Mon 23 Apr 2012
Docked at Jekyll Harbor Marina, Jekyll Island, GA
[photo: Clyde and Diane enjoying a garden that is not heaving, rolling, and pitching, while wind shrieks through the rigging.
[Mike, thanks for those excellent comments. You'll be proud to know that I had considered all those items, but as you will see reading below, we are getting a new camshaft tomorrow and that is our plan.]
Just days ago we had daytime temperatures that had you seeking shade as often as possible and now we have nights with wind chill temps in the low 40s. Even Duane had to reach for his jacket as soon as he got dressed, even inside the cabin with no wind blowing. Armed with a steaming mug of coffee, there was the rather cold trek to the marina bath house. It is customary to use the shoreside facilities as much as possible when you can, and with us not able to move the boat under power, we can't easily get to the pump-out station if we fill up our holding tank.
This morning was mostly about the preparation and then execution of the engine disassembly. We discussed where various parts would be placed, and how we would handle the disruption to our normal situation, which I have to believe saved much grief on both our parts. Next, I gathered the tools and started, with Diane standing by to take dictation as to what I was removing and in what order. I was sure to take a few photos along the way in case I had trouble remembering what went where.
Within about two hours, I had carefully cleaned and removed almost all the parts and sub-assemblies needed to get the camshaft out. What I couldn't do was remove the pulley off the crankshaft, and that is required to get the entire gear case off. I then drained the oil and cleaned out all the spilled engine coolant from the engine pan. Once I had cleaned up the mess and dismissed Diane to her endeavors, I cleaned up myself and went looking for Randy, the part-time dock hand who is also a cruiser.
Randy knows a good diesel mechanic who lives here on his boat and I will be happy to engage his services to get the pulley off and supervise the camshaft replacement (assuming it arrives tomorrow). With that in and the valve clearances set, I can handle putting everything else back together. I could probably handle the entire job with a few more specialty tools, but I am willing to get professional help when needed.
Diane came back from her exile to the pool area where she had found some solace from the relentless wind and could relax without all the fuss aboard the boat. She suggested that we take Clyde over to the beautiful fenced-in yard of our new friend, Edie, and also do laundry. We packed up and drove over in Edie's car and had a most enjoyable few hours.
Dinner back at Diva Di was left-over ham from Edie's house the other night and the scalloped potatoes I made a few nights ago. It was really good, especially after a long, tiring day.
After a relaxing early morning with lots of rain overnight, it was time to tackle replacing the leaking raw water cooling pump. First, was the tedious job of cleaning up the mess that the leaking pump makes in combination with the black rubber dust that came of the new v-belt (which is now too loose and needs tightening).
Getting the pump off was easy, but what I discovered then was shocking and very disappointing. The end of the camshaft was broken. It had two tangs that drive the water pump and with those broken, we have no cooling. [For those fellow Catalina 36 owners, yes, the reinforcing sleeve was in place.] I suspect I know why it was still (marginally) working before the disassembly, but nevertheless, the camshaft will need to be replaced.
This can either be a MAJOR job entailing removal of the engine from the boat, or a semi-major job with a partial tear-down of the engine in the boat. Neither will be cheap or without a lot of disruption.
As for our cruising plans, we are not disheartened. We will have to await tomorrow to make our calls to the engine manufacturer and then see what the repair options are. It might be something I can do with my tools and skills, or it may have to be a professional diesel mechanic. We won't know until tomorrow.
I would say we would be very fortunate to have this resolved within a week, but longer would not surprise me at all. We have to be very grateful that we did not have a failure while underway that put the boat or us in peril. We are also in a very desirable location with a new friend to lean on for transportation, if needed. It may not be the greatest place to get repairs done, but it could be far worse.
Rather than brood bot our new predicament, it was time to make some phone calls to family and friends. During one conversation, I mentioned that the only thing wrong with the engine is that the camshaft can't turn the water pump; the engine itself runs just fine. Then it dawned on me that maybe all I need to do for a temporary fix is to rig an electric-driven pump that will do the same job the engine-driven pump does. I have run the idea by some others and they concur.
I still need to call the engine manufacturer Monday and get all the facts before making a decision and then setting the plan in action. If I go with plan B, it may be just 2 days before we can continue.
The day's weather proved why we are at a marina rather than at anchor, although the very blustery winds are pushing us onto the dock from the beam (side) and that makes for less than comfortable conditions. We didn't have to endure that very long, as Edie came to pick us up at 1700 for another short tour of a different part of her island and then cocktails at her house. We went to a resort restaurant just a short bit from her house where we did indeed have one of the best fish sandwiches we had ever eaten.
Back at her place, we enjoyed the company of her son, Kenny, for a while. They are leaving on an unexpected car trip to PA for a funeral of her close friend, and they graciously insisted we take her car back to the marina and gave us access to the home if we needed it for some reason. Even though there is a courtesy vehicle here at the marina, having her car will facilitate whatever errands we need to run for the next few days.
Back at the boat, the winds had not abated too much, yet it was a pleasant sleep after all.
Sat 21 Apr 2012
Docked at Jekyll Harbor Marina, Jekyll Island, GA
[photo: Red Bug scooters used to get around the island in the old days.]
We had a few rain showers during the night, but no wind to speak of. Once again the dinghy and boat got a free wash down. The tides were such that leaving before 0700 made sense to have a high tide (greater water depth) and the least amount of foul current. There was absolutely no wind to sail with, as expected, and the overall run was just over 4 hours to Jekyll Island, where we topped off the fuel tank and got settled in along the W side of the long face dock.
Along the way, we learned why many cruisers elect to "go outside" (take an offshore route) to avoid the many miles of twists and turns that thwart any decent progress in this section of Georgia, and perhaps another reason - nasty flies. We started swatting them early on and counted well over 100 killed before we realized we couldn't keep up. Although we had as many as 20 on the underside of the Bimini cover at one time, they were not nearly as aggressive about biting as we feared, so we just left them be. During our all-out attack phase, I remarked that this is a real good way to run aground outside the channel or worse, hit a navigation marker, because you are preoccupied with the flies.
At first glance, Jekyll Harbor is a decent marina, with Wi-Fi, pool, spa, nice showers, a restaurant with a decent reputation for good food, and a very friendly and helpful staff. Shortly after checking in, we got a short visit from Greg and Kate aboard Grianon, now trawler folks whose previous boat was the same as ours only a year older. We have been traveling at roughly the same pace for over a week now.
After a nice shower ashore, we had a quick lunch and then met Edie Bjorn, a school friend of Diane's sister who has stayed in touch all these years. She graciously picked us up to show us around the beautiful island and then gave us complimentary passes for the tram tour through the old Jekyll Club. Back in the beginning of the 1900s, this was a very exclusive club with members of the US who controlled an incredible percentage of the wealth in this country during the "gilded age." Their "cottages" were nothing like the opulent ones they had built in Newport and other locations, but still very impressive and large.
Despite the dire weather forecast, the rain held off all day and the temperature was delightful. On the way home from the tour, we stopped to get some provisions and then had cocktails and a wonderful dinner at Edie's, with her son Kenny. We just beat the heavy rain to the boat and got our stuff aboard. So far, the weather was nothing that we couldn't have handled easily at anchor, but I guess the news and weather forecasters needed to sensationalize a bit.
Fri 20 Apr 2012
Anchored off NPS Dock, Cumberland Island, GA
[photo: Ruins of Dungeness Estate]
Well, we are finally out of Florida! We enjoyed a very restful night and both of us slept until 0700. We got going at 0800 and were surprised to find a wind we could sail with shortly after we left the harbor. At first, I thought we it would be very short-lived as the marked channel would take us in a direction into the wind where we could not sail, but consulting the latest charts I saw that the channel marked the deepest water for ocean-going vessels (and the nearby nuclear submarine base). There was plenty of depth for me to ignore all the navigation aids and sail a directed close-hauled course for much of the way to Cumberland Sound. It was another exhilarating run.
It only took 70 minutes to reach our anchorage across from the National Park Service dock at the southern end of Cumberland Island. We didn't know how much there was to explore by bike, so we wanted to go early. After loading up and zipping over in the dinghy, we found the recently-retired husband of one of the rangers fishing at the dock. He was very helpful.
Our small, relatively narrow bike wheels were marginally adequate for the harder dirt roads, but anywhere with sandy or muddy patches was a problem. After briefly exploring the Dungeness ruins, we continued on to the beach side. It was an interesting excursion, alternating between biking along the dirt road, walking the bikes through the softer sections, then rising along the narrow and bumpy wooden boardwalk, and finally leaving the bikes to trek through very deep, soft sand. It was also a fair amount of good exercise.
The beach is wide and the damp sand was hard enough to drive a truck on it. With all the moderately strong E winds lately, the surf was roaring. Diane collected some shells and before long we were headed back the way we came.
Stopping in the shade for some fresh apple slices was a terrific treat, and later we enjoyed a peanut butter and jam sandwich before reaching the dock.
There is more to see here, but it is quite a long way up island and the roads just aren't good enough for the bikes after the recent rains. We elected to have a relaxing afternoon on the boat for a change.
We prepared the last of the perishable protein we brought from and made hamburgers with grilled onions, and homemade scalloped potatoes, and canned corn, which was surprisingly good. We hardly ever eat canned vegetables, but without the ability to keep frozen vegetables very well, this worked out fine.
After cleaning up, Diane wanted to take Clyde ashore so we got him in his harness and dinghied there in the gentle breeze and fading sun. We had the whole area to ourselves; as Duane had exercises his legs quite a bit today, they were hurting, so he contemplated life under the shade of a huge live oak dripping with Spanish moss, while Diane took the cat on an excursion through the large meadow. He doesn't care to be in harness, of course, but he actually seemed to enjoy this particular jaunt.
We put the dinghy up on the davits and may not take it down for up to 4 days. Starting tomorrow, we have reservations for 2 nights on Jekyll Island in a marina to better weather the expected storms, and then the next two nights will likely be long days of travel and anchoring in the middle of nowhere.
Time to join the admiral in the cockpit with a nightcap.
Thu 19 Apr 2012
Mooring ball in Fernandina Beach, FL
[photo: Nice home near downtown.]
After the tiring events of the day, it was a very early bedtime for the crew (just past 2000). The anchorage is a nice one except for the fact that the shipyard a quarter mile to the SE was working through the night and there was some very loud banging sporadically. It wasn't enough to keep us awake, but it was definitely noticeable. Duane can't stay in bed for more than 8 hours, so I was up at 0430.
After a leisurely morning, we weighed anchor and moved across the creek to the launch ramp where they have the only self-service pump-out station we have ever seen. It worked great and it was free; in mere minutes we were motoring up the creek against a moderate current. The waterway meandered quite a bit, so for every 5 miles we traveled, we were only about 3 miles closer to our destination. The scenery was pretty in a "low country" kind of way, but the clouds were building and we had little sun for the last half of the 4-hour run.
When we arrived at Fernandina Harbor Marina's mooring field, we were glad we called early this morning for a reservation; there were precious few mooring balls left. Our arrival coincided with a rain shower, but there was a short lull just as I had to send Diane to the bow to pick up the mooring pennant. Just a minute after we were secure and the remaining stuff was brought below from the cockpit, the skies opened up and we had a drenching. This is a welcome thing as it washes all the salt off the boat and whatever dirt gets on the deck.
At first glance, definite turn-offs are the two very large industrial plants N and S of our location within a mile. Nevertheless, we got the bikes ashore with the dinghy and paid the registration fee. We left our showering gear in the dink for later so we didn't have to make a second trip to take hot showers ashore (we are learning).
The downtown and surrounding residential neighborhoods near the marina are nice, but nothing special. There are many Victorian style homes in the area; some are noteworthy. The biking was pleasant due to the quiet streets and courteous motorists. When another rain storm threatened, we headed for an Irish Pub to sip a glass of ale while we waited. Diane asked me to try my smart phone to see if I could call up weather radar, and sure enough, I could. The storm would likely not hit us, so we headed back to the marina for a shower. Guess we drank that ale for nothing.
Adjacent to the showers is a seafood market where they sell part of the fresh catch from the many shrimp boats based here. We bought enough for dinner and then went back in the dinghy to Diva Di.
We were getting hungry, so Diane prepared a simple garden salad and I peeled and boiled the shrimp and made some pan garlic bread. With some cocktail sauce for the shrimp, they were delicious and surely tasted very fresh.
After dinner, we took the time to plan ahead another 4-5 days. We need to remember that things we skip on the way north are certainly candidates for the return trip.
Wed 18 Apr 2012
Anchored Sister's Creek near Jacksonville, FL
[photo: Flagler College, St. Augustine (we left the memory card out of the camera for today, so no pics to show!)]
Another restful night passed and we undertook preparations to make the 0700 opening of the Bridge of Lions, which runs on a restricted schedule so as not to inconvenience the motorists during rush hour times. Once again, I underestimated the benefit and timing of the current and we were making between 6 and 7 knots almost the entire way to our intended anchorage. Reaching the St. John's River, however, that same ebbing tide worked against us for about 20 minutes when we had to go up-current to Sister's Creek.
My buddies back in Punta Gorda will be happy to know that I used some of our oft-discussed strategies for bucking a current and they worked well. We were able to catch up to a sailboat that was motoring ahead of us and going faster, simply because he chose to stay in the deep water where the current was running the fastest against him.
Just before getting to the St. John's, we came close aboard the Stad Amsterdam, a square-rigged sailing vessel that was launched in 2000 for the niche charter trade. She is a gorgeous vessel. Shortly thereafter, we passed through the bascule bridge guarding Sister's Creek and looked for our intended anchorage - one recommended by participants on the web site, Active Captain.
I must humbly report that despite moving slowly and carefully, I ran us aground at 1220 when the depth went from 10 feet to 4 feet in a matter of seconds. You would think I could just back off at that point, but I think the combination of the current and wind had spun us around to the point where I didn't truly know where the deeper water was.
I tried to pivot off using rudder and propeller thrust, but it didn't get better, so I stopped. I knew the tide was almost at a low and would rise again in a few hours, and since this is the general spot we want to stop, I elected to let the tide do the work while we rested. One of us is keeping a watch above to see when we do float free.
Had this been more than 1 foot above low tide, we would not want to find out what happens when the boat is sitting on its flat wing keel and rudder several feet above the water level. I suspect strong wind or a large wake could topple the boat off its marginally stable perch and that would likely not be pleasant. To prevent that, I would have immediately brought an anchor out to deep water (I know generally where it is) and tried to use the boat's winch to pull us off.
Well, at 1600 we floated free with the rising tide. We moved about 200 feet and then anchored in 8 feet of water near low tide. As we floated off the mound, we went from shallow to really deep in seconds. Now for the rest of the story: Knowing we were waiting a few hours for the tide to change, I dropped the dinghy off the davits, put down the swim ladder, donned my rubber water shoes and got in the water to scrub the waterline, which was filthy. It took over two hours to clean the topsides (hull above the waterline) and scrub the waterline. I must admit it is a lot easier standing in chest deep water than leaning over a dinghy to do it. It was not quite the restful afternoon that we had anticipated, but all worked out fine.
A little comment about unexpected problems: it is very easy for one or the other in a couple to say something in snippy way that triggers the other person to react badly. Bad feelings can quickly escalate from there. It has happened to us as it does all couples, but I am very happy to report that we have both been very calm about any potentially tense situations and that makes a world of difference.
Before dinner, we took Clyde ashore to the launch ramp/park across the waterway about 200 yards from our anchorage. Diane put a double harness on him and kept control the entire time. He wasn't all that thrilled, but it was nice to get us all off the boat to enjoy a little walk. Dinner was the simplest we have had yet (hot dogs, sauerkraut, and macaroni salad), but still very tasty.
We planned the next few days and it will be Fernandina Beach, Cumberland Island (now into Georgia) and then Jekyll Island. This is a good time to note that we will have taken 20 days to get out of Florida, when we could have driven to that same spot in less than 6 hours by car from our home in Punta Gorda. That is the cruising life!