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S/V Earendil
Work Progresses
12/13/2011, Vero Beach Marina

The young man who's doing the work on our engine got started yesterday. He was able to pull the shaft coupling apart, and after I got a diver to come and move the shaft zincs, he was able to pull the shaft out far enough to work on separating the engine and transmission. I tried to get a photo of the engine separated from the transmission. This is the best I could do. There's not much room in there to get them apart.

He took the rear oil seal back with him to his shop. There were marks on the aluminum all around it, maybe from a screwdriver. The seal itself had a tear or gouge in it. It was very apparent and had to have been there when it was installed. We're pretty upset. That seal and shaft misalignment were ticking time bombs. We're lucky we saw the oil, that it started dripping here, before we made our crossing.

The marina here is full of people waiting for a weather window to get to the Bahamas. The predictions now are that there's not going to be any really good weather until December 22 or later. It may be that this whole thing hasn't cost us any time.

As a "seasoned" cruiser of two years, I'm finally getting it that you really do take one day at a time and don't try to make any predictions.

I Hope This Is an Omen
12/12/2011, Vero Beach Marina

We saw this beautiful rainbow over the marina this morning. We saw it as we were coming back to the boat in the dinghy after taking Fuzzy ashore. That was after we woke up to find one side of our dinghy completely deflated. We had to tie the dinghy up to the side of the boat so I could put enough weight in it to get the foot pump attached to the valve. We pumped it back up and looked for the leak. We couldn't find anything and Fuzzy needed to go ashore, so we took along the foot pump and came to shore. Now we had two boats and neither of them was functional. I needed the rainbow.

After we got back, we pulled the engine off the dinghy and Bud took it ashore to flip it over and thoroughly search for the leak. I stayed aboard and put the boat in order. The marina called to say that the man who had the slip where we were supposed to go was out of town and had called for the slip for another day. I called the Yanmar folks to see if they were still intending to start tomorrow morning. They were. I asked what time they were coming and if we could wait and bring the boat over in the morning. They plan to be here first thing and needed us to move the boat today so the engine wasn't hot when they started work. I told the marina we needed the slip today.

Bud couldn't find any leak anywhere on the dinghy. It hadn't lost any air, either. He rowed it back to the boat and we hoisted it up on the davits. The marina called back and said they had a slip for us. The Yanmar tech said the distributor did not sanction the fitting we wanted to add to make the transmission fluid easier to change. He also said they always are able to pump all the fluid out of the dipstick opening. Bud put the plug back in tightly, filled it and replaced the filter. He topped the Racor off and we started the engine and took the boat into the dock.

We're back at a dock and tomorrow we find out if they can do the work here or if we'll have to take the boat down to Ft. Pierce to have it hauled. We'll also see if the dinghy looses air overnight, it hadn't all day. Maybe the rainbow is an omen. Here's hoping.

Wet Weekend
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.

Good News and a Nice Walk
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.

12/10/2011 | Bob
I don't think I can keep up with the humor that
Gary presents but noting your comment on the
crimping connector, I've never had good luck on
crimp connections on the boats, campers, or motor-
homes I've work on or owned. I've found that a
soldering pencil, tinning both the wire and the connector, then ending with some shrink tape
works without (so far) fail. Even though I usually our heat gun, a standard hair dryer will
usually work just fine.

Notes on trivia.

You do seem to be having a good run of problems, But just think - when the run is over
how much 'smooth sailing' points you will have
built up.

The End of the List?
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.

12/10/2011 | s/v Zephyr
I just read over your blog and feel so bad for all your trouble, but happy to hear thigs are getting fixed and that you've managed to keep your positive attitude through it all.
We' are on s/v Zephyr in Daytona and will be resuming our travels south after the first of the year. We'll keep an eye out for you. Best wishes. Charlotte
At Least the Fishing is Good
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.

12/08/2011 | Skip
The world's best bilge pump is a man standing knee deep in water with a bucket.

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