12/18/2010, We're all now in Charleston
It's early Saturday morning and I'm back sitting at our navigation station writing for the blog and it feels great! It's cool and rainy here, you have to climb a ladder to get on or off the boat, the boatyard is in the middle of nowhere and it still feels great! I can't believe I was off the boat for 39 days.
I flew back as Amtrak doesn't go anywhere near Charleston. My flight took off at 11:55; we had to leave the house at a little before 9. I woke up at 4 AM with terrible diarrhea. Oh no! I had coffee and nothing else. By 9 I was pretty much empty, which was good, as my first flight was late so I had to run from one end of the Charlotte airport to the other (at least it wasn't Chicago or Atlanta) to make my connecting flight. No time to use the restroom there. I made it all the way to Charleston with no bathroom breaks!
I was determined to make that flight, as I had no cell phone. I was being met at the airport by Amy Wollaber Curran, the daughter of our former neighbors and one of Jamie's best friends. We found out on Tuesday that she lives in a suburb of Charleston, only a few miles from the airport and the boatyard! She and Jamie talk at least once a week, but Jamie didn't realize she was that close, and I had always pictured her living in the middle of the state.
As soon as she found out, Amy called Bud and offered to have him and Fuzzy stay at their house, but the worst of the cold was over, and Bud being Bud, he would rather stay on the boat.
Anyway it was wonderful to see her and to have someone to meet me. We stopped at her house and picked up her two kids, Layton, 2-and-a-half , and Addison, 1. Cute kids, but what a handful (they are 22 months apart). Amy works as a second grade teacher and tutors. Her husband, Brandon, is just starting as a fireman and works 24 hours on and 48 hours off, so they have a pretty hectic life.
When we got to the boatyard, which was only about 3 minutes away from the first place Amy and Brandon had lived in Charleston, Bud and Fuzzy were there to meet us at the gate (the yard is fenced). I called to Fuzzy but he is so deaf he didn't hear me. Bud tried to point me out, but as I was coming up to him he didn't recognize me because he is so blind. When he finally registered someone was there he barked at me! Even when I got right up to him, he didn't seem to know me. All of a sudden, when I picked him up and started petting him he started to whimper because he realized I was back. He wouldn't let me put him down until we all got back on the boat (including the kids).
Amy and the kids and I then climbed back down the ladder and went to a little restaurant just down the road with no shoulders, and got Chinese. I ordered vegetable rice noodles; I figured that was about the only safe Chinese dish. We had a nice time and had only one bump on the head for Layton, who wanted to climb all over everything! Amy is such a good mom, she very patiently explained to him that he got the bump on the head because he wouldn't sit on his bum like Mommy told him.
We talked to Jamie twice, once on the way out of the airport and again after supper. It was so hard to leave her. She's now waiting for the results of the test. She took the test on Tuesday but won't get the results for about 3 weeks. She has no idea how she did. She studied like mad, but how do you prepare for a nine-hour test that covers four years of medical school?
Jamie said Adler was upset when they drove away from the airport without me. He kept calling "Gramma, Gramma". When they got home he went through the house looking for me and kept asking for me through the day. We are going to have to start using Skype, so we can see each other. I don't want him to forget me! It was especially hard to leave just before Christmas, but I didn't want Bud to be alone on Christmas either.
Bud heard on Friday that the prop is on its way back. So hopefully by Tuesday we'll be back in the water. I don't know when we'll leave. I think we'll stay in the area at least until the 23rd, because Amy's parents, our former neighbors, are coming down that day to spend Christmas with Amy and her family. We'd love to be able to see them.
I'm going to post this, and I'll add a photo as soon as it's light and we're dressed and I can take one.
12/10/2010, Still at the Charleston City Boatyard
They finally came back with an estimate on our prop and a time-line. They said 10 to 12 more days. That might put the prop back Christmas week, and Tuesday of that week is the last day of work for the crew at the boatyard. So I called the folks in Washington and explained the situation and asked for a better estimate. He told me that there was another live-aboard whose job was being rushed, but he would move us up to the next slot and see what he could do. I told him the forecast in Charleston is for temperatures in the 20's (it is!) and he sounded like they would surely get it done in time for Christmas.
So I went and bought my plane ticket back to the boat. I'm returning on Friday, December 17. I will hate to leave Jamie and Adler, but I can't wait to get back.
As bleak as things have been, we are still amazed at the kindness of other boaters. Bud tried to bike out to a store on Sunday but was met by someone who advised him to not even try. The roads are too narrow, the bridge traffic too crazy even on a Sunday, to permit biking. Bud told him he was heading out to get a second heater because he was not able to keep the boat warm enough with just one. The man first offered to take Bud, but didn't have room in his car with all the car seats for his grandchildren. Then he said he had a space heater at home Bud could use and he'd bring it back. Several hours later he came back with a brand new space heater and the Sunday Charleston paper, gave them both to Bud and said "Merry Christmas".
Now that we know my time-line, Bud is going to rent a car for a week. He's running out of groceries, he needs to do the wash, and he has parts waiting at West Marine to do some small jobs while he's waiting, and he can't get to anything from where he is. So Saturday he will rent a car for a week. Then he'll be able to pick me up from the airport on Friday. I told him to get the car for when he needed it, not to worry about my return as I could get a shuttle or a cab, but I will be very glad to have Bud waiting when I finally get there.
12/05/2010, Charleston City Boatyard
Bud is trying to stay warm. The nights in Charelston have been dropping into the 30's and with the boat out of the water Bud has only the little ceramic heater to use. He's able to keep the aft cabin warm while he sleeps, but then the rest of the boat is really cold in the morning.
We did have to send the propeller off for a rebuild. Not only was it too loose to try to just grease it, it is an older model and can't be greased once installed. I'm not sure why that would even have been done. We understand it can be retrofitted with grease fittings for the future, but we still don't have the estimate on the rebuild, or even confirmation that it can be rebuilt. That should come tomorrow.
So we still don't know when I'll be rejoining Bud. It will not be until at least the 17th. My daughter had to postpone her test by a week, as both she and the baby were sick most of this week. She lost a lot of study time and was also afraid she might not be well enough to take the test on the 7th. I would feel worse about the delay, but we're pretty sure we won't have the prop back before then anyway.
Bud sent this photo of a boat that came in for some work. It's hard to tell the size from the picture, but it's a 71 foot Dettweiller power boat with a planing hull! It has twin 1100 horsepower Caterpillar diesel engines. Justin, how's that for a boat? I can't imagine the fuel it must take to get that boat moving.
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.