Solomons, MD is a resort town located on the Patuxent River just off the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay. It is boater friendly and most of my favorite stores – Walmart, Target, Kohl’s, Belk, Marshalls, and Ross – are just across the Thomas Johnson Bridge in California, MD. Lowe’s and Ace Hardware are nearby so Steve has what he needs. We’re going to stay in Solomons a while, but we don’t want to stay at Beacon Marina. They have a great monthly rate, but it’s just a little too rustic for a long term stay
We go marina shopping and decide to stay at Solomons Harbor for a month, maybe two. It’s a Holiday Inn property so we get hotel amenities – pool, exercise room, free breakfast, free ice, and cable TV at the slip. We even get discounted room rates if anyone wants to come visit! Young Son lends us a car so we have everything we need. Except Wi-Fi. Surprisingly, Wi-Fi on the docks is not reliable and addressing that issue that has consumed quite a bit of our time, but that’s another blog.
Once settled in, we fill the water tanks. Since we’d filled them on our way up here using water that’s a little more “mineraly” than what we are used to, I want to siphon the water that’s in the tanks out and clean them before filling them. With two inspection plates and not much sediment or rust stains, the big tank is clean and filled in no time. Not so with the small tank. When we put an inspection plate on the small tank, we forgot about the brace that holds it and the diesel tank in place while we’re traveling. The brace has to be removed to unscrew the inspection plate.
We empty the tank and wipe it out. Steve goes up on deck, takes the fill plate off, and turns on the water. I watch as the water enters the tank.
M (banging on the portlight): Turn off the water!
S: Are you sure? It can’t be full already.
M: There’s stuff floating in the water.
S: Oh, God. Not again.
Steve sees the stuff floating in the water. We don’t know what it is but we both know that I don’t want it in our water tank. It must be the fill line. We siphon out the water and wipe out the tank. We fill the tank a couple more times to see if we can flush out whatever’s in the fill line. Fill, siphon, wipe. Fill, siphon, wipe. No luck. The floaty stuff is still there. We’re not going to tackle replacing the fill line today so we drag the hose into the salon to fill the tank.
WHAT??? The floaty stuff is still there. This makes no sense. Logically and systematically, we begin ruling out other possible sources of the floaty stuff.
Is it the hose hooked to the faucet? Fill, siphon, wipe. Is it the hose hooked to the water filter Fill, siphon, wipe. Is the water filter? Fill, siphon, wipe. Is it the water line itself? Nope. The floaty stuff is still there so we add a little bleach to the tank and hope that the water filter under the sink will remove the floaty stuff. The next time we fill the tanks, there is absolutely no floaty stuff. Makes no sense but we’re not complaining, and since we expected to spend most of the day replacing the fill line, we use that time to move the brace on the small water tank.
Dealing with the controller on our A/C unit has also been annoying. We have a Crusair water-to-air system and a SMX digital cabin control system. It’s basically a heat pump. There are two discharge ducts, one in the main salon next to where I sit and one in the V-berth next to where I sleep. The factory setting is for the fan to run all the time. I don’t like air blowing on me all the time so I get the manual out and set the fan to intermittent. Problem is, it doesn’t cool as well if the fan is not running all the time. I did read something that said if you select intermittent fan operation, you may have to relocate the thermistor from the return air duct to an inside wall, but may is not must so I just ignored it. And then, weird things started happening. The unit turned itself off. It switched to heat. It went into dehumidification mode. We clean both the return air intake filter and the raw water intake strainer filter. They are both pretty nasty, but cleaning them doesn’t resolve our issues.
Steve calls the company. We have two issues he says. The system doesn’t work as well when the fan is set to intermittent and our controller randomly switches modes.
Crusair Guy: Do you have a TV remote?
S (knowing where this was going): Yes, but I don’t have a remote for my controller.
Crusair Guy: The remote is optional but there is an IR sensor on your controller and your TV remote is probably changing the settings on your controller.
The Crusair Guy told Steve where to find the sensor and since we didn’t have any electrical tape handy, he covered it with painter’s tape. Annoying problem solved.
The second issue requires a call back from a more knowledgeable technical rep. Bottom line, the manual is wrong. If you select intermittent fan operation, you must relocate the thermistor from the return air duct to an inside wall.
Another annoying problem solved. Thank you, sir. May I have another?
Steve is responsible for most of the boat maintenance, but I am going to take responsibility for cleaning the return air intake filter and the raw water intake strainer filter. Steve says it needs to be done once a month. Sounds good, I say, but let’s clean the raw water intake strainer filter again. I want to be able to do it all by myself so I take notes.
- Remove flooring covering the bilge.
- Close the seacock.
- Unscrew the cap on the strainer.
- Pull up on the handle to remove the filter.
M: OMG! There‘s something nasty in here.
S: It can’t be that dirty. We just cleaned it.
M: Jellyfish. It’s full of jellyfish and pee-YEW! They stink bad!!
The Chesapeake’s most common jellyfish is the sea nettle, a white, umbrella-shaped yucky-looking thing. We’ve seen them in the water and apparently, the hot, dry conditions we’ve had this year have increased the temperature and salinity of the water, creating an ideal breeding ground.
Sea nettles are nearly 90 percent water but that doesn’t stop them from being sucked into our raw water intake valve.
Cleaning the raw water intake strainer filter is now an almost daily chore. I pull the filter out, put it in a bucket, and hand the bucket to Steve. He takes it outside and cleans the jellyfish guts out of the filter. One day, I decide we need to flush the bilge. There are jellyfish parts floating around in it. I ask Steve to bring me the hose when he’s done. No answer. I ask again, a little louder this time. He appears in the companionway.
M: Did you hear me? Please bring me the hose. I want to flush the bilge.
S (Dangling the handle to the filter and obviously pissed): Yes, I hear you, but we have a bigger problem to deal with.
M: Where’s the filter?
S: Where do think the filter is? Stainless steel does not float. I’m going to West Marine.
M: Okay. Hand me the hose. I’ll stay here and flush the bilge.
Steve returns with the filter still pissed because he knows better than to wash things off over the side of the boat but even more pissed that he had to spend $48 on a new filter. Thankful it wasn’t me who dropped the filter overboard, I fix him a drink.
A few annoyances? Maybe, but we’re retired, living on a boat and staying in Solomons. It’s what we signed up for. It’s Zen on a Boat.