Monday, April 18, 2016

A Mid-April Update

SuziQ & Gal Pals
While we are remaining docked for the month of April, it nonetheless is a very busy month.  Michelle’s mom (Charmaine) came to visit us for several days, and as is her custom, immediately pitched in helping us with some key boat tasks. Those included making a new custom cover for the m
Outnumbered....Big Time
attress in the forward berth, plus a very nice Sunbrella storage bag for our flopper-stopper.  She should visit more often.

We also enjoyed a visit by Rick’s daughter (Suzi) and two of her good gal pals (Tammy & Madie); they had escaped the chilly environs in St. Louis and Chicago and were rewarded with perfect south Florida weather for their beachcombing, kayaking and related tourista activities.

New Slip @ Legacy
We also moved the boat to a new (and much more convenient) slip at Legacy Harbour – it’s a much shorter walk now, which is good with all the provisioning we’ve got going on. And, of course, we are concurrently knocking out our maintenance activities….so far this month these have been concluded or are underway:

·        We relocated the ship’s flag pole from the transom up to the aft end of the boat deck; Old Glory looks better up high, plus it no longer whacks Michelle in the face when she’s working the lines & fenders in the cockpit.
·        We replaced the two house batteries that went tango uniform on us during the Key West return sortie; those 8D AGMs weigh in @ 160 lbs each, so it’s no fun getting those removed / replaced; we’re hoping we’re done with battery games for a few years, my shoulder joints are complaining.

·        We had much of the boat’s holding (black water) tank electrical hardware overhauled – new float assemblies, new level indicator panel, and new discharge pump switch; we finally just got tired of trying to troubleshoot & repair existing parts, and almost nothing will ruin a voyage quicker than black water malfunctions.

·        We replaced the generator’s air filter, and changed its oil and oil filter…it was a few hours overdue by the time we returned from Key West, so it was good to get that taken care of before our next journey starts.

·        After several DIY attempts at adjusting the wing engine’s stuffing box, we threw up our hands and hired a local diesel tech to come out & overhaul the box.  Unfortunately there is a serious design flaw of the wing engine shaft on the N47 – basically you can’t get the box’s flange all the way off due to interference from the oil pan; we left it at its loosest possible position to see if we can generate any cooling flow on our next sortie, but a permanent fix is going to require a haul out.

·        We hired out a complete exterior detailing – from bow to stern, and from fly bridge to the waterline - including a thorough soapy bath, light oxidation buffing & stain removal, metal polishing, hand waxing the gelcoat to the rub rail, and then Awlgrip polishing the painted hull.  That’s in progress this week, so Ghost Rider will be looking spiffy in a few days, or as the old salts like to say, “Bristol”.

·        We scheduled our trusty Yamaha mechanic (Tom Imrie @ Andalusia Mobile Marine) to perform a complete annual / 100 hour service on the dinghy’s 40HP outboard motor next week; we plan to anchor out a good bit this year and want a reliable tender, and we know Tom’s quality work from our Grady-White fishing days.

·        Last but not least, we are in the process of configuring our new Wheelhouse Technologies Marine Maintenance System (SM).  This software will provide us with a very customized framework with which we can schedule and track all of Ghost Rider’s maintenance tasks and recommended spare parts inventory covering virtually every system & component on the boat. 

And based on the Wheelhouse “maintenance forecast” report for the next 3 weeks, we’ll remain very busy before we depart here in early May.

Friday, April 1, 2016

From Key West Back to FMY

Leaving Galleon Marina
While we certainly wanted to stay longer (we did extend by a day), on Thursday we departed Key West and headed back to Fort Myers….our month of April is chock full of activities which are prerequisites for our May-to-November cruising plans, so even in retirement priorities still matter.

Departing Key West
We waited to depart Key West as long as the Galleon Marina would let us – which turned out to be noon – since we didn’t want to arrive at Fort Myer’s narrow river entrance until first light.  We still had to throttle back to make that happen given the following winds, seas and currents.  But just as with the trip down, the voyage back north was in great weather, warm and clear with smooth seas.

Osprey Navy Landing on the Bow Rail
About 50 miles north of Key West, just after sunset, we were strafed and then boarded by a Florida Osprey….he was basically in the middle of nowhere and apparently needed a rest.  I snapped a few quick pictures, assuming he’d be gone in a matter of seconds.  Wrong.  He perched on various bow rail locations until well after dark, giving us a new hood ornament for about an hour, and giving him less distance to cover to landfall.  We hope he judged his range accurately, although truthfully their
range is roughly equal to Ghost Rider’s.
Osprey Hitches a Ride

When it got dark, it got very dark….moonrise wasn’t until after 0200, so it was pretty much like boating inside an ink bottle -- I do love both of our Furuno radars.

The boat generally performed well once again during the 21 hour overnight run.  We had to reset the inverter during startup (with Martin’s help) when it threw an overcurrent error, and had to replace a couple of navigation light bulbs underway that failed at precisely the wrong time, but those were minor annoyances.  The only big issue was when two of the six big AGM house batteries started to heat up (one of them well above redline) towards the very end of the sortie – that was a bit worrisome since a thermal runaway in one of those can get dicey, but we were able to isolate those from the system and get them cooled down.  We’ll be replacing those before we set off in May.

After we catch up on some sleep we’ll be going into maintenance and provisioning mode for our May launch….some new batts, oil / filter changes, replacing some balky switches, dinghy tune up, and stocking up on everything – food, drink, supplies, spare parts, etc.

At least we don’t have to fuel up any time soon.