12/04/2011, Vero Beach Marina
It's kind of fun coming down the same route we took last year. Some things are the same, and some are very different. Last year we left Daytona early and made it past the Addison Point Bridge (NASA Causeway). This year we were messing with filters and bilge pumps and so we left Daytona late and stopped and took a mooring ball in Titusville. We still wanted to make it to Vero Beach the next day (today) because it's a nice place that also has mooring balls. This year, since we'd stopped earlier, we had 15.5 more miles to go. The only reason we could do it is because it's Sunday, and we could get through the Addison Point Bridge before 8 AM (on weekdays it's closed from 6:30 to 8:00 AM).
We got up at 5:15, took Fuzzy ashore, got the dinghy back up and secured on the arch and were underway at about 6:40. Since we have to run the new engine pretty hard to break it in (30 minutes at 2800 RPM, 10 minutes at 3000 RPM and 4 minutes at WOT-wide open throttle) we are making great time. However, a lot of the time we made was used up because we had to make a fuel stop mid-day. We're getting less than half the fuel efficiency we got with the old Peugeot-Lehman. We hope that won't be the case once the engine is broken in and we run it most of the time at under 2500 RPM.
We stopped for fuel at a marina in the mouth of the Banana River. We had to go up the river (off the ICW) about three-quarters of a mile. As we went up, Bud saw a boat that had been at St. Augustine Marine Center with us. He thought it was the same boat, but this one had a wind generator, which we didn't think they had. On the way back, the captain was out on the foredeck, and it was the people we know. So we had a quick passing conversation as we went by.
The weather has been cool, with a mix of clouds and sun and a lot of wind, right out of the east. I put a picture of an interesting cloud formation in the gallery. I think after tomorrow we're supposed to get more sun and less wind. Since we're not sailing anyway, that would be nice.
Despite the fuel stop, we made it the 73.5 miles to Vero Beach by 4:30 PM. I had called ahead to make sure they had a place for us. They said we could moor, but we would have to raft with another boat. We were to radio when we got close. We hailed them as we turned off the ICW into the channel where they are. They gave us instructions to raft with two other boats. I tried hailing those boats on the radio, but got no answer. They each had a dinghy alongside, so there was no side for us to pull up along, plus, one of the boats was doing something with their jib and it was out and the boats were swinging on the mooring ball. I called the marina back and they gave us another ball and two other boat names. Bud chose which side to raft on and I had the fenders and lines ready. They didn't answer on the radio. Bud came up close behind them and had me yell to them. After two approaches, someone heard me and came out. We told them we'd been instructed to raft with them and we'd never done it before. The captain asked for about three minutes to get his boat ready, so Bud circled back around again. The couples from both boats were there and helped us get secured. They said we did a good job for never having done it before. You can see us rafted here in the setting sun. This was taken on the way back from taking Fuzzy ashore and signing up and paying at the marina.
It was a good day's run. We hand pumped the bilge every hour to hour and a half (it took about 30 seconds each time), Bud added fuel to the Racor filter in the morning and again at the fuel stop and all seems well. We only have a little over 40 miles to go tomorrow so we aren't even going to set an alarm. Ah retirement, so restful!
12/03/2011, 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.
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.
12/01/2011, 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.
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.
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.