Monday, October 31, 2011
An early morning. It takes time to go from sound asleep to wide awake...
Wild Blue went in for her bottom job this morning. I was the second one in the boatyard at opening time, right behind the assistant manager...
After the workers checked in and got a cup of coffee, they went right to work on getting her off the trailer...
Lifting the stern with the forklift to get access for the straps for the travel lift...
Up she goes...
Rolling to her place in the yard where they will work on her...
They set timbers under the boat before the jackstands. I asked if they would be playing Jenga under my boat, referring to the timber stack under there... pretty sure they didn't get the joke...
Setting on the stands...
Wild Blue looks pretty tiny sitting in this lineup...
I had to chuckle when one of the workers who doesn't speak much English ran his hand over the blue stripe on the hull: "Nice finish."
Well, at least someone noticed.
Saturday, October 29, 2011
Wild Blue is clean, I am exhausted. I decided to try sanding and compounding the color stripe on the boat. First, the wet sanding...
I am a "wax it twice a year" kinda guy. This was a new tack for me: wet sanding with 400 grit, then 600. Buffing it back to a shine with a 2,000 grit compounding and a buffer. Notice the brown stain at the lower bow - sometimes called "a mustache". Frankly, a pretty girl like Wild Blue should not have a mustache.
I worked in small sections along the color: sanding, sanding, buffing...
Yeah, that is shiny - you can see my reflection in the blue stripe!
Atwood Hull Cleaner on the white part eliminated the brown stain...
It's potent stuff: you have to wear rubber gloves and be careful to not let it drip on the trailer or tires... but, it does a great job! I wanted to get that task done because, Monday morning, Wild Blue goes to the boat yard to get fresh bottom paint... and this stuff is not good on the ablative paint that I use.
It was a cool morning (for here), and a perfect afternoon: low 70s, gentle breeze, lots of sunshine, and low humidity - a good day to get this done. It would have been a great day to launch and go play on the water, but I am trying to be patient. The boat yard is telling me 3 to 4 days to get the bottom sanded and painted... weather permitting... and the weather is supposed to be decent.
After buffing out the boat, I can see why my friend with the boat shop told me 3 hours to do the job: it took me 3 1/2, and I was working hard at it the whole time. What I didn't expect: by the end of that session I could hardly lift my arms! I thought I was in pretty decent shape... but I was using some muscles that apparently weren't used to this kind of work. Rubber arms when it came time to work on the brown stain on the hull... after a needed break.
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Lunch on the island... not many people there. You can get a motel room for less than $30. The restaurant we ate at was mostly empty. Not good for the business people here, but I kinda like the quiet. No evidence of the red tide - the water in the bay was a gorgeous turquoise color.
Hot afternoon, good time to not clean a boat hull. Nice time for a nap. I like having no schedule.
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
"Whoa, Dude! That is my beloved boat you are talking to! NO ONE talks to my sweet boat like that! What's the problem?"
Nothing would come out of lines when turning the wheel; and turning the wheel did NOT turn the motor. Yeah, that's a problem. I suggested we call Teleflex or C-Dory to see what they recommend. When Teleflex called back, the mechanic visited with them and said we should try turning the motor with the autopilot to see if it would move the motor. I talked sweet to Wild Blue and... the motor moved. Hydraulic fluid started coming out the bypass valve... "See? You just have to talk nice to her!"
It took another half hour of moving the helm back and forth to get the lines bled, and the movement with the wheel came back... just like she should be.
And tomorrow is a new day - a day for me to visit with another boat yard about getting her bottom painted. The "boat bucks" are disappearing fast. It's been a while - she deserves some sprucing up.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Before starting the engine, I asked the mechanic about the "priming procedure." He said, "That's our current recommendation." I watched while he fired up the boat, and he did the bulb squeeze 3 times. I watched while they worked on other boats - same thing.
With the motor running, the mechanic did a scan on the engine to see if there were any issues we should look at: everything fine except a high percentage on air intake. "Probably a dirty filter," the mechanic said. Took it out - yep, a layer of dirt on the screen. Blew that out, numbers back to normal.
A new revelation at their shop: they are no longer a Honda OEM dealer. Their main focus is building/selling new boats, and they are equipping them with Suzuki or Tohatsu motors. The boat being worked on next to mine had a 7 year old Tohatsu motor that looked like new... it is the owner's boat. They said no problem with working on Hondas, but they would not be doing any warranty work. The main reason they gave: Honda has gotten out of line on parts prices and shipping charges. The mechanic did say that the 135/150 Honda is a great engine... what would you expect him to say while he's working on mine?
My SeaStar hydraulic steering leaked while in storage. Tomorrow, we will install new seals in it - hope that cures the problem.
Another potential source of debate: to wax or not wax? The blue stripe on our boat is starting to look a bit chalked. I have always subscribed to the "a good coat of wax twice a year" for our boats. The last couple times, the wax didn't bring back the glossy shine like in the past. Today I was told: "You don't need wax. Your boat has a good gelcoat on it - wet sand that with 400, then 600, then buff it out."
I balked on that... "Wax good. Wax make boat pretty."
The owner told one of the workers to "do a small sample spot on that color and show him how it should look." It took a couple minutes, and when buffed, it glowed like new... REALLY obvious against the chalky blue on the rest of the boat.
I accused my friend of pulling "the old vacuum cleaner salesman routine". He laughed and said, "You can do that yourself, or you can pay us to do it for you. Time or money - your choice. But as long as you have good gelcoat on there, you don't have to dull it with wax."
On the way home, I checked with the place that sold me bottom paint the last time... they no longer allow "do it yourself" work in their yard for "anything below the waterline." Estimate for them to do ablative bottom paint: $900.
And, she needs it. Micron CSC Extra is what that yard recommends for this area (and what we've been using).
A little more sprucing up, a few more maintenance things, and Wild Blue will be ready to hit the waterways.
Monday, October 24, 2011
Seems like getting settled back in at home has been a challenge. The day after we pulled in, I broke a tooth, which meant trips to the dentist for a root canal and a crown. In between that, days of getting the HitchHiker unloaded. Then some kind of nasty upper respiratory bug kicked my butt. As the philosopher Rosanna Rosannadanna says, "It just goes to show you, it's always something."
We have had the coach unloaded for a couple days, so today it was time for "the big swap." Yep, the Love Shack goes into storage, Wild Blue comes out. We had checked on the boat a couple days ago - filthy dirty, but otherwise in good shape; Joan aired up the tires, I checked the batteries... we knew we'd be ready for the swap.
It's more than just pull one in and pull the other out: once at the storage lot, we have to drop the 5th wheel from the truck, hook the truck up to the boat, pull the boat out, drop the boat trailer off the truck, go back and hook up the 5th wheel again, back the 5th wheel into the storage spot, unhook the 5th wheel from the truck, pull around to the boat again and hook up, and now we can head for home. Whew!
Here, we have pulled the boat out (you can see it in the distance) and are getting ready to hook back up to the 5th wheel...
The Love Shack goes in...
Then back to hook up to Wild Blue...
Backing into a site on the island, that poor boat is really dirty...
Looks more like Dirty Brown than Wild Blue...
I was hoping most of the dirt would blow off on the way home. You can see that didn't work out so well. Rather than hose it off and wind up with a bunch of mud in the bilge, I decided to try a new tack: I vacuumed the exterior of the boat...
The cockpit was the worst, since it acts like a big bowl catching all that dirt. On the top of the boat, you can see the part where I vacuumed - that's how bad the dirt was...
It was pretty sad. I try to keep her looking good, but she got pulled from the water and put away under tough circumstances last spring... when it was clear that my Mother was not going to survive the stroke she suffered, Joan pulled the boat out on her own. There was no time for a thorough clean-up. When we came back after getting my Mother's affairs in order, we only had time to get the boat moved to a covered storage area before we had to head out. It was a dry, windy summer... and all the RVs and boats in the storage area were equally dirty.
In the past, I had referred to a boat (not Wild Blue) as: "the Prom Queen is now a crack whore," seeing how the owner had let the boat deteriorate. Well, Wild Blue is certainly no crack whore, but she is in dire need of some pampering and time at the spa. The layers of dirt are off (after several hours with the shop vac). Tomorrow, I will take her in for service and a thorough check up. When that's done, she'll come home and get her fiberglass waxed and metalwork shined up... then, back in the water, and she will again be the prettiest girl at the dance.
Saturday, October 22, 2011
We stopped to check on Wild Blue today... she is plenty dirty, but looks good (when you can see past the dirt). Tires/trailer all checked out; the batteries are good to go. On Monday, we will do the RV/boat swap, and will take Wild Blue in for service and a thorough check-up. Then, it will feel like we are really settling in.
Friday, October 21, 2011
I thought we were about done unloading the HitchHiker... I was wrong. We carried a bunch more stuff out of there today. I was thinking that we had gone through a lot of our stuff in the house and eliminated duplicate or no longer used items. Six months later, we have even more duplicate and no longer used items. Pretty sure I will not have to buy shoes, shirts, shorts, or jackets for at least a decade. Pretty much the same for the Blonde. Little Izzy said, "We are throwing out any of my cat toys, are we??"
No. And we aren't throwing out much - but, really, how many "ratty shirts" does a guy need? I don't do that much grubby work. ;-) But, the local boys/girls club and the animal shelter thrift shop are going to get more inventory.
The Love Shack and Big Red got a thorough scrubbing on the outside today. Another few days of this stuff and we can start relaxing... right?
Thursday, October 20, 2011
That situation got in the way of getting moved back into the house. Since I don't need my mouth or jaw to carry stuff, I have been deemed fit for moving service, and we will get back after that today. This completely messes up my schedule for "no schedule to get moved back in." ;-)
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
No, I don't know who "they" are and I have no idea why they say that. We rolled back into the Tropical Tip late yesterday, actually anxious to spend some time here.
We took our time heading back (it's been nearly a month since we left our "fun summer job" location in the mountains), enjoying some RnR and waiting for the weather to cool down here.
It will probably be a few days before we go get the boat out of storage, and then there will be some work to be done on her before she goes back in the water; thanks to this crappy ethanol, I plan to replace all the fuel lines.
We really enjoyed our "fall colors excursion," following the changing leaves as we meandered our way from the mountains. In spite of all the dry conditions here, everything here is green, the hibiscus are blooming, and the palm trees are swaying. What a change.
Speaking of acclimating: Joan said, "I think it takes as much out of you to adjust to the heat and humidity as it does getting used to the elevation in the mountains." At least, I think that's what she said... my ears are full of sweat.
Monday, October 17, 2011
After getting the 5th wheel onto a site near the house, we are calling it a night. Walked around the house to make sure everything looks OK... the exterior of the house could NOT be grubbier: nearly 6 months of wind, a big construction project on the far side of the island, and virtually no rain the entire time we were gone. One of our neighbors said they were sweeping 1/8" of sand/dirt off their deck everyday for a couple months! By those standards, a couple hours of powerwashing and the house should be ready for us to start the moving in process. For the next couple nights, though, we will still be in the Love Shack.
Ugly news: just today, the red tide is moving into the entire coastline of Cameron County. It's not unsafe, just nasty... dead fish, so a foul smell. When this happened last time (last year around this time), we tried to stay at the county park on South Padre Island with the 5th wheel, and wound up having to wear face masks when we were outside... blowing sand and nasty particulates in the air. Hopefully, this won't get to that point. We have been monitoring this situation, and it seemed that it was mostly further up the coast from us... until today.
We got sweated up while setting up the 5th wheel, but there is supposed to be a cold front moving in tomorrow... meaning the high will "only" be in the 70s, and we'll have some north wind. Should be GREAT weather for getting the house opened up and moving back in... and equally good for getting re-acclimated to the Tropical Tip.
Sunday, October 16, 2011
I'm not mentioning any names, but the pretty blonde that I hang out with was born on this day back in... you don't really think I'm going to say that, do you? ;-)
We planned for a day off from driving towards home. She wanted to do some "window shopping," which we did, after breakfast out. And then, a big bonus: a trip to a premier kayak store!! I know - pretty romantic, huh? Well, we did find some things that we couldn't live without, and think we have come up with a better solution for carrying the kayaks in the cargo trailer. I have another "project" to work on when we get home.
A lovely late afternoon meal at the Italian restaurant of her choosing, and a quiet evening around the Love Shack.
Tomorrow, we're back on the road.
Saturday, October 15, 2011
We saw a woman in a small car with all kinds of floral arrangements in the car... Joan said, "I sure hope she's not on her way to a wedding."
Once beyond the bridge construction, traffic immediately ramped up to only 10 mph over the posted speed limit. Yep, we're back in the Lone Star State.
Friday, October 14, 2011
We paused for a bit when I brought up the possibility of heading to Florida for a C-Dory/Ranger Tug gathering in a week. Joan gave it consideration, but we agreed that it would be more fun to do that with the boat... and no way can we get Wild Blue there in time. So, we turned right instead of left, heading towards Texas. Still no schedule and no need to eat up a lot of miles; if all goes well, we should be back in the Tropical Tip in a few days.
Thursday, October 13, 2011
Not what you want to hear when you're just stepping away from the urinal in the men's room! We were making another trip through Bass Pro Shop, and I needed a potty break. The words in the title above were said to me by an ol' boy at the next urinal.
"Ummmm..." I barely got that out of my mouth.
"Lookit!! That picture above the pisser - it's a guy peeing off the front of a boat!" the guy said.
"Um, yeah," I replied, "Something every guy on a boat has done."
"Yeah, but, they got a picture of it!"
Too excited for my public bathroom etiquette. ;-)
We are wrapping up our time in Branson; we were planning to head out this morning, but after a pounding rain last night, we thought we'd give it another day to dry out before we hit the road. So, one more pleasant lunch out and a nice long walk along the waterfront and through Branson Landing.
While walking through the Landing, we came across this...
It's a "Hurricane Simulator"... you get in it, pay your money, and it blows like stink. Of course, it isn't authentic, 'cause there are no roof tiles, 2x4s, and palm tree branches whacking you. Your power isn't out for 10 days afterwards, and you still have running water and sewer. I'm thinking of setting up some "Mugging Simulators"... similar adrenaline rush, but I'll reach in, whack you, and take your wallet! No wait - "Prostate Exam Simulator"... complete with realistic snapping glove sound! OK, maybe not.
Beautiful day, plenty of sunshine, lot of people out and about. Great day for a walk.
The daytime highs in south Texas are now down into the 80s... time to start making our way in that general direction.
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Well, that's kinda what we did today. Didn't buy much, but we got plenty of exercise wandering around Branson's outlet malls. Not something we do a lot of anymore, but for every shoe store Joan visited, I got to check out a tool store. Something for everyone!
It was kind of a gray ol' day, but only a little bit of precip; certainly not enough to require a jacket or an umbrella, and it cleared up by early afternoon. A leisurely hour and a half lunch. No schedule. Nice.
We started out the day yesterday with some kayaking. Nice temps, partly cloudy, light wind - a great time to be out paddling (or pedaling, in the case of the Hobie). Note that the Blonde isn't paddling here - that's a pump for pulling water out of the kayak... or for shooting water at another kayak...
Another advantage of the Hobie: pedal power. Notice that she can't paddle and shoot water at the same time with that sit-in kayak... I can stay out of range on the Hobie.
Out into Taneycomo, and off towards Branson Landing...
I said, "I don't think we're supposed to tie off there - no cleats and no opening in the railing."
She said, "It's a dock. And we're having bar-b-que for lunch."
Who am I to argue? Determination...
Back to the campground after lunch, we hosed off the kayaks and put them away... time to clean up for the "big boat" part of the day: a dinner show at the Branson Belle, on Table Rock Lake. It's a BIG boat, billed as "America's largest ship built on a land-locked lake." Passenger capacity: 700. Obviously, built just for dinner/entertainment cruises...
Up on the top deck, before the show...
And we were dressed like grown-ups...
The meal was decent albeit institutional, and the entertainment was Branson-style: music and some comedy. The MC is also a magician, a good band, 6 young guys singing boy-band type songs, and the headliner: a pretty blonde who played violin, sang, and did an aerial act on silk strands while playing the violin; all well done and well choreographed.
It rained while we were underway, but that didn't make any difference - you couldn't tell when the boat left the dock... the only way you knew we were moving was a glance out the window. And frankly, it's the meal and entertainment that is the attraction - the fact that it's on a big boat is really secondary in this case. The boat doesn't go far or fast... it burns about 10 gallons per mile.
We did step outside for a look at the sunset...
And on the drive home, there was a pretty view of the clouds settling in the valley...
Sunday, October 9, 2011
Another spectacular day in the Branson area. We rode the motorcycle to Eureka Springs for lunch and a bit of walking around. There was a Corvette Rally in Eureka Springs, and we saw dozens and dozens of the fiberglass beauties also out enjoying the perfect weather and fun roads. The fall colors are turning, the roads are full of ups, downs and sweeping turns - great motorcycling! We had a camera with us, but didn't get it out... you'll have to trust me, it was lovely.
When we returned from Eureka Springs, Joan helped me get the Hobie kayak out and launched - Turkey Creek runs right behind this park, so we didn't have to go far. I pedaled down the creek and into Taneycomo; I was surprised by the fact that there is almost no current. There were some waves generated by boats who completely ignored the No Wake buoys... all 16 of them! My favorite was the dumbass who ran like hell right up to a line of No Wake buoys, slowed down to pass them, then ran like hell again to the next line of buoys, and again... and again. As he ran past me, I told him that the whole area was a No Wake Zone.
"Then, why do they put them buoys in lines like that?"
"So you can't possibly miss them! See the bridge construction? See all those floating docks? That's ALL No Wake."
Hard to argue with logic like that. ;-)
I did get my camera out for a few shots on the water...
Heading out of Turkey Creek...
On Taneycomo (and fall colors)...
The city RV park...
And back up the creek (I did have a paddle)...
Friday was a good day... we spent most of the afternoon at Branson Landing (yes, including Bass Pro Shop). Big find of the day for me (besides BBQ at Famous Dave's): a very comfortable pair of boat shoes at the New Balance store. Not easy for those of us with Fred Flintstone feet. We watched the "dancing waters"...
And walked along the river...
Saturday, it was off to Silver Dollar City. It's "Harvest Festival" time - lots of craftspeople, as well as the rides and music shows. We started the day with a big breakfast buffet, and then headed off to the biggest coaster in the park: Wildfire...
Five loops and a bunch of "loose your stomach" drops and curves. OK, not the best decision I've ever made. I considered going on a second ride to see if I could find my stomach. Another sign that I'm getting older - I used to be able to do rides like this over and over... where is the kiddie train ride?
Silver Dollar City offers all kinds of music shows at the various theaters around the park. Joan used her iPhone with the SDC app to coordinate where we needed to be and at what time.
Everything from Louisiana Cajun music to theatrical broadway type shows, and all well done. Lots of craftspeople, from wood working to sidewalk chalk art to pumpkin carving, sand sculpting...
Even a display on Sorghum...
To really appreciate the above photo, you have to understand a family joke: I am not a farm boy, and any piece of farm equipment falls into two categories for me: tractor and manure-spreader. Crops are also two categories: corn and sorghum. Between you and me, I have no idea what sorghum is, but I assume no one else knows, either... so if you say "sorghum" when someone asks, "What kind of crop is that?", no one questions it. It's a long time running joke. And here, we have... sorghum!
The crowds seemed huge...
but, we rarely had to wait for any rides, and were able to get into all the shows we wanted to see. In fact, on two occasions, the ride operators asked, "Any party of 2?" and we were able to walk right onto those rides. Sure glad we didn't pay for the "Express Pass" that allows you to move to the front of the lines... for an extra $20 each.
Like at Disney World, you are a captive audience once you enter the park, and food isn't cheap. "I'll have a soda, please." "That will be $47.50" OK, I only missed that by one decimal point.
The weather was warm and lovely, so all the water rides were full...
We passed on those... didn't really want to spend the rest of the day in soggy shoes and underwear... and we saw plenty of that. On one ride, the people on the boats had water cannons, and fired at everyone outside the ride - you had to time it when you walked past that ride!
They offered a big country music show at 6:00 when the rest of the park closed... but, we had had as much fun as we could stand by that point, so we boarded up the tram for the ride back to the truck. They really do a good job of moving people, and the park is beautiful this time of year, with all the fall colors; heavily wooded and lots of hills... you get a good workout walking around the park.
Back home, we spent some patio time with little Izzy. Here's a shot of her on the steps of the Love Shack - really shows off that glorious tail...