Charlestown Navy Yard

The Charlestown Navy Yard, established in 1801, was one of the oldest shipbuilding yards in the country. More than 200 warships were built in the yard and thousands more were maintained and repaired there. When the Navy Yard closed in 1974, a portion became part of the Boston National Historic Park. The rest was commercially developed, including Pier 8, the site of the Charlestown Marina where we are staying while in Boston. We spent our first few days in the area exploring the Navy Yard and getting a few boat projects done.

Trip highlights from June 17th through June 21st follow. Click any image for a larger view, or click the position to view the location on a map. And a live map of our current route and most recent log entries always is available at

Pier 6

Drinks and a light snack on the patio at Pier 6, formerly part of the Charlestown Navy Yard, with a view to downtown Boston.
Charlestown Navy Yard

The Charlestown Navy Yard National Historic Park is a few minute’s walk from our marina.
USS Constitution

The USS Constitution, launched in 1797, is the oldest commissioned warship afloat in the world today. The ship never lost a battle at sea and earned the nickname “Old Ironsides” after British cannon shots bounced off her thick hull and an American sailor reportedly exclaimed that “her sizes are made of iron!”. She currnetly is in dry dock for extensive renovations.

The row of pillars unpainted pillars below decks provide temporary support while the ship is out of the water. With all the boat’s weight resting only on the keel and no water to provide additional pressure from the outside, the ship will tend to spread out and the decks close up on each other.

A person-sized capstan for managing the rigging.

Each of the cannon ports bore the name of the gun that was placed there. This one is called “Spitfire”.

The list of USS Constitution captains starts with Samuel Nicholson from 1797 to 1799.

Jennifer signing one of the ship’s copper hull plates in the USS Constitution Museum. Now we’ll both have our signatures on active US Navy war ships.

The USS Constitution Museum had several excellent displays detailing the ship’s history and life aboard, along with a number of impressive scale models.

Cannons from the USS Constitution lined on shore during the restoration. Spitfire must be in there somewhere.
Cassin Young

World War II destroyer USS Cassin Young was closed for the day by the time we arrived.
Constitution Marina

Looking across Constitution Marina at the mouth of the Charles River.

The Charlestown Marina gives us “ringside” viewing to the large ship traffic coming and going from the bulk petroleum storage facility along the Chelsea River.

The bridge of the articulating tug barge passing by outside the marina. It’s way up there to see over the barge in front.
Atlantic Star

We thought the barge looked pretty big for the channel outside the marina until the 183x32m Atlantic Star came through. We’ve even seen two ships of this size pass here.
Navy Yard Bistro

An exceptional meal along the pedestrian promenade at the Navy Yard Bistro, a short walk from Charlestown Marina. We’ll definitely be back.

It looks like Spitfire forget he had his tongue out.

We get incredible zinc life. As long as we’re not around marinas they can last over two years, except for the pictured hydrualic cooling system zincs which need regular changing every two months.
Iver Progress

The 184x27m tanker Iver Progress heading out to sea after passing in front of the marina.
Curse of the Dry Bilge

The “problem” with a dry bilge is that very tiny leaks are super-noticeable. After enjoying a bone-dry bilge for about 12 hours, we noticed a very minor diesel leak that left a 6-inch residue trace in the forward bilge. We traced it to a tiny imperfection in the weld at the bottom of the supply tank where the fuel is seeping out through an air bubble. It’s such a tiny hole that for years it was sealed off by paint but now is just barely allowing diesel to pass. We sanded off the paint around the area and viewed through a mirror you can see the air bubble in the weld where the stick points.
Raspberry Pi

Our Raspberry Pi failed this afternoon. All those orange and red lights on the Maretron display at the left of the picture are due to the missing Pi. We use it to control 120V load shedding and active cooling, support the virtual watch commander, parallel the wing/gen start batteries into the house system, override the automation system and emergency alarm, and indicate the state of various equipment such as the bilge or waste pumps, generator auto-start, and the fire suppression system. We have a backup for the Pi, but replacing it is non-trivial. The wiring to the old one has to be transferred to the new. That alone is a big job, but the new one (a Pi 3 Model B) won’t read the SD card from the old one (a Pi 2 Model B) so we had to re-install all the software from scratch. At that point, it’s a big job. We finally finished about 11pm.
Tank repair

We discovered a pin hole leak in a supply tank weld where an impurity or a bubble in the weld just allows a slight seep of diesel. The leak is so small that it’s been sealed since new by just the coat of paint on the tank. We repaired it by cleaning the surface down to shiny aluminum, applying two thin coats of JB-Weld, sanding smooth and applying a thin layer of clear 5-min epoxy. Our bilge is back to 100% dry again.

Our primary satellite system failed during the trip up to Boston. The KVH V7 support team diagnosed the problem as one of a bad cable, failed modem, or an LNB (linear noise block). To get the system operational quickly, they sent a modem and a LNB. The modem is, by far, the easiest to install so James put it in and the system immediately returned to operation. We average more than $100/day in communications costs when the primary system is down, so it’s nice to have it back on line.

Jennifer polishing the stainless. It was looking a bit rough from the off shore run up here where saltwater spray had baked on in the hot sun.
Navy Yard Bistro

Another excellent meal at the Navy Yard Bistro. We knew we’d be back.

Full moon over East Boston.

James checking out the new Milwaukee cordless drill, driver, and impact wrench set.
Pressure tester

In the last engine room check, James noticed the generator coolant overflow bottle was nearly overflowing. He pulled off the coolant cap and found the coolant level was low. As a precaution, he pressure tested the cooling system and found it actually was leaking down, but there was no coolant outside the engine. Generally that is not good news so we kept digging. The generator coolant “leak” ended up being an unusual problem: the pressure tester was leaking at the pressure gauge. We fixed the leak in the pressure tester, re-tested and confirmed the generator is sealed up tight. The cause of the coolant not returning to the engine as it cools down was just a bad coolant cap or leaking overflow bottle tube. He replaced both and it’s all back to working normally.
Radiator cap

James using a Dremel to clean off some flaking paint on the generator radiator cap sealing surface.
Overflow hose

While changing the coolant overflow hose on the generator, James also replaced the same hose on the main since it’s showing some signs of heat and age damage.

Show locations on map Click the travel log icon on the left to see these locations on a map, with the complete log of our cruise.

On the map page, clicking on a camera or text icon will display a picture and/or log entry for that location, and clicking on the smaller icons along the route will display latitude, longitude and other navigation data for that location. And a live map of our current route and most recent log entries always is available at


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2 comments on “Charlestown Navy Yard
  1. Dave O'Donahoe says:

    Welcome, belatedly, to Boston. You’re probably happy in Charlestown but do make time to head over to the Marina in East Boston while you are here. It has a very cool vibe, I’ve stayed there a few times, and some really fun large scale public art installations on the surrounding wharves. Plus the best view of Boston for miles around. It is also the home of the historic lightship “Nantucket” LV-112, now a museum. It is a fascinating ship to prowl around and I am sure that Bob Mannino, the man behind the restoration effort would take great delight in giving you a private tour.

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