Nicely chilled

Refrigeration work complete. Onward.

We spent the last few days in Mystic undergoing a much-needed upgrade to Andante’s refrigeration system. After two days of ripping out the old and installing the new we now have a modern, efficient, and quiet 12V system (a Seafrost Tradewinds XP) that will keep our freezer and refrigerator boxes well-chilled when the engine is not in use. Yay cold drinks and firm cheese and not-so-funky mayonnaise. It was a messy job made somewhat more challenging by my living aboard during the work but the end result is worth it.

The entire galley had the be disassembled and the contents of all the lockers removed. The final result is a nice clean installation with even more storage space than before. But my shoes are still under the table.

The company that did the refrigeration work (Cool Boats LLC) secured us a slip in downtown Mystic between the railroad swing bridge (Amtrak trains several times per hour) and the old bascule drawbridge (endless parade of tourists). We were docked right between the two bridges and could watch the action all day long.

The Mystic River railroad bridge viewed from our dock. The bridge is normally closed to accommodate the frequent trains but swings open on request for boats.
Looking north from our dock is Main Street and the Mystic River highway bridge, a 1922 bascule drawbridge. A few afternoon clouds threatened but the weather was ideal our entire stay.
Andante at the dock for repairs. Tim from Cool Boats does nice work.

Upriver less than a mile is the Mystic Seaport Museum. There was a steady stream of beautiful wooden schooners passing just off our transom on the way to tie up at the museum.

The schooner Roseway passing off our stern.
And the schooner Harvey Gamage doing the same.
The schooner Argia moored just below the highway bridge. Tim, the technician that installed our new refrigeration system, used to captain this ship as well as others in the Mystic area and the Caribbean. It was fun talking with him while he worked.

After putting the interior of the boat back together late this morning we repositioned from downtown Mystic to West Harbor on Fisher Island. It was only about an hours steam down the river but it feels like an entirely different planet. Quiet, secluded, and a nice gentle breeze that doesn’t smell like boatyard and restaurants. And nice clear water.

Lately I’ve been noticing increased vibrations and noise when motoring at cruising speed. For some weeks I’ve suspected hard growth on the propeller and prop shaft but have been unable to do much about it because the visibility has been so bad. I took advantage of the clear water in Fishers Island Sound to investigate using the GoPro-on-a-stick contraption that Alex and I figured out earlier this summer. Once growth on the prop was confirmed I took advantage of the sunny, relatively calm afternoon, squeezed into my wetsuit, and went for a refreshing swim in the 60 degree water to scrape away all the growth with a putty knife. Mission accomplished in less than 5 minutes. I’m hopeful that this will lessen the vibrations since there is a lot of motoring in our future.

Video frame capture from a GoPro camera attached to the end of a pole lowered from Dinghy. There were several medium-sized barnacles on the prop blades.

We are anchored just outside of West Harbor positioned for a quick exit early tomorrow morning. There are supposed to be strong winds from the south that should make for good sailing. With an early start to avoid the strongest adverse currents we will try to sail about 50 miles west to Milford, CT. From there it will be just one more 40 nm hop to City Island, then into the East River and through New York Harbor to Sandy Hook. But one step at a time.

Note: I’ve put the link to the tracker on its own page accessible through the top menu.

The final countdown

Packing. Lots of Packing.

Over the past few months our little dinghy has shuttled hundreds of pounds of parts and tools and building materials out to Andante on her summer mooring in Red Brook Harbor. I’ve worked on plenty of invasive, messy projects this summer that left a wake of bits and pieces about the boat. In addition to updating her sailing hardware I’ve completed many engine, electrical and plumbing tasks. But this week the focus shifted to preparing to depart Massachusetts in the narrow window between the end of hurricane season and the arrival of colder weather. Last week the emphasis was on removing all the excess materials and tools left over from my various projects. This week its been all about provisioning for the next month or two. That means lots of fuel and water, lots of spare parts, clothes for a variety of conditions and lots and lots of food.

Load after load of food, clothes, and spare parts.

Andante can swallow an enormous amount of gear in her myriad lockers and drawers – and also in the double-secret cubbyholes hidden inside her lockers and drawers. Storage capacity is a wonderful thing and I’m not complaining. But I really need to develop a foolproof inventory system that allows one to find things again after they’ve been carefully stowed. I’m working on a searchable Excel spreadsheet that documents the contents of every single storage locker and cubby. Some sort of database app might be a future improvement.

I really enjoy cooking and am looking forward to spending lots of time trying new things in the galley this winter. Andante is equipped with a great 3-burner stove with oven and a large freezer and refrigerator. We have an appointment next week at Cool Boats in Mystic, CT to have her 12v refrigeration system upgraded – so for the first few days of the trip I will have no refrigeration. Until then fresh food storage will be limited to a minimally-insulated bag filled with ice cubes for just the critical cold items (eggs, butter, cheese, cream). For the next few days I’ll be eating more canned foods and ramen than fresh fish and veggies.

The weather is looking good for a departure this weekend. At some point I hope to add a live tracking functionality to this site.