Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Ah - Life is Good

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Flushing of Systems

I had no idea that freezer and refrigeration systems had to be flushed periodically to wash out any scale build up.  Seawater cooled systems that is.  It makes sense when you think about it, I just had never sat around and thought about it.

Tom flushed the freezer system out the other day.  Judging from the gross water that came, I would guess the previous owners didn't think much about flushing either.  So this will get added to our yearly maintenance list.  FYI - flushing stuff is $$$!  I know it's not terribly exciting and or pretty like a sunset but it's important.  Have your flushed your boat systems lately?

Thursday, July 25, 2013

New Batteries - Check

Old batteries that must come out
s/v Honey Ryder's batteries have been doing fine but we knew it was only a matter of time before we would need new ones so we budgeted and planned on replacing them this fall.  However someone pointed out that we should think about replacing them now while we are at the dock with the availability of resources vs waking up in some remote anchorage to discover that we HAVE to replace them.  Good point. 
Tom disconnecting all the batteries - not much room to work
Further investigation revealed that our two 12v gel house batteries were installed in 2000.  The two starter batteries (27's) are original to the boat.....1998!  OMG!  Given this terrific performance and the fact that our system is set up and tuned to gel we decided to replace them with the same exact gel batteries.  Not an easy feat in today's world where perfectly good products are constantly upgraded, redesigned and then phased out.  However after extensive research, Tom was able to find the exact same batteries in Macon GA and the company delivers to Brunswick every Wednesday.  Yay!
Two of the four out
Next step was to get the old batteries out.  For those of you that don't know, boat batteries are big and heavySeriously - our house batteries are approx. 2ft long by 1 ft wide by 1 ft deep and weigh approx. 130 lbs EACH if not more!  We have two of these.  The starter batteries are more the size of large car batteries (size 27's) and weigh approx. 60 lbs each.  We have two of these.  So...big ass batteries (BAB) that weigh a ton.  But wait....the fun doesn't end there.  Our batteries are center line on the boat, very low under the cockpit with limited space for a person to maneuver.  Most of the time this is a good thing, except when you need to get them out.  Think of it this way.....picture the average American dining room table - 6ft long.  Imagine that you have to get these two BAB + the two starters out from underneath the dining room table and up on top of it.  However you can't just drag them sideways until you have them out from underneath.  Oh no.  You must somehow hoist them up to the underneath side of the table ( so like up 1 ft or so) and then over so you can avoid crushing something valuable like your great grandmothers precious gravy bowl - or in our case a vital part of our watermaker that CANNOT take the weight of a 130 lbs battery sliding across the top of it.  And there is only room for one person under the table and you can't use the free space around the table - that is cheating.  And NO, I don't know why your great grandmother's gravy bowl would be under the table with four boat batteries - it's an example!  Anyway, I think you get the idea of the situation. 
Resting between batteries
Tom was able to build a temporary shelf over the watermaker to protect it and then he tied a dock line around the handles of the first BAB.  He used another length of wood as a slide and then pulled with his legs to wedge it free and onto the floor of the open lazarette.  I used my full body weight from the cockpit to help pull.  Then we worked together from the cockpit to hoist it out at an angle (being careful not to smash the Rancor fuel polishing system or any other vital boat components along the lazarette wall) and onto the cockpit floor and then ......blah blah blah... basically we moved it in small stages until we got it out and onto the dock.  Whew!  Then came the next BAB. 

All four out - whew
We thought the two tiny starter batteries  (Ha - compared to the BAB they are tiny)  would be easy but it turned out they were wedged into their low spot on the boat even more firmly than the house batteries.  Finally we were able to wiggle them free.   One by one we transported the batteries via dock cart to the top of the dock for pickup.  And we only blew one dock cart tire in the process - ga-BOOM!  Uh-oh!
Pre-tire blow out
The battery guy showed up and easily muscled our new batteries out of his truck and onto the dock - show off!  He took the old ones, giving us credit for the cores.  Even still, the cha-ching sound was painful!  The new batteries shine like a new diamonds and cost about the same!
Newbies ready to go in - ugh!
Now began the reverse process for us.  But we were experts at it by this point.  By mid-afternoon we had them wedged back into place and Tom had everything reconnected and flipped on to start calibrating these new batteries.     
New batteries sitting pretty in their new home on s/v Honey Ryder
Lesson we learned during switching out our batteries?  If you need to switch your battery out it helps to find a really super,-duper strong contortionist to assist you. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Chillmaster Tom - Refrigeration Repair -Check

New unit
While Tom did kickback earlier on Sunday and watch the British Open, that is not what I am referring to in the title of this blog posting.  Instead I am referring to the fact that he is now master of our newly fixed Isotherm refrigerator!  I think I may have mentioned before that we had some projects that we felt we HAD to get completed before leaving the dock here in Brunswick.  One was to fix the non-working fridge once and for all. 
Old unit
Tom has been troubleshooting, ordering parts, consulting the Internet, trying this and trying that off and on over the last month.  We even had a refrigeration guy out early on to help troubleshoot.  Notes we have found onboard from the previous two owners suggest that it may have always been a bit of a pain.  Being a 1998 unit of course the models have changed over the years making the matching up of pieces and parts an interesting game.  Finally he suspected the compressor was the final issue and planned to switch the old compressor out for the new - again....think old parts matching up to new parts......eeeek.  And of course you can't just buy the compressor, you have to buy the whole bundle - compressor and holding plate. 
New unit in place and ready to flip the switch
Yesterday afternoon he climbed down into "the hole" (cockpit locker) to tackle the switch over.  After an hour or so he instructed me to flip the switch.  I crossed all my fingers and toes, held my breath and flipped it on.
Lights are a GOOD sign
There was a few seconds of silence and then the unit kicked on!  Woo Hoo!  Success!!!!  The old holding plate cooled down immediately and has been working perfectly since.
In action and working great.  Coldie anyone?
Chillmaster Tom rules!!!!  Goofy I know but this was a big one to get checked off.

Crabbing and a Prison Break

Little one so we let him go
We decided to finally bait the crab traps and see if we could catch some dinner.  Two chicken necks in the large trap netted us six crabs total in a little over 24 hrs.  We put two more (stinky) chicken necks in a smaller trap down the way.  By morning there were 2 crabs in that trap.
I had to snap the pic quick as he was FAST towards freedom
When I checked again at noon they had escaped.  Prison break!  I wondered down to the laundry lounge where Tom was watching the British Open to let him know that some of our dinner had escaped.  Caliber Janet was in there as well.  When I announced "bad news, there has been a prison break" she looked up startled and was quickly relieved to find out it was two of our crabs and NOT a real prison break.....the county jail is right across the street.  Ooops -my bad Janet.

Big crabby crab

A third trap was filled with shrimp heads and shells from our shrimp boil Saturday night....YUM by the way.  However the crabs aren't going for it.  Later we did catch one in this trap but they seem to prefer chicken necks to shrimp heads.  We tossed a couple of smaller ones back.  They must be 5 1/2" our expert crabbers tell us.
The final catch =10.  Head on over to Beyond Burgoo Boiling Up Crabs to see how we cooked them up.

Friday, July 19, 2013

All Work and No Play

Watching a big ship come into the dock
Apparently there is a misunderstanding that we are doing nothing but boat projects 24/7.
Grog Shop run
One of the readers of this blog asked us to kindly knock it off as he has been getting some grief questions from his wife about the status of HIS boat projects towards completion.
Enjoying the bounty of the Grog Shop run
Well fear not.  While we are very proud of the projects we have checked off as DONE, we are still managing to kick back and do our fair share of chilling in the cockpit, chatting it up with fellow boaties, ride our bikes and hoisting a few.
Catching up...of course this is after dark and projects...ooops...disregard the time of day
Sorry if we have gotten anyone into HOT water with their better half.  Hopefully this will help.
Nothing like a good Kindle book after a long, hard day of boat projects....oops - never mind

Dumb Plug SmartPlug

We discovered that our shore power plug had a BAD burn.  Not good.  We are not sure when this happened or specifically why but it did.  But no worries, we have a spare cord that came with the boat.

Uh-Oh.  Spare (which we have never used) is burnt too.  Traditionally shore power cords are designed badly given all the things that can and do go wrong in other words - DUMB plugs! 

Since we have to replace it, we decided to invest in a SmartPlug.  I say invest because as with all new tech stuff, it's $$$.  However, it's good stuff. 

It finally arrived (after a week -argh West Marine) and we installed it today.  Voila -AC power!

If you are interested, be sure to check out why they are so good at SmartPlug.com 

However with all the awesome solar power that we have now with the new panel and the new Blue Sky charger, we did just fine without AC power.
*One note - on the power cord side of the plug, there is one design weakness...there are three clear plastic clips that are supposed to help keep the green, black and white wires in place.  Our SmartPlug arrived with two of the three already broken off.  Of course we didn't discover this until we were getting ready to install.  We went ahead and installed it anyway since we have already been waiting a week.  Hopefully in the future the SmartPlug boyz will figure out a better material for those three clips than the flimsy plastic that they are made of now.  So if you get one, check that immediately to be sure yours are intact. 

Movie Night

We spent the evening last night with Anthony, Janet, Alfred, John, Vera and around a hundred or so other people.  Throughout the evening there were some gasps, nervous laughter and many times where we all jumped collectively in our seats as we watched....."Psycho" on the big screen.  Yes, Alfred Hitchcock's classic thriller in black and white played at The Ritz Theater.  Although we have seen it before, we had never seen it on a big screen in a movie theater.  It was quite an experience watching with a collective.  We all know the story line to some extend and we all KNOW the outcome ("No Marion, don't do it!  Don't get in the shower!  Turn around!  Look behind you!) but still.......think screeching music here....doesn't that creep you out a little just thinking about the music.  Hey, for $10 total, it's still the best deal for date night.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Galley Shelf

The shelf is complete!  The shelf is complete!  The shelf is complete!  And it is nothing short of Fan-Flipping-Tastic!  And yeah....you are going to see a ton of pics because it's that good and it's been in the works for... awhile.  You will just have to suffer through another project blog posting!  I am SO incredibly proud of what Tom has accomplished.  It seriously looks like it has been on the boat from day one - as if it came right out of the Caliber factory this way.
Design stage

Galley pole base that secures it on the underside of the galley counter
Test run of the concept
I say it's been in the works for awhile because basically we have been thinking of adding a galley shelf  since the Caliber 40 LRC floated to the top of our list of sailboats for us.  We had seen this owner modification in a couple of Internet pics and thought it was really smart.  (Thanks Caliber Tim - yes, that is your nickname as we have several Tim's in our life)

Fitting the trim pieces into place
The Caliber 40 galley is a tad on the small side in terms of storage when it comes to sailboat galleys (we think). However we knew that we could make this modification if we bought a Caliber - remember....boat buying is all about compromises.
Sanding the trim to give it a smooth, continuous look and feel
Flash forward to April 2010 when we purchased s/v Honey Ryder...the thinking, plotting, designing phase for this started then. The past two years Tom has been seriously pondering and researching various ways to build it so it would turn out like he was seeing it in mind's eye.  Each time we visited the boat previously as commuters, he would measure and scheme a little more.
Numbering the teak pieces for a perfect match/fit after staining

Once we moved aboard he started putting all that planning into action.  Methodically it has taken shape.
Sanding between coats
The pole in the galley had to come out.  It's anchored at the top and bottom - next to the galley sink....thus the need for access to that area and the new access panel that I previously blogged about here.
Installing teak trim
He finally found the perfect piece of wood and cut out a hole so the shelf would thread through on the pole.
Stainless steel shelf bracket and Tom's pattern
Two pieces are KEY.  One is the stainless steel bracket holding the hull side of the shelf in place.  For this we were able to find a local guy at a propeller shop to make it up using Tom's pattern.  The other key piece is the teak collar holding up the shelf on the pole side.  Tom essentially made a wooden clamp to accomplish what was needed on this side.
Teak support collar Tom designed and made

Teak trim was ordered from Buck Woodcraft.  One corner piece was off upon arrival but they corrected it immediately and send another corner and soon Tom was fitting the pieces in place. 
Final fitting

Final tweaking 

He sanded and painted the shelf a Caliber like color (three coats) to keep the light, airy feel we already have onboard.  The finish looks almost like laminate - amazing.  The teak trim got a couple of coats of Cetol.
Stainless steel bracket in place

Teak collar
There were many steps as you can see and I am making you look at some most of them- I told you I was proud!  And this was his first major wood working project as a liveaboard...ie...limited space and tools.     SO.....






Ta-Da!!!  Thank you babe!!  It's fabulous!  You are the best!!!!
*We still have to figure out how we want to secure the plates and such but that is minor.  The shelf is complete!  Woo Hoo!