04/18/2013, Marathon Marina and Boatyard
I was waiting until about 4 PM Eastern Time to call Bud. I didn't want to call in the morning, thinking he may be sleeping after taking his turns at the helm during the night. I thought they'd be getting in to Marathon sometime before 4 PM and didn't want to call as they were coming in to the marina. After Adler fell asleep for his nap, I came in to check my email and there was an email from Gary with the subject "Arrived". The email consisted of just this image of Earendil safely secured at the dock at the Marathon Marina and Boatyard.
I called Bud. They had come in, fueled up and were safely tied up at the dock by 2 PM. I figure they must have made it to Marathon about 1 PM. Doing my down and dirty plotting I got about 138 nm for that last leg of the trip (since I got the position information yesterday) so they averaged about 6.7 knots. Bud said the most interesting part of the trip was cutting in front of Miami at night. There were a number of freighters anchored and a lot of fishing boats, anchored and otherwise. The AIS (Automatic Identification System) was on the electronic chart. When a boat is within a set range it gives an alarm. All boats with AIS transponders show up as wedges on the chart, and clicking on a wedge will bring up a display of the vessel information, including length, direction of travel, speed and most importantly, time and distance of closest approach. The alarm sounded as they were crossing the main channel into Miami and Bud identified a tug that was not going to be an issue. The alarm sounded again; again it was the tug. Well, Bud had left the cursor highlighting the wedge for the tug. He didn't realize until he glanced over his shoulder that the alarm was in response to a freighter bearing down on them and now only about a quarter mile away. Bud quickly removed them from the freighter's path, and was reminded yet again to never rely totally on your instruments.
The wind did clock from the NE to the SE as predicted and in the middle of the night came forward enough, and was strong enough that they were able to shut the engine down. Then the wind continued to move to the south until it got too close to the front of the boat and after about 4 hours they started to motor again. As you start down along the Keys you turn gradually west, so that for the last three hours before they turned in towards Marathon they were able to sail again. Coming in to Marathon the wind was again on the stern, so they pulled the jib in.
Of course, after fighting light winds the whole trip, the wind was blowing pretty hard when they finally reached the marina. But Bud was able to pull up to the fuel dock, and then move and pull up to their assigned dock without tearing the fenders off the lifelines on the pilings along the dock.
They were all tired and happy to be there. Bud had just told Rick he was going to go back in the aft cabin, give me a call and take a nap when I called.
Looking at the picture of Earendil again in clear blue water has finally made me jealous. I've felt bad that I wasn't there to help Bud. And honestly, I would rather be on the boat and working on it than not on the boat at all, but I mostly worried about Bud doing all that work on his own, with only the help that Gary was able to lend when his schedule permitted. And moving the boat far and fast, going day and night, has never been my kind of sailing. But I have always wanted to sail the boat in the Keys. I lived about two or three miles from the other end of the Seven-Mile Bridge for two winters a long time ago (with Gary, when we were married, actually, but that's another story) and I have always loved the Keys. Now Bud and Earendil are in the Keys and I'm in Texarkana and I'm jealous. I hope Bud likes it there enough to want to go back under more leisurely circumstances.
Anyway, sitting here in Texarkana thinking about them, I've parsed out the trip about every way possible. By my calculations they went about 365 nm from the cut at St. Augustine in about 52 hours, making their average speed 7 knots. And that includes going in to Lake Worth to fuel up and pump out! Bud bought 55 gallons of fuel on that first stop and although I don't have the exact mileage traveled in St. Augustine, testing the prop and going around the city and out the cut, I figure they got just about 4 nm per gallon. Not great, but they were pushing hard.
And Earendil again came through, fast and safe as she always is!
04/17/2013, Just North of Boca Raton Inlet
After motorsailing all night Bud was awakened from his turn in the bunk when one of the fuel tanks ran out. They switched tanks and decided to head into Lake Worth to refuel. Bud had asked me yesterday to get on the web-cast for our weather advisor this morning and ask if he thought it feasible to keep going past Miami and arrive at Marathon on Friday morning. He said the sooner they got past Miami the better, as the wind was going to clock to the south. They might make it to Marathon, or they might be forced in before that. I gave Bud that advice mid-morning, just before they went in for fuel.
I talked to Bud again this afternoon, and with full tanks of fuel and 20 gallons in jerry cans on deck, they decided to go at hull speed towards Marathon. They had both sails out and were using the engine and making between 7.5 and 8 knots consistently. By the time I had him check (Gary again at the helm) they had gone over 167 nm in just under 24 hours. Their average speed was just over 7 knots, but they were going slower through the night. When I plotted their 4:30 PM position on the navigation program I have on this computer, I found they were about 45 nm from Miami, which meant they had just under 150 nm to go to Marathon. If they keep up the pace they should arrive in Marathon tomorrow afternoon!
Of course it wouldn't be a trip on Earendil if there weren't a few downsides. They are all a bit seasick. Bud has been unable to cook the meals as he planned, because he can't spend the time below. So he plans to spend Saturday in Marathon cooking and freezing meals and getting more sandwich stuff and more bottled water. Now that I think of it, on every sail we've ever done, I've been the one to do everything below, because going below while underway on anything but flat water bothers Bud. Bet he misses me now!
The bigger issue is the brand new overboard pump for the forward head. When Bud called me in the morning he asked me how we set the valves to pump overboard. He'd tried when they were more than three miles out, before coming in to Lake Worth. He said the pump worked fine, and he could feel it moving water with each stroke. Then suddenly there was great resistance, almost as if he had pumped the tank full. He had the valves set the way we always did. He was going to pay to have the tank pumped out when he got fuel. I asked him about it this afternoon, and sure enough, the new pump (the identical model to the old pump) pumps backwards! There is no way he got the inlet and outlet hoses confused, as the space is so crowded that they will only fit one way. So that's another thing for us to figure out in Galveston. Meanwhile, they'll use the forward head as usual now, have it pumped in Marathon, and then only use it in overboard mode outside the three-mile limit from Marathon to Galveston. Ah, boating!
04/16/2013, Off New Smyrna Beach, FL
There may not be pictures for a while, but I'll keep you posted on the progress. I talked to Bud twice today, the first time at about 8:15 here, 9:15 in St. Augustine. Bud, Rick and Gary had gotten up and gotten off in time to make the 8:30 opening of the Bridge of Lions lift bridge in St. Augustine. They were out the cut and about a half mile off shore headed southeast (getting a bit further off shore before they headed south). They were the only boat they knew of out there, but the visibility was poor because of a marine layer of fog (dense fog over the cooler water). They had both the engine and the radar on as there wasn't much wind either, and that was from the stern.
Our weather advisor, Chris Parker, said it would be best to get to Miami by Thursday, as the winds will pick up and move to the south (on the nose) and squalls may be coming in on Saturday. So Bud and crew are hightailing it down the outside, skipping the leisurely pace and many bridges of the Intra-Continental Waterway.
I rented a satellite phone for the crew to use in case they got out of cell phone range (as they most certainly will on the second leg, crossing the Gulf of Mexico). Unfortunately, the phone arrived at Gary's on Saturday, as scheduled, without a SIM card, so useless. Some irate calls to the customer service number resulted in them sending the SIM card to Skip Gaskill, in California. He will bring it with him to Miami and so the phone will be usable on the long leg. But I'm not sure how often I will be able to be in contact with them on this leg.
At about 3:30 I tried calling back. I was pleased to see I got right through. Bud said they were still motoring, still with light wind mostly from behind. They were only about three-quarters of a mile off shore. It was hot! Gary was at the helm, Rick was napping, getting ready for a turn at night, and Bud was relaxing in the cockpit. They were listening to the VHF radio where calls were going on between the Coast Guard and a 50-foot ketch taking on water in the ICW. They were also seeing manta rays jumping, something we've never seen before.
I had him ask Gary for the coordinates so I could enter them in the blog. As of 4:43 PM Earendil and crew were over 58 nm south of St. Augustine and making around 7.5 knots. Check out our position. Earendil has finally moved!!
04/13/2013, St. Augustine Marine Center, St. Augustine, FL
Gary got a half-day fishing charter for Christmas. He wanted Bud to go with him the last time Bud was in Florida, but things didn't work out. This time Gary was determined to have it happen. The charter was scheduled for Friday afternoon. A marine engine repairman was scheduled to come Friday morning to pressurize the fuel system and find that pesky air leak. Bud needed to take his rental truck back also. The weather looked bad so the fishing guide tried to change the time to morning. Bud was going to get the marine tech started and then leave. He never showed. Bud was late getting the rental back, but the weather held and the fishing took place in the afternoon as first scheduled.
Obviously it was a success. Bud said the guide did everything different than what he and Gary have done in the past. He used different baits and techniques. His worked. They caught redfish and trout. Redfish can be kept only if they are between 18 and 27 inches long. This one that Bud caught was near the upper end of the limit. Captain Tommy took this picture, which I took off his blog. http://inshoreadventures.blogspot.com They both had a great time and they both deserved a nice afternoon off.
As for the boat, Earendil continues to be her enigmatic self. The prop only let the engine get to about 3000 RPM at wide-open throttle and there was still black smoke. This was using the setting that should increase the RPM the most, and one that the folks at Darglow thought would be too extreme. But, when Bud backed off the throttle just a touch, the engine ran smooth as silk and the boat was still going at hull speed. So though it's not perfect, Bud is going with it at least for now, and the trip to Galveston is still on target. It's also possible that the old nemesis air leak is affecting the engine at WOT, but since the guy didn't show to find it, we won't know about that yet. Although Earendil has always defied our efforts to get everything perfect, she has always come through, getting us safely and quickly (well in cruising sailboat fashion) to our destination. We are relying on that again.
04/10/2013, St. Augustine Marine Center, St. Augustine, FL
Plans are coming together and the boat is getting done. Bud has now been in Florida for 29 days, and has spent some hours (if not most daylight hours) on each of those days working on the boat. He's getting tired. The trip will start next week with little time for R & R for Bud. I hope for his sake the trip itself is not too stressful.
Here's where things stand:
Today the diver installed the pitch cassette in the prop that we think will do the trick. After emails back and forth from England and consulting the Yanmar technician who went out for our initial sea trials after the new engine was installed, the folks in England sent us two pitch cassettes. Tomorrow Bud and Gary will take the boat out and try the one installed and hope that it is the correct one. The pitch cassettes were sent out the same day we contacted them and were sent for free. The diver charged $80. That's a lot better than the $374 it would have cost to have the boat hauled and re-launched to adjust the Max Prop. So far, advantage Featherstream. We'll see how things stand after tomorrow.
With help from friends and the rigger at the boatyard the rigging is now all set and ready for a final tuning.
Both heads are working well. The forward head is great after having the hoses, valves and overboard pump replaced and the toilet completely rebuilt. The aft head was showing signs of clogged hoses, but Bud used muriatic acid, a recommendation I found on-line, and that seems to have helped.
The dinghy is launched and is holding air. Bud replaced a spring on the outboard that keeps the propeller from coming up out of the water in reverse. He tried the outboard and it's running. He started the outboard using a fitting, hoses and a bucket, as it's still on the stern rail. It's a big deal to attach it to the dinghy, and until he knows he'll need it on the trip it will stay on the stern and he will row the dinghy as he's doing in this picture Gary took after they launched it.
The generator was tested and that's working.
The interior is getting cleaned up. Bud found some insect droppings in the dishes, so washed all the dishes, utensils and pots and pans and washed and relined all the cupboards and had an exterminator on board. The exterminator thought it was perhaps a single cockroach and was probably dead, but Bud was taking no chances and had the boat treated. So far three Florida cockroaches, or palmetto bugs, have turned up dead. We've never had bugs on the boat and don't want to start now!
Bud has been gradually buying provisions for the trip. There will be three of them down to Miami, and it looks now like there will be six crew for the crossing. That might be nice as they can work in pairs, and have two watches to rest between each watch they are on duty.
I have ordered a satellite phone, which will come to Gary's on Friday or Saturday. Now they can stay in touch when they're out of cell phone range. Bud and I used our computer hooked to the single sideband radio to send emails, but since I've got the computer, that won't work. I've also let our boat insurance carrier know of our plans and change in location, and the marina knows they are coming and will have a slip for us when they get there.
So if the prop works and the weather holds...
04/03/2013, St. Augustine Marine Center, St. Augustine, FL
OK, I remember working on boats. Bud has been having a steady run of progress, so you know something had to give.
The bottom paint came yesterday at noon. By 1:30 Bud had everything he could reach with the boat in the cradle painted. Today at slack high tide (about 2 PM) the boat was launched. Bud touched up the few spots he'd missed while the boat was in the travel lift, then dry or not, she was in the water. Gary, as usual, was called on to help. The two of them took the boat out for a sea trial on the new prop. The good news is that all the vibration and excessive spraying of water around the stuffing box is gone. Huh? So it seems that it wasn't that the shaft was misaligned, the problem all last season was that the shaft was BENT. When Bud took it off to see if he had bent it when we blew up the prop, and found it was bent and had it straightened, he corrected the problems we'd lived with for a season when we were worried that the shaft was misaligned. A brand new shaft, and it was BENT! Thanks, St. Augustine Marine Center.
The bad news is that the pitch on the new prop is wrong. The engine would only reach 2700 RPM at wide-open throttle, instead of 3350 RPM, as it should. Bud called the Florida rep. for the company that sells Featherstream props in North America. These props are supposed to be able to have the pitch changed while in the water, unlike our old Max Prop, which required the boat to be hauled out of the water for each adjustment. Well they can, but you need to replace something called the pitch cassette to change it. And the pitch cassette has to come from the manufacturer (Darglow) in England. So I sent a rather urgent email to the folks in England. Bud had me request a pitch cassette for their estimate of what it would take to change that 2700 RPM to 3350 RPM, and to send one above and one below. We'll have to have a diver make the change, hoping it's the one we try first. When we get the pitch right, we'll send the three that don't work back. I'm not sure if that's easier or cheaper than hauling the boat out. We'll see how they respond.
Still, the boat is in the water, 2 days short of 10 months from the day she came out. It's been a long 10 months.