Winter storm – Winter blues

I’ve not been adjusting well to winter here in Maryland – and it’s been a mild winter.  Mild until last weekend that is.   I sure miss warm weather and Florida.  I’m trying to make a brave front of it, and I’m going to embrace sailing on the Chesapeake in cold weather by making sure I dress warm.  But I’m not sure I’ll ever love it.  Did I mention how much I miss Florida?

This is what I woke up to last Sunday.

About 2 feet of snow

Plenty of snow

Winter storm Jonas visited us and gave us our first snow of the season.  Mrs. CapnRehab was stuck at home by the storm without any project supplies and wound up extremely bored.  She is a “slightly” energetic person, and in her enthusiasm to do something she decided to get outside and shovel snow.  She did a great job on the sidewalk:

Mrs. CapnRehab - snow shoveling pro

Mrs. CapnRehab – snow shoveling pro

A snowplow driver usually stops by and I pay to plow the drive.  This time I guess they were so busy they couldn’t bother with our street.  Then she got the idea to shovel the whole 100+ foot driveway.  She got me enrolled in the project, so we took turns with our one snow shovel.  It was actually pretty nice to be out on a crisp sunny day, with the woman I love enjoying the time together.  We didn’t need many layers because the shoveling kept us warm.  Look at that smile! .

Getting started on the driveway

Getting started on the driveway

Note we need to go all the way past those buried cars to the street.

A little progress

A little progress

A little more

A little more

These pictures don’t really do justice to how much shoveling we did.  It was a lot!  Naturally I forgot to take an “after” picture.  Forgot to take a snow selfie too.  See what winter does to me?



Outboard-flushing the motor

I’m very excited about having my own sailboat. It’s nice to have one that actually works, and I’m kind of sad that I have to winterize it when I just got it.  Actually, I’m really bummed out.  I’m not a big fan of winter, especially since it’s cold and I can’t sail.  I also really don’t like how it gets dark so early.  I don’t think I’d ever make it up north.    Maryland is as far north as I ever want to live – actually, to be truthful Florida is as far north as I want to live.

I think you can pretty much tell that most of the time I don’t really know what I’m doing. I just kind of fumble through the best I can. I have very little experience with outboard motors, other than a few times as a kid when I was either a passenger or when I managed to sink a friend’s fishing boat and motor while trying to launch in a windy Lake. I have no experience operating or maintaining one. Come to think of it, I don’t have that much experience with boats either. Especially not a working boat. I have lots of experience with broken boots!

What I DO have is an attitude that pretty much no matter what it is, I’ll give it a go.  It’s really great that sites like YouTube and others offer so much “how to” advice.  There are many times where I don’t really know what to do but I just do some research and dive in anyway.

In this case I also have some experience with the motors on riding lawnmowers. People keep giving them to me or selling them to me cheap on Craigslist and somehow I managed to get them running. I’m hoping that experience will transfer to the outboard. A friend once told me that with motors all you have to worry about is compression, gas, and spark. If you have all those you are doing pretty good. I’ve noticed that with outboards you also need to make sure that you have a good outflow of cooling water while running.

To get ready for using and winterizing the outboard motor I have been reading the maintenance manual. Flushing the motor is not actually part of winterizing.  The maintenance manual recommends that it be flushed with freshwater after every use in salt water. I’m not sure if this is practical while it’s moored in the slip, but in the spring I’ll see about the feasibility of doing so.

When it is running, an outboard motor is cooled by sucking in seawater and running it through a heat exchanger then pumping the water back out. This means yucky corrosive salt water is running amok inside the engine.

Now that the motor is off the boat and on my handy-dandy new motor stand…

Outboard motor on motor stand

Outboard motor on motor stand

I can start running through my winterizing tasks. First on the list is flushing all that nasty saltwater out of it. The motor came with a nifty little device to go over the water intake and attach a hose to it.

Nifty Flushing Device

Nifty Flushing Device

The motor sucks in cooling water through little openings at the bottom of the motor.  These openings are usually under water.

Water intakes, this vent goes through to the other side

Water intakes, this vent goes through to the other side

The clamp slides onto both sides and covers up the intake vents so you can supply with water from a garden hose.

Device attached and ready to use

Device attached and ready to use

So I put it on, attached it to the hose, turned the water on and fired up the motor!

Flush in progress – see the top of the Catalina 250 rudder in the far right garage bay?

Since the stand is not made out of pressure treated wood I clamped on a large garbage bag to redirect the water. It worked pretty well. That’s a nice jet of water squirting out to the side of the motor so I would say it’s getting flushed pretty well. I’m guessing the impeller in the water pump is in pretty good shape too.  I let the motor run about five minutes to get a good flush.

Wow it felt great to see it running.  Somehow I had tamed this loud smokey mysterious beast to do my bidding – it felt a bit like taming a dragon.

After removing the hose and flush device I let the water drain out.  Then I tilted the motor to the up position and a bit more came out.

While it was running I unplugged the gas line and let the gas burn out so there is no residual gasoline in there. These are two tasks that should be done after every time the motor is operated. I’m going to start operating the boat on checklists until I get more comfortable with everything. Here’s the start of my first checklist:


  • flush motor with freshwater
  • unplug gas line and let motor stop on its own when it runs out of gas
  • Close vent in gas tank

So here is a question for my knowledgeable boat buddies out there. I was told to do the flush with nontoxic antifreeze using a bucket to hold the antifreeze for inflow and to catch the outflow. Since the water drains out (and it seems like it is completely drained out) there doesn’t seem to me to be any need to use antifreeze. Also, the maintenance manual only mentions flushing and doesn’t say anything about using antifreeze. Please comment with your thoughts. Thank you!

A life lesson worth sharing

I follow a blog called “Wait, but why?”.  It’s an in depth looks at a variety of topics.  I read one today that made me stop and say to myself, “wow, this is important”.   He drops a few “F-bombs” occasionally, hope that doesn’t offend you.  This post falls under my category of “life lesson” and is worth reading.

The tail end by “Wait, but Why?”

Yet Another Outboard motor stand

You may not have followed this blog long enough to know that back in 2011 I built a motor stand. Then I built another motor stand. It’s hard to believe that was four years ago!

I sold the first motor stand along with my first rehab sailboat and the second is still in service holding up the motor for the Catalina 22.  Now that I own yet another boat with another motor I need yet another motor stand!  From my vast experience with motor stand building this one went very easily.

Parts and tools for the motor stand.  This took three eight foot 2 x 4 boards, some nails, some leg screws and four wheels. I forgot to include a drill and circular saw in this picture.

parts and tools for motor stand

First I built the two frames using nails. It’s hard to tell from this picture, but the vertical frame has the horizontal boards sandwiched between the two vertical boards.

2015-12-05 14.26.55

The long vertical boards are 44 inches high, the horizontal board that holds the motor is 22 inches wide.

The boards that will be parallel with the floor are 35 inches and of course 22 inches wide.

Next I nailed the frame that will be the horizontal bottom frame into the vertical frame.


2015-12-05 14.37.17

Next I grabbed a scrap of plywood and cut to side supports. The size and angle isn’t that important it just has to support the vertical frame from wobbling back-and-forth.

2015-12-05 14.49.31


I got the wheels with brakes so they were a little more expensive.  These were pre-drilled and then screwed in with lag bolts. There is a minor wheels/no wheels debate out there on the net. I built one with and one without before, I still have the one without and I definitely preferred the wheels. Space is at a minimum in my garage and I have to move things around quite a bit. If you have a dedicated space then maybe you don’t need wheels.

2015-12-05 16.07.33

It was a bit chilly so I fired up the propane double burner.

2015-12-05 16.20.15

Total cost was about 25 bucks. Whenever I build a project I get extra screws or nails or whatever so I actually bought an entire box of washers and lag screws. Then I didn’t even use the washers!  That added another 25 bucks to the total cost but I can’t count that against the motor stand can I?

Total build time about an hour, maybe less. Plus a trip to Home Depot.

Instant wet tool extraction kit

During last weekend’s adventure of putting the boat on the trailer, I managed to drop a wrench (a closed end ratcheting box wrench) in the water. Perhaps it was due to my nervousness, maybe I was feeling a little bit clumsy, I don’t know. It just slipped right out of my hand. I felt pretty bad because it was Pete’s wrench, not mine

Fortunately the water was clear (unusually) and I could see the wrench laying on the bottom. It was a little too deep to reach down into water and get it, and a little too cold to jump in and get it, so I had to figure out another way. I had a boat hook and toolbox and a creative mind. Surely I could come up with something that could retrieve that socket!

The hook part of the boat hook was too big to fit through the socket. I had to find something smaller. Since I brought a bunch of bungee’s to tie the stays to the mast for transport I started thinking about how to use one.  Next I had to attach the hook of the bungee to the end of the boat hook. There were plenty of zip ties available so I grabbed one and yanked it tight. Now I had a handy-dandy instant wet tool extraction device!

In the picture below you can see a leaf sitting on the bottom. It was right next to the wrench. It was great to reach down and hook that socket wrench on the first try! The pictures below are from a reenactment. I retrieved the wrench so fast that it didn’t occur to me to take pictures until it was back on board. No wrenches were harmed in the filming of this important public service announcement.

Wrench Rescue

Wrench Rescue

Here is a close-up so you can admire the fine construction details that went into the making of this quality tool.

Wet tool retrieval device

Wet tool retrieval device

Pete grabbed it and gave it a quick freshwater rinse and put it back in his tool case. For some reason he didn’t let me use wrenches again that night.

Catalina 250 Winter haul out

The Catalina 250 is a water ballast trailer-able boat.  That means she can’t stay in the water all winter because of the danger of freezing the ballast and breaking the boat.  I’ve been waiting for a good weekend to pull her out, and it happened this past Sunday.

One hazard of waiting too long to pull the boat is that you can wind up spending a miserable winter day on the water.  I had planned to pull it the weekend before Thanksgiving, but the wind was blowing way too hard for me to feel comfortable sailing from the boat slip out further towards the bay and then to the ramp on the other side of the river.

I was really quite nervous.  This whole boat owner thing can be pretty nerve wracking.  I read the owner’s manual to get a sense of what to do, but thankfully the previous owner agreed to go with me.  Yay Pete!

The weather was Sunny, about 50 degrees Fahrenheit with a light breeze rippling the water.  The motor has conked out when shifting gears during docking maneuvers in the past but this time fired up and ran like a champ.

We attempted to sail, but the breeze was so light that we were running out of daylight.  I fired up the motor and we headed into the ramp.

First I backed into a slip next to the dock and then we spent some time taking down the mast. It was pretty easy!

After that we pushed it over to the ramp, I got the truck backed up and then we eased the boat on the trailer.

2015-12-06 17.06.23

Boat going on trailer

Once it was mostly out of the water the plug was undone and the ballast water started gurgling out. It took 10 minutes for Pete to realize that we needed to also unplug the air hole. After that it poured out pretty quickly.

2015-12-06 17.08.30

Water ballast being dumped

Final step was to remove the rudder.   I drove over to Pete’s house where he was kind enough to use his pressure washer to spray all the muck of the bottom. By the time I headed home it was full dark. The boat is now sitting in my driveway patiently waiting for spring.

If I put the boat back in the water first weekend in April it’s only 16 weeks away. There may be a few cold sailing days before it warms up though! I think I need some advice on warm weather sailing clothes.

Gryphonsolo2 – Round the world solo speed record attempt going on now

If you like to follow sailors from the comfort of your armchair check out

Joe Harris is attempting to break the solo speed record for going around the world by sailboat.  He’s been at it 3 days so far.

I found out about it in CrusingWorld Magazine which I very much enjoy reading cover to cover.  Mostly I ogle the Caribbean catamaran charter pictures.

You can read about the boat refit in preparation for the attempt here.