Thursday, January 28, 2016

New Interview Posted

James Ellingford, owner & operator of N62 Pendana, has long been publishing interviews with other Nordhavn owners as well as related industry experts.  We’re not exactly sure why they wanted to interview us, but they did, and James published it here today:

Click Here: Interview with Rick & Michelle on Ghost Rider

Cruisair & Tranny Maintenance

While I’m still trying (unsuccessfully thus far) to get a tech out to the boat to diagnose the dead stern thruster, we finally did get some much-needed repairs & maintenance done on the Cruisair tempered water A/C system this week.  We engaged Captain Ed’s Marine Service here in the FMY area (does good work – Cruisair certified, deliberate & reliable).  
Old Nasty A/C Sea Strainer

First & foremost was replacing a bad board in the guest stateroom’s air handler, finally bringing that back to life.  We also replaced the original (cheap & leaking) A/C sea strainer (see pic) with a new Groco unit, plus performed a much-needed flush of the sea water circuit with a barnacle-buster cleaner.

While we were at it we fixed a couple of sticking air handler valves and re-clamped some leaky chiller hoses.  The remaining to-do is to bring up the propylene glycol levels in the fresh water circuit – not so much for the anti-freeze properties, but more for the desired lubricating effects.

 Finally, I also got the oil & filter changed for the main engine’s ZF transmission at its scheduled 1,000 hour / 1 year interval.  The most difficult part of that process was getting the damned oil-filler nut removed, which required (1) a special ¾” hex socket tool, and (2) an inordinate amount of torque (with a breaker / extension bar), even after pre-soaking with Kroil & a heat gun.  The startling noise it made when it did break loose sounded like a small bomb going off in the engine room.  But the only injury was a bruise on my butt from a hard landing on the engine room floor.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Lowering the Salon Table

One of the minor challenges we encountered on Ghost Rider was figuring out how to lower the salon table down to the level of the surrounding seats.  Why you ask?  Well, there were levers on the post that indicated it was supposed to....and there was this vague idea that it could be turned into a sleeping area for the grandkids.

It took several days of soaking the pedestal in "Kroil" lubricant, followed by all kinds of bouncing on top of the table, but we finally got it to move to its lowered position.  On the latest boat trip with the kids aboard we developed a new technique, pictured here.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Sarasota to Fort Myers

The layover at Marina Jack's (floating docks) in Sarasota turned out to be a good idea as severe weather moved in overnight & clobbered nearby Siesta Key overnight with strong winds and at least one twister.  Staying an extra day there seems equally wise in retrospect -- had we tried to make it to Venice & dock at Crow's Nest, between the stiff wind and strong current we probably would have ended up in the restaurant's parking lot before coming to a stop there.

Making the Most of the Guest Stateroom
The trip down the ICW from Marina Jack's (Sarasota) to Gasparilla on Monday (1/18) was uneventful, and certainly calm compared to the offshore seas of 6-10'.  And since it was a holiday, the bridges were generally operating on demand, so the journey was quicker than planned. The only real drama was whether we had enough depth in Gasparilla for Ghost Rider's draft.  On arrival day the answer was 'yes'.  Upon departure the next morning (1/19) -- with a brisk north wind pushing water out at low tide -- the answer was 'not so much'.  We definitely stirred mud and bumped the bottom on our morning departure, and it seems we may have tortured the stern thruster a bit much in the process of getting off the dock...will know for sure when the repair bill comes in.

In the interim, however, we had a great time with our son Nick, his wife Danielle, and their 3 beautiful children aboard.  Sleeping quarters were a bit tight, but youth proved adaptive, at least for a few days.  We had an absolute blast spending such quality time with our family and stirring up our grandkids.

We arrived back in Fort Myers late Tuesday afternoon (1/19), sans stern thruster, but docked up uneventfully and got the grandkids some much needed dirt dweller time to run off some energy.  And today we put them on the plane back home. Missing them already.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

St. Pete to Sarasota

Kids & grandkids joined us yesterday in St. Pete, and after we call crammed into Ghost Rider, we departed St. Petersburg Municipal Marina around 10.30 and headed down the inside to Sarasota.  Our original plan to go on the outside got ditched with the next cold front passing through....gale force winds brought seas of 6-10 feet, so the inside path became a no-brainer.  We overnighted at Marina Jack's, and with persistent winds currently clocking at 30 mph, and a much better forecast for tomorrow, we've decided to spend a second night here.
Sheltered from the storm @ Marina Jack's

That will make for a long day tomorrow.  We'll skip Venice to make up our time and try for the Boca Grande or Useppa anchorage, but with 10 bridges to negotiate along the way the ETE is something of a crapshoot.  So we'll have some alternate landing plans along the way just in case.

Will work on some pics for the next post, it's so cool to have family on board with us.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

To Venice & St. Pete

Our AIS Track (which is missing some points)
On Wednesday (1/13) we departed our Useppa anchorage around 1000, timed so that we'd arrive at the Crow's Nest Marina in Venice at slack current. We departed the calm ICW on the "inside", exiting to the gulf at Boca Grande Pass and headed north to Venice in a short chop of 3 foot seas, with an occasional 5-footer here & there. No big deal in Ghost Rider, except for the fact that Rick neglected to manually latch the door to the fridge, and one wave rebound proved that Chelle's wine bottles don't bounce, they break when they hit the galley floor.  Apart from that oops, and some (fairly standard) minor system issues, it was an uneventful passage and Chelle took the helm to dock us up at the Crow's Nest with ease.

Later that evening our friends Dan & Juli Eisenberg drove up from Englewood and joined us for a great dinner in downtown Venice. (Luna's....highly recommended for excellent Italian fare, but either split the entree 3-4 ways or enjoy plenty of leftovers....and it's cash or check only, no plastic.)

Today we departed Venice @ 0830 and headed north on the outside again to St. Petersburg; it was a very nice ride today, with only a short period of sloppy conditions at the entrance to Tampa Bay.  St. Pete Municipal Marina seems to be a wonderful place, although so far all we've done is give the boat a much needed bath & put her to bed...we plan to explore the area a little more after the nasty weather passes through tonight & tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

First Leg to St. Pete: Useppa (again)

We departed FMY this morning just before 0900 on the first leg of this short trip.  It was a cool day for this part of the continent, but dry and generally pleasant.  The only reason we left that early (well, it was for us) was so I could take several job-related conference calls during some dead-head time as we plodded down the ICW at the speed of smell.

We dropped the hook at one of our favorite anchorages between Useppa & Cabbage Key islands around 13.30 local time, then spent the afternoon working on various tasks, chores and punch list items.

Tomorrow we'll head to the "outside" via Boca Grande Pass and RON at Crow's Nest Marina in Venice.  Weather for the next two days looks fairly decent.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Pre-Departure Preps & a Visit…

This weekend has largely been devoted to getting ready for our next trip….while we’ll only be gone for a week (or less), we’re anxious to get back out on the water and give Ghost Rider some much needed exercise.  Ultimate destination is St. Petersburg where we’ll hook up with some friends and family, including our kids & grandkids who will be visiting FLA for a much-needed break from the frigid weather up north.

Speaking of weather….Fort Myers got clobbered with severe thunderstorms Saturday night, and we got rocked at the marina with sustained winds of 50+ MPH that drove torrential rains horizontally.  Nearby Cape Coral, just across the river, got whacked by an EF2 tornado.  In January.  That’s pretty weird weather. 

We learned a couple of things – the way we tie up Ghost Rider at the dock is pretty secure, and that we have a at least two leaks that need to be addressed….one around the forward deck hatch, the other appears to be in the dry stack enclosure.  We made some adjustments / repairs to both today, but likely won’t know results until the next time we get rain driven by 50 MPH winds.  I can wait.

Blossom is an Absolute Beauty
But by far the most fun thing we did over the past week / weekend was to hook up (twice actually) with Martin and Stephanie about their gorgeous Nordhavn 60, Blossom.  They’ve had it parked at River Forest Yacht Center about 30 miles up-river for a few months, but are back (from SFO) to resume their winter cruising.  They were fantastic hosts and we’ve learned a LOT from them already.  Good people.

Coincidentally both Blossom and Ghost Rider are headed north to the Sarasota / St. Pete areas respectively, only a day apart, and then later this year up the east coast of the U.S. in roughly the same time frames….so we hope to cross paths again soon.

Configuring the Boat's Office & Connectivity

Ghost Rider's Office
One of my big priorities early in our move to the boat was to get the boat’s office properly configured – for personal / selfish reasons, but also for ongoing business obligations.  By Christmas Eve (really, no kidding) we got the basic moves and configs done for the network, laser printer/scanner and our NAS unit, where we store our backups, pictures, videos and music.

The quality of the Internet connection at the marina, however, was dismal.  So this past week we invested in and installed a MikroTik AP/Gig-E Router and a MikroTik Groove wireless booster….that helped considerably, was even able to conduct a few VoIP conference calls without any issues.  MikroTik makes good stuff, but it’s definitely not for the networking novice....making it all the more amazing that I got it working.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

New Project: Covering a Hot Exhaust Vent Pipe

Apart from a short break for some late New Year’s Eve partying on the fly bridge, mostly this holiday weekend has been about completing our move to the boat, and getting back into our punch list of projects & repairs.  One project that I’d been putting off for a while was finding a fix for an item that actually turned up on the initial boat survey, which identified a potential safety issue with the vent pipe for the exhaust stack. Basically the thing got really hot….you could cook on it after running the main engine for only a short while.

In the first pic you can see the exposed exhaust vent, which is on the (upper) boat deck, and in close proximity to the steps leading to the fly bridge.  Michelle & I did not consider it a high priority item until we knew that we were having family visitors aboard later this month – including our 3 young grandchildren.  The thought of one of them losing balance & using it as a handhold was beginning to keep me up at night.  It was time for a solution, even if only temporary.
There are a number of ways to attack this, but I decided to simply wrap the pipe with a titanium webbing  that was originally designed to protect human skin from hot motorcycle exhaust pipes.  The stuff is rated to 1800F, and with the stainless steel securing straps it should be OK for an outdoor application.

Admittedly the end result (2nd pic) doesn’t look nearly as attractive as the original chromed stainless steel, but at least now I won’t be worrying about one of the little ones scorching themselves on it.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy New Year

We're wishing everyone a fruitful & fantastic New Year (and hoping your New Year's Eve was fun but safe.)  We made a final move of "condo stuff" to the boat yesterday -- and are still looking for places to put it all.

FMY Fireworks from the Fly Bridge of Ghost Rider
As it turned out, we had a great view of the Fort Myers fireworks from the fly bridge of Ghost Rider as the ball dropped and the calendar flipped into 2016.

Now it's back to our list of boat projects...although we're looking forward to a visit this weekend with Martin & Stephanie who are in town to get their N60 Blossom splashed for the new season.