Monday, April 05, 2010

It’s All Coming Together

The Great Hudson River Trip 2010 is quickly coming together. I’ve mentioned a few things we need to do to Sabine to make this trip a reality. We have a list, we’re already checking things off of it and we’ve barely scratched April’s surface.

1. We built the plywood templates for the new fuel tanks. We fit them into the space and then marked where the fittings are supposed to go for the filling hose, the feed and return lines to the engine and generator, the sender for the fuel gauge and the vents. On Saturday morning we drove the plywood templates across the bay to Bristol, RI where we met with the welder.

Going to the welder's shop was a nostalgia trip for me. I practically grew up in a machine shop much like the one we visited on Saturday morning. The smell of the machine oil, the sound of metal chips crunching under my feet as I walked, and the sight of the grease streaked walls were entirely comforting and familiar. I inhaled deeply and was instantly brought home. Normal people are brought home by the smell of baking bread, or cookies, or whatever Mom’s specialty was. Not me. It’s eau d’machine oil for me, my friends.

We’ll have brand new aluminum tanks in about two weeks. Better still, my boat will carry more fuel than the jeep for the first time in seven years.

2. Last weekend we installed a brand new alternator, pulley system and belt to Sabine’s Yanmar diesel engine. Last season the diesel, less than 10 years old, chewed through fan belts at an alarming rate. The smell of burning rubber singed our nostrils when under power, and a fine layer of shredded rubber coated every inch of the engine. A normal engine wears out a belt every few years. We were burning 3-5 belts a season, more of them as the years wore on.

When we pulled the pulleys off the engine, we noticed that they were precariously rusted to the point where the jagged edges caused Sabine’s increased appetite for fan belts. The rust was caused by an elaborate system of leaks remedied by the Great Paint Job of 2009.  We cleaned the layer of grimy rubber powder off the engine, installed a higher output alternator, pretty blue pulleys and a wider belt that is less likely to slip. The alternator will power our house bank of batteries so we can do things like turn on the lights indoors when we’re at anchor, and we’ll be able to do that for longer periods of time without fear of running down the batteries.

3. “But I thought you had radar aboard,” is something we hear from our boating friends. They point to the radar dome perched on the mizzen mast. I reply, cheekily, “Yeah, our radar dome is decorative. Sure is purty, eh?” But the lack of radar is becoming more and more of a problem. There have been many times where we’ve been stuck somewhere due to foggy conditions. A functional radar is a necessity that we’ve never had.

We’ve tried to make the radar functional, without success. Last week I spent an obnoxious amount of time on the phone with Raymarine tech support to determine what we need to get the radar functioning. We are currently waiting for just one more cable, and then we’ll be able to wire up the radar properly and hopefully check it off the list.

4. On Easter we cleaned out the gear room in our house in preparation of the Beej and Todd adventure season. In the ungodly mess that the gear room had become, we found bits and parts that we’ll need to work our way through the list for the remainder of April and May.

5. I’ve gotten ALL of my vacation time off approved. It’s marked on my Outlook calendar, and I keep staring at it longingly. We’ll be on the water for 2 weeks in July and then another week in August. I have the signed PTO forms in my desk at work, and I feel like jumping up and down every time I look at those as well. Just today, Todd emailed me and told me he was having a bad day. I took screen shots of my Outlook calendar and emailed them to him and said “Yeah, today you might be having a bad day. But look at this, we have a possible 25 days on the water coming up. Keep your eye on the prize!”

Now we just need to plan the trip… find amenities along the Hudson to make sure we can get things like fuel and fresh water. We’ve been reading guides and researching on the Internet on our spare time. More importantly, we also need to find a place where Todd and I will maintain one of our favorite vacation traditions: the buying of my vacation bling.

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