11/29/2010, Northeast Charleston
Bud moved the boat about 14 miles north to the Charleston City Boatyard on the Wando River. He had a nice trip up, but he complained to me that it was too hot and the dolphins got in his way again. Way to rub it in, Bud.
The boatyard is a far cry from what we are used to back home. They have at least 20 employees and they pulled him almost as soon as he got there and within 10 minutes of his appointment. He's now settled on a cradle with 30 Amp power and a borrowed ladder. He's quite close to the restrooms, I'll get the report on them tomorrow, but the boatyard in general is neat and well maintained.
Poor Fuzzy is confused again. Bud took him for a walk after the boat was pulled, but before they got back aboard. After the walk Fuzzy was determined to go back out the dock to his house. He knows his house is always out on the water. Bud had been walking him without the leash and had to end our call to go catch him before he got too far out the dock. He said Fuzzy was moving slowly because of the heat, though. Poor them.
Bud isn't sure yet whether or not we have to have the prop rebuilt. They suggested that we grease it well, and if it's not too bad use it in the shallow Bahamas and wait until we ground it or tangle in some line to have it pulled and removed. Maybe..., but it's expensive to have the boat pulled. They did suggest that we have our cutlass bearing replaced. That's the main bearing for the propeller shaft. It's relatively cheap to replace, the major cost is hauling the boat. So Bud is planning on that.
He's also probably going to have a new survey done. We need a new survey to change boat insurance companies, and we need new insurance once we go past the Bahamas.
One of these days we're going to get to the inexpensive part of living aboard.
11/24/2010, Still in Charleston, SC
Hi folks, sorry it's been a couple of days, but things are moving a bit slower for Bud and Fuzzy so this blog will be a bit more intermittent until I can return and the journey resume. Meanwhile, some things have been happening.
Bud has had time to sit down and be coached on getting pictures off the camera card, onto the computer and onto an email, so if you care to check back over the posts since I left, you'll see many now do have pictures. I added the rest of the pictures to the gallery.
Bud and Rick were able to get into the Charleston City Marina, and get a reasonable monthly rate, so he signed up for 4 weeks. Hopefully, we'll be heading to Florida before the 4 weeks is up, but that was still the cheaper way to go.
Rick Samson did catch his plane, and now, no doubt to his great relief, is back home and back at work and no longer a poorly paid deck hand.
Bud contacted the on-site mechanics of the boatyard in the area that is the place to go for good and fair (though of course not cheap) boat work. They came aboard and checked out the engine. The problem is not the engine, it's the Max-Prop. A Max-Prop is a propeller whose blades will feather to reduce drag under sail. When we bought the boat, the surveyor said it needed to be checked. Before we launched this spring, Bud tried to take it apart to service it, but didn't see how to even grease it. All he saw were a bunch of set screws that didn't seem to do anything. This fall, just before we left, I saw one of our fellow TYCers greasing his Max-Prop. There are special fittings that you put in the holes where those set screws come out, and special grease that can then be pumped through those fittings. We think that has not been done to this boat for a long time. So now the prop needs attention, how much, we're not sure.
Once the boat is in the water, there are two ways to work on the prop. An underwater mechanic can dive down and remove your prop for you, or you can have the boat hauled (pulled out of the water). The first alternative is by far the cheapest. However, (and this seems to be a theme with us and this boat) you can't do that with a Max-Prop. There are too many parts that will fall off as you try to remove it. So if you have a Max-Prop you have to have the boat hauled. Once it's out of the water, they put a table under the prop before they even try to take it off. There's a chance (and given our track record, I've got to think it's a very remote chance) that the prop just needs servicing. More likely, it needs to be rebuilt. And being a Max-Prop only one company does that. That company is, of course, in Washington, about as far away in the continental US as you can get from Charleston.
So, on Monday, Bud has an appointment to move the boat 13 miles upstream to the Charleston Boatyard and have it pulled. Then if needed, the prop will be taken off, cleaned up and shipped to Washington. Bud can expect to wait two weeks for its return. Meanwhile, he'll be living on the boat in a cradle at a boatyard in the middle of nowhere (going in and out via ladder and all the other inconveniences that involves) while still paying for a slip in a perfectly nice marina off downtown Charleston. But, at least it's not the engine!
Bud also met a lady on a boat next to Earendil who is a dog groomer. After Bud had balded Fuzzy in two places trying to trim the hair on his feet, he was able to spend about three hours with her while she showed him what is needed (it's on order) and how to groom Fuzzy properly. This is not a skill I expected Bud to ever acquire. The photo is Fuzzy post grooming. The hair is still pretty long and it makes it obvious how he got his nickname.
11/19/2010, Charleston, SC
Bud and Rick got to Charleston in the late afternoon after doing over 60 statute miles. Their arrival has been a bit disappointing.
The last opening bridge before Charleston is closed to boats from 4 PM to 6:30 PM for rush hour car traffic. Bud couldn't be sure that they would make it by 4 so he thought they might have to spend the night this side of the bridge.
They again made good time and made it through the bridge. Once they did, Bud called the two promising marinas near the city. After some waits and call backs he found that both were full for the night! That's a change from what we had been encountering all along further north. Up this way, if marinas were still open they were half full with one or two transient boats at the most.
They ended up calling and staying at the Charleston Harbor Marina. It's one of the most expensive marinas, and it is across the harbor from the city. There was no grocery store and more importantly, no place to buy beer! The guys were forced to go out to a bar and grill for food and drink.
Bud is totally tired, and I think somewhat discouraged. Checking the resources we have, we can't find a promising anchorage. The Charleston Harbor is pretty open and has strong currents. We don't have mooring fields listed, so we don't know if that is an alternative. Saturday, he and Rick will have to start checking around for a reasonable place to move the boat. Rick is flying out Sunday, and needs to find a good way to get to the airport, which is in North Charleston.
I've decided to stay with Jamie until she takes her test. It is really hard for her to find the time to study. Adler is a doll, but he is very high energy and doesn't sleep much. If I wasn't here to help she would only be able to snatch a few minutes some evenings to study, and that just isn't enough.
Unfortunately, that means Bud will be alone in Charleston (with Fuzzy) for a couple of weeks. I know that doesn't thrill him. Neither does the prospect of figuring out what to do about the engine. If he finds a decent place to keep the boat it will help a lot. Something should open up.
11/18/2010, Georgetown, SC
It was a good run today. Bud and Rick left the dock at about 6:30 AM. They had 3 or 4 bridges to make and hit all of them with no wait time. A good portion of their run was on the Waccamaw River and they were going with the current. Even keeping the engine revs down they were doing almost 8 knots for a while, and over 6 knots for most of the day.
Their goal for the day was Georgetown, SC and they got there in the middle of the afternoon. Again, this was a situation where they probably could have easily anchored, but they didn't know it. The problem with anchoring for us is that we have to get Fuzzy to the shore. We have a dinghy and an outboard for it, but we didn't get the outboard until 2 days before we left. We decided not to register the dinghy in New York because we are going to be changing our official residence to Florida, where our mail forwarding service is. We also couldn't find the recommended oil for the new outboard. So we are trying to only use it with the oars. Rowing is only going to work if there's not a lot of either wind or current and if the distance isn't too great. So even now, when it is warm enough that Bud would consider anchoring, he's not been able to identify good anchorages ahead of time. (He also doesn't have me on board right now to research all that stuff for him.) We have probably spent more on marinas than the extra registration would have cost. Ah well, hindsight and all that...
Anyway, they are in a marina that is about half transients and half commercial fishermen. There is also a packinghouse at the marina and they sell fish. They had grouper, croaker, oysters, frozen crab cakes and garbage cans full of fresh shrimp. Bud and Rick bought 2 pounds of extra large shrimp for $7/lb. I think they are going to be eating well tonight.
The town also boasts a paper mill. So far the wind has kept the smell away. They are hoping the wind holds.
They made about 58 statute miles today. The log on the boat said 50 nautical miles, but that's not correct because it can't correct for the current. They think they have about 50 miles left to Charleston, so they should be there tomorrow. I hope they enjoy it. I'm a big Tim Conroy fan and have wanted to visit Charleston since reading South of Broad. Hope I get to see a bit of it before we leave.
11/17/2010, North Myrtle Beach, SC
I think Bud needs a break. More bridges today, and more channels and more groundings. There's been nothing serious, but Bud has bumped the bottom 5 or 6 times in the last couple of days. Bud has made 35 to 50 nautical miles every day for the last 10 days. He and Rick Samson did just under 60 nautical miles today. They have 2 more days to push to make it to Charleston. They are on track to get there Friday, but they can take an extra day if they need it.
The engine continues to run OK. Bud isn't finding any more leaking oil and the engine doesn't seem to be using oil. He ran it at 2600 rpm today and it ran fairly smoothly.
Today the bridges didn't work out as well as yesterday. They waited for at least two. While trying to wait in opposing wind and current for one bridge, Bud tried to make a circle keeping to one side of the channel. He kept a bit too much to one side and went aground but was able to back right off again. They missed the last bridge of the day, today, and had to wait 50 minutes. That put them into the marina right at dusk. There was shoaling reported at the entrance so he called ahead to make sure our 5' 10" draft would make it. The marina gave them directions and they never had less than 11 feet of water under them. At least that worked out.
11/16/2010, Wrightsville Beach, NC
This morning the guys motored through Camp Lejeune. They came to a sign that said "Do Not Pass This Sign If Lights Are Flashing, Live Artillery". The lights weren't flashing, but they could hear firing in the distance. There were also warnings on the barrier islands about unexploded ordinance. Altogether not a very inviting place. Bud said the anchorage did look nice as they went by.
They had a lot of swing bridges to get past today. Most of the bridges open on a schedule, either on the hour, or every half hour. Bud was worried about the timing, especially since he really didn't want to push the engine. As it was, they managed to get through all of the bridges with a total wait time of only about 15 minutes. At one bridge, the bridgemaster opened the bridge early for three tugs taking through dredging equipment and pipes. Bud and Rick were able to follow them through, and then the tugs waved them ahead. At the last bridge of the day, the bridgemaster waited 10 minutes for them, and then held the bridge open for 5 minutes while they made the last half-mile.
Bud called me this morning about the engine. This evening he told me just after he called he had the boat on autopilot in a narrow channel. He was trying to gather up the charts and get them below and put on his rain suit as it was about to rain. He was at the front of the cockpit when the autopilot started to behave really strangely. When he stepped back to the helm, he saw his set course had taken them about 50 feet outside the channel and the depth gauge was reading about 2 and a half feet. Since our depth gauge is not offset to read either at the waterline or below the keel; that meant we had 30 inches of water from just next to the keel to the bottom. The keel is a bit more than 30" deep. The autopilot was trying to correct the course when the boat was aground. Bud was able to quickly get it out of the mud and back in the channel, but he felt lucky.
The day wasn't all negatives. They saw another group of dolphins, around 20 or so. Bud thought they were feeding and they swam right along next to the boat. He said their swimming was almost silent and they were so close you could hear when they took a breath through their blowholes.
Since Bud and Rick made such good time with the bridges, they got to the place they wanted to stay at 3:15, so they made their way to the anchorage. The anchorage was in an inlet, just west of the barrier islands, and just outside the route of the Intracoastal. The entry to the inlet was shallow, but once inside it was fine. The inlet went back along the Intracoastal for about 3 miles to a fixed bridge. Unfortunately, the anchorage was crowded and they had to go almost to the bridge before they could drop the anchor. The wind was blowing down the length of the inlet and blowing the boat towards the bridge. There are thunderstorms predicted for tonight, and the wind is supposed to pick up to 20 to 25 knots. Bud decided he'd never sleep a wink for fear of dragging anchor and clipping the mast on the bridge. So they pulled the anchor back up and went back out the inlet to another marina. Bud said had the wind been from another direction they would have had a perfect spot, only about 150 yards from a dinghy dock, so Fuzzy could be easily rowed ashore. We anticipate spending most of our time at anchor, but so far on this trip it isn't working out.
The engine ran fine all day. Bud checked after 3 hours of running easy and there was no oil leaking. He ran it hard a couple of times, but hadn't had a chance to check the leak before I talked to him. I'm feeling pretty confident that they'll make it through the week without a problem. If their luck holds they'll make it to Charleston, SC, and that's where Bud will wait for me to get back.
Meanwhile, while Bud and Rick are basking in 70 degrees and viewing dolphins, my grandson and I have the flu, back up in Michigan.