It's always the little things that get ya!
13 May 2012
Bronze Hold Down Bolt Bites The Dust
We're getting closer...
In the weeks since our last update, Céilí has been steadily moving northward. I'm not sure why we haven't been motivated to do regular updates but I suspect it's the sense of being back over old ground with nothing new to report.
That having been said, Céilí is now in Baltimore, tied up on the face dock of the Anchorage Marina where we stayed in the fall. Along the way we made stops at:
Brunswick (also the site of a cellulose plant but not as bad as Fernandina)
Darien River (the Little Mud River requires lots of planning)
North Carolina...which remains my least favorite stretch of the ICW
Carolina Beach, NC (where 10 or 12 public moorings have been installed since our last stay there)
Snead's Ferry (barely more than a fuel dock)
Belhaven (the Belhaven Waterway Marina was great find)
On our passage through Swansboro, NC we were once again treated to a "courtesy safety inspection" by the Coast Guard. We'd heard boats ahead of us being hailed so we knew that there was a distinct possilbility that we could also be in their gunsights. And it was pretty clear that they'd been doing inspections for a couple of days...one skipper ahead of us, when asked when was he last boarded replied, "Yesterday!"
In anticipation of the inflatable with the blue flashing light pulling along side and being asked, "Captain, when was the last time you were boarded for a Coast Guard safety inspection?", I dug out the "canary yellow" sheet from our previous boarding in Newport so we'd have the exact date at our finger tips. Despite my immediate response they weren't impressed one little bit.
Even when your boat is thoroughly up to snuff, the procedure is still a little intimidating. But this inspection was much easier and less intensive than the prior one. It seemed to us that it was more of a training exercise rather than a full monty kind of inspection. As before, all who came aboard were unfailingly pleasant and polite. Among the things they wanted to see were our documentation papers, the overboard discharge plaques, our distress signalling devices, fire extinguishers, overboard discharge valve, and our flotation devices. As everything was in compliance, all was well. They handed us our inspection report, which now looks like a grocery store receipt, and were off to board the next boat.
In the course of the inspection however, we learned something about pfd's. When asked to produce ours, I pulled out our SOSpenders (which Bill has tricked out with all kinds of extra safety and signalling devices) only to be told that they didn't qualify as we weren't wearing them at the time of the inspection. Did we have any of the orange ones? I pulled out the bag of orange type 1 pfd's from the lazarette, where it was buried beneath the generator, life raft, fenders, etc. and that satisfied them. I briefly toyed with asking why the orange vests, that weren't being worn at the time of inspection were somehow better than SOSpenders that weren't being worn, but wisely chose to let the question go unasked.
Chesapeake (at the Top Rack Marina which improbably has the best restaurant we encountered on the ICW called the Amber Lantern, where you can eat your dock fee)
Yorktown (the York River has a significant current, ask us sometime how we know)
Our transit this time across the Chesapeake from Norfolk was very pleasant, unlike the somewhat harrowing one last fall. At the mouth of Potomac we encountered a large number of fishing boats, of all sizes spread out in all directions, towing things off their sterns. Turns out that they were trolling for stripers, also known as rockfish, using umbrella rigs, something we'd never seen before. Turns out, 'rockfish are king' in Maryland. They take rockfishing very seriously around there.
Our planned one night stay at Solomons became five due to small craft advisories on the Bay and a small problem with the engine raw water strainer. On the morning we planned to leave, when Bill went to check the strainer basket as usual, one of the bolts that secures the strainer lid broke off. He was able to retrieve it from the bilge where it had fallen but, but since the hole at the bottom of the bolt had worn through, it couldn't be replaced. And, without the bolt to secure the lid the engine, for all intents and purposes, was disabled. It's always the little things that get ya.
Once again, fortune smiled on us. We were staying at Zahniser's Marina, a full service boatyard. As soon as the office opened, Bill went up to explain the situation and see what kind of assistance we could get. He was told that the next morning the work boat would tow Céilí to the service dock and that a mechanic would be over shortly there after. I have to admit, after years of dealing with the 'marine (lack of) service industry' I had my doubts about how it would all go.
Amazingly, Monday morning the work boat showed up right on time and, shortly after we were tied up to the dock, Bill E., the mechanic, made an appearance. He took a quick look at things and left saying he'd see what he could come up with. Within an hour, he was back with an exact replica of the broken piece which he'd fabricated in his machine shop. He pinned it in place and we were back in business. Zahniser's gets all thumbs up from us.
That brings us pretty much up to date. For the next couple of days the forecast for the Delaware Bay and New Jersey coastline look unfavorable so we'll wait and see how things develop.
Things That Don't (always) Work
09 April 2012
"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
Georgia on my mind
02 April 2012
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...