Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Mast Head Camera

Bicki and Dave Howell, Nellie D. 37VT63

Something we really enjoy having on Nellie D. are aft and forward looking cameras which are installed on the mast.  

The dome camera provides us with a "rear view" and has proven to be invaluable in narrow waterways with heavy traffic.  The dome camera is a standard display on our Gramin 5212 along with depth and the chart.  The forward looking camera (with 72 IR LEDs) is a bit bigger than the dome camera, but is a  perfect color match.  This camera is used at night, to help us see things a bit bit better and is displayed on the Garmin.  Recently, we also discovered the forward looking camera provided us with a clearer forward view during the day in light fog.  

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Thoughts on the Prop Shaft's Packing Gland

In the vernacular what the Cummins-equipped LNVTs came with is called a bronze, non-self-aligning, righthand thread, spud type, packing box with secondary lubrication.  That's a mouthfull.

To break this down into manageable chunks here's a picture of a Buck Algonquin bronze, self-aligning, righthand thread, spud type, packing box.
The pictured packing box is self-aligning because it freely floats on the prop shaft.  Compare this to the LNVT's packing box which is fixed in place via a pillow block.  The lubrication water for the Buck Algonquin packing box comes via the stern tube.  The LNVT packing box receives lubrication water from the stern tube and also from the engine's raw water system.
The LNVT's packing box does double duty: keeping water out of the boat and the shaft from whipping. 

Cushions on the forward deck

A great seating idea from Monkey 37VT52.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Dual use of Slurpee

From John Niccolls, Knock Off 37VT66

Knock Off's slurpee is definitely a dual use appliance.  After observing some brown cloudiness in the almost empty starboard water tank, I took a ten foot coil of 0.25" tubing and plugged it into the intake side of the diaphragm pump, cut the other end at an angle (about 42 degrees to be precise in the spirit of quantifying things), taped it to the rigid clear plastic tube that pipette that Phil de'Etoile gave us at a rendezvous years ago (for sounding fuel tanks) so that I could reach the tank corners. Worked great and even reached forward of the baffle. Tank water is now clear.

Diagnosis of air in the fuel system

Bicki Howell, Nellie D. 37VT63

If you have ever had your engine start revving and increasing in RMP it is the dreaded signal that air is being sucked into the engine.  It can mean the fuel in the tank(s) is lower than your fuel pickup line or it can be something much harder to diagnose.  A cracked hose, broken fitting or loose connection in the fuel system can be frustrating and difficult to find.  

We made a simple tool to visibly show where air is getting into the fuel system.  It is a clear hose, retrofitted with brass fittings, that can be easily placed in various parts of the fuel tank manifold.  The clear hose enables us to see if air bubbles are present as the fuel passes through.  With this tool we located a cracked elbow in our manifold system.  

Recently, the engine was revving again, Yikes!   We started hunting down the culprit.  We verified first that there was plenty of fuel and the manifold test tool showed no problems from the tanks or manifold.  Next in the line was the Racor filter, which was visually filled with air.  We replaced the Recor hose with a piece of clear line and quickly found the problem.  The old hose was cracked and we were pulling huge amounts of air into the engine.  It was an easy fix, but without the clear hose it would have been a devil to find.  

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Engine painting project

Bicki Howell, Nellie D. 37VT63

Recently, we overhauled the engine room on Nellie D.  It was a project that took us over 6 weeks.  As we took things apart we learned a lot about the engine and even found a few unexpected things.  One discovery was that a bolt head on the rear, port-side engine mount had sheared off in the transmission.  It was certainly a relief when Dave was able to drill it out.  Surprisingly many of the hose clamps broke when they were reused.  For that reason we replaced every one of them.  In addition, all the hoses were replaced; some were quite expensive at over $16/foot.  To clean the heat exchanger we soaked it in a five gallon bucket filled with "Etch and Prep" phosphoric acid from Home Depot.  We replaced the transmission oil cooler after finding several small pin holes around its hose fitting.  The injectors were bench tested and proved serviceable.  At a quarter the price of the OEM engine starter motor, we opted for an after market motor.  It has worked well.  All parts received new gaskets before being reinstalled.  Worn bolts and crush washers were replaced and all bolts were torqued to Cummins' specifications.  We also replaced the lift pump, coolant overflow bottle, thermostat, belt, filters, impeller and Cummins water pump.   

The engine as we took it apart - a bit embarrassing how bad it had gotten.

The engine looks a lot better!

Friday, March 18, 2016

December 2009

Owner Peter Reich sent us photos of Teddy Bear 37VT15 in late 2009 which shows how blowing snow can sneak in anywhere.  Brrrrr!

Peter S. Reich, MAC
631-749-0138 ⚓️

Email is my preferred method of communication since it allows me to track, file and share information efficiently.

Tug spotting

Lady 37VT08 spotted going through Deception Pass yesterday

Monday, March 14, 2016

Something Similar

Some friends of Peter Reich, Teddy Bear 37VT15, cruising in the Bahamas and just saw this boat. 

Similar in some ways....

but not quite the same... .  

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Rendezvous dates set

Be sure to get on board!  Make your plans to attend the Northeast Rendezvous 22-24 July in Plymouth, MA.  Contact Heidi Maitland for all the details:  heidimait@yahoo.com

Friday, March 11, 2016

Slurpee Parts Ready to Install

Randy Miller, Hiaqua 37VT03, reports that his Slurpee system is "Ready to install, wire & plumb."  His blocks are made of Aluminum.  Randy is including valves to make it easy to draw from either the forward or aft pickup.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

To the Bahamas with John William

John and Sue Mackie, John William 37VT68

We decided we wanted to see the Exumas and so started the planning stage in 2014.  After doing local cruises, the Keys, Miami up to Jacksonville and around the Cape Canaveral area, we had a pretty good idea of the improvements we wanted to make to John William.

Storage was the big concern so that is where we concentrated our efforts.  Tools, engine parts and other maintenance items were relocated away from the easily accessible storage areas making access to the daily consumables more manageable.   Storage drawers for canned goods were installed under the salon settee.  The pilot house stairway was modified with a shelf and the bottom step hinged to provide easier access.

A 20 gallon per hour water maker was assembled and installed in the lazarette; which was a must for the down island cruising given the small size of our water tanks.

Spare anchor rodes and spare anchors were brought aboard and a new deck box for the stack deck was built to handle diving gear, cleaning supplies and other miscellaneous items.

After helping a sailor rig his propane stove so he could make coffee he commented our boat reminded him of a hardware store.

On April 17, 2015 we departed our home dock with our 14 foot Carolina Skiff equipped with a new 20hp Mercury, bimini top, anchors and 200 feet of tow line which doubled as our second anchor rode.  After spending our first night out with our cruising club we proceeded to the Stuart area to meet up with longtime friends who were going to buddy boat with us to the Abacos.   It was their first time making the trip.

April 21 was a long 120nm day.  We ventured out into the Atlantic under overcast skies and rain, crossed the Gulf Stream and entered the Little Bahama Bank just north of Great Abaco.  It wasn't until well after dark that we finally dropped the hook in Great Sale Cay.

April 22 we arrived in Green Turtle Cay, the heart of the Abacos' cruising grounds, and cleared Customs.

The next three weeks we traveled from Green Turtle through the Southern Abacos and back up to Green Turtle.  Our buddy boat and friends headed back to Florida at the end of May.

June 2 a boat from our cruising club met us to venture on down the island chain to Geogetown, Exumas.  Together we traveled south through the Abacos to Little Harbor.  Our 62 mile, open ocean, crossing to Russell Island in the Eleuthras, was under cloudy skies and rain.  A large ground swell kept it from being a comfortable ride.  After a two day stay in Spanish Wells we made the 50nm hop across the Banks to the northern Exumas.  Here, in protected waters, we worked our way south while exploring the many popular Cays and the Land and Sea Park.  Once we reached Little Farmers Cay it was time for the 47 nm open ocean run to Georgetown.  As luck would have it the 
seas were running 5 feet and hitting us on the port bow, not a comfortable ride.

June 25 we decided to point our bows to the North and head back up the Island chain with 4-6 footers on the Starboard quarter.

June 29 we departed Black Point, Exumas for the Island of New Providence where we spent 2 days at Palm Bay Resort a new development on the Island.

July 1 we were headed for the Berry Islands and then on to Bimini where we were greeted by sweltering temperatures and no-seeums.

July 2 we made the crossing to Ft Lauderdale and after stopping for some R&R along the way we ended at the home dock on July 8 with 1332 miles under the keel.

During the trip we had no mechanical breakdowns.  We did not run out of food, made a ton of water, experienced calm anchorages as well as lots of rough ones.  We sawtrade winds up to 25 kts and experienced very few calm days.  We had no problems towing a 14 foot skiff.  We ate in some good and not so good resturants.   During the 82 day trip we stayed three nights in marinas and utilized as many moorings as possible.

We will do another trip to the Islands to explore the places we missed, mainly Eleuthra, and to spend some more time in the Northern Abacos north of Green Turtle. The boat performed well and suited us fine.  We are planning another extended cruise this year up the East Coast.


New mast for Victorious 37VT26

Heidi Maitland, Victorious 37VT26 

Our mast was to be repaired for a "spot of rot at the base" by the former owner before we bought the boat in May 2015. The former owner had it unstepped and appeared to have done the work so we restepped it and reattached the shrouds. The shrouds were a little loose and could not be tightened any more with the turnbuckles, so we added a strap between the shrouds under the spreaders to tighten them.  This arrangement worked throughout the summer.  In August when we were working on the decks, on the top of the main salon, Ken noticed the rot in the bottom of the mast had actually crumpled the mast base.  We babied the mast through to the Fall and then unstepped it again. There are two pictures (above) of the old mast, one before Ken took off the stainless fitting and one after, showing the extensive rot where the wires come out at the bottom. There was also rot at the top of the mast.

Ken talked with a friend, a "collector" of used boat parts, and found he had a solid spruce boom from an older boat. The diameter was very close to what we needed and the length was more than what we needed. The boom had a track that he removed and then filled the holes and a couple of cracks (routed out each crack and epoxied 3/4" spruce stock in the space).  Ken cut the mast to length, and used a caliper and chisel to shape the bottom and top ends so the stainless fittings could be reused.  He added 4" fiberglass tape to build the mast up at the spreaders to make the correct diameter.  We have yet to fit the lights to the top, and may need to get new lights, as the old ones were temperamental.  Ken plans to run the wiring through a vinyl cord cover that runs the length of the mast. The two pictures of the work are of the spruce ex-boom with the track removed, and the "new mast" top after being chiseled to the correct shape for the stainless fitting. The spreader fitting can be seen in the bottom most picture.

Luv of Tugs

Roger and Deborah Brown, Saltwater Joys 37VT12

Some 18 years ago, our youngest son and I decided to build a boat together.  Matthew had wanted a boat, and I gave him the task of researching and finding a set of plans.  I have to be honest in saying that I thought it would likely be along the lines of a cedar strip canoe, kayak, or perhaps a small row boat.  You can imagine my surprise when he came back saying, “I want to build a tugboat!” And so the journey began. 

This father son project was comprised of countless evenings and weekends working together.  After four years, the day finally arrived when we launched Time TUGether, a 16ft tugboat built from the Berkerley Engineering plans found in Wooden Boat magazine.  At the launch party I was speaking with one of our elderly neighbors who had watched us working painstakingly away at the boat over the years, and asked him what his biggest concern was.  With a grin on his face, and a twinkle in his eye, he simply stated, “Dying before you finished.”  We both had a good laugh but then went on to reinforce that this project was much more about the journey, and not the destination.  The process was as important as the result.

One of our most memorable trips aboard Time TUGether was from Ottawa to Kingston through the Rideau Canal.  Not only was it our longest trip in the tug, but it was our introduction to the world of the Lord Nelson Victory Tug.  One evening as we approached a lock we saw what was a much larger version of our tiny tug.  We slowly pulled alongside the Carla B 37VT05, a gorgeous 37’ LNVT.   Sporting the exact same paint colors,  it was as if our boat came with the instructions, “just add water.”   When we met Carl and Laura Butterfield, we both knew that the owners were as special and unique as the tug itself.  They were genuine, friendly and ironically as interested in our tug, as we were in theirs.  We exchanged stories, coordinates and photos prior to continuing on our respective journeys.  As a parting gift, Carl gave me a small square 12 inch stick painted red on one side, and green on the other, bearing the name Carla B.  His skipperly advice was, “Remember: red, right, return. This will always remind you and you can think of us.”  Needless to say I still have that stick more than 14 years later. 

From that point forward, I became obsessed with the LNVT.  I would spend countless hours researching, looking at photos, and trying to figure out how I could become the proud owner of one of these magnificent vessels.  I will admit that the cost of the LNVT had me go down the road of looking into the Nordic, Ranger, and other such tugs, but my heart always circled back to the one and only LNVT.

After spending 35 years in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and approaching retirement, I came to the realization that it was time to turn that dream into a reality.  While on Cape Cod this past summer, and once again browsing the LNVT site, I stumbled upon the sale of the Lady Hamilton 37VT12. From the moment we laid eyes on her,  we knew it was right from every perspective. 

As things were put into motion, the conversations with Dave Howell, and several other owners reassured us that we were in good hands as the newest owners of a LNVT.  It goes without saying that a purchase of this magnitude can be overwhelming,  but Dave provided advice, contacts, and photos, but more importantly the confidence we needed to solidify the sale. 

Now with the title in hand, the Lady Hamilton will sail north to Grand Lake, New Brunswick, Canada, under a new name, Saltwater Joys. A good friend of ours by the name of Wayne Chaulk wrote a song entitled Saltwater Joys that speaks of the quiet pleasures of life around the ocean, and the simple pleasures of rural Newfoundland — our home province.  There is an underlying theme throughout the song that suggests the rejection of the busy urban lifestyle in exchange for one that embraces simplicity.  That, in a nutshell, is our quest as Deborah and I plan for our retirement and spending more time with the family, friends, and of course our granddaughter Emma.  If you have a spare few minutes, the song is worth a listen. 

Saltwater Joys no doubt has work to be done to bring her up to the standard she deserves, but as I have always said to my employees, “When you love your job, you never work a day in your life.”  The time spent aboard will fuel the passion I have for the LNVT and all that comes with it.  I certainly hope to become one of those owners whose pride in the tug can be manifested in the same manner as the LNVT sailing into a new port. 

Hanging up my Stetson, high brown boots, and scarlet red tunic will be a little easier knowing that they will be replaced with a pair of worn Sperry topsiders and a t-shirt sporting the LNVT emblem.  Our new journey will begin in ernest when she hits the water in Newburyport this spring.  As we venture north I will be sure to remember:  red, right, return......a big thank you to Carl and Laura.

Deborah and I look forward to meeting some of you at the East Coast rendezvous this summer in Plymouth, Mass. 

New Members

Please join us in welcoming aboard two new LNVT owners.  

Marcus Clark became the new owner of Dolphin De-Light 49VT08 in January.  He is from Vancouver, British Columbia.  We look forward to hearing more from Marcus in the near future.

Troy Lazzaro bought hull 37VT14 last September.  The boat is in the Indiantown Marina, located inland on the Okeechobee Waterway in Florida.  Troy indicated the boat is on the hard in the working yard.  He stated, "There's a list longer than the tug is but she's SLOWLY getting there."  He is planning to have her back in the water this Fall.  

Monday, March 7, 2016

Cruising Scotland

Key "Smokey" Stage, Titan 37VT31

After a very memorable wedding surrounded by many LNVT friends on a beautiful day in Edenton, NC my new bride and I left for our honeymoon.  We had given a lot of thought as to where we would go.  One idea that kept circling in our heads was chartering a canal boat through LeBoat.  LeBoat has canal cruises all throughout Europe, including France, Germany, Holland, Italy, Belgium, Ireland and Scotland.  While the Canal du Midi in France was high on our list, we felt safer choosing Scotland as our first LeBoat cruise.

The price for a week of cruising was surprisingly affordable….less than $1500 for a full week.  The boats are very well equipped, diesel powered and include all arrangements and permits from British Waterways. No license is required.  Showers and heads are located all along the route at the main stops as well as a galley and shower aboard the boat.  Clara and I opted for a week on the Caledonian Canal in Western Scotland.

The Caledonian Canal connects the Scottish east coast at Inverness with the west coast at Corpach near Fort William in Scotland. The canal was constructed in the early nineteenth century by Scottish engineer Thomas Telford, and is a sister canal of the Göta Canal in Sweden, also constructed by Telford.  

We left for Edinborough shortly after the wedding.  One checks in with LeBoat on Friday night and then returns the boat by the next Saturday morning.  Arriving early, we spent three lovely days in Edinborough immersed in the wonderful history at a quaint B&B.  As we were enjoying a leisurely Scottish breakfast on Friday morning, before catching our bus to Laggan Locks, I happened to look at my tickets.  At 0755, I was thinking our bus left at 1000, thus plenty of time for another cup of coffee…..but, that was the bus from Glascow to Laggan….our bus from Edinborough was leaving in just 5 minutes!  Quickly, the innkeeper got us a taxi to the train station, and we just made the train to Glascow, beating the Edinborough bus by a few minutes.  Close call, but we were soon en route on the bus from Glascow to Laggan.

We were prepared for any weather, and May in Scotland is quite a bit different from Eastern Carolina.  Sure enough, we had rain.  We checked aboard and took a required familiarity cruise with the dock master.  We then had our first experience with locks that afternoon, ending up secured above the lock at one of the numerous (and included in the package) docks, scattered all along the canal.  An enjoyable dinner at a converted German trawler …now a restaurant, and we left Saturday morning heading north to our first stop, Fort Augustus.  Enroute to Fort Augustus, our only “mishap” was getting caught by the wind inside the lock after losing the bow line.  Somewhat humbling as a boatload of Germans were snickering at us….one of them asked in broken English if I wanted him to come aboard and take the helm….I declined and corrected our situation.  

The canal is lovely.  Usually not more than 30 yards wide and it connects numerous lakes (“Lochs”).  Our custom was to cruise most of the morning, tie up to the dock, have our main meal in a classic pub warmed by a nice fire, and explore the small towns along the way.  We cooked light meals on board at night and in the mornings. One of the highlights was the impressive lock system at Fort Augustus.  This is a series of 5 locks one must traverse to enter the famous Loch Ness.  The entire transit takes about 45 minutes and we quickly learned the routine….Clara on the bow holding a line, and me on the stern with the other line.

We cruised a full day north on Loch Ness (no, never saw Nessie!) passing old castles and historic inns.  We spent the next two nights at a beautiful dock just outside of the city center of Inverness.  It was about a 30 minute walk to town, via a wonderful trail leading across three islands and the River Ness.  Inverness was wonderful and very historic with warm inviting pubs, shops, old castles and historical buildings.

Our return trip brought us back to Fort Augustus.  We locked through while next to a wonderful Scottish couple from Edinborough; we became warm friends.  Our last night was spent with them again at the converted trawler restaurant followed by a nightcap on board Morning Star.  As I had thoroughly enjoyed the fine Scottish local brews, our new Scottish friend brought his favorite beer aboard to share….Miller Lite!!

All in all, LeBoat is highly recommended, a first class operation.  Would we do it again?  Absolutely.  I even acquired a taste for haggis!  Next trip for us will be the Midi Canal and Southern France should be warmer!

Sláinte mhaith

LNVTs For Sale

Update on 2016 NW Tug Cruise - July 9 to 17-18

From Macy Galbreath, Lady 37VT08

Ahoy - We heard from a number of NW Tuggers regarding the idea of a summer cruise.  

Bill and I will start working for getting slip reservations at some of the stops we talked about (see below).  Out of all the responses, we only had one boater request the June dates, so we will focus on July 9 to 17-18.  These dates might slide a day or two depending on availability.

So mark your calendar - tug cruise in July.  
We will send out more after we have some confirmations.

Engine mount repair

From Allan Seymour, Sally W 37VT42

Here's what the yard did to fix the broken engine mount on Sally W: added some metal and welded it all together (see picture below).  They also tightened up the rubber washer on the a frame mount and aligned the engine and shaft.  So all should be nice and smooth. 

Friday, March 4, 2016

2016 Rendezvous Schedule

Mark your calendar to join us at the 2016 Rendezvous 

Northwest - A tug cruise is being planned for June 18 - 26 or July 9 - 17 in Puget Sound, Washington.  The tugs will be cruising together to places like Langley, Cornet Bay, Deer Harbor, Montague, Ganges,  and Sidney BC.   If you want to join in on this fun event please contact Macy Galbreath, Lady 37VT08, at macyrothert@gmail.com

Northeast - July 22 - 24 in Plymouth, Massachusetts.  Hosted by Heidi and Ken Maitland, Victorious 37VT26.  The city offers a great backdrop for this great venue.  Plans are in the works for a tour of the Mayflower, dinner at one of the dockside restaurants and a parade of the tugs through the harbor.  Contact Heidi at heidimait@yahoo.com

Midwest - September 16 - 18 in Hudson, Wisconsin.  This is a great event hosted by Trevor and Stephanie Croteau, Hjortie 37VT33.  It includes pot lucks,  a tug parade on the river and a dinner cruise on a river boat.  Contact Trevor at trevorcroteau@aol.com

Upkeep Department from NE (Tuggers Issue 66)

From Sally Seymour, Sally W 37VT42

Carl Butterfield writes that Carla B 37VT05 is receiving a fresh coat of white paint on the cabin. The topsides were painted green a few years ago. He and wife Laura have owned the tug since 1991. Their home port is Ithaca, NY on the Fingerlakes. 

Ken and Heidi Maitland, Victorious 37VT26, have been busy bringing their “new” 30-year old tug up to snuff.  They are stripping the decks down to bare teak, getting the generator running, making new curtains for the windows, constantly fiddling with the Xantrex Link 1000 battery monitor, finding and fixing some leaks in the cabin roof, making a temporary fix for the steadying sail mast (it is buckling) and getting the refrigerator doors to close properly. 

Allan Seymour, Sally W  is passionate about preserving his teak. He applies varnish annually to key components such as doors, floor boards, and the rub and cap rails.


Many agree this is important in maintaining the value of the boat. There are several approaches, various products, techniques, and philosophies. Whatever you choose, it will be time well spent.

Lest we forget that the teak in our 30-odd year old tugs came from huge trees, whose quality and size can’t be sourced anymore.

Workers in Taiwan skillfully fashioned thick pieces of teak to form the cap rail. All seventy-four 37-foot Lord Nelson Victory Tugs were built there in the 1980s. Hallmark pieces such as the cap rail deserve to be preserved

Off Season in the Northeast Region (Tuggers Issue 66)

From Sally Seymour, Sally W 37VT42

Winter is explicably mild in the northeast this year, courtesy of El Ninõ. But it is still necessary to haul and winterize. And there are as many variations on storage and winter projects as there are owners.

Roger Lee of Fram 37VT71 reports:  I successfully shrink-wrapped Fram for the winter.  Not beautiful, but functional.  I built a cover frame from 1-inch PVC conduit hoops, 1 X 3 E for longitudinal members, and cable ties (to attach the two).

This has given me access to any location on the deck.  I added a window at the bow so I could see the harbor while I work aboard.  Two projects on my list are replacing the pillow block bearing on the drive shaft with a new and more practical design, and varnishing worn areas in the pilot house and kitchen area. I might also try refinishing one floor panel to see how much time is involved.

Jeremy Fields, Katie Lyn 37VT50, takes an envious approach for the northern waters gang. His tug stays in his front yard in Canandaigua, NY. He writes: I own a marine company and I custom built a permanent hoist large enough to lift her in and out of the water whenever we want. So it makes days like Christmas and New Year's cruises possible.  

While Jeremy Fields was cruising on Christmas Day, Bill Irwin, Callisto 37VT19, received this painting from artist wife Keefer. They are looking forward to spending next summer cruising close to home on Lake Champlain in Vermont. They are talking about a compost toilet and want to know if anyone has done this.