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Where is TIDES INN Today?

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The last position reports for Tides Inn will be displayed on the map. (Courtesy of Tides Inn homeport is Dare Marina, Yorktown VA

Cockpit Enclosure Rehab

    Preparing to leave now on 1 Jan, we pulled out the cockpit enclosure side and back pieces from storage in our garage and found that the vinyl windows had hardened and cracked on most all of them. We made them with inexpensive materials since they were just our first trial. After 3 years in the sun and 2 years in storage the plastic was in bad condition.

   We sewed new plastic over the old windows, the cut the old plastic off. It is a real makeshift solution, but only has to last for this sailing season as we plan to have a new enclosure made next summer. We still need to take the pieces down to the boat and do the final fitting of the aft pieces that have cutouts for the backstays, radar mount and pushpit braces. 

   All finished and ready to head south on 1 Jan.  Hope the sun shines and keeps us toasty inside. 

Dodger Maintenance - new glass

   After 15 years it was becoming essential to replace the fogging strataglass in our dodger,
it was essentially becoming a safety issue.  We replaced the center pane 2 years ago before leaving the boat in storage but, we skipped the two outer panels which would be a much more challenging sewing job.

    In addition to the window panes, we noted that several of the zippers and other seams on the dodger were ripping out as the 15yr old stitching was degrading. Time for an overhaul to get us through at least one more season before we totally replace the dodger/bimini/enclosure.
    Re-sewing the zippers and seams was pretty straightforward. We noted the zippers and some of the dodger material is on its last legs, but should last for one more sailing season.


    We also replaced the sacrificial leather protection along the front of the dodger where the mainsheet rubs whenever the tension comes off of the boom sheeting. That was also straight forward sewing without having to feed the stiff plexiglass through the sewing machine.

   Sewing on the new glass was much more challenging. Three sides were no serious problem, but the last side required the dodger to be rolled up tightly (including the center window section) to pass through the sewing machine.
   Once the new glass is sewed on, you have to cut away the old glass. That turned out to also be a challenge as the old glass had become so brittle over the years that it was not possible to smoothly cut it. Instead it often broke off in shards of hard, brittle plastic. But working slowly and methodically, we removed the old glass. You can notice in the photo the old glass often cracked as we manipulated it roughly. It was definitely in need of replacement.

     It was a major task taking a couple days and several bad words being uttered but, ultimately it was a success. Here's a photo of the dodger with new glass installed. Will definitely improve our safety posture especially in low light situations and make docking a little less stressful.  Next year its all new canvas for us.

Sailing - At Last

  After 6 months of maintenance efforts to get Tides Inn ready to cruise again, its time for some sea trials. We need to spend time afloat checking out all the systems and see what is going to break before heading south for the next 6 months.

     Hurricane Florence provided a good opportunity to spend several days at sea to test the boat's readiness to head off for several months. Our marina requires the larger boats to vacant the marina for named storms heading our way so we had to leave the marina. Good news was that Florence stayed down to the south and we only saw 25-35kts of wind and only about 1ft of waves in the protected area where we anchor.  We had to leave the marina on Wednesday (storm arriving Thursday night) and we waited for the winds and water levels to return to normal before returning - so came back on the next Monday - giving us 6 days at sea. 

     The best result of spending 6 days afloat was it provided the time necessary to train our Lab Rivah to go potty on the boat. Just like our previous Lab, she took about 3 days of holding it before she had to go and learned her potty spot is on a rug on the bow. By the 6th day, she had the routine down and even asked to go forward when necessary.  She like the wind blowing over her, but not when she is trying to do her business.
   We had one full day of rainy, windy weather but the rest of the six days was relatively sunny but breezy. 
   All systems are working and we experienced no significant problems during the week. We have been out in the Chesapeake overnight two more times since Florence and it looks like the boat is ready to head south.  Now we just have to get me ready to head south. Heart procedure scheduled for 17 Oct.

Top Of The Mast Work - Last Items on the To-Do List

   Today was the day to finish off the Tides Inn refurbishment To-Do list - a long process we started in early April. We had to replace the anchor lightbulb, lubricate the anemometer and windex, and check all the mast top equipment for condition, then replace the radar reflector and whisker pole topping lift at the spreader level.
   Sue is our mast top worker and I am the hoister.

   She is on her way up. I hoist her on the spare main halyard and we use the spinnaker halyard as a safety backup. Tools and materials are in the bosun seat bag.  The spare halyard leads back to the cockpit where I winch her up. This time we both had our phones on speaker and were able to easily communicate via cell phone.

     Here is the line and winch that lifts her up. On the way up I can keep the rope clutch locked so there are two levels of safety that the halyard won't slip. On the way down, I have to open the clutch and its only me to ensure the line feeds out slowly. 

   Our mast is 56feet up from the water. That's a good height that lets us easily pass under the Intra-Coastal bridges which are normally 65 feet, but still pretty high up for the worker who has to change the light bulb.
   At this point, Sue has the anchor light bulb replaced and she is reinstalling the plexiglass housing. Our light fixture has a tri-color on top and the anchor light below. You can see the red port light of the tri-color and Sue's hand blocks the clear white anchor light. 

    In addition to changing the light bulb, the other key maintenance item was to lubricate the anemometer so that we get an accurate reading of the wind speed. As it accumulates dirt and dust it slows down making one think the wind is not as strong as reality. We don't have any photos of the Sue vs wasp encounter.  After waving nicely several times, Sue had to resort to WD 40 spray to encourage the wasp to leave.  We do have a video of the power boater that ignored the "no-wake" signs and nearly passed the entire marina at high speed. but Mark yelled and waved him down. Those no-wake rules around marinas are there for a reason - someone might be working at the top of a mast.

      The other job we had to do was re-hang our radar reflector, which fell down right at the end of our last sailing season. It turns out the stainless ring connecting the shackle and radar reflector mount wore through from the constant rocking and rubbing after about 10 years of service. Another item to add to our routine maintenance list.

     We decided this time to eliminate the ring completely and use an extended shackle to connect to the radar reflector mount. Cuts out one more potential failure item. We run a flag halyard through a small block at the bottom of the radar reflector, run down to deck level, that holds the reflector taut (but doesn't prevent rocking) and provides a port side flag halyard.
   The final task was to reinstall the whisker pole topping lift line through the block on the front of the mast in front of Sue. I took the line down to wash it as all our running rigging accumulated extensive dirt while spending 2 years in the boatyard. All has been washed or replaced now.

   All jobs accomplished, its time to return to deck level. Another safe and successful trip to the mast top.

   Here's a couple views from the top:

New Dinghy

   Sue and I have talked about buying a hard bottom RIB dinghy to replace our high pressure floor dinghy we have now, to provide more peace of mind when exploring islands in the Bahamas - so we don't have to worry about punching a hole in the dinghy bottom on coral. However, our Avon high pressure floor dinghy has been working great since we bought it in 2003 and has the advantage of being able to roll up and store on deck when making offshore passages.
   Unfortunately for the Avon, when I inflated it this year, after two years in storage, it has slow leaks in two of the filler valves. I expect these leaks could be repaired, but the dinghy is 15 years old, well beyond normal service life and has seen better days.
  Meanwhile, Defender was having a sale of Achilles dinghies, which we have been investigating. So, we are the new owners of an Achilles HB300-FX hard bottom dinghy with a foldable transom. This is the compromise solution which has a solid fiberglass floor to protect from coral encounters, but has a foldable transom so we could fold it up and store it on the foredeck if we were to make a lengthy offshore passage (like to the Virgin Islands). But that would be a very rare event, so for normal usage in coastal waters where we can watch the weather/seas, we will just lift the dinghy on our davits.

New Hatch Covers

   After 15yrs, our hatch covers were highly crazed. Because of the way they are constructed, it is much simpler to replace the cover rather than install new plexiglass. The glass is embedded in the cover with a caulking which has to be dug out and then replaced - reportedly a very messy business by those DIYers who have discussed the process. Defender boat supplies just happened to have covers on sale, so I bought new ones.

  Simply replacing the covers makes this a 30min job rather than a couple days. The new covers look great and are crystal clear.

Dinghy Outboard Refit

    Before going into storage for 2 years, I had a new cooling impeller put in our Yamaha 8hp 2-cycle outboard and a thorough fresh water flushing of the engine. When we went to put the engine back in service, it started up after a few dozen pulls of the cord but, I couldnt get it to run for more than 30seconds.

   My first action was to thoroughly clean the carburetor of any deposits resulting from ethenol gas. But that was not the issue. My next thought was a defective fuel pump but, I decided it was just as easy to order a new carburetor (including new fuel pump) rather than trying out piecemeal solutions. Slapped in the new carb and the engine fired up on the first pull and runs like a champ. That's a great thing because you can't buy 2-cycle engines like this in USA anymore. Only 4-cycles are sold which weigh significantly more (and more than I can comfortably lift).