Friday, May 17, 2013

First Sail of the Season + an Awesome video!

We're blissfully living the good life at the Wentworth Marina now and loving it. The calmness of the harbor, no boat wakes rocking us awake at 6am, no jack hammers or beeping cranes or f-bomb dropping construction workers building bridges above our heads, no 6 knot currents and constant winds. It's glorious and all the more sweet because we can appreciate it after our winter in the river. 

On Cinco de Mayo we left Kittery, the whole marina gang came out to send us off & bid us farewell (till November). Our friends and boat neighbors from the houseboat "POUR HOUSE" Justin & Kim came aboard for the day, excited to get some time on the water as their sailboat "Lib" is still being commissioned for the spring. Our other boat neighbors Kristin and Bob from "Nautorious" were also moving over to the Wentworth the same time. Since you can only really operate on the river at slack tide we both cast off within 5 minutes of each other. 
S/V Nautorious casting off with the Badgers Island Marina Gang Send Off
As we motored down river Kristin, who is a fantastic photographer (check our her website), slowed their boat down a bit to take photos of special it is to have these INCREDIBLE images of "Zephyr" - thank you Kristin!

Isn't she beautiful?! 

Tim at the helm
View from aboard - passing the New Castle lighthouse, Nautorious off our starboard side 

Rather than go straight over to the Wentworth the weather and winds were perfect for a sail! So we shook out our Genoa (front sail) and our mizzen (back sail), our main sail is still at the sail loft being repaired from our maiden voyage debacle. Zephyr felt GREAT, she's so wonderful under sail, handles so well, even in the 3-4 foot rollers in the Gulf of Maine. 

Kristin snapped this one as they turned to head into the harbor 

We followed along the coast of New Castle, Rye and into North Hampton just enjoying the calmness and serenity only found while under sail. The Gulf of Maine/Atlantic Ocean is still quite cold this time of year, only 48*, so when the winds shifted and started coming onshore it got a bit chilly for us. We tacked around and headed back towards the Wentworth preparing to celebrate Cinco de Mayo cockpit style. 

Probably the best part of the day - our friend Justin created a FANTASTIC video clip of our voyage! We are so happy to have this great memento of our first voyage of our first summer owning Zephyr! 

We came into our new slip at the Wentworth like pros, smooth and steady. We've already had our fair share of visitors - something about the Wentworth, people just LOVE to come visit! This weekend Jill's parents are coming and we're hoping to get out for a sail on Sunday and next weekend our good friend Carrie from Louisiana is coming to stay aboard. 
Mother's Day with Tim's family in the cockpit!

Painkillers - Yum! 

The sunsets are better in New Castle so Sundowners have become almost a daily necessity for us these days - Ah, summer is FINALLY here. We can't wait for many, many more sailing adventures, we've got plans scheming for a trip "Downeast" and to the Cape but for now, we're just soaking up the good life living the dream aboard. Cheers! 
Family Sundowners in the cockpit - nothing better! 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Tight Spaces and Things That Stink

  Can anyone guess what this post is about? A few weeks back, well before our move to the Wentworth Marina, the aft head (toilet) stopped working. This project never made any "to do list" mostly out of denial, I suppose. There was an odor that required the port hole being left open most of the winter and the door to the head remaining shut. I had read about everyone's head being a bit funky and honestly thought this was something to accept...and oh god...this is boat life. This is the part the "smiling ear to ear" cruisers do not tell you.
Note the wall mounted air freshener in an attempt to mitigate the "funk"

We have a Jabsco Electric head on board. Besides its large power consumption (leading to yet another project) it is quite nice. No hand pumping, push a button and waalaaa it is theory. Basically the way it works is sea water comes in and is pumped into the head, you do your business, hit the button, and everything disappears. Yay! Okay well, it leaves via a macerator (large grinder), is pumped again, and then travels through something called a "joker valve" (yup...a joker valve) then through a vented loop and into the holding tank. 
I spent a full weekend in this position and it's still not done
 When I started the project we could flush, but the toilet filled with too much water. A few message boards and boat friends later we deemed the joker valve the culprit. I picked up the Jabsco repair kit for my model from West Marine and replaced all kinds of parts: joker valve, impeller, wearing plates, and gaskets. After pulling the pump out of the bottom of the toilet I quickly realized like everything else these things need maintenance too. It was loaded with "stuff" and clearly was not running well. I got it all back together knowing I nailed this project. AHHHHH! Nope...toilet still fills with water and now it will not flush. 
  It is 4pm...John and Al are coming for boat drinks in 2 hours before Saturday night restaurant week dinner at Mambo! Jill made me some late lunch and with fuel in the tank, I went back to it.
  I rather hastily pulled the thing apart again, rebuilt it and installed it to the same result. At least I knew what I was doing this time around. I saw nothing wrong with what I did and put it back together expecting a different result with a sinking feeling in my stomach. I think "they" call that insanity! 

Oh my god, it's a vented loop!
  Day 2 - After an excellent dinner with friends, renewed energy and a clear head I set out to conquer this thing. After some basic troubleshooting I deemed I must have a clog in the discharge line. I split open the line and sure enough it was completely jammed with calcium deposits all the way through. I didn't waste anytime and began removing all kinds of panels, doors and hatches to gain access to the hoses. I ripped them all out and ran over to Jackson's Hardware (best, friendliest place ever) and picked up some new lengths.
This was the result of over tightening  a
plastic reducer  and home depot run
Sunday leaked (Jackson's was clearly
closed and had exactly the right part I
needed though on Monday)

This one of those pics I take to make sure I can
put it all back together again
After struggling a bit to get them hooked up working under the sink and behind walls, the toilet once again flushed way better than it had, albeit a few leaks...which are now fixed.  And it does not smell at all!!! However it still fills with way too much water...ahhhh. The problem still persists, but I know the fix. I need a loop on the water intake line from the ocean, as the toilet sits below the water line.
I wish it had been done right the first time. 
Sometimes you just have to love an old boat. It is projects like these that make it your own!

It's all worth it!!! First time out this year! Kristin, our neighbor took a few glory shots of us headed out! Check out Kristin's photography here!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Preparing to Move

So one of the best things about life aboard a boat - moving to new 'neighborhoods' now and again. When we're full time cruising in a few years this will be commonplace but until then we're in a seasonal switcheroo process here. This weekend we'll be moving from our winter marina in Kittery, Maine to our summer 'home', the Wentworth Marina in New Castle, New Hampshire. We spent last September and October at the Wentworth and we're REALLY excited to get back there in full season. Not to mention the tennis courts, pool & tiki bar and dockside restaurant - yea, it's high living! Plus, going sailing is a lot easier because we don't have the mighty Piscataqua with it's crazy current and tides to contend with. 
Yes, this is pool at the Wentworth - Hello Summer!
We're going to miss Kittery - the great stores and restaurants and the wonderful community we came to love at the Marina. We are NOT going to miss the constant construction noise from the Memorial Bridge project or the boat wakes knocking our home around. Our boat neighbors who do the switcheroo as well say the Wentworth is like the country and Badgers Island is like the, we're excited to get back to the country! 

Of course in preparation to move there's a lot to be done. Sure, it's not like packing up a whole apartment or anything but it'll be the first time the boat's gone out since we moved her in the beginning of November. Though we don't have to 'recommission' the boat like most New England sailors are doing right now we do have a lot of systems that still need checking and double checking. Plus the ridiculous web of dock lines that have been built through the winter winds and storms will FINALLY be untangled and cast off. 
The ever growing check-list

The Windlass that needs fixing
Newly painted anchor chain
And as with everything so far since we bought this boat in September, we're learning so it's taking twice as long. On Wednesday after work we focused on our anchor. If all else fails (i.e. our engine dies, our sails won't go up) we have to have a functional anchor to toss to keep us from drifting away or ashore. Plus we plan on doing some overnights at anchor in the coming weeks. We hadn't yet pulled out all our anchor chain and rode (rope section) to see what we were working with. And we wanted to mark the anchor rode so that when we pay it out we know how much we're letting out. So armed with a tape measure and yellow paint we laid out the entire 300 feet of chain and rope along the docks and marked every 10 feet with bright yellow paint. As with almost all projects so far, we realize we need to buy new chain and rope - the salt corrodes. And our windlass, the mechanism on deck that winds the anchor chain back aboard, needs service and potentially more parts. B.O.A.T. = Break Out Another Thousand. Ah, boat ownership...

New Outhaul Car for our Main Sail
Looks like we'll need some new chain!
On Saturday we'll rig the boat which we're excited to do and to learn since the last time it was rigged it was done by the previous owner. Then on Sunday with our friends from the marina, at slack tide, we'll set off for a sail and end up back at our new summer home. We're marking the beginning of the season - HOORAY! As we get into this, our first season on the boat, we're expecting to learn A LOT more and inevitably have to fix/replace more things -- this will be our 'shakedown season'. The time to figure out what's working, what's needing fixing and what we'd like to upgrade. We'll get to really learn our boat and we couldn't be more excited! 

The Captain/Plumber/Electrician/Woodworker
Though we are spending some (read: a lot) money and lots of manpower hours on fixing, tweeking or replacing things we both LOVE it - it's our boat, our investment, our home. Things that are being replaced are now things we know are new and when it breaks, we know how to fix or replace it. There's not a better feeling than having a problem, assessing the problem and then fixing the problem. Tim is masterful at this - he truly is a man of many, many talents. His ability to take something apart, learn how it works and fix it is remarkable. This dream of living aboard and cruising could never be reality without Tim's skills. Tim's patience while I VERY slowly learn things should also be commended. Unlike Tim, I'm a lot less practical in my skill set so it takes me a lot longer to understand the workings of something -- but my bartending and cooking skills are pretty key at the end of a long day working on the boat!