Monday, February 6, 2017

The Case of the Cracked Flywheel Housing

Damaged Engine Mount (Rubber bushing)
In late 2015, we were on LUX, heading down the ICW to south Georgia where we were leaving LUX for a few months. We had just made it into South Carolina and Gee reported a new grinding type sound from the port engine (behind her bunk) when under way. Sure enough, it was distinctly different than the sound from the port engine. We had made it to Georgetown, SC by this time. We lucked out - a diver was working on zincs on another boat on the dock, so we were able to get him to check out the saildrives. He reported that the port drive was loose. A little investigation in the engine compartment with a light showed the engine mount on the saildrive seemed to be heavily worn and should be replaced. (See Damaged Engine Mount)

We called around and found one that could be shipped to Charleston, SC, where we planned to replace it. We motored the rest of the way to Charleston using the starboard engine except for docking. Of course, shipping parts to any port is fraught with risk and this was no different. It took all of the first day in Charleston to get the part and make it back to LUX.
Next, we started looking at removing the existing engine mount. Imagine our surprise upon looking closer and finding a crack in the flywheel housing. A closer examination showed that the crack was all the way around the perimeter of the saidrive’s connection to the flywheel housing.

Cracked Housing - Outboard
Our reaction was a bit stronger than “Oh No!” Our immediate thought was that it was going to require professional help and cost several thousand dollars to fix. Time to break out the phone and start making calls. The soonest we could be helped was the following week. Not only would it cost a bunch to make the repair, we’d be stuck in Charleston at an expensive marina. It was time to go to dinner and think about the situation. 

Think, think, think

How did it happen? The last charter in the BVIs was a disaster. LUX drug anchor and ran aground. Damage was fairly minimal, but the port prop took a few hits and had to be straightened. We think that a crack started then and four years of working back and forth extended it around the saildrive.

Cracked Housing - Inboard
It's Cracked All the Way Around!
Our port engine wasn’t totally out of commission. It could be used for docking as long as we didn’t need much power. We had made it from Georgetown to Charleston on one engine. Waiting in Charleston for repairs didn’t seem useful. There were other service companies in Georgia. So we decided to continue south, primarily on one engine.

As we made our way south, we thought about the problem, looked the engine over, and studied the parts diagrams. We could just slide the engine back about four inches and replace the cracked housing. Hmmm. Really? We had many hours to think on it. Checking eBay, we found a used flywheel housing that was much less than a new housing. We ordered it with shipment to our destination marina in Georgia. 

We thought about how to support the engine so we could decouple it from the saildrive and replace the flywheel housing.  We started collecting parts we thought would be of use. The end result was that we decided that we could to the job.

Doing the Job

Supporting the Engine
Mike orchestrated the repair, using an oak board, lines, and turning blocks to support the engine. It took most of the day to replace the housing. The old housing was indeed cracked all the way around the saildrive mount.

The new housing arrived in great shape and was soon installed and the engine coupled back to the saildrive.
Broken Flywheel Housing












New Flywheel Housing





The saildrive engine mount still had to be replaced. Just getting the old engine mount bushing out was a problem. It wouldn’t move. We had rented a car so we headed off to Tractor Supply, the source for all sorts of big parts. We returned with a 2-1/8 inch socket, a big wheel puller, all-thread rod, big washers, and a few other parts.
These parts did the job, allowing us to pull the old bushing and install the new bushing. We had to use heat on the saildrive mount to get the old bushing out and the new busing in (note the heatgun in the photo of installing the new bushing).


We were back to two fully functioning engines without having to spend too much time or money.
Removing the Engine Mount Bushing
Installing the New Engine Mount Bushing

Sunday, February 5, 2017

FlexoFold Props

Original Fixed Blade Props
LUX has had the stock two-blade fixed props that are outfitted on the charter fleet.
We had spent some time buddy boating with Dave on 5thQuarter and he was able to make better speeds at lower RPM, even though he had the 30HP Volvo MD2030 engines (LUX has the 40HP MD2040 engines). We recorded measurements of the performance at different points in time, shown in the table below, including 5Q’s performance, just for reference.
It was clear that Flexofold props were better. But they make a two blade prop and a three blade prop. Which one should we get?


Description (both engines running) RPM Speed (kn)
Before 2014 Haulout 2500 6.5
2800 7.1
After 2014 Haulout 2500 6.9

2800 7.3
Three months after 2015 Haulout 2500 7.1

2800 7.4
After 2016 Haulout (Flexofold props) 2500 7.4

2800 7.7

3000 7.9

3400 8.3
5th Quarter 2500 7.3

2800 7.6

Flexofold with PropSpeed
We asked Flexofold what they recommended for the MD2040 engines with the 130SR saildrdives (gear ratio 1:2.47). They responded that the three-blade 16x13 props would perform best. We agonized over the decision for a while and queried them about three-blade vs two-blade props, which 5Q and other Leopards we knew had. They told us that the extra blade helps with powering into seas and headwinds. The additional blade also provides better reverse performance. The pair of three blade props was $1000 USD more than the two blade props. We finally decided that the additional power was worth the money and ordered the three blade 16x13 props. They arrived within two weeks, nicely packaged. There was a small nominal charge from the shipper for entry into the US.

We have never had good luck with prop anti-fouling. It always seems to only last half the year. So we decided to try PropSpeed this year. It is an expensive anti-fouling for running gear. It has a tight timeline for application of multiple coats, so we had to be prepared and work quickly. We noted a number of boats being hauled had PropSpeed applied to the running gear and it seemed to be working for them. We’ll see…


We are happy with the performance of the Flexofolds. We can now motor on one engine at the same speed (in flat water) that we previously attained when motoring with two engines (6.6kn @ 2500rpm, 7.3kn @ 2700rpm). The motoring speed with two engines is improved (shown in the table above). Reverse performance seems about as good as with the fixed blade props. We did an informal quick stop test, similar to the one in the Yachting Monthly Folding and feathering propeller test magazine article of March 2015. The Yachting Monthly article reported stopping in 9.5 seconds, or 48 ft. In our test, we were able to go from 6kn to stopped in approximately one boat length (about 40ft). This is quite acceptable to us. Sailing performance also seems better, which we attribute to the folding props. The better motoring performance on one engine is also due to elimination of drag from the idle engine/prop. In summary, we’re quite happy with the Flexofold props.

Compression Ding Repair

Ground Out Ding with First Layer of Fiberglass
Every summer we tackle a list of projects that bring LUX closer to where we want her to be. The good news is that we seem to be getting close to the end of seemingly endless projects. This summer, we tackled a big compression ding on the port side, replaced the saildrive bellows, replaced the vibration dampener in the engines, and installed Flexofold props.

LUX had had a 6 inch diameter compression ding amidships, port. We ignored it last year (2015) as we were upgrading the standing rigging. This year's project started with the big grinder - grinding out the gelcoat and upper layers of fiberglass and feathering it out to a 12 inch diameter area.
Epoxy Workstation on a Walk Board
The fiberglass had delaminated from the underlying end-grain balsa. We drilled a few small holes in the fiberglass that remained. There are many opinions on whether to use epoxy or polyester resin on repairs. Our understanding is that polyester to polyester is only a mechanical bond, so we prefer epoxy, which also has adhesion. The Gougeon Brothers West Epoxy system has a lot of documentation and we’re experienced in using it, so that’s our go-to system for fiberglass repairs. We mixed some epoxy, adding cabosil (silica) to slightly thicken it, and injected it between the fiberglass and the balsa with a small plastic syringe.

Apply Pressure While the Epoxy Cures
The remaining epoxy was thickened and used to apply concentric circle layers of chopped mat and cloth to the surface of the depression. A piece of plastic sheet covered the still wet fiberglass and a squeegee was used to squeeze out the excess epoxy and bubbles. We then pressed a piece of flat foam on top of the plastic sheeting, backed by a piece of plywood. The whole thing was held in place by a set of walk boards.


12 inch Drywall Knife












24 inch Paint Shield


The area around the ding was masked off and the surface scrubbed and sanded to remove the amine blush that the West Epoxy system creates on the surface. The plastic sheet should prevent the formation, but we needed to sand it to create a “tooth” to help bond successive layers of repair. Low density fairing compound (#407) was mixed with epoxy and applied to the sanded surface. We used a 12 inch drywall taping knife to feather out the surface. 
As the surface came up to the same level as the gelcoat, we switched to a 24 inch painting shield to apply epoxy mixed with Microlight sanding filler (#410).

It took several coats of the Microlight epoxy mix to feather the repair to the same level as the gelcoat. We then used a sanding block and a 4-inch pad sander to sand it down slightly below the level of the surrounding gelcoat. The metal kedge of the 24 inch painting shield, bowed so that it followed the curvature of the hull, worked well for showing that the repair surface was slightly below the gelcoat. It helps to use some white tint in the epoxy in the final stages so that the underlying color isn't as dark.

Preval Sprayer Kit
Time for something new: spraying gelcoat. We had heard about using the Preval disposable sprayers for small gelcoat repairs. It is definitely at the low end of the quality scale for spraying gelcoat. The gelcoat was thick, even after thinning as much as we dared. The resulting surface has an orange peel dimple to it, clearly visible in the below picture. We knew that we’d have to sand down the orange peel dimples, so we applied several coats over the course of the afternoon, making a quick trip to the local marine supply store for more Preval sprayers. Only the refill compressed tank and sprayer valve was needed. We mixed the gelcoat in a small cup and sprayed directly from the cup.

Orange Peel Stipple Pattern
We used the finish version of gelcoat, so we didn’t have to spray an air barrier (PVA mold release) on the surface. Color matching was the difficult step. We’ve been slowly gaining experience with gelcoat color matching. The Leopards seem to use a brown tint, which we were not able to replicate using red, yellow, and black. The amount of each of these colors is simply too small to accurately get the right color. We finally found a small tube of brown color in a kit from Jamestown Distributors. A very small dimple of color paste on the end of a bamboo skewer is just about right for mixing with an ounce of white gelcoat. The Leopard interiors require a little additional color paste since they are more of an eggshell color than the topsides.













Ready for Sanding
Careful sanding of the gelcoat was required to remove the orange peel surface effect without getting too thin. We started with 220 grit on a pad sander to take off the high spots. Then it was time to remove the blue tape and plastic sheet and start wet sanding with paper around a wood block. We started at 320 and progressed to 600, then 1200. Patience is required. If you go too fast or too hard, the gelcoat gets thin and you can see the darker filler compound below. Feather it out to the surrounding gelcoat. Then we finished with a compounding wax and a buffer.

The entire process took us about a week, mostly due to waiting for the epoxy to cure. We also had to be careful of warm sun causing the epoxy and gelcoat to cure too quickly.


I didn’t have a final picture. But when I went to get one, I couldn’t find the exact spot. It must be a good repair if I can’t easily find it while looking from the deck.

Saildrive Bellows Replacement

Removing the Engines
LUX has Volvo MD2040 diesel engines with SR130 saildrives. To our knowledge, the bellows that seal out the sea water around the saildrives have never been replaced. The recommended replacement interval is 7 years and we are at 12 years. Next, the vibration dampener in the port engine needed to be replaced, something that didn’t get done when we replaced the cracked flywheel housing. (Hmmm, I seem to have skipped writing about the flywheel housing. It’s in my slides for the CAPCA presentation. It’s an interesting story that I’ll need to cover.) We also had a clicking sound in the starboard engine controls that we’d like to investigate.

It started with removing the engines from their compartments. We’ve been hauling out at Jabin’s Yacht Yard in Annapolis. LUX’s 20’2” beam just fits their 21 ft beam 75 ton lift. They have a good crew and a convenient location for us. We disconnected everything from the engines, taking care to label everything. The lift crew then uses the forklift to hoist the engines out of the boat.

We placed the engines under LUX where we could work on them.
Servicing the Engines




















Saildrive on its way home for servicing
The saildrives were removed and taken home to be serviced and prepared for installing the new bellows. The prop shafts and seals were checked and serviced so that they wouldn’t leak. The props have to be removed in order to get the saildrives out. It also helped to have someone below the boat, using a screwdriver to pry the external boot open around the bulge at the lower gear assembly. We also replaced the sea water valves since they were original equipment. They were operating correctly, but we've heard numerous stories about various valves on the Leopards. These were the last valves to be replaced.







We cleaned up the engine compartments. While doing gelcoat, we masked the area around the engine mounts and coated the existing green gelcoat with white gelcoat. We also filled in some of the pits in the old gelcoat that tended to collect oil and gunk.




Damaged Vibration Dampener
The old vibration dampeners were definitely damaged, as seen in this photo. Rubber parts were just lying inside. We've collected them in a small pile to the right of the main part of the dampener in this photo. They're black, so they are hard to see against the black tailgate lining. The metal parts tapping each other was probably the source of the metallic clicking sound that we had been hearing from the starboard engine.

New Vibration Dampener













The new vibration dampeners look very nice.

While we had the engines out, we replaced the oil pans. Salt water on the bottom of the pans over the past 12 years was causing pitting and the last thing we needed was to have one spring a leak.

Everything went back together as planned. All the labeling paid off. There were no left over parts and the engines started right up. The clicking noise in the starboard engine is no longer there, and after seeing the vibration dampener damage, we’re confident that it was the source of the noise.





Tuesday, January 24, 2017

CAPCA: Ten Problems Tips and Tricks for Captains

I did a presentation at the Chesapeake Area Professional Captain's Association titled Ten Problems, Tips, and Tricks for Captains. Over sixty people came out on a cold, windy, drizzly January night to spend some time thinking about boating instead of the weather. We had a great time talking about the set of problems I assembled with the assistance of Art Pine and Priscilla Travis of CAPCA. A PDF of the presentation is available at the link below. It is 23MB, but Google Drive seems to do a great job of compressing it for viewing. There is a video in the original presentation and I've included a link to it on the page where it appears. You might get something from the PDF, but I said a lot during the presentation that isn't in the slides.

  -Terry

Ten Problems, Tips, and Tricks for Captains

Monday, September 5, 2016

Lithium Battery Presentation

We've been happy enough with our Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4) battery installation that I volunteered to do a presentation at the Annapolis Sail & Power Squadron meeting, Sept 1, 2016. The powerpoint slides may (or may not) be self-explanatory. If you're interested, a PDF of the presentation can be found here:

I later did a revised version of the talk to the Marine Trawler Owner's Association. This version contains a few more details. It is 29.2MB.
Lithium Batteries as a Marine House Bank

  -Terry

Saturday, August 13, 2016

A New Trampoline

The original trampoline on LUX had seen better days. The grommets were pulling out of the material that around the edge and the lines that held the tramp in place were chafing on the grommets and squeaking loudly when we stepped on the tramp. Parts of it had ripped right in front of each of the hatches, which we repaired by adding a small patch piece and threading small line through the holes.
Lagoon Netting Tramp

Lagoon Tramp Edge Detail











We had been looking at other tramps and rather liked the designs that used a bolt rope around the perimeter. A 40 ft Lagoon at one boat yard had a netting tramp that was done this way and we took some photos.

Web Overlap Stitching
Carol ordered replacement tramp material from Manart-Hirsch, a wholesale supplier of boat canvas materials. We decided on the same material that was originally on LUX, a webbing that is 1/4 inch strips on 1/2 inch centers. It doesn’t let water and air through as readily as the netting that we’ve seen on other boats (like the Lagoon). But it feels a lot better under foot or lying on it. If we were sailing in waters where we would have the possibility of green water on the tramp, then we’d have considered the netting.

The material doesn’t come in a width that can do the tramp in one piece, so Carol and Mike thought about how to best couple two pieces together. The final result was to use 3M 5200 to glue the two pieces together, then stitch it. A strip of plastic was laid down first so the adhesive wouldn’t make a mess on our work area. The two pieces were carefully aligned with the 5200 adhesive, then more plastic was put on top. Boards topped with with bricks were used to press the two pieces together. Then we waited several days for the adhesive to set. The adhesive made stitching a lot easier. The Consew industrial sewing machine was loaded with Gortex thread, which doesn’t deteriorate from UV light. This means that we won’t have to restitch it after a few years. Carol stitched each of the seven webs that overlapped (see the red arrows at the top and bottom row of stitching).


Tramp Edging with Stamoid binding
The tramp was folded over along the edge, using an outline we had made from the old tramp. The outline also matched the plans that we found online. The two sides bow slightly in the plans, but there is so little curve that the tramp can be built with straight sides. The edge overlap is covered with Stamoid cloth and several rows of stitching.


Tramp Edge Detail, Top Side
The edging was done much like that of the Lagoon we saw. There was some discussion about what type of bolt rope to use and its diameter, before settling on 3/8 inch three-strand twist. It is easy to splice and would work well for our purpose.

The tramp was tied to the bows and beam with 1/4 inch dacron line. It is important that the stitching have two lines at each corner and in the middle of each side so that if any single line breaks, the tramp integrity keeps crew members aboard.

Completed Tramp










An unexpected benefit is that the tramp is much quieter than with the grommets. It is more stable and less bouncy. This was another great sewing project by Carol.



Tuesday, July 5, 2016

The Big Project: Genset Installation

LUX is an ex-charter boat, with a four cabin layout popular in the BVIs. As such, she came without several things that make life much better along the US east coast, such as a powerful inverter, air conditioning, and a genset. 

We caution that a genset install is a lot of work and requires experience with 12v and 120v electrical systems, engine cooling water supply, fuel systems, and exhaust. It isn’t an installation to be taken lightly. This project has been our biggest so far because it touches almost every system on board. Planning and preparation took a long time and installation was done in phases.

The Most Critical Step: Planning

We decided to use a small genset along with a Victron MultiPlus 3K inverter that provides power boost to allow starting large loads such as air conditioner compressors. This allowed us to use a 3.5KW genset instead of the normal 5KW-6KW unit that most L40s contain. The advantage is that the genset runs at a higher continuous load, which is better for the diesel engine. Note that some owners create larger engine loads by turning on multiple loads like hot water heaters, water makers, battery chargers, and air conditioners. See our prior posts about the Victron Multiplus installation and its setup.

We investigated a variety of gensets, looking for reliability, ease of maintenance, readily available parts, light weight, and capacity of 3-4KW. The Northern Lights gensets fits all these characteristics except capacity. Their smallest is the M673LD3 at 5KW (60Hz) and 377 lb. We found the NextGen 3.5KW at 160 lb, which would be about 200 lb by the time we added muffler, exhaust, and sound enclosure. It uses a common Kubota engine and the 5KW generator head that's on the NextGen 5.5KW.
Laying out the pieces

Then we planned how the different systems would work (fuel, exhaust, 12V, 120V, cooling water). The most logical installation location was the port forward locker, keeping the existing water tank. There is sufficient space to service the engine. We hope we don't have to service the water tank - it may not come out in one piece. We would likely replace it with one or two 50 gal tanks if we had to make a change. If a watermaker is ever installed, replacing the water tank with a 50 gal tank and using the remaining bulkhead space for the water maker seems like the right approach.

We researched installing the exhaust between the hulls and couldn’t come up with a definitive answer that said that it was ok. We found a brief reference to running exhausts as far aft as practical. We found that most factory installations used a water separator in the forward locker to separate the water from the exhaust. But that requires another hole in the hull to exhaust the water, typically under the water line to minimize noise. All factory installs we examined had the exhaust run all the way aft, regardless of whether a water separator was used. Since the exhaust hose can be run with a gradual slope all the way aft on the L40, we stuck with the simple water-cooled exhaust design. NextGen says that this small engine can work with the required length of exhaust hose. No anti-siphon is needed in the exhaust line since the genset is always significantly above the water line.

For more thoughts on genset installations, check out a great article in Professional Boatbuilder by Steve D’Antonio: Generators Done Right.

Installation

Mounting

Locker floor leveled and measuring installation
We decided to encapsulate a piece of 3/4 inch plywood with epoxy and through-bolt it to the floor of the locker. The locker floor isn’t exactly flat, so we added epoxy with micro balloons to level it.

The sound enclosure is mounted on engine mounts to the plywood. The genset itself is also mounted on engine mounts inside the enclosure, making the system double isolated, reducing vibration induced noise. The double mount also raises the engine enough to safely feed the muffler without risking water backing into the engine cylinders and causing hydro-lock.

The sound enclosure engine mounts are through-bolted through the plywood and the floor of the locker. Finishing nuts were used on the exterior. Two of the bolts went through where the hull takes a turn, so we constructed two custom fitted fiberglass extensions that we coated with gelcoat so they would match the hull.
Through-bolts with finishing nuts















Fuel, Exhaust, and Cooling Water

Exhaust fitting
The fuel supply was with a Tee connection off the main engine filter, using a small 12v diesel fuel pump to push the fuel to the engine. We tried without the pump and it wouldn’t run reliably. The return is a Tee connection into the engine return to the fuel tank. 

The engine connection to the muffler uses two 90-degree silicon adapters to make the S-curve that was needed. The muffler was installed next to the genset. 

The exhaust hose runs all the way from the muffler to the stern, with no breaks or couplings to cause problems. Running the hose was a challenge because there was a small triangular opening at the bulkhead into the engine compartment. This opening could not be reached from inside or outside. So we used a GoPro camera with WiFi to an iPad to see the hose and guide it into the opening. It just fit! We wanted an exhaust fitting that matched the Leopard engine exhaust fitting. We finally found one from Buck Algonquin.  

Thru-hull, filter, manifold, raw water pump
The fuel hoses fit into the remaining spaces around the exhaust hose at the engine compartment.  The fuel filter and heat exchanger cooling water overflow bottle are mounted on the bulkhead in the fwd locker. 

The engine is about four feet above the water line and the little Johnson water pump wouldn’t pick up water that far. So we installed a low head 120v cooling water pump in the port hull bilge to supply water to the water pump. Power to this pump is provided by a tap off the genset 12V AC output. It first goes to a fuse, then to a GFCI that powers this pump whenever the genset runs.

For cooling water, we increased the size of the thru-hull in the port hull, connected to a Forespar Marelon filter, to a Groco manifold that feeds the port head, the port air conditioner pump, and the genset water pump. This arrangement allows us to use one through-hull for all raw water supplies on the port side. We took this opportunity to upgrade the seacock and provide a stronger mount.












Cooling Fan and Wiring


The enclosure cooling fan was installed right on the cabinet and vents out via a clamshell vent mounted in the oval space in the windlass locker. Its power comes from the 12v control connector block on top of the generator head. It is the black hose running up from the back left (inboard end) of the genset in the Installation Complete photo.
Installation complete

Genset control in upper right
Starting power was taken from the windlass cables since we don't anticipate running the windlass and starting the genset at the same time. There is already a 100A circuit breaker in this circuit. This eliminated a battery and its associated weight, charging, and maintenance. The 120V AC wires are routed to a relay that automatically switches the boat input from shore power to genset whenever 
the genset runs.

The control panel is mounted above the 120V Shore Power panel. Power to the 12V diesel fuel pump is supplied from this panel instead of running a wire from the genset all the way aft.








Storage shelf

The Shelf and Service Access

Since the genset consumes a large amount of our forward storage locker, we 
built a shelf that mounts above it. The shelf is good for 
relatively light things like the spinnaker. There is space forward of the muffler and genset to hold a folding bicycle, two plastic storage tubs (that's where we have the extra snorkel gear) and the grill.

The shelf unscrews and is easily removable to allow access to the engine. 

With the shelf removed, the sound enclosure can be easily removed from both sides of the engine to allow for full servicing.

Open for service
























Our Experience

It took some experimentation to refine the installation. We initially tried running without the fuel and raw water lift pumps and found that they were needed. It is surprisingly quiet. It is so quiet that we can't hear it start if the main engines are running. It isn't obtrusive even at anchor. The little splash of raw cooling water lets us know that it is getting properly cooled.

We use the genset to quickly recharge the batteries after a couple of days of not motoring. We don't (yet) have solar and the genset can quickly put 100AH back into the LiFePO4 battery bank.

We have used this system in hot and cold weather to make our travels more comfortable. In the hot, humid Chesapeake summer, we often use it to cool the boat in the evening before going to sleep. Simply reducing the temperature a few degrees and removing a lot of the humidity makes it much more comfortable. Our cool spring and fall trips on the ICW give us an opportunity to use it to warm up the cabin.










Sunday, March 27, 2016

Home Once Again!

It's 2:15, and we are back at the dock in Whitehall. We are so fortunate in our friends. Denise and Lars met us at the dock with champagne! And, we are glad to be home.


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

On the Dismal Swamp Canal

Each year that we have done this journey, Mike has wished for perfect timing to show the change of seasons. Up until now, that wish has not been granted. This year, it is different. We are here at the birth of spring.


It is a beautiful spring day. Terry is on the front deck, and he has shed his fleece jacket! Turtles are out basking in the sun. Ducks and geese continue to scatter as we approach. Of course, they like to wait until we are really on top of them before they take flight. Unfortunately, they fly only a couple hundred feet before resettling in the water- just in time for us to attempt to run over them again.



The news is that we have passed the sign that says, "Welcome to Virginia." And, it is still warm. The other news is that it is so warm that Terry's GoPro decided to go swimming. It hopped right off the boat, and it jumped into the canal. And, it appears that it promptly sank. Those owners of GoPros are now thinking that should not happen- the case should float. It appears that the suction cup stand is heavier than the float can manage. We believe that it pulled the GoPro down into a watery grave. Alas. Peggy, on a positive note, did point out that Terry has been eying up the newer model. We sense a birthday gift in the offing. Out of tragedy....

If you are keeping score, that makes 2 hats and 1 GoPro lost to Neptune on this trip!


A Great Day in Elizabeth City

If you find yourself in the area, you should make a trip to Elizabeth City. It's a cool little town making a big effort at revitalization. If boating, your first stop will be the FREE docks downtown.


The town has provided both slips and side ties, so any size boat can feel free to stop by. And, the view out into the harbor is lovely.



After that, find the Visitors Center. There you will get maps and all sorts of ideas for fun ways to spend the day. This is the first time I have seen little booklets of walking tours. The one for the business district, for example, describes the buildings as well as giving some history. AND, they have treats. At least they did on the day we visited- free candy and cookies.

We had already planned our day, though. We wanted to go to the Museum of the Albemarle.


This is the lobby. Hanging over your head is a full sized model of the official boat of the state of North Carolina. The best part of the museum is the hall containing the history of the area. It is done in a timeline fashion with incredible artifacts to illustrate. My favorite was the picture of an old document.


Cool! Maryland used to be a province of Virginia! Actually, there were lots of great artifacts. Elizabeth City is home to one of the largest Coast Guard stations. In fact, that station goes all the way back to the beginning of the Coast Guard. Our favorite was the early pfd on display.


It's nice to know that we have made some progress.

The museum also had a special exhibit featuring the work of Louis Comfort Tiffany. Unlike many exhibits on this man, it did not just feature a bunch of stained glass. It delved into the history of the man and all his works. Don't get me wrong. There were stained glass artifacts.


But, there was so much more. The exhibit showed how the lamps were made. Imagine stained glass by numbers instead of paint by numbers, and you have a good idea. And, yes, jewelry was on display. Not a lot, but enough to showcase the talent. The exhibit also featured some works by other artists influenced by Tiffany. It's a small exhibit, but it is so dense with artifacts and history that you could easily spend an hour just casually examining everything.

After a small break back at the boat... Oops. Let me rephrase that. I took a nap. Mike and Terry worked on the boat. Peggy and Carol passed the time by reading and doing some embroidery.

We ended up at Cypress Creek Grill for dinner. 


This restaurant was literally just across the street from us! It looked like a little storefront operation, but that was deceiving. The inside was much larger than it appeared on our approach. And, it was simply wonderful from start to finish. There are no food pictures, Dear Readers, because it is a slow food restaurant. Everything is made fresh. By the time the food arrived, I was too hungry to stop and take pictures. But, oh was it so yummy. An interesting side note- it is the first place any of us had ever been where they asked you how you want your oysters fried. Peggy's choices were light, medium, or crunchy. She's happy she ordered medium because they came out perfectly done for her. 

After dinner, we headed back to the boat. Here's a shot of LUX that I took from the sidewalk in front of Cypress Creek Grill.


No telephoto lens. LUX really is just across the street. We did move the boat to anchor out because it was going to be windy. No one wished to spend the night bouncing against the sea wall. Still, it was a beautiful - if somewhat chilly - night.


The cold air just reminds us that we are getting closer to home. Tomorrow, we will be in Virginia.