"Dear, Do You Think This Might Explain That Bad Bilge Smell?"
In November (11/18/11) , we discussed things that really work onboard Ceili. It's fair to say that we have also experienced our share of things that don't work (very well) in our 10 months of living aboard full time. Here is a rundown of those things that have annoyed us the most on our cruise.
1. TOHATSU OUTBOARD:We purchased our 9.8 hpTohatsu new 2 years ago. Tohatsu also makes outboards branded Nissan and Mercury. Our outboard received excellent care....oil changes every 50 hours and was equipped from new with a Racor water separator and fuel filter. It was covered when not in use and seemed to lead a pretty pampered life (maybe that was the problem...tough love might have been better, we think). While in Marsh Harbor, it began to act surly, and was difficult to start. Then it failed to start at all. I disassembled and tested as much as I was able to, and unable to get it started, finally surmised that it was an electrical/ ignition problem. But these new four strokes aren't like the simple 2 strokes we all learned on.....they're more like a modern car with electronic ignition and black boxes which defy the backyard mechanic. So, after a lot of angst, it was off to "James", the local Marsh Harbor outboard mechanic with a good rep (did I mention that there were no Tohatsu service centers in the Bahamas, and that the engine was still under warranty?). James was a find, though, and diagnosed the problem in less time than it took me to schlep the recalcitrant 84 lb. iron lump to his shop.
The bad news: a bum exciter coil that was not available in the Bahams and would take a week to get from the US (it actually would eventually take 2 weeks). But, James was willing to loan me a used, 10 year old 2 hp Yamaha 2-stroke that he had lying around in the shop, so at least we wouldn't be rowing the dinghy while we explored the Abacos.
At this point I must digress and confess that I became very fond of that little Yamaha. I could lift it with one hand, and walking back the 1 mile to Ceili with it seemed like child's play compared to schlepping the "lump", as we now call the Tohatsu. Not only that, the little bugger always started on the first pull, and though it smoked like a bastard, never let us down in the 2 weeks we used it.
When the Tohatsu was fixed, I sadly returned the Yamaha. All seemed well, until several days later, I decided to make a high speed run out of the harbor towards Mermaid Reef, just to make sure that all was well for our next trip. On the way back (fortunately), the "lump" began to misfire and buck, and then quit altogether. I deployed an anchor to keep from drifting out to sea, and was eventually able to get it restarted, though it would only idle roughly. I was able to limp back to Marsh Harbor, arriving just before dusk. I called James, and he agreed to check it out the next morning.
Of course when James took it for a spin, it refused to act up. The worst of all mechanical problems....the "intermittent" malfunction which cannot be duplicated by the mechanic. James suggested a carburetor problem (dirt), and I was a little skeptical. But, in less than an hour, the carburetor was removed, stripped, cleaned and reinstalled. I was amazed at his effeciency, even if I was suspicious of the diagnosis. But, time has proven James right, and the engine has been running OK (crossed fingers) ever since.
But, like a jilted lover, I had lost all faith that the "lump" would ever be trustworthy again. James, who was by now becoming a part of the family, agreed to part with his little Yamaha. I made sure that the Tohatsu was in the room when the deal was done, as a not so subtle threat against further indescretion.
2. ISLAND PACKET HOLDING TANK
This is a notation made in Ceili's maintenance Log just before our trip South:
HOLDING TANK REPLACEMENT!!! READ THIS!!!
If you are a new owner reading this, you should be extremely grateful that this job has been done by the previous owners (us). Why I.P. (Bob Johnson) ever decided to use aluminium for their holding tanks has never been well explained, but as of late they have switched to fiberglass, probably because of stories like this one.
We "babied" our aluminum tank, using only freshwater, frequent pump outs, flushing, etc. And it failed after 16 years. We were "lucky", as many other IP owners have had their tanks fail after only 7 or 8 years.
Tank removal and replacement was a gargantuan task, even a "bitch". The tank is buried low, and access meant cutting through the forward berth and two more levels beyond that. The process took about 10 DAYS!!! Of full time work.
We had a new tank fabricated by C&H Plastics, of Johnston, RI to IP dimensional drawings. The tank is constructed of extra-thick 1/2 inch HDPE, which will not corrode and will hopefully outlive the boat. The tank also has a 1/2 HDPE baffle on center, and was welded, spot tested and water tested prior to installation. The thick plastic should hopefully resist odor permeation for a long time. ARE YOU LISTENING , BOB!!!????
All new odorsafe sanitation hose was installed to both heads and all connections, including the vent hose. The direct overboard diversion valve was removed, making the system a " Through Holding Tank Overboard Discharge System," via macerator if desired.
Another problem of the original IP design was no accomodation for installation of a tank level monitor, so one was installed, using the SCAD external tank sensor unit.
The tank capacity was measured after installation at 28 useable gallons, which brings the tank level to just below the vent opening on the tank. The monitor is set to show FULL at approximately 80% of this, or about 23 gallons. This should avoid the problem of overfilling and possibly obstructing the vent. Plastic tanks are more pressure sensitive than metal ones, and the vent must be kept clear and functioning at all times.
If you have detected a degree of criticism/exasperation as you read this, you would be correct.However, the IP40 is a wonderful boat, generally with very few vices (this being one of them). She is well worth the time we spent in this endeavor, with the intention of never having to repeat it.
Bill and Linda Daley
Bill relaxing with an adult beverage at the end of a long day
Yesterday, April 1st, we left the Fernandina Beach Municipal Marina for our next destination...Brunswick, GA. Fernandina is a lovely town; lots of nice shops and restaurants, all within walking distance of the waterfront. The problem with Fernandina Beach harbor is that it is home to several large pulp and paper mills whose stacks belch nauseating smoke 24/7. When the wind is blowing over the harbor, there is no avoiding the smell.
This transit through Georgia requires a certain amount of strategising. Georgia's portion of the ICW is somewhat shallow so one needs to go through the skinniest areas at high tide. Yesterday's challenge was Jekyll Creek. To that end, we left Fernandina Beach at 10 am, figuring an average of 5.5 kts. And, voila, we arrived in Brunswick, GA right on schedule at 4 pm at the Morning Star Marine. We opted to have dinner at the marina restaurant...great burgers! In the morning we left around 1:00 pm to get through the Mud River and arrive at the Darien River at about the same time.
Lots of cruisers we've met prefer to go off-shore rather than transit this portion of the ICW, primarily because of the depth issue. We actually enjoy Georgia and find its quiet pristine low country very pleasant, although a little stressful as one must be constantly vigilant.
We arrived at the Darien River around 5 pm having transited the Little Mud River, known as the single most difficult stretch of the ICW because it has depths as low as 2 to 3 feet at mlw and must be approached only at high tide...and we had our pick of anchoring spots...we were the only boat there! Just as pretty as the first time.
In the morning (4/3) we raised anchor around 8:15 to make the 60+ mile trip to Isle of Hope Marina in Savannah. This stretch of the ICW is very winding and, without much wind, today it's very buggy. The no-see-ums and biting flies are a nuisance...AND there is Hell Gate to transit. We timed our departure to get us through Hell Gate at high tide and then there was the Skiddaway Island bascule bridge between us and the Isle of Hope. For some, inexplicable reason, Bill had misunderstood the restrictions on the bridge...between 4:30 pm and 6:30 pm it only opens on the 1/2 hour. So, we thought we'd have to wait for the 6:30 opening UNTIL we realized that, if we put the pedal to the medal, we could make the 5:30 opening...it's all about the math.
We made the 5:30 opening and arrived at Isle of Hope Marina around 6:00 pm. The marina staff were gone for the day so it was up to me to jump off Ceili on to the dock with the bow line. I'm happy to report that, broken knee cap (2009) and fall in St. Augustine (2012) I still have the mojo and jumped onto the dock easily. We are now docked for the next day or so.
More to follow...
Heading South Isn't All It's Cracked Up To Be
On Monday, the 19th, we picked up a rental car and drove to Jane's and Peter's lovely home. The plan for us was to do provisioning for our trip home and for Jane and Peter to arrange to bring Kinvara back to her marina. The only snag in the plan was that Jane's and Peter's refrigerator had experienced some sort of catastrophic event during their months away and had died. Being boaters and quite accustomed to things not going perfectly, Plan B was put into effect for the short term. Happily, a new refrigerator is on the way.
On Tuesday, we dropped Peter's and Jane's cars off at the Little Harbor Marina and all headed back to Vero Beach. Early Wednesday morning we waved good bye to Jane and Peter as they unrafted from Ceili and left on Kinvara with promises to stay in touch. We stayed on in Vero Beach an extra day do some last minute shopping and errands (it never ends!).
Thursday we made a short hop (about 20 miles) to Titusville. The plan was to stop there and then, on Friday, head to one of the anchorages in Daytona. By doing this, we'd be able to by-pass New Smryna Beach, the site of a rather unpleasant experience the previous fall. But, as with all things in boating, you can't ever expect things to work out according to plan. In mid-afternoon we learned there were thunderstorms in Daytona and they were heading our way. In light of that, we decided to stop in New Smyrna Beach. We called the Smyrna Yacht Club, located right along the ICW and were offered transient dockage for the evening. Between the wind and current it took four of us, and lots of lines, to get Ceili tied up to the dock. Once all was secured at the dock, we found our way to the Tiki Hut where we had a chance to chat with some of the club members , including one who so kindly helped us dock. It's a lovely club and the members were very friendly and helpful. As a note of interest, the first question I was asked by the club manager was "Do you belong to a yacht club?" It was only the second time we've ever been asked to show proof that we belong to a yacht club before being welcomed aboard.
At first light we left New Smyrna Beach without incident and headed north to St. Augustine. It was a 63 or so mile passage and we arrived there around 4:30 pm. We had enjoyed St. Augustine on our trip down and looked forward to a chance to spend more time there. We grabbed a mooring on the south side of the Bridge of Lions in the St. Augustine City Marina.
The next morning, we dinghied ashore to sign in and go into town. We took our time poking around the myriad shops, spending quite a while in one of the shell shops on St. George's Street. We also returned to the Pepper Palace where Bill had purchased some hot garlic in the fall. Sadly, they were out of hot okra but that didn't stop us from finding other hot items to bring back. In our search for some stationary items we found ourselves touring Flagler College, winding up at the bookstore. Flagler is a private, 4 year, co-educational liberal arts college. The centerpiece of the campus is the beautiful Ponce de Leon Hall, the former Ponce de Leon Hotel, built by Henry Flagler in 1888, his first in a series of hotels along Florida's east coast. On our walk to the bookstore, we also noted that there is an outdoor pool and beach volleyball court on campus. I suspect Flagler might be much more fun than the place I went to college.
That evening, we had dinner at the Santa Maria Restaurant, located over the water on a long dock. It's very interesting place. It started out in 1763 as a landing for ships to dock and unload cargo. Two hundred years later, in 1949, Louis and Marguerite Connell opened a restaurant on the crumbling dock. It has been a family run business since. A sign on the dock leading to the restaurant encourages patrons to 'feed the fish while you dine!' The restaurant offers casual dining, very good food and something I can say without reservation is an absolute dining first: the restaurant has trap doors next to the tables for feeding the swarms of catfish and mullet that surround the building.
We were seated by a window overlooking the harbor and, along with our drinks, the waitress brought us a basket of bread, which she cautioned, was not meant for us but for the fish. We didn't see any fish coming around for dinner but outside the windows sea birds of all kinds were flocking and staking out their territory. For a moment I thought I'd been transported back to Bodega Bay, with white birds rather than black! A young family was seated at the table behind us and every little while we'd hear the 'Bang!' of the trap door as it slammed shut, the cacophony of the birds outside scrambling to score the piece of bread and the kids' squeals of delight. The birds are so accustomed to this program that they show up in the afternoon expecting to be fed...in fact, those that sat outside our window seemed almost to glare at us as we steadfastly refused to offer them so much as a single crumb. Truly a dining first.
We left St. Augustine on Thursday morning around 7:20 am so as to make the 7:30 opening of the Bridge of Lions. Once through, we motored down in time to make the next opening of the George E. Musson, Coronado Beach bascule bridge. The remainder of the day was spent motor sailing the distance to Fernandina, about 62 miles. It was a beautiful day and we were lucky to see lots of dolphins and birds of all kind. The wildlife of the ICW never gets old to us.
We arrived at the Fernandina Municipal Marina around 4:00 p.m. As it was a long day we opted to have dinner at Brett's Waterway Cafe which is located at the dock. All in all a good trip from Vero Beach so far. This morning's mission is to plot a strategy to get us successfully through Georgia's shallow portion of the ICW.
The photo was taken in the Halifax River; the boat was smack dab in the center of the ICW.