Rambling 2017 update

Two three ENTIRE sailing seasons have passed since I last made an entry. That is not good blogging. And most of those memories are probably lost forever, sadly. But I will try and recap a little.

The fuel tank project was completed. I had a couple inches lopped off the bottom and it was re-welded. The boat smells much sweeter now.

The cabin table was removed. There was no easy way to cleanly remove it without pulling the mast, so I just took a multi-tool and cut it out. The interior feels much more spacious. I occasionally miss the utility of having the table; but mostly I am happy with how much easier it is to move around below. I think I may eventually add a Lugun Table or something similar.

Madre sewing up the new cushion covers

Madre sewing up the new cushion covers

New Starboard double cushion

New Starboard double cushion

I made the Starboard settee into a permanent double berth. Once I permanently screwed down the new extension (somewhat larger than than the pull out extension that came with the boat), I was able to add a couple drawers under it. Extra stowage is always desirable. The new bunk also got brand new five inch foam and upholstery (all cut and stitched at home) which is wonderfully comfortable to sleep on. Since it is permanently a bunk, now, I removed the folding seat back and trimmed the little ledge flush with the cabinet in order to make sleep against the hull a little less claustrophobic.

This is the forward locker area. You can see the chain up forward of the temporary plywood wall, and you can see the trial fit of the new floor. This will make the locker much larger, although the sloping hull sides will need some thought as to the best way to handle the space. The hose on the right is the vent from the air head going up to the deck anchor locker.

I am slowly putting together the pieces to make the forward locker (head) quite a bit larger. Since I went composting there is no longer a holding tank up forward, and I see little reason I can’t push the little removable wall forward closer to the anchor locker. This should be a great upgrade when I eventually get it done.

I installed a television. Yeah, I know. But I spend a fair amount of time just lounging aboard at dock at all times of the year. Sometimes it is just nice to sit back and watch a movie. And, frankly, small LCD TVs are so cheap now-a-days, that it really didn’t cost that much. Although I did install a new AC outlet for neatness sake.

Mama duck sitting on her eggs

Mama duck sitting on her eggs. For pretty much the entire summer.

I lost almost an entire sailing season (2016) to a duck who had moved aboard to raise little ducklings. Mama duck laid her eggs under the dodger and just sat on them. For months. One day one little chick hatched. No idea what happened to it as mama kept sitting on the rest of the eggs. Eventually, after waiting more than twice as long as the typical month or so for eggs to hatch, I had to evict her. Actually, I think she sat on those eggs for about three months. She was quite insistent and I didn’t want to bother her, hoping that she’d give up on her own. She didn’t.

Getting ready to take off on a weekend sail this past season, we had cast off the lines, and I pushed the throttle forward to be horribly surprised when the boat surged backwards into the dock. The engine control had pretty much given up the ghost. I ordered a new one, plus two new control cables (throttle and shifter) as I figured they were getting long in the tooth as well and got it installed. It works great; but the throttle control just doesn’t feel as sturdy. I’m not sure if I will get the same thirty five years out of the new one that I got out of the old. Ah, well. Progress.

I think I finally figured how to quickly and cleanly assemble and launch the Porta-bote. The key is to use a halyard to raise the bow of the Porta-bote while assembling in order to not have pressure on the bottom. It works much better. Also, once the middle seat is in, that same halyard can be tied around that seat and used to lift the boat. Then pushing it over the side is not a problem. Once the Porta-bote is in the water, climb in and install the bow and stern seats.

This year I sailed a bunch. I started in April, and had my last sail I think December 2nd or 3rd. I just finally winterized the motor yesterday while the snow was coming down.

This winter I hope to get some work done on the Port settee. I would like to extend it by a little, and install new foam cushions. I hope to also keep working on the forward locker. And if I’m really productive, I have some thoughts regarding rebuilding the galley and extending the port quarter berth aft a bit.

Whew…OK that was a bunch of stuff. And it is really only what came to mind as I was furiously typing at my dining room table. I’m certain there is much, much more that I missed. I am going to try to get some photos here and there to try to colorize this madness of a post, and I’m going to try hard to get back into blogging. I’ve been feeling the need to write, of late, so perhaps I can get myself back into the habit.


Oh, while it is not directly related to the boat, I can’t believe I almost forgot to report the biggest personal news story of the past three years…We got married! Last July. I never thought I’d make that step again; but sometimes things just seem to come together.

Removing Seeker’s Diesel Tank

The aluminum tank, which sits happily deep in the bilge with all the sloshing bilge water, is a common problem on Bayfields. Pinhole leaks eventually appear allowing seepage of fuel into the bilge. It’s probably more of a problem with salt water boats; but after better than three decades, I guess it is fair that even fresh-ish water boats (the Upper Chesapeake) will start to have trouble. Seeker is not immune, and since I’ve owned her there has been an ever so slight amount of diesel making its’ way out of the tank. I’ve been diligent about sopping it up out of the bilge water with oil absorbing pads; but the smell permeates everything. It’s time to get the tank fixed.


The fuel tank in the bilge. At this point I’ve removed the hoses from the tank and cut off the forward retaining piece of fiberglass.

I used my little Black and Decker oscillating Multi-Tool to cut the retaining piece of fiberglass off the front of the tank. It was the easiest part to cut so was where I started. In retrospect I suspect I may have been able to leave that installed and just cut off the fiberglass “wings” on the side of the tank.

There was fiberglass over the top of the tank as well which was easily removed but seemed to do little to free the tank. I cut off the side pieces with a reciprocating saw. I cut very carefully as I was more than a little nervous that I’d cut into the keel, or perhaps the tank itself. It turns out there was plenty of room next to the tank, though, and this job went quickly. It didn’t take much coaxing to get the tank out at this point.

DieselTankRemoval3The tank looks OK; but I wasn’t expecting a huge gash. I will have it pressure tested and repaired this winter.

While I’m at it I will probably also have a fuel sender installed. I’m not a fan of opening up the bilge so that I can drop a dip stick in to check the level. It’s not that it is a terribly complicated process. It is just that I really don’t like to introduce a diesel saturated wooden dowel and a wipe down rag into the cabin. I really, really don’t like the smell of diesel fuel. Not to mention that the fumes give me a headache.

The dirty bilge before I set to work with some magic orange cleaner and a toilet bowl brush to clean it up. I've also removed all the lines (fill, feed, and return...the vent is going to be tougher). They will be replaced with brand new lines when I get the tank reinstalled.

The dirty bilge before I set to work with some magic orange cleaner and a toilet bowl brush to clean it up. I’ve also removed all the lines (fill, feed, and return and vent). They will be replaced with brand new lines when I get the tank reinstalled.

For the first time in decades the bilge is fully accessible. After several scrubbings it is now as clean as it has probably ever been. It still smells a little foul; but I’m hoping that airing it out will eventually correct this. I’ll probably still end up scrubbing it out a few more times. I will have a sweet smelling boat.

Now, all I have to do is find someone who can fix the tank.

Summer 2014 Under Sail: Seeking New England

It’s been a few years coming. A few years ago I attempted to sail Godot, my old Seafarer 24 to Martha’s Vineyard, and got turned back by weather. Last year, with my new boat Seeker, I had planned on doing it again; but it took much too long to finish the electrical work, among other things, that I was working on. This year, finally, SUCCESS! One month, 715 nautical miles, and tons of adventure later, with my gal Lauren at my side, the trip I’ve been looking forward to for years has come to a close.

I’m ready to go again.

Here’s the trip log:

Day 0 (July 17, 2014): Delayed

Engine trouble. Not getting out of here today. Tomorrow, hopefully (if the part I ordered is the only thing wrong).

I changed the oil and replaced the fuel filters. When bleeding the fuel system I busted the bleed screw on the secondary filter.

Ugh. I need a beer.

Day 1 (July 18, 2014): Underway!

Adam's Spot 
 GPS location Date/Time:07/18/2014 10:29:07 EDT 

 Message:Seeker has left the dock. We are on our way!
Adam's Spot 
 GPS location Date/Time:07/18/2014 18:21:21 EDT 

 Message:anchored in Veazy cove. C&D canal tomorrow.

 Click the link below to see where I am located. 

Day one on our trip north, after a one day late start…

This morning I awoke at 6:30, jumped in the car, and got to the Yanmar dealer in Annapolis just when they opened up. I got the stupid bleed screw back to the boat, a quick engine repair, water tank fill, and ice replenishment later, we left the dock right around 10:30 AM.

Around 10:50 the engine died.

Tightened things, re-bled the system, and we were underway before long.

Not far from Pooles Island, the engine died again.

LaurenFrustrating, to be sure. So, we check the fuel system front to back and notice a lot of gunk in the Racor pre-filter’s water separator. Oddly, when I was doing engine maintenance in prep for this trip I didn’t change this filter out (I’m not sure what I was thinking), so a quarter mile from Pooles Island it got done. And the engine worked!

Mostly anyhow. Periodically during the day the engine would lose RPMs, and after a few minutes would start running OK. Not too far from our anchorage for the evening the motor did slow enough to stall out. I bled the system (I’m getting really good at it…it took less than three minutes and I’m sure I can cut that in half), and the engine worked perfectly for the rest of the day.

We are now happily anchored in a little cove called Veazey off of the mouth of the Bohemia River, a short trip to the C&D canal. Lauren is making dinner as I type. I’m thinking a little swim might be in order later.

But what about tomorrow? We must transit the C&D under power.

I think we are going to go for it. What ever the problem is, bleeding the system seems to make the engine run fine. At least for awhile. Air is getting in somewhere (I suspect through the fuel filter…perhaps it needs a new O-ring), and I swear I’ll find the culprit eventually. In the meantime, if we need to do a fire drill every few hours I think we’ll be fine. Honestly, at this point I think we can bleed the fuel system before we lose steerage.

Not ideal, maybe; but that is what adventure is all about. Over coming obstacles.

Day 2 (July 19, 2014): C&D Canal

Adam's Spot 
 GPS location Date/Time:07/19/2014 21:41:32 EDT 

 Message:anchored after eventful day. cape may tomrw

 Click the link below to see where I am located. 

I’m tired. I’ll write this quickly while everything is fresh in my head; but coherence may suffer tonight…

For those boaters with reliable engines, I have three words for you…

I. Hate. You.


No, not really. I am however a little envious.

Transiting the C&D Canal

Transiting the C&D Canal

Today we made it through the C&D canal. The engine only failed twice, or maybe three times, going through the canal. At one point we were about to go under a bridge, which was a little dicey. But I am getting really good at bleeding the engine and can usually get it running within a couple of minutes.

On the way into the canal we were beset by forty or more high performance boats zipping out on a poker run, with spotter helicopters chasing from probably thirty feet off the deck. Woke us up for certain.

We did get waked pretty bad by an inconsiderate family in an overpowered cruising boat. We probably rolled thirty degrees port to thirty degrees starboard a dozen times. Anything not strapped down (and a lot wasn’t…we were in the canal, not open water after all) was thrown across the cabin. A bottle of blueberry juice was amongst the litter. The juice sprayed across the entire cabin, including the ceiling. We were annoyed.

Happily, the rest of the canal was a pleasant experience. Unhappily, it is really hard to talk about things that are boringly pleasant. Clearly, bad news is more interesting.

Our intent today was to stop behind Reedy Island (on the Delaware River) for the night. We got there so early, though, that stopping just seemed silly, so we decided to keep on going to shorten what would otherwise be a very long leg to Cape May.

I’ve been spoiled sailing the Chesapeake. I forgot about currents. The Delaware River was at times running north of two knots against us. It didn’t turn to our favor until late in the day. This made progress slow. With light winds, and a fluky engine, progress was really really slow. By 18:00, the wind had filled in a bit, and the tide had turned so when the engine next failed we just decided to leave it off and deal with it in the morning. Around 20:30 we made it to our home for the night, the rather exposed, but adequate Cohansey Cove. We anchored (under sail) on the eastern side to protect ourselves from the expected NE winds. So far it seems fine. I let out lots of scope on the anchor, just in case.

Tomorrow morning I’m going to make another attempt at figuring out what is going on with the engine, and then we are off to Cape May.

Day 3 (July 20, 2014): Cape May, NJ

 Adam's Spot 
 GPS location Date/Time:07/20/2014 17:16:53 EDT 

 Message:cape may safe and sound. 

 Click the link below to see where I am located. 

We made it to Cape May. We dealt with the engine problem by just not using it (until the Cape May canal, of course, when it failed once…it was quick to restart).

This nuclear power plant taunted us for hours as we slowly made it down the Delaware River against the current.

This nuclear power plant taunted us for hours as we slowly made it down the Delaware River against the current.

I once heard it said that the Delaware Bay is not cruised, but endured. Truth. The sailing was spirited. The mal de mer unwelcome. The weather forecast was East winds 5 to 10 knots. My anemometer is not working; but the good folks at Utsch’s Marina (our home for tonight) told us that the wind was around 30 knots and everyone was getting beat up. I suppose we feel better knowing that we weren’t alone.

Still, we sailed fast. We remained safe. And we are going to sleep real well tonight.

Tomorrow I’m going to try and get a diesel mechanic to help me locate the problem with the engine. Air is getting in somewhere. I’m sure, given time, I could find the culprit. But it is time to stop mucking with the beast and for us to get on with the trip. So far it’s been too much worry and work. Hopefully, sometime tomorrow we will depart for Martha’s Vineyard. It’s time to start enjoying the cruise.

Day 4 (July 21, 2014): Departing Cape May for Martha’s Vineyard

Adam's Spot 
 GPS location Date/Time:07/21/2014 13:42:43 EDT 

 Message:departing for Martha's vineyard

 Click the link below to see where I am located. 
Departing Cape May, destination: Martha's Vineyard (21 July 2014)

Departing Cape May, destination: Martha’s Vineyard (21 July 2014)

It was a pleasant, if short, visit at Utsch’s Marina in Cape May. I arranged a diesel mechanic for first thing in the morning to look at the engine. He went over the fuel system, tightened a few things a bit tighter than I had (after breaking a bleed screw I am somewhat paranoid about over tightening things), bled the system a few times, suggested I replace some old fuel lines, and gave the engine a clean bill of health.

I ran the engine for an hour after he left and it failed, right on schedule.

No matter. He was doing the same things I was, so I now feel a bit more confident in my diesel skills. I’ll keep working on it until I figure it out. But later. Today we leave for Martha’s Vineyard.

Our first day out we saw some dolphins! Sadly they didn't want to stay around and play.

Our first day out we saw some dolphins! Sadly they didn’t want to stay around and play.

I think we entered the Atlantic right around 1430, and slowly started sailing in the light breeze. Early on we saw our first dolphin. Later on the wind got too light and the stupid, stinking, unreliable steel beast had to come back on. Conditions were comfortable, though. We saw more dolphins and had a lovely dinner. Lauren got her first experience as watch keeper. All in all, not a bad day in the open ocean. Certainly far more pleasant than Delaware Bay.

The overnight conditions continued to be calm, so we motored most of the night with the bright lights of Atlantic City in our lee. The good news is we can easily stay right on our rhumb line. The bad news is that we can’t motor all the way as we only have enough fuel to run the engine for 40 hours or so. Not that we’d want to. Day five promises some increasing wind later in the day.

Day 5 (July 22, 2014): Atlantic Ocean

Adam's Spot 
 GPS location Date/Time:07/22/2014 14:14:59 EDT 

 Message:sailng w/spin. gd crs & spd. saw dlphn&whale.

 Click the link below to see where I am located. 

07:45 – I think we’ve crossed the worst of the shipping lanes. It’s getting quiet out here. We are outside of the site of land maybe 20 miles East of Little Egg Inlet. A little wind came in and we sailed for a couple hours. It didn’t last, though, and we are back to being a motor boat.
10:15 – Got some wind. Not a lot; but some. Raised the asymmetrical spinnaker (or genneker, or drifter…it’s a light air nylon sail). Gently sailing NE at a little north of 2 knots or so. The silence is welcome.

11:20, Heard a “whoosh” and saw a whale surface about thirty yards behind the boat. Whale surfaced three or four more times. Cool. I’m not sure (we only got to see him for a few seconds, and only the back); but I think it might have been an Orca (Killer Whale). He was probably around 20 feet long, as near as I can tell. Sadly, no photo.

14:00, Lunch of canned smoked ham, munster cheese and triskets. Still under asym making fourish knots. Sunny and comfortable with light seas and wind. 30 miles east of Barnegat Inlet.

Sunrise, (22 July 2014)

Sunrise, (22 July 2014)

18:00, Occasionally making seven knots under spinnaker. Too fast (above theoretical hull speed), and too hard to control, so we dropped it. Boat became more sedate. Dinner of Chicken a la king (from a can) and Chicken fried rice (Knorr Asian Side). We’re not generally into the processed food thing; but this hit the spot.

19:17. What a glorious day of sailing! The boat is rigged for the evening, with no headsails and a full main going nearly directly downwind and darn close to our rhumb line. If the forecast holds we should be able to sail all night, leaving the noise of motoring to another day. We are, so far, making better time than I estimated. If the forecast holds we can expect more of the same. Lauren is taking a pre-watch nap. Last night worked out to five hour watches. Long for some. For us it worked. At least once.

20:00, We are about 47 miles from the nearest land. This is as far as we are likely to be offshore, and will rapidly start closing the distance over the next day. So far the offshore portion of this trip has been a (rolly) dream of great weather.

Day 6 (July 23, 2014): Atlantic Ocean, 30 miles off of Long Island

Adam's Spot 
 GPS location Date/Time:07/23/2014 11:59:40 EDT 

 Message:shld mk mv tmrw. prob tashmoo or VnHvn.

 Click the link below to see where I am located. 
Adam's Spot 
 GPS location Date/Time:07/23/2014 22:08:08 EDT 

 Message:last nt@sea. prob arrive edgartown afternoon.

 Click the link below to see where I am located. 

08:45 – Still sailing along under main alone above four knots making straight down the rhumb line. Lauren still sleeps from her night watch. I’m drinking cold coffee. Currently we are about to cross the outbound traffic lane from New York. Happily, there currently isn’t much traffic.

Last night was different, though, as we ended up playing cat and mouse with a fishing boat. The AIS suggested we were on a collision course so we adjusted course as we could (I didn’t want to jibe as a preventer was rigged…given the dark and bumpy night I didn’t want to unrig and rerig on the other side in the pitch black if avoidable). The fishing boat, however, was driving some sort of miles wide race course track, and no matter what we did it seemed that we would always be in contention for the same bit of ocean. The fishing boat also just would not answer the VHF, even when using the DSC “call” feature. I’m pretty sure they were aware of us, though, as they neatly circled us as we passed. Had a little less fun with another fishing boat and a freighter. Neither of them would talk on the VHF either. The freighter did light up all his deck lights as we got close, though. I’m guessing that that was his way of saying “here we are!” and the other fishing boat moved out of our path. Comforting to see they were aware. Less comforting that they refused to talk.

Adam Sleeping in Cockpit offshore

Adam sleeping in the cockpit while Lauren had the watch

I believe we will be at anchor around lunch tomorrow. The anchorage is uncertain at this point; but I’m guessing either Vinyard Haven or Lake Tashmoo. We’ll see what tide and mood does for us.

14:30 – Shark sighting by Lauren. Adam was napping.

18:00 – NOAA weather suggests there might be t-storms tonight. Hope not.

19:47 – I think we are probably going to head to Edgartown instead of one of the Vineyard Haven ports.

Day 7 (July 24, 2014): Edgartown & Lake Tashmoo

It was a long night. With the thunderstorms being predicted we rigged the boat for rough weather. Happily nothing came of it. I did end up staying up pretty much the whole night, though, as we worked our way in to Martha’s Vineyard.

With all the engine problems we've been having, Lauren decided to read up a bit...

With all the engine problems we’ve been having, Lauren decided to read up a bit…

We came into Edgartown. With the wind the outer harbor didn’t look inviting, so we poked inside for a tour. Mooring balls were expensive, and it was unclear if the anchorage (deep inside the harbor) was even open, so we returned to the outer harbor and anchored. It sucked. Strong winds and significant waves made it very uncomfortable. After some discussion we raised anchor bound for Lake Tashmoo. The engine was temperamental, as always; but there was a lot of wind so we sailed. It would have been fun sailing if I wasn’t so damned tired. We made it into quiet Lake Tashmoo and slept for better than 12 hours.

Day 8 (July 25, 2014): Oak Bluffs

Adam's Spot 
 GPS location Date/Time:07/25/2014 10:38:57 EDT 

 Message:oak bluffs...

 Click the link below to see where I am located. 
Entering Oak Bluffs Harbor, Martha's Vineyard

Entering Oak Bluffs Harbor, Martha’s Vineyard

We left Lake Tashmoo, under power (sigh), and made our way towards Oak Bluffs Harbor to meet up with good friends Brian and Lisa. We got a somewhat late start and managed to arrive at the exact same time as the fast ferry holding Brian and Lisa, allowing a nice photo in the entrance. Too bad the sails were down.

Adam, Lauren, Brian and Lisa at Menemsha on Martha's Vineyard

Adam, Lauren, Brian and Lisa at Menemsha on Martha’s Vineyard

We grabbed showers and rented a jeep and the four of us toured the island. We went to Aquinnah, Mytoi Japanese Gardens, and the fishing village Menemsha with great clam chowder. The day was too short and we sadly had to watch Brian and Lisa depart on the last ferry.

Lauren and I grabbed dinner at Sharky’s, walked around the Ginger Bread Houses, and returned to the boat and crashed.

Gay Head Cliffs Gay Head Mytoi Gardens Adam and Lauren at Menemsha

Day 9 (July 26, 2014): Vineyard Haven

Adam's Spot 
 GPS location Date/Time:07/26/2014 11:18:03 EDT 

 Message:vineyard haven for motor repair and rest.

 Click the link below to see where I am located. 

Sailed from Oak Bluffs to Vineyard Haven, where there is a West Marine and a Yanmar Dealer.

Black Dog tallship Shenandoah

Black Dog tallship Shenandoah

We arrived in the harbor and went under the draw bridge into the lagoon pond. This was a mistake with the strong southerlies, and it was uncomfortable. The bridge was going to be closed for several hours, so I went for a swim and we assembled and launched the dinghy. This was much more difficult with the very gusty wind and it took us quite awhile. When the bridge next had an opening at 1530 we took off back into Vineyard Haven Harbor and dropped anchor which was much more comfortable with more interesting boats to look at.

I dinghied into town and found the West Marine was just a little “Express” store with little in the way of engine parts. The Yanmar dealer (Martha’s Vineyard Shipyard) closed at noon, and wouldn’t open again until Monday. I guess we are staying for a bit.

Day 10 (July 27, 2014): Vineyard Haven

Taking a quiet day. Some swimming and reading. Yanmar dealer opens tomorrow.

Day 11 (July 28, 2014): Vineyard Haven

The Yanmar dealer is open! Lauren and I packed up shower bags, and took a long row to the Harbor Master’s dock. It was an on and off rainy day; and wouldn’t you know it the skies opened up when we were halfway across the harbor.

We showered (free showers!), and I walked to the Yanmar dealer for the parts I needed. We then spent a few hours walking about, grabbing food, and doing the tourist thing. We really wanted a beer; but it is a dry town. Darn.

After getting back to the boat I replaced the suspect parts (crush washers and gaskets). I ran the engine, and an hour later it stopped.

We are planning on Cuttyhunk tomorrow. I think.

Day 12 (July 29, 2014): Cuttyhunk

Adam's Spot 
 GPS location Date/Time:07/29/2014 11:14:48 EDT 

 Message:leaving Martha's vineyard to Cuttyhunk.

 Click the link below to see where I am located. 
Adam's Spot 
 GPS location Date/Time:07/29/2014 16:26:03 EDT 

 Message:engine prob fixed! arrived cuttyhunk.

 Click the link below to see where I am located. 

After yesterday’s failed adventure with the engine, I got drunk. It seemed like the thing to do. This morning I looked at the problem with fresh eyes. The fuel line coming from the Racor to the Fuel Lift Pump (through a priming bulb) looked fine. But there was this funny little device strapped to it called a Fuelmaster. I pulled that off and the fuel line below it was all cracked and unhappy looking. Ah, ha! Replaced the fuel line, and squeezed the primer bulb which is now much firmer than it was. I think this might be it!


Cuttyhunk (29 July 2014)

Left Vineyard Haven for Cuttyhunk. Motored the whole way in light winds against a heavy current in Vineyard Sound. The engine work perfectly for the entire trip…

…until we tried to enter the Cuttyhunk canal. We had slowed way down as there were a bunch of kids in Optimist Dinghies making their way back into the pond. For some reason the engine died. We got it started up fairly quickly, but then it died again and we washed ashore on a falling tide. Happily some good Samaritans helped tow us into the Pond and got us safely tied up. It took a very few minutes to get the motor running. I noticed that the engine cut off wasn’t fully released and assume this was the problem. Once the engine was running we moved into an area behind the mooring field where we could drop anchor and rowed into town.

Cuttyhunk Sunset

Cuttyhunk Sunset (29 July 2014)

Cute town. We ate dinner at a little shack on the dock run by a charter fisherman (I think) when he wasn’t out fishing. Good Chowder, stuffed scallops and Tuna sandwich. Good food in general. Interesting and quirky locals. We then hiked to a lookout point on top of an old WWII spotting bunker for a great view. Some further exploration found several other abandoned bunkers in the area. It’s a small place and it didn’t take long to look around. Next time I hope to spend several days here. NOTE: Ice is expensive and beer is unavailable. Plan accordingly!

Long walled roadCuttyhunk01 Cuttyhunk02Cuttyhunk BunkerCuttyhunkSunset

Day 13 (July 30, 2014): Appanoag Harbor, Warwick, RI (Brian’s Marina)

We left Cuttyhunk for a long motor to my friend Brian’s marina. He was going to help us with new batteries before I discovered a bolt holding the battery cable to the terminal was loose. We still wanted to visit (we hadn’t gotten enough of good friends), so set out under power in very light winds.

Eventually the wind built up and we were able to sail up Narragansett Bay to Appanoag Harbor. Life really is much better under sail. We saw Brian on his boat Bella Lisa just outside of Greenwich Cove, and followed him in.

Dinner with Brian, Lisa and Ern at an excellent Mexican Restaurant, and cigars with the boys before heading to bed.

Day 14 (July 31, 2014): Bristol, RI & Potter’s Cove

Adam's Spot 
 GPS location Date/Time:07/31/2014 21:16:51 EDT 

 Message:1st Bristol, now potter's cove. windy day.

 Click the link below to see where I am located. 

Departed Brian’s marina enroute to Bristol Harbor to meet Mom. The weather forecast 5 knot southerlies. Reality was probably closer to 25 knots. It was good, exciting sailing. Started the motor when in the area of the anchorage; but with the wind it was too far to row to a dinghy dock (seriously considering getting an outboard!), so continued into the mooring field when the engine died (ugh!) leading to all sorts of drama as we tried to avoid other boats and pick up a mooring after re-raising sail in two to three foot seas and very breezy conditions. It was ugly and difficult. Eventually we just dropped an anchor right in the middle of the field and affected engine repairs. Even after the engine was running, picking up a mooring proved very difficult and took many tries. I felt bad for Mom who spent hours waiting for us; but we rested and dealt with anxiety for awhile before attempting to go ashore.

Lauren needed a break, so I rowed ashore solo. With the wind and waves it was a workout; but I made it safely and met Mom for a bite of lunch, some shopping and ice cream. The row back to Seeker was almost as bad; but at least the wind was at my back.

The anchorage was just not comfortable, so we dropped the mooring and had a beautiful sail to a well protected Potter’s Cove. We dropped anchor a half hour after sunset and had a peaceful night.

Day 15 (August 1, 2014): Newport, RI

Adam's Spot 
 GPS location Date/Time:08/01/2014 13:47:48 EDT 

 Message:Newport, RI. wx may keep us here a cpl days.

 Click the link below to see where I am located. 

Still trying to find why the engine stalls. Sometimes the fuel filter bowl fills with air suggesting another leak (although things are much better than they were, and the engine appears to work fine at high RPMs). I tightened the drain plug on the Racor primary filter water separator bowl after Lauren saw a bubble of air in the area, and broke the housing. We affected emergency repairs using Superglue. It appears to be working.

We sailed from Potter’s Cove to Newport and picked up city mooring #11 right next to Goat Island. The fuel filter repair held perfectly. This is the best the motor has run all trip. We attempted to get a replacement housing but could not source one locally. We are hoping it holds. If not we purchased the fitting necessary to bypass the primary filter. Not ideal; but it is better to keep the motor running.

We went ashore via water taxi for several hours, eating at Red Parrot, coffee at some little shop on Thames with a bank vault door inside, and drinks at Buskers. We went looking for a stop and shop but Google Maps failed us.

Day 16 (August 2, 2014): Newport, RI

It was a rainy day in Newport. We put up the cockpit enclosure, and just hunkered down and rested.

It was a rainy day in Newport. We put up the cockpit enclosure, and just hunkered down and rested.

Rainy day chilling on the boat on the mooring. Happy to break into the Growler of beer that Brian left us.

Day 17 (August 3, 2014): Block Island, RI

Adam's Spot 
 GPS location Date/Time:08/03/2014 16:04:16 EDT 

 Message:drama=stories. Seeker=drama. Block Island.

 Click the link below to see where I am located. 

Departed Newport around 0900, I guess. There was a huge parade of boats circling the harbor before heading off to points unknown. We waited for them to pass. And waited. And waited. And finally could wait no longer so snuck out beside them.

swamped porta-bote

Swamped Porta-Bote

The Atlantic had an uncomfortable roll to it. Not too bad when the wind blew enough for us to sail. When still, it was truly unpleasant and made both of us a little ill.

Just about as far from land as we were going to be this trip, Lauren looked back and remarked that our dinghy (Porta-bote) that we are currently towing had water periodically entering it from wave action and it was getting very low in the water. We hove to, pulled it to Seeker, and bailed as best we could given the conditions. A close pass by the Block Island Fast Ferry nearly swamped it again. We suspect the problem may have originated as a result of not bailing out the Newport rain water.

Tieing main halyard to painter on swamped Porta-Bote

I tied the main halyard on to the Porta-Bote’s painter and hoisted the boat vertically into the air. This managed to get most of the water out and let us continue our trip.

A half hour or so after resuming our trip to Block Island, another wave swamped the dinghy and seconds later it went down. There is positive floatation in the dinghy, so it sort of floated just barely at the surface of the water. This clearly is a problem. We took the main halyard and tied it to the painter and hoisted the bow of the dinghy way up in the air, emptying most of the water and allowing the boat to float properly again. For most of the rest of the trip I kept the dinghy tied to the halyard, bow high. We had no further trouble. When the seas settled a bit very close to Block Island I lowered it back down, and let it tow properly on the painter a boat length or so back.

We found a nice spot to anchor near Breezy Point in the Great Salt Pond. I climbed in the dinghy to finish the bailing and found it quite unstable. I’m mostly sure this is a major contributing cause to our trouble. A lesson learned. Losses include a PFD and a bailing bucket.

I was surprisingly tired after the ordeal, and was probable asleep by 18:30. I got a long sleep.

Day 18 (August 4, 2014): Block Island, RI

Rowed to Mosquito Beach, and walked the short distance to the very crowded beach on the ocean side. Swam a bit. The wind picked up so we laboriously rowed back to the boat. 2/3 of the way a good Samaritan took pity and towed us the remaining distance. I think I’m going to have to get an outboard, or resolve myself to being stuck when the wind unexpectedly picks up.

We took the Old Harbor Launch in the evening to get dinner at The Oar. Surprisingly reasonable prices, and decent food and beer.

We never did make it into town. We need to do some re-provisioning; but aren’t yet desperate. Nothing cold remains; which saves us money on ice, I guess. I fear the water tanks might be getting low. We have plenty of bottled water so it shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

There is a boat that goes around selling water and ice. $6 for a five pound bag of cubes, or $8 for a ten pound block, and water at $.50 a gallon. I almost bought water; but there is a $20 minimum. My tank only holds 20 gallons! Even if empty that would be $1/gallon for me. If I’m half empty it would be $2/gallon. Way too much. I really should check the tank levels; but it requires taking apart the main bunk which is a pain to remake up, so I usually just guess. So far we haven’t run out yet. Knock on wood.

Tomorrow we head out early for Mystic Seaport. We are hoping to get a slip in the marina there. Expensive; but it includes free admission to the Seaport, including after hours access. It will also give us a chance to re-provision, do laundry, and basically take care of some things.

Day 19 (August 5, 2014): Mystic Seaport

 Adam's Spot 
 GPS location Date/Time:08/05/2014 10:04:31 EDT 

 Message:rdy to depart Block Island, but fogged in.

 Click the link below to see where I am located. 
Adam's Spot 
 GPS location Date/Time:08/05/2014 20:33:26 EDT 

 Message:docked at Mystic Seaport for the evening.

 Click the link below to see where I am located. 
Block Island fogged in

Block Island fogged in

We spent the morning at anchor, socked in with fog. This is definitely messing with my plans on being at Mystic Seaport at a reasonable hour. Sometime around 1100 the fog burned off at the island showing a beautiful day, so away we went. Just outside the harbor, however, the fog was still thick, and remained that way for hours.

Eventually the skies brightened and we found ourselves at Mystic Seaport, although hours later than planned. The plan all along was to stay at the marina, and we discussed at length whether or not we should today, or tomorrow. In the end, the calendar made up our mind and we called in for a berth. We had no reservations; but there was plenty of space.

Welcome to Mystic Seaport

Welcome to Mystic Seaport

First, everyone should visit Mystic Seaport if able. Well worth the trip. However, if coming by sea it is worth noting that the information on their web site is well out of date.


The web page claims that the dock attentends are on duty 9am-7pm. Nope. They close at 5pm.

The 2014 boaters guide informs us that we must depart by the 12:40 Mystic River Bascule Bridge opening. Nope. 11:40 is the time.

Mystic Seaport: Australia

Mystic Seaport: I believe this is the derelict schooner Australia.

The courtesy van with service to local grocery and marine supply stores simply doesn’t exist, and apparently hasn’t for years.

Showers are fine. And there is a coin operated washer and dryer for laundry; but it is all the way on the other side of the grounds near the Shipyard.

We did manage to get a taxi to take us to the grocery store for provisions, and also marina visitors are allowed after hours access to the grounds, which is cool.

Mystic2 Mystic Anchor Mystic_Boatshop

Day 20 (August 6, 2014): Old Saybrook

Adam's Spot 
 GPS location Date/Time:08/06/2014 19:21:54 EDT 

 Message:avoid tstorms. free mooring in Old Saybrook.

 Click the link below to see where I am located. 

Mystic2Unfortunately, we were only able to enjoy Mystic Seaport while officially open and running for two hours before hurriedly jumping on the boat and doing all we could to make the bridge opening.

Given a choice, we would have stayed another night. Unfortunately, vacation time is rapidly disappearing and we need to make miles heading home. Too bad, as the Charles Morgan (the last remaining whaling ship) was returning to the seaport later in the day, and the Seaport and the town of Mystic were making a big deal of it. We did get to see the Morgan heading in, however. Sadly she wasn’t under sail. Too bad.

Seeker at Mystic

Seeker docked at Mystic Seaport

We made it to North Cove in Old Saybrook for the night. This is a tight little place full of moorings. Happily, a sign outside the harbor informed us that it was a Harbor of Refuge and we were free to pick up any vacant mooring with a yellow streamer. We did just that. We tried to eat dinner outside, but the mosquitoes found us so we put up the screens and retired below for the evening. A great many fish were jumping all night. I presume they were feasting on the flying devils that were trying to feast on us.

North Cove Refuge Sign

“WELCOME to NORTH COVE HARBOR OF REFUGE Free 72 Hr. Max stay for transients. Pick up vacant mooring with yellow streamer. Full regulations posted at town dock. Enjoy Your Stay. O.S.H.M.C.” Thank you. We did.

Early to bed.

Day 21 (August 7, 2014): Bridgeport, CT

Adam's Spot 
 GPS location Date/Time:08/07/2014 18:54:46 EDT 

 Message:anchrd off abndnd pleasure beach, Bridgeport.

 Click the link below to see where I am located. 
Adam and Lauren at Pleasure Beach

Adam and Lauren at the beach of the no longer abandoned “Pleasure Beach”

We planned to leave by eight. Managed to get out by nine. Not too bad for us.

Tried to sail. There was wind; but it was coming from exactly the wrong direction. Of course. We could sail, tacking up and down the sound; but vacation time is waning and we need to get back. So we motored.

I’ve never motored so much. Ugh.

Seeker at Sunset at Pleasure Beach

Seeker saying “Good-night” to the sun, Pleasure Beach anchorage (7 August 2014)

But it was a pleasant (if long) day, anyhow.

We are anchored off what we thought was the abandoned Pleasure Beach amusement park near Bridgeport, CT. It turns out the city of Bridgeport has rebuilt the place, with a new boardwalk and pavilion. Access is by free water taxi. The place looked nice, although it loses bragging rights now that it isn’t a ghost town.

Another long day is planned for tomorrow. The wind looks to be more useful, though.

Lauren at Pleasure Beach

Day 22 (August 8, 2104): Port Washington, NY

Adam's Spot 
 GPS location Date/Time:08/08/2014 21:21:06 EDT 

 Message:Port Washington tonight. Lady Liberty tomrw.

 Click the link below to see where I am located. 
Listing to Starboard at low tide.

Listing to Starboard at low tide. (0342 in the early AM on 08 August 2014)

I woke up around 0300 to silence a slapping halyard and noticed that the boat was not sitting right. In fact, we were sitting decidedly bow down. Apparently we anchored too close to shore. Happily, I noticed this at just about dead low water, so we didn’t end up completely high and dry. For awhile we seemed to be balanced on the keel; but we eventually felt the sickening feeling of the boat listing to starboard. No damage done. By morning we were again afloat and ready to head out.

We made it to Port Washington about mid afternoon, and grabbed a free mooring. Port Washington permits free use of some of their moorings for two days during the week, and one day during a weekend, after which I believe it is a reasonable $25/night (including launch service).

It was a pretty long row to the dinghy dock (damn, I really think I might need an outboard motor), so we called the launch ($8/person round trip) to take us in to shore. We were over due on the oil change, and I needed some supplies to make it happen, so we grabbed what we needed at West Marine, grabbed a really good restaurant dinner, and did some much needed provisioning. We bought enough stuff that I think my arms may have stretched a couple inches! We made it back to the boat a little after 2100.

Day 23 (August 9, 2014): Liberty Park, Jersey City, NJ

Adam's Spot 
 GPS location Date/Time:08/09/2014 15:45:43 EDT 

 Message:liberty park for the night

 Click the link below to see where I am located. 
Hell Gate and Roosevelt Island

A benign Hell Gate, heading for the East Passage around Roosevelt Island

Headed out to see the big girl today. The stories of Hell Gate on the East River scared me, though, so I did a lot of research and determined the best way to go would be to hit it right at slack tide and then ride the current the rest of the way to the Hudson. And that is just what we did. Hell Gate was as flat as a back yard pond. Our passage was quick and stress free, and we were in view of the Statue of Liberty shortly after 1100. It was early yet, so we took a tour up the Hudson, exploring Manhattan from a different angle.

Adam and Lauren in New York

Adam and Lauren in New York

We picked up fuel at Liberty Landing Marina, and went for a close up visit to Lady Liberty. It was a bit rough with all the boats around; but we got a few good photos, including one by request for Brian Kretchman. Brian owns Kretschmann Brewery and desired a shot of one of his growlers next to the statue. We were happy to give him his shot.

Lady Liberty (9 August 2014)

Lady Liberty (9 August 2014)

The intent was to anchor right next to the statue; but the motion of the ocean was a little too much, with all the ferries, tour boats, and general idiots running about. So we sucked in to an alternate spot behind Liberty Park. There is a smallish anchorage there that can handle a handful of boat. But it is secure, and we still maintained a decent view of the statue.

I was very disappointed to find out that our SPOT had choked and not recorded our tracks. Very. Disappointed. I had to pull the batteries and reinstall to reboot the blasted thing.

NYC PanaramaNYC Lauren and Adam2NYC Bridge4NYC Liberty Lauren and Adam2 Empire State Bldg NYC Freedom Tower1

Day 24 (August 10, 2014): Liberty Park, Jersey City, NJ

I changed the engine oil. We hung around with Miss Liberty. We had drinks with an interesting couple who had sailed from Sydney Australia (Hans and Fien on Pelikaan). And we did a little walking and rowing and reading and napping and not much else.

NYC Liberty at night from back Liberty Anchorage PelikaanLiberty Park2

Day 25 (August 11, 2014): Barnegat Bay, NJ

Adam's Spot 
 GPS location Date/Time:08/11/2014 19:23:51 EDT 

 Message:barneget bay to hide from tomorrow's tstorms.

 Click the link below to see where I am located. 

There is a weather system in the forecast, so a straight shot to Cape May doesn’t seem practical today. We discussed our options, and figured our best bet was to make it half way, more or less, to Barnegat Bay. The stories I have heard about the Barnegat Bay Inlet made me nervous (recurring theme, apparently); but we didn’t want to wait three days and then have to press crazy hard to get home in time to get me back to work.

SplashWe motored, hard, and managed to get to the inlet near slack. We called TowBoatUS for information, and went for it. It was a bit bumpy getting in; but wasn’t too terribly difficult, although having to dodge a SCUBA diver during the roughest stretch annoyed me. Crazy bastard almost got himself killed! His boat with the divers flag was well outside the inlet.

We followed the day marks and made it to an anchorage not far from Barnegat Light House. There was a lot of wind, and the current was wicked; but our Rocna anchor always sets well and we were secure. I did wake up several times to check on various noises; but outside of the boat facing the wrong way (and thus having the anchor chain rub off some of our bottom coat) all was right with the world.

Day 26 (August 12, 2014): Waretown, NJ (Barnegat Bay)

Adam's Spot 
 GPS location Date/Time:08/12/2014 12:16:13 EDT 

 Message:in marina to wait for tstorms to pass.

 Click the link below to see where I am located. 

With a big line of thunderstorms due today, we thought it best to not travel much. I tried to get a marina slip near the inlet; but the only place that would take us was the High Bar Harbor Yacht Club, and they wanted $3.50/foot. So we headed deeper in to Barnegat Bay looking for a place.

Seeker RailThe trip in was a bit winding. I got sucked in to believing my charts over believing the actual markers which was a mistake, and we grounded in Oyster Creek Channel. We called TowBoatUS for assistance. While they were on the way, though, the tide came up a couple inches and floated us free, and we carefully made it back to the marked channel. We called TowBoatUS back and told them we were fine. Lesson learned.

We were going to try and stay at Key Harbor Marina, but after calling over and over, we finally started paying attention to the answering machine message and realized they were strangely closed on Tuesdays. So we called around and found another place not too far away called Holiday Harbor Marina that could accommodate us for $2.00/foot. They appear to mostly be a fishing/power boat marina; but they were very friendly. We were a little disheartened to hear that we were supposed to be gone by 0900 tomorrow morning as the weather forecast suggested that the t-storms would be around at least until noon. The office/fuel dock girl called the owner for us, though, and arranged for us to stay as late as noon if the storms didn’t let up early enough.

Even though it was getting cloudy, we jumped in their swimming pool. It felt great. Then as the first sprinkles started to fall we made it into their showers which are ridiculously luxurious, with private beautifully tiled showers, granite counter tops, the works. Better than our shower at home.

Unfortunately there were no restaurants within easy walking distance (especially in the rain), so we cooked a meal, and settled in for the night. We watched The Green Mile, which seems to me a perfect rainy day movie.

And the rain came down.

Day 27 (August 13, 2014): Atlantic City, NJ

 Adam's Spot 
 GPS location Date/Time:08/13/2014 17:20:55 EDT 

 Message:long inland trip on NJ ICW. Anchored in AC.

 Click the link below to see where I am located. 
Narrow NJ-ICW Channel

The water is very shallow except through very narrow channels

The storm had passed earlier than forecast. It was a rainy, and sometimes scary windy, night. The boat stayed mostly dry, surprisingly, although a little water came in by the mast and into one of the shelves over the double bunk. Not too bad for us. Not so good for at least one other boat in the marina that managed to sink. It was a lot of rain!

The ICW pulled us close to shore for a bit. It's hard to see; but just on the other side of that road is the Atlantic Ocean.

The ICW pulled us close to shore for a bit. It’s hard to see; but just on the other side of that road is the Atlantic Ocean.

The forecast for the day was calling for 4-7 foot seas with an 8 second period. To me that sounded uncomfortable. We were going to just wait near the Barnegat Bay inlet until the afternoon tide to see if the waves would moderate before doing an overnight to Cape May. Bob, the owner of Holiday Harbor Marina came over and talked to us for awhile, while we were filling up with diesel (15 gallons!?! How is that possible!) though, and suggested we take the intercoastal waterway to Atlantic City (and all the way to Cape May if we wanted). I didn’t know much about the ICW through NJ; but checked the charts and it looked doable. So off we went.

Barnegat Bay Marsh Traffic

Near the end of the marshes as we approached Atlantic City, there was a non-stop line of power boats coming the other direction.

It was a narrow, winding passage. We kissed ground once when I was distracted after noticing that the SPOT tracker wasn’t tracking (damned thing doesn’t give much notice of low batteries…I really wanted those tracks!); but didn’t actually get stuck.

Getting close to Atlantic City we traversed several miles of marsh land. The flies attacked for most of our trip through this area (including one that managed its’ way up my shorts to an uncomfortable area…think Stand By Me).

Atlantic CityI’m glad we took the ICW. I normally would never have considered that stretch. I may never do it again. But the experience was interesting. And tiring. No autopilot through that stretch! We didn’t see a single other sailboat making the passage, either.

We made it to Atlantic City and anchored in front of the Golden Nugget and Harrah’s casinos. For a fairly open anchorage it was remarkably comfortable, even when the wind got up.

Day 28 (August 14, 2014): Cape May, NJ

Adam's Spot 
 GPS location Date/Time:08/14/2014 17:22:26 EDT 

 Message:Back at Utsch's Marina in Cape May. 

 Click the link below to see where I am located. 
Leaving Atlantic City in our wake... (19 August 2014)

Leaving Atlantic City in our wake… (19 August 2014)

It was windy in our Atlantic City anchorage. Lots of current, too. We thought we might be in for an active day on the ocean. Not so much, as the wind was significantly less impressive at sea. And for most of the day directly on the nose. Is the universe trying to tell us that we need a power boat? Yeah, even with all the motoring we’ve done, that ain’t going to happen.

Cape May Return Seeker at UtschsWe made it into Cape May, NJ, and grabbed a slip at Utsch’s Marina, essentially closing our Atlantic circuit right around 1700. Filled the diesel (only 7 gallons), and grabbed dinner at Lucky Bones Grille. I passed out shortly thereafter. I don’t know what Lauren did. I was out hard.

Day 29 (August 15, 2014): Cape May, NJ

Port day. We rented bicycles and rode around Cape May. Tomorrow we leave on the tide.

Cape May Return Bikes

Day 30 (August 16, 2014): Veazey Cove on the Bohemia River

Adam's Spot 
 GPS location Date/Time:08/16/2014 18:36:46 EDT 

 Message:Home waters. bohemia rvr tonight. home tmrw.

 Click the link below to see where I am located. 

Much easier transit of the Delaware Bay this time. Motor sailed the whole way. We timed it well and had a following current all the way to our anchorage. Right around eleven hours underway. Tomorrow we should be home.

Day 31 (August 17, 2014): Middle River, MD (Home)

Adam's Spot 
 GPS location Date/Time:08/17/2014 16:47:47 EDT 

 Message:the voyage is done. safe at home marina.

 Click the link below to see where I am located. 

715 nautical miles later we return home. Unloaded the cars. Ordered Chinese. Time to veg for awhile.

Given a choice it’d leave again tomorrow.


Spring is here. Time to get to work.

My God, what a long, miserable winter. But it’s over. Well, mostly. It is going to approach freezing overnight for a night or two later this week. For all intents, though, it does appear to be done. And not a moment too soon.

Lulled into some carelessness by the recent mild winters, I was planning on spending several nights every week aboard, and figured with a little heater running I didn’t need to winterize the fresh water system. Bzzzz… Wrong answer. It got cold enough to not only freeze the water; but bust the water pump.

This weekend, finally, I replaced the electric pump. I also installed a backup manual foot pump and faucet. A new inline filter is in place leading to the pressure galley faucet (I wanted the filtered water to go everywhere; but the plumbing system was turning into a spaghetti like nightmare, so I simplified it). It all works very well. In fact, the foot pump is so effective I sort of regret keeping the pressurized system. Ah, well. It’s in now. Removing it might simplify the water system; but it would do nothing to simplify my life, so it stays.

Unfortunately, just when I was testing all the systems I discovered that the Head sink faucet (an old, brittle, plastic thing) had cracked as well. I guess I’ll replace that at some point, though the head sink doesn’t get a tremendous amount of use.

This weekend also saw the recommissioning of the engine. Truly, it is much easier to restore it to service than it is to winterize it. Still, it is a relief to see it running.

The sails come back from the sail loft next week, all fixed and clean. At that point, while many projects remain (as always), I can go sailing.

I. Just. Can’t. Wait.


Snow and the Chuck Wagon Boat

Today we got the first snow of the season, mixed in with a little sleet. The winter storm warning, or advisory, or whatever it is continues until ten AM tomorrow morning. I figure this is a good weekend to stay aboard!

Seeker in the snow

Seeker in the snow, 8 Dec 2013

I have completely fallen in love with my cockpit enclosure. Throw a little electric space heater in there (or, if away from the dock, a little propane catalytic heater) and it stays pretty comfortable even when the temperature outside falls well below short sleeve weather. Unfortunately, I’m pretty certain that it isn’t designed to withstand the weight of what winter has to dump. So yesterday afternoon I purchased some 1/2″ PVC pipe, and a 10’x16′ tarp, and built the little bowed shelter you see in the photo. Frankly, I was less than convinced it was strong enough, as it only has three bows along the ten foot length; but at least for this storm it is doing well. The snow and sleet just slide right off of it! Do to the geometry of the rig, it wasn’t easy to cover the aft part of the enclosure; but at least a ton of snow isn’t falling on the more vulnerable top.

I have to say, it was a pleasant day spent reading, listening to football games, and just generally screwing around out in the cockpit while watching the snow fall. While, given the choice, I’d prefer to find myself halfway to the Bahamas, if I absolutely must remain where winters get cold, this is the way to do it!

The brown tarp does impede the view out the sides of the cockpit; but I can enjoy the world fore and aft. Unfortunately, it does further complicate the already not so easy process of getting on and off the boat; but I don’t really see a reasonable solution. I take extra care as going for a swim this time of the year could well have unpleasant consequences.

I can’t wait for spring.

Tarp Label

Tarp label clearly states that it is not recommended to use tarp on automobiles

OH, and just for a little fun, I copied the labels that where on the tarp packaging. The label on the back clearly warns against using the tarp on automobiles. The eye-catching front label naturally shows the tarp wrapped around a … well, guess.

The photo on the unopened tarp package is of a wrapped up car

The photo on the unopened tarp package is of a wrapped up car

Nature’s Head Composting Toilet

I installed the Nature’s Head after having an unfortunate experience last year with an over filled holding tank (a very messy version of Old Faithful was the odorous result). I had considered making a home-brew version (off the shelf parts would be sweet); but my time is not unlimited and I had other things to spend it on (rewiring the boat, for starters). The boat show price was high; but not unreasonably so.

With me and my gal, the two plus gallon liquids container generally needs emptying every other day. I do have a spare jug which I feel is mandatory and should come standard. I will soon be making a custom fit bracket to snugly hold the spare jug to the bulkhead to reduce the risk of it going flying and spilling the contents all over the interior (a horrifying thought).

The solids container does seem to last quite awhile; but I’m not convinced it makes the advertised 60-80 uses. Of course, if putting the toilet paper in the head (and it is somewhat distasteful to put it anywhere else), it will fill up much faster. The TP takes some time to break down. The poop does become inoffensive in a couple of days, although it surely takes much longer to fully compost than the practical time it can remain in the toilet. There is rarely a smell (the cat box is much more of an issue). The small fan barely registers on the amp meter and does an admirable job of venting to the anchor locker.


From a philosophical point of view, I think that discreetly pouring pee overboard is not much of a health risk anyplace that is not unusually sensitive and not morally shaky, unless it done in a really crowded harbor at which point it is bad manners. Legally is a different thing altogether, and I’m pretty certain it is universally frowned upon by those men with shiny badges. You makes your choices and you takes your chances. It should be easy enough to find a shore side facility every two or three days, although I can think of more pleasant things than carrying around a couple of gallons of smelly pee.

By the same token, I think that putting partially composted solid waste in a thick contractors trash bag (the Nature’s Head site suggests a regular kitchen garbage bag…given the subject matter I think I prefer the extra toughness of the thick bags) and putting it into the dumpster is no more offensive or generally harmful to mankind than disposing of dirty baby diapers in the trash; but it may still be illegal. The Nature’s Head folks suggest it is dirt at this point (assuming some time between last deposit); but I am not certain that it really, truly qualifies without having at least months of time to cook. Choices. Chances. I read somewhere (the c-head homepage, perhaps) that sealing it in a pickle bucket (aka Home Depot ‘Homer’ bucket) with some bleach qualifies it as “treated” and it suddenly becomes legal for about the same price as a pump out. I’m not sure; but it sounds like a reasonable compromise assuming an offshore dump is not practical. I emptied mine after using it occasionally all summer plus regularly for a ten day trip for two. It was not anymore distasteful than a pump out, and more pleasant than dealing with a porta-potti. I expect the next time I empty it will be when I recommission the boat next spring. Although I’m now living aboard part-time, so that estimate might not hold true in the end.

The bottom line:

Everything in life is a compromise. But as far as compromises go, this one ain’t that bad. And I no longer have nightmares of exploding holding tanks. Bonus: By pulling the holding tank, I now have room for a new water tank to augment the somewhat anemic twenty gallons of the primary tank. If only I can find an off the shelf tank that would properly fit…


Item 1: My new Bayfield has a propane cooking system. It used to have a propane water heater, too; but I didn’t find it worth the trouble and removed it (eBay, soon). Propane works, it is convenient, it is already installed, it is staying (for anyone thinking about talking me into kerosene or alcohol). The tank lives outboard on the stern pulpit.

Item 2: I’ve been so frustrated with a phantom drain of amps in the boat, I decided to redo the entire electrical system. It is now much improved (and almost done). I’ve used modern, properly sized boat wire everyplace. I’ve broken circuits out into a couple different panels. I have a battery monitor. I’m happy. Or at least I was…

The problem: I finally got around to hooking up the xintrex S-2 (preëxisting) propane sniffer/solenoid control to house power this past weekend. As expected, the solenoid burns about one amp, which is totally acceptable. What is less acceptable is the propane sniffers (one in the bilge, one in the cabinet directly under the stove) burn around .5 or .6 amps. Now, given that you’d think that the sniffers should be turned on whenever the boat is occupied (and maybe always, depending on your philosophy), I find that the 12 amp-hrs or more a day, just for monitoring, to be an overly serious drain on my limited battery (and charging) capacity. THIS is clearly a big contributor to my phantom battery drain.

The solution: As far as I know, sniffers are not required equipment. However, they do seem rather prudent. I’m thinking of wiring the Xintrex control/sniffer system up to a spare switch on the circuit breaker panel. I figure a decent compromise might be to throw the switch whenever the valve on the tank is on. When I’m well done with whatever cooking I’m doing, I could close the manual valve, and kill the Xintrex at the panel. This has the advantage of saving some electrons and giving me a third place to kill the propane if necessary (at the xintrex control panel, at the tank, and now at the electrical panel). It has the disadvantage of losing full-time monitoring.

I think with the tank at the rail, the solenoid at the tank, and the new propane line entering the hull through a vapor tight-fitting, that I’m covering the important safety bases. Am I missing something?

Spring update

I can be the worst sort of blogger: a blogger who doesn’t blog. Dammit! Time got away from me. Again.

In any case, things have been happening over the winter, although far slower than I would like. In an effort to write something, anything, here is a quick somewhat long-winded run down of this winter’s boat refit projects:

I am in the process of redoing the entire electrical system. Entirely. AC and DC. Everything is coming out and being replaced. I am unhappy with the existing DC system, especially with a mystery current draw when everything is supposed to be powered off, so this seems like a good time to take care of the system. The small panel next to the galley is being replaced with a larger panel next to the nav station (where it really belongs). Wire is being properly sized (the wash down pump, all the way in the bow, was wired with 16 AWG, as was the pressure water system…now, with 12 AWG wire, the lights don’t dim), as are all the breakers. I’m trying very hard to do everything according to modern standards. I installed a battery monitor which is really cool. I’m installing lots of twelve volt outlets (I hate not having a convenient outlet when I need it). A new stereo and a new VHF with built-in AIS reception is also going into the panel. A CO detector is now installed. A bilge water alarm is being installed (insurance company insists) as is a second electric bilge pump in the little sump area behind the engine if I can find a way to shoehorn it in. New batteries will be going in, wired together with an Automatic Charge Relay so I don’t have to worry about juggling the battery on/off/both switch during charging. In fact, I am installing one new switch for house power and one for engine. I purchased four 20 watt solar panels that will be mounted on the dodger. A couple new LED dome lights have been installed. Incandescent interior bulbs have been replaced with LED and I hope to do the same with my NAV lights. There is a lot more, I’m sure. It’s coming along, slowly. Here is a general (although far from comprehensive and not quite up to date) diagram for how things are wired up…I think this will work pretty well.

DC System, version 1

I did pull out the not-really-functioning air-conditioner and was going to install a brand new one; but I decided to order a new dinghy (porta-bote) instead as my old home-built dinghy went with my Seafarer (sadly wrecked by the new owner ) when I sold her. I may regret that should I move aboard this summer. If so, I am keeping the thru-hulls in place, and I have strung new 120v AC wiring so that I can install a new unit reasonably painlessly without having to haul the boat. In theory anyhow.

The old holding tank is out-a-there, as is the old Grocco toilet and nearly all the associated plumbing. I am just about ready to install the Nature’s Head Dry Composting Toilet. Unfortunately, the extra height of the new toilet is interfering with the doors of the cabinet behind it. More work <sigh>.

Mom came down for a few days a couple of weeks ago to help me with the hull prep. Lots of sanding and scraping but it is more or less ready for new bottom paint. The previous owners raised the waterline over the bootstripe. I guess I’ll leave it that way for this year. We’ll see how she sits. Mom also helped with the teak which is great, although there is an awful lot left to do. The old name is gone and the boat is ready to receive her new identity. I can’t wait as I was never really happy with the old name.

The new anchor system will hopefully be installed in the next week or two. A Rocna 10 (22 pounds), with 90 feet of ¼” high tensile chain and ½” 8-plait line on a big roller. I bought a second, matching, roller that should be here in a couple of days that will allow me to keep two anchors on the bow, although I haven’t decided on the second set yet.

There is a lot more to do (always); but hopefully I’ll be able to launch by the end of May. I had intended on trying to sail to Martha’s Vineyard for the Father’s Day party that many of my friends have there that weekend; but that no longer looks realistic as I will be lucky to get Seeker launched at that point, and I am not anxious to try everything out the first time on a big (relatively speaking…it’s not exactly crossing the Atlantic; but it would be my biggest passage as skipper) trip. Instead I think I may try for the Newport Folk Festival at the end of July. That plan would allow Lauren to accompany me as I attempt to get her to fall in love with the whole idea of travel by sea. Unfortunately, work may mess up my plans.

Bayfield 29 Refit Planning: The head

One of the issues I currently have with the boat is the toilet, and black water system in general. The current toilet (for those marine purists…I consider the “head” to be the equivalent of the bathroom, not specifically the toilet itself) is a Groco manual, a brand which seems to have a pretty good reputation. But it is pretty old and not quite working as well as it should, and really needs to be rebuilt. As well, the survey pointed out that the waste lines need to be replaced, and since the survey mentioned it, my insurance carrier (BoatUS) is insisting on it. On top of that I was shocked to find out how fast the holding tank (20 gallons?) fills up, although that may have partially been due to over exuberant pumping.

Keeping in mind that I will eventually be living aboard, and that getting pumped out in the winter months could be problematic I was left with a few decisions.

One: Fix the current system, plan on pumping weekly in season, and not using the waste system at all in the winter months. This would include a rebuild of the current head, and a replacement of all the waste lines and the overboard discharge seacock (only used well offshore).

Two: Make some changes to the current system, plan on pumping weekly in season, and not using the waste system at all in the winter months (a little Déjà vu there). I was thinking either an electric macerating toilet or a Lavac system in addition to the waste lines and seacock. There would still be the holding tank limitation, though.

Three: Doing something different. In this case a dry composting toilet. In fact, after a lengthy conversation with the designer of the Nature’s Head toilet at the US Sailboat Show in Annapolis, this is exactly what I decided to do and I bought one there on the spot. While pretty expensive, I believe it would in the end be cheaper than option two, and not all that much more than option one.

There are several advantages to the dry composting toilets (there are a few designs out there that work more or less the same way).

  1. Urine is separated from solids with a clever diverter design which dramatically slows how fast the main tank (built into the toilet) fills, allowing a claimed 60-80 uses between emptying (more if you don’t throw the toilet paper in the tank, although that would generate a whole new set of issues).
  2. There is no offensive odor, although depending on how ventilation is handled there might be a musty peat mossy scent.
  3. There is no need of a holding tank or associated waste plumbing or through-hulls simplifying the system and opening up more space.
  4. With the holding tank gone, I will have room to install a new 20 gallon (more or less) water tank, an important addition for when I can finally leave on some extended traveling.
  5. I don’t have to worry about pump-outs.

Of course, TANSTAAFL (There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch). There are drawbacks, too.

  1. It is unfamiliar to most people (women in particular) who might not feel comfortable using it.
  2. While the solids tank should last a long time, the liquids will have to be emptied every day or two. Of course, this can be done in any toilet, or for any anarchists out there, discreetly overboard (warning: while there is little to no environmental risk that I’m aware of to this, and while people pee directly overboard all the time without thinking twice, while within the three mile limit this is illegal).
  3. Eventually the solids tank will have to be emptied. Assuming there hasn’t been any extremely recent “deposits” this shouldn’t be too offensive or difficult a job (I doubt it is worse than a pump-out); but neither will it be pleasant.
  4. While the Nature’s Head guys suggest bagging the stuff (they call it dirt) and throwing it in the trash, it is unlikely that it would be fully composted, and this may very well be illegal (although no more illegal than throwing dirty diapers away). Buying a five gallon “Homer Bucket” from Home Depot, putting the waste in that along with a cup of bleach, and sealing it turns it into “treated” instead of “untreated” waste and may make it all legal. This is unclear; but so far it doesn’t seem to be a big issue. The other option is to store it (perhaps in a vented Homer Bucket) for a year or two, or dump it on a composting pile somewhere until it finishes doing its’ thing, at which point it is excellent fertilizer (it is recommended not to use it on food plants…just in case). If offshore, of course, it is completely legal to just dump it overboard when outside the three mile limit. I don’t think there is any harm no matter the method; but in the interests of not self incriminating I think I’ll keep my choices to myself.
  5. Occasionally there have been known to be issues with flies. This is not universal and there are ways of dealing with the problem; but it does happen.

I’ve actually been thinking of this system for a few years as I was trying to find a way to shoe horn it into my Seafarer 24 (it’s a pretty bulky, and in particular, tall system), so I think I have a pretty good feel for the pluses and minus. It’s new to me, though, so I might not tear out the old tank too fast, or seal up the through-hulls until I feel happy with the system, allowing me to revert to a wet system should I feel like it. Or not. I’m still thinking on it. The good news is that the majority of people I know (on web forums, mostly) who have tried a dry composting head have been extremely pleased with the results. I do have my concerns for the fairer sex, though, as I do like to keep them happy and impressed.

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