12/22/2011, Vero Beach Marina
OK, first I'll admit the bird has nothing to do with what I'm writing about today. I like to have a picture with every post, but we've been sitting on the same dock dealing with the same problems for so long that my inspiration for pictures is about gone. We spent the day working on the fuel lines and the bilge pump switch. Not much to show you there. I've already put in a picture of the bilge. It's not getting any prettier. I took the camera out after supper thinking maybe I'd try to capture some of the Christmas lights around when I saw this huge bird on the end of one of the docks. He kindly stood there while I snapped his picture. Even the flash didn't spook him.
I got up at a bit after 6 this morning and Bud was already up. He'd been thinking about the air leak in the fuel lines and the fuel leaks from overfilling. Even though we only saw diesel around the return lines to the tanks, he thought if they could be leaking so could the supply lines. He decided the Teflon tape he'd used on the threads was not appropriate, so by 6:15 AM he was disassembling the fittings to the fuel tanks. I helped clean the threads. He then put them back together with another pipe thread compound we had. I went on- line and found technical information on that compound that listed diesel oil as a fluid with which it could be used. It didn't give the cure time for that application, but did give a phone number to call for technical support. So at 8:30 AM (7:30 Central Time) when they opened, I called the technical support number and was told to wait 12 to 24 hours before running diesel through the lines. That ended us moving off the dock today.
Once those fittings were redone and the gasket on one tank's viewing port replaced, we moved on to the bilge pump switch. Bud lay down on the engine and reached down into the bilge. I lay on the floor and tried to pass the bilge pump hose to him. I couldn't move it far enough forward and up for him to grab it. In the end Bud disconnected the upper end of the hose from the strainer near the pump, we passed that under the engine and then up straight and he was able to manipulate the end with the pick-up, the weight and the switch to get the switch sitting flat on the bottom of the bilge. We hooked it back up and it was still sticking. Sometimes you could add water to the bilge and the switch wouldn't come on until you wiggled the hose. It was switching off on its own, though. Finally Bud broke down and pulled it out one more time. After some fiddling we decided that our mounting was binding the wires, which exited the housing on one side of the pivot, so the wires were keeping the float from moving freely. We ended up constructing a new mounting board out of Starboard, a plastic material. This is actually more stable because we made it so the weight is held horizontally between the switch and the hose pick-up. We tested it thoroughly in a bucket and it seemed to work fine. Another 30 or 40 minutes of work with Bud on the engine and me on the floor and we got it in place. It does seem to work. We hope, since this is the switch that's supposed to be pretty much bullet proof, that it will still be working in a week. One job finally done, we think.
We're still waiting to see if the local Yanmar dealer will get a new fuel manifold to us. I'm supposed to call in the morning. They do have the gauges and engine sending units for the water temperature and oil pressure. Tomorrow we are moving back out to a mooring ball, the rest of the work can be done there. We're tired of paying dockage, and besides, they have someone who's reserved this space. We decided today to stay at Vero Beach City Marina through Christmas. Realistically, we won't be done until Saturday at the earliest. They are having a Christmas potluck here, so we signed up. We do hope to leave here Monday, but I'm not making any bets.
12/21/2011, Vero Beach Marina
We had the sea trial for the engine repairs this morning. Everything seems fine so far except... John was looking for the air leak in the fuel system. He brought a 5-gallon tank of diesel aboard and after confirming that there were still some bubbles coming through he had Bud stop the engine while he switched the fuel supply to his tank. His tank had a pump and he used it to pressurize the filter. Bud ran the engine again. With his tank there were no bubbles. Bud stopped again and John took his tank back off and reconnected our lines. The bubbles came back. There is a leak in our system. The only thing we can figure out is that the manifold leaks, but only when the fuel demand creates a vacuum in the system, as the bubbles aren't there when we run our little fuel transfer pump. Our next step is to replace that manifold and to replace one section of fuel line (from the manifold to the Racor) with 3/8" line instead of ¼" line.
And... while we were out in the channel I put the fuse in the bilge pump switch, and it didn't come on! I pumped a lot of the water out by hand. Still when we got back to the dock there was quite a bit of water left and Bud didn't want it pumped out at the dock because it's too dirty.
And we don't have our new gauges yet, and with everything that's happened, I don't want to leave without them.
John had put some of our diesel into his tank (we carry three 5-gallon jugs on deck, and he used a couple of gallons from one of them). He wanted to make sure he didn't run out of fuel during his test. After John left Bud asked me to check the fuel level in the tank we were using to see if the rest of that 5-gallon jug would fit in the tank so he could refill it. The tank was overfull! A diesel engine passes more fuel past the cylinders than the injectors use. The rest of the fuel is returned to the tank. John used his tank, but our fuel return, and since our tank had just been filled, the returning fuel was too much. We tried using our fuel transfer pump to take fuel from the port tank and put it into the starboard tank, but then both tanks were overfull. Bud checked the tanks and there was a bit of diesel leaking around the fuel return fixtures and the inspection ports. I found some diesel around the vents outside. He ended up disconnecting a line at the engine and pumping about 3 gallons back out of the tanks.
After we cleaned everything back up we still have an engine with issues. John wasn't sure when he could come back. I called the shop to ask them if they could just give us the parts so we could do the work over the weekend. John hadn't gotten back yet, so they weren't sure what was needed for the manifold, though they did say our gauges were there. They were going to call back and let me know.
I finally went out for a walk. I couldn't just sit on the boat any longer. I walked the mile or so over to the beach side of the island. I went a few blocks north of where Bud, Fuzzy and I had gone to, where we'd been told there was a boardwalk. It's quite a nice beach with about a quarter mile or more of boardwalk and a park. I took this picture near the south end of the boardwalk. When I got back, Bud asked if I wanted to go out for dinner. He, too, needed to get off the boat. The Yanmar dealer hadn't called back yet. We figure they're trying to put together the manifold and get our bill straight before they call us.
It's after 11 PM and I just hand pumped the rest of the bilge water out. We needed to get that water out so we could address the problem and Bud had told me I could empty it at night. Now that I can see the switch, I can see that it's not at all level in the bottom of the bilge. I'm sure that's the problem. We'll have to wrestle that in place in the morning. Assuming we can do that and it works, that leaves only the gauges and the air bubbles in the fuel line to address.
12/20/2011, Vero Beach Marina
Sorry I didn't write last night, I might end up doing two posts today.
Yesterday morning we took Fuzzy to the vet to get the papers filled out so we could take him to the Bahamas. You're supposed to do that no more than 48 hours before you go, but that's impractical for cruisers, so it isn't enforced. I carried him in his little front pack and we rode the bus, no problem. Bud had wanted me to ask about medication for his cough. He has a collapsing trachea, common in older small dogs, and it gives him a gagging cough that seems to be getting worse. I asked the vet and it seems that it depends on where the trachea is collapsing whether medication will be effective. So I agreed to an x-ray. I had to wait because the software for the digital x-ray was updating. After about 45 minutes, they decided to take the x-ray, write the prescription, and then read the x-ray when the software came back and call me to let me know if we should fill the prescription. That whole little episode, with the bus rides, took three hours.
Meanwhile, John, the mechanic, was back on board. It turns out that the coupler was fine. He had made a mistake in the installation (tightened a set screw before seating the coupler or something) and he was back at it. He got the engine and transmission together and aligned, but he couldn't figure out how to plumb the coolant lines to our hot water heater (he's not the one who had seen the error) and he needed to make a piece to support the exhaust. So he left early, and he's going to get here late today, as he has to pick up some family members from the airport. So the work goes on, slowly.
The vet called in the afternoon and said we could try the medication for Fuzzy's cough. Bud took the bus back to the pharmacy and eventually they managed to fill the prescription. He got back about 6 PM. We gave Fuzzy his first dose, a quarter of a very small pill. In the middle of the night Fuzzy had another episode of the restlessness he'd shown when we first found out he had dementia. Bud finally gave him another dose of Prozac (we were told we might have to increase the dosage, so knew it was OK to give more). It's going on 8 AM and he's still sleeping!
Today I will call the vet to see if that episode was just an increase in the dementia or whether it might be a drug interaction.
I have hives, I wonder why. Retirement continues to be incredibly relaxing.
12/18/2011, Vero Beach Marina
Although I'm still frustrated with being in one spot, today felt better. The day was cool, only about 70 degrees with a brisk north wind (not a good day for crossing the Gulf Stream, by the way). I took advantage of the weather and went for a walk to the park Bud and I went by in the dinghy. It is a beautiful park, at least a half-mile along the Indian River. I just missed getting pictures of some great kites. One was a huge dragon. By the time I had walked to where I could get the shot, they had come down. I did walk out on the peninsula and on the island. The picture is the same pagoda I took yesterday from the water. I put some other pictures in the gallery.
I walked for a couple of hours. After I'd gotten back and had something to eat, one of the cruisers we met at the Thursday happy hour came by and invited us to the club house here to play Mexican Train Dominoes (me) or watch football (Bud). I had a very nice time even though I lost. Talking to others we're finding a lot of people spending more time here than they expected. One of the women I was playing with said she and her husband had intended to leave two days ago. Checking the engine before they took off he was trying to stop a coolant leak. When he tightened a bolt, it broke. He was then working on that in the engine using his 110V AC trouble light with his generator running (they were on a mooring ball) when his light went out. It turned out that the generator quit generating. The engine was still running, but no electricity was being produced. They're coming to a dock tomorrow to get those problems addressed.
I was talking to him a bit when he came ashore to get his wife. I told him about the latest issue with the coupler (he knew the basics of our troubles, we're becoming known - the boat with the engine problems). He told me it made him feel better to hear of our woes. I guess that's our role here, everyone else's problems tend to pale compared to Earendil and her engine.
So it was a nice day, and tomorrow we find out how long before they can get us back together again.
12/17/2011, Vero Beach Marina
It's hard to be sitting here with nothing going on. It was a lovely day today, and Vero Beach is a lovely spot, but we were supposed to be in the Bahamas by now, and to sit here on a lovely day not able to move the boat is frustrating.
We did fix one more thing. We were talking to the mechanic about all the water in our bilge and explained to him about the little tube coming off the anti-siphon valve on the generator. I've mentioned before that water runs through that to our wet locker and then into our bilge. He said there should be a check valve (one-way valve) in the fixture where the tube connects to the generator water hose; that is obviously broken. We took it off the other day and checked it and it was. Bud bought a replacement at West Marine here and this morning he replaced it.
This afternoon we took a ride in our dinghy. I had in mind putting around the backwater here, but after touring the anchorage Bud headed out to the main channel. He opened it up and we went a mile or so on down. Then we met a series of power boats leaving large wakes, and the biggest wake came over the bow and soaked me. We headed back and followed a channel off to the side of the Indian River. We went behind an island that was a park, under the bridge that connected it to land, and past this peninsula that also seemed to be part of the park. I might try to walk down by land tomorrow.
I spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing in the cockpit and reading while Bud went fishing again. A very nice day, but I must admit I'm pretty restless.
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?!??!!?