Saturday, April 4, 2015

(Boat) Traffic Everywhere

A look down the Elizabeth River. 
Most times you won't see anything at all when passing by it in a car, but working out on the river is a different story. Tugs, tankers and pleasure craft seem to be everywhere. The ferry I pilot on the weekends is not very nimble, nor is it very fast and I try to stay out of the way because these work boats are even less maneuverable.
 Below are some pics of the river traffic I encounter.

These pics are just a few examples of what it looks like when working out on the river. When a boat is close by, I'll keep the ferry at the dock and let them pass. This removes any guess-work for both myself and the other pilots. And besides, I enjoy watching these boats.

Not much happening in the way of sailboat refitting. I did begin the process of getting Sal ready. I washed her decks down and vacuumed all the nooks and crannies. She got quite dirty last fall; every leaf that fell from our willow trees made its way onto her decks. I tried to keep up with cleaning them off but was quickly overcome. I gave up until her shelter was in place then went to work. Here are a few pictures of what she looks like today:

I have also rigged a lighting system within the tent, to illuminate the workspace during nighttime work. 
Now she is just waiting for us to get started. I am formulating a plan. 

Thank you for following and stay tuned!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Repowering our Old Alberg 30?

During our refit I have given some thought to perhaps repowering our Alberg 30 with a new propulsion system. It's not that the one we have is not adequate, it is just old. Why not replace Sal's Atomic 4 while she's here at the house?

Here is a picture of the Atomic 4 that we have now. She is still a very good engine, but it's old technology and uses quite a bit of fuel, not a good option for cruising beyond America. She was rebuilt back in 2008 by A4 gurus at Moyer Marine, and hasn't really been any trouble for us. 

(picture from
Here is what I would like to put into our Alberg 30, a Beta 14 Diesel. This engine uses probably 1/3 the fuel of the Atomic 4, and diesel on a sailboat is safer than gasoline. So why not? Well, the $8,000 price tag. That's about 5000 extra reasons why this will not be at the top of the list.

(picture from
Next consideration is the outboard. While not exactly designed to push a boat of Sal's size, in calm water it does just fine. I have seen several cost-conscious cruisers with boats similar to ours using this option. It frees up space on the inside of the boat and uses about 2/3 the fuel of our current system.
(picture from
Next there is electric power. I really like this option for some reason. No more fuel costs other than batteries (every 5-6 yrs). This system's only draw back is range. The large battery bank needed to supply a decent range is just not practical on a boat of our size. But let's face it, our Alberg is a much should we be motoring anyway?

These are our choices and I am still doing the research on each. Each option has its pros and cons and I will be weighing them out here on the blog during the coming months.
What are your thoughts on powering a sailboat?

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

No Snow on Sal!

So far the shelter has been doing its job! Our Alberg 30 is staying dry. A bit of drifting snow is finding its way onto her decks but for the most part, nice and dry.
I've also added a bit of light for when the weather warms up. I will be able to work into the evening and night time hours, this will really help with refit progress.
Until next time, stay warm! 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Fog!

Not sure if you have ever experienced being on a boat in the fog, but if you haven't let me tell you- consider yourself lucky. I have been underway in the fog on many occasions and it has never been fun. I was reminded of that today as we got underway on the ferry. It was eerily quiet, and there was not a breath of wind. I listened closely, and had my deckhand helping as a lookout. Today I had to depend on technology more than I'd like to, using the radar and AIS to ensure the channel was clear. It worked, but there is nothing more accurate than my eyes except, perhaps, the radar in the dense fog. Today's fog only lasted for about an hour before clearing out, but that hour felt like three. Below are a few pics from the wheel house.

Looking north on the Elizabeth River, you can see the fog was really low....only about 30-50 ft off the water.

Looking south on the Elizabeth River, one can barely make out the tops of shipyard boats rising out of the ghostly fog.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

James Baldwin of has been a great help and a very good resource for plastic classic boats and, more specifically, Carl Alberg-designed boats. James has circumnavigated in his own Pearson Triton twice. I came across a video he posted just a few days ago of his refinished interior. It is beautiful, simple and functional. I can only hope my refit comes out half as nice.

Thank you James for sharing. Lots of great ideas!

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Alberg 30 Boat Shelter

The boat is finally covered. I had started by looking at different types of covers people had used during refits. Problem was there were as many shelters as there were boats. One that I really liked was a wooden bow shed, which seemed very popular. The only problem: I am not a carpenter. While I can nail two things together, I'm just not a carpenter. At least I'm aware of this and probably saved myself a ton of grief trying to build the bow shed. I also found RV shelter intriguing but there were none in the size I wanted and they're expensive. So I set out to make my own. I found a place in Oregon that sold the shelter fittings and used their template to design mine. After a bit of trigonometry I had one designed and fittings on the way. Below are photos of the building process:
First things first: Most of southeastern Virginia is a swamp, or was one before it was drained and settled, and nature works tirelessly to return it to that condition. My yard is no exception. In order to make this into a suitable work area I had some stone brought in, about 5 tons of 57 grey. Cheap and effective! 

With the help of a friend I spread the stone....and soon found out that 5 tons wasn't enough. It was a good start but I will be ordering more in a week or so.

After the stone was spread, started building the shelter. Still not a carpenter, but I can work with steel!

These fittings make it a breeze, and within an hour or so I had roof assembled.

Next we lifted the roof frame onto the boat so we could get the legs under it.

With the legs under it and in place.

There is the shed, just about complete. I need to make this shed look as temporary as possible (to skirt city permits and rules for a permanent structure) so I set the feet of the shed in buckets and then concreted them in. Then I installed the cover. While it isn't quite done, it is now keeping Sal dry. I still need to install some X bracing to stiffen up the structure, but so far we have had 25mph winds on a few occasions and it has held quite nicely.

Now that the boat is covered and shelter nearly done I can get to refitting the boat. I am going to take some video and pictures of how she sits now for before and after photos of the project. These will provide me with references for getting her back together later.

Monday, January 12, 2015

A New Year, featuring cruisers from Maine

Happy New Year All!
Things have started to settle down a bit. I passed my boat handling test with the owner of the ferry and I am happy to announce I am now gainfully (part-time) employed as a captain. This is a big relief; and a time-consuming endeavor completed. I no longer have to go to the boat 2-3 times a week to practice boat handling. This has freed up some free time in the evening to allow me to catch up on other projects. One such project is a 302 engine rebuild. I am 90% done with that, and I hope to deliver it and collect a little boat money this weekend. Once that engine is finished I can start to get serious on refit.
This weekend I made preparations for the the boat shed I am building. I am making a 15'x40' shelter out of fence posts and a large tarp. It should do the trick without breaking the bank. It should also be strong enough to handle most weather, and temporary-looking enough to keep the City code inspector off my butt. I guess only time will tell if it's going to do the trick.
Now that we are all caught up on what's going on I want to share a few photos of some cruisers that I saw heading south recently. In Portsmouth, VA, at the start of the Intracoastal Waterway there are free docks that always have cruisers tied up. The time of year will usually dictate the direction in which the cruisers are traveling. This time of year there are typically very few cruisers; however, the last few times I worked the ferry I saw the boats below. Both had young cruisers living the dream of heading off to warmer and simpler places. What I found interesting about these boats is that they were both from Maine. Both crews admitted to getting very late starts south but were headed there nonetheless. This has given me renewed inspiration for getting my refit started.
Posts should become more regular as I have my PC up and working enough to post... and a very special Christmas present has enabled me to take high quality photos again. A good friend gave me a Canon DSLR T1i Camera- just what I needed! I was too cheap to buy a new one and still very upset over the theft of my T2i. But thanks to the generosity of friends, I am now back in business and re-equipped to dedicate some time to the blog.  

Here are the fittings that the fencing material will slide into

Bristol 30 sitting at the High St dock in Portsmouth, VA before continuing south to warmer climes

Crew says this outboard will push them 5kts in calm water. They said they were glad to have removed the old A4. This has me thinking about the upcoming repower of our Salacia

A beautiful classic sitting over in the corner of the High St dock basin. While piloting the ferry, I had been looking at this boat all day wondering where they were headed and what their story was

After work I had to take a closer look. There was a young crew of four. Owner said she was found in need of repair and over the last few years he fixed her up and was now headed to the Caribbean. He said she wasn't fancy but simple and in good repair. She sure looked good to me!