Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Boat is Back!

Finally all the work at Sale Creek was done, so we went to pick it up yesterday. Shifty was nice enough to give us a ride up to Sale Creek. (Our Hero!) We got to the marina early, paid our bill, picked up a little fuel, and headed out. We hit the river around 10:30. The forecast called for 60% chance of rain and thunderstorms. And it was pretty cloudy most of the trip. Nice and cool, though.
Overall, it was a pretty uneventful trip, so there isn't much to blog about. The sun came out about 45 minutes before we got back to the marina. It was so hot! And we both ended up a little sunburned. That spray sunscreen is really nice and easy to use, but it's easy to miss spots. So I had a very splotchy sunburn. Trevor had the usual burn on the back of his neck and shoulders.
About 30 minutes before we got back to the marina, our tiller cracked. We were switching off driving, and I leaned on it a little. I didn't even lean hard (no chubby jokes here), so it must have been weakening for a while. Luckily, it was still drivable. I wrapped a rope around the end where it connects, just to make sure it didn't crack all the way and fall off. So we made it back.
Parking the boat took a couple of tries. I think the motor is working a lot better than it was, thanks to all the recent usage (a happy diesel is one that's run a lot), so it was more responsive than I'm used to. Didn't hit any boats, though! (Luckily, I'm pretty responsive, too.) But I got it lined up perfectly on the second try and parked it like a champ. We had grand ideas of putting the boom back on and everything, but we were (read, I was) tired and ready to get back in air conditioning.
So now the boat is back and ready to be made livable. Yay! The oil leak is stopped for now, so things are looking cautiously optimistic for an early November departure. *fingers crossed*

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Mast is Finished!

We got up early this morning (I got up early, then woke up poor Trevor at 8:30 on a Saturday) to try and beat the heat to work on the boat. We managed to get there around 10:30, which is pretty good for us. Hey, did you know there's actual shade at 10:30 am? It's really quite nice.

Warning, this entry is super-full of parentheses (to explain things without making another sentence). It'll probably be annoying to read, but I didn't realize I was doing it until it was too late. Just so you're warned. Now, on to the excessive use of parentheses!

So Trevor got to work on the steaming light (light that points forward about halfway up the mast, so people can see us if we're heading toward them), and I started working on the all-around light at the top (so people can see us anchored from far away and know to stay away from us, because we're mean and scary when awakened at night). We both had to drill new holes for the new hardware. And we both had to redrill those holes because they weren't quite right the first time (poor mast and mast cap had a bad day). The wire Trevor bought had really thick insulation (good) that made it really hard to work with (bad). So we had some challenges with that. Had to go to the marina store to get wire terminals for the all-around light (the steaming light is well-designed and didn't need them for installation). It was a struggle, but I finally got the light all wired up and put on the mast cap.

Then it was on to the VHF antenna! I got the wind vane put on it (without incident, if you can believe it!), then worked on getting the cable adapter plug thingy (technical term) put on. As a side note, it takes three hands to solder things. Humans do not have three hands. Thank goodness for my trusty sidekick, the Dread Pirate Trevor. When he wasn't holding things for me, Trevor worked on mounting the antenna bracket. Again, holes had to be redrilled after a screw broke off in one (he doesn't know his own strength sometimes).

So the bracket was on, the plug soldered, and everything was ready to go! Then I realized that I didn't run the cable through the hole in the mast before I put the plug on. Oh No! We didn't have extra hardware to redo the plug, so we made the hole big enough to get the plug through. Not sure if this was the best idea, but it was the only idea we had. By the way, the shade was gone by now, and it was hot! The sound of drilling a really big hole in the mast is a terrible one. Lots of metal screeching punctuated by the occasional "ouch!" from Trevor as hot metal slivers landed on him. But the hole was drilled, and the antenna was ready!

So we went to put the cap on and realized something else I did wrong. The wire for the all-around light looped around a shroud or a rope or something (I'm a little fuzzy now on exactly what it was, but it was bad, and I was pissed). Oh no! So we took the whole light fixture off and ran the wire the right way. But of course, the terminals couldn't be used again (I did a superb job of clamping them, so they were ruined). And the marina store was closed. So we had to make due with terminals that were a little small for the job. We'll just have to see how those hold up. I've gotten really good at wiring that light, so I think I'm capable of doing it dangling from a rope 40' up if I have to. I hope I don't have to.

In the end, the wires are all connected, the lights attached, the antenna looking pretty awesome with its wind vane, the main halyard run (couldn't get that done from the aforementioned dangle position a few months back), and the wires coming out of holes (the one hole that only had to be drilled once) at the bottom of the mast. Whoo!

Oh! And we looked at the fiberglass work they did on top of the boat. Totally sweet! It looks so much better than when I bought the boat. And they put in a totally sweet piece of hardware running through the deck. It's shiny and full of awesome! Sale Creek does nice work.

In conclusion, the mast is done! There was plenty of frustration, a few (lots!) swear words uttered (and yelled). But we got it done. And we're still engaged, so that's good.

Told you the parentheses were excessive. Sorry 'bout that.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

In Four Months, We'll Be Gone! Somewhere...

So I started this blog so people can keep up with us on our upcoming trip. I've been planning for quite a while now (a few years maybe?) to take the boat and sail south. The idea is to play and have adventures while I'm still young and, relatively, unattached. A while back, I convinced Trevor to come with me. Adventures are more fun if you have someone to share them with. And some extra funds don't hurt, either.
We've been planning to take the Tennessee River over to the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway, which heads right down to Mobile, AL. From there, we'll cross the Gulf to somewhere on the west coast of Florida. Then on to the Keys, probably the Dry Tortugas, possibly the Bahamas, and generally floating to wherever we feel we can make it. Island hopping and coastal cruising are pretty much all my 27' Hunter can handle, so we won't be crossing the Atlantic or anything. For that, we're gonna need a bigger boat.
Together, we've been fixing up the boat, making it seaworthy and livable. At this moment, it's up on blocks at Sale Creek Marina, getting some fiberglass work done and a new swim ladder put on. (I had a rope ladder that was an adventure in itself to climb.) We're also in the process of rewiring the mast and putting on new navigation lights and a swanky VHF antenna. We may be done with this part of the boat fixing this weekend. Wow! Progress is good!
So you're up to date on the boat.
And now there are complications. What I've been working toward for years is now being threatened. There's a pretty big oil spill in the Gulf (by "pretty big", I mean catastrophically gigantic and still spewing). And do you know what oily water does to a marine engine? Very, very bad things! Diesel engine death. Currently, the oil is all around Mobile, which means we cannot go that way. Is there another way? Not really. So right now it's wait and see. It's possible things could be cleared up considerably in a few months. Maybe we'll still get to go according to the plan. More likely, it'll still be a big mess, so we're working on contingency plans.
Whatever happens, we're retiring and going somewhere at the end of October. It'll start with a boat trip, possibly only three weeks to get the boat back to the marina where my family keeps all of their boats. It's considerably cheaper there than keeping it in Chattanooga, and the family will be there to keep an eye on it. If the big boat trip is postponed, we may take off to Europe or Australia, or some other exotic and amazing place. Maybe even Mexico; everything is cheap there, especially tequila! So we won't burn through all of our money in two months. Maybe when spring rolls around, the oil will be under control. If it isn't, maybe we'll take the boat up to the Great Lakes and across to the Atlantic. Lobster in Maine? Yes please! Or we may just backpack around Europe until the money runs out.
Whatever happens, we're going to travel and have a great time. We've worked hard for this, and we won't be stopped by factors outside of our control.
And now there's a handy blog so you can follow us.