Monday, April 27, 2009

Bay Shore Marine

We had Sean and Chris from Bay Shore return today to replace the engine exhaust manifold gaskets (HEAVY lifting involved -- and no, NOT a five-minute job, but not expected to be either!!). They drained the coolant from each engine, took things apart and carefully replaced each gasket. Sean said that he thought John Deere might be re-tooling the design for this area to have an o-ring versus a gasket, which would be better. Hopefully, these gaskets will do their job and last a bit longer, although we do have over 1000 hours on the mains. Sean also cleaned out the heat exchangers -- had some grassy material partially clogging the intakes, which would explain the warming temps on the port engine (5 degrees hotter than stbd, which is unusual) at WOT. Even though we've been good about checking the sea strainers, guess a few bits and pieces of thin sea grass slips through now and again. We'll be more vigilant in the future, and check the heat exchangers when we do the coolant flushes in the future.

Now all we have to do is figure out why the electronics are acting up...

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Annapolis, Annapolis, Annapolis.....

View of the State Capitol from the water

Okay, so we repeated ourselves and spent the weekend in Annapolis...AGAIN! On the wall in Ego Alley...AGAIN!! But first, we stopped by the NEW FLOATING DOCKS at the Annapolis Harbor Boat Yard to say hello to Kevin McPadden; we were waiting for the Annapolis Harbormaster to let us know if they had room for us on the Ego Alley wall when we spied Kevin down on the new docks. We cruised over, and tied up for a half hour or so, chatting and admiring the new docks...hugs all around!! Good to see them again!! We would have stayed there too, but because the Harbormaster was busy moving boats around to accomodate us on the wall, we didn't want to be rude and not show up! Still, lovely to see Kevin and John again, and got in on the photo op for the new docks next to AlizeAnn (newest 48' KK on the block to be commissioned there). Nothing like being the FIRST visitor to the new piers. Heaven knows everyone will love them. (I won't show the photos of the OLD piers!)

Kevin McPadden and John Norton next to Equinox

From there, upon getting the call on VHF 17 that the Ego Alley wall now had room for us (thanks to John, one of the Annapolis dockhands, shuffling boats fore and aft), we squeezed down the alley and docked up in front of the 48' SeaRay express SyJor, as luck would have it, also from BMC. She is berthed in a new-to-them slip across the fairway from us, and we met her owner, Alan, and his kids, Sydney and Jordan, who were enjoying Naptown for the weekend, too. Always fun to meet new folks! And, we ran into Tony from Tourelou, a beautiful 65' Fleming from Canada, whom we'd met in Spanish Cay in the the Abacos last spring and again in West End this year. Clearly, we're on the same cruising schedule!!

With the weather clearing and finally beautiful, we'd stowed our road bicycles (Trek Madones) aboard, so Ron and I went riding each day: Saturday afternoon we cycled out to Sandy Point Park (18 miles) and on Sunday morning we had a LOVELY morning ride out to Arundel on the Bay and Bay Ridge, near Thomas Point (19 miles). The trees were greening, the flowering trees and red buds were blooming, the birds were singing in the sunshine...a beautiful morning!! It felt great to be back aboard the bikes again!! We averaged 15.5 miles on Sunday, and were a touch slower on Saturday...but always enjoying the ride!

Ron patiently posing for the photo op...

Ron and Karyn on the south side of Bay Ridge

From Annapolis, we had a leisurely cruise back to Baltimore Marine Center in the blazing sunshine; Ally sunned herself on the pilothouse roof while Ron and Karyn navigated and piloted back up the Bay. We got back in plenty of time for Ally to head off to a pool party, then lacrosse practice, then a birthday party (busy schedule). Tonight is quiet night aboard with seafood fra diavolo and a DVD, but right now.... it's 5 0'clock somewhere!!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Boat Projects...

...are never a five-minute job. NEVER! But, Karyn had a productive day all in all, and got quite a bit accomplished, even if it took her a good few hours. One of the galley propane tanks ran out last night, so Ron switched over to the second tank, and this morning Karyn took the empty tank over to Dundalk to be refilled. Since she was going anyway, Karyn also took the grill tank, and got that topped off too. We'll see how long the tanks last; they're now marked as of fill date and beginning use date to get a better idea of how quickly we use the propane.

Most of the time spent was driving to and from Dundalk, and (the hardest part) finding a cart to haul the full tanks back down the pier to the boat. Of course, Karyn had to go over to the west side of the marina to find any available carts, before unloading the tanks from the car and then returning the car back inside the garage. Lots of running around to accomplish a simple errand! Even parking is never a five-minute job!!

Once the tanks were back aboard and re-installed, Karyn worked at replacing the faulty InstaHot faucet. The stem broke on the old one and wasn't long for this world, so after a call to InSinkerator, we got a new one shipped out to us for very little money, as it was apparently still under warranty. Yes, wonder of wonders -- don't things usually break after the warranty period ends?? Amazing in itself, actually.

In any case, we received the new faucet and Karyn set about installing it last night only to discover that the compression nut and ferrule needed to reconnect the water line was not included in the kit. This discovery was made AFTER the old unit was disconnected (amidst a great deal of water continuing to come out of the water pipe even though the shut off valve was ... off!!) SO, mopping and swearing, the old unit was hooked back up. (TOLD you it's never a five-minute job!!)

This morning, on the way to get the propane, Karyn made a stop at Home Depot to find the necessary size compression nut. (Need I say it? Also NOT a five-minute job!) Armed with several absorber rags and a bucket to combat the leaking water, Karyn managed to wrestle around under the sink to disconnect the old unit from the countertop, with its connection ring nut super tight and right up against the sink where it could barely be seen unless you were twisted around onto your back half across the under-sink shelf looking up at it. NOT A FIVE MINUTE JOB!!

Remains of the old unit

Then, the whole project almost came to a sudden stop when Karyn discovered that a couple of the tubing and hoses of the new faucet were shorter then the old unit...quite a bit shorter, actually! But, thankfully, with careful placement of each tube and hose, everything managed to fit tightly. NO leaks, no drips, and no broken handle! Now, when aboard, everyone must compliment us on how nice it looks. It'll only take you five minutes!

Shiny new InstaHot in place!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

From Baltimore to Annapolis and return!

Passing green channel marker 5 on the way out of the Patapsco River

We had a glorious, sunny and warm weekend on the water! Friday was just lovely; we took Equinox over to the BMC fuel dock for a pump out in the afternoon, then Karyn practiced boat handling maneuvers alongside the out piers at BMC. We hosted Les and Amy Harlan for a short Inner Harbor cruise, then docked up near the Urban Pirates ship berth in Fells Point before walking to the Black Olive for a fabulous fresh seafood dinner. The grilled octopus salad was fabulous, as was the turbot that Ron and I shared. YUM!! It was a lovely night, and we really enjoyed ourselves. Ally had dinner at Ra Sushi with a pair of friends from OS, Lauren Engle and Kayleigh Lauman, who also spent the night aboard, so everyone had a nice Friday!

Saturday morning Ron, Karyn and Ally cruised on calm waters under sunny skies to Annapolis to meet up with Charlie and Trish Medico, who were there aboard Medici. We put out some fishing lines (in honor of opening day of rockfish season!) but got nary a nibble as we poked our way south, much to Ron's dismay. We came into Annapolis about 2:30, and slid into a spot on the wall, with Ron doing is usual perfect docking job. Looking good!! Both Karyn and Ally could not resist reveling in the warmth, and both fell asleep in the sunshine (yes, got a tad crispy there)!!

Opposite Equinox was the Norman Stanley in its slip on Ego Alley -- Ally was just aboard her on Tuesday!

Equinox on the wall in Annapolis

Being on the wall is great; perfect for ease of walking about Annapolis, and its a reasonable rate for dockage. It's first-come-first-served, thus you never know if there will be space available until you arrive and call the harbormaster on the VHF. We're always delighted when we can squeeze in. The only drawback to being on the wall is that some folks passing by think the boat is there for display; Ron was rather taken aback by one group who asked if they could look at the boat, and if they could come aboard!! Folks don't realize it's our home!!

Trish stopped by for a glass of wine while Charlie puttered about with their boat dinghy, getting it up and running again after a long winter. Later, the five of us went uptown to Carppaccio for dinner, which was also a delightful evening. After a post-prandial walk back to the boat, we all relaxed on the back deck until rather late! Good friends, good food, good fun!!

Karyn, Trish, Ron and Charlie (photo by Ally)

The restaurant is near the new Westin on West Street

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Cold, but FUN Oldfields Bay Day....

Ally and some classmates took part in Oldfields Bay Day. Ally spent time aboard the skipjack Norman Stanley out of Annapolis (NAPTOWN!) with several of her friends. Too bad the weather couldn't have provided some of the new-t0-boating girls a better experience. Still, a day on the water is never bad! The following photos are all by Grace Camut, another OS student:
Ally helping raise the sails on the Norman Stanley

Maddie Cole frozen on deck

Ally, Katherine, Alexis McHarg and Stephanie Ogukwugha in the hatch, trying to keep warm!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Maintenance Day! among many, actually, but today Sean from Bay Shore Marine allowed Karyn to follow him around the engine room as he tended to the 20 kW generator, doing its needed 500-hour service. So, coolant flush, valve gap check and inspection of the heat exchanger were all skillfully done, and now Karyn can do it (hopefully just as well) the next time. Sean also replaced the valve cover on the starboard main John Deere engine, which we noted was leaking a bit of oil. With Ron aboard later, we went out on a sea trial and tracked down the mysterious warming issue which we very recently noted at wide-open-throttle...turns out the exhaust manifold gasket (between the heat exchanger and the cylinder head) is leaking and needs replacement on both engines. We hadn't noted it before, only after we were concerned with the new impellers we replaced, and checked temps at all different speeds. The port engine runs warmer only at WOT, and isn't an issue at all at normal cruising speeds. We await Sean's return to take care of us, and for Karyn to learn more about the care and feeding of the engines!

Sean using his infrared gun to check engine temps on the starboard engine

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Cold Cruising Around Baltimore

Ally & Eliza bundled up on the bow

We took advantage of the sunny weather on Easter Sunday to take a leisurely Key Bridge to Inner Harbor cruise with the Stromes, Kimberlee and Scott and two of their three children, Arianna and Max. Ally had her good friend Eliza Witherbee along as well; Eliza is from Massachusetts, and a boarder at Oldfields who was able to spend the weekend with us. SO, we had a fun cruise introducing the harbor waters to everyone, since none of the Stromes had seen Baltimore by water before. We cruised past Fort McHenry and Max piloted out to the Key Bridge (much to Arianna's concern) and then back to Fells Point for a lunch at Shuckers. While it would have been better to have had warmer weather, everyone still enjoyed themselves and it made for a lovely day.

Above is the Seven Foot Knoll lighthouse. According to the Baltimore Maritime Museum, the lighthouse is the oldest surviving screw-pile lighthouse built as an aid to navigation on the Chesapeake Bay. It was built at the mouth of the Patapsco River in 1855 and marked the shoal known as "Seven Foot Knoll" for 133 years. Its beacon was first lit in January of 1856.

The innovative screw-pile lighthouse design, which made its first appearance in the United States in 1850, eliminated the need for underwater masonry foundations to support a lighthouse. Screw-pile lighthouses were suspended above the water by a system of cast-iron pilings with corkscrew-like bases, which could be screwed into the soft mud of the sea floor. The Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse was the second screw-pile lighthouse built on the Chesapeake Bay and was constructed on nine cast-iron screw piles supporting a gallery deck some nine feet above mean high water. Seven Foot Knoll was equipped with a 4th order Fresnel lens visible for 12 miles. After decades of service, the lighthouse was automated in 1948 and was Coast Guard maintained, but unfortunately the structure fell victim to its age and the elements. By the late 1960's, plans were underway to retire the light and replace it with a new navigation marker. However, the lighthouse continued to serve as an active aid to navigation until it was moved to the Inner Harbor in Baltimore in 1988, when the Coast Guard donated the lighthouse to Baltimore City to be preserved as an historic landmark.

Approaching the back of the National Aquarium in Baltimore, with the old Power Plant in the background. It now houses the Baltimore Hard Rock Cafe, ESPNZone, and Barnes and Noble, among other restaurants and attractions nearby.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Cruise to Baltimore's Inner Harbor

A bright sunny day, albeit a bit chilly, but with the tenuous warmth of the sun finally reaching us, we had to get the boat out! We needed to fuel up after our trip north, but considering it was the first time since last November, it wasn't so painful. We love the efficiency of our John Deere engines -- they burn about 7 gph TOTAL (~ 3.5 gph per engine) at cruise speed of 8.5 knots -- so while we're slow, we have a great range! Anyway, after fueling at BMC, and sending Ally off to lacrosse practice, we headed out to do an early spring harbor cruise!!
As you can see, there weren't many boats out, so we had our pick of where to dock Equinox on the wall in front of Light Street Pavillion. We were all to ourselves initially....and then, lo and behold, we were joined by Serenity, the Hatteras owned by Dan and Trish Carney! They had Trish's son Jason along as well, so we enjoyed a little Champagne Sunday on our back deck before a dinghy arrived with Karen and Kerry Moser aboard -- they'd seen us cruise past Inner Harbor East, where they live aboard Concrete Idea, so came to join the fun. Who knew we'd be so popular?? Can't miss us, that's for sure. Here's a view of Serenity and Equinox docked in front of the promenade of the Inner Harbor, as seen from under the bowsprit of the USS Constellation:

And a closer shot, of just Equinox on the wall below...we just sat back in the cockpit, enjoyed the sunshine and indulged in a bit of people watching. Before we knew it, we had more visitors as Erik and Stephanie Wexler were downtown, enjoying the sunny day with Charlie, their darling little dachshund. So well-mannered, he was quivering with happiness over the reflections and shadows off the water (and my watch!) while aboard. Love an impromptu party: Great fun, and good company!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Blue Skies, High Winds...

1103 AM EDT SAT APR 4 2009



A gorgeous day after a week of rain, rain and more rain. It's lovely to be dry!! Of course, now we have 25-35 kts of gusty, blustery wind! But no worries! We're still having fun, glad to be reunited with Charlie and Trish Medico (off Medici in the slip next door), who are back down after a winter up in PA. We've had lovely time catching up with one another, generally hanging out and/or doing small boat projects, and eating up a storm! Thursday night was Bahamian lobster surf and filet mignon turf, and last night was Italian sausage, meatballs, chopped salad and pasta, pasta, pasta!! The Medico's friends, Sam and Lois, are down for the weekend too, so we've enjoyed some of Sam's homemade wine (delicious) and fun stories of boating at their house on the St. Lawrence River. Tonight they're going to La Scala, and we're hosting our land neighbors, David and Ricky Leibowitz, for a Caribbean fiesta night. Ron's making conch chowder as we speak, plus we'll have stone crab claws for appetizers, grilled Bahamian lobster, jerk chicken, and mango-avocado salad too!

Ron's conch chowder

Ricky sampling the stone crab claws

Mango-avocado-red pepper salad

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Rainy cold Maryland...

...and WHY are we back again?? Oh wait, I remember....spring in Maryland is lovely. So it can show up any time now!! Truly, I haven't been warm or dry since we got back, with the cold northerly winds and now the damp rainy chill that is pervasive. UGH! Hopefully the coming weekend will bring warmer weather!!

Last night Ron was feeling mechanically-inclined, so changed out the oil, oil and fuel filters, and both raw water impellers for our two generators. The impellers are the worst, only because where they are located on each engine is in a pain-in-the-ass place to access. Which makes a 10-minute job a half-hour of aggravation! But, between the two of us, all needed maintenance was completed well, oil samples prepared for analysis, and both gensets are happy little engines with clean oil!