Mini Shake-Down Cruise

Every boating season should start with a shakedown and we needed one for sure this year. We haven’t had too many hours cruising on this boat yet – the 8-day trip home when we purchased The Edge, who soon became our next Kindred Spirit, and then the short season of the covid-19/spinal surgery summer which included only 33 days aboard the boat, 20 hours on the engine, only 12 nautical miles from our homeport. That said, we know that Al has spent many more hours working on the boat and knows her inside and out.  

With lovely spring weather forecasted, we decided we might as well take a mini-shakedown cruise. Mini, as in we only went 4 nautical miles across Fishers Island Sound to West Harbor for two nights and three days. If anything went wrong, we were close enough to home to get help.

Sunny day, but chilly water temperature — 54.68 degrees!

On that short crossing we were hailed on the VHF by another Kadey Krogen, Gratitude, who saw us on their AIS. Al and Roberto chatted while they passed in front of us. Roberto and Rosa were on their way home to Rhode Island after their winter in the south.  Kind of cool that our first venture the season finds us chatting with another Kadey Krogen. It’s a close knit group.

Gratitude could see us on their AIS and we could see them. Shakedown checklist – The AIS receives and transmits.
Gratitude, a Kadey Krogen, passes by on her way home to Rhode Island.

Entering West Harbor I always look towards the house with a sea wall spelling out “Where The Wild Things Are”  I love that, but over the years, the words have faded quite a bit. I could barely make it out this time. I wish someone would repaint the words. I wish I know why they were painted in the first place. Must be a good story.

The yellow line underlines the faded words “Where the Wild Things Are.”
Found this old photo from one of earlier trips to West Harbor. I’m not sure what year – 2006ish? What a difference.

We picked up a mooring and enjoyed the afternoon, warmest day of the week.

A cold beer toast to us and our Kindred Spirit! Burgers, sweet potato salad and corn tomato avocado salad.  Shakedown checklist – the grill works
It was very quiet here, only one or two other boats at any one time.

Until …… It was a Wednesday evening so it was race time out in Fishers Island Sound.

And then it was quiet again as the sun set.
Al in the pilot house, relaxing. It is nice to see Al relax. He is almost always puttering around fixing and working on a new project. Time to chill. That’s what summer is for.

Although a little cooler, the morning was lovely again.

My favorite thing on the boat is morning coffee out in the cockpit, just me and the view. Then it was time to test the oven by baking Pillsbury cinnamon buns for the Captain. Shakedown checklist – The oven worked

More shakedowns – dinghy time. This is an entirely new routine for us. For all of our years sailing, we always had davits on the stern for the dinghy. Krogens usually have a hoist system up on the flybridge and the dinghy is kept there. There are pros and cons to both approaches. With davits, the dinghy is easy to drop into the water quickly, but, it makes the transom nearly impossible to access when the dinghy is there. A dinghy up on the flybridge is out of the way of the transom, but, it takes much longer to drop it into the water and put it back up on the bridge. With practice we hope to become efficient at the process because we need the access on the transom for boarding. 

The dinghy sits on the deck of the flybridge. Al connects it and we lift it using the boom and a pulley (two different controls.)
Up and over the rail, then lowered down into the water. It isn’t difficult and not at all strenuous, but it does take a little time. I expect we will get faster with practice. Shakedown checklist – dinghy hoist system

Next it was time to check out the dinghy’s engine. Uh oh. This is not good. The Yamaha engine won’t start. (And this is why we are having a mini-shakedown cruise.) Al begins working on it.

After fiddling with this and that, Al did get it started.
With a wave, he is off and running for a test drive. Although the engine is running now, it isn’t fully fixed. Al needs to clean and rebuild the carburetor. 

Happy news!! Mary Jo and Dean are riding over on Jallao for their little shakedown and a visit. 

I asked Mary Jo why her hand was on her forehead, which I did not see until I reviewed the photographs. She said, “I was thinking OMG, what a start to the season. You captured my moment 🥰🥰.”
Drinks on the flybridge and a group selfie to document the first day on the water

Then it was time for the next part of the shakedown – a dinghy ride for me. Since the dinghy and engine had been tested earlier, I guess this was a shakedown for me. This is our new aluminum bottom dinghy bought last year just before the pandemic raised its ugly head. It is smaller and lighter than any of the old ones we had. Last year, I could not get into it. My back just wouldn’t let me bend down comfortably and safely. The staples that Al added to the transom made it so easy to get in and out.

I do appreciate these staples. It feels so much safer. We will be able to boat into our 80’s. 😉 😜
I am pleased to say it was a very comfortable ride. (Note – the Yamaha engine still needs a carburetor overhaul.)

No amazing sunsets either evening, but Mother Nature was still generous with a pretty and tranquil water view.

We enjoyed another night and morning before heading back to SYC.

Low tide was at noon, and it must have been extra low based on the markings on these rocks.

Over all, a successful mini-shakedown cruise.

In the Water

We still have prep work to do on the boat, but it is so much nicer to do those chores when you are floating in the water. The weather was looking reasonably nice for an overnight at the dock.

After projects and more cleaning, we celebrated our anticipation of the first overnight with a shared cold beer.


In spite of all the “watsonizing” last year, we still thought of a few new things that were needed on the inside. It’s all about figuring out what will make your life enjoyable and comfortable on your boat, totally personal choices. Plus, I am always thinking of boat projects for Al because I know that’s what he really loves to spend his time doing all winter. It’s a win-win.

Here are a few new interior twists —

The Kadey Krogen 39 is a comfortable boat, but it isn’t large compared to most of the other Krogens. Shoes are sometimes a problem. No one wants to track dirt and sand into the boat. But where do you take your shoes off and keep them handy? Put them back in the stateroom each time you enter? It is a loooong way from the salon door all the way down to the master stateroom. Leaving them out in the cockpit? Maybe. Cluttering the salon with discarded shoes was also not ideal. Our decision? A shoe drawer just inside the salon door.

This is obviously not the salon on the boat. Al brought the seat home to the house to work on this project. That wooden box in our front hall is a section of the salon seating.

Al cut an opening in the side of the seat. The hole in the top seen below has a cover and is under the cushions which makes it hard to access. A drawer in the side should work.

An opening is marked off and cut out.

An opening in the side is not enough for Al. This had to be a drawer that slides out easily.

Al installed slides so that the drawer will glide in and out easily.
Back on the boat, everything in place again. It looks like we can each store a couple pairs of shoes in there. I wonder if I get to have more shoes in there than Al? You know, just like at home.

The pilot house is a whole new area for us to use. It is for navigation underway, but it is also its own little space onboard. We really liked that our Krogen already had a table close to the seating.

The pilot house is a very comfortable place to be, especially when traveling during less than ideal weather. Not all pilot houses have tables so we were pleased that ours came with one.
We both make use of the table. It can be turned on its pedestal.

Al decided the table could be even more versatile with additional positions.

The table can now slide farther and locks in place.
It turns, it slides.

I have had one constant concern about my galley. Although the refrigerator itself was larger than the Mariner’s, the freezer was not. Al spoiled me with a terrific built-in Engle freezer on the Mariner. Even the Morgan sailboat had more freezer space, custom built by Al. I began to worry out loud about this feature, or lack of feature. It wasn’t a problem last season because we never went very far for very long, but this season will be different (I hope, I hope) and I like having a decent freezer onboard. It allows me to keep more meats onboard as well as back-up vegetables and fruits. That means fewer trips to grocery stores which can be difficult to find near anchorages.

What were the options this time? We could build a freezer unit again in a space under the galley counter, giving up some storage there OR we could purchase a portable unit and find a place to put it. Tough decision, with pros and cons on both sides. We settled on getting a portable unit that would fit in the bottom part of what I call “the hutch,” which is the storage unit opposite the galley. Although there were other manufacturers, we chose an Engel unit again. The 40-quart unit (1.27 cubic feet) would fit.

Al removed the shelf from the interior as well as the doors. I would prefer to have kept the doors but the unit wouldn’t fit with the doors. He installed sliding tracks so that the Engel can be pulled out in order to open the lid.
Al laying down on the job again, working on the wiring.
The Engel installed in its designated location. It sits upon a pull out shelf. I am not wild about the looks and wish the doors could be used, but I want a freezer more than I care about the looks. Maybe I’ll weave a cloth cover next winter………

Although technically outside, the aft cockpit received a couple of new twists as well. The hatch in the teak floor opened towards the salon entry door where there is very little space to maneuver. Al decided that it could be turned around and did just that.

This isn’t our Kadey Krogen 39, but our cockpit hatch was positioned the same way. The lift is right in front of the salon door, leaving only a small space to open it comfortably. What was Kadey Krogen thinking when they designed it this way?
The hatch now opens in this direction. The teak boards don’t line up quite as nicely but I don’t see a problem with that. Now that I have publicly pointed this out, everyone will notice. (Excuse the messy cockpit – this was taken during Al’s working season.)
Inside the aft cockpit locker, Al built a little step that makes it easier and safer to get down in there.

Back to the water. It actually felt good to be cleaning and washing the boat now that I can bend and twist again. Well, it felt good for awhile and then it was time to rest for a bit. We are both older now and have to accomplish things at a slightly slower pace.

The docks are filling up, but there are still empty slips out by us. I took some time to sit and enjoy the views.

Early morning view across the empty docks.
View of kayakers out by Pine Island.
The research boats at UCONN, Avery Point.
Sunny afternoon view towards land — there’s the other boats!
SYC Sunday Breakfast to benefit the Sailing School – A nice hot breakfast that I did not have to cook.

After breakfast, Al decided it was time to practice my docking skills. I took the boat out of the slip, for a short ride, and then back in again. And then out again and back in again. Although it is basically the same maneuvers as last summer, there are subtle differences such as a shorter slip, which is good, and a shorter distance in the fairway. Al operated the new stern thruster in the aft cockpit while I manned the helm. My hands and knees were shaking afterwards, but I’ll get over that.

At the helm again.
All snug in her slip.

2021 LAUNCH !

When April arrives, thoughts turn to “Launch Day”, scheduled for May 10th. When April arrives I go back to Kindred Spirit, not before. Why? Because Al tears the boat apart while simultaneously working on all of his winter projects and I refuse to see my boat in that condition. He promised everything was neat and tidy again. Which was true if I didn’t go below…….

Our stateroom is not ready for me to clean yet.Tools and things all over the bed and boxes stacked on top of the dresser.
We stopped working to have lunch in the pilot house and I noticed our shirts – matching flannels! We hadn’t realized our fashion choices were so in sync until that moment. 😜 Twenty-six years of marriage??

Al finished projects and prepped the boat for the water while I cleaned. This boat has a LOT of wood surfaces!! Whew, that was quite a chore, one I escaped last year due to the spinal surgery.

A reward after a day of work on the boat. Dinner with friends, Dan and Marcia, at the Dog Watch Cafe in Stonington.

One of the last things we did was mark our anchor chain. I will just repeat what I said when we marked the Mariner Orient’s anchor chain in 2015. This system works for us —

“When anchoring, to avoid guessing and yelling about how many feet of chain you have let out, it’s a real good idea to mark the chain in specific lengths. You can buy special markers, make your own markers (we tried that for a few years) or paint your chain different colors at specific lengths. Some people tie a different number of small lines or wire tires at intervals, but we found they can tangle in the chain or hold dirt. Others use a specific color scheme and paint the links. I read about an interesting color sequence – every 25 feet change colors, red, yellow, blue, white, orange, and remember it with “Rub Your Body With Oil.” Really? Anyway, about ten years ago we settled on a system that has worked for us without any problems. We paint the chain at intervals of red, white, and blue, in that order, changing color every 25 feet. We use good, bright paint which is easily visible without confusion and it lasts for years. The bonus is that we never forget the order of red, white, and blue. Easy-peasy, as the first graders say.”

I worked the windlass up on the bow (the shadow person is me) while Al stretched the chain out.
RED, WHITE, BLUE, REPEAT…….
VERY visible on the bow as the chain is lowered and raised. Yeah!
A new slip for this year. Same dock, farther out.

May 10th! Confession time – I did not attend the launch. I debated, I thought about it, I thought yes, then I thought no. In the end, Al had plenty of help so I took care of other things at home. Secretly, I decided that he could check to see if the stern thruster and bow thruster were working before I attempted to use them. 😉 Update – the bow thruster did malfunction and Al had to dock without it. Not a problem for him. That’s now at the top of the fix-it list.

Splash day is always a big deal. Will the weather cooperate for the day you signed up, weeks in advance?

The SYC yard crew is really good. Look at that tight squeeze between us and the next boat.
Kindred Spirit is hanging in the sling in the travel lift. No matter how many times, it is a moment when you hold your breath. Remember that yellow arrow pointing at the stabilizer fin.
On the way to the well and backing into the well for the drop.
Al’s crew for the launch – Dean, and George and Patrice.
Remember the yellow arrow pointing to a stabilizer fin a few photos back? Here is another arrow pointing to the same fin, under the water. What’s the point? Al says that by painting the edge of the fin white he might be able to see it in the water and know if anything has fouled it.
Thank you, crew members!!

Diesel Bug

We knew when we bought the boat in 2019 that there was a fuel issue because the filters were partially clogged. We had the voyage from Virginia to Connecticut ahead of us, but Al was not overly concerned because he had plenty of extra fuel filter cartridges and made frequent changes over the 8-day trip.

Two fuel filters – you can shift from one to the other if one should clog. Only one filter is used at a time. With a careful eye on these, Al felt assured that we could make it home from Virginia to Connecticut without a major issue.

With all the many “watsonizing” projects during the winter of 2019-2020, the fuel tank worries took a back seat for the moment. The 2020 summer season was super short due to covid and my recovery from spinal surgery, ending with only an additional 20 hours on the engine. In fact, we had yet to put fuel into the tanks.  😳

At the end of the 2020 season, short that it was, it became evident that the diesel fuel and tanks issue could not be ignored any longer.

Al decided to remove the filters and clean the see-through bowl at the base of the filter. Oh my, oh my! With that amount of sludge at the bottom it was obvious that this could not be ignored.

What is that ooey-gooey, black, gunky, slimy, scummy stuff in the filter?????

It is called “diesel bug,” the common term for a mix of various contaminants that include microbial bacteria, fungi, algae, and mold. It can originate from the air or moisture or during tank filling, and can lie dormant until just a little water, even a droplet, is introduced. Then the “bugs” can breed and multiply. Their waste deposits fall to the bottom of the tank. So we either had diesel bug or asphaltenes. Asphaltenes is a tar-like substance that forms in the presence of water and sludge in old diesel fuel. Which did we have? Bugs or tar? Or both? Take your pick. Neither one is good. Either can block filters which in turn can lead to fuel starvation, worn injectors, or even engine failure.

No more procrastinating, the time had come to address this problem. This was not a “fun” project so Al paced it out over the winter. 

The yellow arrow points to the bolted inspection port in the side of the fuel tank. Here he goes! 28 bolts remove before he could even start this project. And that is 28 bolts on each fuel tank.

There are two fuel tanks that hold 350 gallons of diesel each, and a built-in transfer pump that moves fuel from one tank to the other. There was 50 gallons in each tank at this point. There are baffles inside of each tank that divide the tank into six parts with 12-inch diameter holes in the middle for the fuel to flow back and forth. First step for Al was to move all the fuel from one tank to the other in preparation of cleaning.

Removing the inspection port allowed Al to see inside the tank. The pinkish red fluid is the diesel fuel. All diesel used in the United States for “off road” purposes, such as marine, is dyed red. The black clumps are bad stuff. This is a view of only one of the six baffled areas in each tank. There were worse areas than this one, but Al decided not to risk his phone trying to photograph all of them.

In planning to clean the tanks, Al built a homemade fuel polishing system to clean out the tanks. It removes the fuel from the tank, sends it through a filter, and then returns it to the tank.

Al’s homemade fuel polishing system. Yes, it is sitting on the kitchen counter at home.

Al modified his homemade fuel polisher to take fuel from the tank, pass it through the hose and onto a paint brush at the end of a stick. He then reached the stick into the six compartments of the fuel tank (you can only see two of them in the photo). Using this, he could bring all of the sludge to one point in the tank so that it could be removed with rags and elbow grease into a bucket. Next, he placed three gallons of fuel back into the tank and sloshed it around in the tank, sending it through the fuel polisher for an hour or two until clean.

And another great Al Watson MacGyver system works!

All that remained was to install a new gasket and replace the inspection port with the 28 bolts. And repeat for the other side. No wonder Al stretched this out through the winter. It took a lot of time and major body contortions to clean these tanks. What a difference!

Now that is a clean fuel tank, ready for clean fuel.
The inspection has been bolted back on with a new gasket, painted and labeled.

With proper maintenance and fuel additives, this is one task that should never need to be done again.

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?