Sunday, May 22, 2016

Working from Boat...

The weather outlook for this weekend wasn't great, but Thursday evening through Saturday morning looked to be OK.  Since I only had this weekend to test out my WIFI hotspot, I headed over to NJ deciding to "work from boat" on Friday.

I deliberately did NOT take a bunch of camera equipment - this was mostly about work.  It means the photo of the night view awaiting me wasn't that great (or at least as good as it could be).  That decision will haunt me on Friday evening at sunset.

On Friday morning, I got up early, set up the office, made breakfast and got down to work.  Without going into details, the WIFI response was good - excellent for sharing emails and documents, presentations, spreadsheets, etc.  Client-server response with my scientific software where my laptop was the client was also decent.  Going through remote desktop and VMWare to get to other systems was as slow as expected, but also doable.

Before you know it, it was lunch time.  A quick prep of some clam chowder (always have to have oyster crackers with that) and I was able to keep going, but laptop battery was starting to show signs of quitting early.  I had brought an iPad as a backup to use the new OneDrive corporate IT just gave me, but my iPad wasn't deemed secure enough (that took a while to work through).  I took that as far as I could and then spend the last bit of the day answering emails via iPhone.

About that time, I found myself sitting in a cesspool of sorts.  Not sure what the scum was, but as late afternoon was approaching, it was time for some sailing, anyway.

Motoring out of the harbor, I found a brand new #3 buoy.  I'm guessing the coast guard isn't monitoring this blog and they knew it was missing before last week's entry.

A little after 5:00 PM, the sails were up!

I sailed almost out to Old Orchard Shoal, crossed the bay back to Keansburg and then headed back to the Keyport channel.  This was a first for me!  I SAILED (single handing) from the Keyport #1 buoy, in a triangle pattern and got back to that Keyport #1 buoy all under sail.  This is hardly a feat of great navigation, but in the past our sailing was pretty much "whatever way the wind takes us" and at some point we turn on the motor to get from one point to another (usually while returning).  So hopefully all the reading over the winter is helping and I'm beginning to bring it all together.

The leg back was on a beam reach and heading into the sunset on under those conditions was fabulous.  

The Keyport #1 buoy!

After tying up on the ball, I headed ashore and had a beer at the KYC bar while ordering sushi from Nemo Asian Fusion to take back to Seas The Day for a "Sushi at Sunset" way to finish off the day.

I sorely regretted not bringing the good camera.  The cloud features during sunset were spectacular - all sorts of colors swirling around the sun - almost like an impressionist painting.

I went to sleep right after sunset.  Then woke up Saturday morning and cleaned up the rest of Seas The Day's interior... mopped the floors, wiped down all the counters and stowed away the rest of the items.  I still want to find a place to stow the extra life jackets other than in the main salon, but aside from that, everything has its place.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Launch Day

Yesterday, I took a day off from work, loaded all the boat crap into the car and drove to Keyport, NJ.  Getting to Pedersen's yard, I found Seas The Day waiting patiently for me, having just been lowered in the water.

This was great because it meant that I could park between the boats and only had to carry the boat crap 5 to 6 feet and toss it aboard.  

While fortunate, I found out that the reason she was tied up at the yard was that my mooring wasn't ready.  So I ran over to KYC and caught a launch to find that sure enough, there was nothing other than the ball we found the other day (no pennants, no pick-up stick).  Just then John Olsen came walking down the dock with my rig and headed out to fix up my mooring.  Talk about "just in time delivery"!  (I later learned from Brother's Diving that my pick up stick was missing.  I knew where that was... it was on my boat for the winter.  I guess Pedersens left it on board when the took her in for the winter.)

By the time that was all finished, it was starting to rain, so I had a drizzly ride out past the Keyport waterfront and into the bay.  

I had never been out on the bay this early before... I motored out past the mooring field and into the bay.  That's when I realized that the #3 buoy is missing!  I wonder if it got lost in the storm last fall?  I spent a half an hour practicing some "under power" maneuvers... going through a few of the exercises from ASA 101 and 103 -- you, know, just to be sure I kept my skills up.

I'm lying... I went out and did donuts.  (You can do that on a boat without tearing up your neighbor's lawn.)  It was just a joy to out... I didn't care about the rain (although I was getting soaked and it was mid 60s), it was just fun.  With no Bimini and a chill starting, I headed in and picked up the stick.

From there I set up the Bimini and went below to start unpacking. I started by leaving the pile on the salon table, and checking all the seacocks, and view ports, as well as the safety equipment (fire extinguishers, flares, etc.). 

The first item was to refresh the Kanberra Gel (this stuff works wonders on keeping mildew at bay), then I stowed the food, some of the safety and maintenance gear, and got started at the ends of the boat - the cabins.

The aft cabin is tucked away behind the companionway and on our boat is the only cabin with a door, so we give that one to guests.  Fitted sheets on odd-sized mattresses are a PITA, but with some time and a few tries, I figured it out.  The aft cabin also serves as a bit of a storage place... it holds the bowsprit when we're not using it and the windows for the dodger.  I expect we'll keep a set of the lifejackets there as well.

The forward V-berth is space for Vicky and me.  It has a wonderful skylight and nice shelves.  The only problem is that the mattress ends right at the doorway.  Yes, there is a little cut-out that you can remove, but the fitted sheets only fit the entire mattress.  Still, it's a nice place to lounge in during the morning while writing your blog.

About that time, I was ready to go ashore.  I had some errands to do (had to get a hotspot so I have WiFi on the boat) and ended up meeting a fried at the KYC bar for a drink at sunset.

I decided to turn in relatively early... I caught the launch a little after sunset, 

And watched it head back to town after dropping me off. 

After sitting a spell and enjoying the view, I went below and got my new hotspot working.  My hope is to avoid some of the weekend traffic this summer by working on the boat on select Fridays.  I have plenty of room to work in the salon, I just need a solid Internet connection. 

After a while I turned in... sleeping while moored was different than on the dock.  Yes, there was more motion, but also better ventilation (the boat always points to the wind and with even a crack in the hatch you get good air).


The downside of all this is that I was rudely awaken by all the fishermen that started going out just after sunrise.  I'll take that as a first-world problem and be thankful for getting to see the sunrise over Conaskonk Point.

After a lazy morning, I tested the propane system so I could make some coffee and oatmeal.  This is one of the most important safety checks on a boat - it has nothing to do about sailing - but a bad propane system can ruin your day of sailing REALLY fast. 

So, the test is turn off all the propane taps on the stove, turn on the solenoid, open the propane bottle and close it tight.  If there are any leaks, the gauge should drop quickly...

So we wait 20 min... and the gauge is the same!

20 minutes later and no change... Good to go.  Time for breakfast.

After a leisurely breakfast, I got to work.  First, I wanted to make sure all the battery cells were topped off with distilled water.

Then I installed the new longer solar panel.  The new one is a bit longer than the old one so it should be ok to keep mounted while sailing - the lines will just move above it.  This system is designed so that it can offset the slight discharge that occurs in lead acid batteries with time.  The main charging system is still the alternator on the diesel engine.

I don't have photos for the rest of the morning, but I also installed two rail cleats at mid-ship.  The Catalina 315 doesn't have mid-ship cleats for some reason which makes tying a spring line difficult.  I found some foldable cleats that bolt on the toe-rail at West Marine, which were an easy install.

Oh, I also sanitized the water system by pouring a cup of unscented Clorox into the tank.  This will slosh around during the next week.  We made a decision early on that we wouldn't drink the water from the holding tank on Seas The Day.  We're still using bottled water for drinking and cooking.  I eventually want to get away from that with a water cooler that I can carry back and forth.  But I haven't found one I like yet.

After a lunch consisting of Cup O'Noodles and Tuna Salad snack, I took a nap - this boating stuff can't be all work - before continuing.  I finished stowing things in the salon, checking more of the safety gear, finding the registration documents, etc. I started pulling out safety equipment like the life sling, below, but then I noticed that the wind was picking up significantly.  

So I quickly put out the bird chaser... and then (sorry, no photos) noticed that the birds had already bombed the Bimini cover.  With the wind reaching over 25kts, and the bird stains, I gave up on wrapping the cover and pulled it down.  

I quickly stowed everything and gathered the stuff I needed to take back and called for the launch.  I didn't realize how badly conditions had become until Ray called from 10ft away to "Get Ready!"  Crap... I had camera bags, computers, luggage, extra pillows and garbage - oh and a laundry basket with bird stained Bimini.  In hindsight, I should have told him to go around and re-stowed what I didn't need.  But I started handing stuff to people and as three people tried to hold the launch and Seas The Day together, I scrambled over the lifelines into the launch.  

I didn't realize until in the launch how stressful the wind was and how exhausted I was getting... I was halfway back the dock until I realized that Tony was carrying my laundry basket.  

I'm going to need to figure out how to pack lightly in case of bad conditions...

So, I ended the trip by popping over to John's apt for a half-hour rest to let the shaking stop before heading home.  A nice storm was on the horizon and I'm glad I got off the water when I did.

Sunday Update...

It turns out that bringing the Bimini home was a good idea... rinsing out the bird dirt before it dried to concrete was relatively easy. 

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Moving back in...

Supposedly, Seas The Day is hanging in the sling at Pedersen's, patiently waiting the high tide so she can be launched tomorrow.  I arranged the day off, so I'll meet her in Keyport.  

That means moving back in... gathering all the dry cleaned bedding, pillows, cleaning supplies, the various winter purchases (new solar panel, Bosun's chair, anchor & rode - out in the garage) and all the medical and safety equipment, so I can carry it all on-board tomorrow.  

Then check the systems and electronics and finally go for a shakedown cruise to make sure the batteries are topped off.  This is the first year I'm doing it singlehanded, so along with me is a cell phone, a backup radio and a paid up BoatUS towing policy.  

If all goes well, I'll spend a very cold night onboard and then try some sailing on Saturday!