Thu 3 May 2012
Docked at Ashley Marina, Charleston, SC
[photo: Rather than show yet another very interesting historic home, this is a shot of King St. where many very ritzy shops are located. To my amazement, Diane did not even want to window shop.]
With sunrise becoming earlier, Duane is now sleeping until it is light, although still not past sunrise. It was another great night of sleep, and we had a relaxed morning until meeting Vern and Rose, who took us to the Lost Dog for a nice breakfast on Jolly Beach. Upon return to the marina, we returned Vern's tools and then got ready for a biking excursion.
Biking from the Ashley Marina to the Battery Park and historic areas seems like a problem until you actually try it; then it is not so bad. We found a few too many streets with cobblestones, bricks, or very uneven flagstone, which made the ride tough, but overall, it was a pretty neat biking experience. We rode south along the waterfront, which eventually became the Battery area with a half-decent sidewalk. One of the things that many old cities have in common is very narrow streets (and sidewalks).
We rode back and forth through the many small streets with a large number of beautiful, historic homes. Some were very large and others smaller, but all were interesting in their own way. We next made our way into the French Quarter and liked that very much, as well. Last of the touristy stuff was some time on Market Street, where Diane strolled through the long brick market buildings while Duane walked the bikes outside parallel to her. In addition to the bikes, I offered to carry the little knapsack with our wallets and credit cards, but she said I didn't have to worry.
After that, we found a nice little southern bistro called Sticky Fingers and had a nice cold beer in the air conditioning; it was surprisingly hot, but locals said it was normal for this time in May. The route back was mostly quiet neighborhoods, and we soon had the bikes stowed away. We know it is always better to get that out of the way before you stop to relax. Later, it seems like such a chore.
There were things that could be done, like polishing stainless that is now stained, but a nap seemed like a better idea. Before long it was time to wander over to Roam-a-Lot and join Vern and Rose for a happy hour.
Dinner was at Fleet Landing, near the battery. It may not look like much, since it is an old concrete building, but we had some of the best restaurant food in a long time. Our Seafood Pasta was out of this world, with lots of fresh, perfectly-cooked seafood with a minimal amount of pasta in a very tasty cream-based sauce. For the record, the entrees were fairly priced for the quality, but they gouge you on beverages and dessert. It was our first dessert of the cruise, so we don't feel too guilty.
It was an early night after saying our goodbyes.
[photo: So close!]
Thanks, all y'all, for your kind words of encouragement and advice. :-)
As for exploring Charleston, we were here by car for several days previously and did all the standard touristy things, so this visit was not about that.
Regarding the lifters, the problem is they cannot come out of the engine unless you remove the cylinder head, and we are just not about to attempt that while we are crusing unless we absolutely have to. I already have a long (expensive) list of things that should be done after returning when the boat is at our house and I can work at leisure.
Wed 2 May 2012
Docked at Ashley Marina, Charleston, SC
After an extremely restful sleep, we puttered around the boat until after 0900 when Vern arrived to tackle the camshaft replacement. I will give enough detail to satisfy the "gearheads", so others can skip over the next few paragraphs. Getting the bolt holding the crankshaft pulley off was the first challenge and it took almost two hours before a trip to Vern's home for an impact wrench solved that problem. Next, the pulley just pulled right off with two fingers (welcome surprise). With that behind us, we could take off all the stuff I had previously removed before the first aborted attempt, including the rocker arm cover and assembly.
We now got the gear case off exposing all the timing gears, and things were looking promising. Next, the push rods came out and kept in proper order, and then the challenge was how to pull the lifters (tappets) up and out. Fabricating a small pair of tongs from heavy wire, I was very disheartened to see that the lifters only came up so far before hitting the cylinder head. The ports were big enough to clear the pushrods, but not the lifters.
Now we had three choices: (1) abort the effort and reassemble; (2) remove the cylinder head (I absolutely refused to go down that path considering how many other things had to be removed and assessing the risk of causing further problems); (3) find a way to hold all 8 lifters in the up position while we slid the old camshaft out and then inserted the new one. I was ready to abort at this stage, but Vern was optimistic and unable to accept defeat.
We tried using fabricated wire tongs, but it was clear that the lifters could easily slip off and if that happened when the camshaft was out, I was in deep trouble. Next, we tried gluing magnets to the end of 6 inch long cut dowel rods. It looked very promising because we could pick up a fairly heavy part on the bench (galley counter), but the lifters were a tight fit with the friction of an oil film in a tight bore, so they would not work in practice.
Despite three excursions in Vern's car (two trips to the hardware store and one to his house), we were stymied. I forced the issue and started reassembling everything. I was far from dejected, just hoping that when we were done reassembling, nothing would be worse. After helping for a while, Vern left to attend to other matters and I finished the reassembly. Diane came back from a nap aboard Vern and Rose's boat, Roam-a-Lot, and helped me add back the coolant. We started the engine and all ran smoothly, so it was now back in its jury-rigged, but functional, state.
I should mention that Vern and I had a great lunch at a little Mexican restaurant during our last excursion, and Diane and Rose were shopping in town for several hours. Diane doesn't spend too much when she shops, so she found some cute outfits, and a much-needed pair of non-skid shoes, for a very low price. They, too, had a nice lunch and enjoyed their time in the city.
It is now 1800 and I have been relaxing (and typing) for 30 minutes. We will be here all day tomorrow so that we can both explore a bit, and then plan a long day for Friday. Yes, in some respects, today was a wasted day, but life is not all bananas jubilee and sunglasses, you know (private joke for Dennis). We certainly appreciate the hospitality and assistance that Vern and rose have shown us during our visit so far.
Clyde is up in the cockpit with Diane enjoying the fading daylight and within an hour we will be asleep and ready for a much more relaxing and fun tomorrow.
Tue 1 May 2012
Docked at Ashley Marina, Charleston, SC
[photo: Charleston waterfront on the Ashley River.]
The evening was very still and quiet, and extremely restful. Readers will note that I comment on that a lot; the reason is that there are times when weather or other circumstances makes the Captain (and crew) very anxious and sleep does not come easily. A restful night is never to be taken for granted and always appreciated.
Leaving at 0630 and motoring slowly though the pond-still water was very inviting. I was grateful we were only 8 miles from a facility with fuel, for the gauge went to empty shortly after we left. I was not overly concerned, however, because I always fill the tank and record the engine hours. I can estimate closely how many hours of running I can get, but I don't truly know how many of the 25 gallons of tank capacity are truly "useable." I know as of now that it is at least 21.3 gallons.
Getting into the fuel dock was not all the bad, but leaving was a near disaster. The current was running about 2 knots at the dock and I had very little space to maneuver. My plan A failed, but a quick Plan B worked like a charm and we were off.
There is a section of the waterway called Elliott Cut and it is narrow in spots. When the current is running at full ebb, it is reported to be as high as 6 knots. Fortunately, I had timed it so that we had a fair (following current) of at least a knot and that brought Charleston's Ashley River into view in short order. We pumped the holding tank at Ashley Marina and then took a space at the dock for 2-3 nights. I called my friend Vern and we met at his boat.
We made some plans for how to tackle the camshaft replacement and agreed to meet for happy hour on their boat at 1700. It was fun reminiscing about our Bahamas time together in 2008, and then we went to a popular restaurant in Mt. Pleasant where I enjoyed a nice gumbo. Diane's salmon was good and Vern had the piece de resistance with the best bread pudding we ever ate. We all declined but he insisted on sharing and we are happy he did.
Clyde enjoyed the post-sundown time on deck. We had quite a parade of people moving back and forth on the dock past our boat and most were friendly enough to say hi. Diane is watching cable TV and we are soon to bed with a big day awaiting tomorrow.
Mon 30 Apr 2012
Anchored in Church Creek, SC
It was unusual to sleep late (0630 for Duane) and still have a few hours before departure, but to leave at 0700 was to subject ourselves to the worst of the adverse current most of the way. Leaving at 0900, we had very little beneficial current, but not quite as much against us, plus we had more of the SE wind in or favor, since the wind typically builds throughout the day and lessens at sunset.
We ran a little over 8 hours today and had a very uneventful day except for a few notable items. When we went through the swing bridge at Beaufort, there were two other sailboats of comparable size that were running under motor alone (as were we) at the same speed as us. They, however, were staying right on the "recommended track" and we were cutting the corners where it seemed appropriate. As mentioned earlier, when you have an adverse current, it is best to stay in the shallower water. Before long, we were quite a ways ahead. We also deployed the headsail more frequently (it does take more effort to make all the adjustments) and that helped, too. Before long they were out of sight behind us.
Despite all those great efforts, the current was against us so much that we averaged 30% fewer miles per hour than normal, and that meant that the Captain's fuel management estimate was not very good. We were blessed to get good wind to help us near the latter third of the run, so we reached our anchorage with the fuel gauge still on the positive of empty. Our plan is to re-fuel at the marine service facility just 10 statute miles farther from our anchorage, since waiting for the 22 miles to Charleston might be cutting it too close.
The anchorage is quite large and empty, except for us; the anchor is holding well in the mild current and winds, and life is good. Dinner was salmon fillet in a homemade lemon/caper/wine/butter sauce with rice pilaf and mushrooms, plus steamed broccoli. It was fantastic and devoured 'con mucho gusto.'
The evening in the cockpit was very relaxing; we are noticing that the amount of time between sunset and dark is increasing, as expected as we get father from the equator. Clyde the cat is definitely enjoying his time on deck in the evening, as are we, although Diane is in her flannel nightie.
Tomorrow will see us in Charleston with our good friends Vern and Rose (and their dog Salty). We met them in the Abacos, Bahamas in 2008 and have gotten together once a year or so since then. Vern has so kindly offered to drag out his tools so that we can tackle that camshaft replacement together. We are thinking that we may be 3 days or more in Charleston, but who really knows. We are still ahead of schedule for time so far, and this would be an important repair to get done.
Speaking of repairs, several things have started giving me concern: there seems to be excessive vibration from the propeller, so I suspect the cutless bearing needs to be replaced. Also, the dripless shaft seal is leaking and the manufacturer recommends replacing the bellows every 6 years; ours is overdue. Both those jobs require hauling the boat out of the water. I will have to give some serious thought to where and when, because I really don't want to go the rest of the cruise with that prop vibrating like that.
Diane has mastered the routine of reprogramming the TV for each new location we visit and is now watching Dancing with the Stars. I am preparing to go topside and watch God's stars for a while before bed.
Sun 29 Apr 2012
Docked at Downtown Marina, Beaufort, SC
[photo: one of the many historic homes in this town.]
The evening was comfortably cool and quiet as far as wind and waves, but some place ashore was playing loud music until 0200. Once the hatches were closed, you barely heard it, so no problem. Duane was so relaxed that he slept until 0700, a rarity. It is forecast to reach 85F today, similar to yesterday.
At 0900 we borrowed the courtesy car to go to the local grocery store and K-Mart. It had a few rattles that were disconcerting, but it got us there and back OK. We now have more fresh veggies and protein for the next 5 days or so. Needing to get to a store every 5 days or so it is not even close to the old days when refrigeration was almost unheard of and people had to shop every day for that day's meals, but a lot closer than the modern American's food shopping habits.
After a very light lunch, we got on the bikes and rode a number of miles through the working man's part of Beaufort, stopping at a Piggly Wiggly grocery store for some coveted mint. It was uncertain if the mint would pass muster for the 4 guests we would have later for mint juleps, so a sample was required. It was good.
At 1700, our cruising guests arrived and we had delightful conversations for almost 90 minutes. Everyone left to their own plans, while we prepared dinner. It was a simple meal of shrimp wrapped in bacon over a bed of rice pilaf with fresh sautéed portabella mushrooms and fresh steamed broccoli. I tease, but we really do eat well on the boat.
The after-dinner glow in the cockpit with a fresh breeze was very invigorating. A little music and some recapping of the glorious day, and it was time for bed. I should note that at noon today, it was 4 weeks since our departure. It took a while to get used to the fact that this was not a several week vacation, but now we are definitely in cruise mode.