Monday, October 20, 2014

Hanging out in Annapolis … literally.

Before I say anything else, let me tell you that Rob and Michelle Nixon of Dependable Marine Service in Annapolis, Maryland are the two most awesome people in the entire world. Not only are they great technicians, but they’re very generous too. So, without reservation, let me say that when you are in Chesapeake Bay and you need some work done on your boat, you should definitely motor up to Annapolis to get the work done by them. As a matter of fact, you should get to Annapolis and break something on your boat yourself intentionally just so you can have the experience of these fine people doing the repairs. They’re that good.
Here’s a little recap to get you up to speed.
We had to get a new generator installed on the boat. Check. There was also a short punch list of small repairs that had to be done. These included the tachometer on the flybridge crapped out and needed to be replaced, the lighting in the engine room was acting up, and a water intake hose needed to be replaced – if you own a boat, you know the drill. Check, check, check. Everything was falling into place so that we could drive the boat up to Annapolis Landing Marina, kick back, and enjoy the Annapolis Powerboat show Thursday through Sunday, and then skedaddle on Monday or Tuesday, weather permitting.
Not so fast, bucky.
Why Knot is a very dry boat. The only water that is dumped by out by the bilge pump is the drippings that come in from the propeller shaft packing and some overflow water from the shower sump. Otherwise, she’s pretty watertight. After all the repair work was done, I was secured all of the stuff in the engine room and I noticed water weeping from one of the unused through-hulls. It wasn’t a flood, but it was a definite leak. The through-hull had a plug in it and so it was first thought that the plug was defective. Nope. Either the actual through-hull was defective and needed to be replaced, or the entire thing drilled out, plugged, and glassed. That is the option that we decided on. And, of course, that meant that the boat needed to be pulled out of the water again.
That, in and of itself, wasn’t that bad of a thing. If a repair needed to be made to the hull, you have to take the boat out of the water. However, all this was discovered on Friday morning. I did a quick calendar calculation and thought that that meant that the boat would go up on jack stands and the work would not get done until Monday or Tuesday of the following week, which would delay out departure by several days. Fortunately, Ron, the manager of the marina, worked out a deal for us so that an employee fixed the hole on Friday, sand it on Saturday (and apply the first coating of bottom paint), then come back Sunday and apply the second coat. The boat would then be splashed on Monday and, after Rob came back and calibrated the new tachometer (which can only be done with the engine running), we could get the heck out of here.
When all of that was decided, our biggest thoughts were about logistics. Where would we stay, what would we do, and would we be stranded on the boat and miss the entire boat show anyway?
The marina came up with a novel approach. They did pull Why Knot out of the water and instead of putting it up on jackstands, they left the boat on blocks in the travel lift just up on shore from the haul out well. So, when, in the title of this, I said we are hanging out in Annapolis, I literally mean it. We are on our boat hanging in the straps of the travel lift. (Truth be told, I feel more secure with the boat in the travel lift instead of on stands.)

With that problem solved, our attention turned to how we would live with this situation. Our biggest problem was that we somehow hoped we wouldn’t be isolated at the marina. This was where Rob and Michelle came to the rescue. They had an extra old beater Toyota pickup truck at their home (almost mere blocks from the marina) and they loaned it to us gratis.
So, we had a place to stay, a car, and a big event to enjoy; The Annapolis Powerboat Show. The stage was set for a very interesting weekend.
Our first impressions of the boat show was that it was very bright, colorful, and an interesting juxtaposition from what we knew the inner harbor of Annapolis was like. On our first day there, Friday, the weather was warm, crystal clear (but breezy), and all of the boats and displays were bathed in sunlight. There were flags of all different kinds fluttering in the breeze, and the temporary docks crisscrossed all of Ego Alley, the shore, and out into the harbor itself. It was an odd feeling to walk on the floating piers over waters we knew usually had boats cruising in and out of. We met up with friends Bill and Nancy, and Gary and Brenda, and cruised around the boats and exhibition tents.

It was crowded, and everyone, all of whom were boat-y kind of people, wore the typical boaters cool weather gear (cool, as in temperature, that is.); jeans, some kind of nylon insolated windbreaker, and deck shoes.
Every boat had a row of shoes on the dock near the egress points of the boats, some of the sales crews tightly controlled how many people were on board at one time, while others were just an open house kind of thing. And the boats came in every shape and style. There were the fancy salon open deck large run-abouts, mega-fancy cruisers, and small run-abouts. As a trawler crew, we were most interested in what other kinds of new trawlers there were, but were disappointed. American Tug and Nordic had a few of their pocket trawlers there (small, trailerable trawlers), and North Pacific had a forty-footer on display, but otherwise, the trawler community was underrepresented. There weren’t very many power cats there either. There were no large yachts. We did get an opportunity to crawl around on a 55 foot Fleming, a boat we have always admired from a distance, and while it was very nice, it was similar to many of the bigger boats there. It felt cramped. Now, we admit that our 45 foot Nelson is not monstrously big, but our floor plan is much more open than those newer boats, which all seemed to have a helluva of a lot of fixed partitions and settees. But then, we’re biased.
Many of those boats were, in fact, not passagemakers. They are built for weekend jaunts from point A to some nearby point B and back. One thing I paid attention to were the technical specs of the boats, mainly how powerful the boats were compared to their fuel capacity. One boat had twin 400 horsepower engines in it with a cruise speed of somewhere in the twenty-five mile per hour range and only a 200 gallon fuel capacity. How far were they going to go?
There were then the myriad of booths set up trade-show style in three large tents and numerous little alleyways that meandered around on shore. You name it, it was available: engines, gens, water purifiers, heads, charts, clothing, tools, navigation technology, anchors, furniture, dishware, lines, sunglasses, hats, carpeting, jewelry, stabilizers, accessories, engine components, education resources, pots and pans, and even ginsu knives. And, of course, there was a chiropractor there with his skeleton giving free shoulder rubs.
After using Saturday as a provisioning day, we went back to the show on Sunday and met up with friends Bill and Michelle, along with a friend of there’s, Allan. It was much cooler on that day (Lisa wore thermal underwear. She is just so classy.), and the place to be was out on the sun-warmed docks in the harbor. But we had a great time. If you remember, we met the two Bills, Michelle, and Nancy in Baltimore and they’re terrific people. Allan seemed to enjoy himself, and Brenda and Gary are a hoot.

Our overall experience with the boat show was that it was very, very interesting, but not overwhelmingly cool or wonderful. The boats were neat, but after awhile they all looked the same. The booths were fun, but having extensive experience working tradeshows, Lisa and I figured out that most of the participants were doing it wrong, and we question if they feel they’re getting much a return on their investments. (Too many exhibitors think that the trade show is a selling opportunity. It’s not. A trade show is for creating interest and building rapport. The key is to gather leads and follow up post-show.)
Now, this sounds weird, but the coolest part of the show was at the very end. Lisa and I found a perch at a rooftop bar area and watched the mayhem of when all the boats cleared out of the area at the end of the show.
Let me explain … To get all of the boats in the harbor with dock access, the show’s producers provide a buttload of temporary floating docks that are hodge-podged in a pattern of enclosed rectangles. When they are setting up, they bring a group of boats in, surround them with floating docks tugged in by several little aluminum tug boats, then bring in the next batch of boats, surround them in, and so on. The smaller boats go down into Ego Alley, and the larger boats stick out into the harbor. At 5:00 pm on Sunday, after the show is closed, the reverse happens. The little tugs come in and pull the floating docks away, releasing the captured boats to scramble out of the harbor. It’s pretty comical. One of the funniest aspects is that the high-performance boats with uber fancy maneuvering capabilities, do little ballet steps when the pull out. They spin on a point and do boat pirouettes to the applause of the hundreds of onlookers. That was very impressive.

Our overall experience with the boat show was a very positive one. We’re glad we attended. It’s a big social experience and everyone, including us, enjoyed the vibe of it all. The boats were very cool, the weather was amazingly good, but, as usual, it was the people that made it fun. Bill and Michelle, Bill and Nancy, Brenda and Gary, and Allan, are delightful people, and we enjoyed their company immensely. But then, the greatest blessing of this lifestyle always has been the people.

One more thing; after seeing all of those brand-spanking new boats just reaffirmed what we’ve always said; Why Knot is the best boat in any marina, every time.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

So, like, here's what's happening....

As I write this, Lisa and I are still in Denver, but good news abounds, we have our Frontier Airlines reservations in hand to head back to Annapolis on Tuesday the 14th. Yee Haa!

Why Knot has been up on the hard at Holiday Pointe Marina since September 4th. The generator has been successfully changed out, as well as some other repairs made. So she's ready to go ... twelve miles back up to Annapolis Landing Marina.

The Annapolis power boat show starts on the 16th and we are just too darn close to it to pass up the opportunity to see one of these things. So, when we get back to the boat, courtesy of new friends John and Gloria, and with them as our new day crew, we will head back to Annapolis for a week and take in the shindig. Again, new friends Bill and Michelle, and Bill and Nancy, will be there also. (Hmm. John and Gloria, Bill and Michelle, Bill and Nancy, another couple that the Bills, Michelle and Nancy know, and Lisa and I. Hey, I think we have the makings of a party.)

After that, we will point the bow south, push the throttle lever all the way, and get as far south as we can by around mid-November, when we must again head back to DEN and STL to take care of some business. Fortunately, that trip will not involve any labor (he says, crossing his fingers) other than signing documents. Then we'll head straight back to the boat, and then we'll figure out what the hell we'll do then. The only thing that we know for sure is that we are going to earnestly try to get sons Bryan and Kevin down on the boat with us, if we can get them to pry any of their vacation time from sitting around and binge watching the first four seasons of Game of Thrones for the umpteenth time.

One last thing -- ask me what I did  here in Denver. Go ahead, ask me. Glad you asked. I painted and painted and painted. I also did some painting. Lisa had it worse. She had to listen to me bitch and moan about incessantly. She's a saint.