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Saturday, June 22, 2013

Nordhavn Rendezvous in Mystic

Last week Nordhavn hosted a rendezvous in Mystic, CT, so we used that as an excuse for our first boat trip of the year.  Despite having spent time in New England all my life, and living here full time for the past 30 years, I have to confess that I have never set foot on Martha's Vineyard or Nantucket, so we decided to change that as part of this trip.  Another first is that our son John decided to come along for the trip down to Mystic.  Our kids have been out of the boat many times for day trips, but never for a cruise, so it was great to have him aboard.

Day one we made a marathon run from Gloucester, down through the Cape Cod Canal, out through Woods Hole, and over to Vineyard Haven on Martha's Vineyard.  The whole trip was pretty calm except the last stretch from Woods Hole to Vineyard Haven where the wind and chop kicked up.  We somewhat randomly picked the Black Dog Wharf as our tie up point, and it was just that - a fixed wharf.  No problem, and we got in and tied up, but pretty quickly discovered that we were getting knocked around badly by a side swell that was coming in.  After toughing it out a bit, the rolling was so bad that our upper deck was hitting the pilings so we asked about moving to another location where we would be bow to the swell.  With a little performance of the untie and retie dance, the problem was solved.

Then I got to start fixing all the little things that had not quite survived winter storage.  There are always things that need to be fixed on a boat, but sometimes it seems more overwhelming than others.  On our way over, one of the sinks was draining slowly.  Then the other sink backed up completely, and there was water coming up out of the shower drain.  I guess the good news is that it was the sinks and shower, not the toilet ;-).  Except for the kitchen sink,  sinks and showers drain into one of two sumps where it is pumped overboard.  I had tested both sumps when I commissioned the boat this spring and they were working fine.  In the past, the float switches have gotten gunked up and the sump would not shut off, so I've taken to checking them.  After a bunch of messing around with the relays and wiring, I was able to hot wire the switch to run the pump long enough to get it drained down so I could open the sump without all the backed up water dumping into the bilge.  After opening the sump and screwing up the courage to start fishing around in there, I once again found a gunked up float switch, but this time it wouldn't turn on where last time it wouldn't turn off.  After a good cleaning, everything was back to normal.  From now on I'll make a point of thoroughly cleaning both sumps before putting the boat away for the winter.

The next problem was discovered on an engine room check on our way down.  I spotted some oil in the catch pan under one of the engines and traced it to the hydraulic oil filter which was wet around the seal.  I also noticed almost 30 PSI of pressure on the return line which struck me as quite high, and I immediately assumed that was the cause of the leakage.  A check with the outstanding techs at ABT revealed the return pressure to be normal, and once the engine room was cooled down I found nothing more than a loose oil filter.  After over 40 years of changing filters, this is the first time I've had one come loose on me, but I guess there is a first for everything. So I tightened it up, cleaned up the oil, and we are back in business.

The good news is that the coolant drip and the two oil drips that I fixed over the winter appear to be solved.  And the water that would appear around one of the stabilizers every time we were in rough water is now totally gone.  It was just a bad joint on the bilge pump hose, and in rough water some water would flow backup through the thruhull and leak out of the joint.  Of course I thought the worst and feared the leak was the stabilizer itself, but it's dry as a bone just as it should be.

We hung out for two nights and got a chance to walk around Vineyard Haven, sample the food, and pickup a few trinkets.

Wednesday we headed out to Mystic which was another 70nm run, but this part of the trip really sucked.  We had 25-35kt winds on our nose the whole trip and it was a very wet and rough trip.  Around Newport and Pt Judith the windshield was covered with water more than not.  During this submarine ride, we also discovered a couple of portholes that weren't quite dogged down tight enough and we ended up with water in a few places, including a pretty wet mattress.  We now have a more rigorous check process once we get underway, and especially when we encounter weather.

After getting knocked around for 6 hours, Long Island Sound was a welcome settling, and things totally flattened out in the Mystic River.  The rendezvous was being held at the Mystic Seaport Museum where there are a number of sea walls and docks that very deftly accommodated all the participants.  ANd teh coolest part is that you are docked inside the facility grounds adn have free run of the place, even after hours when the crowds have left.  I highly recommend it as a stopping point.  Getting to the Seaport Museum requires passing through two lift bridges, one of which only opens at 40 minutes after the hour, and only if you are there to tell them you want an opening.  We managed time time it pretty well for the 3:40 opening and found ourselves clustered with 3 other boats (all Nordhavns) waiting for the opening.  Once through the bridges and tied up, we were able to get the salt washed off the boat and settle in for several days.  John needed to get back to Boston so we sorted out the train schedules and closest station with regular service (Westerly, RI) and off he went in a cab.

The next several days were packed with seminars, putting names and faces to people you only know via email, and getting to know other owners.  And as a side note, I should remind everyone that our Nordhavn is still in the ship yard in China, so our job was to pollute the Nordhavn gene pool with our Grand Banks.  We were the only non-Nordhavn there.  But it's a great bunch of people, and we are greatly relieved by that.  As you get into bigger and bigger boats, the egos get bigger and bigger.  I had just finished reading a book about the building of a mega yacht which by all indications is an industry that is all about egos, all the time, and we were a little worried that we'd start encountering that with the Nordhavns.  But I'm glad to report that reality couldn't be different.  These boats are made to be cruised, and with few exceptions, cruised by a couple.  This really comes through when you meet owners who uniformly love cruising, and have left behind the baggage of the successful careers that put them in a nice boat cruising the world.  We also had dinner one evening with Dan Streech, President of PAE (makers of Nordhavns), and he's just as down to earth and unassuming as his partners and all the employees at PAE.  I think we've found a new extended family.

On our trip back we stopped at Cuttyhunk for the night figuring we'd get our usual quiet evening on a mooring.  But it turns out the channel to the inner harbor is being dredged, and that they run 24x7.  We were on a mooring in the outer harbor and were far enough away to not be too bothered by it, but every few hours the dredge would motor by to go dump the tailings.  Not the usual Cuttyhunk experience, but not too bad either.

Both the ride to Cuttyhunk, and the following day back to Gloucester were like glass for all but the last 30 minutes or so where we got an afternoon squall just in time to soak us getting off the boat and back to the house.  And although there is still a list of things to do, the boat is in great shape and running well.

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