Friday, December 30, 2011

Never Know What You Will Find

While looking around in an antique store today, I came across this watercolor which I thought was very cool. Of course I had to get it. Just a reminder to sail more...enjoy.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Ready for the Count Down

I certainly hope you all had a wonderful Holiday with family and friends. I was fortunate enough to have vacation days left that needed to be taken or lost, so I took off this week to spend with Zachary here in NC. We have been having a very good time and I look forward to the rest of our time here.

The plan now is to head down to Florida on Monday, Jan 2 to get Zachary back for school on the 3rd. I am going to stay a while as the engine work is complete and Skylark is now ready for sea trials. Yes, you heard me right, the Atomic 4, gas tank and wiring work has been completed, and we are good to go. Talk about the best Christmas present ever. I will post pictures of the new engine along with pics and footage from the sea trials. I am very excited to say the least.

Since we are approaching the new year, one of the resolutions I made was to sail more and worry about boat projects less. My on going list of "to-dos" is huge and unrealistic. I cut the list down to only a few essentials for this year and plan to enjoy rather than to be constantly working. I will pull Skylark out of the water and try to do everything in one shot, most likely in early to mid March. A bottom job is really needed anyway, so it made sense to complete everything while she is out of the water. I am thinking it will take about a week to finish the new list, a time-frame much more workable. Everything will be ready for the wonderful Spring sailing. If you are interested, the list now consists of:

  • Bottom job, zinc replacement
  • Fresh water tank replacement or cleaning
  • Tiller pilot install
  • Solar panel install
  • Adding 2 new batteries to house bank
Not too bad, right? Once that is done, I will be ready for some serious time on the water. I can't wait.

So with that, I hope you all have your to-do lists ready for the new year. Keep them short and sweet and get out on the water, there is always next year to work hard...or is that the year after. :)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Happy Holidays from NOAA

Found this on one of the sailing boards, made me laugh. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Love this song...

How great is this. A little something for those of you battling the cold.

Disappointing 2011, looking forward to 2012

I guess life really does get in the way sometimes. In my case, this years sailing season came and went with little progress on my part. I did get a few small things done, and of course the 3 months I spent on Skylark with Zachary over the summer was fantastic. But in reality, it was still rather disappointing working through engine rebuilds and not getting away from the dock. Fortunately, the friends I have made make staying at the dock a lot of fun and good place to be, but as you can imagine, being out there is where we all want to be. Hopefully, this spring is my time.

It makes you think about that oh-so-fragile balancing act between "real" life and life on the sea. It's very difficult to have both sometimes, but I always feel it is very much worth the fight. I talk to tons of people who feel the same way. Generally speaking, most everyone is waiting for one thing or another to start, finish or disappear before breaking away and starting their life at sea. And most everyone has a number they are working towards, the number of years before they can cast off the lines and not look back. 1 year, 5 years, 10 years. Whats your number, I know you have one. :)  Of course there are the lucky souls that have hit their number and are out there doing it. They are the inspirations that keep us going and striving for that number. A warmth thanks to all of you!

But as a lot of folks know, life itself is one of the best anchors out there, it holds firm in all conditions and is extremely hard to break free once set. But it is worth the fight and we keep doing it and bottom line, it's all we can do. You hear all the time, "Go Now!"  Unfortunately, reality isn't always that simple.

So now it's mid-December and we are on the door step to another year. I plan to do a lot of sailing this year. Good, bad or ugly, Skylark is getting off the dock and will be putting miles under the keel once again. It's the way it should be and I look forward to the adventures that are in store. (Needless to say, I have renewed my membership to BoatUS :) I will be sure to wave as we see you folks out there. If you see me anchored off somewhere, come on by, I can guarantee there will be a sundowner of one kind or another on board with your name on it.

And thanks for following along. There have been over 9,000 new visitors to the site from all over the world, it's wonderful to know you folks are out there. This coming year, I really hope there is more interesting stuff to keep you entertained. Thanks as always and if we don't chat in the next couple of weeks, have a very Happy New Year.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Back on Skylark

...and it feels really good. Can't you see the excitement in my face? Came down, for a short visit so I can see Zachary's last baseball game of the year. Very much looking forward to it. Will be back before and after Christmas as well. Engine will be done by then so very happy to put that behind us. 2012 is looking good for some sailing. But with my luck, the Mayans will be right and we will all be dead anyway. Again, see the excitement in my face?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Santa's Vacation Pics...
Been a busy couple of months, but I wanted to wish everyone a safe and happy Thanksgiving. Can't believe Christmas is right around the corner and this year is coming to an end. It's been a quick one to say the least.
Good news is the engine will be done by the weekend, so maybe, just maybe, I will be able to get out at least once this year. Being able to spend so much time on Skylark has been fantastic, think all together its been about 4+ months on board, but it's not the same. We both are longing for miles under the keel. Here's hoping to an agreeable 2012.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Skylark has a New Atomic 4

Just a quick update, the new Atomic 4 is back aboard Skylark and being installed as we speak. There are quite a few other tasks that need to be done as well, but hopefully, all should be good by the end of the week. I am excited to say the least. More info and pics to come.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Florida Nor' Easter

Wow, it started Friday with sustained 15mph winds and rain. Today, we are getting creamed with 25-40mph winds and heavy down pours. Supposed to be just as bad tomorrow and Monday, they are calling for 50+mph winds and gusts. I tell you right now, these winds and waves are worse than the weather we got from the passing hurricane a few weeks back and we get the pleasure for 4 days straight.
Welcome to October weather in Florida.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Theres a Small Boat made of China, Going Nowhere on the Mantelpiece

Challenge! What band sang the lyrics "There's a Small Boat made of China, Going Nowhere on the Mantelpiece"...No Google allowed.

Out with the old, in with the new

Well, Skylark is still not going anywhere either, but there has been a lot done over the past few months to get us where we need to be. Lets start with the question everyone keeps asking. Whats up with the engine? Well, the short answer is that it has been rebuilt and its ready to go back in. I have some pics that show the progression of what was done and then the final product. Wanted to be sure it was done right while it was out on the bench rather than deal with additional problems after the fact. Because of that, Scott changed out quite a few parts as well as all of the gaskets we could get our hands on. It has been a lot of work, but the end result is pretty darn nice. Now we just got to get it in.


In addition to the engine prep, my Australian buddy and neighbor Ralph helped me finally get running water on Skylark. I am still in shock not having to fill my jug everyday, but I am sure I will get used it very quickly. We had taken a small road trip to St. Augustine to hit the mecca of used sailboat parts at Sailor's Exchange. If you are in the area and have not been to Sailor's Exchange, you really need to go. Check out the website for an idea of what they are all about.  Sailor's Exchange. The deals you can find there are unreal. Among other things, I found a new single feed kitchen faucet which I got for $10 bucks. New, this faucet would have been north of $150. I don't know where they get their stock, but for these prices, I really don't care. They have anything and everything you could need. Worth the drive and the gas for the savings you will get.
Anyway, I now have running city water while at the dock. I still need to work out the fresh water tanks, but that is on the short list for the fall. In the meantime, no more water jugs.

Weather is starting to turn a bit cooler. We got down into the low 50's last night and only into the low 70's today. It's been a brutally tough summer, so the change is welcome. Hopefully I will be able to get out soon and enjoy some of this great weather. If all goes to plan, it should not be long now.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Atomic 4 Ready to Go Back In

I ordered the last couple of necessary gaskets from Moyer Marine last week, so we should be good to go to get everything back together and in Skylark. If the weather cooperates, it looks like Scott will be able to come mid-next week or so. He figures it will take about 2 days. The first day he will tackle the new gas tank and the wiring that needs to be redone in preparation for the engine. The second day, he will set-up the A-frame and lower the new engine back in place. I can only hopes it goes that smoothly but regardless, no matter how it goes, Scott will get the engine back in and running great. If there is one thing I know for sure, Scott does not give up. If you need further clarification, please see the entry, Morehead City, NC to Jacksonville, FL. :)

Needless to say I am excited. We are just now starting to see a slight change in the weather, so the engine will be ready just in time for the best sailing of the year. I have been able to work through all of the other tasks needed before the first sail, so hopefully, this is it.  YeeeHaaa. Well, except the bottom being cleaned. That needs to be done before the sea trials so it will happen soon. I am quite sure the prop looks like a bowling ball. The diver will have his hands full...

Does not include heel repair.
For all you Buffett fans out there, I came across a very useful bit of information the next time you "Blow out your flip flop, stepping on a pop top."  Thanks to whomever created this wonderful new invention. :)

More to come. I want to thank everyone who has been following along and bearing with the nonsense in preparation for the engine install and the horizon. I can only hope I will have more for you now that things are back in order. It's been fun, don't get me wrong, but it will be so nice sharing pics from the cockpit underway.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Irene Update

As Irene made her way north west off shore, we fared no problems as the very outer bands passed over Jacksonville. Other than a 2 foot storm surge and some 40 mile and hour winds Thursday night, we are all OK. We were lucky...

All my thoughts are with the folks up in North Carolina and beyond as Irene makes landfall. Good luck to you all and be safe.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Hurricane Irene

Irene at 8:00pm Thursday
We got lucky with the track of Irene turning North East and keeping way off the coast of Florida. As of 8:00pm tonight, we have had quite a bit of wind, usually around 20 to 25 mph with gusts to about 45. Right now, a band is moving through with 30 to 45 mph sustained winds...pretty nasty. I am guessing this will be a rather rough night. I will sleep in the salon as the movement won't be nearly as bad there as in the V-birth.
The wind howling though the rigging reminds me of the horrible couple of nights anchored in North Carolina. At least I won't have to wake up every 2 minutes to make sure we aren't dragging.
Anyway, it should track more to the west as it moves up the coast. We are a lot more protected from the west, so lets hope it helps a bit with the waves.
Updates to come...
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Sunday, August 21, 2011

A Month and a Week

Been on Skylark for over a month now, can't believe how quickly the time has gone. This has been the longest I have spent on board at one time. Because of work and family matters Amy had to attend to, I had the opportunity to stay for a while. It's been tough in some ways, but we are both able to get our stuff done and get ready for some good sailing in September.
It is an entirely different perspective "living" on board rather than just coming for a few days or a week. You have routines that you get into, it takes a little time to acclimate, but once you do, they become the norm pretty quickly. I have things I do every day at about the same time and the same way. They become tasks you don't even think about, like loading the dishwasher, or putting on the lawn sprinklers. Through trial and error, you find the best way, the easiest way to do things and then stick with it. I thought it was a bit odd at first, a little "Rain Man ish," gotta take the tarp down, it's 4:00, gotta take the tarp down, but talking to the others who live aboard, it seems like they do very similar things. I guess you have to to some respect. The weather, the heat and a slew of other factors dictate the schedule. But the routines work and that's what makes it doable. Skylark is very comfortable to live on, but the routines help make it that way. It's funny, as I mentioned, there are others who live at the marina. You wind up running into them the same time very day on the way to the shower, getting water, ice or sitting at the pool pavilion having the first cup of coffee. It's good knowing there are always folks around to help if you needed it, and everyone would at the drop of a hat.

Talking about the pool, it truly is a god send with the weather the way it has been. Usually in the 100's with the heat index. On top of that, it has taken me a while to figure out the best ways to keep the boat cool in that kind of heat. Little things like keeping the forward hatch cracked an inch or so to let the heat escape. Also works best to shut the door to the V-birth so I am only cooling the saloon. I don't use the forward stateroom during the day anyway, so it really works well. The biggest trick though is the boom tarp. I have it going from the mast to the stern and it works wonders keeping the sun off the deck. It lowers the temps by nearly 10 degrees alone. And when it's really bad, I hose the deck off with cool water and let the evaporation do it's thing. Sounds like a lot of work, but I have it down to a science. By 4:00, the winds and storm come in, so I take the tarp down right before the big breeze hits, you can watch it come across the river and gives me a just enough time to get take it down and get it stowed.

Cap'n Z
I have really enjoyed the time I have spent with Zachary, I was lucky enough to bring him to his first day of 6th grade. Wow, the time just flies by. He really enjoys spending time here at the boat and the marina. Last weekend, we went out for a sail on a buddy's boat with his Grand kids, Trevor and his daughter.  Fred's grandson is Zachary's age, and they get along very well. Went down to Green Cove Spring, about a 10 mile motor, had lunch at a locals place and sailed back. We were just a head of a storm the whole way back, but got a little wet at one point. Got lucky when a 10 minute window opened up and we quickly tied up back at the dock before the next wave of wind hit rather briskly. It was a lot of fun and very appreciated. All in all, we had a nice day and Zachary finally got to sail. Zachary even got to steer! Can't wait to get him out on Skylark. Trevor and I are planning a trip up to Cumberland, GA with the kids as soon as we get the chance. Think they will like the wild horses and all the hiking you can do up there. Fun stuff.

Lets see, what else has happened...Finally finished the teak in the cockpit, I am really happy with the way it came out. I will try to take another picture, but I have had no luck with the camera phone taking a decent shot. Have some clean up to tackle this morning but not much else. Zachary is sitting next to me killing zombies on the Xbox and doesn't look like he is interested in doing to much else today. It's a little after 8:00 am and I can already feel the heat building. Gonna be a real hot one I think. But the again, they are all hot ones.

Oh yeah, saw the weather last night and it seems we might have some of Irene to deal with towards the end of the week here in Florida. Will have to keep an eye on that but it doesn't seem like a real threat at this point. We are in a pretty good spot here in Jacksonville. From what I am told, this area has avoided the big stuff due to the typical flow of the storms as they come in from the Caribbean. Fingers crossed and knock on wood. Lets hope we keep being the exception.

Still waiting for the details to be nailed down with the engine. I have been so busy with work and have not been able to catch up with Scott. Hopefully this week the phone tag will end and we can figure out the next steps.

That's it for now. Hope you are all enjoying the last bits of summer and getting out on the water. Like Captain Ron says, "If it's gonna happen, it's gonna happen out there."

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Little Progess in the Cockpit

Starboard side cockpit teak
 Started early this morning and was able to sand the teak on the starboard side of the cockpit before the sun got under the bimini. Was also able to scrub the deck and cabin trunk before it was too hot to walk on. Nice breeze, so that helps a lot. That's it above deck for today though, will do the port side tomorrow morning. Once that is done, I will be using teak oil on everything from now on. The Florida sun is just too much of a killer on varnish. Zachary is going to his last sleep-over of the summer today, so I will be vacuuming, cleaning, washing and straighting below, at least until coldie time. :)
Enjoy your weekend. You can find me laying low in the clean cockpit listening to Radio Skylark.

First haircut in 3 years.

Gram, this pic is for you...I finally cut my hair.

Friday, August 5, 2011

3 Weeks and All is Well, but Nothing Done

...things to come.
Monday will be three weeks here on Skylark. It's been an adventure in itself living on the boat with the heat the way it has been. Now I know it's August in Florida, but even the locals can't believe how bad it's been. For most of the week, the heat index was in the 110 degree range. OK, that is the last time I will complain about the heat, promise. But, I have not been able to do anything on the list, nothing. Especially as the tasks I had in mind for this trip were all above deck. Finishing the teak, painting the deck and just a good ol' scrubbing of the hull. You know what, forget it...all of it. The only thing possible out of the A/C is swimming and even that is tough when the pool temp is 97 degrees. No joke. A couple and their 3 year old daughter just came in from a  long cruise down in the Caribbean and Mexico. They pulled in next to Skylark before I got here, so it was a nice surprise to have new semi-permanent neighbors. Anyway, they were telling me that the heat here has been worse than anything they have run across in the last 10 years down in the El Caribe. I am just saying...

So all of us live-aboards stay hidden below until the sun goes down and then make our way up to the pool for some breeze and a quick swim after dark. Maybe even light up the grill and make some dinner. We have had a lot of fun with the kids all playing together. There are a few kids close to Zachary's age and they all get along well. I got really lucky with the folks in the marina, everyone is great and there have been a few new folks that are just as nice. It's great not to have to worry about things like that. I really hope it stays that way.

So for the weekend, I am hoping to get to the teak and just brave my way through it. I guess we will see, thank God for the bimini and the tarp. Without them I would never go out, but then again, I am not going to complain about the heat. :)

Friday, July 29, 2011

Is it me...

...or am I sensing a trend.

Guessing it will be hot and rainy the next couple of weeks. :)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Hot, Rain and a St. Augustine Cruise

The weather in Jacksonville for the last week and a half has been horrible. Very hot during the days, usually upwards of 95+, and then violent storms blowing through around 4:00 or so. We had 50 knot winds rampage the marina last Thursday and a new Beneteau 34 got hit by lightning, about 4 slips down from Skylark. Fortunately no one was hurt and the only damage known so far was a lost antennae where the lightning hit. Actually, we are having some what of a rough night tonight. A lot of rain and wind again. Also seems as if the river is picking up a bit. That's the life on board at a marina, you never know what you are a going to get on a day to day basis.
We did however great a break in the weather last weekend and took advantage by taking a cruise down to St. Augustine. My buddy Trevor offered up his Hunter 30 for the adventure and we left Friday morning with the tide. With the winds directly out of the south, we decided to motor down the ICW, about 65 nm miles total. We had a good weather all the way and got in around 8:30pm, about 11 hours after we left. Needless to say, we were exhausted and basically crashed early. We had our choice of mooring balls on the north side of the bridge and were right off the fort. A very nice view to say the least.
We stayed Saturday and took in some sights. St. Augustine is a really nice town and I would recommend it to anyone cruising the area. I will say though you must be very vigilant following the channel markers. Even a few feet off and you will run aground, so keep one eye on your position and one on the GPS.
Sunday morning, we dropped the mooring and headed for the inlet, only about a mile or so from the anchorage. Another great reason to make St. Augustine a stop over, easy access and great facilities.
We stayed in the channel to the third marker before turning north and the run up to Mayport. The winds were light, only about 5-10 from the east. We had the sails up right away and were making about 4.5 to 5 knots. Seas were about 2 feet, so all in all a nice sail. Unfortunately, we lost the wind about half way up and had to motorsail the rest of the way. Around 2:30 pm, we reached the Mayport inlet and rode the flood all the way back to the marina, never falling under 7 knots.
We had a great trip and I was happy to be out on the water.
Next time, it will be on Skylark.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Back at Skylark

So after a long time away, I am back on Skylark. Got in around 10:00 pm tonight and have everything nice and tidy as I type away while sipping on a beer. As usual, Skylark was sitting as she should be and all was well. Thought for sure I would have some mildew to contend with below, but there wasn't a speck anywhere to be seen. Really surprising as the weather from what I have been told was very hot and super humid for weeks. Skylark is a very dry boat, but I was pleasantly surprised regardless.

So I have a lot of things planned for this trip, including hopefully the installation of the engine. Don't exactly know how long I will be here this time, but it will be at least a few weeks or possibly more. I will keep good updates as a go along, but besides the engine, fuel tank and wiring, I am also thinking I will paint the deck, finish the teak, put up the jib and get the bottom scraped. If all goes well, I hope to get out for the first time since Skylark got here just over a year ago. Looking forward to that.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

New (old) Atomic 4 Replacement Found!

Just a quick update on the engine situation. Scott (gotta love Scott :) alerted me to a good condition Atomic 4 for sale and the arrangements have been made. The engine will be picked up next Saturday the 16th and hopefully installed in the following weeks. Very happy how this came together, lets hope it all goes to plan for a change.
More to come...

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

July 5th, 2011

It's been a while now since my last post, sorry about that. I knew going into the summer that June was going to be a very busy month and I would not be able to spend much time at the boat. I mentioned in an earlier post that my son was going to spend June in North Carolina for a month long visit. We had a fantastic time here as well as a wonderful trip to New York to visit the family. I can't believe how fast that month went, but like life when you hit 40, everything seems to go fast now a days. :)

So it is now July 5th and time to get back to a bit of normalcy. I will probably be going back down to the boat sometime around the 3rd week of July. Have a lot to do to say the least. As a matter of fact, I woke up in the middle of the night and found myself writing out my to-do list for the rest of the summer before I forgot what I had been dreaming about. It's been on my mind a lot lately and I feel bad that I have waited this long to get it all done. But with the recent move, my sons visit and work, it's amazing I have even had time to THINK about it all much less do it.

Talking about July 5th, you might have noticed that 2 days ago, July 3rd, was the 1 year anniversary of moving Skylark to Florida. Talk about time flying. I look back at the year and I am pleased with at least some of the progress I have made, but cringe at the thought of the engine situation. To that affect, I have once again changed my mind about the re-power direction. I am not going to go into the months of thought behind this decision, but lets just say, I have decided to go with a A4 replacement...short and sweet, it just makes the most sense for me at this time. That's that. :) So Scott and I are back on track to finish this all up. I think we finally both have the time now to do it.

As you Floridians know first hand, the weather has been unbearably hot the last month or so, so to be honest, I am not that upset I have been up in the NC mountains. I am ready to get back though and hope the weather evens out a bit. But of course it's summer in Florida, and as I know first hand, it's hot regardless. I am very much looking forward to Fall this year as I know everything will be ready to go by then to enjoy perfect sailing conditions. In the meantime, I am lucky enough to keep up my sailing skills on my buddy Matt's Erickson 34 on Lake Norman, NC. We went out on the 3rd and had a wonderful sail. He has done an amazing job on the refurb and as soon as I get some pics, I will post them here.

That's it for now, thanks for checking in from time to time. I promise to have something worthy for you all soon. Fair winds to you sailors out there...and if you are in FL, stay under the bimini. :)

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Busy, Busy...

I realized last night that I haven't updated the blog in a while. As far as Skylark is concerned, there really hasn't been anything new to report. Scott is still planning to get the engine done in the near future and finish up a few last items. The only new tidbit is the probability of adding a built in air conditioner to the list of things to do. Spoke with Scott about it and I think we are going to move forward with the install while he is futzing with the new gas tank and wiring. I will be looking forward to that for sure. When you are in Florida in the summer, you need AC at the dock without a doubt.

The bigger news lately is that Amy and Idid not renew our lease and decided to move. We are staying near Asheville, but will be about 20 minutes east in a town called Black Mountain. We found a great house on the mountain with tons of room, a huge deck, large shed, green house, etc, for less money than what we are paying in Asheville. We are both very excited. So you can imagine how busy it has been around here lately with all the packing and moving "stuff" that needs to happen. So when are we moving? Tomorrow. :) We have the movers coming Saturday morning, but we get the keys to the new place Friday and can start lugging over the breakables ourselves after work. No rest for the weary.

I will be back down at the boat the last week in May and will return to NC with Zachary for the month of June. All will be done with Skylark by then (right Scott :) so I will certainly be looking forward to some sailing. In the meantime, my buddy Matt got his boat done and back in the water so I am hoping we can get out a little here and there.

More updates to come. Thanks all.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


For months now I have been perfecting Radio Skylark, an interactive online music station created on Pandora. It has a great balance of cruising, Caribbean and classic tunes going way back. I have had good feedback from folks, so I thought I would post the link and let you all in on it. Tell me what you think, what's missing or what needs to go. Enjoy!


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Proud Pappa Moment

Been a busy week here on Skylark. Weather has been very hot so I have been moving slowly through the chores. I did manage to finish cleaning out the engine bed. There was at least a half inch of 42 year old oil, grease and dirt all baked together. It took some doing but I think it came out well and the boat lost that "enginey" smell already. Love it. It really is amazing how well fiberglass endures over the years. After scraping all the gunk off, the it looks brand new. It's incredible really.

So last night I was able to go to one of Zachary's baseball games. His team has been doing much better this year but he has been struggling a little with his hitting. Well last night, it all came together. He had a hit 3 of the 4 times at bat, made multiple plays from his second base position and caught a pop up that seemed to hover forever before dropping right into his mitt. He was also involved in the 9th inning rally that brought them back from a two run deficit to tie the game. And then, if it couldn't get any better, the coach gave him the game ball. I tell you, if there was ever a kid smiling from ear to ear, it was Zachary last night. And the best part of all, I was there to see it.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Happy Sunday

The winds have been nonstop since Friday. Been blowing in the 20 to 30 mph range and at times has been a bit uncomfortable. Sunday however is going to be a glorious day of 80 degree weather and a lite 5-10 mph breeze to keep things cool.

As usual, haven't gotten nearly as far as I had hoped. But, that's ok as Zachary and I have really enjoyed our time so far and that's really all it's about. Today though, I plan to get at the engine compartment and give it a really good cleaning now that the engine is out. Which brings me to the engine update...

After a thorough once over of the Atomic 4, it has been decided that the only future this particular engine has on a boat is as an anchor. 42 years of service is not a bad record and quite honestly, with a bunch of cash, it could probably be resurrected. But that's just not the way to go. In the end, you still have a 42 year old GAS engine that stinks up the cabin when running, is quite loud and vibrates the fillings out of your head. Nope, the end is here for the Atomic 4. I know, a bit disappointing but in reality, it's not that bad. So whats the solution?

Well, the Cal 34 was set up with a Vdrive system that saves tons of space by keeping a big engine and transmission under the cockpit and out of the way. Basically, the propeller shaft goes back under the engine and out of the boat (Like a V on its side or actually a < symbol) This system was revolutionary back in the 60s and was only used, from what I can tell, by Cal boats. Because of this, finding a new diesel engine that will fit the space and not take a huge amount of work is going to be tough. Don't get me wrong, it can be done and with enough money would be perfect, but at this point, the cost is to high.

So the plan now is to keep things simple and finally do some sailing. I am going to hang a 15 hp long shaft off the transom and have all the controls run to the cockpit. This gets the engine out of the boat and will give me plenty of power to do what I need to do. I will have no problem sailing this area, down to the Keys and even over to the Bahamas. I will leave the shaft in place from the old A4 in case I decide to put in something more permanent, but in the mean time, the OB will do just fine. And that's all I have to say about that.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Sorry for the Delay...

...but things have been crazy with work and I haven't had 2 seconds to update the blog. The good news is, I am packing as I write this and will be in Jacksonville tomorrow late afternoon. YeeHaw.

We have made some progress on the Atomic 4 nightmare so I will give you the update once I am there and have a minute to soak it all in.
As well, I am hoping to get a lot done this weekend with Zachary. Specifically, I want to finish sanding all the exterior teak and get at least a few coats of oil on. And if all goes to plan, I would like to paint the "White" part of the deck. Weather looks OK, so we will see. Pics and updates to come.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Florida at it's Best

I must have done something right as the weather Gods decided to give me some of the nicest weather this past week here in Jacksonville. No humidity, 50s at night and 80s during the day. And the breezes have been amazing. I know in a few weeks this type of weather will be a thing of the past, but I am just happy I was here to enjoy it while it lasts. Anyway, Zachary and I had a real nice week and I am grateful.

It was not all sitting around with my feet on the lifelines however, I got quite a bit done and had a very pleasant surprise fall in my lap. I started the week giving Skylark a thorough scrub down, stem to stern. It's amazing how long it takes to wash down a 34 foot boat. Times like this I wish I still has the Coronado 27, but as I mentioned earlier, the weather was perfect, so I sucked it up and finished it all in a day. Skylark is all shiny, one task off the list, on to the next.

I have been looking for a cockpit bimini for some time now but have had other projects take priority. Many great things happen to a person just because they were in the right spot at the right time, so I guess this week was my time. It seems that a cruiser had ordered a bimini from the marina a few years ago and never picked it up. So when I mentioned that I needed one to a guy who work here, he pointed me in the direction for the storage loft and told me to see if it might fit. I guess every one gets lucky once in a while as after a quick look, it was easy to see that it fit though it was made specifically for Skylark. And, the color, even through it's a little darker than the blue on the hull, is certainly close enough. Especially if you take in consideration of the price. I don't really want to say the exact cost, but just north of nothing should give you a pretty good idea. So another pretty big check off on the to-do list, an unexpected treat. Thanks to Jason for helping me install it.

I am not sure if you all saw what we saw when the moon came up last night, but apparently it was a special kind of Moon, something called a super Moon. From what I understand, it only happens once every 27 years. Its the time when the Moon is the closest to the Earth as it ever gets. If you were lucky enough to see the Moon come up over the horizon last night you were able to see the largest, bright orange Moon you probably have ever seen. It was truly amazing. I tried to take a pic, but it doesn't do it any justice. I guess this was the week of lucky events. I will certainly take it. Zachary thought it was the coolest thing he as ever seen. Reminded him of something out of Star Wars. Yeah, it really did actually. It's about the small things. Very cool.

The engine work is still scheduled for next week, so I am very hopeful all will be done by the next time I am down. Really looking forward to getting out and dropping the hook for a couple of days. I know Skylark and myself are ready to get away from this dock. Until then.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Work to Be done

 After a quick 7 hour trip down to Jacksonville, (thank goodness for Sirius radio and Howard Stern) I made it safely to Skylark under a cloudless sky and 81 degrees. We have had terrible weather lately in Asheville, including snow last Saturday, so it was really nice to feel the sun on my face for a change. A quick glance across the marina revealed Skylark floating on her lines, right where she should be. A happy person was I.

So with a pretty calm work week expected, I plan on really doing some spring cleaning inside and out. Tomorrow's weather is supposed to be just as nice as today, so a thorough scrubbing of the decks is in order. As well, if the wind isn't too bad, I will run the jib up the furler and get the monster 155 genny out of the quarter birth. I have been meaning to clean that all out and repaint the wood, but the sail has been in the way since Skylark arrived in Jacksonville. After being here now for a while, I am glad I have the 155 as the winds are usually pretty lite along the river, but I will certainly look into something smaller before the next big trip.

Starboard pretty :)
You will be happy to know that the winches are installed and working well. Easy job fortunately but extremely important. Other than the engine work, that was the last official job that had to be done prior to the seasons first sail. The to-do list is still pretty long, but nothing that can't wait a bit.

Talking about engines, Scott had planned on pulling the engine this week, but was called away to an emergency salvage in the Gulf, so we had to reschedule to next week. In actuality, that works fine as I was here this week anyway and can get some stuff done prior to him coming down. If all goes according to plan, we should be ready for the first sail of 2011 the next time I come, woohoo! I can tell Skylark is ready to go...she has been tied to the dock for too long now. I know I am ready, that is for sure.

So with that said, I am looking forward to visiting with Zachary as well as delving into some projects this week. The weather is calling for 80s and sun, so I couldn't be happier. Will keep the updates coming.

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Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Verdict is In...Atomic 4 Rebuild in Progress

I have decided, for many reasons, to go ahead and try to get a few more years out of the Atomic 4. Scott, yes, the same Scott that helped bring Skylark down to Jacksonville, will be pulling the engine and taking it back to his shop. Once there, we will decide if the decision is correct and the old A4 is worth saving.

To be honest, I would prefer to replace it with a diesel, but the cost of a complete replacement really adds up fast. Unless I luck out and find a used direct bolt up diesel, there would be a lot of fabrication work necessary to get another engine type to fit in it's place. A big part of it has to do with Skylark having a V-drive which limits my choices dramatically. So a new diesel replacement is now choice C. Choice B, which is still a possibility, would be to keep the A4 out all together, use all that wonderful space for storage and stick a 15hp long shaft outboard on the transom. Since I know I will be using the boat near shore, mostly on the river, ICW and Keys, this could be a possibility. But I am not a fan of outboards on a boat this size and will only go with this option if the A4 is DOA.

In general, the engine ran OK on the trip down. Now don't get me wrong, there were quite a few issues on the trip, but these issues came from areas not directly related to the core of the engine. That is what we are hoping for anyway as the problems we know about can probably (and hopefully) be fixed rather easily. The oil pan and carburetor being those main problems. Replacing both with new parts is quite affordable and if it fixes the main issues, I will be back in business. But until it's on Scott's workbench and he goes through it all, all I can do is guess. These engines are bullet proof, so I am hoping for a miracle.

Regardless of how I was going to proceed, the Atomic 4 had to come out. Obviously it needed to come out so we can see what we are working with, but in addition, it had to come out because the fuel tank needs to be replaced as well. The fuel tank, from what we can tell, is original to the boat and probably has 3 inches of sediment on the bottom. We learned that the hard way trying to keep the engine running in a rolly sea way. So to get the fuel tank out, the engine had to be removed.

If all goes according to plan, we will replace the oil pan, carburetor, change over to electronic ignition, replace the alternator and repaint the block to prevent corrosion. Of course the fuel tank will be replaced as well as the wiring from the engine to the house batteries. With that complete, the engine should last for a few more years giving me plenty of time to enjoy the sailing in Florida. The weather is really getting nice so I had to make the decision now. I will let you know what we find out.
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Monday, February 14, 2011

What Was Your First Boat?

I get asked a lot if Skylark was my first boat. The answer to that is no. When I lived in Virginia 10 years or so ago, I had a 1971 Coronado 27 on the lower Chesapeake Bay. She was a great boat that I bought from a guy in the Navy using her as a live-aboard while stationed in Norfolk. He kept it in great shape and had is set up nicely for single handing.
I had never sailed before so I had to find someone that would get me started. Fortunately, there was a retired sailor living in the marina that would go out any time for a cold beer or two. He taught me the basics and got me out there. For about 3 years, I learned everything I could and spent a lot of time on the water. The Coronado was a great starter and was quite forgiving. Made for a perfect Bay boat and would certainly do well down in the Keys. Tons of room below for a boat that size, she was very comfortable. If you are in the market for something in the 27 foot range, take a look.

So what was your first boat? Let me hear from all you out there.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Sailing on Lake Norman

North Carolina finally emerged from it's deep freeze and gave us a beautifully sunny, warm weekend to enjoy. I took advantage both days and got outside, brushing off the dust that has accumulated these last miserable weeks. It was most needed.

On Saturday, I was able to get out on the bike for a decent ride around town. Everything has been so desolate lately that with folks out and about, it looked like a scene from a disaster movie when people emerge from the wreckage for the first time. Good to know there is life after snow. I gave the bike a much needed bath and put on a new set of saddle bags I bought right before the first snow back in December. I enjoy riding quite a bit. I never thought I would, but the bug bit hard after tooling around town on a pair of scooters we bought last year and that was that.

On Sunday, I made my way down to lake Norman just out side of Charlotte, NC. My buddy Matt has his boats there and I went for the day to help out a bit and then for a sail. The first one of 2011 and it went very well.

We started working on his recently purchased Ericson 34. It's on the hard and he is going through a pretty intensive refit. She will be great once everything is done sometime in early March. Looking forward to getting out on her for some spring sailing.

Since we couldn't toil all day with weather the way it was, we walked down to the slip where he keeps his Morgan 25. He has done a great job fixing her up over the last couple of years and she is in great shape for a 1971. Although the wind was light all day, we were able to make a few knots and enjoy the afternoon. With a few cold ones and some good tunes to keep us company, the day was complete. We started in around 4:00 just as the breeze started to pick up and was able to sail the rumbline back to the marina. Actually, for the first time ever on any boat, I was able to sail her in to her slip without the motor. That was pretty cool. Anyway, I had a blast and look forward to hanging out more down at the Lake this summer. Thanks to Matt for the first sail of the year.

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