12/16/2011, Vero Beach Marina
I rode the local Go-Line bus for the first time today. I wanted to replace our drip coffeepot that broke the day before. The nicest thing about riding the bus is that most of the cruisers use it, so all you have to do is get on board and mention where you're going and not only will someone else tell you how to get there, there's usually someone else going where you are. I was going to Target, but found out there was also a Wal-Mart close by. I ended up getting off at Wal-Mart, walking to Target, Lowe's and then going all through the mall. I walked back (about a mile and a half) and got both the coffeepot and two solar yard lights at Wal-Mart. I left the mall at 12:45 having decided to walk to Wal-Mart; I walked the mile and a half, picked up the items, checked out and made the bus in front of Wal-Mart at about 1:15. I never thought I'd make it, but if I hadn't, I would have had to wait an hour for the next bus.
On the bus ride home, the couple that had directed another lady and I to the Express Bus for Wal-Mart and the Mall were waiting at the bus transfer spot. They noticed my Tuscarora Yacht Club T-shirt. Turns out they are from Rochester. I don't think we ever exchanged names, but I know they just switched from a sailboat to a 36 Albin Trawler. We exchanged a lot of anecdotes about our journeys down from Lake Ontario. That's a hot topic here because of the damage Hurricane Irene did to the Erie Canal this year. I've met boaters who ended up trucking their boats from Lake Ontario down to Annapolis. The canal did open for a couple of weeks the end of November-early December to let the waiting boats through, and to let some boats that had been in the canal at the time of the hurricane out.
I also talked to one of the owners of St. Augustine Marine Center today. He assured me that they would stand by us through this and make it right. He also said that those responsible for the poor work would be called to task. As compensation for our pain he offered to pay for the oil and temperature gauges we want for the new engine. The people doing the work here are going to give an estimate to them. I don't want this to hold us up, but we'd feel an awful lot better if we had gauges and not just "idiot lights".
After I got back Bud took the bus just up to the grocery store and West Marine. I finished cleaning the floor of the cockpit. Bud had washed the rest of the deck. I was out on the dock cleaning our cockpit cushions when I happened to look up and noticed the beautiful play of light and water. I stopped and took some pictures and this is the best of them. I was thinking about how lovely it was here, how many nice people we'd met, and that even when things were bad, they were good.
Just then, John, the mechanic, came out with his tools having finished for the week. He'd gotten the transmission back on the engine and had been working all afternoon aligning the propeller shaft and transmission. Bud was back by then and had been talking to him. It turns out that he couldn't get the alignment right. He thought the coupler was used. It seemed to be warped and had some corrosion on it. He was taking it back to the shop and Monday morning he would try to repair it with their lathe, and if he couldn't they would have to order a new one! What?!??!!?
12/15/2011, Vero Beach Marina
Work went slowly today. Bud and I worked last night and this morning to clean the sides of the bilge and replace the bilge pump switch one more time. This morning, before we could put the new switch back in place, the bottle jack the mechanic had under the engine fell into the bilge. The engine was still securely blocked up, but I called into the office to let the mechanic know we didn't have anything to use to get the jack out. When I called he explained that he wasn't sure if or when he would be able to get to the boat today, as another mechanic got hurt on the job yesterday and he had to help on that job. I told him we were unable to finish the bilge pump switch installation until the jack was retrieved from the bilge. He came out a bit later and stayed long enough to get the jack and a piece of wood out of the bilge. He brought the bell housing back with him with the new seal in place. The latest discovery in our litany of installation errors is that the damaged seal had not only been forced in with a sharp instrument, it had been installed backwards! After the mechanic left Bud got the new bilge pump switch back in place in the bilge.
We got cleaned up then and our friends Ed and Karin from Passages came over for lunch. While we were eating Bob, the Yanmar tech who had inspected the original installation, called. He had come from down to Vero Beach for something else and was going to stop and see the job. I told him to go ahead and check out the job, the boat was open. We'd left Fuzzy aboard so I told him to watch out the dog didn't bite him. Having met Fuzzy, he laughed. Ed, Karin, Bud and I had just walked back from lunch as Bob was getting ready to leave, so he stopped and talked to us. He said the job looked good so far. He also told us he'd written up the engine mounts as incorrect, but St. Augustine Marine Center chose not to correct them.
Later in the afternoon Bud and I went to the regular Thursday afternoon happy hour get together held at this marina. We met some nice people (as we always do at gatherings of cruisers) including a couple who had also gone to the Bahamas for the first time last year, had gone as far south as Long Island, like we did, and came back up via Eleuthera and the Abacos like we did. We must have crossed paths at some point.
Anyway, with the days break in the work the mechanic now estimates that work will be finished on Monday and the sea trial will be on Tuesday. The clock is ticking...
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.
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.
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.