Who Needs Two Engines When You Have Thrusters?

We have never wanted a twin engine boat.  Yes, yes, I have been lectured on the benefits of two engines, but frankly, the argument has not been convincing. Why double the expense and work load? After sailing for so many years one engine is all we need. It is true that if the engine on a trawler breaks down we have no sails to power us. But, hey, that is what Boat US towing insurance is for.

The Mariner Orient had a bow thruster and that was very helpful with only one engine. It makes it easier to maneuver the boat into and out of the slip.  The Kadey Krogen has a bow thruster. I thought we were all set. HaHa. 

Al used his covid time, hunkered down at home, searching the internet for ….. anything boat related, including…. wait for it….. stern thrusters. Another thruster??? I was a bit hurt and deflated, thinking this idea was a reflection on my docking abilities. When I asked, “Why?????….,” Al patiently explained that a sideways propeller in both the bow and stern, gives you better control of the vessel than with a bow thruster alone. You are also able to rotate the boat in any 360 direction while stationary. Well, well, well.. I guess I’ll be able to spin this baby all around. 😳

Everything Al found on the internet for an external stern thruster was too flimsy. And then he stumbled across the Yacht Thruster company’s  Model 300C, their most powerful thruster for a boat our size. No surprise, but it was out of his price range. Undeterred, Al continued to dream of a stern thruster. Al is a dedicated eBay and Craig’s List shopper, so he typed that model into the eBay search, and lo and behold, someone just happened to have a brand new one that was never installed on their recently sold boat. Selling for half price. Al waited until the last minute to make his bid and won the auction.

This was probably his most anticipated package arrival of the winter. As soon as it was in his hands, he began work on creating a cardboard mock-up. (That doesn’t surprise anyone, right?)

Al designed a mock-up to test the proper positioning on the boat. Side by side, the stern thruster and its cardboard stand-in.
With the cardboard understudy, Al was able to locate exactly where the stern thruster should be mounted. The cockpit drain and zinc locations would have to be moved. A little bit of fiberglassing had to be done. Easy work for Al.
Holes in boats……… not usually a good thing. This is the hole that had to be cut into the boat to mount the stern thruster.

It looks like a lot of holes where holes shouldn’t be on a boat, under the water. But it was a work in progress at this stage.

New holes were drilled and filled into the transom, and the existing cockpit locker drain had to be moved.

There was exterior work and interior work to be done.

A stern thruster requires its own battery for power. The internal control box, battery shut off and fuse were all mounted in the aft cockpit locker.

A close up of the installed stern thruster.

The stern thruster is neatly tucked away under the swim platform and below the waterline. Ready to do its thing.

Docking should now be less stressful for me, especially if the wind is blowing.  I have been docking our boats for a while now (10 years?) but I still get shaky knees at times. Maneuvering into a dock and coming alongside a dock requires careful steering and throttling back and forth. Some boaters may sneer at the addition of bow and stern thrusters, but I have found the bow thruster to be a life saver. So, if adding a stern thruster will make a tricky maneuver easier, why not take advantage of it? 

Rain Drops Keep Falling On My Head…….

There was this little annoying thing – the rain drain from the flybridge allowed water to fall directly onto the teak rail below, always splashing inward. Not a big thing, but kind of annoying.

Remember this photo from a foggy rainy morning? Follow those rain drops – From the flybridge, through the little drain spout and directly onto the varnished teak rail, and splashing inside onto the teak deck.

This occasional conversation about a small thing turned into a HUGE winter project. For Al, not me. Remember, he loves tackling something new, if it is for the boat…… and loves a good challenge. especially during the winter months

From October, 2020 through March, 2021, this drain spout became an ongoing mission in the background while he worked on assorted other projects. Al spent hours researching and watching YouTube videos, as well as just figuring out solutions on his own.  It became a complex, labor-intensive, multi-step process. This guy doesn’t give up!

Step #1 Removing the old short rainspout.

Al carefully removed the old rain drain, separating it with a putty knife to gently pry it off. Why did they use 5200???

Step #2 Making the new extended rain spout prototype. This began with the PlayDoh.

Blue PlayDoh was formed around the old piece as a base for the extension. Anyone with grandchildren has PlayDoh around.
Al’s prototype for the extended drain.

Step #3 – This PlayDoh/PVC/old drain prototype was next covered with fiberglass and wetted out with resin to make a reverse mold.

Creating the reverse mold with fiberglass and resin.

Step #4 – Wood supports were added to the mold above to keep it from bending. Resin was then poured into the reverse mold.

Taking the reverse mold apart after the resin has set. This actually destroyed the single use mold.
Al now removes the new longer resin rain drain from the reverse mold.
The finished rain drain, painted and ready. The scoring (on the inside only) is added to make the drain extension a break-away piece just in case it ever hits something.

Now Al needed to figure out how to make a pair of rain drains…… and four spares. One was not going to be enough.

Step #5 – A reusable mold was needed. The finished rain drain above formed the basis for a reusable silicone mold.

The rain drain is placed into a container. Al mixed silicone rubber and then poured it all around the drain in the box.
A true Mac Guyver, Al used assorted things that he had at hand – plastic shoeboxes, pieces of wood, old pill bottles, chunks of plastic foam. He brings “repurposing” to a whole new level. These pieces were added to the box so that less silicone was needed to cover the drain spout.

The silicone needed to dry for 24 hours. I can tell you that Al watched that box on the kitchen counter for almost the whole 24 hours, checking it hourly to see if it was “ready.” This silicone mold would be used to reproduce resin duplicates of the new rain spout.

Step #6 – Removing the new longer rain drain from the silicone mold.

After a long 24 hours, Al flipped the mold over and eagerly removed the new longer drain from the silicone mold. Now he has a way to create multiple rain drains!

Step #7 – The silicone mold is now ready to be used, over and over again, to make as many longer rain drains as Al wants.

Al mixed two-part epoxy resin and poured it into the mold until filled.
Comparing the original longer rain drain (in his hand) with the first poured resin rain drain in the mold.
Five of the six new longer rain drains with the old short one. After unmolding, each new one received a covering of gel coat. Ready for installation!

Step #8 – Installation on the boat.

The longer rain drain has been installed on the starboard side.

This has to be the hardest blog post I have ever written!!!! Even harder to grasp than electrical wiring. There were so many steps and so many iterations that I became lost in the process over the 6th months as well as while I tried to write this blog. My head was ready to explode!

I do, however, appreciate the final outcome. 😉

Latest update on this project……. We tested these new longer drains with a lot of water. Hmmmmm, not quite the solution we hoped for, but better than before. Some water still hits the teak rail, but most was shooting out well beyond. We shall see what happens when the boat is in the water and rain falls.

Most of the water is well away from the boat, but there was still some dribbles falling onto the teak rail.

I’ll Never Fall Off Again……

My sweet, loving Captain Al, best husband in the world, took on a project that would make my life easier and safer. After my fall from the swim platform last spring, the wheels in his head began to turn, unbeknownst to me at first.  He started muttering about “bars.”  Hmm….bars as in pubs? Ice cream bar? Candy bar? Shower curtain bar? Chin-up bar? There are a lot of possibilities! Al had decided we needed bars on the swim platform. Watching me tumble to the ground and break my back and then struggle and fail to get into the dinghy got his project juices flowing. It was obvious to him that bars on the platform would be a real asset, especially since both of us are not getting younger. These bars are officially called “staples”. Seems like an odd name to me, but there are lots of odd names for the parts of a boat. After researching the name, the reason was pretty simple – these bars are called “staples” because that’s what they look like. Ok……

Al showed me a photo of a Kadey Krogen 48 with three staples on the swim platform. Our Krogen is 39, so two staples will provide plenty of security.

Al began the planning phase of this project while the boat was still in the water.

The prototype was constructed of PVC piping and clamps. Al almost always begins with a “prototype.”
Measuring and planning. What size should they be? How wide, how tall, what diameter??? There were many discussions with Anthony on Magnolia via video chats on the phone. Anthony thought the staples were a great idea so these two two great minds put their heads together.

The project turned out to be more complex than anticipated. The guys were able to figure out just what they wanted and needed, but could not find a place to manufacture their custom bars. Al searched for a shop here in CT and Anthony searched in Maryland. Maryland won the contract over Connecticut!

John of East Port Rigging in Galesville, MD was the man for the job.

Once the bars were fabricated, our set was stored on Magnolia. It was now October, Kindred Spirit was out of the water and Magnolia was nestled in the Chesapeake Bay. Road trip! We met in New Jersey by car and made the transfer. It was a good excuse for a visit and an outdoor lunch. After the transfer, we returned home. Seven hours of driving on the road is nothing for a boat project. 🥴😜🙃

Kindred Spirit‘s staples stored in Magnolia’s cockpit.
The transfer is made in the parking lot, trunk to trunk, covid style.

With the finished bars now in hand, Al began work on the installation phase.

Using the bars and a template, Al began the measuring for the installation.
Measure twice, cut once! The holes are made and then the screw holes are drilled, filled with epoxy, and then drilled again for the screws that will hold the bars. The goal of “drill-fill-drill” is to have a through-hull hole that is drilled through solid epoxy. This is done so that none of the wood core is exposed and vulnerable to water.
First staple bar installed. Notice that ours has a cross bar for additional strength and a place to grab hold as the dinghy approaches the platform. Nice idea, Captain Al!
Installed and ready to grab! Too bad they weren’t there last spring.

Our swim platform really got a makeover! In addition to the staples, there is a new swim ladder. I enjoy swimming off the boat so a good ladder is critical. Although I was never able to get into the water last summer, Al tested the ladder and decided it should be replaced with a longer one.

Testing the swim ladder
A longer stainless steel ladder will make it much easier to get a leg up onto the rung and climb up the steps. Flat steps rather than rounded rungs are also easier on the foot.

Some women get flowers and candy, or fancy jewelry. To me, nothing says love like protecting the woman you love. I feel loved.

A Long Winter, Covid-Style

It is April, 2021 now and we are coming out of this long pandemic hibernation. As I look back on the past 13 months, I can see how our lives shifted and turned. At first, in Spring 2020, there was the fear and caution, but a hope that this pandemic would be halted swiftly. By summer, we realized that wasn’t going to happen. Thankfully, summer meant outdoors and a slight resemblance to normal life. I was so focused on healing from the spinal fractures and surgery that sometimes I didn’t really feel the impact of Covid-19 then.

Summer became fall, and fall became winter, bringing covid surges across the country. By October, we recognized that the next 6 months would not be normal at all. There would be no family holiday gatherings, no get-togethers with friends unless it was outdoors in freezing temperatures. Take-out and delivery had replaced restaurant trips.  Masks were always on when we left the house, if we left the house. Groceries were ordered online and picked-up at the curb.  ZOOM and Facetime were less than adequate substitutions for social interaction. Amazon deliveries became routine and much too frequent (ordering things online became a new past time.) Somehow we did it; and although there were sometimes tears and an underlying sadness, we managed to find humor and laughter to comfort us.

When Zoom and FaceTime “visits” were not enough to quench the thirst for friends, we would try an outdoor gathering. A COLD walk at Hammonassett Beach with friends, masked and bundled. In case you can’t recognize anyone, that is me with Patrice and MJ, hiding beneath our down coats, hats, and masks.
A week before Christmas we had a bountiful snow fall, which helped to lift our spirits in spite of what was going to be an atypical holiday. (Yes, snow during the holidays does lift my spirits. I love it!)
Christmas Eve was reasonably warm, although we were still surrounded by the mounds of snow. Our New York City crew (Ryan, Kerri, Caleb and Cecily) drove here to capture a little bit of some family holiday time for the day. Not the same as past years, but certainly better than nothing. Yes, we all stayed outdoors.
Then Steph, Adam, and Addison, the CT crew, FaceTimed with us. This is their 2020 version of a family photo with the grandparents.
Zoom Christmas with my sisters, Mother, sons , duaghter-in-laws and grandchildren.
The grandchildren in Delaware – Aaron holding Liam, Alivia and Ella. WE haven’t been able to see them for a very long time. 😢

Thank goodness we like each other and have a good solid marriage. Living together on a boat for extended times is good preparation for this level of constant closeness. Our house is small, but bigger than the boat! We kept ourselves busy. I focused on weaving, walking, reading, baking, cooking …..repeat. We binged through NETFLIX and PRIME series and movies. Have you watched Below Deck??? A yachting “reality” show that is absolutely ridiculous fun to watch.

Al found and watched more sailing/boating vlogs on YouTube than I thought could possibly exist. Is everyone out there recording every moment of their life? And sharing to the world? I will admit that I even watch a few of them. Living vicariously, as they say.

I bought this mug for Al before the covid pandemic. How prophetic it would become, especially #3 and #4.

Can you guess what Al kept busy during the winter??? BOAT PROJECTS!! How could there be any more projects for Kindred Spirit, you ask? She is a boat which means there is always another project around the corner or right in your face. He averaged 1-2 trips to Kindred Spirit per week plus many, many hours in the basement working at home on his projects and a few projects for other boating friends. A little space is good for a couple.

April has brought spring weather and new beginnings. We have both been fully vaccinated, as have our children and their spouses. We are cautiously hoping that the worst is behind us and that we can resume something close to normal life. We must have faith that everything will be ok. That said, we still have our reservations about many activities. We are not comfortable with indoor dining, bars, movies, or any place that has a crowd, however small. But with warmer weather and more people vaccinated, we are truly looking forward to spending time with our family and friends, and boating season!

The very best, the very, very best thing now is that we can see our family in person again.

Three cousins, Caleb, Addison, and Cecily finally see each other for an Easter Egg Hunt at our house. It was sooooo good to see them running around outside together again.
We made a road trip to PA to visit my mother and sisters. Get vaccinated, people! We need to hug each other again.

Enough of covid. You are all living through it too, so what else can be said? It is time for me to gather whatever photos exist to document some of Al’s assorted “winter watsonizing.” Some projects were a bit of a surprise. Stay tuned!