May 14, 2015
We’ve just experienced a double whammy! We were all set to launch the boat last week on May 5 when a subtropical depression made an appearance in the Bahamas. Though it had a low probability of developing into a tropical storm or hurricane, we decided to play it safe and delay our launch for a week. Good decision as it soon developed into Tropical Storm Ana and being safe in a boatyard was much better than in the water and exposed. So, we were all set to launch the boat this week when the 200-ton travel lift at Jarrett Bay developed a leak in a hydraulic seal, resulting in an unfortunate spraying of a beautiful Trumpy yacht with a whole bunch of hydraulic fluid during a lift-out. The lift won’t be repaired until Saturday, so we are delayed yet another week. You know you’ve been in the boatyard too long when birds decide to build a nest in your exhaust!
At least we’ve had time to tidy the boat up a bit, verify our inventory of spare parts and such, and do a variety of lower priority projects. Bradley was able to do a quick trip to Florida to visit family while I traveled to Southport to visit my friend Nancy and a high school classmate I had not seen in many, many years, Lynne. We had a great visit!
We also met up with John and Tina, owners of Sockeye Blue, a Nordhavn 75-foot EYF (Expedition Yachtfisher). We had met John and Tina a few years ago at the Miami boat show when they had purchased this boat – a real project. Shortly after taking delivery, the original owner had a modification to the boat made in Mexico, which went horribly wrong, causing the boat to sink at the marina where it was housed. The boat was written off as a total loss by insurance and John and Tina subsequently purchased it as a salvage project. The entire engine room had been submerged in salt water, requiring new engines and all electrical wiring to be replaced. John and Tina were up to the challenge and have done an incredible job of bringing this boat back to life. It is absolutely spectacular! We enjoyed seeing them again and hope to catch up with them later this summer.
And now, the remainder of this update is for those geeks and techies who are interested in boat maintenance! This will cover Interior Upgrades and Engine and Generator Maintenance. First, here’s a video (8 mins) of work on Plumbing, Caulking, Engine Maintenance, and Bottom Prep and painting covered in previous posts:
When we purchased Shear Madness in 2010 we were so overwhelmed with learning how to run the boat and systems, we did not even think about making changes to the interior. While the boat was out of the water for 6 months after the lightning strike in 2011, we found a great company at Jarrett Bay – Crystal Coast Interiors – and started making some changes. Each year we have attacked a new area. Previously we have re-covered the sofa in the salon, re-covered the dining chairs, added new carpet in salon and pilothouse, and re-covered and upgraded our Stidd Captain’s chairs in the Pilothouse. This year we completed the following projects:
1. Pilot house Table – removed and re-finished table and base
2. Pilot house settee – new cushions for seat and back
3. Pilot house bunk – new cover to match settee
4. Master sheets – our master bed is a custom size, larger than a queen but smaller than a king. We’ve been using king size sheets which are a bit too large, so we finally had some king size sheets cuts to fit properly
5. Both Tables in Salon were removed and re-finished
6. Fly Bridge Table – the finish on this table is very cloudy due to age and moisture but re-finishing it would be very expensive. We don’t like the table that much, so we will eventually replace it, but for now decided not to do anything. We will just use it as is for awhile longer.
7. We sold our Hobbie Kayak and replaced it with a newer version that has much improved seating and other upgrades.
8. Replaced some cushions we lost from Tender in the far north winds.
9. Replaced and upgraded some pillows throughout the boat.
10. Replace three of our door open catches with new Magnetic ones
11. Artwork – the boat came with some lovely art prints of Venice. They were nice, but of no special meaning to us. So we decided to replace them with photos of some of our favorite adventures over the years. The hardest part was deciding which of more than 35,000 photos to use! One we agreed on some nice ones, I got prints made and found a local art gallery – Art & Things – to put the prints into our existing frames.
12. Engine Room Carpet – We replaced the old black mats in the engine room with nice new carpet designed for engine rooms.
Engines & Generators. We have MTU Detroit Diesel 400 HP twin engines and two Northern Lights Generators. We have our generators serviced each 12 to 18 months when we visit Deltaville Boatyard, because we very much enjoy working with Neal at Deltaville. They also service the outboards on our engines. However, we prefer to have Keith at Western Branch Diesel here in Jarrett Bay work on the main engines. On our way to be hauled out, Keith jumped on board for a sea trial to review our engines and found several items in addition to the standard maintenance items, based on 6300 hours on the engines. The approximate cost of all the work on the engines including exhaust system was over $30K.
1. Exhaust Riser System. We knew prior to arrival this was the year we were going to replace the exhaust units. One of the key reasons we went to the Fort Lauderdale boat show in Nov. was to meet key vendors. After securing 3 bids and consulting with Steve D’Antonio, we selected Metcalf Marine. The only problem is they are located in Florida. After taking extensive measurements and pictures, we removed our old units and shipped them to Metcalf in Dec. They manufactured new ones and shipped them back to us several weeks early, the last week of Feb. So the first major job was to install the new units. Over all it went very well; there was one unit where we had to make a small modification to the vacuum break to have it line up correctly, but it turned out not to cost more than 1 hour of labor. The real test will come when we perform the sea trials.
2. Our fuel and water heat exchangers are mounted on the front of the engines. Keith noted the mounts had collapsed and should be replaced. This was not easy as it required we completely remove the units, remove the mounts and replace them. Working with Keith for most of the day, we successfully got the heat exchangers remounted.
3. We had a number of leaking pipes on the engines that were scheduled for replacement, which we integrated into the other repairs.
4. Charge Air Cooler Replacement – This is one of those “service opportunities” designed into the engines to keep MTU earnings up. It is recommended that the units be replaced every 4000 hours. We had 6300 hours on them, but they looked in good shape and we were not going to replace the units. However in the middle of this we received word of a fellow MTU owner who had his units tested with ~ 2500 hours on them, only to have one fail less than 100 hours later. The failure caused salt water to flood the engine. Total cost for that was ~ $125K, total cost to replace units ~ 9k. As Bob Senter likes to say, that is a service opportunity.
5. Zincs were replaced
6. Oil & Filters were changed
7. Clamps were upgraded
May 3, 2015
Before we get into more technical stuff, here’s a great video from last summer in Labrador. One of our cruising partners had a quad-copter drone which he could launch and retrieve from his boat and this video has some great aerial shots of the boats and icebergs. Sadly the drone is not amphibious.
Now for more on our maintenance. This update will cover all the electrical projects we have completed. We worked with the crew at Offshore Marine Electronics – Steve, Clayton, Buddy, Fran, Scott, Beth, and Sue who, after working on lightning strike repairs and other projects over the past few years, are now like family. The next updates will cover engine work and interior upgrades.
- Starboard engine room alcove – replace two open terminal strips with proper junction boxes and attempt to label wires.
- Port engine room alcove – install marine grade Junction box with terminal strips and move open splice wires in box. (Note rerun some of the wire runs.) We continued to make progress and of course Murphy paid us a visit, but it was very fortuitous. We were installing at junction box in port engine room alcove, where 5 wire runs were just spliced together, including some 120V. We wanted to reroute some of them and install a junction box. To do that we had to move Jabsco bilge pump and in the process the brass outlet barb broke off. It was very pink, meaning the bronze has leached out and it has lost its strength. So it would have been just a matter of time until it failed. Although they sell new bases with the inlet/outlet barbs, the price was $250 and our suppler offered to construct a new 24V unit for only $550, so we went with that. While we do carry many spare parts and one complete spare pump, the 24 V is no longer manufactured. This is the primary shaft bilge pump and was 10 years old. Other than replacing the internal valves a few times, it has been reliable and now should be in good shape for a long time to come.
- Review some grounding questions. This turned out to be a very complex discussion that ended up involving Steve D’Antonio, our electrician Steve Gilpin and Keith our MTU (Detroit Diesel) expert. In the end, we ended up adding some grounding wires to some Stainless Steel fittings in our raw water hose runs. We also ended up changing some existing grounding runs from series to home runs to new grounding terminals. All of our through hulls had been daisy chained together and run back to a grounding brush on the shafts. They now connect directly to new grounding terminals, one each port and starboard.
- Lazarette – small exhaust Fan. This was a combination enhancement and preventive maintenance. It is the original fan and was showing lots of signs of wear. We also added a temperature switch so that it can run in Auto mode, rather than having to remember to turn it on or off.
- Pilot House VHF – when we run our hydraulic alternators we get noise through the Pilot house VHF. We are installing some noise suppression to eliminate the annoying whine.
- Upgrade Alternators on main engines from 100 to 175 – 225 range. This turned out to be an extremely complex issue and in the end we ended up deciding not to proceed with this project. The key challenge was running some 2.0 wire (about the size of your thumb) to some existing switches.
- Replace all house batteries. This was covered in a separate post, but after the new batteries were installed, we had to reset our Mastervolt system and ensure all settings were correct and all chargers were working properly. This involved several interactions with Mastervolt tech support and in the process, one of our chargers began making noises. It was just like the noise a prior charger had made when we suspected the fan was bad. So we ended up getting a new charger from Mastervolt and returning the noisy one – all under warranty, but of course creating a bit more work. To top it off, when the new charger arrived, one of the Silica Gel packets using in shipping to prevent moisture had broken open and the little beads had made their way into the charger where we could hear them rattling around. It took a bit of twisting and shaking to get them all out, plus some phone calls with Mastervolt to make sure that any stray ones would not cause a problem. In the end, everything was installed, testing, and working and we have a very good understanding of all the settings and how they work.
- Electrical Panel Meter Displays on our electric boards. We have been having issues with these digital gauges going bad since we purchased the boat. All of them were replaced after the lightening strike and they still were randomly going bad. We discussed with our electrician about adding a add resister. In the end, Kathy end up tracing down the original Manufacture in Taiwan, who took our old ones back, serviced them with some type of upgrade and returned them to us. We are hopeful this has solved the issues but more importantly, we now have a direct contact to the manufacturer in Taiwan who has been very responsive and helpful.
- Spot lights (4) – 1 on Bow, 2 on Tender Deck & 1 on Stern. They continue to burn out after little or no use. We evaluated LED and instead decided to try one more solution and purchased special reinforced (Rough Service) bulbs. Time will tell.
- Replace engine room lights to conserve energy. We investigated LED options but it was not cost effective so we did not replace them.
- Battery Deck Ballast on Stbd light. Replace or convert to LED. We replaced as LED not cost effective in this configuration yet.
- Lazarette Ballast on Starboard light replaced.
- Upgrade lighting in Master Convert to LED to conserve energy. Of course this was more complex than hoped, as the LED we wanted to be consistent with the ones added after lighting strike were no longer available. We were able to come close and ran into problems with lights mounted in wood panel ceiling vs panels. Successful in the end.
- Upgrade Galley Lights. Convert to LED to conserve energy. Same challenges as above. Also had to find and swap out dimmers for lights.
- Master Head Light Switch replace – it was wearing out.
- Tender Upgrade Navigation System. We have an old NavNet system in the tender and the display is virtually impossible to see in daylight. We have limited space to install an alternative so decided to defer any changes for now given all the other projects we had in progress. We have purchased a BadElf GPS and waterproof case for our iPad and will use Garmin BlueChart on the iPad. That may turn out to be the best solution.
- Improve monitoring of key temperatures in Engine Room. In a perfect world we wanted to monitor in pilot house the following items: Exhaust Temperature just after water mixer, Shaft Temperatures and bilge pump cycles. Maretron makes a great system for doing this but we faced two significant challenges. (1) getting a wire from the engine room to pilot house computer and (2) over all cost of this system over $10K including installation. If building a new boat a Maretron system or similar would be installed. With Steve D’s guidance we ended up going with a simple Borel Manufacturing sensor that will monitor Exhaust Temperature on both engines, the most critical part, and dropping the other requirements. Total cost, including installation was less than $500.
- Tighten all Electrical connections and check for any signs of heat damage
We are approaching the end of the maintenance cycle and plan to launch the boat this week. Ready to get back to cruising!
April 28, 2015
This is the first of several posts about the maintenance we’ve been doing over the last several months. Please feel free to skip these updates if you are not interested in details! BUT, for those not interested in maintenance, we do have UPDATED BOOK REVIEWS so check them out. I’m currently downloading more audiobooks and iBooks, so if you have any recommendations, please let me know! Many of these reviews are the result of recommendations from our friends!
And we did take time for some fun – we attended another wonderful Gilpin Family (Offshore Marine Electronics) oyster roast including some good southern cornbread!
Now on to the maintenance list.
We took Shear Madness out of the water in early January 2015, with a long list of maintenance items and upgrades. Over the next few posts we will share with you what was on our schedule and how things turned out – these blogs will be jointly authored by Bradley and Kathy. One has to also keep in mind Murphy’s Boat Repair rule. For every job you start at least 2 to 4 other tasks are found.
Once the boat was out of the water, we also elected to fully unload the boat of everything, all food, provisions, clothes, most of our spare parts, and all cleaning provisions. They only thing we left on board was tools and paper towels – LOL.
Shear Madness is now 11 years old and while we have worked hard since purchasing her to ensure she is kept in mint condition and does not break down while in cruising mode, boats require substantial annual maintenance. We are very strong believers in aggressive preventive maintenance. So we design our maintenance schedule to take advantage of the experts available to us here at Moore’s Marine and the Jarrett Bay complex, rather than in remote ports where we do not know the quality Techs. Most of the people who work on Shear Madness here know the boat and have been working with us since 2011.
In this post, we will detail some of the General Repair items. Later posts will cover engine maintenance, electrical systems, and interior upgrades. Our last post covered replacing the house batteries.
General Repair Items:
- Find and repair leaks in chilled loop (heating/AC) system – We first started on this at Deltaville, where we found and repaired several leaks in valves and fittings. We thought we had the system repaired, but once we pressurized the system a new leak developed in the heat exchanger from the Kabola heater to the chilled loop. This required we remove a substantial amount of equipment from the lazarette to access the heat exchanger for repairs and pressure testing. As we were back in the space we decided to replace all of the hoses we had access to:
- All hoses on Kabola system.
- Deck Drain
- Generator water and air exhaust hoses.
- Bonding strip connections with terminal strip.
- All 2.5” and 3” raw water hoses (these bring sea water into the boat to cool the main engines) from engines to Dual Groco Strainers and through dual through-hull connectors. This included all raw water hoses on the exhaust system. Of course in the process we discovered the Groco Strainer needed a full service.
- Replace two hose bibs. Of course access to the back of one required we disassemble one of our 50 amp power cord systems. While back in that space, we found many hose clamps that needed to be tightened including two on a deck drain that have clearly never been tightened. We also added some insulating tape to the chilled loop system.
- Change Oil in Vacuum (toilet) pump – last year we did a full service on our Vacuum pump system, replacing all duck bill valves, seals and fixing other issues. The one thing left to do this time was to replace the Oil in the primary vacuum pump.
- Complete Water Maker hose replacement – while working in the engine room, we noted that several of the clamps were showing signs of rust and wear. Upon closer examination we also found that many of the hoses were weakened. We ended up having to replace all the hoses on the water maker system. It was great timing, as upon inspection of the old hoses, we could have expected a failure any moment!
- Sea Chest – We had two valves on the sea chest that were becoming impossible to close, so we replaced them. In the process we found the A/C raw hoses were deteriorating, so we replaced the A/C raw water hoses from sea chest to both pumps and beyond. This led to needing to do some work on the pump selection switch wiring. We also cleaned and painted the actual pumps to stop some rust that had started.
- Fuel Tanks – We had wanted to upgrade the values on our engine room fuel tank sight glasses along with the actual sight glasses. While the sight glass replacement went well, including those on the oil tanks, we had to give up on valve replacement. While our manual valves still work, we wanted to upgrade to self-closing types, but did not want to risk creating more issues, when the existing valves did not want to come out. We also discovered a cracked bowl on our Racor (fuel filter system) and replaced it. We also noted some leaks around connections on fuel lines that had to be resealed. (For items 1-7 we worked with Mayda of Mayda Marine, a truly miraculous marine plumber)
- Servicing Windlass (anchor winch) – While at Deltaville, we serviced the rollers on the bow, but did not have a weather window to disassemble and grease the windlasses. This was accomplished in a busy afternoon.
- Microwave Repair. We got very lucky here, as our model of microwave convention oven is no longer made and all of the new models are too big (depth) to fit into the existing slot. There is/was a local repair tech, who we have used in the past. When I called his office to schedule a service, we found out he was winding down the business to retire. However, after we explained the problem, he agreed to look at our Microwave if we would bring it to his shop. We got very lucky as it was fairly easy to remove – it came out with only 4 screws. He looked at it and we hit pay dirt; he had a similar unit in the shop for sale and was going to toss it. So he was able to cannibalize the parts required for repair. We would have liked to just purchase the new unit, but it was the wrong color and the face plate was not interchangeable.
- We have been progressively replacing all of the caulking on the decks. This process continued with removal of old caulking from the tender deck, flybridge, and roof and application of new caulking. Sergio from Moore’s Marine, is a real artist with 3M Marine Sealant, which can create a huge mess in the hands of an amateur!
- We had to replace a “winglet” on our starboard stabilizer that had sustained some minor damage.
- Bottom paint. The bottom was sanded and new bottom paint applied. Bow and stern thruster props were removed, sanded and painted.
- New zincs. All zinc anodes were replaced.
- Teak decks. Over time teak decks wear down, resulting in the caulking between teak strips rising above the wood. The caulking periodically needs to be shave down to bring it back to even with the teak. We have teak decks in our aft cockpit, in the flybridge, and along the starboard side of the boat. Shaving the caulking is a manual process, followed by a light sanding of the teak. We do not treat our teak decks with any kind of product – we leave it natural as this increases its life.
- Several miscellaneous repairs.
Please let us know if you have any questions!
April 14, 2015
WARNING: This update is about the “other” side of cruising – boat maintenance! If you are mostly interested in sunsets, rainbows, dolphins, fish, or adventures on the water you may want to skip this and the next couple updates as we are busy doing some boat maintenance. But if you want some of the details, read on!
Many of our projects are still in progress and I will provide a more comprehensive list of more of the things we have done next time. This post will deal with just one project – replacing our house battery bank. What’s that, you may wonder. Well, when the boat is not connected to shore power and we are not running a generator, power for everything – lights, refrigeration, TV, appliances, comes from sixteen large batteries, collectively referred to as the House Battery Bank. When we are at anchor or not at a marina that has shore power for use to connect to, we run a generator twice a day to re-charge these batteries. The batteries themselves are deep-cycle marine batteries, made to be used in this fashion. The life expectancy of these batteries varies but is typically measured in cycles – how many times they are used and re-charged – rather than by years. With the amount of time we spend away from shore power, our four-year old batteries were ready to be replaced.
Our particular batteries are called Lifeline AGM GPL-8DL and each of them weighs 167 pounds. To get to our battery bank, from the Pilot House you go down a set of stairs, then open a hatch, which leads you down a ladder to the Machinery Space (also known as “the hole”). Thus, replacing these batteries isn’t quite like putting a couple new AA’s into your remote control.
First, you have to buy the new batteries. As the price is close to $600 apiece, it pays to shop around a bit. By calling several Lifeline dealers in different states, we were able to be sure we would get the best price and we actually ended up getting them from the dealer in New Bern, NC, though they were shipped to us from the distribution center. The batteries weigh 2600 pounds, so they arrive stacked on a pallet. We had arranged for the use of a forklift to bring them to the boat and to raise them up high enough to unload into the Pilot House (the boat is still out of the water).
The day of installation arrived but there was a problem – heavy rain forecast all day. So we had to postpone until we had better weather. The next day was better and a crew from Offshore Marine Electronics – our local electrical and electronics gurus – arrived ready for a fun day. Soon we found that the forklift came about 2 feet short of reaching the door. So we made a slight alteration to our plan – someone would have to step out onto the pallet to get batteries on and off the boat.
Before starting, protective blankets was laid on the pilot house carpet, blue plastic protective material taped to the stairs, and protective cardboard taped to all walls and bannisters to lessen the possibility of dings to the interior.
Because of a limited staging area, we planned to remove four batteries at a time from the battery bank, lift them out of the hatch, get them up the stairs to the pilot house, bring four new batteries in, get them down the stairs and into the machinery space, then get the old batteries out, onto the pallet, and lowered to the ground. The weight of the batteries meant that lifting straps had to be used to get them out of or into the hatch. The hatch then had to be closed before the batteries could be brought up the steps, and that required coordination between two lifters. Because the forklift didn’t quite get high enough, lifting straps again had to be used to get the batteries onto the pallet. Once the first four were done, the system was working well and was repeated three more times.
All in all, it went pretty smoothly. It took about four hours to get the old batteries off and the new ones in. Soon they were connected up, secured in place and put into service. It was quite a day and I’m sure all the lifters slept well that night!
If you’re still reading at this point, you may even want to watch the video
And here are a few more photos:
March 20, 2015
As much as we enjoy living aboard Shear Madness at sea level, we do miss seeing the mountains. So this year we planned to spend a little time in the Colorado Rockies to enjoy some winter sports and to visit friends and family.
Before I get to that, I realize that I forgot to post a couple important photos from our stay in Deltaville. Just before we left there in December, our good friends Milt and Judy along with the faithful Schipperke Katy, stopped by in their new American Tug. Milt and Judy own a Nordhavn that they have cruised extensively, but wanted a smaller boat to base in Florida, while keeping their Nordhavn in the Northeast US. We had a wonderful visit and a tour of their very nice new boat!
In February, we traveled back to Northern Virginia and visited some friends and family. I was FINALLY able to pry grandson Tyler away from his trains, Wei, and other important games to teach him to play some cards. He learned War, Go Fish, and Concentration, and soon was playing with Grandpa Bradley and claiming to beat him.
I also visited with our good friend Jean who we had not seen in way too long. And I was invited to an “intimate” lunch with Governor Chris Christie – along with 100 other people! But that provided a great opportunity to catch up with many past business associates. And no, it wasn’t a fundraiser!
I have a high school reunion coming up this year, so many of my classmates have been re-connecting in anticipation of that event. While in the area, I was able to meet a couple classmates for a wonderful dinner. Becky attended Oxon Hill High School and I last saw her 20 years ago at our 20th reunion. Mike and I were among the 28 people who started first grade together at Thomas Addison Elementary School and progressed through 12 years together, culminating at Oxon Hill High School. It was great to see them and to meet Mike’s wife Barbara.
Then it was off to Denver for more visiting and some fun in the snow. And upon our arrival we were treated to 8 inches of fresh snow in Denver. This allowed me to try out my Valentine’s gift from Bradley – a set of beautiful new snowshoes! They were wonderful! After a couple nights at my stepson’s Mike’s, we headed up to Copper Mountain for ten days. The conditions were great and we enjoyed our first downhill skiing in many years. I signed up for a free snowshoe tour, led by a volunteer ambassador. Turns out I was the only one signed up that day so I had a private tour with a guide who was 77 years old. I could not keep up with him! So the next day I decided to take a group ski lesson. Starting with a group of four, I was soon assigned for the morning by myself to Dick, who had just celebrated his 85th birthday! I could not keep up with him either.
Our friend Ken from Maryland flew out to join us for a few days and he had great fun wearing Bradley out while I was taking my lesson and cross-country skiing on my own. We were also joined by good friends Alan and Kathleen who live in Golden and we spent a day at the nearby Nordic Center where we cross-country skied. It was an awesome day!
Then it was off for some family visiting. While Bradley headed to Golden with Alan and Kathleen, I set off for Sidney, Nebraska to visit my niece Robin, her husband Eric, and my soon-to-be-great nephew who is scheduled to arrive in June. I had met Eric only once at their wedding in 2013, so it was great to spend some time with them and get to know him. He made a great first impression, cooking wonderful chili rellenos the first night and perfect steaks the second night. We also played some 3-way cribbage and I attended both rural churches where Eric is a pastor. I was also able to enjoy some great local hiking.
From there it was back to Erie, CO (near Boulder) to visit my other niece Vicky and great-niece Sophie. I had agreed to stay overnight with Sophie so that Vicky could have a mom’s night out at a local hotel. Despite some initial skepticism, Sophie turned out to be a complete angel and we had great fun watching Paw Patrol and Spongebob Squarepants, reading stories, going to the playground, and going for a very long hike. On the way back from the hike, we came across a fire truck parked on the side of the road. One of the firefighters emerged with a fire hat for Sophie. She was delighted, though later when she tried to tell her Daddy about it, Fire Truck came out sounding like, well, use your imagination. A few letters got lost there.
It was then time for some more classmate reunions. Joel, another of my elementary school comrades, lives near Denver so we got together for dinner at a local BBQ place. We had not seen each other since high school 40 years ago. It turns out that Joel, like me, spent most of his career in the Software/IT field. Now retired from that, he and his wife Sheryl are opening the first Hungry Howie’s pizza franchise in Colorado. So anyone in the Denver area, keep an eye out for that!
We returned to Copper Mountain for a few more days. The weather had turned spring like, so we decided to practice our cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. This gave us plenty of good exercise and a chance to explore the local area.
Then it was time to re-unite with one of my best friends from high school, Cheryl. She is now a pathologist and has been in Denver for many years. Our good friend Cyndy had invited us to her house for St. Patrick’s Day and welcomed Cheryl and Dan to join the party. It was a wonderful night. Cyndy is a great cook and wonderful entertainer. Cheryl and I have not seen each other in 40 years, but it was as if we had never stopped being friends. I really felt that if I had just met Cheryl for the first time, she and I would become friends – we still seemed to have that connection all these years later. It was great to meet her husband Dan as well and I can promise it will not be 40 years until the next time we see each other.
Our month in the mountains seemed to fly by and suddenly it was time to head to the airport for a flight back to the east coast and a return to the boat. We enjoyed our mountain fix, but are looking forward to being back on the water!
We spent a few days back in Virginia, visiting friends and family. Bradley also had a chance to re-connect with old high school friends Martha and Buddy. We will have a few weeks to finish up our maintenance tasks and test everything out with some sea trials in April before heading off for some water adventures.
March 13, 2015
Shear Madness is still in Beaufort, NC and I’m still in catch-up mode with our blog! Let me pick up in Deltaville, VA where we were in November and December. While in Deltaville, we did a few projects on the boat and the tender. All routine. Our good friend Susan, a high school classmate of Bradley’s, came to join us for a month. She did an amazing job of helping to clean the boat and she’s also an incredible cook! It was great to spend some time with her.
We had a chance to catch up with several old friends. We spent Thanksgiving with old friends Gary and Patty and watched the Dallas Cowboys – I even got to try on Patty’s Cowboys shirt – it didn’t fit and looked awful (I am a Redskins fan – a difficult thing to admit these days). We met several new friends, including Sean and Louise on the steel-hulled boat Vector and Graham and Wendy on Oyster Mist, an Oyster 42 sailboat. We also met Nancy and Ron of Mandala. We had been introduced by a mutual friend two years ago and had been in touch by email but had never met in person. They arrived in Deltaville for a short stay and we had a lovely time with them. We also caught up with Deltaville locals Bill and Mary and Mike and Maxine who joined us for a party aboard Shear Madness. We also had a lovely time with Brad and Lorraine from the Nordhavn 55 Adventure (who were with us in Nova Scotia for the summer) and Ray and Susan from Copeing (Outer Reef 65 who are based in Deltaville).
In early December, my step-grandson, Kevin, joined us for a couple month stint as our deckhand. Kevin is hoping to join the Navy but in the meantime wanted to spend some time away from home and learn a bit about boats. He was soon busy with cleaning, waxing, polishing, and learning a whole new vocabulary! It was time to depart from Deltaville and head down the Chesapeake Bay to Portsmouth, VA. The trip was uneventful and was a good chance for Kevin to learn more about the boat systems. Soon he was able to do engine room checks and complete log entries on his own.
Our friends Gary and Cookie invited us to a holiday party at their home and it was a wonderful event! It was mostly work colleagues of Gary with lots of children. Good food, fun people, and some games and singing Christmas Carols made for a great time. Gary was also kind enough to invite me and Kevin to attend a basketball game at Old Dominion University. Front row seats no less! It was a great game – ODU won handily – and I made friends with the mascot! We also met up with another of my step-gransdons, Brian, who was working for the week in nearby Chesapeake, VA. Kevin and I also had a chance to get out for a round of golf.
We made a trip to Northern Virginia for Kathy to have some business meetings and to visit friends and family. We met Bradley’s newest grandson, Austin, for the first time. We spent Christmas Day with Lloyd and Arlene and our dear friend Fatiha, who had lived with us for many years in our Oakton house and took good care of us and our dogs. We all watched the movie The Interview, which turned out to be much funnier than we had expected. We then had a wonderful dinner.
Upon returning to the boat it was time to head south to Beaufort, NC where we planned to haul the boat out of the water for a few months of maintenance and for us to spend some time in Colorado. Just before we were to leave, fellow Nordhavn owners Bob and Jan on the 57-foot Emeritus pulled into Tidewater Marina. They are an amazing couple – still handling the boat on their own well into their 80’s. We enjoyed a wonderful dinner out with them. It looked like we had a good weather window on New Year’s Eve, so we departed to head around Cape Hatteras and on to Cape Lookout. Conditions were ideal and we enjoyed our New Year’s Eve at sea, as we were able to see a few fireworks displays on shore. We also saw plenty of dolphins – Kevin’s first time seeing them up close! We also saw several whales. We made it to Cape Lookout where we anchored for the night before heading to the Beaufort Town Docks for a few days before moving to Jarrett Bay for our haul out. Soon the boat was safely out of the water and we had moved all our food, clothes, and various other things into the house we rented in the nearby Sea Gate community where we have stayed before.
February 2, 2015
Congratulations to Mark H. who was the winner of our Nordhavn Calendar contest in December. Thanks to everyone else who entered. We’ll run another contest for something else soon, so stay tuned!
We are now in Beaufort, NC where the boat is out of the water and we are doing some routine maintenance. More on that in the next post!
For now, I’ve posted two more videos from our summer adventures.
This is a photo slideshow of Shear Madness in Labrador and Greenland. Beautiful scenery, lots of ice, and some fog. Every day was, indeed a “Beautiful Day”.
And this one is a slideshow of our trip to Nova Scotia and Newfoundland with the Nordhavn 55 Adventure and our friends Brad and Lorraine.
More videos are available on our youtube channel. Please feel free to share them!
January 3, 2015
This is the final post from our summer cruise written by Bradley in Sept as we headed from Nova Scotia to the Chesapeake Bay.
As I write this (Saturday 27 Sept), we are halfway between the southwest tip of Nova Scotia and Provincetown, MA. We have been having a perfect passage with wind in the single digits, sea swell less than half a meter from the port with 8 second period and most importantly, clear skies. No fog, no clouds, nothing but stars. We are one day into a new moon, so it is very black outside. Like a pilot, one must trust the instruments, especially our two radars. One is set for 2 to 3 miles and the other 12 to 16. Throughout the night, we have been dodging long line fishing buoys (high flyers with radar reflectors). Luckily for both the fishermen and us, they now set open ocean lines/pots with special radar reflecting poles 8 to 10 feet tall. One several occasions last night I was called on watch as we approached multiple targets. They are impossible to spot even with our huge spotlight without the radar to help direct the beam.
The sun just came up and it was a beautiful red morning sunrise.
Red sky at night sailor’s delight.
Red sky in morning, sailors take warning.
We know that weather is coming up from the south in the next couple of days. The only real question is will it arrive on Monday or will we get lucky and it arrives late on Tuesday – just as we enter the Chesapeake Bay.
I guess I need to start at the beginning. As you know from a previous blog we were in Port Au Choix, Newfounland. From there, we traveled non-stop to the Bras d’Or Lakes in Nova Scotia where we had to stop at St. Peters for a day. The St. Peters Canal had just gone to winter hours and does not operate on Wednesday, so as we arrived on Tuesday, we had to tie up and wait for the next opening. This was great as we had a chance to meet locals Greg and Dawn and an owner of several local fishing boats who generously gave us some wonderful halibut for our freezers. The it was on to Mahone Bay where we were able to catch up with several friends and have a wonderful dinner at the German restaurant with our fellow cruisers Rob and Tish from Kittiwake. Then it was on to Halifax, where we spent 6 days. Over all it was a wonderful stay.I was able to get a 30 mile bike ride in last Saturday, even with the wind blowing 25 to 30 knots all day.
We also had our challenges – because we decided to equalize or condition our batteries. Lately they had been showing their age, and only lasting 8 hours between charges. Without getting too technical, as batteries age, they can develop a buildup in the internal plates that reduces their effectiveness. By turning up the charging voltage from 28.8 to 31.4, you in essence slowly cook the growth off the plates. As it turns out we must have had a lot of growth, because as ours cooked overnight this past Sunday they created huge amounts of heat and more rotten smelling sulfur gas than expected. At one point the batteries were 150 degrees and the smell of rotten eggs permeated the boat. This meant that Kathy and I spent all of Monday and Tuesday wiping down the entire boat, including giving the Mechanical, Battery and Tank deck a very detailed cleaning. We spent hours and hours wiping everything down and changing our buckets of water, which were turning black very quickly. After the cleaning, I wiped all the metal items, like through hulls, and stainless with Corrosion Block a special marine lubricant and protectorant we use.
Also while in Halifax Matt – the deckhand who had joined us for the summer – decided the fun part of the trip was over and he was not going to remain with us through October as he had committed. Matt’s parents were hoping to replace Matt and do the trip south with us, but the timing was off by a week. We suspect we would have very much enjoyed the time with them. Instead, Matt’s father Peter very kindly put us in touch with a RNSYS member, Phil, who has extensive cruising experience and unlimited time, as he is retired and Phil signed on for the passage back to the US.
As we cleaned up Shear Madness, we were of course watching the weather for a window to continue our trip back to the USA. One of the primary differences between cruising north in the late spring and south in early fall is the general weather pattern. On the way north, one basically has periods of good weather, interrupted by short periods of unfriendly cruising weather. Heading south in late Sept, one has much longer periods of cruising unfriendly weather interrupted by opportunities to move south comfortably. The second major difference is the amount of daylight vs darkness, as we are now at 12 and 12, vs 15 & 9 on the way north. I key on sunlight and the more of it there is, the less I sleep. By Tuesday 23 Sept, it had become clear a weather window was going to open for a crossing. We decided to depart Thursday morning around 9:00 and move the boat south stopping someplace just before the sunset to anchor and have dinner on board. We knew the weather was not going to be perfect for this leg, but it would help position us for a move on Friday and then the 36 hour crossing on Saturday morning. The weather was looking like we would have single digit winds and flat seas, just what we were seeking after the last several moves had provided us double digit plus winds and seas on the nose.
We got underway about one hour behind schedule at 10:00 on Thursday 24 Sept, but it was a promising morning. The wind was less then predicted and since it was going to be on our nose that was good. Just that morning I received an email from Jerry and Dee, the new owners of the Nordhavn 68 Grace of Tides. They were only 60 miles away at Herring Cove near Liverpool & Brooklyn (Nova Scotia). They expressed an interest in trying to catch up, and we had been hoping to cross paths with them on the way south. We had met them early in the year in Old Port Cove Florida, just as they had taken possession of GOT. She was the first 68 to be resold. At first we were making such good progress, we thought it would be no problem to arrive at their bay by 18:00. As often happens, the wind decided to build and the currents were also working against us, so our average speed was in the 6.5 to 7 knot range – even with the RPM up a little higher than usual. What’s an extra 10 gallons, other than $40.00. It looked like we would not make it in until between 19:30 and 20:00. They very kindly indicated, No worries, they would like to invite us to dinner and even offered to pick us up in their tender, to save us having to launch our tender.
After dropping anchor we had a stunning evening with them. Dee prepared a wonderful meal of huge steaks & asparagus on the barbie, a very fresh salad, perfectly cooked polenta and ice cream Sundaes with fresh chocolate dipped strawberries. They served such a stunning wine, that I even broke my normal rule (24 hours bottle to throttle) imbibing 1½ glasses. We had come much further south than originally planned, so we would have only a short cruise on Friday to position ourselves for the Saturday crossing – or so I thought at the time. We very much look forward to returning their hospitality as they head south later this year.
Jerry returned us to our boat, which was safely anchored in the magnificent and calm Herring Cove around 23:00. So far, the newly cooked batteries were looking very promising, as their voltage was still above 26. Since we did not have a set departure schedule we elected to let the battery alarm wake us, expecting it to go off around 0500 or 0600. By 0700 it had not gone off, and the battery voltage was still well above 24, which is the indication that it’s time for a charge. We lazily got up, did the engine rooms checks, prepared SM for passage and did a weather download. We ended up with over 12 hours on the last battery charge, before we cranked the Generator and started the main engines. So the conditioning did seem to help!
The weather forecast had indicated it would be a perfect day with winds in the very low single digits, little to no waves or swell and not a cloud to be seen. We hailed Grace Of Tides on the radio, saying our goodbyes and headed off around 09:00. Once underway, we realized just how perfect the day was looking and started to wonder why would we want to stop in less than 6 hours. After carefully reviewing the weather and looking closely at the very strong tides around Cape Sable, we elected to continue non-stop on our crossing. Depending on our speed, we would arrive at the entrance to the Cape Cod Canal with favorable tides on Sunday morning around 0300. This would provide us with a great advantage as we are expecting adverse weather to develop by Tuesday morning, so it would be nice to be entering the Chesapeake Bay before then. This jump-start by 18 hours would help greatly with that goal.
It is now 09:12 and I have been on watch since 05:00 maintaining a watch, performing hourly engine room checks, dodging long line fishing buoys (high flyers with radar reflectors) and writing this blog. We just had an incredible dolphin show, with a large school feeding and coming straight for us from the port side. Hopefully one of the 100+ plus pictures I snapped off will be a keeper. Thank goodness for digital cameras.
Wow – we had a stunning crossing. The weather never got above the single digits, even if it was on the bow. We opened and used the fly bridge for the first time in 3 months, except when we used it to map a course through the ice flow in Greenland. We made such good time, that we even had to pull the throttle back as we approached the Cape Cod Canal. While our original plan had been to stop for the evening at Provincetown, it would have meant missing the tide at the Canal and in Buzzards Bay. Five hours out from the canal, I realized we would be arriving approximately 1 hour early. We pulled back on the rpm but our speed just did not fall enough. We arrived about 30 min. early, and experienced a 1 to 1.5 knot current against us, for the first couple of miles of the canal. However, it may have been a blessing in disguise, because as we came out of canal, we had a great push all the way down Buzzards Bay.
I came on watch at 00:15 Saturday morning and turned the watch over at 07:15 Sunday. I do not think I have had such an intense watch in a very long time. Coming through the canal at night was interesting and required a little more focus than cruising through in the daytime. Just as we exited the canal, while still in the control channel, we passed a tug pushing a fuel barge. Buzzards Bay is extremely well marked and on this Saturday evening was extremely busy. We had two tugs with barges that were anchored due to mechanical issues, one directly in the channel. Working outside the channel while shorter is easy in daylight, but at night the lobster pots and fish traps are much harder to spot – especially on a moonless night. In addition we were back in waters with extensive bouys, lights, markers and depth – pieces of information we had not had in several months of cruising up north. I was so busy moving between the pilot house where we have better information and the fly bridge where there is better visibility on dark nights, that at the end, I felt like I had a good workout. I went to bed and slept for 3 solid hours before hunger roused me.
The rest of Sunday was a wonderful day, with the winds staying in the single digits. We had a bit of excitement just before midnight. Phil was on watch, dodging the high-flyers when we were awakened by an ominous bang. We had hit one and its line became stuck on our stabilizer. All hands were on deck within minutes and the throttles were pulled back to neutral as we assessed the situation. Unfortunately, despite going in reverse and trying to maneuver our way out of it, the line remained wrapped around the stabilizer. We had no choice but to cut it free. In the meantime, the Norwegian Breakaway, a cruise ship, called on the radio. He had noticed that we had stopped and wanted to know what was happening as he was rapidly approaching us. We explained the situation and he said he would alter course to give us good clearance. Once the line was cut, we were free and continued on course. No damage done, but we kept a very vigilant eye on the radar after that!
After a near perfect passage, we entered the Chesapeake Bay where we anchored for a night before heading to Tidewater Marina in Portsmouth. On the way in, the Navy gave us a nice show, with a small aircraft carrier and a submarine passing close by! After giving the boat a good cleaning, we said goodbye to Phil, who flew back to Halifax. It was time for some relaxing after a strenuous summer.
December 8, 2014
Below are links to two new videos – the first features some beautiful polar bears, including an incredible swimmer (3.5 mins) and the second is a tribute to Migration, our cruising buddy for the summer of 2014 (3.5 mins). These and previous videos are available on my youtube channel.
We have received the beautiful Nordhavn 2015 calendars, which feature Shear Madness as Miss January. This is your chance to win one of the calendars. All we want to do is hear from you. Leave a comment or reply to the email you receive if you are a subscriber and mention the word Calendar. You’ll be entered in a drawing to win one. Please include a little more in your reply – with our lifestyle this blog is one of our prime ways of keeping in touch with everyone, so we love to hear from you! Entries close Dec 15th.
One last thing – we have improved our location tracking – you can see our current location, or a map of our travels since 2011 under the About tab.
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