The Real First Day of Spring

A sliver of moon on the western horizon. The next lunar cycle is underway.

The vernal equinox was a couple of weeks ago but today, April 6, was the REAL first day of spring this year.

A glorious Saturday, the sun burned through some light morning fog around 9 o’clock and shone the remainder of the day. A light breeze caressed the waters of Chesapeake Bay and anyone who wasn’t working to bring their boat out of its winter slumber was out on the bay enjoying themselves.

Me, I was at work. Woohoo! <groan> And by “work” I mean: I sat in the office waiting for someone, anyone, to come by and express an interest in buying or selling a boat. None did. I wandered the docks at Port Annapolis — it was too nice NOT to go for a walk — but anyone I talked to was elbow-deep in getting their boat out of hibernation, so no leads there. Oh, but I did deliver a message to a client for the other broker in my office. He had gone home for the day after popping in for a few minutes. I know, I know…

Mmm…pasta, salad and a Pounder Pils beer for dinner in the cockpit of Further. Now THAT’S livin’!

I finally took off around 5 p.m. and moseyed back home to Further. And in the midst of cooking up a pasta dinner and doing a few odds and ends around the boat, I took in a superb evening. And while enjoying the first dinner in the cockpit of the season — while listening to my beloved Grateful Dead, of course — I glimpsed in the west a super-young moon. Just a sliver visible above the trees and buildings on shore, but there it was. The photo isn’t so great — my eyes are such that I can’t really tell when I have the damned camera focused sharply or not — but you get the idea.

I should have known it was coming after seeing a really old moon — an equal but opposite-side sliver — early in the morning on Tuesday en route to play hockey. That sliver was just coming up with the sunrise while this one was just going down with the sunset. The new moon was around Thursday or so.

Point is: a view of a sliver of moon while listening to the sound of bird song capped off a glorious day and a sublime evening. Spring has well and truly sprung now, thank goodness.

A Tale of Two Seminars

Actually, it was only one seminar. But you get the idea: that whole good-and-bad-simultaneously thing.

I’ve been meaning to attend the Safety At Sea seminar for some time now. And since it was here in Annapolis, as it is each spring, I was able to do so this year. So I spent this past weekend on the campus of the U.S. Naval Academy listening to really cool presentations by sailing experts and also got to enjoy some hands-on fun in the Naval Academy pool playing with life jackets, pumps, throw ropes and life rafts.

And it really was two different seminars.

I came out of Saturday’s lectures thinking, “Holy shit. EVERYTHING about sailing offshore not only CAN kill you, it will. In fact, it’s going to. And soon.” One boat inspector told us just how fast THIS much water can come into your boat from just a one-inch hole. A two-inch hole? You’re screwed. And jeez, hit something big and put a serious hole in the boat? Kiss your ass goodbye.

A doctor (who was actually quite entertaining) talked about how debilitating seasickness is. But boy oh boy, if you think THAT’S bad, just get injured at sea and you’ll find out what really bad is.

Misery upon misery upon misery will be visited upon those who are silly enough to buy a boat and contemplate a life at sea. That was the message from the Safety At Sea seminar. So I came out of Saturday’s session thinking, “I think I’ll sell my boat and go walkabout on this wonderful planet — via plane — for a while.” ‘Course, then I realized that I’d probably board a Boeing 737 Max 8 and, well, we know how well THOSE things have been flying lately.

And then Sunday happened. Sailing author John Kretschmer spoke of his love for being at sea — and he’s been out there for some really nasty stuff. He keeps going back out there…that’s how much he loves it. And the way he characterized what it’s like out there, and the fact that it wasn’t so much about buying more damned stuff for the boat, got me back into the concept of sailing over the horizon and searching for golden shores, warm water, cold water even and good times. After Kretschmer’s presentation, and while walking to the Naval Academy pool, I was not only fired up again but I also felt like I could do this, and soon…and that felt good.

The thing is: NONE of the presenters told me or taught me anything I didn’t already know. Have I done some of the things those with more experience than me have done? No. And that’s why my chief takeaway from the sessions was the need to practice, practice, practice before you really go for it.

Which is why I signed up for the seminar in the first place: because for Sunday’s pool session participants donned their foul-weather gear and inflatable life jackets and played with things that we all have but have never used — and hope never to have to use.

My life jacket inflated properly upon hitting the water. The manual bilge pumps that I have on board for emergencies really do move a lot of water. The Lifesling and throw bags deployed their rescue gear as I expected. And while climbing into a life raft from the water wasn’t easy, it also wasn’t as hard as I’d always heard it was. Granted, I wasn’t climbing into the raft after abandoning my sinking ship in the middle of a gale. And yes, now I know I need to inspect some parts on my pumps and check the packing of my Lifesling (see above re: practice, practice, practice). But now if, God forbid, I should ever have to use any of this survival gear in real life, it won’t be for the first time. And for that, the seminar was a far, far better event than I had expected.


Fun With Diesels — An Update

And just like that…all better! Mostly.

Sitting in the office today, about to grab some lunch, when my phone rings. It’s Bay Shore Marine, the engine folks here in Annapolis from whom, on my lunch break, I was going to buy a seal rebuild kit I mentioned in my most recent post. They had some parts issue on a job they had scheduled for today so one of their techs was freed up and was going to get sent to check my boat. Woohoo!

Instead of grabbing lunch I drove home and met the guy at Further. I explained what the problem was and what I’d done to try to fix it. Short version: He said I was on the right track. He then proceeded to do basically everything I had done, only better (but he did remark that I’d done a good job cleaning the centrifuge assembly in the fuel filter). And when we started up the engine…voila! The vacuum gauge was in the green.

Now, he did point out that he blew out the fuel line back TOWARD the tank, which I hadn’t done, and that it was entirely possible there was something in the tank blocking the fitting where the line came out. If so, it’s also entirely possible it will once again find its way to the line and block things up again. Then again, it’s possible that it won’t. Either way, the engine is running soundly again.

The tech also showed me a couple of other points to keep an eye on, and helped with a couple of other minor things. In the long run, I’ll be better with the engine for having watched what he was doing. And that’s good.

There was one issue he noticed, however, that is going to have to be dealt with. He noticed (as I’ve known) that there’s still a trickle of water coming in via the propeller shaft. He had me take a look at the new-in-October shaft seal and pointed out some divots in the flange and, perplexingly, a hose clamp on the shaft itself. When I asked him what would cause those divots he replied, “Someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing.” The presence of the hose clamp sealed the deal (but not the shaft): someone couldn’t get the flange secured properly so they put a hose clamp on the shaft to try to hold the flange in place. What the ever-lovin’ f…?! So in the next day or so I’ll be having a chat with the boat yard that did the work in October…

But in the meantime, Further is ambulatory once again, and that makes me happy. It is, as the tech said when I’d said I hadn’t expected to hear from Bay Shore Marine for a couple of weeks, my “lucky day.” So much so that I went right out and bought a ticket for Wednesday’s Powerball drawing. Cross your fingers…