I left Dan in Norfolk Virginia and headed home to help my daughter with her small outdoor wedding, not exactly what they planned but with the situation with the pandemic it is the best we could do without waiting for 1+yrs for everything to calm down.
Dan stayed back to attend a reunion with his USS Flying Fish buddies. (also smaller than planned.) He spent many, many hours working on the boat making her better. Which is the focus of this blog…. “The many improvements Dan spent his time on”
“53 days, the longest Dan and I have been apart in 14+ years”
Here is Dan, in his words…
Well, as our cruising season came to a close by 4th of July 2020 in the midst of the Pandemic hassles, Angela needed to go home to help set up daughter’s wedding in Portland, Oregon. I stayed behind to attend the reunion of my submarine USS Flying Fish, SSN-673 set for 23 August, and to do needed maintenance on the boat. Senior Chief George Perry was a great help and friend during this time – he took Angela to the airport early on, and we shared many fun times before the reunion, on which he had the lead.
Before Angela left we got the boat ready to be tied up for a long time by cleaning it well and getting the holding tanks pumped. She also gave me lists of “to-dos”, and what to eat up out of our freezers.
My biggest projects were in the engine room. After 3 years and over 9000 miles of cruising some work was needed. I made plans but wanted professional advice before I started to make sure I was doing the right things. I hired Tommy Shook, an expert Detroit Diesel mechanic, to stop by and inspect my engines, “grade me” and advise on work to be done. He spent 2 hours with me poking around, starting and running the engines, and advising me. Long story short, he gave me an “A-“, yay. He told me I needed to bathe the engines in degreaser and pressure wash them, and also to put matching belts on the starboard alternator.
I had some greasy maintenance still to do before I started that project. So, I went for it, changing the oil and filters yet again, and rebuilding all 4 of the main engine Racor Fuel Filters, and the 2 on the Northern Lights generators. The Port main engine Racor had a lot of undesirable tar like debris that could have cut off the fuel flow. But luckily, I caught it before it caused damage and didn’t shut down the engine while underway. I spent a few days doing all this work.
Tommy Shook also advised I replace the seals on the valve covers. So, I ordered new kits for that from Diesel Pro. I pulled the all the huge valve covers, one at a time, used rust remover, Barkeepers Helper, degreaser, and greenies to polish up all the chrome on each one, re-assembled and re-installed. Another few days to do this work.
Then I focused on the engine cleaning by hanging up poly sheets all over the engine room in prep for the washdown of the engines. I sprayed lots of degreaser and pressure washed with as little water as I could until those engines were clean. All that went into the drip pans and bilges (pumps turned off), and had to be shop vacuumed up, then poured into 5-gallon buckets. Once in the buckets, the oil absorb pads could be employed to get all the oil out before the dirty water was disposed of. That took a couple of days to finish. Those engines were clean, but I could see the paint job was about 5 years old and needed help. Luckily some other Detroit Diesel owners on FB had just done the prep and paint work on their engines and shared exactly how it was done.
“Sanding, Vacuuming, Masking, then Spraying, just that simple”
Well, maybe not so simple. It took quite some time to accomplish- I would do the work in the morning before it got too hot and humid. As with any paint job the prep was the hardest. I used Rustoleum White appliance epoxy spray paint. It holds up well. After the engines were done, I had to paint the deck plates too, as they were trashed after all that. As you can see from the before and after photos all that work made quite a difference! I am a fan of Rustoleum Black and White Appliance Epoxy spray paint.
For mobility around Virgina, Angela and I lifted the Suzuki 250 off the boat. It needed maintenance as well, so it got new special motorcycle oil and filter, rust removal and a wax job. It served me well, taking me down to Virginia Beach, visiting the General MacArthur memorial, and getting parts and groceries.
One of the shower sump bilge pumps failed, so I ordered and replaced that. We have 2 in the master sump, so no capability was lost. I check them when I do maintenance on the sump – cleaning replacing a nylon stocking over where the water comes in, to keep hair goo and lint out of the pumps.
I got to go Flounder Fishing with George one weekend. It was a fun trip and we caught 7 of them out in the ocean off Chesapeake Bay on his fishing boat.
In the afternoons I would do paperwork and warranty work, in the air conditioned salon. I successfully got a new Blink Camera, a new Guardline sensor, and a new Weems and Plath clock. I also went online and got ordained as a minister…When Kylie asked me to do the honors at her wedding, I wasn’t qualified, but some studying and a bit of work on the internet fixed that!
1.5 years ago when we were back in Oregon we did a fuel tank repair that caused us do a deck cut in the cockpit. I took this time to have a stainless hatch trim frame built and because sealant alone wasn’t holding up or looking nice. I followed Ron and Ashley’s, @zephyrnorthwest, advice on symmetrical design! It looks much better than just a sealing line and much more secure too.
Sometimes I got visitors. There was an 8″ long lizard who visited the bar one afternoon! Being tied up alongside the ICW at Great Bridge, I was able to view an amazing parade of boats, tugs, and barges proceeding up and down the waterway, right past my windows. On 4 August, the remains of a hurricane came through and raised water into the parking lots at the marina, but only minor damages from the 45 knot winds.
I attended a webinar by the Bahamas government, sharing what they are doing to open the Bahamas to yachts, so am confident we will be able to successfully cruise there this winter. They are setting up a Port of Entry in Fort Lauderdale to speed and ease entry into the Bahamas.
I had a great time at the Flying Fish reunion and won a cool, one of a kind, handmade plaque door prize.
After that it was time to clean up messes, vacuum, rig for hurricane and pack for the airport to go get Kylie married! I missed Angela tons and am happy to be with her again, fighting the Covid and smoke in Oregon.
Thank you Dan for writing this article, I hope you enjoyed it. I of course worked on many items for the wedding such as; painting vases with a terra cotta color and texture for the wedding deco & cake tastings at home with a wonderful Red Velvet cupcake from “A Piece of Cake Bakery ” that was the standout winner!
AND I did an awesome hike with my son Mitchell on Mt Defiance with Mt Hood in the background!
We will be back on Angelique heading south again at the end of October. If you are local in Portland Oregon and would like to meet up with us, please reach out!
AND YES, We missed each other tremendously during our 53 days apart!
We are happy to be back with each other and with our family and friends for a couple months.