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


  1. Glad to hear all is going well. Looking forward to the new adventure. We recentlygot back from our trip to San Miguel de Allente, beautiful area and had a great time withs friends. Still going out with the baja to see the off road sites. Take care, have fun and save me a bottle of wine. Harry

    1. Hi Harry & thanks. Enjoy Baja. Wine is waiting on you.