Friday, February 6, 2009

Work, Work, Work!

Kristen here – I’m sorry, Chris is no longer able to make blog entries until his wounds heal after I read his previous entry.

It seems that since we’ve arrived at Vero Beach it’s been nothing but work, work, and more work. I thought this was supposed to be fun. I laugh my tush off whenever people call this a vacation. I don’t know about you, but I generally don’t sew for 8 hours straight and trace leaks when I’m on vacation!

Our first night after passage was spent tied up to the fuel dock. I was excited for my first full night’s sleep. At around 2AM, I woke up with a start. I felt next to me and discovered to my surprise that Chris was sleeping there. I immediately woke him up and said, “Dear, wake up! Who’s on watch!”

The next day was Monday, Noni’s arrival day!!!! Everyone was super excited to see my mom. We moved onto a mooring. The moorings are great here. They’re only $12 a night, and you share the mooring with up to two other boats. In our old life, that would seem like an invasion of privacy, but now we relish the chance to meet new people. Our assigned mooring already had a boat from Buffalo, NY on it. We knew they were nice when they asked how much wine we had on board as we pulled up at 8:00 in the morning!

The kids and I were eager to get off the boat and explore. Our new neighbors informed us that if you dinghy down the river a bit there was an area to tie up, cross a road and get to the beach. We decided to check it out. We dropped Poppi off on shore with a radio and our tangled fish line which was barely hanging on to a tattered, homemade cardboard spool. He was going to wait for Noni to arrive. We told him to radio us as soon as Noni arrived.

We found the beach access spot and gingerly pulled the dinghy up to shore. I’m still quite gun shy after the dinghy slicing oyster incident. This oyster free spot looked safe. The beach was amazing, and the water was, surprisingly, not that cold. I wouldn’t call it warm, but it didn’t stop us from jumping in. The surf seemed pretty big, and I was very afraid for the kids and myself. I am unfamiliar with big waves, and when we stood in them, the undertow was strong, even for me. After an hour or so of me yelling at the kids to come further in or they would be swept out to sea and of them filling every crevice of their clothes and themselves with sand, we decided to head back to the boat.

We pulled up to the dinghy dock and headed straight for the showers. I won’t go into details, but the ride back proved that sand in every crevice needs to be showered off immediately! We were greeted by Poppi who found an old plastic spool in the garbage, and filled it with our now untangled fishing line! Yay, thanks Poppi! No Noni yet though. I was hesitant to take my shower because Noni’s arrival time was any minute, but the chafing sand couldn’t wait. Kaitlin, Casey and I all headed off. Kaitlin and I were half way through our shower when Poppi came on the radio, “Guess who’s here? (Poppi’s voice) Hi everyone (Noni’s voice).” I jumped out of the shower, and radioed back that we’d be right out. We rinsed off, got dressed and ran out of the shower, to be greeted by Noni sitting in the shower next to us! Big hugs went all around. It was just awesome to see her.

We all went out to dinner, and the kids decided to go back with Mom and Dad to sleep with them in their hotel room. They were unsure about going at first, but the draw of TV and a bed was just too much.

Tonight, I thought would definitely be my post passage good night’s sleep. I turned in early and snuggled into bed. At about 11:00 Chris woke me up and said that the leak was back.

When we were in Annapolis, MD a strange leak appeared. As you look into the bilge you could see a stream of water pouring out from under the metal bar supporting the engine. A stream of water anywhere at all inside your boat is a really bad thing that must be investigated and found immediately. We started tearing the boat apart. Maybe it’s a leak in the water tank? Out come cushions, tank covers and everything around the tank. Nope, no wetness there. Maybe it’s the air conditioner? Up goes our sheets, pillows, memory foam, cushions, storage covers and everything under the bed that surrounds the air conditioner. Nope, nothing amiss there. Maybe it’s the water pump? Up goes the couch cushions, and the liquor bottles (now you know where my secret stash is). Hmmmm…where could this leak be coming from? Then, at about midnight the leak suddenly stopped. What the..??? This is exactly what happened in Annapolis the first time the leak appeared!

Being exhausted and extremely (to say the least) frustrated at still not having my post passage night’s sleep I dropped back into bed. Well, at least tomorrow I can start on finishing up those new couch cushions.

When we arrived here, I was excited to finish up our couch cushions. We’ve been living with half of our sitting area taken up by the foam for the new cushions. In an already cramped area, that much volume makes quite a difference in the claustrophobia factor! I woke at around 7:30 feeling surprisingly rested and excited. I walked to the galley to get the morning cup of coffee. As I’m walking past the cabinet that leads to the bilge, my heart sinks. No, not again!!! Bzzzzmmmmmmmm , that oh too familiar hum of the bilge pump.

This is serious now. When it happened in Annapolis, it was one episode, and then it stopped. Now it was happening twice in a 10 hour period. I started tearing apart even more of the boat. Chris woke up and I gave him the bad news.

Noni and Poppi arrived to a boat that looked much like when we first saw it in Annapolis. Everything out of cabinets and piled high everywhere. I explained the problem to Poppi, and we got to work on finding the leak. As is usual with Poppi, he found the solution almost right away. I must say, that it stumped even him for a bit though.

The leak was coming from a small black tube that ended just out of sight behind the metal engine support. That explains why we couldn’t find the stream of water anywhere else! The tube originated at the top of the antisiphon valve for the bilge pump. The bilge pump sits at the bottom of our bilge and pumps water out of the boat via a thru hull just below the water line (meaning the exit is under water). To keep the boat from sinking the hose must first be routed above the waterline. So the hose goes from the bilge pump, above the water line through an antisiphon valve, back down below the water line, and out of the boat. Poppi also explained that that funny metal thing connecting two hoses before the antisiphon valve was a check valve. This contraption allowed water to flow in only one direction, or so we thought. It turned out that the check valve was the problem. It was letting water flow backwards. Also, the antisiphon valve was malfunctioning. Therefore the water was flowing backwards back through the small black line in the antisiphon valve and through the bilge discharge line as well. So every time the bilge pumped out, the water left in the line spilled right back into the bilge.

Hallelujah!!!! And we even had a car to go get parts. The rest of that day was spent getting parts and groceries. We also stopped for lunch at this awesome Jewish deli. It was called TwoJays. I must say we went a little berserk there! We got the most delicious pastrami sandwiches for lunch, and we took home a black and white cookie, an éclair, and a loaf of challah bread. As we were dragging Noni and Poppi around town running errands, we found a dive shop. Remembering that the kids had no snorkeling or beach supplies, we decided to check it out. Oh, and it just happened to be right next to a West Marine as well! The kids walked out with their Christmas present from Noni and Poppi, a new wake board.

As soon as we got back to the boat, Casey, Kaitlin, Noni and I drove to the beach to test it out. It was tons of fun, and I have to admit that I used it just as much as the kids. We all need a bit more practice to really get the hang of it. And, after spending a bit more time in the surf, we were getting used to the undertow. I discovered that as you go farther out, the pull is less than when you are right next to shore. I still get very nervous when Casey is out there up to his chest, but I’m sure that will lessen as we’re at beaches more often. While wakeboarding, both kids got tumbled over in the surf at least once. They popped right back up, sputtering saltwater and with a new respect for waves. I’m a bit less nervous knowing that they have a healthy respect for the power of the surf. Noni was all smiles watching the kids play.

We spent most of the next few days running errands with Noni and Poppi’s rental car. We also were planning our trip to Disney. I was very excited for a break from boat work and a mindless, worry free time at Disney. Did I mention worry free? As in wake up, go to Disney, have fun, and back to sleep. No tension about missing out on Disney fun and no more talking about antisiphon and check valves. I won’t go into that while Chris is still healing… ummm… I mean taking a blog writing break.

Disney was simply amazing. I was excited to see the kids enjoy themselves. I was also eager to see what I remembered from when I was there about 29 years ago. The first day we went to Epcot, and the second day we went to the Magic Kingdom. We saw everything, and went on every ride. I couldn’t believe we did it all! The kids even held up for the full two days. I was worried at first that two days wasn’t much, but there is no way you could do more. Well, not without taking a break.

We drove home on Tuesday night after our second park day. I can’t believe I stayed awake to drive back to the boat. While driving, I discovered that I really miss listening to music. Before cruising, I listened to music when driving, and when I exercised. Since neither of those things happen anymore, I don’t have much opportunity to listen to music. So, for the whole ride back I sang along with the local pop station and had quite a blast!

The next day was Wednesday and *drum roll please*, the arrival of our new antisiphon valve! It was also the day Noni and Poppi were heading off to visit with the their friends the Beebes. They arrived at the marina in the morning and immediately had their car stolen by Chris to finish up some errands. We all hung out in the marina lounge and waited for Chris to return. When he did, we said our goodbyes and returned to the boat.

As always happens, the new antisiphon valve for the bilge line (West Marine didn’t have the right size, so we had to order one) was much larger than the old one. It *just* fit, with a little persuasion and movement of the engine muffler, shortening of the bilge discharge lines, and cutting away a small portion of the neighboring cabinet wall (LOVE the new rotozip cutter tool!) No big deal, that portion of the cabinet wall will be covered anyway, and now we will have much better access to the new valve. Gotta always think positive!

*PHEW* Now can I start on those couch cushions? It was almost like a smack in the face when I had to move the waiting couch foam each time I had to access the bilge line. But alas, today, Tuesday, I could start the cushions. I had already cut out the material. Don’t ask me when I did it, I don’t remember. It was some time in the whirlwind of activity after reaching Vero Beach.

I was amazed at how fast the cushion making went. Now that I’ve done the bottom cushions and have the experience, the back cushions are going extremely fast. By evening I was almost half done with six covers. I think I will finish those six by tomorrow, and that will leave only two more! I am going to have such a celebration when they are all completely finished.

Well, that pretty much covers everything I can remember since arriving here. We had an awesome time with Noni and Poppi, and we miss them already. Now I must see to Chris’s wounds (from giving me a hard time about buying the Disney tix in his blog entry) and make sure nothing gets infected!

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