Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Our first night anchored out

(Preface: I would have preferred to call this post, "Sleeping through the Storm." My title has alliteration. Didn't they teach you that in school? Actually I think that's more of a consonance/sibilance thing, and it wasn't really a "storm." Also, you were the only one who got to sleep.)

Since the day we moved Gimme Shelter to Marina Del Sol, we've been anxiously waiting for our first chance to take a trip. I mean, isn't that the point?  Weather and maintenance had kept us at the dock except for one short afternoon sail. Last weekend we had grandiose plans of meeting friends at Double Bayou but there was too much rain, not enough water in the marina, and their raw water impeller disintegrated, so nobody went anywhere. Finally, this weekend we had a perfect forecast with lots of sun and a steady south wind of around 10 knots all weekend long. We really could not have asked for a better forecast.  All week long I was excited to get away.  

The south wind is important because a north wind blows all the water out of our marina, so if you leave with a south wind and return with a north wind, there's always the nagging question as to whether or not you can get back into the marina or if you'll be trapped in Clear Lake for hours or sometimes even days until the tides and wind turn around.

We were planning to get to the boat Friday evening and then sail away early Saturday morning. Then I got the call Thursday asking if I'd shoot some photos for an MMA fight poster Saturday morning. This was a huge bummer to me as I get off work every Friday at noon, so I had to wait an extra 24 hours to hit the road.  This is the hardest thing to do when you've been waiting all week and you're anticipating a long trip. I figured it would only be a slight delay, and I'm not one to turn down work when we have a very long list of upgrades and repairs to be made to Gimme Shelter. We lost a few hours of sailing time while I tried to make these guys look scary, yet pretty. If you're in Houston, they're fighting in July, so make sure and check it out.

Saturday afternoon we left Dixie and Tex at the house. I was envisioning a nice calm night alone with no dogs crowding the bed or waking us up at 6:30 a.m. wanting to go for a walk. It was such a nice dream, even if it didn't come true.

Traffic was a nightmare, so it was already 2 p.m. before we got to the boat. We spent an hour or so prepping the boat, and we were ready to go -- except we had no food.

We made a dash to the grocery store to find something for dinner and for breakfast. We had to stick with things that required no cooking because I have not yet installed the oven, and we hadn't bought any alcohol for the Origo stove. It was going to be a sandwich and cereal weekend, which was totally fine because at least we were sailing.  We thought sandwiches and cereal were going to be cheaper, but it still turned out to be around $50 regardless, and we hadn't even bought any booze. We did end up buying way more food than we needed though, but I guess its better to have extra than not enough.  

It was already 4 p.m. by the time we shoved off, which limited the potential anchorages we could reach before dark to Redfish Island. By this point both Mary and myself were already a little tired and cranky from rushing around all day.

Redfish Island is southeast of Kemah, and with a southeast wind we were having to close haul Gimme Shelter and make long tacks across the bay to gain any ground. Mary is not a fan of the heeling that comes with sailing into the wind. I really wasn't pushing the boat as she claims, and I don't think we were really heeling THAT much, but she was pretty unhappy with me most of the trip there.  This is why I dream of someday owning a catamaran.  

Eventually the freedom of being on the water soothed away the grouchiness, and we were looking forward to a nice sunset as we dropped sail and motored into Redfish Island.

I couldn't wait to paddle over to the island and catch a few photographs of Gimme Shelter looking pristine at anchor and then sip a rum and coke as we watched the sunset from the cockpit. Alas, neither of these things were to be.

The anchorage at Redfish is very shallow. We had previously anchored the Seahorse at the north end of the island and had to move in the middle of the night when our keel started slamming into the bottom. We made sure to anchor at the south end and out as deep as possible in hopes of not repeating that mistake, but even in the deep area, we only had around two feet of water under the keel.  We maybe could have anchored a little closer to the island, and therefore have avoided some of the waves, but there were three other boats there, and we wanted to play it safe. 

I usually go forward to drop the anchor, but Mary wanted a turn at it. I never know exactly when to flip the boat into reverse, and can't see where the anchor line is, and I'm always scared I'm going to run over it.  I figured, how hard could just dropping it be?  We constantly have to rework the way we do things to figure out how to best work together.  She did great, and we had it set on the first try. Gimme Shelter came with a small plow anchor, 20' of chain, and 100' of line. We made sure we had even more than a 7:1 ratio of line out because the wind was blowing quite hard when we got there. Weather Underground was claiming it was only 10 knots, but it was hard enough that it really wasn't comfortable sitting in the cockpit, and I definitely wasn't taking the kayak anywhere because I wasn't sure I could paddle hard enough to get back to the boat.

We retreated into the cabin and opened the windows, which turned the interior of the boat into a virtual wind tunnel. On one hand, it wasn't hot. On the other hand, it was kind of like sitting in a tornado.

Meanwhile, there was no sunset. The cloud cover was so thick that it just kind of got dark. We had three other sailboats around us. This one was anchored to the north of us and served as my reference point as to whether or not our anchor was dragging all night long.

This guy was to the south of us when we got there, but by 3 a.m. he had drug all the way to the north end of the anchorage past our other neighbor. 

How you sleep through dragging that far, I don't know -- maybe it just takes enough drinking before bed -- but I'm guessing their keel started pounding the mud, and that is what finally woke them up to re-anchor. Of course, when they re-anchored they were kind enough to shine a  high-powered spotlight on our boat over and over again while they found their new location. This did make me think that one of these flashlights should be a safety requirement for our boat.  I couldn't decide if they thought we were dragging as well and were trying to wake us up or if they were really having that much trouble seeing us in the anchorage. Either way, they won the most irritating boat award for the weekend.

Once we had anchored and realized that the water was quite choppy and that it was a wind tunnel inside the boat, it did cross my mind to just pull up anchor and sail home.  I'm glad you did not voice this opinion out loud. Although it might have led to us actually getting some sleep, it would not have been in the spirit of adventure. Unfortunately, it was already dark, and it's a 1.5 hour trip downwind back to the marina. I decided I was being silly and was confident the wind would eventually die down.

After sandwiches we enjoyed a little wine and some friendly competition at the Scrabble board.  Mary won.

After Scrabble, it was time for bed. At this point we'd probably been anchored for two or three hours and every 15 minutes I'd worriedly gone outside to check our location and to make sure the anchor rode wasn't rubbing on anything as we bounced around. You'd think I would have had some confidence at this point, but the wind was continuing to get stronger and stronger, and every time a ship went by the island, we would get bounced uncontrollably by the wake.  It felt like we were sleeping inside of a bronco.  At some point you stop worrying about the boat getting damaged, and start just worrying about yourself.  I would lay in bed as long as possible trying not to think about dragging into the boat downwind of us or breaking free of our anchor and landing on the rocks for as long as possible, but then I'd have to get up and go check our location and take a look at the rope. I must have gotten up at least every half hour all night long -- that's how I was able to watch our neighbor drag across the anchorage.

Around 3:30 a.m. the wind did finally calm down to what I would guess was around 10 knots. The shipping traffic had slowed down quite a bit as well, so we weren't being tossed up and down every few minutes. After that anchor check I was able to stay asleep until around 6 a.m. when the wind started picking up again. I got up one more time and once again having confirmed that we were not about to die on the rocks, I slept for another couple of hours.

At 8:30 a.m. the wind was roaring again, and I made Mary get up. Not cool. I am the windlass -- our anchor is full manual arm power, and I was starting to seriously question whether or not I could pull it up in the wind. It was definitely going to be a two-person job with some motoring forward required to get slack in the line.

Pulling in the rope went ok. After a few discussions and the invention of some hand signals for when to pull forward and which way to turn, I had made it to the chain.  It's amazing to me how quickly we solve problems together at this point. Things that would have been huge arguments when we started sailing are quickly solved. That's when things got tough. I wasn't able to let go with one hand anymore to give signals, and after I was able to retrieve just a few feet of chain, we swung around, and I couldn't hold on. I tied off the line and took a break. Once the boat straightened out, Mary shifted into forward, and I started pulling again. I felt the anchor finally come free of the mud, and the rest of the chain came right up.

One thing I have not figured out yet is how to pull in the anchor without coating myself in the nasty mud that covers the bottom of Galveston Bay.

We were soon on a broad reach sailing very quickly back to Kemah. You know it's windy when your cereal keeps blowing out of your bowl.

Despite the somewhat grouchy sail to Redfish and the miserable night, spirits were high on the way home because we'd completed another adventure, pushed ourselves beyond our comfort zone, and learned new things about the boat.  Every trip is a little easier!  

One lesson learned -- our autopilot is not to be trusted. The belt was slipping and twice when faced with high winds it just decided to completely quit steering. It's now on my list of things to work through and adjust, so that hopefully it will last us another year or two, but it's another system on the to-be-replaced list.

Another lesson learned -- our anchor can be trusted. Redfish was a great testing ground to see if we would drag, and despite getting beat and bounced so hard that our bathroom door hinge ripped out of the bulkhead, we did not drag at all.

The most important lesson learned -- teamwork makes for success. When it came to everything from packing for the trip to pulling up the anchor, clear communication and teamwork were required to accomplish the tasks.  When we first started sailing, it became very clear to us that we would have to stay calm in high stress situations and keep talking to each other. We learn more and more that telling the other person what is going on is really the key to resolving issues. It's often easy to forget that the person at the helm can't see all the things that you are seeing from the bow. We accidentally ran into a regatta on the way home and quickly needed to get out of the way.

The autopilot wasn't cooperating, and we had a tangled line. If Mary and I hadn't been working together, I'm not sure I would have been able to roll in the jib and get over to the channel in time. It wasn't just then either.  The lines on the new boat are considerably harder to pull, and the sails are much stronger. It really helps to have Fred tail me when he can. I'm lucky to have such a great sailing partner.  :)

After anchoring overnight at Redfish Island twice and having miserable nights both times, I think I'm cured of ever wanting to stay there again. The anchorage just isn't deep enough and doesn't give sufficient protection from the wakes coming out of the ship channel. However, Memorial Day is coming, and we plan to head east with our friends on the Tina Marie to explore Double Bayou in Trinity Bay. Yay! New ground with great friends. Can't ask for more.  

Monday, May 20, 2013

Under the weather

We didn't get much of anything done on the boat last weekend. Friday it was pouring rain, so I made a trip to the vet with Dixie and Tex for their annual exams and vaccinations. I can rest easy for another year without worrying one of them will go rabid and rip my neck open while I'm sleeping -- probably.

Friday night we decided to try an art class with some of Mary's friends.

The subject matter of the painting was a little dull, but thankfully the class was BYOW and after a few glasses I really hit my stride and added Tex to the painting. I would have added Dixie as well, but I was out of brown paint.

It was still pouring rain when we went to bed Friday night, and the forecast claimed it was going to continue into Saturday, which was why Mary got stuck sitting through two-hour meeting of the Texas Photographic Collectors Association (TPCA) with me. One of the guys did a presentation on the history of Kodak Bantam cameras and 828 film. I could tell she was bored out of her mind, but she was a good sport.

It was almost 2 p.m. before we made it to the marina, and the weatherman had obviously lied. It had not continued to rain, and there was not a cloud in the sky. We could have left early Saturday morning and been anchored out overnight if we'd planned correctly.

I usually rely on the Weather Underground app when I'm looking for a reliable forecast. I used to check three or four places until I realized that most apps -- including Sea Tow and Yahoo! Weather -- are just pulling their forecast data from Weather Underground.

I still use the Sea Tow app for it's tide data. Unfortunately, I've never found the perfect weather app that puts the forecast, wind speeds, radar and tides all together in one nice package.

This weekend we once again relied on Weather Underground, and while their forecast of no rain held up, their forecast of wind speed did not. We expected 10 knot winds all night and got beat up with gusting 30 knot winds.

What's the most reliable weather source for sailing?

Monday, May 13, 2013

Girly Stuff

Spending most of our weekends on the boat makes it easy to buy weekend clothes. When we go shopping we both have a huge weakness for anything with a nautical theme. Every spring stores bring out their anchor t-shirts and blue and white striped shirts.  

When I redid my bedroom before buying Gimme Shelter, I decided to go with a nautical theme. I started with these blue striped sheets from Ikea for around $150. 

I added these map pillows and some vintage sailboat paintings.
When we got the new boat, I moved both of these things down to the boat. When it comes to boat interiors, I like to keep things simple. Yes, nautical is good, but I have to admit the one thing I hate is seeing sailboat prints on a sailboat. I mean you already have a sailboat, do you really need pictures of more sailboats on your curtains? Some people may find it appropriate, but I think it looks so tacky. I try to stick to plain colors or simple stripes. Being in marketing, Fred also loves to put our logo on things. I'm really surprised custom Gimme Shelter coffee mugs have not appeared yet.  

I have an awful addiction to blue stripes. I have blue striped Sperry boat shoes, and a blue striped anchor jacket I got this spring from Tommy Hilfiger. Every year I buy a blue and white striped swimsuit for the summer that is a little more expensive than any other swimsuit I would usually buy. Last year I got a soft simple one from POLO for about $180. This year I did a little better with Sperry at around $150. I went with this suit, but they had a cute one piece as well. You can't see very well but there are some blue sequins on the blue stripes. I always go with tie straps as they look good on almost everyone.

Tommy has been my favorite place to get my nautical themed clothes lately, but there is always a good selection at Banana Republic and Polo as well. For men's clothes you can also find some nice stuff at Nautica, but they have a pretty poor selection for women. As far as getting cheaper throw-away pieces, I just always keep my eyes open.  

This is a purse I was very lucky to find at Ross for only $20. I have a smaller hand purse and a clutch that match exactly as well that I found at the Tommy outlet store earlier this year.

One last thing I absolutely can't go to the boat without is my sunglasses. I have a rule to never spend more than $20 on sunglasses. I just cannot be careful enough with them. But because of how little I spend I have so many pair I can find them wherever I go. It probably drives Fred crazy. However, when you wake up to the shining sun after a good night that might have included a few too many beers, the most important thing in the world to you is some good sunglasses. My favorite place to find sunglasses is in second hand stores, vintage stores, or thrift stores. You can find sunglasses that are a little different and fun sometimes. I have one specific shop that always has "designer" glasses I really like. I don't know know if they're real or not but they have proven to be very durable, and I love the way they look.

Ummm, yeah, so I buy a new shirt about once a year if I have too many holes in the old one ...

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Poop hose

Just when I thought summer was here, another cold front came through. The north wind blew all week and did two things, it tore apart our ratty bimini that we had left up, and it blew all the water out of the marina. Everyone was trapped at the docks, so with no sailing to be done, we tackled the first project on our list.

I don't know if the hoses in the head were originals, but it is quite possible. Hoses that had started their service a pristine white had turned brown, were very sticky to the touch, and stank worse than one of Dixie's farts.

Just opening the closet or an access panels to the bilge released the stench, and it was causing a problem because we couldn't actually store anything in the closet or under the V berth for fear that our sheets and towels would forever be permeated with that odor.  I ended up hanging all my "just-in-case" sweaters up on hooks all around our bed.  The hanging closet was one of the big selling points for this boat, and to me it was a priority to get it working.  Not to mention that we have only been using a small percentage of our storage on the boat because of the general smell and dirtiness.   

We opened all the ports, tore apart the bed, and got started. The clutter of having things apart is always a pain for us, but Dixie didn't seem to mind having extra pillows and blankets for her afternoon nap.

I thought I'd be smart with the entire project to minimize any spillage of refuse. We had pumped out the holding tank, so it was already "empty," but I knew from experience when replacing hoses and the head in the Seahorse that there was always something in the lines. I thought I was quite clever when I put a siphon into the toilet and sucked out all the standing water in that line. Then I suggested we prepare plastic bags and rubber bands, so that as soon as I removed a line we could tip it up and get a bag rubber banded over the end to keep filth from dumping all over us (mostly me).

This procedure had some success with only minimum drippage as I started with the hose running from the toilet to the Y-Valve. I thought to myself, "This might not be so bad."

It was bad. I genuinely can't tell if Fred was doing that much more work that me, or if he was just being a baby. 

I yanked the next hose which ran from the Y-Valve to the top of the tank, and the brittle plastic of the aged valve snapped right off. I suddenly had pee water running out on me from that hose and from the line that ran from the Y-valve to the overboard. Things only got worse from there. Every hose got harder and harder to pull -- most of them having to be cut.

Mary didn't escape the shit shower either. That's disgusting. While I was up in the V berth, she had started disconnecting the vent line and pump-out line in the closet. As I mentioned, we had avoided putting anything in the closet because it smelled horrible. Well, it's lucky we hadn't because she discovered our pump-out fixture was leaking and had dripped down the wall. Many Clorox wipes were used once those lines were removed.  Thank God I didn't have any clothes in the closet.  I don't know how I didn't notice how gross it was in there before.  My secret to avoid gagging is to just not breathe and pretend you're cleaning up something else. I had totally convinced myself I was cleaning dirt and sand out of the closet. 

Of course, the worst part was when I finally had to pull the outlet hose from the bottom of the tank. I knew there would be something in it, and I was ready to catch the mess. However, I wasn't ready for all the little petrified toilet paper balls that flooded into the bilge around my feet. This was the only time my gag reflex really got the best of me.

We took a break to clorox and vacuum out the bilge, so that theoretically the rest of our work would be completed in sanitary conditions. By the time we had all of the old hose out of the boat to begin measuring, I was not happy.  This was when the grouchiness really started come through. You know that moment in a project where everyone stops pretending to put on a good face and everyone is ready to say aloud how unhappy they are? We had reached it.

We needed 25'4" of hose. I was estimating this project at $500 because we were planning on using the black waste hose that runs about $11 per foot. I have yet to decide if it was fortunate or unfortunate that West Marine only had the white hose in stock. It was only $4.90 per foot, but if I have to do this project again in three years, I might just scuttle the boat.  You will not!

Around $250 later we returned from West Marine with new waste hose, new vent hose, a new Y-valve, a new T connector, and a few new clamps.  We really felt victorious at this point, little did we know how much work was left..

We started the vent hose first because I had to unstrap the holding tank and move it around to get to the rear vent connection. I connected the two tank connections to a T and then shoved the vent hose through a hole to Mary in the closet -- didn't reach.

We re-checked our measurements we had made off the old hoses.

We re-checked our cuts to see if there had been an error.

No errors.

It still didn't fit.

Mary made the second trip to West Marine for another three feet of hose, a coupler, and more clamps. (We later discovered a different hole in the closet that would have shortened the vent line's run, which explained why we came up so short, but at that point we had already added the extra vent line and strapped the tank back into place, so c'est la vie.)  At least it wasn't my math...

I managed to run the hose from the toilet to the new Y-valve and the hose from the Y-valve to the tank before the sun started to set and my arm strength completely gave out. I didn't know the heat gun trick until after the fact, but I will definitely never do another project like this without a heat gun to assist with sliding the hoses onto the tank, etc.

I gave myself a sink bath and stepped outside to enjoy the sunset.

It only took a moderate amount of rum before we forgot all about the lingering poo problem and were enjoying the evening with our marina friends.  I should also add that we were treated to a great prime rib dinner by the crew of the Tina Marie, which also helped alleviate the grouchiness. 

It was also one of those rare evening with low humidity that was perfect for sleeping with the windows open. We tried out our screen-covered companionway board for the first time. I love this thing so much, I wish we lived in a place where we could use it all the time.

Because we had no working facilities on the boat, and I made the mistake of drinking heavily before going to bed, I spent most of the night dreaming about waterfalls, so the dogs and I were up very early to make a walk to the bathhouse. That translated to me starting work on the hoses very early. I probably should have waited until after some coffee.

By 8 a.m. I had broken the nozzle off of the manual pump that pumps the holding tank overboard. This was disheartening because I knew it just added another $100 to the project.  I woke up to some loud profanity.

While we had cleaned the bilge after removing the hoses the previous day, when I unscrewed the broken pump and began lifting it out of the bilge, it proceeded to dump what seemed like a gallon of filthy water out all over me, and I ran with it dripping through the boat to get it out into the cockpit.

Mary went with me on our third trip to West Marine. On our way up the car we spotted this crab greedily eating another crab. It has nothing to do with the story, but I just thought it was weird.

After much searching on several different aisles of West Marine, we found an almost identical pump to the "Guzzler", and it was an open box special for $69!

The only problem was that there was a well-worn, barbed T-connection at one end of the pump, and although it seemed in re-usable condition, I could not get our hose over the flanges no matter how much dish soap I used as lube. I even tried talking dirty to it -- no luck. That's when Mary suggested the grinding attachment on the Dremel. 

I spent the next 15 minutes making a huge mess of plastic shavings and pitting and destroying the T connector. Total fail. I might have hurled the T through the boat. At this point Fred was pretty grouchy, so I let him go to West Marine by himself. I went over to the Tina Marie to enjoy some breakfast, and swap stories about male temper tantrums during projects.

I made the fourth trip to West Marine.

When I got back to the boat, Dixie greeted me at the bottom of the stairs, but Tex was nowhere to be found. Then I heard some rustling noises in the bow.

I guess curiosity got the best of him. I mean I had spent two full days hanging down into the bilge. Apparently he decided to investigate and got himself stuck in there. It was a nice moment of comedy relief until I realized he was soaked up to his armpits in the pee water that had leaked out of the broken pump. I carried him to the cockpit and called Mary back to the boat to wash him.

Thankfully the rest of the hoses cooperated and within 20 minutes I finally had everything connected and clamped. Everything in the system except the toilet, the tank, and the through-hull was new. 

It was at this moment, when I was exhausted and at my crabbiest that Mary was at her best. She gave me a hug (without even mentioning that I smelled like pee) and sent me off to have a beer while she re-cleaned the bilge. It was really my only choice. Poor Fred was noticeably frustrated and definitely done with this project. When I see him like that the easy part is when I can take over or help him out. It's much harder when there is nothing you can do.

The project still came very close to our $500 estimate because of the unexpected valves and pumps, but the boat now smells like roses. Well, actually it smells like rubber or new tires or something, but it's much more pleasant than before. I'm also now confident that after surviving that project, we can survive about anything. Well I'm sure it won't be the hardest thing we do, but the harder the project the greater the sense of accomplishment. Maybe that's what has us hooked.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Another pirate brought to justice

Lots of cruisers like to play pirate. At Halloween 90 percent of our marina dresses up like a pirate, and I would guess that at least half of the sailboats in the marina fly a pirate flag for fun. I'm no exception. One of my friends even made me a custom pirate flag as a boat warming gift when for the Seahorse a few years ago, and I flew it on many a weekend voyage.

But earlier this year we had a character show up in the marina who seemed a little too serious about the pirate thing. In fact, he referred to himself as Captain Skeleton, and he had created several facebook profiles and web sites about himself touting his skills as a modern day pirate. He supposedly had circumnavigated solo and fought other pirates by seizing or disabling their ships. He was currently making his living by paying back slip fees on vessels in marinas, putting a lien on the boat, and then selling them to unsuspecting buyers at around half of retail value.

He'd started hanging around Marina Del Sol in January and had sold two big motor boats and a Peterson 34 sail boat to residents of our marina.

They all supposedly came with titles. Being the investigative type, I stopped him to say hello and query him about the boat sales one afternoon. He gave me his story about how he seized boats with liens and helped marinas recover their money, then re-titled the boats and sold them. He even said he had a Tartan 33 he could have trucked down from Dallas for us for only $12,000 if we were serious about wanting a bigger boat. Something sounded fishy, so I emailed him the next day and said we weren't interested.

Well, this guy just rubbed everyone in the marina the wrong way. Soon there were postings on craiglist with photos of his truck warning people not to do business with him because he was a crook. Then in April, he disappeared. This is why ...

Yep, the long arm of the law finally got that pirate.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Our air-conditioning situation

It's so hard for me to see the need for AC right now.  I still haven't turned on my AC at home, and until the heat is unbearable I prefer to have a fresh breeze.  Fred however sees any kind of humidity or discomfort as an absolute must for AC. I know that "real cruisers" don't do AC. Unfortunately, we haven't left society yet, and it gets stifling hot in the marina starting in late May. I really wanted air-conditioning on the new boat, but it's the one thing I didn't get. Here's the setup that came with Gimme Shelter.

Now I won't debate that this is a touch more refined the the air-conditioning on The Seahorse.  I actually do miss the Seahorse AC being right above the bed, but then again I never had to lift it out of the boat and haul it up to the bow and back. 

I mean, the previous owner did spend the time to create a custom board in the companionway for the exhaust, which is very well insulated, and it does have a remote control, so you don't have to walk over there to adjust it. Unfortunately, it's just super awkward and in the way.

First, we lose the use of both the aft berth and the chart table.  Neither of which we would be using for anything but storage ... but still. That's a lot of space to give up for air conditioning. Secondly, it drips water everywhere, so you can't leave it sitting on the aft berth cushion. However, to stow it for sailing you have to pull out the cushion and put it behind there, so you can tie it to the wall. The exhaust hose is well insulated, but not flexible and not long enough to be able to move it to the floor. Moving the thing around is admittedly annoying. It's almost too heavy for me to lift at all.

I had hopes that the chart table would be my new laptop writing station -- the spot where my novel would take shape. Because heaven forbid you use your "lap"top on anything but that specific table. (Obviously Mary does not understand my process. I can type out an email or a blog post anywhere, but the REAL writing -- for the real writing you need to be in the zone. I'm pretty sure that zone is at the chart table.) Whether running or stowed against the wall, you can't sit at the chart table with the AC in the aft berth. Then it has to be moved when I need to service the engine.

Then it's even more in the way for everyone.  hehe

Having the air-conditioner in the aft of the boat is another problem. It was only 85 this weekend, and it kept things sufficiently cool, but by June I'm wondering if the cool air will even make it to the V-berth. We may have to go back to having a window unit sit in the front hatch or start sleeping on the pullout in the salon closer to the AC.  It's at least 5 degrees hotter in the v-birth, its really intolerable during the day. While I'm still sleeping at home with no AC just fine, it's different when you're next to a dude and two dogs, and the air in the marina can be really stagnant.   

There's just not a good air-conditioning solution except for installing real marine air, but that's out of the budget for now. There are just too many things in front of it -- like new poop hoses.  

As much as the AC is irritating me, I have to remind myself to be thankful that we at least live somewhere warm. Freezing to death on a boat would be much worse. Very few people are complaining at 75 to 80 degrees.  (I just wanted to get my complaining out of the way early this year.)

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

White Smoke

When we were out two weeks ago I noticed white smoke in the exhaust, so I spent some time checking through the Universal 5424.

All my fluid levels were good. I cleaned the raw water strainer and found this treasure.

Not sure about that stuff on the right, but I think that thing on the left was a fish at one time.  Yuck why would you include a picture of that. 

I seemed to be getting sufficient water flow, and I don't have a spare impeller yet, so I didn't check that, and I don't have new pencil zincs for the heat exchanger, so I didn't pull those out either, but I think the cooling system is good. I'm definitely not overheating.

Unfortunately when I throttle up to around 2000 rpm it looks like I'm spraying for mosquitoes or electing a new pope.

The verdict seems to be old rings and a tired diesel. Aside from the smoke she runs fine, so I'm not sure there's anything to be done right now. I guess I'll just have to trust Freddie on that one.