Fri 27 Apr 2012
Anchored N end of Skull Creek, SC (Hilton Head)
[photo: At the northern tip of the island looking W]
It seems that I have not quite gotten used to how boats can move while at anchor in a strong current with an opposing wind. I thought for sure that we had dragged anchor during the early part of the evening and it caused me some anxiety for a while, but finally I realized all was well and we both had a very restful sleep.
It was so restful, that after going to bed at 2130, I was wide awake at 0430. I used that time to study the available resources for important trip info, such as tide heights for shallow stretches, strength and direction of currents, distances between likely stops, bridge opening restrictions, etc. I had decided early on not to try to pre-plan all this before we left, thinking it would be a simple task to take it a week at a time. It turns out that it takes me about 30-40 minutes per day of travel. That's not a bad thing, just an observation.
This morning, chef Duane made scrambled eggs and bacon on a small roll, along with some fresh fruit. We enjoy our cereal and fruit in the morning, but this was a special treat. Diane elected to defrost the refrigerator and then we got our stuff assembled for a long day ashore with the bicycles.
When I telephoned to ask permission to use their small-boat dock and offered to pay a reasonable fee, the new management at the Skull Creek Marina said until they get a policy in place, we were welcome to use it for free. They also got a bag of trash and some recyclable items in the bargain.
Bicycling around this section of Hilton Head was one of the most picturesque and delightful biking experiences we have ever had. They have mostly asphalt trails paralleling the main roads that wind through a dense population of mature oaks and other trees. The many trails were mostly shaded and had the fragrance of so many pine cones and occasionally jasmine and other very aromatic fauna.
We biked a little over 8 miles through just a portion of the Hilton Head Plantation (one of several very large gated communities) and enjoyed every minute of it. The bluff trail at the northern tip of the island was somewhat soft sand at times, but we made it through. The strange part was that if you leave through the gate, you need to either be a resident or have a pass to get back in. Since we are not technically guests of the marina, we did not have a pass, so we elected not to leave.
On the way back, we knew we had passed two nice looking restaurants, but neither of them serve lunch, just dinner. Back at Diva Di, I used the Internet to check them out and we would have been in for at least $50 for a simple lunch for two, so maybe it was a good thing. Diane is reading her book on the deck in her swimsuit under gorgeous blue skies and a light breeze.
Reflecting further on the island, since neither of us had ever visited here, we were completely unprepared for the natural beauty we saw. Keeping in mind we only experienced one section, everything we saw was clean, neat, and well-maintained. While some of the homes we passed were in the VERY nice category, most were relatively modest homes that were, again, just really attractive in the woodsy setting.
For those readers who may not be cruisers, I should explain that depending upon the size of your refrigerator and freezer compartments, and how well they truly maintain the appropriate temperature, you are wise to limit how many perishables you have aboard at any one time. Similarly, some vegetables keep well enough when whole, but spoil more rapidly once cut. Unless you have a fussy eater aboard, you often wind up having the same foods several times in succession, although in different guise at the chef's discretion. Fortunately, Diane does a wonderful job at provisioning for us; we rarely have any waste and we eat well.
It is now almost 1900, dinner is done and we are ready for some time in the cockpit with well over an hour of sunlight left. Tomorrow is Beaufort, SC (Byew-fort, not Bo-fort) and perhaps two days there. Hope all our blog followers are doing well and enjoying the cruise with us. Despite a few setbacks here and there, we are having a wonderful time.
Thanks for all the support and compliments. I am grateful it is working.
As for Matthew, that is a very good suggestion but it is a complcation I will probably not add. I hope I don't regret that decision. Surely, if I were designing this as a production system, your idea of a fail-safe would be excellent.
Thu 26 Apr 2012
Anchored N end of Skull Creek, SC (Hilton Head)
[photo: shrimp boat in GA]
It was an incredibly restful night after the long day we had yesterday. Diane was eager to get out of Georgia, but not exactly happy to be leaving before 0800. We got underway and had the wind from the SW at 10-15+ all day, so we would go from close-hauled to deep broad reach over and over again, with too many jibes to count. Diane was a trooper and helped with the sail trim quite a lot since our boat is not set-up well for single handing and I couldn't just leave the helm with all the narrow channels.
We were both incredibly busy for much of the day's run; we did 76 statute miles in just under 10 hours, which equates to 6.6 kts average. We again benefited from the wind almost the entire way and had the current with us much more than against us. Our highest speed was 8.5 kts, which sailors will appreciate as a great speed.
Are we happy doing 50-60 miles a day? It was not our plan, but sometimes you realize that there is nothing you want to see in an area and are better off just getting somewhere else. With the last two days of long runs, we have made up our lost time at Jekyll Island.
There were some interesting parts to the day's journey, but most of it was boring. The fact that you are winding back and forth so much is the frustrating part for us, and we understand why so many go "outside" into the ocean and bypass this section. It is no offense to the Georgian people; it is just a long stretch and too many pesky flies!
We are anchored just of the Skull Creek Marina at the northern end of Hilton Head Island. We will be here two nights, with a full day on the island tomorrow. Tonight we enjoyed another delicious, healthy meal aboard and will rest up for tomorrow.
I should report that the bypass cooling system has worked well. I did note that once we had to furl the sail and use the engine harder to fight the current for the last 20 minutes, the engine temperature rose from its 165F nominal to almost 175F. That is perfectly acceptable, but it shows that the cooling is marginal and I need to bear that in mind.
Wed 25 Apr 2012
Anchored in Cattle Pen Creek, GA
Wow, what a day it was! With the courtesy car taken, one of the staff, Randy, offered me a lift to meet Diane at Edie's house where she had just filled the tank and put the car back into the garage. As Diane straightened up after 4 days in one place, I filled the water tanks and washed much of the salt off the boat that had accumulated from the high winds and waves.
We radioed the marina that we were moving to the pump-out station and started the engine (with its new bypass cooling system]. It all seemed to run as expected. I was disappointed that after paying for 4 nights at the marina, they still charged me $5 for the pump-out, but that is their rule. Other than the staff being very friendly and the location on Jekyll island being nice, I am not overly impressed with their facility.
Anyway, we got underway at 1000 and found the winds were still more NNW than SW, as forecast, so that didn't help. I also made a navigation error that cost us some time. The chief reason it happened was because I failed to bring the large paper charts with me into the cockpit. If I had consulted them, I would have seen the particular route that the waterway takes in St. Simons Sound. Lacking that, I was relying on my new Chartplotter and it doesn't show the ICW as a magenta line as is normal. It is just a black line, and there was another route indicated that I mistakenly followed. Navigation aids along the ICW all have little yellow triangles or squares, but these aids were so far from the center of the channel that I couldn't really see them. After a short while of realizing that I was not sure of my position, I check the LAT LON and asked Diane for the paper chart, where I quickly realized we need to backtrack a bit. Needless to say, I was not pleased with myself for that error.
After that, Duane thought the day was fantastic. Despite the fact that the waterway winds around a lot in this area (42 statute miles "as the crow flies" and almost 61 miles traveling the winding route through the waterway), The wind direction and strength was such that I could add anywhere from about 0.5 to 1.5 kts to motoring our speed. I had to trim the sails (Diane helped a lot, too) sometimes as often as every minute, and jibed the headsail at least 20 times, but I considered that good exercise and lots of fun.
The other thing that was amazing was that we had a strong current running with us most of the way, and the few times it was against us it was quite weak. That was all in the timing of when we got to certain areas relative to the rising and falling tides, but it would be hard to duplicate that.
We ran for 10 hours and set the anchor at 2000, just before a pretty sunset. There were no bugs, the breeze was now going light, and the anchorage we shared with three other boats was very peaceful. We stayed in the cockpit with a beverage for over an hour and then went below to sleep, thankful we had made a good run with no problems.
Tue 24 Apr 2012
Docked at Jekyll Harbor Marina, Jekyll Island, GA
[photo: bypass pump in place near the rear of the engine.]
The wind really calmed down shortly after sunset and stayed pretty mild all night for a good night's sleep. We did wake up a few times to add more blankets, however, as the temperatures plummeted. I don't have a thermometer handy but it had to be low 50s inside the boat. Even Duane reached for the long sweatpants, sweatshirt, and the foulie jacket upon waking, so you know it is cold.
Speaking with the marina staff this morning, they all said this is the worst cold snap they have had this late in spring since they can remember, so perhaps this is just a fluke and a brief "payback" for the wonderfully warm winter we all enjoyed. The forecast has daytime highs back in the 80s starting tomorrow, so we are glad for that.
As of 0800, I left a message for the mobile mechanic who stays on the boat just 50 feet from us, and I surely hope we connect soon. Plan A.1 has me looking for a gear puller so I can try to finish the job myself.
Diane strolled to the staff office a bit later and found where the mechanic was working right here on site. I went over to speak with him a half hour later and he basically told me that although it seemed that I knew what I was doing, even with the right tools, it was not remotely a simple task. He further said that if something went wrong during this "major surgery," we could be looking at a huge repair bill and losing 3-4 weeks, as he and any other local mechanics were already way too busy. Lastly, he strongly suggested I do as I had originally considered and rig a bypass pump.
Well, at this time the dock hand, Randy, showed up to tell me my camshaft had arrived. I went back to the boat disappointed, but with an open mind about the mechanic's warning. I decided then that I would reassemble all the parts I had taken off, and test the engine to be sure it was still working with no leaks or obvious problems. When that succeeded, I prepared a detailed list of all the parts I would need to jury-rig this bypass cooling circuit and headed to West Marine.
The sales person there was very helpful and cooperative, and between us we found a mix of parts that would adapt what was on the boat to the DC pump I purchased there. I also got a switch and some appropriate gauge wire. We had to drive another several miles to find a store that sold engine coolant. As the marina staff lamented earlier, this is not a good place to need boat repairs.
By 1630, we were back at the boat and Diane readied Clyde to go back to Edie's garden and enjoy a stroll. Diane was also looking forward to being off the boat and away from the mess. I got to work and was able to attach the hoses to the pump with the adapters I purchased. Next, I used crimped butt splices to extend the pump wires to the location of the new switch and an appropriate place to take off electrical power.
With everything in its temporary place and not likely to get caught in any moving machinery, I climbed into the cockpit (not easy with the engine cover and ladder missing), started the engine and tried to memorize the sound of the engine running with no cooling water in the exhaust. About 15 seconds later, I started the bypass pump and observed (and heard) water splashing out of the exhaust port. So far, so good!
Needing to see what the temperature gauge would indicate, I put the transmission in reverse and increased RPMs to put a load on the engine. About 15 minutes later, the temperature was normal and holding steady. I shut down the bypass pump first, and then shut down the engine 20 seconds later. Can't be certain yet, but it is looking like a winner.
I finished securing everything and cleaning up at 1800, just as Diane returned. We got our shower stuff and the food for the grill ready and headed to the bath house and picnic area. I got the grill going and then showered while Diane tended the stuff. Then I relieved her while she showered and went back to the boat to ready it for dinner. The grill was not nearly hot enough due to its age, condition and the still strong wind, but I was able to cook the streaks adequately. The pork tenderloin I was grilling as a future meal would have to be finished aboard the boat.
Overall, it was a good day. We really hope that this problem will remain solved until we are home and can schedule an appropriate time to do the major repair; at least we already have the part.
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.