There has been a lot of water under the keel and we have been under a lot of bridges since our last update. It seems like this should be a "double issue", but I'll try to include only the important activities. After returning to Daytona Beach after a holiday visit to family and friends in Texas, we took advantage of having a rental car to do some errands before leaving Daytona. We bought Mary an Apple iPad while in Austin, so we went to the Verizon store to activate the cell access to 3G data. It works great. The next day we went back to get a Verizon JetPack MiFi 4GLTE so we can connect our new computer to the internet via cell connection when we don't have access to an internet WiFi signal. One last communication like errand. We went to the Daytona flea market to find the "antenna man". He sells small antennas made from PVC pipe that receive digital TV signals very well. Here in Riviera Beach we receive about 30+ stations on "over the air" TV. Amazing for a $22 antenna sitting in the cabin of our boat.
We had a good trip down to Vero Beach. We visited with friends from Kilmarnock who are on a mooring, had happy hour with cursing friends Jeff and Wendy on another Westsail and worked on a nagging refrigeration problem. The fridge was beginning to run more than 75% of the time putting too much load on our batteries. We called in a professional. He recharged the system and did a leak test. There is definitely a leak in in the connections in the box itself, but the compressor is OK. Something else to be fixed in Marathon.
Heading south again, we make good time and find some nice anchorages. As we approach the last 100+ miles to Miami, we have to negotiate many bridges. The worst part of this is that most of them only open on the hour and half hour. If you are 5 minutes late, you wait for the next scheduled opening. We wasted more than an hour of precious daylight travel time each day waiting for a bridge schedule. We passed through the beautiful bustling area of the Palm Beaches. As we couldn't make it to our next possible anchorage before dark, we anchored below a bridge and had the whole area to ourselves at 3:30 or so. Now the drama begins.. . .
Mary noticed that the bilge pump was coming on pretty often, maybe every 15 minutes and pumping a lot of water when it did. I tried to ignore it and figure out what could be causing it to cycle. After a couple of cycles, I was compelled to check it out. I opened the engine compartment so I could see around the prop shaft, the source of leaks in the past. "OMG" water is pouring in around the now infamous "drip less packing gland". The bilge pump is keeping up for now, but we must take action to get the boat out of the water. It is now almost 4pm on Friday afternoon. I start the engine and Mary gets out the Cruising guide which has lists of marinas in our area along with the critical info on ability to pull our boat out of the water. She is on the phone and contacts Rybovich Marina Center. They understand our problem and agree to have the travel lift and crew ready when we arrive. We begin the 5 mile trip back through 4 bridges which are all on schedules, one set that we must wait and hour to transit. We arrive at the marina at 6pm and it is fully dark. The staff sees our navigation lights coming through their approach channel and called us on the phone to "talk" us around their docks and shallow water so we are safely in the sling of the travel lift. We breath a little easier now as we make our way off the boat. By 7pm we are hauled out of the water, blocked and have our shore power connected so we can continue to live on the boat while repairs are done. We acquaint ourselves with the marina on Saturday, use the free shuttle to the main marina about 3 mile south of where we are. Oh boy! This is the marina where the 100 to 300 foot ships not boats are berthed. Power and sail, they are super yachts in every sense of the word. The café has great food and is mostly used by the off duty crews. The is a pool and gym and shower areas, that look like a spa. We use the showers there as the ones in our marina are a little run down. Life is good again. With the boat out of the water, I can see that the stern tube has become loose from the keel and the calking has worked its ways out and is missing. This would definitely be the path of the water entering the boat. I believe this is all a result of damage from our original November broken engine mount. Our project manager introduces us to our main tech , Tommy, a blond "hunk" from Norway (remember our cruise there last year). Everyone in the organization is so customer oriented, respectful of customers and each other, it is a great environment even is you are "damaged goods".
Work begins. Tommy conducts a review of the events, surveys the engine compartment and shaft installation and writes up his findings. The engine is installed more than 5 degrees off the centerline of the boat. It has been this way since we bought the boat. A quick call to other Westsail owners confirms that it should be on centerline. We call Bud Taplin the Westsail production manager when our boat was built. He confirms the engine should be on centerline, but can be used as is if the stern tube is seated in the keel aligned to the off center engine. So after much discussion with the yard we have a plan to leave the engine as is and re-bed the stern tube aligned to the engine. This is called "floating the shaft". We decide to have the bottom painted while we are hauled out of the water because it is showing signs of needing paint. The shaft is pulled along with the coupling and sent to the machine shop. The shaft is OK. The coupling must be replaced. The PYI drip less shaft seal must be replaced as it has been slightly damaged from all the mis-alignment and engine shaking. The fiberglass tech rebuilds the keel where the misaligned stern tube had caused some cracks. He also prepares the keel for the "float shaft" installation to be done later.
More drama. As we are living on the boat, we use the head (bathroom) on the boat at night. All other times we go down the ladder, across the lot to the Captains lounge bath rooms. Now the holding tank is getting full. A plan is devised for pumping out into buckets and dumping them into the marina toilets. A dirty job, and Walt has to do it. After everyone has left for the day, the dirty job is completed with no embarrassing incidents or spills.
Once again we are mobile. We rent a car here in Riviera Beach to run errands, see sights and visit friends in Boca Raton. We go to the grocery, Home Depot, West Marine, eat lunch and dinner out and make plans to see local sights. A review of the work schedule with our project manager indicates we will not launch before Monday or Tuesday. OK, make plans for a weekend in the Palm Beach area!
Use this link to Rybovich Marine Center
to see the super yachts and faculity we have been enjoying. After meeting some of the other captain/owners of the boats having work done in the yard where we are hauled out at (boats to 100 feet) , we see that the main difference between them and us is the size of our bills. It can cost over $150,ooo dollars to have one of the super yachts painted, something that needs to be done maybe every 5 to 7 years. It cost $50,000 just to have the yachts hauled out of the water and blocked. We learn that one of the yachts has two bad prop shafts. One is being made "seaworthy" for a new owner after sitting idle in France for 3 years then shipped to Rybovich. One is having its bottom painted like us.
Stay tuned for more of our ICW Adventures.