A Kiwi couple's cruising adventures on America's Great Loop and around the coast of New Zealand

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

How we got on

The forecast for yesterday was for isolated thunderstorms in Nth Wisconsin and, sure enough, around 6pm the sky to the NE started looking ominous. However the wind was blowing SW at the time so I thought it might just miss us. I had started the genset to cook dinner and recharge the batteries when the wind started changing and over a period of about an hour it went through every point of the compass and those clouds started looking even more ominous. At around 7.30 the bay produced another Oneroa type phenomenon - the Oneroa roll, where the sea starts building to a roll that catches you beam on. In Oneroa when this happens, you up anchor and go around into Owhanaki Bay, 20 minutes away. Here there is no Owhanaki Bay, so we fired up and picked up the anchor and moved closer to the marina breakwater and a little more shelter. This was not without incident, as per usual in haste situations, but jammed anchors and not working remotes didn't prevent the change of venue from taking place in a relatively safe manner. Just as we anchored, down it came. Heavy rain with "penny sized" hail (about 10mm) and winds gusting 35-40knts. Fortunately we had got the pick down in time and I was very glad I had opted to renew the ground tackle with equipment I could trust, and even more pleased that it performed as it should.

The storm lasted about an hour, after which it rattled its way Sth with a farewell firworks display, and the sea flattened off to dead calm. The genset had been running all during the proceedings, so the batteries were good and charged by the time we shut it down and went to bed. The dead calm lasted until 2.30am, at which time the wind switched to a brisk NW and the Oneroa roll started all over again. Fortunately the 453 is a wide, heavy boat and is in no way the slightest bit tender. We have found this out over the last few days when we have been constantly buzzed at anchor by jetskis and ski boats that don't know the 5 knot rule, as even fairly large wakes seem to have little effect on our stability, even  when beam on. So while it was not particularly comfortable, there was no sense of need to make a desperate dash for the "safety" of the marina, only 200 metres away. The roll continued until morning and is still there as I write this. However I have also found that in this neck of the woods, if you don't like the weather, just wait half an hour as it will probably change. It is supposed to go NE later today which will make travel Sth a lot more comfortable, should we decide to leave.

I have just fired up the genset again as the batteries had gone low overnight. I think I will have to review the system and get separate start batteries. It is quite un-nerving having to rely on the genset to be able to start the main engines.

Other than the wind, the slop, and other technical issues, it looks like its going to be a nice day

Monday, 30 July 2012

We're here, by the way

On the hook

The weather forecast was pretty trashy for Saturday, so we all decided it was prudent to take Charlie & Pauline to Green Bay by rental car to catch their bus for Chicago and home. This turned out to be the right decision, after driving down the coast and seeing the state of the bay as we got closer. Gusty N winds were blowing straight into the city and cruising would not have been fun. We stopped at the Greyhound station and picked up their tickets, then dropped them off at a nearby hotel and said our goodbyes. After 3 weeks we will miss them a lot.

The next day was a much better day, so after dropping off the rental car we headed out the mouth of Sturgeon Bay and up the coast of the Door Peninsular. The remote control appears to be working properly again after we had spent some time playing around with batteries. The bay was flat calm and after an uneventful trip, we arrived at Egg Harbor and found a nice beach and anchored for the night.

The intention was to try out the systems and see how they performed off the inverter. I was particularly interested in how long the batteries would last before they became unable to start the engines. While it was a bit of "jumping in at the deep end", it is imperative that we know the limitations of the system, and we always had the genset to fall back on. I dropped the dinghy and went for a tutu over to the marina to check out the facilities just in case. That night we had a Barbie on Board (BOB) and retired early.

The next day was another nice day. We went ashore for a walk and came back to the boat and lounged about reading most of the day. At 2.00pm the inverter started beeping and investigation showed the low battery light up. Sure enough, the engines wouldn't turn over (which is why I never liked the way the system was designed - there should be separate start batteries - but that's what I had to work with). With more than a little nervousness I fired up the genset and watched to see what transpired. All the indications were that the converter/charger was operational, but not charging the batteries and my thoughts went back to some of the wiring that our electricians had been doing in Kenosha. But after half an hour or so, I tried the engine start again and thankfully they both fired up OK. I shut them down and ran the genset for another half hour before calling Egg Harbor dock for a slip for the night. Again, the remote worked fine during anchor retrieval an docking at the slip.

The excercise proved that our time is limited to around 20 hours away from shore power before resorting to the genset. We should be able to extend this with judicious management of appliances aboard, but gives us a yardstick. This is a disappointment, but not unexpected considering the power requirements of the boat and the way that the DC system is designed. We could alter it to improve performance, but would have to consider the costs vs benefits fairly closely. I really don't like not having separate start batteries.

Once tied up at Egg Harbor I went for a wander up to the town. On the way I passed this little gem of a boat on a slip just down from us

For the Hauraki Gulf boaties reading, Egg Harbor is rather like Oneroa, in a very American way, but without the steep walk from the beach. There is a good supermarket and lots of restaurants within easy walking distance. I bought a piece of rump steak (called top sirlon here) and had it for dinner on the barbie. It cost $5.99/lb, but get this Kiwis, eye fillet steak (called tenderloin here) is the same price!!!! You can buy a whole fresh fillet for around $20.00. Yet T-bones are double that - go figure!??!. After dinner, Carolyn watched the Olympics and I watched Falling Skies on cable.

This morning we were in the middle of doing the washing and deciding what to do for the rest of the day when the dock handlers came and said someone had booked our slip, so could we move.....like now. This brought our decision making forward, so we moved off to the fuel dock for a pump out. I saw that their diesel price was $3.49/gall ( we had been paying up to $4.50), so we topped up our tanks at the same time. Then, as it was still somewhat blustery outside, we thought we might have another go at the hook thing, knowing what we now know, and see if we can improve on performance. We can still get WiFi from the marina here, hence the posting, but a bit far for the cable to stretch - so no Olympics.

We'll let you know how we get on.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Justice is seen to be done

So there we were sitting in Centerpointe Marina in Sturgeon Bay at 5.30 wednesday evening, and I'm looking down the bay towards the canal. Off in the distance I see what appears to be a large fizzboat heading up harbour at speed. "Strange", I think, "this is a well posted NO WAKE zone and this guy is sure putting one up!" I put the binoculars on him and discover he is not a fizz boat but a gin palace about 65' long and he is honking along at about 18 knots. As he reaches the first bridge, he "slows" to about 9kts and continues in our direction making a wave that rocks the living daylights out of one small tinnie and two larger motor boats. As he passes us I see the skipper talking on the phone, perhaps asking the lift bridge in front of him to open....he had just missed the scheduled 5.30 opening (perhaps that was his hurry). The bridge remained firmly closed and he sat in the channel while we hoped he would be made to wait till the 6.00 opening. Now I'm not a vindictive person, but this guy either was too stupid to know the rules, or  didn't think the rules applied to him. Either way he deserved some kind of retribution so we were quite pleased about 10 minutes later, to see a Coastguard vessel coming up from the canal at a reasonable clip (but not putting up much wake) blue lights flashing. However were disappointed to see him go past the offender and the bridge begin to open. But then to our delight came the message over VHF channel 16: " 'Plane to Sea', please follow the Coastguard vessel right through past the Michigan St bridge". The speedster acknowledged, and followed the CG boat out of our sight.

About 15 minutes later the CG boat returned downharbor at a much more liesurely pace. I presume that justice was done and the offender admonished and fined as he should be. If not, at least it was seen to be done.

Thursday, 26 July 2012


For Kiwis unused to US thunderstorms - and my first effort to put a video on the blog.
This one was south of us in Manitowoc last night.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Further North

Leaving Sheboygan was a little eventful, being our first experience of a "soft grounding", which is what hitting the putty is known as here. We had gone up river for a look at the town and coming back down past the wall that the superyachts tie up (where you would expect deepish water) I went the wrong side of a green buoy and at 4mph we gently came to rest on a sandbar. Fortunately the water was deep enough where the propellors are and we reversed off easily. No damage was done, although the speedo impellor must have been stuck full of mud as it took about a mile of cruising at speed before it started reading again. The trip to Manitowoc was only an hour and we tied up at he marina and went downtown to check out the submarine museum.
The next day we went round to the fuel dock in a blustery SW wind, and right at the wrong time, the Yacht Controller failed....which made getting on the dock tricky. After fuelling and a pumpout (holding tank) we departed, intended to go to Kewaunee about 24 NM away but out on the lake there was a good following sea so we continued up to the Sturgeon Bay canal, about 40NM away. The previous day the check valve in the washer drain had blocked again with lint and I had removed it, so I wanted to see if any water came up the drain hose in bigger waves. The 3-4ft following sea was quite short and the bow was burying itself quite deep, so I figured if it was going to be an issue, it would likely appear then. As it turned out there was no issue at all.

The next part was our first canal experience, albeit short as its only a few miles long, and we passed under 1 lift bridge to get to the Municipal marina where we were intending to stop. This proved to be very small and narrow and shallow and with the remote controller not working it was too risky to dock, so we headed back out and under the lift bridge to the Centrepointe marina. I contacted the Yacht Controller people in Florida, but it was 5.45pm there and the tech had gone home.

The next day we decided to stay on and sort out the controller issue and a few other wee jobies. Charlie and the girls went to get more provisions (from Walmart of course), courtesy of a ride from the marina staff. I stayed behind to wait for a call from Florida, and I also took the time to report in to CBP in Milwaukee, who are responsible for this area. First I called our friendly officer who issued our cruising licence. She was quite surprised and said we should only have to report if we were coming in from a foreign port. I read her the paragraph on the licence that stated otherwise, and she told us that that was OK and we were now "logged in", as it were. Half an hour later she rang me back and said we should probably log in to Green Bay CBP as that was the port to which we were the closest (even though they report to Milwaukee anyway). She gave me the phone number and I called the officer, who didn't have any idea what I was talking about. He asked when we were coming to Green Bay and where we were going to stay and I told him we didn't know yet as that would depend on the weather and what we found when we got there. He told me to call him when we get there, as he didn't know what the procedures were for pleasure craft, so I have registered all this in our log book to show that we have tried to comply with the terms of the licence.

In the meantime I have established that it will cost $1600 for a new remote control for the Yacht controller and take a week or so to ship, so we are persisting with seeing if it is just an issue with batteries and worst case scenario is that we just have to drive the boat from the helm, like most other people. Its just that it is sooooo much easier to dock with the remote.

This marina is like most others - shallow and full of weeds that come almost to the surface. yesterday this interesting machine came out and stated "harvesting" the weeds. Later we saw a fairly large truck taking away a load for who knows what purpose.

So here's where we are now. There were strong winds and thunderstorms here this morning so we decided to stay another day
Till next time

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Michigan so far

Friday was spent walking around the marina in area of Milwaukee after a brunch at Alterra, a recommended cafe. We found Brady St where there were plenty of shops to renew perishable provisions and also a hardware store to buy bits to fix boats. The washing machine had stopped draining again and investigation found the non return valve in the drain totally blocked again with lint. As I cannot see us hitting waves so big that water would make its way up the drain into the washer, I decided to dispense with it and bought a piece of straight pipe at the hardware to do so.

That night was Italian night at the nearby Summerfest stadium and at 10pm there was another fireworks display for about 20 minutes. Not as good as nature's, or the 4th July in Kenosha. but pretty spectacular all the same.

Yesterday morning we were woken early by the fishos going out for Lake Salmon so at 9.30 we dropped our lines and headed North for Sheboygan. There was a light S wind and about 1-3ft waves, but from behind so it was a comfortable 2.5 hr trip at 17kts.

I said before I left that I would track our progress on a map, but to date we hadn't really gone far enough to bother. Now we're really underway, here it is.

Sheboygan is a pretty little town and the marina is very modern and well appointed according to the girls (which means its got a pool). We walked down the river boardwalk and had dinner at one of the myriad of restaurants along it. Some NZ towns ansd cities could learn a lot from how things are done around here, but stinginess, stupidity and the RMA would probably prevent such excellent facilities being as commonplace at home as they are here.

We are heding off to Manitowoc today, about 1 hour North of here. It's where some submarines were built during WW2 and there is supposed to be a good museum there. The girls will probably go looking for somewhwere to spend money.


Thursday, 19 July 2012

Freedom at last

Yesterday our son emailed us from New Zealand worried that we had been kidnapped by pirates as he had not heard from us other than via this blog. We responded that we had, indeed, been held hostage by pirates, but in Kenosha they are called electricians.

In my last blog I said, just before the pie recipe, that things had to get better after the two friday 13ths. Well folks, they don't and they didn't. The "unresolved issue with the wiring" that I spoke about was that the wiring was all completed but the transfer switch had been taped in the "off" position. The scarey thing was that everything on the boat was working, which most people (including myself) would consider unusual. To make matters worse, I was told that when the switch was turned to shore power, all the main circuit breakers tripped.

I thought a lot about all this that night - my chief concern being that I had designed the whole system from 7500 miles away with information gleaned from the internet, photos of Berts panel wiring and some able assistance from an email correspondent in North Carolina who happened to be an electrician and was experienced in "off the grid" wiring. What if I had got it wrong and the design was absolutely incorrect? How can  you get power through a switch to an electrical panel when it is switched off? I wracked my brain until 2 in the morning and then woke again at 4am with a flash of insight. I reviewed my drawings and found that with a small error, you could  wire the switch in a manner that this would happen. It would effectively bypass the switch and put power to the AC panel all the time, regardless of switch position. The real problem was that, if this was the case, mains power would be fed into the output of the inverter when the transfer switch was in the inverter position. This is instantaneous and irreversible death to any inverter. But that can't have happened - after all, these guys are professional tradesmen and must deal with this kind of thing all the time!

No......they hadn't made THAT error, but what they had done was significantly worse and achieved the same result. It is too complicated to go into and resulted in an unsavoury yelling match at 2pm on saturday afternoon (100 degrees F -38C -, no A/C, no fridge, freezer or icemaker) before they finally listened and understood (?) how it was all supposed to work. So they set about undoing all the wiring they had done for the previous 2 days and settled in to wire it as per the drawings. I figured it was a good time for me to go and get the Key Lime Pie and a few other bits and pieces and cool down a little.

Remember the pie?....we ordered and paid for it the day before and it was going to be ready at 10am so we would have it for our midday departure from Kenosha after the inverter was "fixed". When we turned up at 2.30pm I said (jokingly) to Charlie "wouldn't it be funny if they sold it because we turned up late". But it was better than that. After the girl at Paellis disappeared out back she came back to us looking very sad and pieless. She then admitted that she had forgotten to put the order in yesterday and there was no pie for us. She offered altenatives but we just got back our $6.25 and left laughing.....you've got to, eh?

When we got back to the boat, the wiring was done to the drawing and the switch was doing its job. Before they plugged in the outputs to the inverter, I got them to check that there was no mains power on the plugs (there was not) and before we switched it on, we disconnected all shore power. The inverter was duly switched on and..........nothing, zilch, nada! At this time I figured I should take the overdue rental car back to Hertz as it was going to be a small wiring glitch or a dead inverter, which would be determined best in my absence (for me, anyway).

You all can guess what the result was!!!!!!!

When I got back, the sparkies were gone and we were stranded in Kenosha until a replacement inverter could be sourced. Fortunately I had selected a US manufactured unit, so replacement from Amazon.com was a matter of one working day only.

The next day (sunday), after a meaningful discussion with Scott - Southport's extremely supportive Service manager - we decided to have a day off electrical things. Being carless, we took Kenoshas famous electric streetcar ride and visited the museums in the downtown area. It was still over 100F and no change expected for the next few days.

Monday was spent ensconced in the boat with the A/C on full bore and Tuesday dawned the same and we waited for the inverter to arrive. And waited.....and waited... and finally at 3pm it arrived. Chris brought it down and in 45 minutes, swapped it out and turned it on (after a series on stringent steps to ensure that there was NO chance of it meeting its predecessors fate). It worked...........precisely as it is supposed to and as it was designed!!!!! We celebrated by going to a pizza joint for a last Kenosha dinner.

Wednesday morning was spent negotiating the ransom and by midday we came to an amical compromise with Scott, and we were free!! We decided on a pump out before departing and the attendant told us that there was a severe thunderstorm warning out. The wind was up to about 15kts from the NE so it was going to be a lumpy ride to wherever we went.
We got away at 1.20pm and found out what Lake Michigan was like in a moderate blow. Waves about 2 - 4ft, but very short and steep and confused. It was quite remininscent of our own Colville or Motuihe Channel with wind against tide, but there is hundreds of miles of it. We started off at 18 knots but the seas got bigger as we got further out and the crew started complaining so, at the Racine reef, we pulled back to 13-14kts and maintained that speed most of the way to Milwaukee. We pulled into McKinley marina at 3.20pm and were tied up at our slip by 4.00pm.

Note to skipper: -Prepping for sea.
Ensure coffee pot is empty (otherwise it splashes out and runs down the bench to the floor in heavy seas). n this case it was right where the printer was sitting so we now have coffee coloured paper.
Ensure pilothouse door is LATCHED closed (otherwise it slides open - and does that make a mess!)

Charlie and I took a walk around while the rest of the crew slept off their ordeal. There's nowhere to get beer around here - the Milwaukee Yacht Club (est 1871) wouldn't let us in despite our best yarn-spinning, so we returned to the boat. Which was just as well because about  half an hour later the Thunderstorms arrived with a vengeance
We closed up the boat and sat on the sundeck to watch a pyrotechnics display that rivalled anything we saw on July 4th, along with some pretty hefty rain. Just before it happened, a 45ft motor yacht (launch in NZ) came racing by at around 9kts, obviously the skipper being so admonished by his admiral for ovestaying their time out of the marina that he didn't care about the "no wake" rule. He actually deserved to get a drenching when he finally got to his slip from his inconsideration  to all the other vessels in the marina. The display was still on, albeit a lot less frenetic, when we all went to bed around 10.30.

The adventure continues - wait for the next installment

PS The inverter worked perfectly all the way up from Kenosha. The fridge and freezer remained cold and the icemaker produced a bucketful of ice cubes. Ain't it cool to be right.

Friday, 13 July 2012

"Should" being the operative word.

The electricians turned up on monday and began installing the inverter, which meant mounting it in the engine room and running a couple of cables to the AC/DC panel before leaving after 2 hours because they were "still waiting for a few parts.......which (hopefully) will be in tomorrow". I also rang Customs and Border Protection in Milwaukee to arrange for a cruising permit and was told that we had to make an application for enrolment in the Small Vessel Reporting System (SVRS), and make an appointment online to have a face to face visit in a couple of days. We did this, and even though the CBP website clearly states that elligibility is restricted to Canadian residents, all of our data was accepted. We made an appointment for Wednesday at 11am and as it seemed unlikely that we would be departing on Thursday as scheduled, we contacted Hertz and arranged to have the rental car for another couple of days. I also ordered 150ft of 5/16" chain online to  go with the anchor when it arrived. Apart from the anchor, everything I had ordered from Amazon so far had turned up on, or ahead, of due date. We dropped the girls off at Walmart in Waukegan while Charlie and I went to a military musem up the road in Russel. It was shut on monday's, but the owner was there working on a "new" 1942 Jeep he had just obtained, so he let us in for a look (but still charged us the full $10 each admission)

Tuesday, the anchor and chain had not arrived, and neither had the parts for the inverter installation, so we continued shopping for provisions and other miscellaneous "stuff".

Wednesday we were up bright and early to begin the 40 minute trek to CBP in Milwaukee, checking first at the Marina Service to see the status of our installation. "Still waiting for parts which (hopefully) will be in today"...so we left the boat open so they could get aboard should the errant parts arrive. There is lots of freeway construction going on around Milwaukee which thoroughly confused Carmen (our GPS has a female voice, so we have nicknamed her Carmen) and it took us an hour to find the CBP office. We were still a little early for our appointment, but by the time we found the department we were supposed to talk to, we weren't that early at all. The officer we spoke with took our passports and ships papers and looked up our SVRS application on her computer before calling us into the office for the interview. All the usual questions were asked (had we ever been arrested? did we transport drugs? etc etc) and at the end we were told everything was in order and we would get an email confirmation that we were signed up in the system. When I queried that I understood that the SVRS only applied to Canadians, she told us that it now applied to any country in the Visa Waiver program.  I asked for a Cruising Permit, and she said I didn't need one as this system integrated with Coastguard as well, and as long as we filed a "floatplan" online, it eliminated the need for a Permit. This sounded pretty good to me, despite the fact that their website clearly said the opposite and when we returned to the boat we had a confirming email from CBP that we were approved and, as directed, we went to their website and set up passwords so we could file float plans and passenger lists online. She also told us that extending our stay on our passports would be difficult so the easiest thing to do would be to go shopping in Canada for a day and get a new date on re-entry. We will probably do this from the Michigan side, as it's closer to the border. All good stuff!!!

After the CBP visit, we took a drive down to the Milwaukee Riverwalk where the girls had their photo taken with Fonzie (Henry Winkler from the old TV series "Happy Days")....well a bronze statue of him, anyway. I didn't find the likeness that good, in fact up close he looked rather creepy!
We had a lunch and then shot round to visit John at Harborside Yacht Centre, where the whole thing started. When we took delivery of the boat, we could not find a pump for the inflatable (dinghy) so I had bought a dual action pump (that fits any inflatable bed) from Menards....that didn't match the dinghy fittings. Then a "universal adaptor kit" from West Marine ......that didn't match the pump OR the dinghy. I told John about this and he said that any pump should do and got one out of a new Zodiac bag. Not even close!!!! Then he checked a second new Zodiac, and there it was....the real McCoy. So we bought that one and are now set to go, finally, so we headed back to Kenosha to see how the inverter install was going. Nought, nothing, nada, zilch....apparently the parts hadn't shown up....but my 48.5lb anchor and 175lb drum of chain had!

Yesterday morning the techs turned up at 8.30am  and began further installation, although they were still waiting for one fuseblock and two 250A fuses. (I later checked these out on Amazon and they were in stock if several places and could have had them the next day on priority delivery). Charlie and I were going to West Marine to get the necessary swivels etc to connect the anchor and the Girls were going to tourist around  Kenosha. Before we left Carolyn wanted to go to a Doctor as she had left her asthma medication behind in NZ and needed to get more, so we dropped her off at the emergency room of the local hospital. A while after Charlie and I left, we got a call to say Carolyn was having a chest Xray and ECG....which is what happenes if you tell the doctor you have a tightness in your chest. After Charlie and I got the parts we needed we returned to the hospital as Carolyn was being discharged and as by this time it was almost 3pm so that was the sightseeing over for the day. The girls went for a swim in the pool, while Charlie and I returned to the boat and installed the anchor and chain. As Chris, the  electrician was still working on the panels, we couldn't use the windlass, so we put the chain in the dinghy and fed it by hand into the chain locker through the pulpit. We then took the anchor around and pulled it up manually, as well. When the anchor had arrived, it looked huge and its size and shinyness impressed everyone who gazed upon it. When it is installed, it looks normal and because of the design of the pulpit and retrieval system, you can't even see it....very disappointing.
Chris left at 4pm with everything ready to go for the fuseblocks and fuses which "will (hopefully) turn up tomorrow".

At 5.30 I checked my emails to find one from the interviewing officer at the CBP requesting that I phone her "regarding our application for the SVRS". As it was too late for that day, I rang Friday (the 13th!!!!) and she said that we had to have a cruising permit, and could we come back to Milwaukee and get it. We said we would be there at 10.30 and then waited till the Chris turned up at 9am to see whether the parts had turned up, or not.

NOT........ So I suggested that as we were going to Milwaukee, we might check some marine or RV suppliers and see if we could source the errant parts. Off we went to Milwaukee and arrived on time at the CBP to have our fingerprints and digital photos taken and a cruising permit issued which still has the same requirements for reporting as we would have without being in the SVRS system, which we didn't need to join. We left there and went to West Marine and found a supply of the errant parts, which we bought, but found on our return to the boat, that the errant parts had also finally turned up at Kenosha. So we now had $85 worth of errant parts that were superfluous to requirements, so we took them back to West Marine in Winthrop Harbor and got a credit.

The remainder of the day consisted of visiting a hunting store (lots of guns and other goodies) to buy a pair of binoculars, and on to Woodmans (for provisions and grog) and WALMART ,for sugar free candy (overconsumption has a laxative effect) and toilet rolls (for after the effect). Return to the boat found an unfinished installation, as there were issues with the wiring which are yet to be resolved as I write this. It had also rained heavily while we were away and we had left a couple of portholes open which had allowed water ingress onto the polished cherry woodwork, so it was decided that both friday 13th's (here and NZ time) were poop days. Suffice to say that we have reserved the rental car for yet another day and departure has been further delayed. By the way Hertz, have been real good so far about extensions of the rental! On the way back from  Hertz,  I did order a Key Lime Pie from Paiellas for tomorrow. Supposedly the best in the Universe - Bert and Hilary bought us one during their visit and it was pretty good!

So, here we are still at Kenosha - but its Saturday 14th tomorrow, and its GOT to be a better day!

I have been asked to supply a recipe for bacon and egg pie and, as most Kiwis will know, these can be as varied as personal tastes dictate. However, here are some guidelines:

Line a pie dish (round or rectangular...it doesn't matter) with thin puff pastry. Hard to find here, but it does exist.
Lay strips, or pieces, or chunks of bacon in the bottom. Use thick sliced bacon but try to avoid heavily smoked strips as it will  overpower the pie - you can also use ham if you want a more delicate flavour (we did that on the one we cooked for 4th July)
Add eggs...the number will depend on the size of your pie. There are several ways of dealing with the eggs, depending on how you like your bacon and egg pie. You can stir them up and they go like scambled egg, you can leave them whole like fried eggs, or you can just break the yolks and let them layer in with the whites, which is my preference.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Cover the filling with a thin layer of puff pastry.
Cook in a preheated oven at 340F (170C) for about 1 hour, or until the crust is golden brown and the filling has "set". You can usually tell this by gently poking it.

That is a very basic B & E pie, but you can also enhance it by adding other ingredients. Onion, of course, tomato, thin slices or grated cheese on top of the mixture, green peppers (capsicum) even peas and carrots and potato...the choice is yours, but don't overdo the veges as it can make too much liquid in the filling.

Serve it hot or cold in slices or squares, depending on your pie dish. I like plenty of ketchup on it too.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Hot hot hot

As all Americans know, as does anyone else following the US news, there is a heatwave running across the country and it has been HOT, with the highest temperature we saw on the boat at 101F (38C) at 10am and still that at 5pm the day before 4th July. That day was also almost as bad which put a dampener (cynical joke) on festivities with most people electing to stay inside in the cool (airconditioning) than party on the dock.
There was a dinghy "race" earlier in the day where everyone got squirted with water to cool off

Still, we had a great get-togeter with the other members of I pier with a pot-luck dinner with all sorts of goodies. We took along a bacon and egg pie as that is an unnknown in this neck of the woods.
We were treated to a spectacular fireworks display later that night that went on for about half an hour.

The following day was a bit cooler and we went on yet anothershopping excursion down near Chicago to a Guitar Center, for obvious reasons. The conclusion was positive with us returning with a Washburn "Chicago Original - est 1883" Guitar (made in China!!!!). But its a nice sounding instrument and plays well, so who cares? The Roland Street Cube amplifier arrived from Amazon over the weekend so we are set to party.

I said in an earlier post that after fixing the hose on the washing machine it worked fine. Well I spoke too soon. The first wash we put in it wouldn't rinse and when it tried to spin it nearly ripped itself out of the boat. Investigation suggested it wasn't draining properly so I pulled the check valve in the drain line apart and this was the contents thereof:
About a tablespoon of lint which, in a small valve, almost completely blocked it. The poor thing was trying to spin dry while it was half full of water. No wonder it shook! With that removed NOW the machine goes well and we have done a number of loads without further incident. We also had an issue of water dripping out of the overhead cupboards in the companionway, but that turned out to be a loose connection on the galley faucet. There was some distance between the source and the leak so it took a bit of finding. It s just amazing how water will find its way around a boat in the most confusing manner. 

Charlie and Pauline came in from O'Hare on the Wisconsin bus on friday and, as scheduled, we picked them up from the Brat stop, a famous retaurant up near the freeway (and Woodman's) that sells sausages and cheese. We had been having a lot of communication issues on the boat - Carolyn's iPad had not received any emails since the saturday before and internet connection was patchy, to say the least. On their arrival Charlie comfirmed that his iPad reception was also bad. As July 4th was a wednesday, a lot of folk had taken the whole week off and the marina was chocker! So we figured the Wifi was just plain overloaded.
Saturday it was blowing from the NE so a lot cooler. We went out for a shop and when we got back it was BITO and the flags were trying to tear themselves off the pole, so we took them down. A much cooler night down to the low 70's ( 20-ish C). On Sunday we decided to go to brunch at Franks, the oldest diner in the US (apparently). It only does breakfast and lunch but when we got there the queue was about an hour long so we went to a Golden Corral (US equivalent to Valentines) for a buffet breakfast that morphed into lunch, as we arrived just before the 11am transition. We then drove down to Chicago and took a look at what the locals do on a warm summers day. The beaches were packed, but the town was relatively quiet - and the Chicago traffic was as bad as I remember on the last trip. I was good to get out after driving around for 3 hours!

On our return we had a light dinner and after watching an episode the new series of "Falling Skies", we went out on the dock and made a little music, unplugged. The guitar goes well - it is quite loud acoustically, but I need a new capo as the one brought with me doesn't go well on this guitar. Yet another major expense!

Today I will get in touch with CBP at Milwaukee to arrange our cruising Permit and, hopefully, get our stay exended till January. We are still having comms issues but not as bad as last week. The new anchor should be here today and I ordered the chain last night so that should arrive tomorrow. The electrician should be doing the inverter sometime today or tomorrow. After all that we should be good to go cruising.



Sunday, 1 July 2012

Loopy Kiwi at last

On friday our fellow 453ers, Bert and Hilary, made the trek from Harrison Township to visit us here in Kenosha. They have been living aboard their Silverton 453 for a couple of years (check their blog www.wetooktheplunge.blogspot.com), and were instrumental in our final decision to settle on that model for our loop boat when we visited them during the boat buying journey. Bert knows his 453 inside out and his nickname is BertGyver, after the character in the 80's TV series MacGyver, played by Richard Dean Anderson, and who could build a Saturn 5 rocket out of a hollow log with just his trusty Swiss Army knife. So, not only was it a pleasure to catch up with them again, but it was an opportune time to use his knowledge and expertise to help us out with coming to grips with our own vessel.

So....come Saturday morning, the first thing we tackled was the errant "I won't work on cold water cycle" of the washing machine. First we opened a panel under the taps which gave us "feel" access to the hoses. They are quite long and lay at the bottom of the machine before they ran upwards again to where the connections were obviously made to it. We could not feel any kinks in the hose down low so we undid the hold down studs and slid the washer out from the tight space to get a look at the hoses at the back to see if the cold one was kinked any where. This is what we found:
As you can see, the connection elbows point upwards and the hoses come from below. The cupboard cieling is the same level as the varnished moulding, so that was also pushing the cold hose flat. The only reason why the hot  hose let water in was because it was on a slight angle and was not as badly kinked. This was obviously done at the factory as you could tell the machine has never been removed before. QA at Silverton must have been absent that day. Obviously the previous owners never used it either, as it can never have gone properly! We loosened the connections, spun them around and it workes fine now.

The next project was the name. Bert had just had their boat done and while he got the graphics people to put his on, he told me that he had done that kind of thing before so away we went. Following is a visual essay of the proceedings:

And there we are, all legal and legit, well we are after I put the $22.50 annual CBP decal on this morning. The next project is to get the flagpole up before the 4th of July celebrations. We still have the smaller Loopy Kiwi signs for each side of the flybridge to get up, but I will leave that until we are on a higher dock and I can reach them.

Bert and Hilary left for home today and we really hope we will catch up with them again on our travels. They are intending to head down to Texas to live at around the same time as we  head to Florida. So we went off to get more stuff (not Walmart this time), mainly to do with the flagpole, and on the way back we ran into the Kenosha Independence day parade which stopped us getting back to the marina for an hour and a half. Still it was interesting watching the pipe bands and school bands, and all the Politicians plugging for votes. When we got back to the boat, I decided that it would be easier to get some of the stuff we can't find in the stores off Amazon while we have an address to send it to, so a few items (including a 48.5 Stainless Steel CQR anchor for under $500) are on their way. I also ordered my Roland "Cube Street" amplifier on friday as they are on back order from the factory until mid July and some were available from Amazon (although not at such a good price as I was quoted locally). I'm a little squidgey about buying a guitar online, though....but they are at really good prices.

Still hot and sunny, but not as bad as last week

Till next time.