Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Back to Work

Over the weekend I flew a 4-day trip with layovers in Raleigh-Durham, Richmond VA, and Orange County, CA. Meanwhile Dawn drove her Jetta all the way to North Dakota, where she gave it to her brother, and then stayed at a friend's place in Minneapolis for a couple nights. And Piper stayed at a DogVacay in Charleston, and seemed to have lots of fun going on walks and playing with resident dog "Duke." I got back here late on Sunday night and drove to the boatyard to spend the night on Windbird. It was pretty cold and rainy out, and I arrived to find that the boatyard had been quite busy on Windbird on Thursday and Friday - it was a mess on board! For starters, the cabinets behind the settees had been disassembled and the chainplates removed. The aft cabin berth was torn apart so technicians could repack the rudder stock bearing, and the mattress was piled in the salon. I cleared off one settee and tried to sleep, and was soon shivering. I went and dug a few more blankets out of the piles of boxes in the aft head, and set up a ceramic heater on the salon table, and was able to get a few hours of sleep. Can't wait until this boat is back together and everything can be put in its place. New chainplates are being made at a local machine shop right now, so it won't be long.

I picked Dawn up at CHS just after noon and we went out to eat, spent a little time piddling around on the boat, and then it was time to pick up Piper from DogVacay and check into our apartment for the next nine days. It's in the same complex as earlier this month, but the 1BR apartment we rented before wasn't available so the landlord rented us a slightly larger 2BR for the same price. We really like the location on Isle of Palms, and Piper loves his nightly runs on the beach even more than we do. When Windbird is back in the water we plan to move her to Charleston Harbor Marina until we're ready to head south after the New Year; that's in Mount Pleasant, not too far away from here and nice & close to West Marine, Ace Hardware, and Lowe's.

Last night we went out to eat with Mark and Judy's New Hampshire friends Alan and Helaine, who are visiting Charleston this week, and their RVing friends temporarily based here, Jim and Marilyn. Alan and Helaine are longtime sailors and racers who own a J40 that they've cruised in Maine, the Caribbean, and all points in between. Judy has mentioned them many times in her blog and it was nice to put a face with the name; we had a good time talking with them. It's funny how Windbird seems to have come with a built-in fan club and network of supporters!

We had a good morning of boatwork today, getting items steadily checked off our daily list, but a few of these led to a bit of a wild goose chase this afternoon. One was lubing the prop shaft pillow block bearing under the engine. The zerk fitting to attach a grease gun is on top of it, only a few inches below the engine oil pan, and is terribly uncomfortable to access...I basically had to slide toward the bilge head-first, squeezing my torso into the narrow slot behind the engine and ahead of the fuel hoses, aux pump, engine battery, etc. And then I had to reach under the engine with one hand grasping the grease coupling and trying to slide it over the zerk fitting. There just wasn't enough room below the drain pan, even with a flexible hose mounted on my grease gun. Dawn had to basically drag me back up to the land of the living. This afternoon we checked a hardware store, Walmart, Autozone, Lowe's, and finally another Ace Hardware store for a lower-profile coupling before the hardware store attendant had the bright idea of attaching a 1/8" NPT 90-degree brass elbow between the flex hose and the grease coupling. Duh, why didn't I think of that? Boat ownership has given me a brand new appreciation for hardware stores and the practical-minded folks who work at them.

The other goose-chase involved finding replacement LEDs for our incandescent cabin lighting. I've had it in the back of my mind to switch everything over to LED for a while now; there's a lot of power savings to be had, which means the solar and windgen can do a bigger percentage of our power generation. The masthead tricolor and anchor light were already LED and we switched the mast steaming light last week - I still need to check the deck-level nav lights. Today I took a good look at our two Alpenglow lights in the salon; they're both the older CFL style but still relatively efficient at 9 watts per light. Alpenglow will actually convert them to their modern LED style for $93 each but this only saves 3 watts in high mode. We still may do it because it also gives you a more efficient low setting as well as ultra-efficient red night lighting. I love having red lighting at night for while on passage. We have two dome lights in the galley and one over the nav station, all with two incandescent G4 bulbs; the nav station light and one galley light each have red cellophane over one of their bulbs, giving a night mode. And then in the aft cabin we have one light with two G4s and one light with a single GE 1004 bayonet-style bulb. So part of our afternoon was spent finding suitable LED replacements for all these. We found good warm white G4s, of which we needed six, but they won't fit under the cellophane for the two night lights; it makes sense to just get red LEDs for those. I hunted those down online along with a GE 1004 replacement once we got home.

We got some good news today. Work was supposed to begin on the skeg but the technician and then the boatyard manager went over it with a phenolic hammer and couldn't find any evidence whatsoever of delamination or water intrusion. He thinks that the surveyor that did the bottom survey (which was done separately from the main survey we attended) was unfamiliar with the skeg's construction and mistook the areas that have framework underneath for dead spots. He was a powerboat guy, so it's possible. Anyways they suggested we leave it alone and look for dead spots or blistering next time we haul, and we agreed. So that'll save us a bit of money, which certainly goes against the overall trend of this refit.

Have another good full worklist for tomorrow; off to bed with me. My next "break" to go make some money in the cloud mines is Nov 22-25, when I have a 48-hour London layover that includes Thanksgiving. Dawn will be coming with on that one, so we're trying to finish up our project list by this weekend. I suspect Windbird will be back together and ready to splash the week after Thanksgiving.

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