The Final Countdown (we hope)

Knock on wood, we have reached the point of two steps forward for each step in reverse, rather than the other way around.  DirecTV is up and running.   Art masterpieces created by the girls when they were little are on the wall.   We have installed and figured out the grill.  There is equilibrium between the boat and the DC storage unit, meaning we no longer need to increase the net volume of stuff we are taking with us.  The showers and the beds are glorious.  We said goodbye to fleece sheets, which almost by themselves are reason to live someplace cold.  We installed a new stereo system.  Heck, the marina even scrambled up the gate code a bit.  Life is good.

Good, but still with some imperfections.  Like the AC system not working.   Remember the earlier post about the seacock valve for the main engine?  Stopped us cold for two weeks.  There also is a seacock and sea strainer for the AC pump, which is water-cooled.  No water, no AC.  And it’s getting hot and humid, seemingly in just the last five minutes.

The good news is that we easily diagnosed the problem.  The seacock was plugged.  Not the strainer.  Not the through-hull.  The actual valve was mushy, meaning something was blocking it.  It’s below the waterline so you don’t just take it apart in the engine room.

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That left two choices.  First, one of us could jump into the cold, dark, and scary Anacostia River to try to fish out whatever had lodged up in there.  Dana refused, so actually that wasn’t really a choice at all.  So we called out a pro.   Dude had a wet suit, a dry suit, a huge light, the correct tools, and most importantly a willingness to get in the cold, dark, and scary Anacostia River.  We would have paid him double.

I guess we are just lucky, because he had never seen a situation like ours.  Neither had the folks at Zimmerman Marine.  Neither had the folks at Peake Marine.

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Somehow or another this ridiculous stick found its way directly into a small hole and jammed up the valve.  (Dana photographed the shoe for scale.  It obviously wouldn’t fit in the valve).  We don’t really feel the love on that one.  However, today it was about 90 with humidity about 110%, so we are just happy to have the AC back on line.

The dogs also are hitting their groove.  Oscar still thinks it’s more efficient to poop on the dock rather than wait until reaching the grass.  He must be feeling at home, since he used to poop on the pool deck rather than the grass at our Scottsdale home.  Benny finds the front porch very comfy as long as there is a handy pillow.

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And yes, we have added netting so they don’t fall off.   I doubt we could get the diver back out fast enough if that happened.

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We enjoyed our second guests, Lewis and Terri of the Tennessee Belknaps.   Hopefully they will join us again down the line.  We also are hoping for many more visitors over the course of our journey.

Mini Pearl has taken us around DC, but we don’t quite have the whole crane launch thing down yet.  Fortunately there generally are only about a hundred people watching us bumble around.  That still adds about 20 degrees to the real feel temperature.

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It’s always good to remember that no matter what happens, someone someplace has it worse.  Like the owner of the boat that appeared on the shore across the river from our slip.  We took Mini Pearl over to have a closer look (and to see if there was anything left we might be able to use.). Na.

We are quite excited that the entire family will be on the boat in just a couple of days.  If all goes as planned, the six of us will leave The Yards on May 23, with a couple of stops before spending the holiday weekend in St. Michaels, Maryland.

Of course, exactly nothing so far has gone as planned.

Finally at the beginning

We start The Great Loop from Washington DC next month and had planned to arrive three weeks ago, so just getting here feels like a big accomplishment.  We slipped the lines at Colonial Beach in a slight breeze last Friday and cruised pretty easily, although the tide and winds kept us at about 6 knots.  For perspective, that’s about half the speed of a school zone.  Pretty dang slow, but we are all about smelling the roses, right?
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The Potomac River shoreline has some cool stuff to see.  Not only is there a naval installation at Dalghren, but Quantico has a Marine base with planes and helicopters at the water’s edge.  Mount Vernon tour boats loomed on the horizon as we zoomed—at six knots—past George Washington’s plantation.  Next up was National Harbor, which is about where the water traffic started increasing.  Nothing like the land traffic, of course, although it will get worse when the warm weather finally arrives in 2020.

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At the confluence of the Potomac and the Anacostia, we took a right, passed under the Frederick Douglass Bridge and found our slip at The Yards.  Of course, a day without a problem is, well, pretty dang unlikely.  When we plugged into shore power,  we tripped the marina GFI.  After some quick elimination we discovered that our battery charger is leaking AC current in an amount greater than the trip threshold of newer marinas.  That’s a concern.  Unfortunately the guys who know our boat the best are not waiting around next door.  They are hours away and busy.  Nobody can recommend any local marine electricians.  At least we can survive with the generator until help arrives.

img_3220We squared things away our first night just before the Nationals baseball game started, and listened to the Anthem from our back porch.  The Washington Navy Yard is about  200 yards away so we also get the Anthem every morning at 8 a.m.  (And yes, we did give up on using military time.)

On Sunday, Jim Blomo arrived after visiting his daughter at William & Mary.  He not only was the last to see us off in Arizona but also our first guest.  Because we are great hosts, Blomo enjoyed a not-yet-set-up boat, no shore power, and a trip to a sketchy Home Depot.   On his img_3233last morning we had a fantastic breakfast next to a liquor store that featured Wyoming Whiskey, which is distilled in Kirby, Wyoming by our old friends Brad and Kate Mead.

We brought with us from Arizona what at the time seemed like an aggressively small amount of stuff.  Now that we are living in a tiny house, however, it’s clear that we still will be leaving the DC storage unit pretty full.  There just isn’t room for everything that we thought would be essential.

Mallory spent the night with us and found her bed comfortable but not quite big enough to accommodate a person and a dog.  We can’t wait for her and Shannon stay for a while.

The electrician is supposed to resolve the charger issue on Saturday, and the electronics guy is supposed to set up the KVH dome so we can access DirectTV next week.  Maybe by then we will have jammed everything into place and will start to feel settled.