Monday, June 26, 2017

An Incredible Photo of Keyport Harbor at Sunset

I've been interacting from time to time with Stan, another photographer from the Keyport area.  I know him mostly from the drone videos he posts on the Keyport Facebook page, but he was also working on the parade of yachts I photographed a few years back.

He's also a pilot and today he posted this incredible photo of last evening's sunset over Keyport harbor.  Seas The Day in in there somewhere... I think it's the line of yachts just below the channel and probably just at the right edge of the sunlight reflection. I can't see the maroon covers from Sugah, so I'm not certain.

Anyway, I contacted Stan and he was nice enough to give me permission to include this shot on the blog, so please check out his page!

The photo is obviously looking west from probably above Union Beach somewhere.  The shore just below the sun is South Amboy, just to the right of that in the far distance is the NJ Transit bridge and the Driscol/Route 9 bridges behind that and you can even just make out the Great Beds Light in the upper right.

It's an incredible photo, Stan.  Thanks!

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Sailing with Michelle, Eric & Evan

I've been talking with my colleagues Michelle and Eric about having them come sailing with me on Seas The Day.  Like previous weeks this year, the weather report coming up to the weekend was all over the place, but when I checked it on Friday, it looked good.  So I said there will be a touch of rain in the morning and after that it should clear up.  Winds looked like they would be right were we wanted them (12 to 15 knots) with occasional higher gusts.

Yea, right... touch of rain, huh?

As I departed, I headed into this...

As I'm snapping this photo, I'm listening to NJ101.5 announce that there is no longer a TORNADO WARNING over NJ.  (At this point I'm just slightly questioning my sanity.)  Are we really going to get to go sailing?  Approaching the Delaware Memorial Bridge, it actually looked like a dementor attack (a la Harry Potter) was taking place over NJ.

But I continued and once I got to the club, things didn't look too bad.  So I boarded the launch and headed out...

To find that my new mooring is still getting tangled.  I noticed that Dan had added an extra heavy rope since one of mine was fraying from rubbing the chain under the ball.  I expect we'll get this sorted out soon.

After puttering around for an hour or so, I looked up to see the launch delivering my guests (after a quick tour of the mooring field).  About this time, I noticed that the seas were a bit rough... there were lots of whitecaps, and the wind speed indicator was reading above 20.  It was a bit of a struggle to get everyone aboard and I was just listening to the KYC race committee tell the launches that today's races would be postponed due to too much wind (they were eventually cancelled - though we didn't know that fact).  It was more sustained wind in the 20 kt range, with occasional lulls down to 15 or so.  

Yea well... weather reports... gotta luv 'em.

So we had lunch in the Salon, I took them through all the safety briefings, and I finally decided that we could just motor around, but there would be no sailing unless things calmed down a bit.

I don't have many photos from the first part of the trip... approaching 2ft waves in some places, and while we weren't in any danger, it was rough enough to make aspects of the trip unpleasant.

We headed to the Great Beds Light.  Since the wind was coming from the WNW, once we got over there it calmed down a bit and we could do the standard photo shoot I do around there, but you can clearly see that it is still quite windy.

(photo credit: Michelle)

From there, we slowly motored east, staying relatively close to Staten Island.  Evan was interested in taking the helm, so I guided him on what to do.  He did really well for a kid his age taking his first turn on this type of boat.  I guess it's the Boy Scout in him (he's headed for Philmont later this summer and he easily has the best sense of direction of any of our guests).

(photo credit: Michelle)

We made our way as far as Old Orchard Shoal.  Eric took the helm and rounded the shoal and got us started back (for some reason I don't have a photo of Eric).  

As it continued to calm, eventually we were confident enough to pull out the mainsail and make it back and forth across the bay twice on wind power.

At last, it was time to head west and get back to the mooring.  Michelle took the helm for a while.

(photo credit: Michelle)

Finally it was time to pick up the ball.  My friend Mike caught us on our final approach.

(photo credit: Mike)

We headed upstairs to the clubhouse and found a table available on the deck.  We had our customary beverages and then decided to order Sushi so we could enjoy the view a bit longer.

These guys are serious about their sushi!

Once full, I saw them off for their trip back down to Delaware and hung around the bar to enjoy the view a bit more before catching a ride to my home for the night.

This morning I woke up to clear skies and smooth (almost lake-like) water.  Despite applying sunscreen several times yesterday, I had some sunburn on my arms and the top of my head (either my hair is thinning, or my had band absorbed the sunscreen - I'll go with the latter).  

So I decided to leave the Open House in good hands (once I burn a little, its a down-hill battle) and head home and free up a parking space. 

Sugah and Seas The Day

Seas The Day all battened down for a week
(Except for the fact that I forgot to take in the flag)

As we approached the dock there was a traffic jam (3 sailboats boats at the dock)!  A group of several boats were heading out on a 2 week cruise of Long Island Sound.  I saw the notice of this excursion and if Vicky were in town, we'd be heading there.  Maybe next time...

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Rebuilding the Marine Head - Part 2

After a few nights of research and some deliveries from, I headed up the turnpike early Friday morning with a plan.  The videos had said that replacing the pump assembly should take 15 minutes or so.  I allowed an hour... leaving early enough that I could complete it and still start my workday from Seas The Day on time for my conference calls.

I got to KYC and took the launch out.  The bay was relatively calm.

I quickly set out all the tools, parts, buckets, etc.

Shut off the seacocks under the sink...

And removed the pump assembly...

It turned out that at least one of the problems was a bad joker valve (you shouldn't see any holes in it like below.  This is an items that evidently should be changed once a year.  (We had not done that.)  Lesson learned.

This almost seemed too easy. (Read below for the rest of the story.)  The new one went on without a hitch and we were back ready to do our business!

Get your mind out of the gutter... I meant working from the boat (like doing my real job).

I work for a nice company with a great policy that allows me to "work from home" occasionally.  All I need is my laptop, a wifi hotspot (KYC is planning to install a special dockside wifi thingy this season) and with the VPN, it's just like I'm at my office without all the monitors.

So I did my prep work, emails and joined some WebEx meetings during the morning.  It started getting kind of rocky, so at lunch time I brought everything ashore where I could plug in and continue in the afternoon with a nice view from my "office".

I had only packed shorts and after a bit, Bill took pity on me and let me into the waterfront room where I could get everything out my boss needed.  Finally, all trips (even those that never leave the mooring) end up at the KYC bar and this evening was no exception.

While there, I had a wonderful conversation with Dan, a "colleague" from IFF (in quotes, because I didn't know he was a colleague at the time - we only overlapped a couple of weeks).  He's also a recent member (much younger) that enjoys photography (mostly videos).  He made a wonderful video for the club's upcoming open house.

After running some errands, I went back aboard to catch some sleep before my brother and his family came out for a sail on Saturday.

I had... easily... my WORST night on Seas The Day.  The waves were not bad... I've been out with rougher conditions, but I was really being tossed around in the V-berth.  I woke up (at 1:30 - after the launch service ended) and realized that I was actually getting seasick.  Fortunately we had a few remedies on board (I chewed some ginger gum and wore the seasick bands the rest of the night) and I was able to sleep for the night.

I'll spare you details - and certainly photos - on the next adventure.  I woke up kind of tired and forgot to put water in the bowl before doing my business... and must have used too much TP for the head and... well...  It clogged.  This time I was practiced at disassembling the pump but... um... things oozed, and well, it was a MESS.  After a LOT of swearing... some rinsing... disassembly and reassembly, a bleach wash for my hands and feet (I had to stand somewhere), the head was back looking like it did above and working properly.

Fortunately it was very calm water and after cleaning up, I had another taste test of the freeze dried food I've been storing away for an emergency.

After breakfast, things on-board started getting rocky again and I walked forward and realized that my mooring (we just had installed) was badly wound up/tangled resulting in a very short lead from the ball to the bow.  This had the effect of pulling the bow down a bit and having it move with the waves that moved the ball, and was the cause of all the motion issues I was experiencing.

I placed a call to Dan and he said it would be squared away in the next day or two.

At this point, I checked the weather and it was clear that rain was going to be the order of the day.  I checked in with my brother and we agreed to cancel the day.

So I headed back down the turnpike and passed several bands of severe rain.  Canceling was the right decision.

Later that evening John came down for a Father's Day visit.  He's starting his own Amazon business and had a sample I could use for some product photography practice.  So if I couldn't practice my one hobby (sailing), there's always another.  Happy Father's Day!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Rebuilding the Marine Head - Part 1

Seas The Day has a serviceable head (boat speak for bathroom) on board.  It's a small sink/shower combination and a marine toilet.  So far it has performed flawlessly, but this year we are having some issues.  As I noted on our last post, something happened at the end of the day an we are no longer able to pump it.  Not good.

Our marine toilet is a manual model.  You do your business in the bowl like normal toilets, but then you use the hand pump on the side to pump it out.  There's a little lever on the right (just above the T handle for the pump) that allows you to pump "wet" or "dry".  Wet means that sea water is pumped in and washes down the bowl as you pump out the waste.  Dry means that the pumping action just pumps out the waste.  Our normal practice is to pump dry and use freshwater from the sink/shower to "flush" the bowl.  That has worked pretty well so far.

But now the handle doesn't pump and I came home to hit the web and find out what my choices are.  Below is the parts diagram from Jabsco.  

As you can see, the marine toilet is a relatively simple device, but it does have a lot of rubber seals, o-rings and gaskets that can be replaced.  Interestingly, diagnosing and buying the parts individually is the most expensive way to go.  There are "rebuild" kits that are sold with all the commonly replaced parts in them.  The procedures don't seem too difficult but for only a few $$ more, you can just buy a replacement pump assembly already assembled with all new seals, gaskets and o-rings.  That seems to be the way to go as the procedure to replace the unit is fairly simple, and this all has to be done while the boat is sloshing around in the water.

So a replacement pump assembly along with an extra Joker valve (allows the shit to only flow one way - and something I should have been replacing each year) are on their way from Amazon.

Since a through-hull (boat speak for hole in the boat below the waterline) is involved, I also got a couple of plugs... just in case!

To be continued...

2017 Bill Volk Regatta

This is Regatta weekend.  Keyport Yacht Club hosts a series of races each June partly as their contribution to the local sailing racing organization and they've also turned it into a nice altruism effort by using the event to raise money for RAINE (a local charity aimed at helping struggling families).

I've been the official photographer for this event in the past, but schedules this week meant I could only do a day trip on Saturday.  I got up early and hit the turnpike, getting to the club in time for one of the early runs.

I arrived to find a gift so to speak.  Two weird eggs just sitting in the cockpit.  There was no other sign of a nest, so they weren't viable eggs and either they were brought here by a predator (??) or it was a bird abortion of sorts.  I hope the fish don't get too high of cholesterol levels because they accidentally rolled overboard shortly afterward once the boat started sloshing around from my movement.

I then started with a few "boat chores" - little things needed to keep up/improve Seas The Day.  I wanted to start being able to easily take down the burgee as we finally replaced the flag line.  I added a simple plastic cleat to the shroud to make this go a bit smoother.

We've had several split rings fall off our lifelines, so I bought a bunch and replaced two of them.  Not big chores, but something to do while I'm waiting.

As I waited for John to arrive I tested the equipment with some test shots.  I caught my neighbor, Joe, on Sugar picking up his mooring, and diver Dan at work in the mooring field.

Eventually the launch delivered John and we could get started.

Today we weren't sailing... just motoring around so I could get photos.  John was the helmsman.  I had two cameras, telephoto lenses, extenders, etc. to keep track of and didn't want to miss any photographic opportunities or shirk my skipper duties.

We motored out to find Observer (the race committee boat) and found everyone sitting in the middle of a dead calm bay.  God was NOT cooperating with the sailboat race plans.  While we waited a couple of boats came by for boat photos.

After about an hour we all headed back to the starting location (the whole group of us had drifted with the current) and we found wind.  So the race was on!

Here are a couple of shots.  A full set can be found on my SmugMug site.

After the first race, my card was almost full and my knee started aching, so we headed back.

John used the head right before we headed in and mentioned that he had trouble pumping.  Once we tied up, I checked it and sure enough we can't pump it without an unusual amount of effort.  We closed up and I came home to work up photos and research marine toilets.  Look for a shitty blog post coming up soon!