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S/V Earendil
On Our Way?
12/02/2011, Halifax Harbor Marina, Daytona Beach, FL

Here we are going under the first lift bridge of the season. We finally left the dock at about 6:45 this morning. We are still in the break-in period of the new engine, so we could only go at 70% of full throttle for the first part of the day. Even at that we were going faster than we went with the Lehman-Peugeot so we made great time. We were headed back to Halifax Harbor Marina in Daytona. We thought we'd get here about 3:30 and instead arrived before 2.

Along the way we saw the usual odd things on the ICW. I snapped a photo of an excavator that appeared to be amphibious and a sailboat that didn't look to be in the right place. I put those in the gallery.

Despite the good time that we made and the fact that the engine appeared to run flawlessly, the day wasn't an unqualified success. (With us there's always a but...) I saw air bubbles in the new Racor filter. They never affected the engine and Bud thinks it's just a bit of trapped air from an earlier problem. Also, the knot meter didn't work at all. We knew that had to be because it had stuff growing on it. You can access it from inside the boat by unscrewing it from the hull and quickly screwing in a plug. I didn't want to try that underway, so we just went with the speed from the GPS for the day. Next issue we noticed was that we didn't think the aft toilet was flushing right, despite having been just rebuilt. Then there was the fact that the bilge pump ran last night and when I investigated, there was water down where the fresh water pump is installed, although I couldn't find any place on the pump that seemed to be leaking. I figured it was from underneath it again. So at the end of our day we had those four things to deal with. We also needed to have our holding tanks pumped and finish calibrating the tank monitor Bud installed on the forward holding tank.

Here's what happened instead. Bud pulled out the speed wheel; which did have all kinds of interesting growth. In doing so he let in the expected quart or two of seawater. The bilge pump came on and...didn't switch off, again! I reached in to jiggle the hose, hoping the switch was stuck. When I pulled my hand out it felt oily. Upon investigation there was a fairly odorless, oily red film in a band under the engine, right where the engine and transmission joined. It appeared that transmission fluid was leaking out at the join of the bell housing and the engine! I called the engine supplier, their tech who had been on the many sea trials, the customer service manager at St. Augustine Marine Center, and after leaving messages of increasing desperation, the secretary at the Marine Center. She told me the customer service manager was going to call the Yanmar people and call us back.

Meanwhile, I tried to calibrate the forward holding tank. It wouldn't stop reading full, no matter what I did. Since we had three calls to folks on my phone, I used Bud's cell to call the technical support on the tank monitor. The person I first talked to said he had to have another guy call me back. So now we're waiting for engine calls on my phone and tank monitor calls on Bud's phone. We took a look at the aft toilet and decided there must have been something stuck in it, because it was flushing fine now. So that problem is solved (we hope). And Bud is convinced that whatever is leaking is not the freshwater pump. We'll have to continue to watch that and try to figure it out. It is from our freshwater system, we just don't know from where. It might even have been from overfilling the aft tank.

Finally Bud gets a call saying they are sending a local Yanmar tech over to look at the problem and he'll be here in about an hour and a half. And I get a call back from Scad Technologies and the very nice man walks me though a partial disassembly of our panel until we discover that the issue was that Bud had wired it wrong. That is all back together correctly, but now we have to wait until the tank is full again to finish calibrating it.

The Yanmar tech came. After about a half hour and some very careful investigation he figured out that the liquid was coolant, not transmission fluid. It had leaked out of the drain plug on the heat exchanger, dripped down onto the spinning prop shaft and been thrown in a band under and along the bell housing-engine junction. So instead of a major repair, he tightened that plug. He also told us that we could probably get the bilge pump switch operating again by putting a couple of gallons of water with a little Dawn dish detergent into the bilge and pumping it back out. I tried that and it didn't work first try, but there were suds left in the bilge, so I added more water and we're going to let it sit overnight and try again in the morning.

We're pretty strung out from all of this. In the morning we'll try the bilge pump again and Bud will check the Racor filter and hopefully we'll be on our way. At least we're not in St. Augustine anymore.

12/03/2011 | Bob
And your off,
Out here they are called 'pond tracks' on the track
hoe you took a picture of and are designed to allow
work on soft ground - they however won't 'float' the hoe on water. Sounds like the boat is being normal boat - it is however not much different that normal house and normal car combined - they all have something that needs attention somewhere all the time. You are somewhat blessed with the fact that you don't have a crew of employees helping to find (and
create) the problems and if nothing else they are 'close at hand'. And on that note, have a good day.
So Long St. Augustine
12/01/2011, St. Augustine Marine Center, St. Augustine , FL

I think we're ready to go in the morning. The car is packed with the things we aren't taking; the gate remote is turned in. I made arrangements to have the latch parts shipped down to Stuart and went for a last ride in St. Augustine to say good-bye to this lovely little city. While I was biking and taking a few pictures the marine store called, the latch parts had come in. So I biked back over and picked them up and Bud and I installed them.

Bud took the time to fish for one last time. He also went and bought a heavy-duty fishing pole for the trip. He now has four fishing poles and a spear for diving. We'd better be eating some seafood in the Bahamas.

It's been so long since we went anywhere with the boat that it's going to take some getting used to, but it will be good to be moving again. It will be a few days before I start to feel comfortable with all the new equipment. We plan to have the Yanmar serviced in Stuart. The valves are supposed to be checked after 50 hours, and that should be pretty close to Stuart. We'll have to change the transmission fluid about halfway there, as that needs to be changed after the first 25 hours of service. We have the fluid and the new filter on board.

This should be the last sunset we see in St. Augustine until we're back in the late spring. It was a nice one. I started a new photo album for this season and put my farewell photos in it.

12/02/2011 | Bob
Congratulations - looking forward more tales and
pictures (especially of fish).

Going, Going, but Not Yet Gone
11/30/2011, St. Augustine Marine Center, St. Augustine , FL

Here's our salon, with Fuzzy in his bed (he's doing much better on his Prozac regimen), provisions hanging in hammocks and charts and engine manuals all over the table. We're getting ready to take off, but we might not make it tomorrow. Two things are holding us back.

The first is that the half hour job of bolting the pump motor and piston assembly of our fresh water pump to the bottom assembly that we ordered turned out to be a lot more difficult than anticipated. The assembly came on time, in fact it got here in the morning, rather than the afternoon, as scheduled. However, when we went to screw the pressure switch into the side of it, the hole where it goes was a molded impression, it was neither drilled nor tapped. The part came in a box without any instructions. After cruising around on the Internet for a while we decided that some people use this pump without that pressure switch, so that's why it wasn't pre-drilled. We still had the old base and there are two identical depressions, only one of which is used for the switch. So we experimented with drilling and tapping the other one (we actually had the required drill and tap) and it worked. No shattered plastic. However, the new base was preassembled, so we had to take it apart to drill and tap it. We got that done and got it reassembled and then tried to bolt the piston assembly to the top. The bolt holes were molded in, but not tapped. They were blind holes, so they had to be tapped, and then it took a while to clean the cuttings out. So the part of the job we thought would take about two minutes took more than two hours. We hooked up the wires and the hoses and set it on the floor for testing. It worked, it leaked. Shut it down, turned it over and tightened those nine screws again (yes we'd had to take them all out for the drilling procedure). Tried a second time and it didn't leak. But (there's always a but) after a short while it quit pumping. This had happened to Bud last year when I was in Michigan, and he knew to tighten a setscrew on the pump shaft. So try again. Now it appeared to be pumping, but still no water pressure. This time we figured out that we were at the end of one of our water tanks and had to switch tanks. Finally, the pump is pumping, switching on and off and the base isn't leaking. But (yes, but again) now we see a little bit of water around the diaphragm. So Bud took the motor and pump assembly off and I rebuilt the diaphragm assembly using Teflon tape on the bolt and plumbers putty between the washer and diaphragm plate. Finally, water flows where and when it's supposed to. So we shut the system down, applied the heat shrink to the electrical connections, took the hoses off and put the pump in place and reattached the hoses. Our half hour job is complete in about four and a half hours.

During all of this Gary came down to say good-bye. He's going to miss watching the ongoing comedy of errors aboard Earendil. (Hopefully said comedy is drawing to a close, altogether.)

We now have about three hours of packing and stowing to do, but it's almost suppertime and we're beat. A dawn departure is not going to happen. Then there's the second issue, the latch parts that were supposed to come in one day didn't come. They are being sent to our local marine store by mail! So we'll give them one more day. If they aren't there tomorrow we will see if they can be forwarded to a marina about four days south of here and pick them up there.

Actually, things are coming together. Yesterday we spent another day in the bilge replacing the two manual bilge pump hoses. These were old and stiff and impregnated with oil. The new hoses allowed us to get the automatic bilge pump hose and switch in a better position. The switch is now flat on the bottom and held there by the other hoses. It seems to work well; we dumped enough water testing the fresh water pump to have the bilge pump cycle.

We also had a diver clean the bottom of the boat and check the zincs. The bottom had just a bit of scum and the zincs showed almost no wear. That is a huge load off my mind.

So you see, we really are getting close.

Enough Already!
11/28/2011, St. Augustine Marine Center, St. Augustine , FL

If I had been quicker with my camera I would have had a picture of a beautiful double rainbow, one of the brightest I've seen, to put here. It formed as the sun was getting ready to set. I hope it was an omen. Instead, what you see is our bilge, where we again spent a good deal of our day. To get this picture I stuck the camera under the transmission of the engine. The bilge is bout 2 feet long at the bottom, less than a foot wide and about 3 feet deep. It has three bilge pump hoses in it and one of the hoses is on a small plate with the switch attached next to it. You can just see a piece of the white housing way in the bottom. That's the switch Bud replaced while I was in Texarkana.

Yesterday, we got to replace it again! The automatic bilge pump came on and wouldn't shut off. Bud stuck a pole down there and tapped the float switch to see if there was something hanging it up and that didn't work, so we very carefully, and with much contortion for both of us, pulled it back out after pulling the fuse so the pump would shut off. Once it was up, but still wired in, Bud took it off its base. It's a float, but is enclosed so we couldn't see what was going on with it until we removed it from the plate; the bottom is open. The float was sticking. There was some gunk on it, and that can cause it to stick, but Bud had spent hours trying to clean the bilge, so that was very discouraging. We put the fuse back in and the pump didn't come back on. We flipped the float up and down and it worked, but it didn't seem to move freely enough. Bud noticed that the part with the wires and switch was warm. That didn't seem right, but it was barely warm, so I didn't think it was significant. After it had been sitting hooked up, but with the float down for a few minutes I picked it up again and it was quite warm. I kept picking it up and feeling it and trying to figure out what was going on. Then, while I was handling it, I noticed water coming out. I showed Bud. We pulled the fuse again. The device was cracked and full of water. We think it heated up enough to distort the plastic just enough so it had a sticky spot. Our theory is that a wake hit us, sloshed the little bit of water in the bilge and lifted the float, which then stuck at the sticky spot.

So off to West Marine we went. We bought another one just like the bad one, because the one before had worked for about 2 years, and on inspection still seemed to be functional. We'll take the defective one back to the marine store where we bought it, but they're not open on Sunday, and we wanted our automatic bilge pump functioning again.

The rest of the afternoon was spent trying to reinstall it. Hooking it up and attaching it to the plate took about 20 minutes. Getting it back down in the bilge among the other hoses, sitting flat on the bottom and secure enough to stay in place, took two hours. Two hours of contortions over and under the engine.

But it's in, and we're almost certain the issue was a defective switch and not some other issue with the boat. We don't know if it works, yet. We tested it before we replaced it, and we tried the manual switch for that pump and all was OK, but the pump hasn't come on since we put the switch back in the bilge (it hasn't had reason to) so we can't be sure all is OK.

At one time yesterday I thought, "I would want to give up and go home if I had any other home to go to!" But then there was the rainbow.

11/28/2011 | Jim
I'm sorry to hear about all your problems with the boat. Just so you don't feel like you are the only ones suffering I thought I would tell you that I'm helping my blind friend build a new garage. He burned the other onea down by mistake. It is coming along pretty good now but a lot of things get ignored when you are blind. I don't recommend it, but if you guys were blind you wouldn't have as much to repair. Really I'm glad you could see the double rainbow. Love you guys JIm
11/29/2011 | Skip
I think you forgot "rebuild and replace propeller" on your list.
Best wishes on the next chapter of your journey. We'll be following you vicariously from California. I hope there's still room down below for a passenger when you make it out here.
11/29/2011 | Jill
Skip, I din't put that in because we did that before we went to the Bahamas last year. This is all the stuff we've done after the first year...after all the other work we did to get the boat ready for cruising! I did forget recover cockpit cushions.
Well Maybe Things Aren't so Bad
11/27/2011, St. Augustine Marine Center, St. Augustine , FL

To wrap up a few things I've left hanging:

First, my brother asked for a photo of the new arch. This picture of our stern shows the new arch with the dinghy on the davits. When we travel the dinghy will be pulled up tighter and tied forward to keep it as still as we can. For open water crossings we'll still put the dinghy up on the foredeck. You can see our new propane tank, too. That's strapped to the stern pulpit and the wind generator mounting post and is quite secure. Just in front of that is one of the folding bikes. Those are staying in the car in St. Augustine. Since we're at anchor most of the time in the Bahamas, we can't easily get the bikes ashore, so we've decided not to take them this season.

Fuzzy is doing pretty well on Prozac. Bud is advocating that I should also be taking it, and I admit, some days it's tempting. Fuzzy's appetite isn't great, but he's eating enough to stay healthy and we think his appetite will recover. The generic Prozac is only $4 for 30 tablets and he is only taking a half tablet a day, so far. Target will give us all 6 refills on the prescription, so we should have enough for the season.

I lucked out on the fresh water pump. The local supplier had it listed at around $450. I went on line and found it for a bit over $300, so we ordered it. Once I placed the order it came up on backorder, so I cancelled that. Looking around on line I found the base assembly available for a bit over $200. I tried to order that but the ordering program on that site wouldn't accept the zip code as a valid code for St. Augustine. I sent them an email. Then I decided to look up the part number on line and found it from Defender Industries for $149. I placed the order there; so even with expedited shipping it was about $165. Now that might seem like a lot to you non-boaters, but compared to the $450 we first looked at, and as boat repairs go, that's a great price. Bud was able to get all four of the base screws out of the mount (he thought he would have to grind them off and re-drill) so the new base will screw right in where the old base was. I clipped, tinned and crimped quick connect ends on the wires, so when we install the new pump those can be connected and sealed with heat shrink and we should be good to go. We found a big pin in our hardware that plugged the water line, so we are able to use the foot pumps in our water system. No hot water, but at least you can wash your hands and brush your teeth.

Oh, and the pies are great. I'm having my usual after Thanksgiving breakfast of pumpkin pie and whipped cream.

We hope to leave here by the middle of the week. It all depends on when the pump base ships. We'll be staying on the ICW down to Lake Worth again, so won't have to worry too much about the weather until we look for a window to cross.

Fun in the Sun
11/25/2011, St. Augustine Marine Center, St. Augustine , FL

OK, that's sarcasm. Some of you might be wondering why we're still in St. Augustine. The boat finally passed its sea trial two months ago. I've been back for two and a half weeks. So what's going on?

Well, it seems we just can't get ahead. At the end of this post is the list of the things done to the boat, and the things we've done to the boat this season. Every time we think we're finally at the end of the list, something else happens. Today two more things got added to the to-do list.

First, the aft head door handle started to malfunction. Bud took it to our local marine store (a great store) and they could sell us a replacement lock set for about $100 or parts for ours for much less. He opted for parts; they won't be here until the middle of next departure is delayed again. Meanwhile, since the knob still worked in one direction, Bud reinstalled it until the parts came in. He tested it to make sure the knob worked and then closed the door of the head, and the knob no longer worked. At about this point Gary came down to join in the fun. The head was closed and we couldn't get at the lockset because the screws were on the inside. I managed to knock out the screen in the port in the shower stall, reach in with a coat hanger taped to our boat hook and grab the latch on the engine access door and pull that open. I then had to crawl over the engine and into the shower and head. The photo shows the engine area with the open access door on the other side. Once there I removed the screws and the back plate of the lockset, which accomplished nothing, except that I was now stuck in the head! Bud and I had both tried to open the latch with knives, but lucky for us, Gary is expert at this and soon he got it open using a skinny jack knife blade and a butter knife. I then completely removed the lockset from the door.

That wasn't our main problem, however. From the time we've had the boat we've had trouble with our fresh water pressure pump running when no faucets are on. Lately this has gotten much worse (of course). So while Bud was ordering the door hardware kit he also bought a rebuild kit for the pump. The valves and diaphragm could be accessed from the top, but there are two "pulsation dampeners" that need to be accessed from the bottom. We pulled the pump part way out, took the motor off, and turned it over. We didn't have to cut any of the wires to do this, but it did mean we had to do the work kneeling on the floor. The back plate of the pump has 12 screws in it. 11 came out OK, even the three that were slathered with epoxy once we chipped the epoxy off of them. (The presence of epoxy all over one side of the back plate should have been a warning.) I was working on the disassembly but had Bud try that screw. An hour later he had it out. We then had to buy a replacement screw for the screw he had all but destroyed in removing. I continued with the rebuild. When I put it back together the screw that wouldn't come out was now stripped. It was one of nine in that part, though, and the directions said not to over tighten, so I continued. I got the pump back together and Bud reinstalled it. We had also discovered that the rubber feet were corroded, so had them on order, but three of the four feet were functional, so we could put it back in service. Bud hooked the hoses back on, opened the valve to the water tank and turned on the pump. It sounded great and it pumped water very well. But then I saw water coming out from the base, no, streaming out from the base. Bud shut everything down and pulled it out far enough to access the base and tightened the screws. Reinstalled, valves, switches, try again. Water runs out again. Pulled it all the way out (cut wires etc.) and took it back apart. Either the stripped screw was essential (likely) or the epoxy was because the base leaks (possible, less likely).

Anyway after working all day, we have no lock on our aft head door and no water. And so it goes...

The List

Work performed by others:
New engine, transmission and exhaust
Reinforce floor under house battery bank
Move front navigation light out of the way of the Rocna
Repair lower bearing on rudder
New rod rigging
Shorten jib furler
New arch with davits to raise dinghy
Spartight to replace wedges where mast enters deck
Wash and repair main and jib
Repair SSB (we removed both SSB and antenna tuner and sent for service)

Work we've done:
Install new Racor filter
Trade in recalled Rocna on new one
Add 12V line to aft cabin with receptacle for hand held GPS (to use as anchor alarm)
Install WIFI antenna and wireless hub
Purchase IPad and wireless GPS and set up IPad as back-up chart
Move solar panels to arch and wire to single controller
Install tank monitor for forward holding tank
Install galvanic isolator
Install bonding brushes to prop
Replace generator raw water hose from seacock to strainer
Replace zincs in generator heat exchanger
Repair floor in aft shower (epoxy small break)
Make cockpit awning
Make small cover for base of mast
Replace light fixture over dinette with LED fixture
Rebuild both toilets
Rebuild foot pump in forward head
Replace jib sheets
Replace jib furling line
Line opening on jib furler to prevent chafe
Clean bilge
Replace bilge pump switch
Replace bilge hose check valve
Bond toilets
Buy and install tank and adapters to run rail mount grill on 20 lb. propane tank
Clean out deck and locker drain hose
Splice eye around shackle on anchor snubber to hold new hook

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