Thursday, September 29, 2016

Westerbeke Generator Runs Again

We are celebrating a major achievement here on Thistle. Watch the video. It's pretty funny.
It seem like it took FOREVER, but we finally got the generator running again on Tuesday.

We last ran the generator in Fajardo, Puerto Rico on March 9th, just before we went home to California for two months. When we got back we couldn't get it started. We thought it was the injection pump, so we had it rebuilt there in Puerto Rico, but it still wouldn't run. We decided to continue on to Florida and fix on it there, so we meandered up to the Bahamas using ice to chill our food and the main engine to charge our batteries.

On June 22nd we got a mooring at Sunset Bay Marina in Stuart, Florida, removed the cylinder head, and took it to a machine shop to be rebuilt. It was in pretty nice shape, but they put in three new valves just to be safe. We bolted it onto the engine., but it still wouldn't run.

Digging deeper we discovered that we had very little compression, so we took the whole thing apart and took the block to the machine shop. It took a week for them to figure out how much to bore it out, then we ordered the parts from Westerbeke and that took six weeks. Then another week and a half for the machine shop to actually rebuild the block, and five days for us to put it all back together.

We could do a lot of complaining about the service we received from Westerbeke, but what good would it do? We're just happy that the generator is running again and we can start cruising again.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Main Cabin Floors

We managed to lift the table up a few inches with blocks of wood and get those aluminum cleats out. It was a bugger because they were through bolted to those 3" thick floor beams and each one had two bolts. We used lots of those special sailor words though, and finally got them out.

After sliding out the aluminum cleats and the four small pieces, we set the table back down on the floor beams. It will be safe there while we refinish the floor pieces. It can't go anywhere because it fits so tightly around the mast.

Floor pieces are strewn around the cockpit while I apply the varnish.

Dani asked what we are using for the finish. It's just Pettit varnish. At some point in our boat's previous life someone used a water based finish down below and we quickly found that it gets milky spots from hot coffee cups and iced drink glasses, so we are gradually changing everything back to varnish.

We also put this tung oil on the backs and edges. Don't try to buy real tung oil at West Marine or Home Depot. They have something with the word "tung" on the label, but it's not the real deal. It has to say "100% Pure Tung Oil". We ordered this online from a woodworkers supply place.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Heart and Sole

While the Captain is working on the "Heart" of the ship, I am working on the "Sole".

The generator rebuild is perking right along and he is pleased to report that, as of this point, he has no leftover parts and we are ready to lower the carcass into the main cabin.

Meanwhile, the forward cabin sole refinishing is complete and we are quite pleased with it. It really wasn't that much work because it only measures 28" x 42" at its widest points. We live in small spaces, people, small spaces.
Here is an example of how our soles are constructed. They are 3/4" thick solid wood. The teak strips are 1 3/4" wide, and the maple (always called holly, but actually maple) strips are 1/4" wide. They are held together with beefy cleats on the back. After we varnished the tops, we scraped and cleaned the edges and applied tung oil on the edges and backs.

Today's task is to remove the four pieces that are under the table. Our table is a sturdy, heavy piece of furniture and after removing four bolts, we discovered that we could lift it up a bit, remove those aluminum cleats you see fore and aft of the mast, and slide the floors out. That is this afternoon's project.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Westerbeke Returns!

After nine, yes NINE, weeks at the machine shop the Wayward Westerbeke has returned home. It certainly wasn't the machine shop's fault because they did their work in about two and a half weeks; one week to figure out how much to hone the cylinders so we could order the proper parts, and a week and a half to actually do the work after the parts arrived.

The other six weeks were spent waiting for parts from Westerbeke. We received abysmal service from them and we wouldn't recommend buying Westerbeke products to anyone ever.

Our time here hasn't been wasted though. We've kept busy varnishing things, cleaning things, installing solar panels, and taking a vacation. And Stuart is a nice place to be "stuck" if one has to be stuck in Florida.

The best part is being at Sunset Bay Marina, where beautiful sunsets are guaranteed every night.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Weekend Warriors on the ICW

We have been on this mooring ball at the Sunset Bay Marina for almost three months! That's so long we were beginning to wonder if we even knew how to anchor anymore, so we went out over the weekend with all the other Weekend Warriors. To do battle with, I don't know, something, whatever it is they do battle with. (We were to find out later exactly what that was.)

First we motored under the Roosevelt Bridge and the Federal Highway Bridge, down the St. Lucie River to the ICW and then south to Peck Lake.

The scenery reminds us a lot of our San Joaquin River Delta with its shallow depths, channel markers, and numerous small boats. And in true Delta/ICW fashion we ran aground the minute we turned off the channel.

 We don't have any Florida cruising guides so we just sort of make intelligent guesses on anchorages or ask other cruisers. I knew folks used Peck Lake to anchor, but I guess I didn't pay close enough attention to the approach. I know now to turn in SOUTH of the light, not North of it.

We felt it happening and the Captain backed off the soft mud easily. Then a kindly power boater showed us the deeper path into the anchorage and we anchored in 12' of water.

It seems the anchor at least remembers how to its job even if we don't.
We enjoyed a relaxing afternoon and a beautiful sunset, but right after that, things went South because the no-see-ums came out and proceeded to drive us insane.

Although we slathered ourselves with bug spray, we spent the night slapping and scratching and neither of us got a good night's rest. That's just part of cruising in Florida though, because the whole state is owned and managed by bugs. The humans merely pay rent with their blood.

We feel better after our little trip and got right back to work on our projects. We've been refinishing the floor pieces one at a time. They are solid teak with little maple strips between, and big teak cleats on the back. Everyone thinks their boat has a "teak and holly" sole, but it's actually maple.

Ours had gotten all scuffed up from two years of cruising and living aboard. This is a pretty painless way to refinish the floor, if you can only remember where today's hole is. If you forget though, it can be downright painful.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

What's New?

We have carpeted the galley with this amazing all wool antique Persian rug (not). It fits perfectly between the cabinetry and certainly makes standing in the galley more pleasant. It's okay while we're on a mooring and not going anywhere, but I'll probably roll it up when we go sailing.

The generator parts FINALLY arrived from Westerbeke. We got absolutely the WORST customer service from them. Not only did they mislead us and tell us the parts were in stock when we first ordered, but they actually shipped the parts and then did a package recall because they'd had our credit card number so long and it didn't go through. Although we solved that within hours and the package arrived here in Stuart August 29th, they sent it back to Massachusetts claiming they would ship it "next day". Ha, ha, ha, ha ha.

It finally arrived on September 6th. Ordered July 26th. Only 6 weeks. And $2500.00. Wow.

In other news we found the perfect paper towel holder at Bed Bath & Beyond. Not only is it stainless steel, but it has a ratchet inside that prevents it from unrolling by itself. The plastic ones we used before would break after a few months, and they only fit the American length rolls. In some places rolls are shorter, but this holder will handle them perfectly. And it only cost $15.00.

We are very happy with the solar panels and wish we'd installed them before we left, but better late than never.
Today is a beautiful sunny (read scorching) day in Florida and they were putting out 9.0 and 9.7 amps at 11:30. In the afternoons we sometimes see readings in the 11s.
Consequently, our batteries have never been happier and we can run our inverter all the time to power our fans.
So here we are, back to the grind, fixing things in exotic places, and planning our next cruise as we float around here in Stuart.

Tea at the Grand Floridian

We generally avoid Busyland, but the other day we drove to the Grand (and I do mean Grand) Floridian Hotel for tea.
The lobby and restaurant are gorgeous and the gracious staff gave the girls roses for their birthdays.

The first course was fruit and cheese with a dab of honey comb and an edible orchid.

Next came curry chicken, egg salad, cucumber, and beet sandwiches with a tiny onion tart.

The dessert course included scones, pastries, and a blueberry lemon trifle with the Grand Floridian logo on top. Tres chic!

Being a Disney property, there were mouse ears and Disney characters everywhere. Mrs. Potts herself guided us into the tea room.

This property is beautifully done and very relaxing. We were hoping to find a croquet court after tea, but all we found were swimming pools and palm trees.

Being on the Disney property and right across the lake from the parks, folks who stay here take a boat to the parks instead of a shuttle bus. It all looked delightful and would have been a great place to stay if only we could afford $600.00 per night!

Universal Joy

Our goal while visiting Universal Orlando was to immerse ourselves in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, but our visit wasn't ALL about Harry Potter because there is so much more to see and do there.
Everywhere you look there is something interesting to see....
characters to interact with....
and fabulous buildings to transport you to different lands.

Some of the things you see are a little scary....
and some are truly whimsical.

And everything is over-the-top imaginative; filled with enough color and details to transport you to another world, which we happily did for two wonderful days.

Hogsmeade and the Triwizard Tournament

Now that the girls are both above fourth year they can visit Hogsmeade, so we arranged a visit to hear all about the Triwizard Tournament. Their father doesn't like Floo Powder, so he borrowed Hagrid's motorcycle. It gave me collywobbles, but we made it.

We met the girls at the gate to Hogsmeade...
did a little window shopping, and the girls got some sweets at Honeydukes.
Allie got a Chocolate Frog and they both got some Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans. Unfortunately Katie got a vomit flavored one and refused to eat any more.

We settled in at the Three Broomsticks for lunch and a chin wag....
and they even had that Muggle brew, Boddingtons, that Father likes so he was chuffed.

Katie thought about trying to put her name into the Goblet of Fire, but after she saw what happened to two of those Weasley boys when they tried, she wisely refrained.

We heard all about the girls from Beauxbatons  Academy and the boys from Durmstrang and even caught a performance. Apparently their presence at Hogwarts has created quite a kerfuffle; as much in the romance department as in the competition department.

This promises to be a smashing term!