Friday, February 23, 2018

Mid-Feb 2018: Departure Preps & Other Fun

More February Boat Business

Our (Recertified) 4-Person Winslow Liferaft....a Compact 55 Pounds
After our early February conquest of the main engine’s stuffing box we were able to turn our attention to remaining departure preparations.  With boat systems at (mostly) tactical we now had the bandwidth and motivation to start getting serious about the final preparations for making our vessel ready to go voyaging again.

First up was our Winslow 4-person life raft.  We had a hard time deciphering the date stamp of its last tear down and inspection, but were fairly certain it was a good deal beyond the recommended three year interval.  So we had dropped it off at the local Winslow depot a few weeks back; after approving their estimate for repacking and restocking (it wasn’t cheap – but it does include a good supply of survival gear as part of the raft package), a couple weeks later we picked it up and had it back on board in a usable state.

Engine Room Fire Bottle With Its
ABC Inspection Tag Attached 
Next up was a USCG safety inspection for both Ghost Rider and her dinghy.  Our home marina (Legacy Harbour) sponsors that event each winter so we happily signed up for that.  Coast Guard Auxiliary officer Bill pronounced the vessel and tender as fully compliant, and  issued the stickers.  He also seemed to enjoy touring a Nordhavn for the first time.

After that it was time for our annual fire suppression system inspection.  While not required by any regulation, it’s generally recommended that both automatic and manual fire bottles be thoroughly examined and weighed every twelve months, so we engaged ABC Fire Equipment Corp for that exercise.  We found only one portable extinguisher that needed replacement (due to age), which was easily remedied.  All else, including the two automatic Fireboy bottles, checked out fine and were re-certified.

And then it was time for Ghost Rider to get her annual spa treatment.  While a Nordhavn 50 isn’t all that big (at least compared to most Nordys), when it comes time for deep cleaning, compounding, polishing and waxing…well, the thing seems huge.  (Rick has told Chelle more than once:  “If I ever say I want a bigger boat, just shoot me.”)  There is a lot of fiberglass and gelcoat both above and below the rub rail, not to mention many linear feet of bright work piping in her railings and stanchions.

Pedro & Frank Giving Ghost Rider a Spiffy Spa Treatment
We’d previously had an excellent experience using Ultimate Marine Detailing (LINK) here in Fort Myers, and they use high quality product (such as Collonite Fleetwax), so we once again we engaged Frank and Pedro (co-owners) to spend five days giving Ghost Rider’s exterior the full boat spa treatment.  And as before, they did a great job.

Now that the mothership was looking Bristol, the dinghy was looking….well, downright dingy.  Its Hypalon inflatable tubes were dark with dirty, irregular stains, with the only somewhat clean surfaces occurring only where the old registration numbers and boat name graphics had been removed….standing out and not in a good way.  At only 12 feet long Rick decided he would attack spiffing up the Caribe tender himself, and now has the sore shoulders, back and neck (and Ibuprofen) that go with a full day of scrubbing.  
Our Caribe Dinghy on Ghost Rider's Boat Deck
Following a Much Needed Deep Cleaning

A combination of Magic Erasers and Nautical Ease’s Spray Boat Cleaner eventually got the job done; with a follow-up coat of 303 Marine UV Protectant, our little runabout still doesn’t exactly look new, but it sure looks a lot better than it did.

One of the Reasons We Docked Stern In Was to Launch
the Tender, Which Can Only Be Deployed to the Starboard Side
With that behind us we could now launch and sea trial the Caribe and its little 25 HP Yamaha without being embarrassed by its looks.  We were – rightfully based on our experiences – a bit worried about how (or if) it would run after Rick had basically torn it apart and performed its annual service a couple of weeks ago.  It was past time to find out.  So we finally hoisted the tender over the starboard side with Ghost Rider’s Aritex crane and…it started…and ran perfectly.  Rick gave it a shot of carb cleaner for good measure and to clean some of the gum and varnish that inevitably builds up in the carburetor when an outboard sits too long between runs.  Keeping its fuel tank treated with Sta-Bil Marine Formula hasn’t hurt, either. Overall we were very pleased as the little Yammer eggbeater ran smoothly through its RPM range up to 5000+ RPM in a light chop, where the GPS clocked us at 15 knots.  It won't win any races but it gets the job done.

Disassembling the Windlass....and It Still Works!
Since things were going fairly well Rick then decided to attack the annual maintenance for the Maxwell 3500 windlass.  While not exactly rocket science -- treat underdeck items with CRC Corrosion Block, check fluids, then pull apart the topside windlass components to clean and re-grease -- the thing has a lot of rather foreign-looking parts.  

The easy part is pulling it all apart; the challenge (for Rick anyway) is getting it all back together without any leftover pieces.  Thankfully the manual has pretty good diagrams and post-op it is still functioning.

Some Mid-February Fun Distractions

But it hasn’t been all boat business and preps.  We had yet another opportunity to join our grand group of friends from the local Grady-White boat club for another outing, this time a group luncheon at the Charlotte Harbor Yacht Club.  Good friends Jim and Susan Hill invited us to ride along with them on their 257 Fisherman, and we had a drop-dead gorgeous day for the two hour run up the ICW, ditto for the return trip.  It’s always good to go 32 MPH again, and the big cheeseburger at CHYC wasn’t bad either.

Martin, Stephanie & Chelle @ The Lodge....Gotta Love Eating
Outdoors in February
Shortly after that we were finally able to reunite with Martin and Stephanie, owners of N60 Blossom, and good friends from our earliest Nordhavn days.  They have been busy renovating their new home in St. Petersburg, but found a break in their whacky schedule to drive down to Fort Myers and join us for a couple of days aboard Ghost Rider.  We got some quality catch-up time (and drinks) on the fly bridge during the afternoon and early evening, followed by a stroll to downtown Fort Myers for dinner at The Lodge (good BBQ), followed by more fun and relaxation (and drinks) back on the fly bridge.  Martin and Steph plan to head up to the Chesapeake in May to retrieve Blossom and bring her back south to Florida and their new home in St. Pete.  We hope to rendezvous with them again somewhere on the east coast during our cruising in the coming year.

Grabbing Breakfast the Next Day with Martin & Steph
at United Ale House
A few days later we turned our attention to wine-making.  Or more accurately, bottling the Zinfandel that we had formulated way back in November at Hangar 41 (LINK) here in Fort Myers.  Since that time it had been fermenting and stabilizing, and daughter Suzanne had been busy making our wine bottle labels.  We finally found a date where we had enough empty bottles (we had a good time emptying them) and could hook up with our wine-making cohorts, Ron and Erin, and at last it was time to fill and cork.  Ron and Erin joined us back on Ghost Rider to wrap up the day with happy hour on the fly bridge followed by a pleasant evening stroll to downtown Fort Myers for dinner.

Erin & Ron With Their "Harley Hootch" Wine

Ghost Rider Branded Wine
Lastly, we were fortunate to wrap up this segment of our winter prep window with the Edison Festival of Light.  This week long celebration results from Fort Myers’ historical attachment to famed inventor Thomas Edison, who wisely, along with his friend Henry Ford, called this area home during the winter months.  The week concludes with a very large night parade (largest in the southeast USA), followed by a spectacular fireworks display.  And Ghost Rider’s location at Legacy Harbour, immediately adjacent to the city’s Centennial Park, gives us about the best seat possible for those pyrotechnics.  A video of that taken from our bow is HERE, and there are a few additional photos below.  Thankfully the wind was blowing the smoke and ashes away from us.  Enjoy!

Fireworks at Edison Festival of Light
More Pyrotechnics at Edison Festival of Light
Edison Festival of Light Ends with a Bang

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

February 2018: Boat Biz Updates

Early February Boat Business

Main Shaft Zinc Anode....With Proper Clearance on
the Line Cutter and Cutless Bearing
While we've been anxious to get Ghost Rider out of her slip for a sea trial, Rick wanted to wait until the diver could get back to the boat and not only clean the bottom, but take photos of the zinc anode positions on both prop shafts.  That finally occurred on 06-Feb and everything below the waterline looked good.  We got a good tide later that afternoon, so we sortied out into the river and headed downstream on a lovely winter day in southwest Florida – sunny skies, moderate southeasterly breeze, with air temps in the low 80’s. 

We had a bit of a struggle backing out of our tight corner slip this time….it took Rick a few minutes to figure out the right combo of thrusting to port with a back-and-forth throttle in the breeze that was pinning us to the dock.  But we finally got out of there without kissing the dock or dinging the two boats beside and behind us.

When We Started the Sea Trial This Was the Position of the Stuffing Box's
Pusher / Follower Collar....With Inadequate Water Flow.
Eventually We Had to Back Off the Follower By a 2x Factor, Pumped It
Back & Forth, Then Reset to Its Original Position.
But within the first 30 minutes of the sortie the main shaft’s stuffing box was already above 100F in water temperatures that hovered around 72F….even at a low 1200 RPM.  Not catastrophic by any stretch, but the drip rate was insufficient and that mark was certainly above Rick’s preferred target of ambient plus 20-25 degrees.  So once again Chelle manned the helm and Rick went to work in the engine room making a series of stuffing box adjustments.  It took another 30 minutes before he got it figured out, but eventually we got to the point where the main stuffing box was holding steady at just under 92F – even at wide open throttle.  We (finally!) were able to declare victory on that item.

We did not have a lot of time to play with the wing engine’s shaft, but a short run revealed too-warm temps and insufficient water flow….we’ll schedule another sea trial where Rick can focus on and play with that one, but after some more dockside adjustments.  Wing engine stuffing boxes tend to be temperamental, even without alignment issues, so that one is not a big surprise.
The Final Result Was a Reasonable Drip Rate and
a Very Good Temp Reading Even at WOT.

All other systems were tactical on this sea trial sortie…basically it was a good day.

Upon return to Legacy Harbour Marina we decided to dock up stern-in to our corner slip vs. bow-in.  This was mainly to position Ghost Rider so we could launch the dinghy into water vs. onto the concrete dock, as we wanted to be in position to perform some sea trials on the tender’s outboard engine -- we have not run it since we left Palm Beach in late October.  Rather surprisingly the docking went quite smoothly, with zero drama.  That made it a very good day.
Ghost Rider Sterned In to Give Us Room to Float the Dinghy
Which is Limited to a Starboard Side Launch

After we got Ghost Rider tucked in, plugged in and cleaned up, Rick pinged James over at Yacht Tech via SMS to let him know the results; typical of James he immediately called back to Q&A about the details of the anode inspection and sea trial results, and make some recommendations for the wing engine.  Classy guy.

The next day we turned our attention back to the water heater.  Craig from VIP Marine came to the boat in the early afternoon as previously scheduled. We managed to extract the big anode pipe from its near-permanent thread sealant, and replaced it with the new magnesium anode.  Rick also asked Craig to test the unit’s pressure relief valve while he was there as we had concerns with its discharge valve – it did not drain very well, nor did it appear to be fully closing once the lever was released.  Turns out it was pretty much shot. 
Located Underneath the Master Stateroom Bunk, the Water Heater With
the Old Anode Removed (On Top) and the New Anode Installed

A faulty pressure relief valve on a water heater can be dangerous – water heaters actually make pretty good bombs when that valve fails to meter temperature and relieve pressure.  (When your bunk is located right on top of the thing it makes you ponder such matters.)  We found a replacement valve at a nearby hardware store and swapped it out.

Next up:  we've still got a few weeks to tend to some home-based administrative and social obligations while we also work through the remaining minor and preventative maintenance items for the boat, and continue to provision for the upcoming journey.

It Hasn't Been All Boat Maintenance...We Thumbed a Ride on Dan &
Cher's Gorgeous New Grady-White Last Weekend
Captain Dan at the Helm of His New "Baby Grady" Heading to Brunch in Charlotte Harbor
Another Shot of Ghost Rider Moored Stern-in at Her Slip at Legacy Harbour in Fort Myers