10 February 2009 | Biscayne Bay, Miami Fl
78*; 15-20 knot winds ENE; Mostly sunny conditions
This was just one of those days where things didn't go right... We've had a drip problem from somewhere in the boat - so today Wayne was going to check all the thru hulls and see which clamps possibly needed tightening, then start stowing stuff (dingy on deck, etc...) and prepping for our offshore trip.
Last night our bilge pump went off twice during the night, it's not normal for it to even go off once... The day before that it went off once. Wayne's been attributing the water in the bilge to rainwater and condensation collection. I've been saying no, it's too much and thought well maybe our water tank has a slow leak that's been gaining speed? Anyhow, to keep things in the dry mode below, I've been manually pumping it once a day for the last couple of weeks and once every few days for the last couple of months. This is not something I've normally done; the boat's been fairly dry in the bilge since we got here and I would check the bilge pump once or twice a season just to make sure it worked. A few days ago, when the automatic pump kicked on, then went off Wayne got in the dinghy with a bucket to measure how much the bilge collects before the auto-pump kicks on. We measured it at 6 gallons. To see if it was fresh water i.e. from rain or our freshwater tank, Wayne tasted it (he's either very brave or you know we have a clean bilge for him to do this). Good news - its salt water, our water tank doesn't leak. Bad news - its salt water, our water tank doesn't leak, so we knew it was coming from outside the boat.
So today, Wayne got all the floorboard openings up to check out the thru hulls, we found one little pattern coming from the front that he attributed to when he was working on our water pump, but said it wasn't significant enough for the amount of water in the bilge. After checking all the thru hulls (front one is still damp where he attached sanitary hose) and still not finding anything that would account for 6 or more gallons in a 12-24 hour period, it was time to get into the engine compartment. Yep, there be water back there behind the engine with a drip, drip, drip coming off the propeller shaft. Our stuffing box appears to be leaking (a device that allows the propeller shaft to go through the hull of the boat without appreciable leaking - I think normal is about 1-2 drops a minute). There's a mechanism to tighten it but we don't have the proper wrench to do so (Wayne tried). You have to make them I guess - per Rick (a fellow boater that came by admiring our boat) by cutting off part of a wrench in 3 spots. So after much of the day-spent calling around and not much success - one place that "we" finally called back (their guys were out to lunch when we called earlier or not to be found) said, "yup we can do it - you might need to be hauled out. If you bring it in tomorrow, I'll have my guy here". It amazed me how many places we called that never returned our calls (Riverside included). Even the people from Boat US took until early evening to get back to us and then couldn't do much after thinking that their guy (who was out) would be able to help us. It seems they all heard "stuffing box" and decided they didn't want the job. After we called Joan (Boat US) again and left a message, she did give us the name of a marina to call but nobody answered and I couldn't find them on the web. I probably have the wrong spelling (Campone's Marina).
The guy at Riverside Boat Yard said they were about a mile up the Miami River, which didn't sound to bad. We'd have to transit a couple more lift bridges but that's par for the course around here.
Yikes - okay, I just found Jone's (not Riverside) on Google Earth and it's all the way up the river and towards the end of the canal that continues past the river proper. It looks like there is about 13 bridges between them and us with every other one a lift bridge... This concerns me - especially since nobody seems to have heard of Riverside. He indicated that to find them we need to look for Jone's marine and they're next to them. Whomever it was that Wayne talked with said they were a mile away - not over 5 up past the river).
After a long day of trying to find the leak, trying to fix the leak with the wrong tool, spraying it with WD 40 to loosen the locking nut (then watching the drip turn into a strong trickle after that), losing a chisel down into the bilge, fretting, calling various places, looking up places, and waiting for people to get back to us, and re-calling people, it's time to figure out something for dinner. I'm thinking BLTs. What a day of chasing tails... At least I can sleep with the portals open tonight - the low is supposed to be 68-70 with ESE winds. It's nice to see that nobody around here needs the repair business - the economy must be good in S. Florida. I think that I'll pump the bilge before bed again for good measure.
On a brighter note - the sunset is wonderful and weather awesome...