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Log Entry

461 DAYS

...and counting.

This post, a bit of therapy and catharsis, attempts to think through the past four hundred and sixty-one days since commencing CAYUGA's refit. The process began the day CAYUGA was docked in Denton, November 8, 2021. Lest I despair too much, I do admit that first summer was pretty wonderful, it still carries me, but I seriously hope the days are few and numbered for wrapping up this work.

The delivery to Mathews Bros, way up the Choptank River, to Denton, was "magical" as Holly would put it. Check out the blog on that here. Mathews Bros is where we began the refit work which was to include taking out the engines and the transmissions for service. Note that I say "service".

In the meantime, I have to share that a few things have gone swimmingly well. Namely the varnish work, of which my previously varnish-averse wife, is exceedingly thrilled about and the trim tabs. The Zipwakes, we are anticipating will be the game changer for going "slow" but at a nice speed, not full out like the original owner, Blair Brown, designed so he could get from one point to another in record time. Story for another day. Check those for DONE! Holly thinks those trim tabs are sexy, I don't understand her definitions... but I like it.

Back to the rest, to accomplish the services, Holly and I began engaging in commerce with many marine industry businesses. In hindsight, to say that we now find ourselves behind schedule and over budget is an understatement. Holly, ever the pragmatist, says she is happy just knowing CAYUGA exists in her life. I hear her, but see the sadness in her eyes that she didn't get the boat in the water for summer '22. That and I know she was utterly spent by summer's end with friends asking her when the boat was going in the water. I, on the other hand, well, those who know me know exactly how I feel, and for those of you who do not, I'm exasperated, irritated, and can barely utter our eponymous website name, neither in sarcasm nor jest.

Were we naive and overly optimistic? Should we have known better what we were getting into and planned accordingly? How could we have planned or known? Holly paid for our boat slip for 2022, but it went unused. The annual Antique & Classic Boat Festival held in St. Michael's every June went unattended. CAYUGA stayed in storage, gathering dust and collecting stories.

Antique & Classic Boat Festival at St. Michaels (photo clipped from

I'd say this is going to be brief, but it probably won't be (making a parallel statement?). Anyway, over the past fifteen months of "Project CAYUGA", I'll try to distill the good, the bad, and the ugly. First, we still do not have an end date. You would be in hysterics if I were to try to tell you how many end dates we had planned, or were near meeting, or were given, or promised, or conjured out of thin air just to feel better on any given day. All of the above by all parties. Probably mostly by me. But after a near meltdown, which prompted this post, I asked my dear power-boating wife to take the helm. Holly is not only pushing for in-the-water but is visualizing the calendar in everyone's head for sea trails come April.

Some of the challenges and tribulations are self-inflicted. Side note: we realize the marine industry we are entirely reliant upon and will not say boo about, but we do need to live up to our I love yachting standard. In a perfectly ILY fashion, we sourced our Annapolis-based engine mechanic, Chris Oliver, to handle our engine services. Well, we needed more than just some service once things were apart. OF COURSE! I will say that if nothing else, I've learned a ton about marine gas engines, transmissions, and v-drives.

Backing up a bit, Mathews Bros had enlisted the services of Mid-Shore Diesel to remove the mechanical workings and secure them for transport to Annapolis. On December 11, 2021, (428 days ago) our good friend, neighbor, racing/boating guru, and frequent commenter on posts, Geremy, helped by providing his truck to haul the engines across the Bay to begin the evaluation of the thirty-year-old Marine Power big block 454s.

After determining with our mechanic's expert input that the prudent course of action was to get the longblocks rebuilt, I searched for a shop capable and willing to do the work. For a recommendation, I called the local marine power dealer, Coby Marine, in Pasadena. Without hesitation, I was referred to Marty Brown Racing in Centerville, MD. With the Eastern Shore close to both of our hearts, we were feeling pretty good.

MBR is an excellent family-run machine shop specializing in high-performance engines for cars and boats, racing, and everyday use. The business was started in Glen Burnie by Marty Brown, Sr., then moved to the Eastern Shore, where Marty Brown, Jr. now handles the day-to-day running of the business. The picture is of Holly and Marty Jr., January 27, 2022.

Marty enthusiastically agreed to overhaul the engines. Over in Annapolis, on February 26, 2022, Chris at Portside Marine loaded them on a trailer and transported them back across the Bay.

The longblocks were off on their own and now we had the transmissions / v-drive gears to get serviced. While the 454s make the power (the Marine Power slogan being "The Force Behind The Fun"), it takes gears to convert the power to make those propellers go around, fast. In another perfect ILY situation, CAYUGA is equipped with no longer made, a company out of business long ago... Paragon gears. The one-time Taunton, MA-based company is now just a memory, but there are a few shops that remain still servicing the old but trusty units. Parts? Of course, those are also no longer produced either thus adding to the list of "why are we doing this??!!". Remember that self-inflicted statement part...

I got a recommendation for a shop in VA that serviced Paragons. So, with another borrowed pickup truck, I went to Mathews Bros to pick up the Paragons and on April 11, 2022, drove them to VA. It felt like real progress with the engines underway and someone to service the Paragons.

Back at Marty Brown Racing, the engines were done. The picture is a happy Holly with Marty Jr. and some seriously silver (a sailing buddy of ours had a slightly different reaction, "Silver as #&%@ was his exclamation) like new engines on July 12, 2022.

Marty Brown, Sr. delivered the longblocks back to Chris's shop on July 18, 2022.

Unfortunately, no work was ever performed on the Paragons. After a few phone exchanges, I was in a position where I had no choice but to go back to VA and retrieve our transmissions. So on July 25, yet another pickup truck was borrowed, and off I went to bring our Paragons back to Annapolis.

Time for you to pour a beverage of your liking, if you haven't already, and tuck in. Yet another ILY moment is about to arise. Let me explain. Holly's parents were longtime active members of the Antique & Classic Boat Society (ACBS), Chesapeake Chapter. Shortly after taking over stewardship of CAYUGA, I signed us up for membership. We had (still have) grand plans for entering her in the annual show in St. Michael's for competition.

ACBS is all about keeping a boat in a "matching" condition to the original. The engines, once completed, and without us paying attention, got painted bright silver. The original Marine Power color is more of a silver-gray. All of the brackets, heat exchangers, pulleys, etc. are that color. Therefore, we needed to prep and repaint the engines in order for Chris to put it all back together and dress it up.

I contacted an old acquaintance who has been painting boats for decades. He agreed to do the work of paint removal and priming in preparation for Chris to reassemble and then apply the dress-up. In late August a deposit was paid for what seemed like a reasonably straightforward job to get done at Chris's shop in Annapolis. Well, September passed, then October and November, and through December, with January coming and going all without the painting getting done.

Going back to the transmissions, they had become a reason for not completing the engine painting - the theory being that they could not be reassembled until the transmissions were complete and returned. Therefore, the transmission work ostensibly became the tail wagging the dog.

After returning from VA, I began the task of searching for another shop to perform the work on the Paragons. Eventually, I got an indirect referral through ACBS for another one-person operation (who else is out there but these folks and thankfully they are but they are hard to find) just west of Charleston, SC. I rang up Chris Jones of Chris Jones Marine and arranged to deliver the units to him. I suppose you could say it's all a journey... and with Geremy's truck (yes, it has a name) I headed south to Sommerville, SC on August 17 (179 days ago) and drove back that next day. SC is not exactly convenient, but I wanted to meet Chris and ensure we had an understanding of what he was going to do and how long it would take. It was a tough couple of days traveling I-95 but it seemed this time it was worth it. The Paragons are ready for the trek south on August 17, 2022, aboard "Buttercup".

Chris Jones, our hoped-for Paragon guru, at his shop later that day, August 17, 2022.

Holly spoke with Chris about a week ago and relayed that he was nearing completion of the second unit and would be shipping in the next week directly to Mathews Bros as discussed.

Does anyone remember the old show Sing Along with Mitch Miller and following the bouncing ball? (there really was no bouncing ball but that's what folks tend to remember) My parents watched it. I realize that this story might be like that show, but hopefully, you are still with me.

The most recent ball bounce occurred last Monday, February 6. Holly and I met with the painter and Chris to discuss the status of things. Based on the progress, or lack thereof, the decision was made to full-stop on the (non) painting effort and get everything back to Mathews Bros.

And back across the Bay The Force Behind The Fun - in pieces - shall go. Mathews Bros has a full paint shop so they will handle the remaining parts to be cleaned of old paint and corrosion and then begin the work to reassemble it all into CAYUGA.

For anyone who read the last post and wondered if this latest chapter of ILY has gotten me drinking again, the answer is no. Further, I have remained on that plan for now 85 days with the support of Holly and our friends. Living through this refit, whether the responsibility rests with us or others, has tested my determination to stay calm and to persevere without liquid resolve.

As part of my therapy, going back to the very beginning of this post, please feel free to comment with opinions, thoughts, suggestions, or just remind me that ILY.

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Feb 18, 2023

I Love Yachting!


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The summer on Cayuga will be sweeter due to her long journey. As a wise fish once said, “just keep swimming, just keep swimming”

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