12/11/2011, Vero Beach Marina
There was a 30% chance of rain yesterday and 60% today. It rained almost all day yesterday, at times quite hard. It rained a bit today, around noon. This picture was taken yesterday afternoon, after the rain had let up. Bud had to bail out the dinghy so we could take Fuzzy ashore. He's standing in about 6 inches of water!
So we didn't do much at all yesterday.
Today was much better as our friends Jon and Arline came to visit. Their boat is on a mooring ball in Stuart, and they have a car down here. It was about a 40-minute drive they said, from Stuart to Vero Beach. They arrived in the rain; Bud went in the dinghy to get them. Their two dogs, Sara and Blue, were with them. I got a towel for Arline and she dried the dogs and brought them below. Bud and Jon took off for the store. The dogs all settled down in the boat, Fuzzy and Blue on opposite settees, and Sara on the rug in between. The whole time Jon and Arline were here the dogs never made a peep.
I'd made bread for the occasion, Bud made Jambalaya and Jon and Arline brought champagne. We celebrated being broken down in Florida, which is certainly better than being broken down in the north. They are waiting on a part for their autopilot, having just finished some fairly major engine repairs.
We may still get to sail with them. We all want to get to the Bahamas as soon as boats and weather allow. Bud and I have a more urgent deadline; we're still determined to get to Georgetown by January 8th, if we can do it safely. We discussed weather windows and crossing routes and promised to stay in touch. We're not sure if we'll stop in Stuart this year since we've had this forced stay in Vero Beach, but we'll try to see each other again somewhere along the line.
12/09/2011, Vero Beach Marina
We got some good news today. First, in the morning I called the Yanmar distributor and found out that they were authorizing our repair. Some of the remedial work on the installation they would be charging back to St. Augustine Marine Center, but so far they were treating the oil seal leak as a warranty issue. After I talked to them I called the local dealer and asked about the tube for the transmission. The mechanic was out, but the woman promised to get back to us today.
With that business done we decided to go ashore and check the local bus schedule and routes. We found the bus runs every hour, but we couldn't find a brochure with the routes that we could take. There's one posted on the wall, but the routes are complicated and we don't know where things are around here, so it didn't do us much good.
The day had turned nice and I persuaded Bud that Fuzzy could use a walk, so instead of attempting the bus we walked the six blocks or so over to the beach. The marina is on the east side of the Intracoastal Waterway, so it's just over this narrow island to the Atlantic. Fuzzy wasn't as excited about the beach as I thought he might be, but he definitely enjoyed it. It's a nice beach, and as you can see in the photo, mostly deserted.
When we got back to the boat we found we had new mooring mates, a couple on a Catalina 32. We talked to them and got the lines and fenders adjusted. Then I got a call from the local Yanmar people. The mechanic hadn't returned, but the woman had looked the information up on plumbing a riser for the transmission fill. She also said the parts for our repair were due Monday afternoon and they would probably be able to start the repair on Tuesday. That's good news indeed. She was going to talk to our mechanic about the fill tube and perhaps have one of the other mechanics put it together as I reminded her we needed to install it and fill the transmission before we could move the boat to the dock. So things are moving forward. I'm hopeful that we could be moving on in as little as a week.
Bud celebrated by spending a couple of hours fishing. He caught some small Pompano and several small Ladyfish, so even though there's no more fish for the freezer, he had fun.
12/08/2011, Vero Beach Marina
It was a cold day here. We woke up to temperatures in the fifties. We took our time with breakfast, but then we had to bundle up and take Fuzzy ashore. He was dressed in his one little sweater that we brought along. I had him in the front pack for the dinghy ride, and still he shivered. It did get up in the low seventies around mid-day, so I suppose that's not bad for mid-December.
When we got back and I finished the regular morning chores we tackled the forward holding tank. We wanted to make sure it was full before we calibrated it, and that needed to be done before the pump-out boat got here. Bud opened the viewing port on the tank, ugh! There was still about 3 inches of space at the top of the tank. I pumped seawater in to fill it. I took the time to add vinegar and clean the worst of the stains from the toilet bowl (vinegar works wonders on the stains that the combination of saltwater and urine leave behind). Anyway, we got it filled to within about a half inch of the top. When I went to calibrate the monitor, it wouldn't go past half full. So I called the company again. I tried to reach Dennis, the very helpful man I'd talked to before. He wasn't in the office and they said they'd have him call me back. I asked them to hurry, because if there was a fix, I'd like to get it done before the tank got pumped.
Bud had started to empty out the wet locker and the storage area under the generator. Our generator puts a small stream of water into the bilge via the wet locker drain whenever we run it. Once before it had over-filled the wet locker pan and it had done that again Tuesday when we used it. Bud wanted to investigate the hose from the wet locker to the bilge.
I took a look at the wires to the tank monitor, just to see if I could see a problem. Sure enough, one of my crimps hadn't held and there was a loose connection! I crimped the wires hard with our old wire stripper and crimper. Once the connections were together I was able to program the monitor. I had just finished when Dennis called. We had a nice chat and he told me if I ever had any other problems to call him direct at the number he was on, his home number. Wow, that's service! I would highly recommend anything from SCAD Technologies. They really support their products.
The pump-out boat came then and we got both tanks emptied. Then we went back to the wet locker drain problem. The hose had crimped again where it turned to exit the wet locker, so Bud cut it and installed a 90-degree elbow. We actually had an elbow of the right size in our plumbing supplies. He installed the elbow and I hooked the drain hose back up to the bottom of the pan because it was one of those jobs where you had to stick the top half of your body into the wet locker and bend over and behind the partially lifted bottom pan to do the installation.
Bud still wanted to reseal the front holding tank, but told me I might as well take the dinghy and go to shore to walk around if I wanted. There were no more jobs to be done. At least for the moment we had come to the END OF THE LIST. Now I don't want to get too excited, because I know the engine needs to be repaired and new things will no doubt come on the list (we haven't addressed the leak in the fresh water system, for instance), but it still seemed lovely.
I met this wild turkey walking around the marina and she was kind enough to let me take her photo.
I had a bit of an incident with the dinghy getting back to the boat. The dinghy dock here is very crowded. I was proud of myself for nosing my way successfully into a place on my way in. Getting out, I should have just left the engine in neutral and pulled myself back using the dinghies on either side, but I was feeling confident and tried to back out. I gave the engine a bit of throttle and it lifted up and that gave it more throttle! I tried to get it in neutral and put it in forward so I was charging back at the dock. I at least had the presence of mind to pull the cord that released the kill switch. No harm done, but I felt like a fool. A nice man gave me instructions on getting the engine clamped back down. I then restarted it and pushed back by hand and putted off in forward. On the way back I sat on the other side and used my left hand on the throttle, as he suggested. That way the throttle operates like a motorcycle and it's more intuitive. I told Bud when I got back that the engine had not been locked down. Turns out it doesn't lock down in reverse, and the whole incident was because I gave it too much throttle. Boy, that throttle is touchy! I guess I'll have to practice my dinghy techniques, preferably not at a crowded dock.
12/07/2011, Vero Beach Marina
We got a lot done while we were at the dock. We charged the batteries, got to drink drip coffee, filled the water tanks and did laundry. Then Matt, from the local Yanmar dealership, came.
He was very nice and very professional. It turns out that we were right. (Sometimes it's not great to be right.) There is an oil leak from the rear engine seal. Matt took the time to take things apart far enough to see if the prop shaft and transmission were properly aligned. They were not. He described it as grossly misaligned. While he was here we asked him about the hot water. The engine no longer seems to heat our water. He looked at it for about 30 seconds and said, "That's because it's not plumbed correctly".
So what happens now? We're back on the mooring while he submits his report and about 30 pictures he took to the Yanmar distributor. He said it usually only takes them about a day to authorize service. He won't be able to do anything until next week. He probably won't know until Monday when he can start the work. He estimates about 40 hours of repair work (the original estimate for the installation was 80 hours). He thinks it can be done at a dock, but if the propeller shaft won't come loose, the boat may have to be pulled so they can do that from underneath. If they pull the boat, we'll have to take it about 15 miles further south to Ft. Pierce, because there are no boatyards with travel lifts here.
After he left we took the boat back to the mooring they assigned us. This time we are by ourselves, but right next to our new friends on Kanau. Since the boat had been run (at least back from the dock) Bud thought it would be a good time to do the 25-hour transmission fluid change. Bud bought a small pump that goes on our electric drill and has tubes to pump oil, etc. out of a dipstick hole. We tried to use that on the transmission. We got some fluid out of the dipstick hole, and we got some more out of the filter mount, but less than a quarter of what it holds. Checking the manual, our model needs to have the fluid drained from a drain plug. That, of course, was on the far side of the engine, so Bud was again lying over the engine and dangling into the bilge. No container would fit in the little bit of space to get below the drain hole, so he ended up draining the fluid into a gallon zip lock bag. He got most of it, but couldn't hold the bag and the plug and get the bag out, so dropped the plug into the bag, which I then took while he plugged the hole with his fingers. I fished the plug out of the bag, wiped it off and gave it to him. We had to repeat the process using a quart bag to get the last half-quart out. Altogether it took about two hours to drain about 4 and a half quarts of transmission fluid. We called the Yanmar Dealer here and asked if they could plumb a line up from that drain plug so we could use the pump to pump the fluid out without the acrobatics. The woman in the office said they've done that for other boats, but we haven't heard back from them yet. Bud didn't want to put fluid back in it until that's done, so we're sitting here without a functioning transmission (and still with no automatic bilge pump).
But we're safe and warm. The dinghy is working fine. There's a pump-out boat for holding tanks and we're on the list for a pump-out tomorrow. After the transmission fluid fiasco, Bud wanted to do a little fishing. He and I left Fuzzy sleeping in the salon and took the dinghy back out to the point where he fished yesterday. He almost immediately caught the 18-inch spotted sea trout in the picture, which he should have kept, but let go. So I guess if we're going to be stuck somewhere this is a good place to be stuck. By the way, if you look closely at the mouth of the sea trout you'll see it has one big tooth in the center of its mouth. I took a close up of it, which I put in the gallery. Weird.
12/06/2011, Vero Beach Marina
The Yanmar people asked us to move to a dock if possible. Last evening we came in to the marina office by dinghy and asked for a dock for today. They assigned us to dock A-12. While we were waiting for the catamaran that was there to leave (check-out is noon) we worked on the bilge pump. Miraculously, we found a bolt that would work, Bud was able to drill and tap a larger hole and we put it back together and tried it with a pan of water and it worked. It didn't seem to leak, though it was hard to tell because water splashed as it exited the pump back into the pan. Anyway, we got it reinstalled. Bud turned it on so I could see if it would actually pump water from the bilge, but even the first couple of coughs had oil, so I had him stop. We'll have to wait until after the oil and bilge are cleaned up to test it further.
That was all done by about 10:30 AM. Then we waited some more. At 1:30 the catamaran was still there so I called the marina office. The cat had paid until tomorrow morning, so he wasn't leaving at all, and the guy in the office didn't see that they had another slip open that could take us. He said to call back and talk to Anthony when he got back from lunch in about a half hour. Thinking we were not going to get a slip at all, we started the generator to charge the batteries. We'd used the inverter for drilling and vacuuming the fiberglass dust that was under where the bilge pump had been. Since we had the generator on we turned on the water heater and both took showers.
Then we took the dinghy back in to the marina office. We met Anthony on the dock and asked him about a slip. He had another for us so we dinghied back to the boat and hooked the dinghy up on the davits, bade adieux to our mooring mates and brought the boat over to our assigned slip. We're right next to the very large motor yacht Intrepid, which takes up all of the T-end of the dock. Earendil looks pretty small next to Intrepid.
Tomorrow morning we'll find out what happens next, and maybe get some idea of how long we're going to be here, or somewhere near here, having the engine repaired.
12/05/2011, Vero Beach Marina
We got up at our leisure today, that is, we slept in a bit past 5:30 AM. But we took our time getting ready to leave because it's just over 40 miles to Stuart. We took Fuzzy ashore and Bud did his daily ritual of topping off the Racor filter. He called me down from the deck. "Jill, you cleaned up all of that coolant that spattered around didn't you?" Yes, I had. He had me take a look, there was more stuff spattered around. Oil. We looked and pondered and looked again and concluded that we'd had two problems. The first was that the coolant inspection port wasn't tight and coolant dripped. The second is an oil leak; that we still think is coming from between the engine and transmission. The oil leak seems to be getting worse while the coolant leak was stopped. So now instead of a red, slightly oily fluid being spattered around, we're seeing engine oil. And it's not clean, like you spilled it doing an oil fill, oil. It's black, been in a working diesel oil.
So we called St. Augustine Marine Center again. They called the Yanmar distributor and 5 hours later we finally talked to someone. Actually, the guy from Mastry Engines, the Southeast Distributor for Yanmar, was very nice. We are going to stay here at least until Wednesday when a local Yanmar guy can come aboard. He will probably have us clean up the oil (we're not touching it until he sees it) and then will have us take the boat on a sea trial or at least run the engine and he will try to diagnose the problem. I don't know what it means if it's the rear crankshaft seal as we expect. I guess we shouldn't borrow trouble. It will come to us soon enough.
Anyway, after it was too late to leave for Stuart, but before we had heard back from anyone, we decided to try and enjoy our day. Bud took Fuzzy and I ashore for a walk and he took the dinghy out fishing. Fuzzy didn't think walking was a proper way to enjoy the day, so he and I only made it about a quarter of a mile, down to the bridge over the ICW. There was a nice fishing pier built out under the bridge, but animals weren't allowed. I wanted to take a picture of Bud fishing, so I walked out as close as I could get without going on the forbidden structure and took this using digital and optical zoom. It turns out that Buddy was actually having fun. He hooked several small sea trout; as soon as he put his lure out there he caught one. And he hooked a 24-inch Ladyfish, which is described as a fun fish to catch, like a young Tarpon, but no good to eat.
After the man from Mastry called I had to get back to the boat to make the arrangements with the local people. Once that was done, and we knew we were going to be here a couple of days, Bud suggested it was a good opportunity to rebuild the bilge pump. So we did, and were almost able to complete the job in one go. But one of the bolts that holds the piston assembly to the base was stripped. So now we need to try to find a slightly larger bolt, drill that hole out and tap it. We still need to test it, and with the way things are going, I don't feel confident that things will work right after just one rebuild.
The folks on Kanau,with whom we are rafted, had us over for snacks and drinks. They've been cruising for fourteen years, so they were sympathetic to our woes. It will all get fixed in the end, I know. It's just the when I'm worried about. At least we're stuck in a very pretty place. I put a picture of the beautiful trees around the marina in the gallery.