Not knowing whether Vanish would make it through the hurricane, we removed what we thought we would need in the weeks following the storm such as some clothing, food, electronics, chargers and valuables. The first week was spent returning things to normal on board and cleaning the marshland mud which covered much of the yacht. During the cleanup I actually found a 1" rock up on the aft top bridge deck which must have blown across the ditch in the 93 mph winds. Quite extraordinary. We figured that the supermarkets would have thrown away much of their food as electricity was turned off for a few days however, at least one store called Publix had invested in a generator and was well stocked the entire time. It was amazing to see how fast the authorities removed fallen trees and limbs and restored power and collected storm debris along the marshland roads. Within two days, restaurants and businesses were back open in our area.
With everything pretty much back to normal we organized for Ring Power, the Caterpillar dealer in Jacksonville, FL to come and replace the titanium aftercooler cores on both of our C-18 engines. It's a very big job taking two mechanics two days and needs to be done every six years. These cores, which cool exhaust gases are pretty exotic and are incredibly heavy. If these cores spring even a minute leak because they have saltwater running through them their entire lives, can and often do destroy engines.
After the job was done, the engines were test run and while Donnie was leaning against the port engine valve cover, he was repeatedly shocked. He and Nick shut down the engines immediately and removed the valve cover. They were shocked to find a valve injector height tool, which was used by a mechanic last year while adjusting the valves, had been inadvertently left under the valve cover and was shorting out one of the injectors. They both commented how lucky we were that this oversight had not caused enormous amounts of damage. The tool was removed, the valve cover put back on and the engine ran normally. Nick also thought he heard a squeal in the alternator and recommended we replace it. Even after 6 years we are still covered by warranty so we naturally had it replaced.
Maynard had observed recently that the port side engine starting batteries had not been holding a charge as well as they should have. This possibly could be a result of a poorly performing alternator but as the batteries are six years old, we decided to replace all four 8DL Lifeline engine starting batteries. Unfortunately these batteries are located in a cabinet under the crew bed below a pair of house batteries. Given that the combined weight of these six batteries are over 1,000 lb and access to get even one of the batteries is difficult and limited, we wondered how in the world we two old-aged sailors were going to get them out. (Yes, it would have been easy to hire a few beefcakes but we wanted to try the do-it-yourself method.)
I noticed that our starboard side crane might just work to lift the batteries out of this difficult space. There is a sliding panel in the bridge deck located directly above the steps leading down to the crew cabin bunk. The cable from the crane was lowered through the bridge deck and down into the crew cabin. We set to work and slowly but surely all engine batteries which needed replacing were brought up on deck one at a time very slowly and carefully. The following day, the new batteries were delivered and knowing the task ahead, we hired a young man for a couple of hours to help Maynard maneuver them all back into place while I manned the crane. We were highly satisfied with our efforts.
Each day we are ticking off our boat jobs, and working out what comes next.
(For more photos, see Gallery named Shocking Donnie)