Friday, July 31, 2009

Busy, busy, busy...

Kristen here - today is Friday 7/31. We were supposed to be driving back to the boat today, but Chris had some more business to take care of and it's raining cats and dogs here. As it turns out, not only do we hate sailing in the rain, we hate driving in it as well.

This week has been insane. I don't know how we ever did it before. Visiting everyone, trying to schedule doctor and dentist appointments, business meetings and meeting with the kids school make for a busy week. Before we left, this all would have happened in a day! Now I understand why everyone is so stressed.

The kids are loving being home. They tell me every day that it would be just fine if we stayed a bit longer. I think they have a new appreciation for friends and family.

When we arrived in East Greenbush, the first thing we did was drive through the old neighborhood. One of the kids waved at us and then did a double take. Then she ran out to the car and gave us a big hug. In no time everyone was outside and we were all chatting. It was just like old times. It felt great to get such a warm reception.

After settling into our hotel for Monday night, we spent the next day playing with friends and getting Kaitlin to the dentist. Tuesday night was sleepover night. Casey went to a friends house, and Kaitlin took a friend to my parents house. Chris and I took the opportunity to have a dinner out together. We hit the Butcher Block, one of our favorites. We got there and Chris proceeded to order his old favorite. This consisted of a steak, lobster tail, salad bar and a huge sweet potato. I told him, "Honey, if you eat all that you'll be sick!". "But this is what I always get", he said. "Yea, 8 months ago when you were a bit bigger!". He finally agreed to split the dinner with me, and we both ended up quite full.

The next morning I drove to pick up Kaitlin and her friend from my parents house. This would be trip number 2 to Saratoga and back. I ended up staying there till the afternoon because everyone was having fun playing in the creek that runs behind the house. Eventually we left and I got both my kiddos back. I had to stop by the DMV to get some paperwork, the hobby shop for hovercraft parts, and a few other errands. Then I picked up Chris and we headed back to my parents for dinner. PHEW!

Thursday was meeting day. Chris and I had a full day meeting, so my parents drove up to take care of Casey and Kaitlin. It was almost a relief to sit in a meeting all day! It was 10PM by the time we got back from the meeting and my mom was fast asleep in the kids hotel room. They decided to spend the night, which was wonderful. We got to have breakfast with them this morning before starting school.

It's 1:00 now and I just finished school. My only goal for today is to pick up a phone charger for Chris and some more parts for Casey at the hobby shop. Oh yea, and I have to call the insurance company to see if they'll cover a prescription for me. I'm sure that will take most of the day...grrrr. I just can't wait to be back on the boat!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Update, and heading north...

Chris here... OK... I've been trying to get Kristen on here to do an entry but she hasn't done it yet, so maybe if I make a bad blog entry she'll be enticed to come on here to correct it. First off, she's funny looking and smells funny too. On top of that, she never does anything around this place - she just sits around and watches ME do all the work. Hmmm... I just told her that I wrote that section and it really didn't phase her. Whatevah...

Anyway, what's been going on... let's see. Our repair is done and it came out pretty well. You have to look at the hull from just the right angle in order to be able to tell that there was a huge gash in it. I'm pretty happy about that since I was pretty nervous all throughout the repair process, right up to the point where they buffed the area. First they had to overfill the gash with epoxy and then way oversand the area, so we ended up with a 1.5ft x 1.5ft circular rough area in our gelcoat. Ick! Then they painted it, but it rained and bubbled up, so they had to come back again and redo it. Fortunately, when all was said and done, and they polished it and put the wax on it, you can barely tell there was ever an issue.

Side by Side showed up on Tuesday night! They called us when they entered the Beaufort inlet to get our latitude/longitude, and then anchored off about a quarter mile from us. It was an awesome reunion!!!! We missed them a lot and are very glad to be hanging with them.

Yesterday, after they finished the repairs, Side by Side and Pelican both headed up the ICW to Oriental, NC. There, we had a second reunion. Miakoda has been here for a couple of weeks and we all hooked up at the marina they're at. We cooked up the last of the Bahamian lobster tails from Side by Side, shrimp from Beaufort, salad and lots of other food and had an awesome time just talking and hanging out.

Today was more of the same - hanging out and catching up. Tomorrow, Side by Side is leaving to head to Virginia to have their boat hauled, and may then catch up to us. I need to be in Albany for a business meeting on the 30th, so tomorrow (Friday) we're renting a car, driving to Stamford, CT to visit my mom, and then to Albany. We'll hang out there for a few days - see family, see friends, enjoy some time at home - and then head back to Oriental. Miakoda has been talking about heading to Ocracoke, NC, on the outer banks, so when we get back I think we may join them over there. From Ocracoke, we may head to Manteo, and then we're seriously contemplating an offshore hop from the closest safe inlet to Block Island or Rhode Island. We'd love to get to New England, and it MAY actually work out. We'll see!

We'll have our SPOT going for our drive north if you want to follow along :).

Friday, July 17, 2009

On the Waterway...

Chris here... hey y'all, we're on the waterway, the ditch, the famous ICW. Wait - now we're off it again, here at Jarrett Bay Boatworks.

We've had a great time thus far with our visit with Noni and Poppi. Even with some rain, we've introduced them to the wonderful world of boating - checking out things on shore, eating food, napping. You know - the stressful life. We rented a car to have the flexibility of visiting nearby areas too. Actually, it's not a car - it's a Chevy Suburban behemoth and I swear the thing has more room in it that all of Pelican! By the way, if you're ever in Beaufort and you need to rent a car, and Enterprise and Avis in Morehead City are out of cars (like they are now - a rental place being out of cars???), give the airport a call. They have rental cars at the charter facility there and they are very reasonably priced.

A few days ago we met our good friends from Aly Cat for dinner. They live about three hours from Beaufort, so we met them halfway at a restaurant that was a cross between a Greek cafe, a pizza joint and a Wendy's. It was awesome seeing them and talking about what everyone has been up to since the last time we saw them in Harbour Island. They said that adjusting to life on land has been tough - lots of people, lots of pressure, constant responsibility, plus the need to wear different clothes each day. I could deal with the rest of the stuff, but having to change our clothes on a regular basis??? Ick! We got there at around 5:30 and closed the place out at around 10pm, but we could have stayed for even longer. Cruising friendships are incredible. They are instantly made and, from what I understand, last a lifetime.

Speaking of cruising friendships, we've been in touch via e-mail with our friends from Side by Side. Last we told you, they were experiencing engine/transmission issues and had also lost their pressure water pump, resigning themselves to sun showers on deck. Awwww... Anyway, they should have reached Cape Fear and Carolina City by now and they are supposed to be hanging out at Aly Cat's beach house for a couple of days of R&R after their long slog north. They are trying to figure out a place to get their repairs done and have been considering the place we're at right this second - Jarrett Bay. Being a catamaran, there aren't many places with lifts wide enough to pull them out of the water, but this is one of them. So... we're counting the minutes until their decision, as the kids, and Kristen and I, are truly excited to see them soon.

We stayed at the Beaufort Docks for a few days. It's a real nice location as you can just step off your boat and be right in downtown Beaufort. They have decent showers and can fuel you right in your slip. Unfortunately for us, but good for the charity, there is a charity billfishing tournament kicking off this weekend and the marina will be packed full. As a result, we had to give up our slip. They were going to move us into a different area, but that area has a "hump" at the entrance that would make it difficult to get through at low tide. Since we would normally want to leave at 7:30am or 8:00am for our next destination, which unfortunately coincides with low tide, we decided to look at our alternatives.

Kristen and I told you about that gelcoat eating killer bolt that saw Pelican coming, and jumped out of the side of the dock in Charleston to rip out a portion of our hull. Well, we knew we had to repair the damage since we didn't want to get water seeping into the hull, so we called Jarrett Bay Boatworks. They are one of the largest boatyards on the east coast of the US and they build sportfishers, so we figured they would probably be pretty good at gelcoat repair. I called them up and they said they could look at us right away, so taking advantage of that we headed right out and up the ICW 6 miles to where we're currently at.

We tied up at the service pier and spoke with the estimator. After looking at the problem area, he recommended filling it with fairing epoxy and then painting it with Awlcraft as opposed to using gelcoat. He felt he'd be able to get a much better color match and also said that we shouldn't have any issue with it wearing differently than the area around it over time (any thoughts on this?). He also said it would take two days to do the work - one day for the prep, and the next day for the finish coat. Being a Thursday, and with them not being able to get to work until Friday, we had to make the decision as to whether to stick around for the weekend or to head someplace else and come back. We decided to stick around.

We had the opportunity to talk to a catamaran at the service pier behind us. They just bought their boat and plan on going cruising in a year. The cat needs a lot of work, including the fact that only one engine works (it actually has different engines installed port and starboard) so they have their jobs cut out for them. They had to get hauled out, and with the wind blowing from the beam they were having a really tough time getting off the dock. In the cruiser spirit, we put the engine on our dinghy, jumped in and grabbed a bow line and stern line and crossed the 100ft channel with them to hand them off to workers on the other side. They were then able to haul in on the lines to pull them off the dock and get the cat to the travel lift well and on their way.

This morning we moved from the service pier to a floating dock just down from where we were and they started the work. Hopefully it will come out well! In the meantime, as is usual on a boat, we have had to deal with another problem that arose - our pressure water pump won't turn off. It's supposed to pump water into the hoses until the pressure reaches a certain level, and then stop. It will kick back in intermittently to maintain the pressure in the hoses. Well, it seems to keep going, even after the pressure builds up, so we had half of the water system apart trying to figure out what the problem is. No joy yet, and we have a call into Jabsco to see if they can point us in the right direction.

Right now we're off to Sears to get Kaitlin new jammies and Pelican some new tools, so we'll talk to you soon!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The past few days

Kristen here - Today is Sunday 7/12/09. Right now it is 1 AM and I just came onto night watch after a four hour sleep. We have just made it through Cape Fear and Frying Pan Shoals. Yea! Why his is so exciting I will explain later. For now let me start at the beginning.

With our repairs mostly done (on a boat, repairs are endless) and the boat back in the water, we were prepared and stocked up to leave for Beaufort, NC on Friday morning. Oh, and let me just tell you how absolutely beautiful Pelican looks! She has had the complete bling bling hull makeover. Who knew she could shine like that. And the shiny metal on the rub rail is like a gold necklace around her. She has never looked so stunning. If my tired arms and hands could hold a tool, I would tackle the few tarnishes left on the topside just so she would be perfect. But that will have to wait till another day.

So on Thursday we provisioned at the Super WalMart and returned our rental car. The rest of the day was spent putting groceries away and cleaning up the living areas of the boat.

It was good to be home again. We had the most awesome time at the Wingloski's house. We definitely needed a break from the boat, and I can't thank them enough for letting us stay there. But with that break done, I am glad to be back.

So with everything ready to go, we set our alarms for 4:30 AM to prepare for a 5AM departure from the boat yard dock. Chris had checked the weather for the next three days and things were looking iffy for Friday but good for Saturday and Sunday. Our plan was to try to leave on Friday, but if it seemed too nasty we would come back and try again on Saturday.

After leaving on Friday morning, we made it to the entrance to Charleston Harbor at 6:30. This was just in time to chat with Chris Parker, our weather forecaster, and get his opinion on our trip. He was against leaving that day and after seeing the seas, we agreed. So we headed back to our favorite place, the Megadock.

I must admit that I did a jump for joy when we turned around. I didn't have a good feeling about the day. You see, this is the passage where we have to round Frying Pan Shoals and Cape Fear. The last time we did this passage in reverse and we ran into the nastiest weather and waves either of us have ever seen. I was more than a little gun shy about this trip. So to tackle it with a forecast of five foot seas and 20 knots of wind was not my ideal situation to say the least!

I handled the helm and brought us to the Megadock. Our hearts sank when we saw the row of sport fishers there. We thought the fishing tournament had been last weekend. We knew they wouldn't allow us to stay, but tried calling them on the radio anyway. After hearing the expected, "No", we headed for a different marina. We had never tried this other marina before because it is a bit more expensive and because we have heard horror stories about the current running through it. The marina is along the banks of a river entrance, and the currents can run up to five knots right through the dock system. A boat like ours would be quite hard pressed to fight 5 knots in skinny dock fairways!

I remembered seeing an outer sock system when we passed the marina that morning, so we decided to give them a shout and see if they had room there for us. This outer dock would be easy to get in and out of and required no skinny fairway maneuvering. They had room, and we headed in.

Chris thought that it was time for me to bone up on my docking skills. This was a pretty easy looking spot to pull up to, so I stayed on the wheel. I lined up the boat with the dock and brought us slowly in. The wind pushed me a bit too close to the dock, but by this time it was too late. We had bumpers out, and the dock had rubber on the edge, so I thought we would just bounce off a bit. What I didn't see was the one inch bolt sticking out just under the rubber. I heard a sickening noise that sounded like sandpaper rubbing together. Chris said, "That took out fiberglass", and jumped off the boat. In the excitement he forgot to loop the lines around a cleat and he tried to stop the boat by pushing on the stanchions. I yelled at him to use the lines and he got the boat stopped just in time. We were nose to nose with the megayacht in front of us. I jumped off the boat, fully expecting to see a smudge of rubber or some minor scratch. When I saw the foot long 1/8" deep gouge, I just went into shock. How could that be? I hit rubber and wood! "I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry.", I kept saying over and over again. Chris was wonderful and kept completely calm. "It's OK honey." he said. "It could have just as easily been me."

Chris left to check in and probably privately scream. I went and looked at the corner of the dock where I hit. When I pulled up the rubber bumper, I discovered pieces of our boat sitting on the offending bolt. This is when I got mad. When you enter a marina you expect certain things. You expect adequate depth, clean docks, something to tie to on the dock, you know simple things. Oh yea, and NO HIDDEN EXTENDING BOAT HULL DESTROYERS!!!!!! All of the hours of work I just did, the pain still fresh in my arms, and this happens. Normally I take things in stride, but this was going to take some time to get over.

I felt a bit better after Chris came back from talking with the manager. He told Chris to send them the repair estimate and they would see what they can do. I highly doubt they'll do anything for us, but it's consoling to think they might.

Lesson learned...on our boat, we each have things we're good at. If necessary I can dock the boat and Chris can handle the lines. But for the most part we should stick to what we know and do best!

With that disaster behind us, we started out at 5AM once again on Saturday. We called a dockhand to help us off so we wouldn't hit the offending bolt again. When we reached the inlet it was still dark and we were met with calmer waves and wind than the day before. Well, they seemed calm when compared to the 30 or so sport fisher wakes that hit us from all sides on the way out. We thought something was wrong with our engine at first. Then we realized that the funny buzzing sound was the hum of the sport fisher motors racing out of the harbor. We barely had time to turn into their huge wake and then get out of the way of the next boat. Looks like the tournament started at 5AM as well!

We turned out of the entrance channel and headed on course just as the sun was rising. Unfortunately the wind and seas were right on our nose. After an hour or so of pounding through the waves, I started feeling a bit queezy. Chris said he wasn't feeling so hot either and that we should probably put on some patches. I got them out and slapped one on Casey, Chris and myself. Kaitlin is too young for the patches dosage. We were out of Dramamine, so when she started feeling sick, I gave her an Advil, told her it was Dramamine and hoped the placebo effect would work.

It didn't, and I must have put my patch on too late because both of us started throwing up. After putting our new bucket to good use, we decided to give Kaitlin some real seasickness medication. We had purchased some pills in the Bahamas and weren't sure if they were OK for kids. The literature in the box didn't have any warnings, and she is 70 pounds, so we gave her a pill. Within an hour she was doing much better.

Saturday seemed to go on forever. We all slept on and off for most of the day. Seasickness makes you super tired. Casey was feeling the best of all of us, so he made dinner. It was the first meal I felt well enough to try that day. After a cup of homemade chicken soup with tortellini and a few cookies, I felt like a new person! By now the seas had calmed down considerably, and I wasn't so worried about staying awake and non-seasick for my night watch.

With my new found relief, I went below to put away the dishes Casey had washed earlier. Casey followed me down and then yelled, "Oh no!". I turned toward him to see water gushing out of the bottom shelf of the kids room drawers. Casey yelled for towels and I started pulling out drawers filled with water. I immediately tasted it and it was fresh water. Phew! At least we're not sinking!

After removing three shelves of stuff, I found a hose that had become detached from a copper pipe. It was leading to the sink in the kids room. We have been using the pressure water lately, so my guess is that after not being used, the new stress caused the tubes to separate. No damage was done, and after tightening up the hose clamp, we were back in business. Nothing like a little added excitement when you're underway!

At 8:30 we put the kids to bed and got ready for night sailing. The wind and seas were still fairly calm and we were due to round Frying Pan at midnight. Good, I thought, that would be during Chris's watch.

At just around midnight Chris woke me up to let me know that he had decided to take a cut through the shoals called Frying Pan Sloop. At our end it was marked by two unlit buoys. He could see them on our radar, but he wanted help visually spotting them as well. Thank goodness for a bright moon. We spotted the buoys with no problem and headed for the white light marking the other side of the channel. Oh, and did I mention that while I was asleep the wind and waves came completely around to our stern? Now we have nice following seas, and no more pounding. We made it through the channel and left Cape Fear and Frying Pan Shoals behind us. Yea!

Now it is quarter to four in the morning and my 5-15 knot winds have come up to 15-20 knots. The following seas are rocking us from side to side. I'm chalking it up to the typical night time wind and sea build. I'm not sure if the waves are getting bigger or if my nerves are getting shorter. We just passed a weather buoy that was reporting 7.5 foot seas with a 10 second period. (the period is the distance between the waves. Usually if the period is longer than the height, you're ok) That sounds about right. I checked out the next buoy ahead of us, and it's reporting 2.5 foot seas with a 9 second period. I'm hoping that holds. It figures, because we'll hit that one...err...pass by that one when it is daytime. Why do things always have to pick up at night?!?!!? Grrrrrrr...

About two hours till daylight and eight hours till we get to Beaufort. Go Pelican!

Now it is 9:30 on Sunday night. I'm just entering this blog into the computer. I don't like to bring my computer up top when the seas are high, so everything is written by hand and typed later.

I made it through my night watch and the seas never settled. In fact they continued to build ever so slightly. We were counting every pain staking minute until we reached the Beaufort inlet. Overall the seas weren't bad, but every once in a while we would get a series of short period 10 foot waves that tried to turn the boat parallel to the high seas. I was just tired of dealing with the waves. After reading the buoy report earlier, I was expecting some relief. So when it didn't come, it was all the more disappointing.

Once we reached the channel to the inlet, Chris took us off autopilot and hand steered Pelican. He had to struggle to keep her pointed in the right direction. Luckily there was another sailboat in front of us to follow in. We have come through this inlet once before, but it's always nice to have someone else going first. As soon as we came into the lee of land the waves disappeared. We all breathed a sigh of relief. Except for Kaitlin. She was yelling "Wheeeee", and "Look no hands", every time we went over a big wave. It's funny to think this is the same girl who used to cry every time the boat heeled. She has come a long way.

Once in the harbor we pulled up to the marina and settled in. I ate some lunch and promptly fell asleep in the cockpit. I think my face missed the other half of my sandwich by inches as I started dozing.

Tomorrow Noni and Poppi are due to meet us. I just can't say how excited I am to see them. Casey and Kaitlin are bursting as well as Chris. The last time we saw them was our original stop in Nassau. At dinner tonight Casey said that it was quite a shock to get ripped away from them like we did. "We used to get to see them every weekend", he said. "And now we only get to see them once in a while". He loves them so much, as do the rest of us. Tomorrow can't come soon enough!

Friday, July 10, 2009

For every action there's a reaction, oh - and weather sites

Chris here... Kristen is down below kicking herself hard and is not a happy camper right now. We turned around and headed up to the Megadock but it turns out that they are having a billfishing tournament there this weekend and it's completely full. So, we pulled a 180 and went back down the Ashley River and up the Cooper River a little to the Charleston Harbor Marina. Kristen hasn't had much time on the wheel during docking over the past few months, so we decided to switch roles - her on the wheel and I would handle the lines. We approached the spot on the dock they gave us and the wind caught our stern a bit and shoved Pelican into the corner of the dock. Unfortunately, it turns out that there was a 1" bolt sticking out the side of the corner and it proceeded to run a footlong and 1/8" - 1/4" deep gouge into our gelcoat and fiberglass. So, after Kristen spent the last two weeks polishing our hull, we've managed to do significant damage to the side already. She's less upset about the gouge and more upset about the fact that we got the gouge after she just did so much work. I completely understand and I've been trying to tell her "It happens", but she's still kicking herself. Oh well, another day, another project. I think we'll try to fix it ourselves, although from what I understand gelcoat is not easy stuff to work with and color matching can be tough. We'll get it though. In the meantime, we're gonna hang out here for the day and try for Beaufort again tomorrow when the weather clears up.

By the way, I received a couple of e-mails from people saying there are other weather sources than Chris Parker. I thought I would share the ones we use so others don't have to hunt for them. In addition to Chris Parker, we primarily use three other weather sources - Passageweather.com, SailFlow.com and the National Weather Service. We also sometimes download the information in a special format called GRIB. Passageweather.com has a good interface and will show wave height forecasts in addition to the wind forecast. SailFlow.com, if you click on the wind prediction link, will give you several different weather models to pick from to see what the wind is going to be like, and it provides a fairly granular forecast. The National Weather Service is usually wrong, but we check them out anyway. Usually you can multiply their wave height prediction by two and you'll be close to what conditions will actually be like. If you're into GRIBs, you can download an OK GRIB display program at www.grib.us. If you have your own display program (we can display our data in our navigation software - Rosepoint Coastal Explorer) - you can download the latest GRIB data at ftp://polar.ncep.noaa.gov/pub/waves/latest_run/. All of the GRIB information (wind, wave heights, etc.) can be downloaded directly by clicking this link. The last two sources we tend to use, if we want to see cloud cover, infrared imagery, or historical wind speeds in storms are at http://wwwghcc.msfc.nasa.gov/GOES/ and http://manati.orbit.nesdis.noaa.gov/quikscat/ (EDIT 12/23/2010: Quickscat has been deprecated.  Euro ASCAT is the closest replacement: http://manati.orbit.nesdis.noaa.gov/datasets/ASCATData.php)

In general, however, we'll look at all of this stuff and then speak to Chris Parker. He's been watching the areas we're in for many years and knows what storms and winds tend to do. In other words, he is a vast storehouse of local knowledge that doesn't necessarily show itself on weather charts. This will often give us the specific information we need to know in order to get out of an area when all of the other weather products show generic information, or to stay in port when the same thing happens. We make our own assessment, but it's nice to have someone backing us up.

Let's try tomorrow...

Chris here... everything is fine, but we talked to Chris Parker this morning on our way out of Charleston Harbor and he said we'd have 5ft seas with 15-20kts of wind right on our nose. Tomorrow is supposed to be less wind and swinging to the south, plus lower seas through Sunday. While the wind is supposed to pick up to 20-25kts by Sunday evening, we should hopefully be in by then, and even if it does it will be from behind us. So... we've decided to turn around and head to the Megadock for one night and we'll try this again tomorrow!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Heading to Beaufort, NC tomorrow!

Chris here.. Well, Pelican was launched yesterday, and she still floats! Yippee!! I'm really tired right now, so just a short post... The good news and the bad news: Good news - she floats, the engine started on the first try when we first launched her and also today, and we were able to get the engine RPM's up to 3400 with the engine in gear. The bad news: We couldn't get the prop spinning faster than 2400 until we went fast in forward, put ourselves in hard reverse, heard a big "thunk" coming from under the boat, and then put ourselves back in forward. Then, all of a sudden, we could go in forward at more than 2400RPM's. We're not quite sure what's up, so we'll be more testing over the next few days. The other piece of bad news: we did an oil change and the oil MAY have had a milky color. It didn't look like it when it was sitting in the bucket, but when we poured it out into the oil drum we saw some whiteness to it. Kristen doesn't recall what was in the bucket before - whether it may have been something chalky. It wasn't milky until the very last bit from the bottom of the bucket, so I'm not 100% sure. All I can say is that we're going to keep a close eye on everything and take it gently, a day at a time.

Tomorrow morning at 5am we leave Charleston to head for Beaufort, NC. We'll be going on the outside, around Cape Fear. If y'all remember our trip down, we hit 35-40kt winds and 12ft seas on our way around Cape Fear the last time and ended up ducking in for several days over New Years. We're obviously a bit apprehensive about this trip, especially since the weather forecast is now calling for winds at 20kts and seas to 7 feet through tomorrow, and only moderating slightly on Saturday, with squalls to 40kts possible through Saturday. We figure we'll poke our nose out of the harbor tomorrow and see how it is, and stick around if it doesn't look good. If we're out for a few hours and don't like it, we can always duck into Georgetown, SC or turn around. We expect to arrive in Beaufort late Saturday afternoon/evening. Keep on eye on our track by clicking on the link to the right.

Speaking of turning around, we got an e-mail from our good friends on Side by Side. Apparently, due to various problems with their computers and engines, plus difficult weather, they decided to turn around on their way to Panama and are on their way to North Carolina too. We wish they could have made it, but we'll be happy to see them again.

Anyway, keep an eye on our track tomorrow, and we'll hopefully be talking to you from Beaufort next!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

I'm alive...I think

Kristen here - Today is Wednesday July 8. Last night I was checking out my newly formed arm muscles and noticed that there is a significant difference between my right and left arm. The buffer holding arm has made me lopsided.

When I first picked up the buffer and started using it, I never thought I'd make it through this whole process. The buffer gets really heavy really fast. It also likes to goop up and catch on things. This makes it want to take off and fling out of your hands, producing a strong jerking force on your arms. "It's not worth it", I thought. I knew this was going to hurt....a lot.

Once I got used to the buffer and the associated buffing liquids things got a little easier. Every day we've been coming home exhausted though. I was more than a little excited when the job was done! Now I need a week off to heal the various cuts, scrapes and sore muscles.

The kids have been simply amazing for this whole time. They have occupied a small conference room in the yard's office. In the morning they tackle school on their own, and when they're done they watch movies and read books. Casey has even built a small hovercraft! I can't say how amazing it is that they have occupied themselves for all this time.

I would write more, but my hands are sore and we have to get going. The boat is being launched today, and we have to make sure nothing leaks! Soon we will be on the move again.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Almost Done

Chris here... Well, we finished the compound, polish and wax of Pelican today. We're absolutely floored with the results. We've gone from a boat with seaweed growing around the waterline, soot on the aft end from the generator and discoloration all the way around to a bright, shiny hull that shows the reflection of everything around it. For those of you that care, we used Presta Gelcoat Compound, Presta Ultra Cutting Creme and Colinite Fleet Wax (paste) plus a number of supporting supplies. Feel free to e-mail us for more information, but I can say there is definitely a difference in spending some extra money on the products. It took us two days to compound, one day to polish and half a day to do the wax. Each day was about 10 hours long and the first three included holding the buffer/polisher (about 10lbs) above our heads while it spun at 2000+ RPM. When I say "We", I mostly mean Kristen though. Actually, I don't think I touched the buffer, but I'll stick with the "We". I did put the tape around the boat, and today I did all of the wax removal (not as easy as it sounds), so I did contribute somewhat! OK.. when I say "I", I really mean Kristen. Oh whatever. We are sooooooooooo happy to have it done!

Tomorrow we have a bunch of miscellaneous projects - install the new vented loop, reinstall the rub rail bronze strips, pressure test the cooling system and a few other odds and ends. Then we're done with this maintenance session! We're hoping to launch on Wednesday and then head to Beaufort on Friday. We need to run the prop for a while to make sure it doesn't fall off (since we took care of the re-install ourselves) and then we'll be ready to head north. I've been working on pictures going all the way back to the beginning of May. There will probably be over 100! Look for them soon.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Oy!

Chris here... Happy July 4th! OK... here's the definition of insanity - not outlawing fireworks! It sounded like a war zone down here tonight. Coming from New York, where you need a permit to have and launch fireworks (which you pretty much can't get as a private citizen), it was crazy seeing all of the huge fireworks being launched in a 360 degree circle (as opposed to Kristen's 365 degree circle) around us, cul-de-sacs everywhere alight with colors and explosions. We had to participate, so at 7pm tonight, Kristen and Casey ran down to one of the 200 fireworks shacks set up along the main highway and picked up some explosives. We had a blast setting them off (no pun intended), although they were definitely sedate compared to some of the other ones around this neighborhood (which were often big enough to be used at the New York City fireworks extravaganza!). We also stopped by Patriot Point today which is the home of a decommissioned aircraft carrier and submarine. It seemed a fitting event to tuck in on Independence Day, and our one day off from working on Pelican.

We certainly didn't expect to be here so long. As a matter of fact, we hadn't even expected to haul Pelican out at all while here in Charleston. As Kristen explained, circumstances lent themselves well to this opportunity by allowing us to stay at a wonderful home of some good friends. Not having to live on Pelican while she's on the hard during 105 degree heat is a blessing. When she's not in the water we can't run the air conditioning or use the head, so if we had to live on her, like many do when they are doing their haulout work, we would have been miserable. Instead, we have a great house to live in while working on Pelican.

I'd also like to mention that the workers at Pierside Boatworks (formerly Charleston Boatworks) have been a pleasure to work with. They've answered many questions for us and have gone out of their way to make sure we have everything we need. On top of that, they've let Casey and Kaitlin use their conference room for over a week now so that they have a place to do their schoolwork and read/use the computer while Kristen and I are working on Pelican.

Speaking of Pelican, we were mostly successful with getting the bow pulpit back on. The last bolt is spinning in its hole so there seems to be an issue with the nut below. If we can't get it to bite, which I don't think we'll be able to do, we'll drill all the way through the fiberglass and put a backing plate underneath it and bolt it into that. It would have been nice if everything was perfect, but it worked out far better than I had hoped for and we don't have to do any fiberglass work to fix the problem.

We (and by "We" I mean mostly Kristen) worked hard in the blazing sun last week and managed to finish the compounding of both sides of Pelican plus her stern. Yes, it took us about a day and a half JUST to compound, but she is already looking incredible. She has consistent color to her hull on both sides (as opposed to a sooty blotchy look) and is starting to shine up pretty well. Tomorrow we start the polishing, but we're hoping that takes a bit less time. Then we'll wax her and be done with all of the maintenance work for now. She needs to have her entire cap rail removed and the area underneath it resealed (right now, every time it rains the cap rail "bleeds" wood pulp down the side of the hull), and a lot of gelcoat repairs around the chocks, but we're going to leave that for the Fall.

With regards to plans, it seems as if we have just missed a weather window and it's going to be somewhat unstable for the next week. Thunderstorms and squalls are predicted for the next several days so I don't think we'll be getting out of here quickly. It's a bit disappointing since I really want to get north so we have enough time to visit both our family and our friends, and to also visit New England for a little bit of time. We'll see how it goes - a day at a time. Right now, we're expecting to launch on Tuesday or Wednesday, and then we'll sit tight until a window shows up allowing us to head to Beaufort, NC. We'll let you know how things progress as soon as we figure it out ourselves!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Sorry for being incommunicado

Chris here.. sorry for dropping out of sight. We've been working LONG hours in 100 degree plus heat for the past week and a half. A list of projects done so far:

  • We raised her waterline by 3.5" and put new bottom paint and a new bootstripe on her
  • Pulled off the bronze from the rubrail and stripped it, compounded and polished it and put new lacquer on, and filled all of the rubrail holes with epoxy so we can redrill the holes.
  • We pulled the prop off and sent it to AB Marine (Gori distributor) to see if there was a problem with it, and there isn't, but they did grease it up and do some other maintenance, and now it feathers much better. It was a major pain to take off as red loctite was used everywhere (took almost an entire day to get off), but it went back on smoothly.
  • We repainted our pedestal
  • We removed our bimini/dodger and re-waterproofed them.
  • We pulled off our vented loop for our exhaust and have replaced it - we hope that may solve the partial hydraulic lock/starting issue.
  • We replaced all of the zincs
  • We cleaned off the speed transducer of shrimp, worms and barnacles
  • We pulled off the bow pulpit, finally got the old wire out (not easy at all) and pulled new wire through (also not easy). We have to rebed the pulpit and then re-attach it to the bow. We're hoping the nuts encased in the fiberglass haven't swollen making it impossible to put back on (and requiring us to grind them out and refiberglass). We'll see how it goes.
  • Later today we start the hull compound/polish/wax. We're using Presta products which are supposed to be the best of the best - we'll see how that goes. Hopefully well!
Not bad for about 7 days of work. I think we're done after we do the hull cleaning and the pulpit rebedding. There's lots more to do, but we should be able to do the rest while in the water.