Just Hanging Out on a Mooring
03 December 2011 | Titusville, Florida
We got up this morning and the bilge pump switch worked. Bud topped off the Racor, which was down, and we decided to push on. First we had to push off. The wind was blowing at about 10 mph with gusts to 20 mph. We were on the "T" end of a dock but the wind was pushing us into the dock. There was a catamaran behind us, and happily, they left first. They had a bow thruster and Bud and I still went out and pushed hard on their stern to help them away. We asked the marina for help and they sent a guy over. After about three tries Bud found a combination of backing against lines and fending that got us off the dock without hurting anything.
When we got out in the channel there was enough wind that the boat was a bit heeled without any sails up. We had a good day's run, though. The engine ran fine despite there still being some bubbles in the fuel filter. The Yanmar tech who had been on the boat yesterday and discovered that it was coolant and not transmission fluid that had sprayed around suggested we keep a close eye on the temperature. One or our disappointments in the new engine installation is that the only engine instrument panel that would fit where the old one was, was the basic panel that doesn't have gauges for anything except RPM. We do have an infrared thermometer though, and he showed us where to aim it and said that it should never get above 188 degrees there. I checked throughout the day, and even when we ran with the throttle wide open, that spot never got above about 170 degrees.
We had some dolphins swim with us a couple of times and at one of the bridges a beautiful boat passed us. It was probably 70 feet long, but not too high (they crossed under a part of the bridge that wasn't raised and had 27 feet of vertical clearance) and the superstructure was beautiful wood. I put pictures of the dolphins and the boat in the gallery.
Once a big sport fishing boat passed us. Right after he passed us he started to veer out of the channel. I'm not sure if he mistook some signs in the distance as channel markers or what, but soon he was aground. About an hour later we passed a TowboatUS headed his way. When we got here to Titusville and were heading back out to our mooring after taking Fuzzy ashore we passed TowboatUS coming back. A short time later the sport fishing boat came in to the marina.
There was also a bit of interest with the second lift bridge we went under (only two all day). When we were about 5 or 6 miles from it we could start to hear the radio calls to and from the bridge operator. It was hard to hear at first, but it seemed the bridge was not going to lift for a while. We finally understood that there had been some sort of auto accident and I think the traffic gate was disabled, so the lift operator was waiting for help to block the auto traffic so she could raise the bridge. She finally opened it the first time when we were about a mile away. We were catching up to two other sailboats. As we got nearer to the bridge, we heard them hail the operator, but they got no response. We came around a sharp corner and the bridge came into view, we were still quite a ways away and the bridge was opened for the first two sailboats. We hailed the bridge saying we were the third southbound sailboat and asking if they would hold the opening for us. No response. We continued on as fast as we could, the bridge was still open. We hailed the bridge again, no response. It was still open, so we kept going and we passed under without ever having the bridge operator speak to any of our group. That has never happened before. At least we weren't held up.
It was still pretty windy when we got here to Titusville. They have recently installed a mooring field and we decided to take a mooring rather than try and dock in the wind. The weather report says the wind is supposed to continue until Monday. I called ahead and they said we could just pick up any mooring we wanted and then call them with the number. Since we had to take Fuzzy ashore, we went in and paid at the office. It took us two passes to get the mooring. Our preferred method is for me to grab the mooring with a boat hook and slip it over our forward cleat. Then I can take our own lines and run them through the eye on the mooring line, but I can take my time with that. Unfortunately, the eye wouldn't fit over our cleat, and the line was too short and thick to get a wrap on the cleat. I tried to grab the free end of our line but the eye was relatively small and before I could get it through the wind had pushed the boat back hard enough that the mooring line was pulled out of my hand. So we had to do it again. This time I was ready and got our line through. We always use two lines on a mooring, one on either side of the bow. The wind was strong enough that I couldn't pull the boat up to get the second line through, so Bud used the engine to help me. All is secure now.
Oh, I didn't mention the other problem of the day. I realized that with the engine noise we couldn't hear if the bilge pump was running. Normally it should run periodically whenever we use the engine because the place where the prop shaft comes into the boat drips water whenever the prop is spinning. That's what keeps it lubricated. I started to wonder if the pump switch was still working. The pump itself sits up behind the engine, so the next time I went down to check the engine temperature I checked the pump. It was pumping away. I felt the motor and it felt hot, so I decided the switch probably wasn't working and pulled the fuse on it again. When we got here we had about 6 inches of water in the bilge (that's only a few gallons, because the deep part of the bilge is so small). We pumped it out with one of the manual bilge pumps. We've decided part of our problem is that the bilge pump isn't working well enough anymore. We need to rebuild it, and maybe replace the switch again.
Bud is encouraged because he said we're down to two problems, the Racor, which we'll have checked out when they do the 50-hour service on the engine, and the bilge pump. Those are two too many for my peace of mind, but taking a mooring and using the dinghy has actually helped my mood. I think it's getting me back in cruising mode and maybe a little out of worrying about repairs mode.