter can now power everything on the boat, whether we are connected to shore power, generator, or nothing!  It’s required lots of man hours to get this done, but it will be well worth it.

The new refrigerator we bought on September 7 has given us problems since day one – every day or so, no pattern, we will discover that the compressor has just stopped.  I called the vendor where we purchased it and am waiting for a callback to find what they are going to do about it.

We have already met some of the most lovely people!  Last night we had dinner at a Mexican restaurant with new friends, Linda, Wayne, and Zellia.  Wayne is another very talented and knowledgeable person, like Dan.  They had LOTS to talk about! 

We will be here at Olverson’s Marina for the next few days until Dan is satisfied that all is well mechanically and electrically.  Every day I have seen improvement in the things that have been made right.  The dryer hose from the washer/dryer combo had come disconnected, causing the moisture to stay in the boat – now, it’s been connected and all is well!   The master bath sink’s water flow was not good – Dan found that the screen on the faucet just needed cleaning – good pressure now!  Once we get our refrigerator working properly, all will be well in the galley. 

Our plan is to cruise south from here, to the Norfolk area, and have our two grandsons and their dad come aboard.  Annie, Dan’s daughter and their mom/wife, is aboard a Navy ship and is away from home for the next couple of months.

More to follow!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Annapolis, Solomon's Island, and back 'home' to Olverson's Marina

A Few Days on the “road”….
Well, we did go to Annapolis and got a slip on the city dock. We enjoyed being right in the center of things, with folks walking by admiring all the boats throughout the days and evenings.  Right across the creek, no more than 60 feet away, were a couple of bars.  The one place, Pussers Bar, had wonderful live soft rock music all day and into the evening.  It was wonderful sitting on our bow or on the fly bridge, watching the boats go by and listening to the music.  We enjoyed talking to folks about our boat and, as usual, about Max!  He gathers fans wherever he goes.
Unfortunately, at around 11:00, the music changed to more ‘gansta’ style and the crowd got really loud until 2:00 a.m. – not very conducive to a restful sleep!  After 2:00, it suddenly became very quiet, so we slept really hard until about 7:30, our normal waking time.
Our friend that we camp with in Key West, Paul Foster, visited us for the afternoon from his home near Baltimore.  It was fun to see him and show off our boat.
While in Annapolis, Dan decided that there are just too many maintenance issues on the boat – he didn’t feel comfortable setting off on an 8 day, 8 marina cruise.  So, we decided to head south back to our home away from home, Olverson’s Marina in Lottsburg, Va.  We left Annapolis and headed for Solomon’s Island, Md. and spent the night there.  Their onsite restaurant was closed, so we hopped on our bikes and rode about a mile to another restaurant.  When we returned, we found Max wandering on the dock!!  Yikes, somehow he managed to climb on a chair and leaped over the wall of the cockpit.  It could have been a really bad situation if he had landed in the water.  But, all’s well.  There weren’t many people around, and the ones that were there weren’t annoyed.
The next day, we cruised back to Olverson’s – took most of the day.  Waves were somewhat high, but nothing that caused us any concerns.  Coming back into our slip here felt like coming home!  We’ll be here for about a week, Dan working on various things (some with Mike Steele’s help) and Gena keeping house and doing the ‘gofer’ jobs.

Blogs are much more fun with pictures – right now, I’m having issues with pictures.  My phone takes good pictures, but getting them to my pc and the blog isn’t pretty…Dan’s camera is missing its memory card -  he thinks it’s sitting on his desk at home.  Plus, the rechargeable batteries don’t hold a charge for long, and I am just not familiar with the unit.  So, I’ve ordered a camera which will be delivered here tomorrow!  Yay – and, it’s the same camera I used to use for our blog.  Look forward to getting pictures along with my words!

Friday, September 15, 2017

Our first real cruising test - Point Lookout, Md. to Kent Narrows, Md.

Our first cruising ‘test’ – passed, with flying colors!
So, on Monday, we left Point Lookout Marina at 8:30 a.m. and cruised all day, arriving in Mears Point Marina in Kent Narrows, Maryland, around 5:30.  We were out there with the big guys, heading up the Chesapeake Bay.  With Dan doing the navigating and Gena driving a good part of the time, we had not one problem.  There were two ways of approaching the marina.  One was to go north through the Narrows and under a bridge that opens every 30 minutes.  As ‘newbies’, we had been told that the current through there can be a bit dicey.  So, we took the alternate way, which involved about 2 extra hours on the waterways and approached the marina from the north.  The channel coming around the north end of Kent Narrows Island was a bit circuitous, but we got through without running aground – always our goal!
We had been told to call the ‘docking committee’ or the marina dockmaster on the radio as we approached, so we did that…..with no answer at all.  The dock facing the channel was where the fuel station is, so we simply tied up there and went looking for someone to tell us where we were to go.  After walking Max, we started to explore the area.  One restaurant was closed.  We saw another restaurant, further into the marina, Annie’s, that seemed to have activity inside.  Sure enough, there was a large group of MTOA members enjoying happy hour.  We were greeted enthusiastically, and proceeded to have a beverage and some dinner.
After dinner, one member hopped on board, and several others walked around to our slip.  As we rounded the channel that goes around the whole marina, we saw our slip….  It looked REALLY narrow!  Plus, we now had about 6 people to witness our arrival – just what we didn’t want!  But, Dan (he’s the guy with the most confidence) slid us into that slip without a mishap.  I think those folks were totally impressed! 
We have been in that slip now for 4 nights.  We attended the MTOA social and informative sessions, and have thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.  We met some wonderful folks, exchanged boat cards, and got some invaluable advice on using our electronic navigation aids.
This morning after breakfast we are cruising to Annapolis and hope to get a slip at the city dock (first come, first served).  We’ll have a couple of days to explore that lovely town, get a few more provisions, and have one visit with an AGLCA member who has offered us a session on his electronics.  Dave Skolnick is also an AGLCA Harbor Host.  We have been encouraged to contact these friendly, helpful folks whenever we go to a new marina/town.

On Sunday, we are leaving Annapolis and going to meet up with some folks from MTOA to start on an 8 day ‘cruise to nowhere’ – we’ll be stopping for one night at 8 different places around the north end of the Chesapeake Bay.  Each segment involves just an hour or two of cruising.  This should be fun!