Sunday, November 29, 2009

Home in San Diego

Okay, it's been awhile since the last post. We've been back in San Diego since early July 2009, after bashing back from Los Cabos. We spent the last three months living aboard at Half Moon Marina, enjoying the last half of the concert season at Humphreys by the Bay and getting to know many of our marina neighbors.

Besides socializing with our new neighbors at the marina, we also took the opportunity to work on plumbing, renew some of the exterior varnishing, replace the shaft zinc, replace our solar vents, replace our carbon monoxide alarm and take care of the engine electrical problems we had encountered in Cabo San Lucas. We now have three alternators (our refurbished original 85 amp Balmar, our 65 amp automotive alternator installed in Cabo, and a newly installed, refurbished 110 amp alternator). Our original Heart smart voltage regulator was found to be good and was reinstalled, relegating the Bosh automotive regulator, which was installed in Cabo, to the spare parts bin.

Prior to working on our electrical problems we also addressed some pressing sanitation issues. Upon our return to San Diego in July, the head and associated plumbing was investigated to determine the source of the plumbing problems encountered shortly after leaving Bahia Santa Maria. The problem was found to be the result of flushing a paper towel down the head, which subsequently packed up the three-way valve between the head and the overboard discharge side. Fortunately, the path between the head and the holding tank remained clear. The obstruction was removed from the valve, all the 'O'-rings were replaced and the valve was reinstalled. Once our electrical problems were completed, two more days were spent on the black water holding tank to replace and re-route sanitation hoses between the head and overboard discharge and the holding tank and the overboard discharge valve. These modifications were performed to address holding tank odor issues that had plagued us for months.

One last upgrade performed, before leaving for our shore-side residence, was replacing the two solar vents on the forward end of the cabin top. One ventilated the vee-berth area and the other the head compartment. Both had suffered water intrusion to their solar panels and only the vent on the starboard side (ventilating the vee-berth) remained operational and then only during daylight hours. Both were replaced with new solar vents that operate both in daylight and darkness.

Two more major issues remain to be addressed before years end. One is to service the engine and the other is to haul the boat out for inspection. The engine work entails refurbishing the transmission, the heat exchanger and the exhaust elbow, the last two items part of routine service. The transmission had been coming out of gear throughout the cruise, with the problem worsening during the bash back to San Diego. Trouble shooting during the cruise demonstrated that it wasn't a problem with the shift linkage, but rather was internal to the transmission, itself. Hauling the boat would provide an opportunity to inspect the rudder stock for excessive play. We may postpone the haul out until we're ready to depart on another cruise. A cursory inspection by a diver in San Diego indicated that there didn't appear to be too much play in the rudder and the bottom paint appeared to be good. Rather than hauling Citla this year, we'll begin routine bottom cleaning and wait to haul until next year.

Given that we were living aboard for a year and cruising most of that time, it's not an unusually long list of maintenance items to address. Upgrades to systems that would have made cruising more comfortable or convenient would include the following prioritized list: (1) A reliable SSB receiver for weather information; (2) Weather boards for securing fuel cans to the rails; (3) Solar panels; (4) Small axillary generator; (5) Windlass with ~100' chain for the anchor; and, (6) Water maker.

November, 2009 was the one-year mark for having moved out of our Point Loma house onto Citla. We finally began the reverse process of moving back shore-side. Progress was intentionally slow. We began missing life aboard Citla almost immediately. However, living aboard in San Diego wasn't filled with the same wonder and excitement that was felt when visiting new foreign ports. The simplicity of life and closeness of the cruising community remained, but the familiarity of our home port took the edge off any of the mystery or excitement we would have otherwise experienced.

The first week and a half in the house were spent doing a complete cleaning, inside and out. Structurally and horticulturally the house was in good condition; no major damage and the gardeners had done a great job keeping up the yard. The house was clean on a superficial level, but the furniture, area rugs, fireplaces, hardwood floors, patio and barbecue were all left in pretty poor condition and all the walls and switch plates needed cleaning and some doorways and walls needed painting, due to pet scratches.

Windows were cleaned inside and out; all the hardwood floors were cleaned and refurbished; both fireplaces were cleaned; the barbecue was emptied and cleaned; the refrigerator was moved and pet food and dirt was cleaned from under it; the wood cabinets in the kitchen were cleaned and bees-waxed; the dining room table was bees-waxed; the wood paneling in the dining room and family room were cleaned and waxed. Painting was initiated in the master bedroom with more to follow after Thanksgiving.

At this point, we rented a 16-foot truck and took 5-hours to move all the boxes from our storage into our, now clean, garage. For the next week, we sorted through our boxes and managed to haul a full pick-up truck of donations to the Goodwill. I would estimate this to be between 20 and 25% of the things we had in storage. We've already started our next Goodwill donation box!

We managed to move most of the remaining junk from boxes back into the house. We still have a stack of boxes that belong to our daughter and are being kept to serve as a place holder, in case she wants to move in with us. With Thanksgiving behind us and Christmas looming we still seem to have too much to do. We are making headway for some of the varnishing work on the boat. In addition to the hatch wash-boards, we've refinished the teak grate in the head and are working on the companionway ladder. Monday (12/14) Pac West Marine is scheduled to pull out the transmission, heat exchanger and exhaust mixing elbow. Thursday morning, we'll be departing for a road trip to San Jose (to visit Andrew), San Francisco (to visit Chantal and Sean), and Santa Rosa (to visit Kathie's Dad, Vern). It will be a short trip and we plan to return sometime Monday or Tuesday, the following week.

That's all for now. The next post will be a follow-up on the pending boat maintenance.

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