Sunday, October 31, 2010

Bad day on the Albemarle

We lost the top 8 feet of our mast yesterday. Everyone that we have talked to have always said that the Albemarle sound could get nasty and yesterday we learned the truth the hard way. We were hard on the wind, in about 20 kts of wind when the top 2 feet of the mast tore off and another 6 feet (or so) tore apart from the wires and the wreckage banging around. It took about an hour to get the wreckage under control and another 2 hours to make it back to the anchorage to perform damage control. Today, I go up to the “top” of the mast with a hacksaw and cut the jagged parts away, repair what I can and run a replacement back stay. With any luck, we should be back on the way south in a day or so. Now, do I rebuild the mast or try to replace it????
Anna will be posting more on the web site soon.

Windlass problems

Many years ago, I purchased a Maxwell windlass for the Goose and I thought that I had bought a top notch windlass. Over the few years that I’ve had it I’ve had to replace one of the bearings in the worm gear because they used a bearing that was a bit too ‘wimpy’ (if you were to ask me) and now another is bad in the motor. A few days ago I had some problems with the windlass and I went to take a look at it and found that when it was run the motor housing would rotate CW/CCW! this is a bad thing. When I took the motor apart (as Anna steered the boat down the ICW) I found that the motor, (built in Italy) stinks. There is no locking stud built into the case like American motors have and so the case broke loose from the mounting plate. They used a little stamped area as a locking device and it simply sheared off the light aluminum casting on the mounting plate. What a disappointment to see such piss poor engineering on a highly rated windlass. I had to drill and tap 3 locking screws into the motor case to prevent the case from rotating. Oh, and I did call Maxwell to complain and haven’t heard a thing back from them.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Norfolk Va

When we reached the Norfolk harbor a Navy helicopter assault ship had just passed in front of us and in the distance one of the Navy's nuclear powered aircraft carriers had just entered the channel. We were in the middle of them. Between the howling winds on the bay, the rolling waves, the two very large Navy ships and the coast guard stating (on channel 16) that if you came within 1500 feet of any active ship deadly force would be used against you...well...Norfolk didn’t seem all that welcoming a place to be.

We did get a picture of the newest aircraft carrier the USS George Bush!

And here are some more of your tax dollars waiting to get to work.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Life at Walden’s (pond)

OK, It’s not the real Walden’s pond but this little creek that we are anchored in is like a small pond. The area of Broad Creek (the real name of the anchorage) isn’t much larger than all of the surface area of the Conservation Club & Condo’s combined but it is much more developed. There are 6 full working boatyard/marinas on the creek and one large marina (only) not to mention the many homes, businesses and working fisherman who go out morning and evening to pull their traps or net fish.We picked Walden’s because of their price and friendly attitudes towards boaters who want to do their own work and it turned out to be the right place to go. Costa (the owner) is friendly, helpful and knowledgeable about any problem that you might bring his way. The boatyard has been in the family for 2 generations and they have shelf’s and shelf’s of parts plus the ability to get almost anything from the warehouses within a day or two. Here are some of the boat yards!

Deltaville itself is a small village that is at the tip of the peninsula of Middlesex county right at the mouth of the Rappahannock River. Deltaville’s not large but what is here is geared toward servicing the boating community. The town has a great hardware store, small grocery store, several restaurants , sail loft, canvas maker, marine electronic guy, boat repair, West Marine, etc. but, no big chain stores. There isn’t a McDonalds or Home Dept. for 15 miles in any direction. It’s a one road, main street village that’s a slice of small rural home town right from the TV show Mayberry. A great place to leave your boat or to stop and stay for a while.

Even Anna has her own shop here in Deltaville.

Down the Potomac

I thought that I’d do a bit of narration instead of just pictures.

We have started down the Potomac, at night. The tide had turned at 9 PM and rather than loose this free ride we decided to start a bit earlier than expected. The ride out of Washington was filled with the lights of the city and the sights of the landing aircraft across the Potomac as we made our way south. There was no wind as we motored toward the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. There was though, one big “party” boat that must have had a wedding reception going for they were dancing away on the upper lounge to the beat of Michael Jackson’s “thriller”. As the night progressed the tide really kicked in and we had an extra 2 kts added to our motoring. By 2:30 in the morning the tide was about to turn so we dropped anchor in Mattawoman creek for the night.
(Anna used my picture but I'd planned to use it here in this Blog)

Up again at 7 AM to catch the next tide. My day was spent, again, motoring along and sitting on the “throne”. That’s a pile of cushions and the click chairs that get my eyes high enough so that I can see better over the bow of the Goose. All day long we motored down the river and even got to sail for a bit but the winds proved to be a bit too elusive and so we motored until night fall. About 12 miles from the mouth of the Potomac I again dropped anchor for a short night in Glebe creek as the tide wasn’t in our favor any more.

At 4 AM we were up again for the tide was again in our favor and we went sailing down the Potomac in the dark. The winds up and were making a good 7 kts. Night sailing on the river is a pleasant thing. Down by the mouth the river is deep, over a mile wide and at night there aren’t any power boats to toss you around with their wakes. The only drawback was when we rounded the point and started down the Chesapeake we had a head wind to contend with and a long motor to get back to Walden’s Marina in Deltaville. It’s going to rain for the next few days and we plan to sit it out there until the N/W wind fills in again.

The sunset made up for the rather horrid motoring that we did to get here. Tomorrow, more repairs and then we head south!

Monday, October 25, 2010

C & O canal

I rode the bike up toward Bethesda Md today along side of the old C & O canal. George Washington had the original idea to improve the Potomac to make it passable for boats. It wasn’t until 1831 though, that the first part of the canal opened for business. Over the next 19 years they continued to build it up into the Allegany mountains trying to create a water route from the Chesapeake to the Ohio river. They almost made it to their goal but in the end, the railroad beat them to it and the canal company went into decline. The C & O Railroad bought the bankrupt company (to prevent competition) and in the 1938 the US Government bought the canal and now 22 miles of the original 184 miles have been restored. It made for a nice ride on a crisp fall day.

Friday, October 22, 2010

A redesigned desk

The stateroom has a desk that I built to use the computer on the trouble is that I also built a lip on the desk to prevent items from rolling off if the boat was pitching. The lip is too high and when we use the desk it hits you right under the wrist. Today, I decided to do something about it. Out came the chisels and the hand planes and in 20 minutes, the desk became user friendly again. Another small problem solved.

Getting old

There I was, wandering through the Smithsonian American History Museum when I came across this car. A Honda Civic, it's an exact copy of the first car that I bought! I feel really old.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Strange sights in Washington

A funny thing happened on the way to the museun this week. On the way to the Smithsonian Museum I took a picture of the flowers in the garden behind the Smithsonian.

The next day when I went back to show the garden to Anna, everything was gone.

The next day when we walked through the garden,they had all appeared again. If I hadn’t had the camera to prove it I would have thought I was having a senior moment. Strange things happen in Washington when your not looking!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Air and Space museum

WOW!!! Here’s a few of the items on display. I was just blown away.

Human powered flight

First flight

Private aviation

Early commercial aviation

Finally to the moon

Now, Private space travel.
There is Sooooo much that I have left out. What a place!

Saturday, October 16, 2010


Yesterday, our dinghy light committed suicide by leaping overboard. I threw a life ring after it but, alas, it couldn’t swim and now it sleeps with the fishes. The DC maritime police take a dim view when you run your dinghy at night without a light so, I rode out to the nearest “big box” store, a Home Depot, to buy another one. We use one of their $3 solar walkway lights for our dinghy light. The ride was about 6 miles each way so I biked to it through the DC neighborhoods. Lots of very nice neighborhoods and also a few that weren’t so good. I came across the “home” of a homeless person who keep his area under the 4th street bridge very tidy right down to his shoes lined up and a copy of the bible on his ‘bed’. In a town that displays such wealth it’s hard to understand how we can ignore such misery before our eyes. I suppose that if you’re in your car listening to the radio, enjoying a latte and driving by at 40 MPH it isn’t too difficult.

It's cheep but it works!


When I rebuilt the Snow Goose I needed a location to store propane. The previous owner had a tank stored on the back deck and it looked awful. I didn’t want that and I didn’t want to have steel tanks because of the rust problems so when West Marine gave me a great deal on a 10lb aluminum tank I bought one and the year after that, I bought another one. Then, the price of aluminum tanks became ridiculous so I have never purchased another tank. I wanted 3 tanks though so, I built a teak deck locker that would hold 3 - 10lb propane tanks (even though I only had 2 tanks) I figured that someday I’d run across another 10lb tank. This deck locker not only provided a place for the tanks but it doubles as a convenient place to store small sail handling gear and is our step stool for reaching the main sail and gives me a place to sit while Anna cuts my hair. I still needed another propane tank so, when they started to produce tanks make out of fiberglass I jumped on the net and bought one. This new tank is partially transparent (so that you can see the level of propane remaining) and it doesn’t rust or corrode! It’s as light as aluminum and it fit (with a bit of trimming) into the locker! Now we have 3 tanks and over 3 months of propane. If the aluminum tanks ever go bad I will definitely buy more of these fiberglass ones. They’re a great idea that I fully endorse.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


As you have seen, the davits are installed and work excellently! They not only hold the dinghy at a better height but give it a bit more room too. They compliment the back of the Goose a lot better than the old scrap 2x4 davits did and they will hold more weight than the wooden ones did. I built attachment devices to lock the davits to the rear rail. They are just two pieces of 3x4 inch SS flat stock that I bent a pipe shape into the middle of. By turning them each other and drilling 4 holes in the corners I was able to lock the two perpendicular pipes together. A simple $5.00 solution to a $90.00 answer (if I had purchased them).
Here’s how they mounted to the rail and how I mounted the end of the davit tube to the back of the boat. The pair of block and tackle that we use to lift the dinghy I picked up at a marine swap for $10.00 (with the rope) so, the entire cost to replace the davits was about $275.00.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Deck leaks 2

The trouble is that Walden’s had no teak so I’ve substituted a Brazilian hard wood that is use for decking on houses as a replacement board. It has the same properties as teak IE: very low shrinkage, rot resistant and it contains natural oils within the wood. Walden’s let me use their table saw to shape the new deck board and I then used hand planes, saws and chisels to do the final shaping. To install the board, I put a coat of thinned epoxy into the area. Thinned epoxy will capillary into rot just in case I missed any when I was cutting out the bad wood. I then followed this with a coat of thicken epoxy to bed the new board in place. The next morning, I pounded a bit of cotton around the edge of the repair (thank you for the yarn Anna) and filled in the grove with rubber calk. Just in time too for it began to rain again within the next few hours! As you can see the final results aren’t too bad for having limited tools to work with.

Dry fit, looks good