We’re not so much waiting for parts as waiting for help. But it’s the same kind of delay. Waiting and Hoping. And thinking and praying and planing and dreaming.
Today we drove a few hundred yards from the dock to the repair slip.
The shaft fitting leaked so badly that the bilge pump ran six times in the space of about an hour. Sitting still — engine idling — out of gear — the water was dribbling in. We've got a fairly serious situation below the waterline on Red Ranger.
We’re hoping that this yard lives up to it’s reputation as a place that can get things done quickly. The service manager seemed to know what he was talking about.
We’re very pissed off that our previous yard took two months to not look at it. They only made an effort during last few days we were there. And that was a very grudging effort driven by the deadline pressure of “now or never.”
So. With them, it’s never. We’re reluctant to go back.
We hate paying for this second haul-out to fix the problem. We’re tempted to send the haul-out portion of our bill from AYB to the previous boatyard to have them cover it. They failed to do the work in a timely fashion, they should pay for that failure. A loss of revenue clearly isn’t an incentive for them.
The good news is that it’s a very short walk to Great Bridge.
There’s a JoAnn’s fabrics. CA could restock some supplies for Floating Leaf Tiny Quilts.
And she bought a second sewing machine. A five pound mini machine that is much easier for tiny quilts than the massive SailRite LZ1.
Now she can put bindings on the tiny quilts quickly and accurately.
A nice thing to have now that we have some quiet days of hanging around, waiting.
Started: Portsmouth North Landing 36°50.30′N 076°17.77′W
Docked: ICW Mile 12 Atlantic Yacht Basin 36°43.20′N 076°14.03′W
Log: 12.0 nm. Time 3 hr. Engine Hours 3.
We don’t want to overplan our travels this winter.
And — considering the repairs we’re doing — there’s no real point in making any kind of concrete plans.
So far, the journey looks like this. Two stops down, eleven to go.
- ✓ Hampton to Portsmouth (ICW mile 2). About 12nm of travel. 3 hours almost exactly.
- ✓ Portsmouth to Great Bridge (ICW mile 12). Only 10 statute miles on the chart. With twists and turns we logged 14 miles (12 nm.) We're in Atlantic Yacht Basin to see what we can do about our shaft drip. Tides Marine has several useful documents. There no way to know how long this will take. The repair manager thinks it might be a day.
- Great Bridge to Coinjock (ICW mile 50.) 38 statute miles will probably take 6 to 7 hours chugging down the canal. Everyone says we need to stop at Coinjock to eat at one of the two restaurants across the river from each other: Crabbies at Midway Marina vs. the Coinjock Marina Restaurant.
- Coinjock to Broad Creek in North River (ICW mile 60 or so). This is just a 10 mile jaunt down the river and into a creek with a recommended scenic anchorage. It’s near 36°12′N 075°58′W.
- Broad Creek to Manteo. This is about 30 nm down the North River into the Albemarle Sound, then to the Roanoke Sound and into “Shallowbag Bay” near Manteo. There’s an anchorage between R 10 and the shore. If the wind is fair we may be able sail the last 20 miles of this. Weather matters because the Albemarle can build up a nasty chop.
- Manteo to Long Shoal River. This means chugging 13 nm down Roanoke Sound to Oregon Inlet Channel and Old House Channel to to Pamlico Sound. Then course 220° for 10.5 nm to Long Shoal River. If the wind is fair, we can sail the last 10 miles of this.
- Long Shoal River to Okracoke. 207° for 25 nm. Then 4 nm into Lake Silver. Ideally, we’ll wait in the Long Shoal River for a good sailing day to cross the Pamlico Sound.
- Okracoke to South River. Sail 272° for 22 nm to the Neuse River, then turn to 232° for 10 nm down the Neuse to the South River. The South River is gorgeous. There are several creeks in there we are going to poke into.
- South River to Oriental. This is about 7 nm across the Neuse River. There’s the potential for a free dock, so we have to leave early-ish.
- Oriental to Beaufort or Moorehead City. About 4 nm from Oriental, we pick up the ICW at Adams Creek (ICW Mile 185).
- Beaufort and Moorehead City are around ICW Mile 205.
- Moorehead City to Milehammock Bay ICW Mile 245.
- Milehammock Bay to Wrightsville Beach ICW Mile 285.
That’s about three weeks or maybe a month of travel. Maybe we’ll have Thanksgiving in Wrightsville.
We like Wrightsville as a place to take a mental break because it’s got lots of facilities and a quiet, secure anchorage that’s roomy and readily accessible. From there, we can get groceries and plan the next legs.
The ICW from Wrightsville to Charleston is very, very pretty. Last time we did this, we sailed from Cape Fear to Charleston as an overnight. It’s 112 nm, a plump 20 hours. It worked out pretty well.
From there, we think we’ll try a bunch of day sails from Charleston through the rest of SC and GA to St. Mary’s. It’s 128 nm to St. Mary’s, it was also a pretty good overnighter. But. We think we’d like to see Beaufort and Port Royal and St. Simon.
Maybe we’ll make St. Augustine by Christmas.
Started: Hampton City River 37°01.38′N 076°20.45′W
Docked: Portsmouth North Landing 36°50.30′N 076°17.77′W
Log: 11.5 nm. Time 3 hr. Engine Hours 3.
We’re never really done. We thought we had things ship-shape.
Yesterday, we changed the oil and the cooling water. We dropped off about four gallons of used antifreeze, just under two gallons of used oil and two gallons of bilge water than had antifreeze and oil in it.
Today, we finally got out of Hampton with our brand-new (seeming) engine. We’re making progress southward.
We were warned out of the Elizabeth River channel by the Coasties because a submarine (!) was entering Naval Base Norfolk, and we needed to stay clear of the channel.
It’s right hard to get a picture of a submarine without turning around, going back, and running afoul of security. So we settled for pictures of the naval station. Even those were so far away that it’s hard to see the scale of the operation.
Mr. Lehman is still drip-free.
The Tidesmarine Sure Seal dripless shaft? Not so much.
It was dripping (slowly) in the summer when we moved from Annapolis to Deltaville.
It dripped on the run from Deltaville to Hampton.
But. We can’t call the drip “slow" anymore. The pace has picked up. It’s dribbling, not dripping.
It looks like we might need a new shaft or an engine alignment. Or both.
One possibility is to open the hose clamps on the seal and push it a hair back or a hair forward to find a less-chafed portion of the shaft. Currently, there’s a tiny residue of some kind on the shaft. Maybe some lubricant? If so, maybe cleaning that off the shaft might help the seal seat properly.
But doing that in the water means… well… water comes in. I’m not completely comfortable messing with it. Engine? Yes. Prop Shaft? Not yet.
But we’ve made some progress southward. We’re tied up at the Norfolk Ferry Northside stop in Portsmouth.
We think we’ll chug on down to Atlantic Yacht Basin and hang around Great Bridge while we see what they can do. It shouldn’t be too horrible.
Oil cooler no longer drips into the bilge.
All of the fittings are drip-free!
W00t w00t. It almost makes me feel like someday, I might know what I’m doing.
We have a ton of cleanup to do. A ton. We have old oil and old antifreeze to drop off at the marina office for proper disposal. We have to mop out the pan under Mr. Lehman. We have old oil cooler and old hose to throw away.
I’ve got all new hose. New Permatex on the threaded connections. Tight hose clamps on everything else.
It looks like we’ll be heading south soon.
We still have to do a full oil change and put on a new filter.
The cooling system is recharged. Not fully recharged. It’s a huge pain to pump ALL the coolant out. So I’m willing to compromise and replace just the three to four gallons that came out without too much struggle.
The engine ran and reached full temperature. Water sprayed out the exhaust like it’s supposed to. And previously dripped-upon places — like the starboard, for’rd engine mount — stayed dry.
Partied our brains out the last few days. Saw all of our various Norfolk drinking buddies. Glad to spend a quiet day with the quieter friends who shared a late breakfast (or early lunch) and a run to the grocery store.
Check out this Picasa album: https://plus.google.com/photos/101418904686202842633/albums/5934218627424385361?banner=pwa
CA took a bunch of interior pictures of Red Ranger. Several weeks ago. Before the engine cooling system rebuild.
Right now, there are tools and parts everywhere.
Yesterday, we did OS and software upgrades on the computer and phones. A lot of time. Not much boat work.
I did post this on my other blog. http://slott-softwarearchitect.blogspot.com/2013/10/mac-os-x-109-mavericks-crashes-python.html.
Calling it quits.
The two high-pressure heat exchangers for oil and transmission fluid have been replaced.
The old main engine cooler has been removed and is ready to be replaced with the new one.
Also, the essence of the cooling hoses (except for the J-hose) have been removed and are ready to be replaced. I’m reluctant to mess with the J-hose because (1) it’s awkward as hell, (2) it’s full of coolant and (3) it’s in really good shape. I suspect it’s been replaced over the years.
At this point, we’re down to rubber hose and hose clamp work.
Which I’m putting off until tomorrow. I’m calling it quits for today.
The physicality of wrestling with Mr. Lehman is remarkably tiring. I’m not a real mechanic. I’m not even sure I could play one on TV. I barely put in three solid hours today and I’m whipped. I’m worried about dropping parts or tools into the bilge or doing some other boneheaded move.
There’s an emotional battle, also. Mr. Lehman doesn’t give up easily.
The Oil Cooler Hose Saga
I really, really, really wanted to break the street elbow off the oil cooling hose. But it just wasn’t going to move. I took the hose off the oil filter, brought it up on deck. I rigged a pipe wrench as a kind of poor-man’s vise and applied penetrating oil and considerable leverage to the fitting.
The kind of leverage that has broken the heads of bolts in the past.
It. Did. Not. Budge.
I even resorted to hammering with no useful result. Hammering.
So what’s the fallback plan? How do I reassemble the oil cooler when I can’t spin the fitting down properly?
Or can I?
The idea here is that the street elbow screws into the cooler at an optimal angle. Then the hose can be easily screwed into that elbow. The hose has a rotating coupling (like any good high pressure or hydraulic hose or propane.) So it should be easy. Line up the hose and spin it into a fitting that’s already at the optimal angle.
The rotating section of the hose still works, but the street elbow is on the end of the hose forever.
I can screw the hose into the oil cooler by spinning the whole hose assembly around in big awkward circles. Impossible to do when the hose is connected to a filter. Easy to do when the hose isn’t connected to anything.
Once the hose is screwed onto the cooler, I can screw the other end of the hose into the oil filter.
The oil filter is awkwardly placed at the aft end of the engine. You can’t see up underneath it to thread the hose back in. And you can’t simply screw the hose in because you have to twist the entire hose all the back to the rotating coupling at the oil cooler.
Okay. Okay. Okay.
Bob Smith (of American Diesel who designed these engines) says “Some people make trouble for themselves by not taking enough things apart.”
I took the oil filter assembly off the block. Wrestled filter and heat exchanger around so that I could spin the hose and thread it into the oil filter.
Now to reassemble. Wrestle the filter into position. Wrestle the cooler into position. Put in the bolt that holds the filter in place.
Wait. I Can’t put the bolt back into the hole it came out of.
The bolt that holds the oil filter onto the block no longer fits through the bracket!
It came out perfectly fine. It won’t go back in.
Why? Because now there’s a hose in the way.
Wrestle everything back into a position where the hose can be twisted. Twist the hose to unscrew it from the filter.
Put the bolt into the filter bracket.
Put the hose back in, wrestling with twisting the hose around and around between the filter and the cooler. Can’t tighten the hose anymore? Good.
Wrestle the filter (with bolt) back into position. Find a way to get the wrench back in there to tighten up the filter bracket. I can also rotate it slightly so it doesn’t rub on a fuel hose.
Wrestle the cooler back into “dry fit” position. Until the raw water hoses are assembled, I don’t want to put the bracket in place.
Unkink the hose. Again.
Bolt the filter back onto the block.
Sigh with contentment at a job mostly done.
Main Engine Cooler
The main engine cooler is still in acceptable condition. Some of the cooling tubes are plugged. But. It’s the kind of thing that we can now clean carefully and keep as a spare.
Some folks suggest carefully pushing a dowel through each tube.
Other folks suggest washing in mild acid. Lime Away, for example. Or vinegar.
Some folks suggest strong acid. Muriatic acid to be specific. I think that’s a brand name for dilute hydrochloric acid. Not sure I want to mess with this.
Some folks suggest high pressure clean water. Just hose it out. No acid.
Tough choice. Not sure what to do.
1. Connect the main engine cooling hoses back together. That’s four large chunks of preformed elbows and straight sections from the expansion tank to the cooler and from the cooler to the exhaust manifold.
2. Connect the raw water hose. This is a bit more work. There’s a small straight section from pump to oil cooler. A right angle from oil cooler to main cooler. A right angle from main cooler to transmission cooler. And then a long straight section to the injection on the exhaust riser.
3. Stare at it for a while to be sure it’s really all there.
We are probably going to a party in Ghent tomorrow night. I’m not sure if I’ll have everything together enough to run a test or not Friday afternoon. I may not get to test anything until Saturday or possibly Sunday.
Box came from UPS. We have parts.
Time to get to work.
Step 1 was to drain the block as best as possible. This is a tedious exercise because the coolant just trickles out.
We can easily drain about 3 or 4 gallons out of the six gallons that are in there.
I guess the rest will simply stay in there, along with the new antifreeze we bought at AutoZone.
Step 2 was to remove the raw water hose sections. There are a few right-angle pieces: pump to oil cooler, oil cooler to main cooler, main cooler to transmission cooler.
There’s a longish run from the transmission cooler to the “injection” on the exhaust line.
Step 3 was to replace the transmission cooler. The old one is relatively new and can be kept as a spare. It’s not totally broken. It wasn’t too difficult to remove or replace. Awkward, but not too difficult.
Step 4 was to replace the oil cooler. I’ve got the cooler removed.
The hose from cooler to oil filter has a ⅜” street elbow that I cannot get off the oil line.
I’m going to try and get the oil line off the oil filter and take the thing to a boatyard to see if they have a vise I can use to carefully unscrew the oil line from the street elbow.
If I can’t unscrew the elbow, it’s probably time to replace the oil line entirely. We’ll find out tomorrow.
We spent the morning chatting with the crew of Shawnee.
We had dinner with the crew of Joie de Vivre.
So nice to bracket a messy engine job by hanging around with other cruisers.
Waiting For Parts.
Today we tweaked the bimini cover. CA sewed leather patches on the spots where the bimini would flutter up and touch the corners of the solar panels.
And also play quietly with fabrics and book proposals.
And organize our beer cozie collection. Yes, we have a number of cozies in a number of colors.
After weeks of hustle (Whitby Rendezvous! Annapolis Boat Show! Hampton Rendezvous!) a day of down time is very nice.
Started: Hampton City Marina 37°01.48′N 076°20.44′W
Anchored: Hampton River 37°01.38′N 076°20.45′W
We moved about 150 yards from dock into the river.
- American Diesel Parts Order.
- Maybe take a bus ride to West Marine.
I’d like to exchange the ¾” hose barb fitting for an adapter from ¾” threaded to 1" hose barb. And get some CRC 3-36 spray lube. Highly recommended as superior to WD-40. And a new headlamp. And some antifreeze and oil.
The bus transit center is at King and Pembroke. The route 114 bus goes to West Marine. It leaves the transit center at :20 and :50 between 6AM and 11PM. Interestingly, it leaves the Peninsula Town Center headed downtown at :20 and :50, also.
Mostly, we’re busy waiting for the parts to arrive.
That means trying to learn how to make wall knots, crown knots and Matthew Walker knots to put a stopper in a bit of three-strand line that’s falling apart.
The book shows a complex knot that’s usually tied in four-strand line. Four strand? Really?
Monday Night Football at Marker 20. Only the first half; I just can’t stay up that late anymore.
Breakfast. Round-Table Conversations. Lunch.
Talked about tools and saw the coolest device for accurately measuring specific gravity optically. But a drop of battery acid onto the glass and look through the eyepiece and get a precise measurement of specific gravity. Very cool.
Talked about electronics and electronic charting. I think we’ve got the bases partly covered. Back on the boat, I Started running the X-Traverse app to get our GPSNavX charts updated. I think I’m going to buy a different set of Bahamas charts for the computer as backup to the chart plotter.
I do need to power up the backup computer (separate from the iPad and phones) and update the charts there, too. That’s easier, since that’s a simple use of Apple’s AirDrop to move all the updated charts.
Island Time PC WiFi
We’ve been using the Island Time WiFi antenna for about a year now. And we have had our share of problems getting and keeping a solid WiFi connection.
One of the speakers (Dave Skolnick) as well as conversations with Mark Doyle and a lot reading lead me to try reducing our bandwidth demands. The “backhaul issue” often limits WiFi bandwidth to microscopic numbers. Yes, the base station is theoretically capable of 65Mbps, but as a practical matter the wired connection to the internet is nowhere near that beefy.
And that wired connection is being shared by every other boat in the marina.
The practical bandwidth may only be 1Mb. So, I changed the Ubiqiti Wireless Max Tx Rate down to something really small. At MCS4 (39Mbps,) the overall CCQ quality number jumped from 40% to 98%. Fewer timeouts and delays from retries. I’m going to mess around this this some more now that I have working internet.
But first, I have to finish waiting for X-Traverse to update my computer charts, and download the OS X update for the computer, also.
Oil Cooler Blues
It’s a little disappointing to have a broken engine. All the things we were planning to see and do are…
Coming down the Bay from Annapolis was four days of hard charging. Up early! Weigh anchor at dawn! Brisk! Hustle! Hustle! Hustle! All Hands On Deck. Ahooga! Ahooga! Take the helm Mr. Benmar! Mr. Lehman make turns for 6 knots! Motor or sail as far as a we can!
Bam: Engine problems.
What about all that built-up hustle? We need to get up early, weigh anchor and go as far as we can.
Maybe not so much.
A major repair shouldn’t be a towering disappointment. It feels like it, but that’s only a first impression. We’re only delayed for a week or two. And we’re delayed in Hampton, Virginia. There are much worse places to be delayed.
I have the urge to charge into repairing the engine as quickly as possible.
But that’s nutty.
I need to order parts. Wait for parts. And then rebuild the engine. And that may involve taking the bus back to West Marine for more parts. Or asking friends to drive up from Norfolk with parts.
Or asking friends to stop by Kilmarnock and ferry a large, heavy box of parts down to us.
We’re living on a boat, playing boat all day. Part of playing boat is sailing, but part of playing boat is fixing the boat.
Breakfast. Presentations. Lunch. Presentations. Dinner.
ICW Overview. Budgeting (and prioritizing). Cheap Docks. Free Anchorages. Radio and Communications. Weather.
Conversations with other boaters about their ICW experience and their plans. Perhaps more valuable than some of the scheduled speakers.
We ran into Utopia again. We met them in St. Augustine; we last saw them northbound in the ICW.
Dinner and a band (Bad Influence) at the Hampton Yacht Club.
Very pleasant. Very informative.
Also, we won a door prize! Dozier’s Cruising Guide to the Bahamas, 2014 edition. Yes!
And. I took approximately zero pictures of the group we’ve met here. We do have a stack of boat cards, however.
Yesterday’s Blog Post (Hampton City Marina) garnered useful, informative, helpful feedback.
I replaced the hoses and heat exchanger last year in St. Augustine. Brian will sell you the kit with all the hoses (bends where there are supposed to be bends). With the proper amount of cussing, bitching and moaning it's doable.
the drill pump I bought barely pumped fluid and it leaked
- The kit from American Diesel is reasonably complete. I’ll still need 8 quarts of oil and three gallons of antifreeze.
- Draining the block is messy and a drill pump may not help much.
So far, so good.
In our engine spares section, we have a collection of pre-bent fairly large diameter hose that appears to be the essential on-engine anti-freeze circulation hoses. Tomorrow afternoon, I have to sketch out the cooling system and map it to the hoses I’ve got (and don’t have.)
I think I recognize some of these shapes as being part of main water circulation to and from the expansion tank, and too and from the heat exchanger. I don’t know yet; but the big one on the right sure likes like the one from water pump up to the top of the block.
Monday, we’ll push back from the city dock into the river and start ordering parts.
Started: Poquoson River 37°09.51′N 076°24.60′W
Docked: Hampton City Marina 37°01.48′N 076°20.44′W
Distance Run: 35.5 nm. Time 6¼ hr. Engine Hours 3.
Great sail down the bay. Until 13:00 when the wind died. We were just 2 miles from Hampton Roads. But we couldn’t sail into the river, the current was against us and the wind was too light.
Looking over the engine, it is clear that the oil cooler is failing. We have oil in the pan under Mr. Lehman.
There’s a drip and a stalactite of salt around the hole in the oil cooler.
We’re probably going to replace all the engine coolers and hoses. The transmission cooler is a replacement. The main engine cooler and oil cooler are original equipment. Some mechanics think they’re really only good for a few years and should be replaced regularly.
Rather than wait for the main cooler to fail, it’s time to preemptively replace it.
We need a place to work and a place to receive packages. There are some marinas around here we can use. Maybe we can do this from Hospital Point in Norfolk. Or maybe we can anchor in the river here in Hampton.
We’re going to ask around of the marinas which are sponsoring the Snowbirds Rendezvous to see where we can anchor while we rebuild our engine.
Hose. ¾” by 8’? Anything else? Don’t know yet.
Coolant (24.3 qts total = 3 gallon antifreeze, the rest is water.)
Oil (8 qts). Oil Filter.
I think that the process is pretty simple. Long but simple.
- Drain the block. The main cooling system will be full of Prestone and raw water. The Prestone part needs to be drained out. I think I want to buy a new drill pump for this job. I’ve tried gravity and it’s not the best way to drain the block. It works, but it’s slow and annoying.
- I don’t think oil needs to be drained. I think it’s all settled into its pan. Nor does transmission fluid need to be drained. Its all settled into the tranny.
- Disconnect the engine fluid lines: Oil, Water, Transmission Fluid. For oil and tranny, the connectors are turned with wrenches and should come off nicely. For the main engine cooler, it’s hose clamps in awkward places. Ideally, they can come off neatly. However. They can always be sliced with a utility knife and replaced if it comes to that.
- Unscrew the mounts for the various coolers. Work them loose from where they’ve been lodged these many years. With luck, they can be wrenched loose from the cooling water hoses.
- Save the not yet broken main water cooler and the tranny cooler. They’re still good as replacements. The leaking oil cooler can be chucked.
- Replumb carefully. This means, I think, temporarily placing the coolers in position and dry fitting the various hoses. I’m pretty sure that most of it is ¾”. But. Engine to heat exchanger is unknown. Brian at American Diesel will know. [Update: I was totally wrong. It’s 1”, not ¾”.]
- Fit the hose clamps and hoses into place securely. Perhaps some jockeying of parts to prevent chafe.
- Finally tighten the various heat exchangers down.
- Refill the Prestone coolant. I know that I’m never supposed to reuse engine coolant. But. It may be a huge pain in the ass to get more. I don’t mind ordering hose from West Marine to be shipped to a marina. But 3 gallons of antifreeze cost a fortune to ship.
- Start the engine and pressure test, eyeballing for drips.
Started: Dymer Creek 37°40.30′N 076°21.20′W
Anchored: Poquoson River 37°09.51′N 076°24.60′W
Distance Run: 48.0 nm. Time 7½ hr.
Today actually became a relatively flat motor-sail down the bay. Unlike yesterday where there were surprises. Today there were no surprises.
The seas were flat but the wind was not zero. The wind meter registered 9kt to about 15 kt wind speed from dead ahead. Deduct the 5kt to 6kt we were motoring and we get 4kt to 9kt of wind from due S, the exact direction we were going.
Winds: Too little, too much or the wrong direction.
Yesterday too little. Today wrong direction.
If we beat down the bay, at 060° off the wind — a wind only blowing in the 5-10 kt range — we’d turn a 7½ hour motoring day into an ordeal. The distance would double (96 nm) our speed would drop to 3-4 kt: a 24 hour sail. And. Bonus the wind would likely build and switch direction during the dark hours of the night, leaving us to change sails and keep under control before bumping into a shore somewhere.
This Poquoson River spot isn’t the best: it’s open to weather from 050° to 090°: NE to E. We think Chisman Creek is much better for the same amount of driving in from the Bay. But we want to try something new.
Another boat just chugged past us into the shallower waters further down the river and SW of here. Always good to have some validation from other boaters anchoring nearby. Statistically speaking, they generally have more experience than us. That’s not always true; once or twice we’ve talked to newbies who were following us into an anchorage hoping we knew what we were doing.
Tonight it will turn into small craft advisory weather for weather locations ANZ632 and ANZ638.
...SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY IN EFFECT FROM LATE TONIGHT THROUGH FRIDAY MORNING......
This Afternoon: S winds 10 kt. Waves 1 to 2 ft. A slight chance of showers.
Tonight: S winds 10 to 15 kt...becoming NW 15 to 20 kt after midnight. Waves 1 to 2 ft...building to 2 to 3 ft after midnight. A chance of showers after midnight.
Fri: N winds 15 to 20 kt...diminishing to 10 to 15 kt by mid morning. Waves 2 to 3 ft.
We’re protected in the Poquoson if the wind switches to the NW. We can hope it’s not too bad here. As it clocks N, however, it may get unpleasant by morning.
For tomorrow’s sail down to Hampton, however, that wind direction could be handy. We might get a broad reach out into the bay. We can take a gybe and perhaps get a broad reach down to hampton. That would be sweet.
It’s a distance of about 22nm. We can motor it in 3-4 hrs at 5-6 kt. If we can get a fair wind, however, it would be fun to sail it.
Our arrival needs to be before 15:00, however, so we can’t play around in the bay all day.
Started: Mill Creek (Solomon’s Island) 38°19.71′N 076°27.07′W
Anchored: Dymer Creek 37°40.30′N 076°21.20′W
Distance Run: 53.6 nm. Time 7½ hr.
Almost a flat, calm motor down the bay to a totally new anchorage. Almost a quiet night an anchor in a secluded creek.
But not quite.
There were two changes to our expectations today.
After getting out of Mill Creek and into the bay, I tried to turn the helm over to Mr. Benmar. He could not steer.
Could. Not. Steer.
We went in small circles. We went in big circles. We went in largely random directions.
The hydraulic pump was clearly working — Mr. Benmar took control of the wheel and started turning. Either the compass was dead or the control unit was somehow flaky enough that it “kind-of" worked, but couldn’t figure out the difference between the required course setting and the actual compass reading.
Sigh. Hand Steering for the foreseeable future.
We have a fall-back plan.
Actually we have several fall-back plans.
Plan 1. B&G Triton system with the Zeus multi-function display. Sweet!
Plan 2. Diagnose the Benmar Course Setter 21R problem. Work.
An Aha Moment
CA’s a master of diagnosing extremely complex problems (like web servers) by remote control (talking to folks for whom English is not their native language.)
A master diagnostician.
Her question #1. “Did it ever work?”
Her question #2. “What did you change?”
For software, that’s all there is. For hardware, it’s possible that something wore out and failed. But failures are rarely both sudden and weird. They often have a degraded performance phase where things are getting progressively worse prior to failure.
What we have here is a failure that’s both sudden and weird.
Did he ever work? Yes. Perfectly on October 4th. I even calibrated the course setting controls on that day because he was working so perfectly.
So what changed?
It turns out that we tossed a coil of Cat 5 network wire into the cabinet with Mr. Benmar’s compass.
A coil of wire underneath the compass is immediately fatal to our autopilot.
Once we moved the cable, we had a quiet and pleasant chug down to Fleet Bay.
We anchored in a new (to us) spot in Dymer Creek. There are some side creeks and side bays that are kind of protected.
The main channel is totally exposed to wind from 121° (ESE). Otherwise, it seems pretty secure.
We dropped the hook, did some anchor watch, updated our position reports and our motes. All the usual things we do before settling down for some dinner and story time and sewing.
Then we got a call on the radio from one of the other boats that had chugged up Dymer creek: Sandpiper. They’d seen us in Annapolis. They’d seen us in Mill Creek. They saw us driving in circles trying to sort out Mr. Benmar’s problems.
They saw us at anchor as they chugged up Dymer creek to their friend’s dock.
They invited us to dock with them. CA’s comment?
“That’s why we’re doing this.” Of course we went to their completely unknown dock. They had a huge boat; we were pretty sure they required the same depth we did.
Now, we’re tied up behind Sandpiper and Wayward Wind. We washed up. Pizza is on order.
How cool is that? Random strangers invited us to their dock. We’ve moved to 37°40.82′N 076°21.99′W. A short distance further up.
Started: Annapolis. 38°58.53′N 076°28.43′W
Anchored: Mill Creek (Solomon’s Island) 38°19.71′N 076°27.07′W
Distance Run: 45.2 nm. Time 9 hr. Engine Hours: 4.
A pretty good sail down the bay in 10-12 kt of N breeze.
We did tolerably well. We flew the mizzen stays’l, something we are finally able to rig without too much drama. It adds some speed when we’re off the wind and the breezes are light.
We dowsed this when we gybed south of Poplar Island. We didn’t feel like rehoisting it on the other tack. There was no good reason for leaving it down.
When we started to approach western side of the bay, around 14:00, we realized we weren’t going to make it under sail.
The rhumb line (the straight line course as the crow flies) was about 15 nm; we’d cover this in about 3h 15m, arriving at 17:15; well before dark. If only we could sail at good speed in a straight line to the Pax river. Sadly, this is a challenge.
In this case, we needed to go almost due S. If we aimed in that direction, we’d slow to about 3 kt (or less) in 7-10 kt of breeze. Over 5h of sailing to arrive at 19:00 at the earliest.
To keep our speed up, we have to sail about 150° off the wind. That means a course of 210°: SW instead of the desired S. Sailing at this higher angle keeps our speed over 4.7 kt.
Since we’re not sailing straight at our destination, that means we would need to make two gybes to get into the Pawtuxent river.
Because we generally gybe through about 60 degrees, a pure sailing approach essentially doubles the distance we have to cover. We sail around the outside of an equilateral triangle. Fun when you’ve got the time. Great when you’re sight-seeing. Lousy when you’re running low on daylight.
If we took the two gybes, we’d sail about 30 nm: 6h at 5 kt: arriving at about 20:30, well after dark.
The wind shifts near shore, so it might not have been a complete doubling of the distance sailed. But we can’t count on wind shifts.
But, with Mr. Lehman’s help, we arrived at 17:06, able to anchor in Mill Creek in daylight.
Joie de Vivre is in Back Creek.
That was fun. Perhaps too much of the wrong kind of fun.
Today is Hollywood Shower at the dock master building and grocery shopping day.
It was also Hose Clamp Day. That’s the day CA inspects all hose clamps and lifeline stanchions.
The big discovery?
The Prop-Lok brake was disassembled to investigate the shaft whipping, dripless-seal drip.
And. Never. Reassembled.
It appears our mechanic had dropped the linkage into the bilge.
And left it that way.
I found the dropped linkage by patiently scanning the deep bilge water with a flashlight until I saw something oddly linkage-shaped. The Ancient Evils that dwell there didn’t like the offering and threw it back. Praise Cthulhu.
Now the Prop-Lok is reassembled. Thankfully, I had a vague idea how it went back together. Otherwise, I would have had to either simply remove the damn thing or pay our mechanic to reassemble it.
Since we won a gift certificate from Ram’s Head last night, we’ll be heading back there for dinner again.
The rest of the week looks like pleasant sailing down the bay.
Tue: E winds 5 to 10 kt. Waves 1 ft.
Tue Night: E winds 5 to 10 kt. Waves 1 ft.
Wed: SE winds 5 to 10 kt. Waves 1 ft.
Wed Night: SW winds 10 to 15 kt. Waves 1 ft.
Thu: NW winds 10 to 15 kt...diminishing to 5 kt after midnight. Waves 1 ft. A chance of rain through the night.
Fri: W winds 5 to 10 kt. Waves 1 ft. A chance of rain in the morning.
This seems like we should be able to sail (and motor sail) down to Hampton for the Hampton Snowbirds Rendezvous arriving during the day on Friday, October 18.
Maybe we’ll make Solomon’s on Tuesday. Deltaville on Wednesday. Cape Charles on Thursday. Hampton on Friday.
Maybe we’ll make the Little Choptank on Tuesday. Reedville on Wednesday. The Severn River in Mobjack on Thursday. Hampton on Friday.
With light air, we might be able to sail almost all of it if we set goals that aren’t very far away.
Clods at Starbucks are sitting at the table with good outlets not using a computer. Just having thoughtful cups of coffee while tying up some of the few seats that have access to power.
We’re waiting to pounce on their seats. Trying not to look like we’re waiting to pounce. But. We’re waiting to pounce.
Yesterday was shopping day. Today is purchase day.
More important than purchase is follow-up questions. More time with any B&G installers we can find, specifically, to see what kind of services they offer for installation and calibration.
Also, more time with sat phone vendors to compare Spot and Globalstar and other sat phone alternatives. And compare sat phone with SSB.
Then we stopped at the Celestaire booth to talk about sextants and navigation.
We ran into Chris Parker who does Caribbean marine weather routing. We subscribe to his service. He has a book on Caribbean weather. We met him, shook hands, bought his book.
We drooled on the Spinlock DeckVest harness. But didn’t replace our old West Marine and Mustang inflatable PFD’s. They still work.
We discussed the Garhauer blocks we need. Essentially, we want two Boom Vang setups with snap shackles instead of fixed shackles. They’re a variation on the 40UAB 4-1. Really, they’re a 40-03 UAB fiddle with snap shackle and a 40-08 UAB fiddle with becket and cam cleat and snap shackle. Plus 50’ of 7/16” line with an eye splice at one end.
We think we understand our spending priorities for 2013 and 2014.
But some of that may only be Boat Show Fever.
Brain Cramping Overload.
We dinghied to Eastport and walked to the Davis Pub. We had an appetizer and a beer. Then we dinghied over to Annapolis to walk to Ram’s Head Pub and have another appetizer and a beer. Then we walked to the Galway Pub on Maryland Ave. for an Irish Coffee as dessert.
Five people we know at Starbucks this morning.
At the boat show, we ran into at least six people we know. Maybe more; it’s easy to lose count. Some Whitby folks. Many vendors we’ve worked with. Many cruisers.
One benefit of being a cruiser: a tightly-knit community. Sprawling all over, but still tightly-knit.
It was cold and spitting rain, but we looked at the various booths and products.
- Garhauer blocks to clean up our mainsheet handling. This will be our third distinct approach; this time it’s based on what we saw on Alegria. We’re struggling with the squared-off aft end of the bimini and the fact that the mainsheet will chafe on the bimini when sailing off the wind. We’re also struggling with the lack of a traveler on a Whitby.
- B&G instruments. Very interesting. Probably hellishly expensive. Their sales pitch is focused on sailing. Most other instruments are focused on power boats with sailing as an extra feature.
- Spot Satellite Phone. An alternative to SSB for certain kinds of communication. Specifically, we can get Chris Parker’s weather and we can phone shore-based family.
- Schaefer in-boom furling. Very interesting. Expensive… but… so helpful to be able to raise, lower and reef the main without the complexity we have now. Schaefer, in particular, has the gears at the boom end, allowing reefing at almost any point of sail.
We glanced at life rafts and other things we might want to add to Red Ranger.
After dinner at the Ram’s Head Brew Pub, we dinghied back to Red Ranger shortly before it began raining (again.) We’re hoping for some dry weather on Monday or Tuesday before mildew sets in.
Started: Tenthouse Creek. 38°50.862′N 076°32.403′W
Anchored: Annapolis. 38°58.53′N 076°28.43′W
Distance Run: 12.6 nm. Time 1½ hr.
A short, wet slog from West River directly into 20 kt winds with 3′ seas splashing over the bow and onto the dodger.
Wet outside. Water everywhere. Inside the new dodger: pretty dry.
Now we’re anchored in Annapolis, waiting for the rain to abate so we can launch the dinghy and visit the sailboat show.
Anchored: Tenthouse Creek. 38°50.862′N 076°32.403′W
Cleanup the clubhouse. Say goodbye. Wait around for the weather, using the Wi-Fi here.
Our host kept the sailing club open for us to wait out the wind and rain. We could take showers. It was delightful to hang around in the warm clubhouse and chat about sailing for a quiet Thursday.
We have this bad news in the weather forecast.
“...SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY IN EFFECT THROUGH LATE FRIDAY NIGHT...…”
Friday looks like this.
“Fri: N winds 10 to 15 kt with gusts to 20 kt. Waves 3 ft. Showers. Vsby 1 to 3 nm.”
That makes for an annoying 12 miles slog: 2 hours of rain and cold almost straight into the wind.
Saturday it may be 40% chance of showers with a high of 18°C. It will be unpleasant, but we have things we want to look at: Short Wave radios, Radar, Instruments.
Started: West River Sailing Club. 38°50.74′N 076°32.33′W
Anchored: Tenthouse Creek. 38°50.862′N 076°32.403′W
Distance: 272 yards.
Today’s Topics: Pets and Bermuda, Software, Marathon and Boot Key Harbor, Maine, Lessons Learned.
I spoke randomly on blogging.
More importantly, was some leadership changes.
Last year, we had a bit of reorganization. The folks who had been organizing the rendezvous for the last 10 to 15 years had decided that it was time to retire from the active, hands-on work of making the rendezvous happen.
We sort-of acclaimed crew from Indefatigable to be our new fearless leader. This has worked out well for everyone but the crew of Indefatigable.
What we have is a very loose organization, with a kind of unending commitment to making things happen.
For the folks who originated the rendezvous, that wasn’t too daunting. It was their idea in the first place.
But for those of us attempting to take over, an unending commitment is a bit disconcerting.
This year we decided to make it a 1-year commitment, renewable each year.
Further, we agreed discuss it on the first day of the fall rendezvous and take action on the last day of the fall rendezvous. If someone wants to continue, they can let it be known on the first day. If someone doesn’t want to continue, that gives us time to sort out who would like to preside next year.
CA took the helm for next year’s rendezvous. She and the Joe from Tyche will put the program together and organize the food. We’ll (probably) still be hosted at the WRSC. And we’ll still try to coordinate with the fall sailboat show.
The next rendezvous will probably shape up something like this.
Day 1. Arrive during the day. 1500: Greetings from the president. Introduction of the folks and their boats. 1530 Boat Visiting. 1600: Cash Bar. 1800 Catered Dinner.
Day 2. Presentation and Program, probably 6 sessions. Boat Visiting. Cash Bar. Catered breakfast, lunch and dinner. Movie Night.
Day 3. More presentations. Business Meeting with financial report, final election of president and treasurer and any other business. More Boat Visiting. Cash Bar. Catered breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Day 4. Breakfast. Cleanup. Departures.
This involves some minor tweaks from this year. In particular, we’re moving away from pot-luck. It’s far easier on everyone to have catering; the extra fees this year didn’t seem to deter anyone from attending.
The wind last night was pretty stiff: boats were pounding on the docks.
First thing this morning, we pushed Alegria and Northern Phoenix off the dock so they could go out and anchor.
Today at noon, we moved Red Ranger and Joie de Vivre off the docks. We’re joining Rosa dos Ventos and Natalie M. out at anchor or on a mooring.
It’s much quieter a short distance up the creek.
Tonight winds are predicted to build with gusts to 30 kt. Tomorrow, winds are 20 kt with gusts to 25 straight out of the N. That makes it very difficult to get to Annapolis.
Friday, it will moderate to 15 kt from the N, that will be merely awful, which is a bit better than very difficult.
Saturday it will build a bit, and clock around to the NE. Sunday—after the boat show—it drops to 5-10 kt, winds from the NE. Pleasant for a motor sail, but too late to help us get there on time. It will make it nice to get to Solomon’s, however.
Energizing discussions. Refit. Repair. Traveling in the Caribbean. A great morning.
Dodgers, Galley the Downeast Loop. A great afternoon.
Boat visiting. Now we can see other solutions to common problems. A delight.
Here, for example, is the “Poor Man’s Traveler” from Allegria. They use three pad-eyes and two 3-part block-and-tackle with ½” line to move the boom.
To beat, a single block-and-tackle amidships is fine. As they fall off, a second block and tackle can be added to fine-tune the boom.
When they fall farther off the wind, the midline can be remove and the outboard left in place to ease the boom farther out.
With all that purchase, the winch isn’t really necessary.
I’m excited by this solution to the “mainsheet rubs on the bimini problem” and the “Whitby has no traveler” problem.
A slightly better solution to the bimini rubbing issue is to completely redo the steel supports for the bimini.
But adding two pad-eyes allows “sheet vanging” to pull the boom down when off the wind without using a proper traveler.
Most of us watched “Captain Ron” in the evening using the big-screen setup at the WRSC.
We think we’ve hatched a new tradition.
While the meetings officially open at 3:00-ish, the activities start early.
Summer Wind found a raccoon on their boat. Really. Noxious animal. Hidden in a galley cupboard.
Quite a bit of cleanup required after this.
After this we had a meeting and a pot-luck dinner. Seemed almost anti-climactic after watching the raccoon wrestling.
We appear to have about 44 attendees. Some folks have owned their boat only a year, some have owned their boat over 30 years. For some, this was their first rendezvous; others have attended a dozen or more.
The Whitby Rendezvous starts tomorrow, but some boats have arrived early. Joie de Vivre, Puffin, Red Ranger, Wild Oats, Tribute and crew from Indefatigable are all here this morning.
Today, the arrivals included Allegria, Northern Phoenix, Summer Wind, Natalie M., and Rosa dos Ventos, plus crew from The Incredible Hull.
Tomorrow the official meetings, presentations, discussions, eating, and drinking begin. Mostly we’ll be hanging around, talking about boats.
Yesterday and today we’re unofficially hanging around, talking about boats.
And Jeanie from Joie de Vivre gave Conch Horn lessons. (Yes, I brought the mighty uke to accompany the conch horns. Two were in F. One was in C#. A very Asus4 kind of feeling if you know that chord.
The wind picked up something fierce in the afternoon, leading to folks to put in spiderwebs of dock lines to hold all these Whitbys and Brewers securely against the dock. In our case, we borrowed one of Joie de Vivre’s 100’ long ¾” lines to pull ourselves away from the dock slightly to ease the bumping.
Started: Mill Creek. 38°19.79′N 076°27.06′W
Docked: West River Sailing Club. 38°50.74′N 076°32.33′W
Distance: 47.8 nm; Time 7 hrs
Diesel: 56.5 gal.
This morning there were four (Four!) buy-boats in Solomon’s. I guess it was the buy-boat convention.
We’ve seen the F. D. Crockett, which is based in Deltaville.
Here’s the Muriel Eileen, which we saw this morning.
There was the Thomas J and two more that I didn’t get pictures of. This was a mountain of Chesapeake Bay History in one place.
Back before the roads connected the waterfront towns, the way you bought and sold your goods was via the buy-boats.
Light air day, again. We motor-sailed up the bay. Still able to make extremely good speed with our new paint. Still a kind of Wow!
There seems to be a little weirdness with our alternator cutting in and out. I’m going to tighten the belt, since that’s the most common cause of alternator weirdness. The belt is well over a year old and hasn’t been tensioned in quite a while.
We’re at the West River Sailing Club for the Whitby Rendezvous. Meeting folks we haven’t seen in quite a while. Some folks we haven’t seen since the last rendezvous. Other folks we saw a few days ago in Deltaville. Others we saw last in Saint Augustine.
Started: Mill Creek. 37°47.58′N 076°19.19′W
Anchored: Mill Creek. 38°19.79′N 076°27.06′W
Distance: 45.1 nm; Time 6.5 hrs
Yes. They have the same name. They’re in different states, however.
Things are still working! We have a new fruit-fly trap, too.
We chugged up past the NAS PAX target range, where Target Range boat 9301 advised us to stay at least 1 mile west of the direct line from Point No Point lighthouse and the Alien Artifact.
It was hazy today, so the picture of the naval target range boat gives the thing a peculiar disembodied look.
Yes, the Naval Air Station on the Pawtuxent River is sometimes called PAX.
There’s a point in Chesapeake Bay called No Point, and it has the No Point Lighthouse.
And the Alien Artifact is used as a target of some kind. We didn’t see practice bombs raining down out of the sky. So it must be used as another kind of target.
Mr. Benmar steered much of the morning. I think I’ve got him properly calibrated to hold a course that matches the GPS reasonably well.
It’s not so easy getting him set up properly. The wheel must be approximately centered, and the course dialed in must be really close to the desired course. If the deviations are too big or the wheel isn’t centered, bad things happen. Bad things, in this case, means steering more-or-less at a random direction.
No wind today.
Amazing boat speed (still) from the new paint and clean propellor. About 7 knots for the whole 45.1 nm run.
Fruit Fly Traps
We’ve perfected the fruit fly trap.
The essential recipe is vinegar with a drop of dish soap. That creates an attractive nuisance for the flies. Trying to get some luscious vinegar, they are ensnared by the soap in the water and drown.
The container is an old Gatorade bottle with holes punched around the top.
It works like a crab trap. Flies go in, but have a hard time getting back out.
The presence of the fatal vinegar-soap combination seals their fate.
The previous trap was a piece of cling-wrap stretched over a bowl and punctuated with a fork. How primitive. This is woman’s ingenuity at its most lofty.
Started: Deltaville Marina, D-Dock. 37°32.94′N 076°19.79′W
Anchored: Mill Creek. 37°47.58′N 076°19.19′W
Distance: 25.1 nm; Time: 5.3 hrs
Wow! Wow! Wow!
So far—touch wood for luck—nothing more has broken. Today was a very short trip. All of 25 nm. We motored, sailed and motored for just a few hours to get to Reedville. A place we’ve been several times before.
Almost nothing new about this. Almost. We are out and about. That’s what’s really important.
But some things are new about this trip.
With new paint and a clean propellor, Red Ranger flies! Wow!
In the spring, we felt like we were limping down the bay. Our speed from Annapolis to Solomon’s Island was barely 4.8 kt at 1700 RPM. Allow ½ kt for adverse current, but the rest of the deficit was barnacles and slime.
We hadn’t painted for two years. We’re seen that biennial painting was a mistake.
Today, we roared up the bay making 7.2 knots speed over ground (SOG) without even breathing hard. With ½ kt of current to the good, we were making 6.7 kt through the water: not our top speed, but 2 full knots better than we made in the spring. Call it a 40% speed improvement.
That’s a 40% fuel efficiency improvement. Wow!
Maybe that won’t last, but even a 15% efficiency boost pays for the paint.
When we stopped motoring and tried sailing—in under 5 kt of fitful and shifty wind—we still make 3.3 kt SOG. We were giddy with the improvements.
After an hour and a half, what little wind there was breathed its last gasp. We chugged up to the familiar entrance to the Great Wicomico River, arriving around noon.
Something Else New
Instead of turning right and heading up Cockrell Creek, we went to the other side of Ingram Bay and motored up Mill Creek into a magnificent anchorage. At least six other boats are anchored here, too.
New to us. Spectacular.
A wow! afternoon tacked onto a wow! morning.
Back in Deltaville, we had snackies with Impromptu. Fun people on a Cape Dory, trying to do their fall Chesapeake Cruise with a bunch of other Cape Dory’s. We met Impromptu because they had to stop in Deltaville to fix their exhaust riser.
Now, in Mill Creek, who motors in? Impromptu! Everything fixed. Back with their Cape Dory fall cruise.
We are reminded of our last trips to the Whitby Rendezvous in Red Ranger.
2010. We got our asses kicked by a head wind and a fuel system that wasn’t ready for prime time. We sailed back to Deltaville, got in the truck, and drove up to Galesville.
2011. Did not attend.
2012. It was as calm as this year. We motored much of the way. Some motor-sailing. A really great trip.
The Bent Shaft
Yes, our drive shaft is probably bent. We had a drip. We though the drip might be motor alignment. A more serious investigation showed that the shaft is bent. It was likely bent on August 6th, 2011, at about 1300. That’s when we ate a crab pot with our propellor in Nantuxent Cove on Delaware Bay. There was a huge, wrenching crash. That kind of thing has consequences.
Since then, we’ve gone, perhaps 3,000 miles with a slightly bent shaft.
After about 1500 miles, it had worn the shaft seal down and started dripping a little.
It needs to be repaired, but it’s in no danger of imminent or catastrophic failure. Indeed, our mechanic may have stopped the drip for another 1500 miles.
That’s why we’re on our way to the Whitby Rendezvous without having addressed the bent shaft.