Saturday, October 19, 2013

A rocky start

We are anchored in Rock Creek (map), near the Baltimore suburb of Riviera Beach and just a half mile or so up the creek from where we anchored on our way in to Baltimore.  We had hoped to be all the way to Annapolis tonight, but circumstances conspired against us, and we had to make it a short day.  More on that in a moment.

Regular readers will note the return of the map link, above.  Several folks have asked me for this, but, in reality, my motivation to finally get it done was more self-serving:  I am looking at the route south from here, and hampered by the lack of map links for the places we stopped on our way north.  In any case, I am testing out some Android apps to help me with the links.  At the moment, this means I need to be in cell coverage to make a link, but I am working on that, too.

Today marks exactly one month since our arrival at the Baltimore Harborview Marina.  Since we booked and paid for a month on a very nice monthly rate arranged by the MTOA, we needed to shove off today, or else start paying by the day at a much much higher daily rate.  So, of course, a package I have been waiting for went AWOL and we made it out today by the skin of our teeth.

Specifically, I bought a used Class-A AIS transponder on eBay, with a delivery promise of sometime before October 17th.  For whatever reason, the seller sat on my order for four full days before shipping it, and UPS finally tried to deliver it yesterday evening at 6:17, after the marina office was closed.  To make matters worse, the seller had given me a bad tracking number, so finding the package was a challenge in itself.

On the phone last night, UPS told me they would redeliver on Monday, and it was too late to request a pickup at the customer center.  Nevertheless, this morning I rode over to the customer center (really a counter at the UPS distribution hub) just before they opened at 10am to see if they could find my package.  I got lucky, as they managed to find it and get me all signed off by quarter past ten, and, after struggling to get the 50-pound, 30x16x16 box onto the scooter, I made it back to the docks by half past ten or so.

By 11 we were out of the slip and on the way to the pumpout, where we also planned to load the scooters as it was a more convenient arrangement than our own slip.  The pumpout was desperately needed, as after three full weeks since our last pumpout, we were full.  Frankly, we were only able to go the three weeks through liberal use of the marina's rest rooms.

As of yesterday, we still had a couple of inches (perhaps five gallons or so) left in the upper/forward tank, but that's full enough that fluid is sitting in the bottom of the vent line, and we discovered the vent line has a small leak, enough to send a tiny amount of sewage into the bilge and stink up the whole lower deck.  It's now on the list for Deltaville Boatyard, who installed the waste system, to correct when we are back there in a few days.  After we pumped the tanks, we backflushed the vent line with some fresh water in the interim.

Once we wrapped up with the pumpout we proceeded to hoist the scooters, and once again the davit quit in the middle of the hoist.  This was the same symptom we saw a month ago, wherein I cleaned up the solenoid pack and got it all working, but apparently I was just lucky.  The real culprit seems to be the motor itself, which periodically decides it can only lower but not raise.  Of course, I had completely removed and reinstalled the solenoid pack before I nailed this down.

The motor responded favorably to "shuttling," which let us get it running well enough to hoist both scooters back onto the deck.  Before we deploy either the scooters or the tender again, I need to remove the winch motor and figure out what's wrong with it.  I must say that I am hard-pressed to explain how a simple two-wire DC motor, wherein one polarity operates it in one direction and the reverse polarity operates it in the other, can operate fine in one direction but not the other.  I am hoping I can get it apart and that it is not a sealed unit.

Between the unscheduled trip to UPS and the hoist fiasco, it was well past noon by the time we cast off from the pumpout dock, which meant Annapolis was not in the cards.  We knew we had a good anchorage here in Rock Creek, so we carried on with our plan to do a quick harbor cruise before we left the city, and we headed northwest toward the inner harbor.

There we got a good view of a Brazilian warship that had pulled in earlier in the morning, The Girl From Ipanema blaring from its on-deck loudspeakers.  We also had to dance around the ever-present faux-pirate ship Fearless, whose twice-daily antics we've been witnessing from Vector's decks (and which we had seen two years ago from Odyssey)  It was an interesting side trip, and we were amused to see a Nordic Tug 37 anchored just yards away from the maritime museum -- perhaps some day we will anchor here, too.

Weekends are never my first choice for navigating in crowded waters, and we played dodge-the-sailboat the whole way out of town past the Francis Scott Key bridge.  By the time we were in more or less open water, the weather had gotten rough enough that the myriad sailboats and center console fishing boats were making a beeline for port, and we had to dodge and weave accordingly.  Once settled in here at Rock Creek we also noted a steady conga line of boats coming back in here as well.

If the weather cooperates, tomorrow we will continue to Annapolis.  If not, we'll hunker down right here until conditions are right.  I appear to have plenty of projects to keep me busy, with the winch motor now chief among them.


  1. boy sounds like never a dull moment, I bet that was a good balancing act with the package on the scooter. jeff

  2. Regarding the DC motor. You might be able to 'tune' it by shifting the brushes on the commutator. Maybe you can elongate mounting holes to radially shift the brush mount. There might be a better position that gives best torque when you need it (up) and worse torque on the way down. I apologize if you already know this.

    1. This is an end-brush motor, with wedge-shaped commutator pads and two brushes per pole, so there isn't really any way to modify it as you suggest. As it turns out, though, we now think it was the solenoid all along.

  3. Well Capt. I see your right in the channel heading southeast, hope your under power as you wrote that posting....

    1. Actually, no, we were anchored. That said, there really is no "channel" here, and the location snapshot just happened to be at the outermost edge of our swing circle. The last marker is well to our east, and this section of the creek carries navigable depth all the way across from just north of us to the docks on the south side. Plenty of room -- several hundred feet -- for other boats to get by (and many did, it being the weekend). We picked a spot that gave us safe swing room but was "out of the way" as much as possible.

      Your comment, though, did inspire me to write up the anchoring process and perhaps clear up some of the confusion on this issue, as I imagine future map links may draw similar comments. The write-up is here.


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