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S/V Earendil
Trying Trials
09/23/2011, St. Augustine Marine Center, St. Augustine , FL

Our second sea trial was set for 9 AM. We set my phone alarm for 6:30 to make sure we and the boat would be ready. I imagined that the sea trial would take about an hour and we would have the rest of the day to ourselves. Our friends Ed and Karin from Passages (now docked in St. Mary's, GA) were coming down for lunch, if I was lucky I could squeeze a shower in before they got here. In the afternoon I hoped to pick up some AAA batteries for our new alarm clock so I wouldn't need to use my phone again. Here's what really happened.

Bob, from Yanmar called to say he'd be a bit late. Pete, from the marina, came down to tell us the same thing. By the time Bob arrived, we had everything ready to go. We fired up the engine, and it hardly ran. Turns out our little transfer fuel pump won't prime the new Racor filter. The whole top half of the Racor was filled with air, which was now going to the engine. I'm still not sure why we weren't getting air through the pump when we circulated the fuel. Anyway, Bob showed Bud how to top off that filter. Meanwhile, Danny tried to fix the throttle, which needs some tension put on it because the Yanmar has a return spring which the old Lehman-Peugeot didn't have. Danny still has to do some work on that, but he put it back together for the sea trial. He got us some diesel to top of the Racor and we were off. However, it was now almost 10:30 so I called Ed and Karin and told them they should probably plan on 1:00, rather than 12.

The sky was now looking rather ominous. There have been storms rolling around us for days, but only a few sprinkles right in St. Augustine. As we were going down the Intracoastal Waterway, I heard thunder all around. The engine was running very smoothly and there was no black smoke, but Bud still couldn't get it above about 3100 RPM. So Bob said to turn back, the prop was wrong and needed to be reset. But, Bob wanted to have the boat hauled immediately; get the prop pitch altered and take it right back out for another trial. It was now about 11:30. I called Ed and Karin and they were already in St. Augustine, so they agreed to come on over, and we'd grab a bite to eat while the prop was being done and then play it by ear. We stopped at the floating dock by the haul slip and got off until the arrangements were made. Then Bud and I got back on and Bud took it into the slip. I tossed lines to the guys and fended off the wall. We got the boat tied off and they brought the travel lift out and in position. Just after they got the straps in place they were all looking off to the west. There, west and a bit north was a funnel cloud trying to form. It looked like it was only a couple of miles away and headed for us. I saw it start to rotate, but then it seemed to loose energy and just went away. They lifted us up and forward until the bow pulpit was almost touching the inside wall of the slip and we climbed out. Since we have Fuzzy, we have to pass him out, too. I took off my boat shoes and had to walk back along the edge to our old dock to get my Crocs. When I came back I took this photo. That's Bob looking at the prop. When I turned around from taking the photo, I saw that Ed and Karin were there. I'd missed their call in all the noise of the travel lift and the excitement of the funnel cloud, but the secretary let them in the gate.

We quickly formed a plan and Karin and I dashed off to go get Chinese, while Ed and Bud stayed to mind the boat. Fuzzy came with Karin and me. We just made it into their car when rain came down. We saw it coming as a wall of white. When we got back after picking up the food, the streets were flooded and a lot of the yard was about a foot deep in water. We ate and visited inside the building where the marina guys take their breaks. We couldn't even invite Ed and Karin on board because the boat was still hanging in the sling. They left soon after, the rain eased off and Danny changed the prop. I walked over and Bob and Danny were having a discussion about the settings. Bob didn't think it looked right. Danny set it back to where he said it was when he started and then reset it to the new setting. Bob even climbed up and started the engine and put it in gear for a second while we checked which way it turned. It turns counterclockwise in forward, so it is a left-hand prop. That's how they had it set.

When Danny was ready to put the zinc back on the prop he asked me if I wanted that one put on. I told him it should be OK, it was brand new. He handed it to me. It was about half eaten away. Sacrificial zincs are put on boats because often there is stray current around a boat that could corrode a boat's metal parts. The zinc is what corrodes first, and in theory keeps the other metals from corroding. But that zinc had only been on the boat two weeks and was more corroded than the zinc we took off after being in the water a year!

The boat was taken back out and lowered, Bud, Fuzzy, Bob and I climbed back aboard (Danny didn't come this trip) and we went out for sea trial number 3. As soon as Bud backed out of the slip he could tell something was wrong. The boat had no power at all. He started down the channel and had the engine at over 3000 RPM and we were going less than 5 knots. Bob had him open it up, the engine went to 3600 RPM, and the boat didn't reach 6 knots. The prop was way off, now! So we turned around. Bob was talking to someone on the phone. We didn't know if we should take it back to the travel lift or back to our slip. No one was around by the travel lift and it was already 3 PM so we decided to just go back to our slip. It took Bud three approaches to get docked because he was coming in with the current and he had almost no power to maneuver, but he go it in OK.

Bob went off and said he'd be back in a bit. I talked to our dock mate and he said he'd had his zinc changed but there was no unusual wear on it. That made me convinced there was something wrong on our boat. I still had the old zinc so I set off to show it to Pete, the customer relation's guy. On the way I met Dave, the yard manager, so I showed it to him. He agreed that it was a problem and said he'd get the electrician on it and we'd get it squared away and get the prop fixed, too. I went back to the boat. A few minutes later Bob came back. He'd gone and gotten the prop manual from Danny and sat and read it. He and Danny looked again and figured that Danny had gotten the columns switched. The prop had been at 22 degrees and was supposed to be adjusted to 20 degrees. Instead, Danny thought it had been at 12 degrees and switched it to 10 degrees. With that small an angle from the vertical, the blades just spun, but pushed almost no water to move the boat.

So our day was gone, we had a very short visit with Ed and Karin, I didn't get any batteries, and I didn't get my shower until this evening. The plan now is to have the electrician on the boat at 7:30 AM Monday, and then to move the boat to the lift, pull it and reset the prop, and to do a final sea trial. I also have to pack and get to the airport in Orlando late Monday afternoon because I'm flying to Detroit! I'm mentally exhausted.

More Progress
09/22/2011, St. Augustine Marine Center, St. Augustine , FL

The rigging is finished. That's Andrew, the rigger, coming down from working on the upper stays. He stopped to adjust something there, he may have been about to tape the spreader boots over the ends of the lower spreader. He also installed the jib furler with its new wire stay and tuned the mast. Bud and I got the boom on, then Bud ran a lot of the lines while I worked on the engine room sound insulation. Our old insulation fell apart on one of the engine room doors. We stripped it off both doors and the generator cover. It was already off the small door on the far side of the engine room. We bought new soundproofing that came in 12-inch squares with peel and stick backs. I fit and cut the squares and covered those four doors. It went on nicely (although I did get blisters from cutting it) and we hope it's effective.

This evening we put our staysail back up. We had to rewind the furler and then raise the sail. Then we used the furling line to wind it up around the foil on the baby-stay. Happily, we got it right and it wound up with the UV resistant strip on the outside. We're looking more like a sailboat!

I tried to take a picture of a huge shrimp boat they pulled out with the travel-lift. It was very warm and drizzling rain. I took my camera out of the air-conditioned boat and it immediately steamed up. I took about 4 shots and wiped the lens repeatedly, but none of them came out clearly. I'll try to get a picture tomorrow. I'm getting tired of posting photos of Earendil still sitting in the same slip. We see lots of progress, but I don't think it much shows in the pictures.

Bravo! Bubbles Banished!
09/19/2011, St. Augustine Marine Center, St. Augustine , FL

We did it. We found a place in Jacksonville that sells hydraulic fittings. Bud took the Racor fittings up there and they had fittings that would replace those and connect directly to the barbs that hold our quarter inch fuel line. He connected everything up; we started the fuel transfer pump and watched for bubbles. No air bubbles. After 11 months the bubbles are finally banished. Bravo! The new, large Racor is shown in the picture installed on the far side of the engine compartment.

A Day of Work and, Finally, a Day of Play
09/18/2011, St. Augustine Marine Center, St. Augustine , FL

Saturday we set out to determine once and for all the cause of the air bubbles in the fuel and to fix the problem. First we had to get vinyl tubing to run from our incoming fuel manifold to the Racor filters. That would pinpoint the source of the bubbles. If we saw bubbles in the vinyl tube, the leak had to be from the tank through the manifold. If there were no bubbles anywhere, the leak would be in the piece of tubing we'd bypassed. If there were still bubbles in the filters, but not in the vinyl tube the filters would definitely be the culprits. So we double-checked our fuel line. We have two sizes, 3/8 from the tanks to the manifold and ¼ from the manifold to the engine or generator. So Bud made the first trip of the day to West Marine to get ¼ inch vinyl tube. He got back and went to attach it to the fitting and it was too small! What's this? Is fuel line named differently than other tubing? Who knows, so we found a fitting in our spares that exactly matched the fitting on the manifold and Bud made the second trip to West Marine and came back with 3/8 inch tubing. I hooked the end to the manifold (none of this is simple, as you have to make sure not a drop of diesel spills and you're working either in the engine compartment or under the floor boards). Bud went to hook it to the filter and said, "This tube is too big, these fitting are different sizes, no wonder we had an air leak." Then we both said, "Unless it's hooked to the wrong fitting on the manifold!" Which of course it was. Duh!!!

Next we had to determine which of the two quarter inch lines coming off the manifold went to the filters and the engine, and which went to the generator. That involved me lying on the floor, following the lines with my fingers to the point where they disappeared under the floor headed to the engine compartment, and Bud and I alternately tugging on lines until we were sure we both had a hold of the same line. We replaced that line with the original ¼ inch vinyl line (again making sure no diesel spilled) and we were ready to test. Fortunately, Bud has a fuel polishing system installed so we can use a little electric pump to circulate the fuel from a tank through the filters and back to the tank. We turned it on; a bunch of air got pushed through the vinyl tube, then no bubbles. The filters bubbled merrily away. Just to make sure, we switched levers on the manifolds and tested the other fuel tank. A blurb of air caught in the manifold went through, then no bubbles. We had definitely determined that the fuel filters were the culprits! After 11 months this felt like a real victory.

Next came the problem of replacing them. Bud removed both the old filters. The replacement filter we have is about twice the size of the old ones, but we are only using one. I had pulled all of the food and the shelves out of our bottom cupboard in the galley that backs against the engine compartment, only to discover that it wasn't far enough over. So I pulled the drawers out next to it. They had no removable wall behind them; the back of the space was the actual engine room wall. Fortunately, the drawer was ¼ inch shorter than the space where it fit, so in theory we had a quarter inch to fit the head of the bolts to hold the new filter. I made another trip to West Marine (trip number 3 for the day) for fittings to make a 90-degree turn in the line to reach the new filter. Meanwhile, Bud found that the fitting he bought to fit on the filter to reduce it down to our fuel line only fit one side of the filter, they were different sizes. He bought half-inch, the other side looked like ¾ inch. He reached me just as I was going in to West Marine, so I also got a ¾ inch fitting. When I got back and tried it, the ¾ inch was too big, so back I went to West Marine for a 5/8-inch fitting. Unfortunately, West Marine doesn't carry a 5/8-inch fitting like that. The fittings on the filters are compression fittings; we were trying to use regular pipe thread fittings as used on most fuel lines.

In the end, Bud took the two fittings out of the filters and installed it as far as he could. We'll have to buy the fittings and finish the installation on Monday. All we had to do then was pick up...hand tools into the compartments in the aft cabin, power tools (drill and grinder) under all the stuff and the cushions of the forward berth, the food back in the cupboard, the unused tubing under the board that is under the charts that are under the drawer in the forward cabin, and finally the engine room doors. By then it was suppertime and we had had it.

Sunday we went fishing with Gary. It's the first day off we've taken since we got back to the boat on August 23rd. The picture is Bud, Gary and Fuzzy in Gary's boat. I'm standing on the bow with the camera. Fuzzy is wrapped in my jacket. It was cloudy and windy and only in the upper 70's and Fuzzy and I were cold! Bud and Gary caught no fish, but we had a nice time and it was good to do something besides work on the boat. It always amazes me how wild Florida can be just a mile or two from the beaten path. We were fishing about a quarter mile back from the Intracoastal Waterway and there wasn't a house in sight. If you ignored the boats that went by in the distance at pretty regular intervals, you'd think you were in the wilderness. Gary's son-in-law, Matt, was also there in his fishing boat. It was rough enough on the trip back that Fuzzy and I transferred to Matt's boat so Gary's boat would plane better and we'd all get less wet. Fuzzy and I had a very comfortable trip, Matt's v-hull boat planed very smoothly through the chop compared to Gary's Carolina Skiff with it's flat bottom.

Monday it's back to polishing and trying to finish plumbing the new Racor. Hopefully we'll finally lick the air bubble problem.

The Sea Trial – and Air Bubbles!
09/17/2011, St. Augustine Marine Center, St. Augustine , FL

If you have been following our journey from the beginning, you may remember our early issues with air bubbles in our fuel supply. After first noticing them in Little Sodus, we spent days trying to track down the source. We had two different marine mechanic outfits on board. We bypassed all of our fuel line and ran a line directly from one tank to the filters. We still had bubbles. We had Racor send us two rebuild kits for the filters; we rebuilt both filters and still had bubbles. So we proceeded south with air bubbles in the fuel and the Lehman-Peugeot seemed to tolerate them. We told St. Augustine Marine Center about the air bubbles in the fuel line and our concern that the new Yanmar might not tolerate them well. When we got back we asked Danny, the mechanic, about the air bubbles. "They're still there, but the engine runs," was his reply.

Meanwhile, yesterday, while we were in the middle of a day of chores (water tanks refilled, dishes to do, laundry and of course deck polishing in the queue) Bob from Yanmar and Mark from the Marine Center showed up for the sea trial! So we rushed around and got ready, and then Bob says that an anti-siphon device must be installed on the exhaust system to keep seawater from possibly siphoning in to the engine. He said it's standard to install that on a sailboat. Mark does that, and then disappears to another boat. We chat with Bob for a while, then Bud and Bob manage to adjust the throttle so the lever will move the throttle all the way from idle to wide open, another problem Bob discovered. Finally Bob calls Mark to find out that he's just about finished with whatever he was looking at on the other boat, then he's going to lunch! We chat with Bob some more.

Finally, at about 1 PM we actually cast off for the sea trial. So far everything else on the engine checks out. We head towards the Intracoastal Waterway and Bud heads away from St. Augustine. He opens the engine up. One of the major things you check on a sea trial is whether the prop angle is right for the engine. If it's not, the engine won't run correctly at speed and could smoke. Bob calls up with a concern. There's air in the fuel lines! (Yes, we know.) If there's air in the fuel lines the engine won't run correctly at speed and could smoke. Well the engine ran well, but never reached peak RPMs and was smoking (the lower part of our once sparkling stern is now grey). So we came back and we have to deal with the air in the fuel lines and run another sea trial before we know what's what.

Bob and Mark walked off the boat and Bud and I were left to wonder what their intentions were, and what our next action should be. We had pretty much decided that we would deal with the air in the fuel line problem ourselves when Bob came back and said they had a Racor 900 in the parts department. The Marine Center was thinking of putting that temporarily in the line and seeing if it bubbled. Bud and I walked over to the parts department and found that they had two, used Racor 900's. They would sell us one for $150 (about $400 new) and we could take them for the weekend and let him know on Monday if we wanted to buy one (or both). Bob then assured us that one was sufficient for this engine.

Today Bud and I are tackling the air bubble problem one more time. You would think that at least we would have more room to install the new Racor since this is a smaller engine. You might be able to tell from the photo (this is the transmission area and the front wall of the engine compartment) this engine actually sits closer to the front wall where the filters and all the electrical connections are. All the extra room is in back, of course! Bud is going to West Marine for some clear plastic hose. Before we replace the old Racors we are doing one more test that Bob suggested, we are installing a temporary fuel line of clear plastic between our fuel manifold and the Racors, to make certain that the air is not in the system before it gets to the filters. If not, we simply have to figure out how to get the old filters out and fit the new filter in. I'm sure we'll be all day at it.

Oh the joys of cruising!

Progress, but No Sea Trial
09/14/2011, St. Augustine Marine Center, St. Augustine , FL

I promised to write about the sea trial on the engine, but that hasn't happened yet. Danny, the mechanic, did come and solve the engine problems on Monday. First he conferred with Dave, the electrician, and they discovered that there was nothing wrong with the starter solenoid, the problem was that the engine won't start if it's in gear, and although the shift lever had looked like it was in the neutral position, it was not. So the whole problem was in getting the old shift lever to properly shift the new transmission. That took a bit of doing. There wasn't room to just turn the lever backwards, so when you pushed the lever forward it would now shift the engine forward. The lever that attached to the transmission had to be taken off and bent, so it had room to move in the new, correct configuration. It took a couple of tries, but Danny got it working.

We continued to work inside and out. I finished splicing an eye with a thimble for our new topping lift and we installed that at the top of the mast. Our replacement cable and wireless hub for our WIFI antenna came, and after testing to confirm that they worked, Bud and I measured and cut the cable so we could pull it through the mast and plug it into the antenna that we had already installed at the top of the mast. I then took the short end of the cable and wired it into the boat. I took power off the line that runs to our TV antenna and then ran the cable to the base of the mast and the connector to a cupboard in the salon next to the TV where I hope to be able to leave the wireless hub.

Today was a busy day in other ways. Bud and I both had doctor's appointments. We needed to leave at about 9:40. In the afternoon we were going to move the boat down to a wall near the haul out slip so they could step the mast. At about 9 Bud decided that the tide was slack enough he wanted to move the boat before we left. Two of the yardmen lent a hand and we cast off and moved the boat about 1000 feet. Bud wanted to back into the space, but the current was still pretty strong and with some fancy helm work he managed not to hit the side of the haul slip, or the dock and boats extending out in front of the wall, or the wall. But he did end up with our boat at a 90-degree angle to the wall. The yard guys caught us and we were able to get successfully tied up, but facing the direction we would have been if Bud pulled straight in. Oh well, he tried. And the engine, transmission and shift levers all worked fine.

We made it to our appointments on time. When we got back, the mast was on the boat and Andrew, the rigger, was working on tightening the shrouds. Bud dropped Fuzzy and I off and he went to get blood work done. I went below and hooked up all the wires to the mast. It took a while, there are an Ethernet connector and three wires for the radar, then four wires and a ground for the wind instrument, the VHF antenna, the TV antenna, and the mast lights: tricolor, anchor light, steaming light, deck light and two ground wires for them. The new WIFI antenna came with a connector and I had to hook up 8 little wires from each side of the cut we make in the cable, matching them in the connector box according to the diagram on the cover. Andrew got me a terminal end for the mast ground wire and crimped it on. They had cut it when they removed the mast and I didn't have anything big enough to do that wire. I then put heat shrink insulation around his crimp and attached the ground wire right near the base of the mast. Of course all this work is done at the base of the mast and under the floorboards around the mast, so I spent the afternoon crouching, sitting or kneeling on the floor. As soon as I had the WIFI antenna done I tried it out and it worked! Once everything was done, we were able to put our mast cover back on, our dinette table back in with the leaf attached and put the floor and the rug back together. No more holes for poor Fuzzy to fall into. And Bud could watch TV. We're really getting back to all the comforts of our home afloat. As it was getting dark I tried all the lights on the mast and they all work. Now if the Radar and wind instruments work that job will be done.

The rigging is not done yet. Andrew has to measure and fit the new forestay. He also has to switch two of the shrouds. When they sent our old rod rigging to the factory to have new rods made, the factory told Andrew that none of the rods were the same length. I guess that was common for boats made at the TaShing boatyard. Everything was hand fitted. The factory sent back lower shrouds that were an average of the lengths, except one outlier, that they replaced as it was. Andrew had to switch the forward port and aft starboard shrouds to get them to fit. That worked, but the uppers aren't right. He's going to switch those tomorrow, and if that doesn't work, one has to be sent back to be shortened. At least it's too long, and not too short!

I took this picture of the boat at the end of the day. You can see the partially rigged mast. You can also see that we are now the little boat, in what we are calling big boat alley. I also put a photo of the waterline in the gallery. If you look close you can see the indentation in the red bottom where the old blue boot stripe was. That's what Bud sanded down and painted with bottom paint. He then painted half the red boot stripe blue, so we still have the blue, red, blue combination. I was glad to see that with the mast on and the new arch as well as all of our gear except the dingy, we are still sitting above the old waterline.

09/15/2011 | Skip
It's like standing in a cold shower, while ripping up $100 bills.

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