Deltaville - Again
The rain came as forecast , but we cast off the docklines anyway, heading north to Deltaville and leaving Hampton behind for the season. Our stay had ended with a bang, literally, as the Bay Days fireworks lit up the sky the night before in a spectacular display that most agreed was the best ever. Hampton wanted to do it right for their 400th birthday. The passing warm front that had brought the rain was kicking up the waves as we passed the mouth of the Bay, but as we rounded Old Point Comfort, we were able to silence the engine, pull out the headsail and ride the southerly winds all the way to Deltaville. Although it was a Sunday, we were almost alone on the water, the normal weekend traffic kept on the dock by the dreary weather and the first of the cool temperatures that had finally broken the summer’s withering heat. By mid-afternoon, we were on the service dock in Deltaville.
We had come to Deltaville a couple of weeks earlier to have the engine checked out by our Yanmar mechanic. There were no pressing problems, but Dave likes to have it looked over once a year to help keep it that way. Jon had checked the engine on that trip, made some recommendations and put in a parts order. Since we had to leave early due to the arrival of Earl, and since we wanted to be back in Hampton for Bay Days, we deferred the engine work until this return trip.
With only a little engine maintenance planned, it was likely to be a short stay, so we had our time scheduled tightly. Cathy wanted to do laundry, make a grocery run, check out the farmer’s market where we had bought sweet potatoes last year that lasted us through to Spring, and we needed to go by the bank. Soon after we docked, Cathy went to do laundry, where she saw John, from The Suzanne, who was back in the yard getting his trawler ready to launch again, after taking a year off for medical reasons. Another couple, Rod and Carol, who were traveling the ICW for the first time in a Sea Ray, were also there, and we agreed to meet again over supper in the screen room. Over a supper of spaghetti and freshly caught crabs (John’s thank you for Cathy folding his laundry), we discussed travels on the ICW, the good points and bad points, as we compared notes between a sailboat, a trawler and a Sea Ray. The biggest difference was, of course, the speed of travel. We would have to leave before dawn and plan our day carefully to reach a destination by a reasonable hour, when the folks on the Sea Ray could get up, have a leisurely breakfast, take off and be tied up long before we arrived. Also, the two of us long-time cruisers had more options for staying at anchor or “off the grid”, than our friends on the Sea Ray. Same waterway, different experiences.
The next morning, we had an early visit from Keith, the boatyard owner. Apparently, the dock we were tied to was scheduled to be demolished that day in preparation for the installation of a new 70 ton Travel Lift. (We thought it looked a little too empty.) We had to move to a slip in the marina. Since we needed the engine to be cold for some of the work to be done, we ran the engine as little as possible, only 6 minutes, to keep the temperature down. Once we were settled in our new slip, Cathy went to get the courtesy car to run some errands, while the Yanmar mechanic, Jon, arrived on the boat to work on the engine.
We had a small oil leak that Jon thought might be caused by a loose oil dip stick or valve covers. He replaced the valve covers, and while they were off checked the valves to see if they needed adjusting. They didn’t. He also replaced the alternator and raw water belts. Dave had delayed his normal fuel filter change to allow Jon to check the fuel in the Racor filter bowl. The Racor was doing its job, since there a little darker fuel in the bottom of the bowl which Jon drained out in the process of changing the filter. He also changed the on-engine filter, which looked good. He supplied us with a new oil and transmission oil dipstick, which we were hopeful would take care of the leak.
What about that rudder leak? We get asked this frequently as we see people again who last saw us as we were trying to deal with the problem last year. The rudder has continued to leak intermittently over the last year. In discussions with Beneteau, they sent us a couple of parts that they were proposing as an alternative solution, which would require the boat to be hauled to install. We weren’t enthusiastic about doing this, but we wanted to get a more expert opinion. We sat down with Matt and Keith for a discussion of our alternatives.
Since the water coming in is no more than nuisance levels, and since Dave installed the automatic bilge pump in March, we no longer have to bail the water more than once a day at the end of a run. So, one possibility that was suggested was doing nothing. We also considered installing the part from Beneteau, but this was going to be an expensive proposition (haul out, drop the rudder, install the part and re-install the rudder) with little confidence among those of us in the room that it would have a high probability of success. An intermediate alternative that would involve a small investment, but might have a better chance of success, was to install 2 grease fittings in the tube surrounding the rudder post, and fill the cavity with white lithium grease. It would be an easy installation, and it would provide another barrier to the water coming up the through the tube into the boat.
The day after our meeting, Neil was on board, installing the grease fittings with some 5200. Early the next morning, he pumped in the grease, and we were set. (He came early enough that we could make the trip to Solomons and get in at a reasonable time. That was very nice of him.) As with all repairs, only time would tell whether it would make a difference.
With all the heat this summer, we were trying to keep the cabin as cool as possible, by covering any hatch or portlight that didn’t already have a curtain. There are only 3 of these, but by far the most significant uncovered opening was the companionway. The clear lexan is great for letting light in the boat, but when the boat is closed up and the sun is beating down, it starts to act like a greenhouse. So, we decided to make a simple Sunbrella cover that we could put in place when we leave the boat to block the sun and keep the temperatures down. Using the large scrap we acquired last year, Cathy sewed 2 pieces together with a sleeve on either end. The sleeves were designed to hold a weight that would keep the cover in place.
Once it was stitiched, we took a trip to the hardware store to find a suitable weight. We decided on a yardstick for the bottom and a piece of ¾” PVC for the top. The PVC would allow us to tie it down, if it looked too windy. When not in use, the cover rolls up neatly around the PVC for storage. Of course, by the time Cathy finished it, the hot days were mostly behind us. Maybe it will get more use next summer.
Other Boat stuff
Dave ordered a new fuel cock for the dinghy outboard, having discovered the existing one was frozen. Once installed, he restored the fuel line to its original path, which should ensure the fuel flows in the open position and stops in the closed position. Pretty basic, right? Of course, this is something else we need to actually test once the dinghy is back in the water.
Our LED 40-light strips were having some problems, but Mastlight stood behind them, sending us a replacement (and a spare, just in case). One of the Wal-mart fixtures we had installed had a faulty switch as well. So, Dave bought a couple more fixtures and completely replaced the 2 that are mounted in the Main Saloon, leaving us now with 2 spare fixtures which we haven’t decided yet how to deploy.
We deliberately delayed our departure from Hampton (a record 4 month stay) to allow us to stay for the Bay Days festival the weekend after Labor Day. We had heard lots of stories about this festival, but had always had to miss it before. It takes place in downtown Hampton, with a slightly different footprint than the Pirate Festival. In addition to the usual craft and food vendors, there were many more performing venues than at the Pirate Festival, and a central area for organizations that help protect the Chesapeake Bay. We made the rounds of the exhibits on Friday and Saturday, but as the crowds swelled in the afternoon and evening, we were merely watching from afar. The Hampton River was more crowded than we had ever seen it, with boats anchored and rafted together everywhere.
After enjoying a picnic on the dock with our friends at Joy’s Marina, we settled onto a dock box to watch a spectacular fireworks display, some of which was launched from the nearby bridge. It was awesome.
Part of the reason we were moving Orion north was to make it easier to do some road trips. We had made later than usual appointments with doctor, dentist and financial planners, which had us traveling north to Rochester, back through Bethlehem PA and back to Northern Virginia, all during the last week of September. So, we got to spend time with Dave’s parents and his sisters, along with a brief visit with some of Cathy’s former colleagues and our neighbor in Reston. It was a busy week, but we enjoyed the time together, which is always too short.
Our travels were made possible by the hospitality of our friends Gail and George, who let us put Orion on their dock while we traveled. As they scramble to get their own boat, Quicksilver, ready for a 2nd trip south this winter, we decided to stay a little longer and help as much as we could with some of their projects. This decision was not without its own rewards, which included a visit with Bev and Larry from Chandele, who had almost all of us for dinner one night soon after we returned from up north. (It was almost all of us because Dave was unable to go, since he was entangled in a 9-hour chat session with Norton in an attempt to correct a problem introduced by trying to uninstall their product in preparation for an upgrade.)
And so it begins. Groceries, spare parts, oil filters, fuel filters, extra supplies, and on and on. We get ready to go south, and we start stocking up on everything, while it’s easier to get. Some we bought locally, at places like Bayshore, Fawcetts, Annapolis Yacht Sales, Sam’s Club, even a Blockbuster that was going out of business. The rest we bought on-line. Of course, since we are moving from place to place, we ended up having the on-line purchases delivered to addresses all over the eastern seaboard. New York, Maryland, Northern Virginia, Southern Virginia. The boat starts filling up and the waterline starts going down. Every year, we try to scale back, but then stuff starts piling up everywhere.
Aahh. The boating life.