Monday, December 18, 2017

October 2017 - Latest adventures on the Kittiwake – we are still learning!

We left our ‘home’ marina to travel to the Norfolk area, at least a two day cruise. Our first day was to Deltaville, Va.  We had been there by the road – takes about an hour!  We decided to stop the second day before traversing the area by the huge Norfolk shipping channel, with huge container ships, tugs, Navy ships like destroyers and aircraft carriers!  The third day was a short one, just to a marina in Portsmouth, which is just across the river from downtown Norfolk.  Turned out the shipping channel was no big deal and not stressful at all.  These first shots are from Olverson's Marina, where it all started!
the dock at Olverson's

Max was more comfortable on the dock

view across the river from Olverson's
Olverson's, by the office

in travel mode.... on the fly bridge

sunset from dock at Olverson's

These next pictures are from our cruise to Norfolk.

some BIG Navy ships!

we will stay out of her way!

one of the hundreds (thousands?) of road markers we will follow...

commercial docks near Norfolk

Most cruisers we talk with have modern day chart plotters and software – basically, they point to where they want to go from their current location, and their systems plot a course for them to follow on the electronic screen.  The Kittiwake came with a pretty old chart plotter that we know little about.  We were encouraged to get out the manual, which we did, and it did become a bit more functional for us.  But, the course plotting wasn’t something we are comfortable with.  Fortunately, Dan is familiar with paper charts and the old fashioned method of navigation – it must work because we have always landed where we intended!

Visit with Dan’s grandsons and son-in-law:
Annie, Dan’s daughter, is in the Navy and was on a cruise in Europe.  So, Chuck, Dan’s son-in-law, drove the boys, Eric and Jared, to the marina to meet us and see the boat.  The boys decided they would spend the night on the boat on Saturday but wanted to go home for Friday night.  We went to dinner together, and we drove them home so we could keep the car.  Next day, we picked up the boys and brought them to the boat.  We took them out in the channel, up the river for a ways, then back down by the Navy Operating Base.  We had a nice day, and then they spent the night in our guest berth.  They were a little nervous, but they actually did sleep very well!  We all had a good time – we don’t get to see them often enough.

three musketeers!

Our first time in a boatyard on the hard!
What we thought would be a quick, lift the boat out of the water for two rather small but necessary tasks, turned out to be a two day extravaganza!  It was fun seeing the boat being lifted out of the water and interesting to see a part of the boat we had not previously seen!  The unexpected discovery was that the props had encountered something that caused some damage.  So, the props were pulled and sent off site for repair.  That left Dan, me, and Max needing a bed for two nights.  Yikes, the only hotel that allowed dogs was, shall I say, pretty basic.  Relatively clean, no bugs, but not somewhere we wanted to hang around much.  We survived it, but were really glad to get our boat back!  We ended up changing props to the ones that had been stored on board as spares.  They will suit us better, being a better size and slope. 
Leaving the boatyard, we just went the short distance to the marina where we had been.  We left there the next morning, thinking we would go all the way to Deltaville and skip the marina where we had stopped to avoid going through the shipping channel in the evening. 
starting the lift...

out of the water

a part of the boat we haven't seen before!

First encounter with bad weather
As we approached the mouth of the river and started into the Chesapeake Bay, we encountered WAY more turbulence than we wanted to handle.  I was stressed, but Max was really really upset.  The boat was bucking and slamming on the next wave – everything in the salon behind and below us was falling to the floor.  Since the weather was blowing and spraying, we were piloting from inside the boat to stay out of the cool and wet.  None of us had life jackets on.  With all this commotion, Max decided he wanted OUT.  The pilot house door slid open, and Max went outside and up to the bow of the boat.  There’s nothing up there to keep him in the boat except for a narrow railing.  Next, Dan went out there, falling to his hands and knees to keep from being thrown into the water.  Of course, this left ME at the helm!!  I have never been so frightened in my life.  So, picture Dan, one hand on the railing and the other on Max’s collar.  Max didn’t want to go ANYWHERE, so Dan had to drag him back to the pilot house with one hand while into the wave, slowing down the engine (based on Dan’s hand signals).  We quickly turned back and headed to a safe marina just inside the river.  I held it together while we got tied up and situated in our slip.  THEN, I fell apart, shaking and crying at what could have happened.
So, we are stuck for at least two days waiting for good weather – what shall we do?
We settled in, thinking we would just relax for the two days of foul weather.  While surfing the web, Dan saw mention of something called the Hampton Snowbird Rendezvous.  It was to start that very evening in the town where we were!  We quickly signed up and attended the very enjoyable and informative conference.  We learned a lot and met some delightful people.

After the conference was over, we were able to navigate the two days back to our ‘home’ marina, Olverson’s, in Lottsburg, Virginia.  We spent a few days there getting the boat ready to sit until next April or May when we will return.  That involved cleaning, removing most food items, winterizing everywhere there is water that could potentially freeze.  We loaded up our truck and, regretfully, headed back home to Michigan.  I say ‘regretfully’, because we have truly to feel like the Kittiwake is our home.  We love the time spent on the boat.  Of course, we also love time at home, being able to see the grandchildren at least occasionally.  We will be at our ‘dirt’ house until after the holidays, when we hope to head to Key West for some good living in our 5th wheel stored there.

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.

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 LetraSan 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

At "Home" at Olverson's Lodge Creek Marina, where we bought the Kittiwake

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.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Our first cruise of any length! September 11, 2017

Under way on the Kittiwake!
After our successful very short cruise yesterday, we felt ready to tackle a longer cruise today.  We are heading to Kent Narrows, Mears Point Marina, for the MTOA rendezvous.  We’ll be meeting lots of people, learning more about cruising, socializing.  It is going to take us all day to get there, so we will miss a meet-up at 4:00.  No problem – we will get there when we get there!  We are scheduled to be there through Friday morning. 
We are not familiar with the electronic navigation equipment aboard, but we have figured out enough to help us get there.  Dan has been a pilot, so paper charts and navigating are second nature to him.  Without those skills, there is no way we would be ready to go cruising!  We have an older auto pilot, which only knows how to hold a course, not navigate to a destination.  That’s fine – it’s still a big help, since today a large part of our trip involves several hours holding a course.
Yesterday, we drove from the fly bridge, and Max was really nervous.  It was really windy up there.  Today, we decided to drive from the lower enclosed pilot house.  Max is curled up on the floor, really relaxed.  The only time he got nervous was when we were in some rough chop – now that it’s calmed down out here, he’s just fine.

Today is the first real test of our readiness.  I think we’ll pass with flying colors!

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Maiden Voyage -

Our maiden voyage on the Kittiwake!

Today, we braved the ‘big water’ of the Potomac.  Our journey was only a couple of hours from Olverson’s Marina in Lodge Creek on the Wacomico River to the Point Lookout Marina on the other side of the Potomac River.  Just the idea of navigating the course, and leaving our comfortable berth at the marina was a bit unnerving.  So, we decided to just take this baby step.  With Dan navigating and Gena driving, we ended up where we intended.  A nice soft landing with Dan’s line handling – good job for both of us.  Woot woot!!  With that little trip under our belt, we are both feeling much more confident.  That’s good, because tomorrow, we have to be at the MTOA rendezvous point, a full day’s cruise away.  We had a wonderful dinner of fresh shrimp and fish tacos, with a drink or two.  We’ll get a good night’s sleep, and get underway right after breakfast.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Early Days on the Kittiwake.....September 8, 2017

Our first days on the Kittiwake have not been picture worthy, but they deserve a few words on our blog.  We have both learned a lot, more every day.
We arrived late Tuesday night, 9/4.  The next 4 days have consisted of much troubleshooting, many trips to the local ACE Hardware store and auto parts store, many ‘boat bucks’ to fix problems.
#1 – We were able to leave the power on the boat, and that allowed our de-humidifier and refrigerator/freezer to keep running.  I left just enough frozen meat so that I didn’t have to run to the grocery store immediately upon our return.  Unfortunately, the 12 year old refrigerator failed, and the hamburger and fish in the freezer and the other things in the refrigerator had gone really bad and leaked all over the refrigerator and floor.  Boat bucks for new refrigerator, $1750, plus about a 50 mile drive to pick it up.  Local recycle center gave me $7.20 for the old one!
#2 – the port side engine will not start.  Dan spent the first day upside down in the engine room trying to isolate the problem.  He was almost certain the problem was a failed cylinoid (sp?), at a cost of $238.  Part ordered.
#3 – No hot water!  Took a couple of days working on more pressing issues, but just needed a wire reconnected.  Phew!  Meanwhile, had to heat water on the stove for dishes….
#4 – Dan and our good friend, Mike Steele, worked for 2 long days and most of a 3rd one to install the new inverter.  The old one had died.  They both thought it would be good to put the new and larger one in a better spot….but, that meant making and running new cables – not fun.  Mike also had to rewire the electrical panel.  The inverter isn’t important when we are hooked to shore power, but becomes very important at other times, such as when we are underway or anchored out.  The inverter takes the power from the batteries (DC, 12 volt) and converts it so that all the 110 (AC) outlets, lights, appliances, etc. work.
#5 – With the hot water working, I decided I could take a shower in our own shower!  So I did.  Later, there was LOTS of water in the hallway.  I used every towel in the place to soak it up.  Why, you ask?  Well, seems if you are taking a shower, you must turn on the shower sump pump.  So, now I know!  As a result of that little fiasco, Dan checked the bilge, which was a bit wet – and, discovered that our bilge pump is not working.  Glad we discovered it now, while we are at a marina, and not out on the water somewhere! New pump is going in tonight or early tomorrow.
With all those problems, I (Gena) felt pretty useless, except as a tool hander and runner to ACE.  In the meantime, I had time to organize our clothes and laundry.  I got to make a major grocery run, so that I’m ready to provide dishes for upcoming pot luck dinners and ‘docktails’.
After 4 frustrating days, we are feeling much more hopeful.  We are scheduled to be two days’ cruise north of here on Tuesday for a social and informational rendezvous of the Marine Trawlers Owners Association (MTOA).  We had hoped to get in some practice in docking and maneuvering before that time – we may just pull that off!  Fingers crossed.
One further note:  We had been almost certain that we were buying the Obsession that was in Port St. Lucie.  With delays in getting needed repairs done, we decided to move on and look for another boat.  We are SO VERY FORTUNATE the Kittiwake is the boat we purchased!  For one thing, it is located here in Virginia, almost certainly out of Irma’s path!  For another thing, even with the issues we have had so far, we know of many others that we were going to have to deal with on the Florida boat.  Life is good.

July 24 thru 28th, 2017 We take possession of the Kittiwake!

We attended Dan’s 50th SEAL Team Reunion in Virginia Beach, Virginia from Thursday, July 20, through July 23.  Leaving there on Monday, July 24, we drove in our truck and camper to Olverson’s Marina in Lottsburg, Virginia, where the Kittiwake awaited us! 
On the way to the reunion, we had dropped off the UHaul trailer we had rented and filled with all the items we had accumulated over the recent weeks for the Kittiwake.  Our good friends, Dennis Sprenkle and Pat McCord followed us in Denny’s motor coach.  They wanted to (1) see the boat, and (2) help us move on board.  Denny and Pat were a Godsend!  Not only did they help us move on (in the nearly 100 degree heat), but dug in to help make the Kittiwake our own.  Turns out, if you turn Denny loose with cleaning supplies, he cleans like a maniac!  He detailed the entire fly bridge, leaving it spotless and gleaming.  Pat helped where he could.  He accompanied me on a shopping expedition to purchase cleaning supplies and other consumables.  The night before they left, we had a feast of locally caught crab, scallops, fresh squash, and corn.  For my first meal cooked on board, I was pretty pleased that I had purchased ALMOST everything I need for the galley.  After spending two days with us, Denny and Pat left for their home in Orlando on Wednesday morning.
Later on Wednesday, we were met at the boat by Mike Steele.  Mike is an expert on boats, on maintenance, on piloting.  He has been so generous with his time and talents.  Between the time that we were here for the survey and our return, he has been continually working on the boat.  He wanted to fix things that were brought to our attention on the survey.  Also, he noted problems with the exhaust system….so, he had the owner, Becky, pay for a complete replacement, to the tune of about $4,000.  Other work and parts amounted to another $1,000.  We are so lucky that the owner, with Mike as her representative, has taken such responsibility for correcting things with which we would have had to deal.
Mike’s purpose to come on Wednesday was to help us in getting used to driving the boat, docking her, maneuvering her, etc.  Unfortunately, when we tried to start the two engines, the port side engine wouldn’t fire up!  Yikes.  Mike felt strongly the problem lay with the starter and that it was caused by water that had gotten in there during the work on the exhaust system.  Unfortunately, access to the port engine, in particular the starter, is extremely difficult – The salon floor is made up of multiple hatch covers that provide engine and other components access.  To get to the outside of the port engine, we have to remove the entire permanently installed settee that goes around the corner.  When the settee sections and the table and the hatch covers are placed around, those pieces make the entire salon either open to the engines or blocked.  See the pictures of Mike and Dan practically standing on their heads to get to the starter!  This took the better part of the afternoon.   FINALLY, the starter had been removed, cleaned out (no water), reinstalled.  And, the dramatic moment arrived…..and….NOPE, the engine still wouldn’t start!!  Mike was undeterred.  He had been wrong about the cause of the problem.  It is an electrical wiring issue, likely caused by the exhaust system workers moving around down there.  Mike jumped the wires, and the engine started right up.  Now, out of time for maintenance work, Mike said “Let’s go boating!!”  We closed up the floor, put the furniture back, and went to the helm.
Gena was first up – with Mike standing at my elbow calmly giving directions, I pulled the Kittiwake out of our berth, headed out to more open water, turned her around, and docked her at the end of the dock in front of another boat.  I did that twice, and then it was Dan’s turn.  Dan had lots of experience driving even bigger boats in the Navy, but that was back in the 80’s!  Turns out, he hasn’t lost it.  With very little guidance from Mike, Dan made the Kittiwake dance.  He docked it in the same place, then easily backed her into our narrow berth.  Next, I pulled her out of the berth, and backed her back in.   Piece of cake!  No damage to our boat, any other boat, or the marina.  Success!

Mike had to leave, having commitments for the rest of our time this trip.  He’ll be back when we return in September.  He and Dan have discussed several projects they want to tackle when they’re both here.  We are so incredibly lucky to have this man on our team and as a new friend.  What a wonderful resource!  

The Kittiwake, fly bridge from the dock!

Our beautiful boat underway!

Our First thought of buying a boat! Decision time - Obsession in Port St. Lucie, Florida, or move on!

Our first thought of buying a boat, at ages 68 and 70!
Since Dan and I have been together, we have had a wonderful time.   We took a long (10,000+) mile trip around the USA.  We have gone to his SEAL Team Reunions in Virginia Beach (July each year) and his SEAL Team Muster (November each year) in Fort Pierce, Florida.  We have gone to Key West each winter.  For our first few years, all this road travel plus the months spent in Key West were in the truck camper.  Now, granted, it is a big truck camper, but, by virtue of the fact that it sits in the back of his truck does mean that it is pretty small.  It is great for traveling around, but for sitting in one place for week?  Not so much!  
During our 5th winter in Key West, we saw an ad on the bulletin board for a 5th wheel trailer.  The couple selling it had used it for many years, all there on Key West.  We met them, checked out the trailer, and bought it.  Since then, our time spent in Key West is much more comfortable!

In the process of meeting with this couple, we had many conversations about our various adventures, theirs and ours.  One they told us about was when they bought a trawler (I had no idea at the time what type boat that was) and traveled America’s Great Loop – they sold the trawler after that.  We were intrigued!  We talked to them, then started reading up on America’s Great Loop.  The more we read, the more interested we became.  We didn’t know if we had the resources to get into a boat sufficient for that trip, but we were certainly interested.
Turns out, if you are a good ‘wrench hand’, like Dan certainly is, we do have enough resources.  We are so lucky that the thought of traveling around the country on a boat was very interesting and exciting to us both.  Dan has extensive experience on boats, both in the Navy and afterwards.  He knows how to navigate on the waters.  I know nothing!  But, I trust my husband.
One thing we did, before we even started looking at boats, was to attend the Spring Rendezvous of America’s Great Loop Cruising Association (AGLCA) in Norfolk.  After those three days, the seminars, meeting and talking to people either doing or planning to do the Loop, and seeing a few boats – there was no stopping us!
Once we decided we were interested, then we (mostly Dan) started researching to determine what type/model boat we would enjoy.  Because of Max, our older dog, we settled on a Bayliner, either 45 or 47 foot.  All levels of the boat, state rooms and heads, galley and salon, pilot house, and fly bridge, are accessible with just a few steps – no ladders necessary!  The next step was to find a boat.
The first boats we looked at were in Georgia, on Lake Lanier.  One boat was in pretty rough shape, and the other, while in great shape, was priced way too high.

We had met Curtis Stokes, a yacht broker, at the AGLCA Rendezvous.  When we saw the model boat we wanted in Florida, we contacted Curtis, and the real search was on.  We flew to Bradenton, Florida, and looked at one boat that turned out to be in really bad shape.  The next boat was in Port St. Lucie, named Obsession.  

The owner of the Obsession was to have some mechanical problems, found during the survey, fixed so that the survey could be completed.  We had signed a 60 day Purchase Agreement, so we began the waiting.  Our broker had us sign an extended Purchase Agreement when the repairs were taking longer than anticipated.
Once the extended agreement was about to expire, Dan and our broker decided to take a look on the internet to see if a better option might be available.  They found another Bayliner 4588, the model we wanted, in Lottsburg, Virginia.  Looking at the pictures, and talking to their broker, Dan and I decided we didn’t want to let this deal slide away.  Since the Virginia location was only a one day’s drive, we hopped in my car the very next day and hightailed it to see the Kittiwake.
Short end to the story – a much better-maintained boat, price was right.  Many of the changes/enhancements Dan had wanted to make on the other boat had already been done!  We made an offer, it was accepted right away.  All that was left was to arrange a survey. 
One really wonderful aspect of this boat was that it ‘came’ with Mike Steele, who has turned out to be a good friend!  He was best friends with the previous owner, recently deceased, and had worked on the boat extensively.  Some issues came up during the survey, mostly because the boat had been sitting for two years – Mike resolved them to our and the surveyor’s satisfaction, and also promised to work on other issues after the survey and before we closed on the boat.  Because of his input, the owner’s daughter, now owner, paid to have a new exhaust system installed (@ $5,000), the bottom cleaned and painted (@ $2000).  He also promised to work with Dan to install a new inverter after the purchase.

We believe that we have found the right boat for us!