Sunday, September 10, 2023

First cruise!

Just over a week ago we crossed the four-month mark here at Derecktor Shipyard in Mamaroneck. It's been a long project, and it feels like an eternity since we were out cruising. Apart from a couple of weekends where we traveled to see friends and family, I've really not taken any time off, and I'm pretty tired. Today is a rain day, so I am taking time off to catch up on the blog.

Vector in her new digs on the rigging dock. It was a tight squeeze behind the NY Waterways ferry Brooklyn, newly arrived for her refit.

A lot has happened in the two and a half weeks since I last posted here, and we are asymptotically approaching the finish line. Sadly, painting has not been chief among those activities; we have not seen the painters in a full week now, and various things are now held up waiting on them. While the painting punch list is as long as my arm, they really ought to be able to hammer it out in a week or so if we can get some dry weather.

One of the last shots I snapped on the hard, shortly after the sign installer finished adding the name and hailing port.

The yard really needed to get us in the water, because they need the hard stand area for other vessels coming in. And so it was that they made a full-court press to finish all the work that could only be done on the hard. They finished up the stabilizer service and got the fins back on, finished the second coat of bottom paint, audio-gauged the hull in five places, and put the swim platform back on the boat.

For my part in the process I re-installed the anchor snubber on a new shackle, and gave the propeller four coats of 99% zinc paint. This latter item is sold by chandlers as barnacle barrier prop paint for $40 a can, but I use Rustoleum Cold Galvanizing Compound, which is the exact same stuff, that I get at Home Depot for $10 a can. I had to make an after-dinner run to Home Depot for a fresh can.

Prop coated in zinc paint.

The big push from both sides almost got us to the water on the first of the month, but the yard just ran out of week and we ended up spending Labor Day weekend still on the hard. I worked through the weekend, mostly re-installing equipment on the mast, which is still lying on its back in the shed. The yard cut the access hole I had requested just before the week was out. It was well into the 90s here and my progress over the weekend was correspondingly slow.

New access hole. If you peer inside you can see why I wanted it; all the cables to both spreader arms come through the square hole beneath, previously unreachable.

When the yard resumed work on Tuesday they were able to finish up the swim step and get most of the boarding gates back on, a task much more easily done from the scissor lift on the hard than from ladders on the dock. And Wednesday they put us back in the water, which involved lifting Vector high enough to swing her over the aft decks of the nearby Joel Miller before gently lowering her four stories back down to the water. A short time-lapse video of most of the flight is at the end of this post.

When I was not working on the mast I spent most of my time continuing to install hardware on the boat. That included installing the new fittings and hose for the main engine raw water intake. I had hoped to leave these off until the yard had a chance to do some remediation in the bilge below it, but the yard wanted us to be ready to maneuver.

She flies through the air, with the greatest of ease. Swinging over the Joel Miller.

The yard, too, has spent most of their time re-installing gear, including the aforementioned gates, all the cleats and hawsepipes, the rails, and various latches and hardware. We changed to new latches on the boarding gates to replace the now-unobtainium models that have been failing one by one over the years, and the yard fabricated some plastic shims and stops for various gates and doors.

Once we were back in the water I set to work on re-starting and checking the main engine, generator, and watermaker. The main engine exhaust outflow seems less vigorous than previously, so I drained the raw water system and inspected the impeller. It was fine, and I'm pretty sure my new hose work is fine, so I am now thinking that this is due to all new wet exhaust hose that the yard installed between the muffler and exhaust outlet. The old hose, now two decades old, was in bad shape and had lots of crud in it; a partial occlusion would account for more pressure in the outflow.

All these seats, outside benches and inside buckets, were removed from Brooklyn and are destined for the scrap heap. This is just a small portion of them.

The generator, thankfully, started right up and began making power, the only time we've had 120 volts at our outlets since arriving. I still have very slow oil and fuel leaks that I need to address but I doubt I will get to them here. The low yard voltage, by the way (208 nominal but as low as 202 at some outlets), has caused the UPS running the chart computer to switch to battery power, and then deplete it, more than once, which we learn when our Internet, which is on the same UPS, goes out. The jury is out on the watermaker until I actually try making water, which I don't want to do here in the harbor.

In a sort of busman's holiday (a term we used a lot when we lived on an actual bus), I took a day off two Sundays ago, hopped on Amtrak's Northeast Regional, and headed up to New London to help my friend Tim sort out an electrical issue on his sailboat. Amtrak does not stop in Mamaroneck, so to avoid changing trains I rode my scooter down to the New Rochelle station and parked in the garage for a buck an hour.

Whale Tail fountain, across from the train station in New London, CT.

Tim has something of a background in solar energy, having been a solar and off-grid aficionado since before it was popular, and his sailboat has an impressive solar energy system, enough to meet most of their needs without running a generator. On days of high insolation but low electrical demand, he'd like to be able to use the excess solar to heat his water heater or run cabin air conditioning, but undocumented modifications to the boat's main electrical panel on a previous owner's watch were standing in the way. I found they had literally sawed through one of the copper bus bars and wired the inverter across the gap; it was a simple fix once we figured it out, and we did not even need any extra parts.

s/v Paquita's electrical panel. The cut busbar is nearly invisible below the mass of wiring.

Speaking of Tim's panel reminds me of some panel work of my own. As long as we were painting the whole boat, I may have mentioned that I removed all the old surface-mount deck lights on the aft and side decks, which each had an individual switch connected to a circuit that was always hot. The yard filled in the old holes and I cut new holes for modern recessed LED fixtures. These have no switches and I needed a way to turn them on and off. I also needed a new circuit for the forward-facing floodlights we're adding to spot pot floats at night.

Cutout for new electrical panel. Curved dip toward the left is what's left of a hole for a voltmeter.

Both of these things required new circuit breakers on our main panels at the helm, and I've long since used up all the spares. I bought a three-circuit panel to add three more 24-volt breakers to the six already in place, which just fits in the remaining space on the console. An old-school rectangular analog voltmeter was in that spot, something I installed a decade ago to monitor the thruster and windlass batteries, but which never really fit right and could not be read in the dark.

New panel installed, with something we've not had for a while: "Spare." Blue tape is tagging out breakers that now go to loose wires while equipment is still missing.

I spent close to an hour cutting the fiddly hole with odd corners needed for the new panel, to include hacking out part of a vertical support behind the panel for clearance. After some judicious re-arranging of circuits we now have separate switches for the flood lights and the deck lights, and I even now have a spare 24v breaker position. The thruster and windlass battery voltage is now displayed on a much smaller meter in between the controls for those systems.

New meter for thruster/windlass batteries, better positioned to monitor the voltage drop while operating either motor. My shutter was too fast to capture the display.

The yard asked us to move by tomorrow over to the rigging dock, which is accessible by a much smaller crane which will be used to re-install our mast, the longest railing on the boat, and our own davit crane as each of those items is ready. And with the boating season rapidly drawing to a close here, we also needed to get our waste tank pumped out. And so it is that this morning, just before high tide, before the harbor got busy, and before the rain started, we set out on our first "cruise" since arriving at the shipyard on May 2.

This "wedding cake" cutout is from installing the meter. I had to drill a smaller hole from the top of the panel to fit the meter, and a larger concentric hole from the bottom for the nut that holds it on, as no threads would protrude from the full 1" thickness of the 1/4" finished surface on top of 3/4" plywood support.

Without the mast and thus most of our instruments, I had to cobble together some backup data sources, and record our mileage on a backup odometer. But it is a short trip of just about a mile to the pumpout dock in the next basin, and mostly navigable visually at high tide. After four months we are both out of practice, and I read the checklists aloud as we started up and got under way.

We had to land at the pumpout dock twice. Our first time, I passed the dock, turned around, and came back to tie up on the port side, where our fitting is, as we had done last time. But that was before the season started, when few boats were yet in the water. To get the hose to reach, we had hung out over the end of the dock by a fair amount. Now there was a boat moored there, with its outboard engine keeping us from backing that far.

Pointy outboard motors and new paint do not go together, so we could not overhang this dock to tie on our port side.

Fortunately, after turning the boat around yet again and tying on the starboard side in exactly the right spot, the hose just barely reached the fitting after pulling it across the deck. We did our best not to drag it too much against the new paint. When we finished we came straight here to our new digs at the rigging dock (map). We walked next door for a celebratory brunch at the diner, where I was disappointed that blue laws kept me from enjoying a mimosa in the morning. I've had several there, and they are quite good, but apparently we've never stopped in on a Sunday before.

We can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and if we can just get the painter to finish up we should be out of here before the end of the month. Any fantasy we had harbored of cruising further east or north this season has now been shattered, and whenever we shove off here we will be headed back the way we came. I hope we have time for a stop in the city before making our way south along the eastern seaboard.

Time lapse of Vector being hoisted from the hard stands to the floating docks.

1 comment:

  1. Sean, just wanted to say again how much I enjoy your posts, and admire your skills. Keep up the blogging.
    Bill, ex-M/Y Travis McGee,


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