Monday, February 20, 2017

Just like Old Times

We are living in a 30' Fleetwood Tioga in a pole barn on the Seabrook Marine property. Considering that half our view for the week or so we were still on the boat consisted of a dozen or so rigs in the RV park across the canal, we are having something of an RV-fulltiming flashback.

Our view from our slip, complete with campfires in the evening.

I mentioned here already that the yard is in the industrial hinterlands, and when the weather is nice we've been going further and further afield on the scooters to find some interesting dining options. Riding south through Desire (the name of a neighborhood and a street but no longer a streetcar line) we eventually reach Bywater and Marigny, where an eclectic mix of ultra-casual and uber-trendy joints beckons.

Rust remediation and fairing continues in our wet slip. Blue paint is "guide coat" that shows where sanding has not been finished. Anchor locker hatch is gone.

Last weekend we had al fresco weather and I picked a nice place on the trendy side for dinner, on the grounds that they had patio dining. Little did we realize that it was but two or three blocks from the starting point of the evening's Krewe Du Vieux parade, the first of Mardi Gras season, and as we got closer and closer to the restaurant the streets were thick with revelers in all manner of costumes. Had we not been on scooters we would scarcely have made it through, and we certainly could not have parked.

Krewe Du Vieux passing by, as seen from our restaurant.

We missed most of the parade itself because we were inside eating; the restaurant was packed when we arrived and emptied out as the parade started. Krewe Du Vieux is one of the more adult parades, and I suspect things get a bit bawdy as it approaches the Vieux Carre (aka the French Quarter).

We more or less rode our scooters through this throng to get to dinner.

Not wanting to repeat the accidental parade-participant scenario, I promptly downloaded the Mardis Gras Parade Tracker app on my phone, and I am now getting alerts as each parade starts and I have the routes at my fingertips. As with Carnival or Junkanoo in the islands, Mardis Gras is a weeks-long affair here in the Crescent City.

The beige color is "high build" paint that fills in small imperfections and is sanded smooth later.

We spent a good part of last weekend moving gear from the boat to the RV and getting the RV fired up and running. That was not without its hiccups, as shortly after we hooked up the water supply, the toilet started leaking (fresh water, onto the bathroom floor), and not long after we plugged in the water heater, with its very jury-rigged electric add-on element, the relief valve popped and a flood of water started emanating from the slideout. Maybe a little too much like old times.

Water heater with hokey wiring for an electric element. The thermostat, which is supposed to be glued to the tank inside the rig, is instead zip-tied to the relief valve, with the red tag on it. The power cord runs out the door at bottom left.

I turned off the water heater and pulled the defective relief valve out; it's a weird RV size which I had to order. I also ordered a new water valve for the potty, and in the interim I cut the PEX supply line and installed a stop valve so we could have a working water system. We just had to open the stop valve each time we flushed the toilet. That's not often -- with a tiny little black tank and a colossal pain-in-the-butt to drive over to the dump station at the RV park next door, we are using the marina rest rooms for everything but middle-of-the-night pee breaks.

Stop valve and new supply line for toilet. The old compression fitting, crimped directly to the PEX, was also leaking due to a worn washer.

The water heater valve arrived just in time for us to move in on Valentine's Day (we're so romantic) when they hauled Vector out of the water, thus booting us off the boat. After pressure-washing the bottom, they took Vector straight to the paint shed to be blocked.

Vector hauled out and getting a pressure wash. No matter how many times you see 55 tons hanging in the slings, you never get at peace with it when its your own boat.

Speaking of the bottom, it turned out to be in excellent condition, despite some fears of paint failure based on the report of an inexperienced diver in Chattanooga, and the horrible scraping sounds we were hearing in Mandeville as we bounced up and down against the river bottom. The only issue we found was some damage to the leading edge of the port stabilizer fin.

Damage to the outboard leading edge of the port fin.

We both scratched our heads on this one. It looks a lot like grounding damage, but neither of us recalls a grounding incident on our port side since the last haulout. We caught the starboard fin in the mud trying to get into a skinny slack harbor in Helena, Arkansas, but no such episode on the port side. There were a number of times on the rivers when we hit underwater debris, though, so it was either one of those incidents, or else what we heard scraping in Mandeville was the edge of the fin.

Vector about to get "under way" to the paint shed across the yard.

In any case, we can find nothing wrong with the stabilizer mechanism, and the fin damage is superficial fiberglass damage which the yard here can easily repair. It will merely add a day or so, and a boat unit or so, to our yard stay.

The propeller will need some fresh primer and paint.

Shortly after settling in to our new digs, a long-time reader who has followed us since our freewheeling RV days contacted us to say he was at an RV park right here in town while he worked the seasonal See's Candy operation here, which closed its doors on Valentine's. Tom dropped by for a meet-and-greet and to gift us a couple of boxes of See's before he had to leave town.

Vector looks enormous on the hard, but somehow the scale of this gigantic shed is lost here and she looks small, until you notice the workers. She has since been surrounded with scaffolding.

Lots of boxes arrived last week from Amazon and eBay. I ordered new latches for the Portuguese lockers, two new hawse-pipes with integral cleats, a new burgee staff and holder, two additional cleats, new windlass foot switches, two spare bilge pumps, a spare AIS transceiver, a European power plug (masquerading as an IBM power cord), and a new power supply for my laptop. The first several items on the list are the direct result of the paint project, while the remainder were simply because we have a good address for a few weeks.

In NOLA, everyone loves a parade. Here the final float of Krewe of Carrollton passes us Sunday, as the crowd clamors for beads and baubles.

As luck would have it, I had problems with more than half the items. Chief among them, the hawse pipes. Louise has long wanted another pair of hawse holes just abaft the Portuguese bridge. That's a big, messy job, and the right time to do it is when the boat is being painted, as all the hawse pipes will come off for the process.

Because I don't have easy access to the underside of the deck in that location, deck-mounted cleats are not an option, and so we opted for these, which have horns built-in that serve the purpose. The manufacturer, Buck Algonquin, assured us through their dealer that these pipes mated up to optional backing pates, and we ordered two of each. When they arrived, however, it was clear the hawse hole through the backing plate was smaller than the hawse pipe, which would leave us with a sharp edge.

Hawse pipe atop its backing plate. Look past the protective plastic on the pipe to see the edge of the backing plate, proud of the inside of the pipe all the way around.

I've been emailing back and forth with the dealer for a solid week with no resolution. We're running out of time; the backup plan is to order plain hawse pipe/backing plate combinations and a pair of conventional cleats which we will have to mount vertically to the Portugese coaming.

Meanwhile, the spare AIS, which weighs in at 26 pounds and for which I was charged some $42 in shipping, was sent to our mailbox in Florida rather than to the shipping address I specified, right here. I had to open an eBay case and argue with the seller for a full week before he agreed to cover the shipping from there to here, which I can't even start until his refund comes through next week.

You can buy these ladders ready-made, but most make their own. A "child seat" is bolted to the top of a 6' stepladder, and then wheels are added to make hauling it to the parade a snap. Kids sit on top and parents stand on the rungs. Many have cup holders and bead hooks attached. Lots of rolling coolers and folding chairs, too.

One of the bilge pumps and the laptop power supply turned out to be aftermarket items instead of the advertised OEM models; inexcusable for Amazon sales, albeit half expected on eBay items (one of each in this case). The seller of the IBM power cord sent the wrong thing altogether. And the burgee staff holder that was supposed to be brass turned out to be pot metal, while the cleats I purchased, although the correct length, were an unsuitable diameter.

One of the many dance troupes, some serious and some farcical.

With any luck we'll have all the deck hardware on hand before the crew is ready to start installing it. Right now they are still fairing and sanding, and they just finished getting the rub rails off. These turned out to be HDPE rather than the assumed painted teak; HDPE can't be painted, and today we had a quick exercise to tweak the paint scheme to account for white rub rails on a Moondust hull. I was able to make a usable, if amateur, photo mockup at the last minute.

White rub rail in front is not ideal, but not too out-of-place.

I've been madly taping up everything I can on the boat to keep the sanding dust out, using 2" masking tape. Every outside door is taped save for the starboard pilothouse door, which is kept dogged. All the sliding windows are taped, the hatch is taped, as well as all the locker doors in the staterooms and galley.

Too many beads to wear? Just use a handy fire hydrant to hold them.

While I was taping up the aft deck, before we were hauled, I stepped on what used to be the hatch to the tiller flat, but was now just a piece of plastic sheeting, and I fell right in, banging myself up in the process. The crew helpfully put a piece of plywood over the hole immediately thereafter, which kept Louise from doing the same thing while we were moving the boat to the lift. That was a week ago and I still have the bruises and a hitch in my get-along.

One marching band was escorted by this pair of Jefferson Parish Sheriff units. Neither one was Steven Segal.

Now that we're off the boat and I can't do any projects there, I've busied myself with fixing online orders, looking up marine hardware, and tackling the stuff I was able to bring with me. The new valve for the toilet arrived and I was able to install it, fixing the leak, without having first to remove the toilet altogether. And once I had the right IBM power cord I was able to salvage the connector and build my third and final European power adapter (one each for 16-amp, 32-amp, and 63-amp service).

Lest I get too complacent, the RV insists on keeping me busy, too. Saturday while I was out getting my hair cut, two of the hand grabs for the sliding windows came off right in Louise's hands. I'll need to find a way to glue them back on.

Oops. What kind of glue was that?

This weekend our friends Shonda and Michael were in town, passing through in their RV. We last saw them in Florence, Alabama when we passed through there in October. We had a nice dinner with them Saturday at Nile, an Ethiopian restaurant on Magazine, uptown.

The Gold Wing club's sub-Krewe. About half were trikes. Many bikes had trailers, including a few of these miniature boats (really cargo trailers). Note the bead rack between the handlebars -- all Krewes need beads!

Sunday we met them again on Magazine for the Krewe of King Arthur parade. We arrived right at the nominal starting time of 1:15, parking the scooters less than a block away, but we found ourselves instead at about the midpoint of the Krewe of Carrollton parade, running late. So we got to see most of two parades, which was plenty for one day. We thought we might catch another dinner with them, but they had been on the parade route since the start of the Femme Fatale parade at 11am and they called it a day before King Arthur was finished.

Start of Krewe of King Arthur. This first float is a sort of bead receptacle -- you can see people throwing beads into the float, rather than the other way 'round.

Tomorrow morning we have a pickup truck rented from Enterprise. Friday morning we spooled all the anchor chain off the boat onto a pallet, along with the anchor, the chain hook, and three shackles, and tomorrow we will load the pallet in the pickup truck and drive it to a hot dip galvanizing plant in Jennings, about three hours west of here. Sunday I cut the retaining spring and removed the "hammer lock" connector that has held the anchor to the chain for three years; it is in remarkably good condition for ungalvanized alloy steel that has been dragged along or buried in countless seafloors.

The grade-100 hammer-lock connector that has held our anchor on for three years. Although I can get a replacement spring collar for this one, we'll fit a brand new one when we reinstall the anchor.

This coming weekend will be the thick of Mardis Gras. The yard is closed Monday and Tuesday, as are many businesses in New Orleans (by contrast, almost nothing was closed today for Presidents Day, not even the public schools). We're still toying with the idea of going to one of the black tie balls (we brought our formalwear off the boat just in case), and we'll probably catch another parade or two now that we know we can get as close as we'd like on the scooters.

We saw many marching bands, but where we were positioned, only the drumlines were playing for most. This school was the exception and we got to hear their brass.

With the four-day weekend coming up, the yard is estimating we have another three weeks before completion. In addition to fixing the stabilizer fin and touching up the bottom paint, we've asked them to fabricate and install a "staple" rail for the back of the swim platform, something we've wanted for a long time and which is best done before painting.

One for my Red Cross ECRV friends. The LA State Police Incident Command post was in the parade.

I hope you enjoy some of these pictures of Mardis Gras celebrations. I'm sure I will have a few more for my next post. And I will leave you with this video of two New Orleans Police officers, who were stationed near us on the parade route, spontaneously dancing with one of the dance troupes in the King Arthur parade.


  1. Amazon's intermingling of real products with clones and knockoffs is becoming a real problem. A single entry for a specific product and a dozen sellers, and know good way to know who's selling the real item and who'se selling a knockoff. I bought a set of 4 AWG Anderson connectors last summer and found they were knockoffs that couldn't make a connection measurable with an ohmmeter (let alone handle 40-odd amps of DC power). I got my money back, but not before wasting several feet of 4 gauge weld cable, crimp connectors, shrink wrap and my time.

    With regard to your anchor chain, does anyone have that hard chromed? It seems like there would be other coating processes than hot dip that would provide a more durable corrosion resistance.

    Thanks, Shawn Barnhart

    1. Anchor chain is available in marine stainless. It is more corrosion resistant (although stainless is susceptible to a particularly insidious form of corrosion called "crevice corrosion"), but is not nearly as strong as alloy steel. We will not use stainless for ground tackle for this reason.

      Chrome plating would not last more than a month or two in the salt water environment under heavy abrasion. Chrome is popular in less corrosive environments because of its appearance, not its corrosion or abrasion resistance. In the marine market, chrome plating is also done for appearance but typically only on metals wherein corrosion is not a problem, such as bronze.

      Hot-dip galvanizing is the industry standard for corrosion protection of alloy steel; there is really no better alternative. Our tiny order went in queue today with literally hundred of tons of steel parts for offshore oil platforms, such as stairs, handrails, and the like -- a very big industry here.

  2. That's interesting to know. In the world of firearms, hard chrome is kind of the gold standard (to mix my metaphors) for corrosion resistance and I would have thought it would be suitable in marine environments, considering the stresses associated with a firearm, both mechanically and in terms of heat and abrasion inside the barrel.

    But there's minimal salt exposure (skin, really) with a firearm.

    Thanks, love your blog. I talk about it to my wife like I was actually on your travels.

    Shawn Barnhart

  3. We too had non matching issues with Buck Algonquin hawse pipe and cleats. The bolt holes did not line up and the tapped bolt holes were not square. We had to frig around with redrilling, re tapping etc. Buck Algonquin should be well aware of this problem because I raised hell with them before giving up and fixing the problem myself. That's shocking for such expensive marine equipment.

    1. Well, they got it all back. We bought Sea-dog pipes and cleats.


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