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Old 01-06-2015, 17:52   #1
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skipgundlach's Avatar

Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Currently on the boat, somewhere on the ocean, living the dream
Boat: Morgan 461 S/Y Flying Pig
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Shake and Break Part 10

Shake and Break Part 10 - June 1, 2015

Well, we left you at what we thought was the end of stuff breaking which
needed resolution before we could move on.

We plan, God laughs, so here we are, again, with what is now Part 10.

Those of you who have been looking on for the last few years will recall
that we have done what amounts to a major refit, starting with a 20-month
stint in a boatyard, and the remainder, since January 26th, 2013, afloat.
Once we had splashed following our boatyard work, we were assailed, without
fail, with something which MUST be resolved before we could move on again.
However, in literally every case, whether immediately after we anchored, or
just before we expected to leave, there was a gamestopper - something which
had to be addressed in order to move the boat to the next anchorage.

Interspersed in all that were two weddings and a funeral, and 5 more
grandchildren, with, currently, yet another cooking; those events might
possibly be blamed for the cumulative 15 or so months that we've been
traveling for that purpose. So, while it sounds, perhaps, whiney, it's
really all good. As well, there were no scary moments in those
gamestoppers; we are blessed to say that every one of them was resolved in a
non-threatening atmosphere. Well, that is, if you ignore your pocketbook,
as the cost has been that of a major refit rather than just taking care of
the boat.

Our latest "gotta do this before we can leave" (except that we have to come
back to be able to leave, again) is that Lydia's almost-90-year-old mother
recently fell and broke her right arm and wrist. While she's been a
lifelong amazing healer, at her age, all bets are off. Then, there's the
issue of dealing with all the minutiae of everyday life without the use of
your right arm, and the complexity of money matters for which she's
ill-equipped, at the moment.

So, we're heading back to Vero Beach for a while or forever, depending on
how it works out, as we can't leave, again, until those matters are resolved
to the degree that she doesn't need us at an immediate availability.

So, that's why the title. And, that's only the bad news.

The good news is that all indications are that she will bounce back more
quickly than anyone expects. However, having been through some shoulder
surgeries myself, I understand how difficult it is to regain use of that
joint once it's been opened, let alone damaged. So, we'll see. However,
we're optimistic about being able to return for Stranded Naked, a huge boat
party on the 4th of July - but, of course, circumstances will dictate.

The very good news is that we've had a great time since we came across,
earlier in the series. As I'm literally about to up-anchor and sail off on
the first part of our trip back, I'll truncate my travels to say that we've
been bouncing back and forth among various islands in the Abacos chain.
Some of the transits have been a brief motor directly into the wind (an
axiom in cruising is that the wind is always coming from where you want to
go), and others, as the distances are very short, have been done with genoa

One of those trips was to get to Man O' War, where we got a new zipper for
our front roll-up window, and some minor (yet critical!) repairs to our
genoa stitching. Sail stitching and bimini enclosure zippers are
consumables in practical terms; they suffer from all the ultraviolet
exposure they get, and eventually have to be replaced; doing it in the
Bahamas is a bit more challenging than if we were next to shore, with a
vehicle, but it's still all very good.

Amazingly, the sailmaker we used was one of the very first folks we saw in
Abaco years ago, as they happened to be anchored near the first island on
which we and our two granddaughters stepped. Retired from cruising, but
keeping his amazing wooden ketch, Jay runs a full-service sail loft out of
the bottom level of his 3-story home on Dickey Cay, and soon had our work
done at prices similar to what we've found in the US.

The Bahamas has instituted, starting this year, a 7.5% VAT along with a
wholesale (pardon the expression) revamping of their import duty schedule.
The result has been that some prices are much the same as they were, but
many have gone up dramatically. Examples include the local light beer
(brewed in the Bahamas) being, now, in case quantities, as LOW as $3.24 a
(12 oz.) CAN. Diesel and Gasoline are about a third to half higher than US
marina prices, which generally are significantly higher than street-side gas
station prices. So, it was a bit of a shock to find ourselves paying well
over $5 per gallon of gas, and close to that in Diesel. A commonplace loaf
of bread is $7, and the locally baked breads (delicious!) are $10/loaf, as
compared to the widely available $3 loaves the last time we were here.

We used to wonder how the average Bahamian made it; with this new cost
structure, it's nearly incomprehensible. The Bahamians used to have no
taxes, with all the revenue being customs-derived. There's still customs,
with, apparently, many increases, but another 7.5% tacked on top.

Still, fancy cars (and cars, at all) abound, or golf carts, on the smaller
islands, and, in general, folks looked slightly more prosperous than the
last time we were here. As (morning Cruisers' VHF) net anchor, I try to
stop in and say hello to the various businesses we have advertising their
offerings; all of them have said that this is the best year in a great long
while. I certainly hope it continues; they deserve it, and we cruisers need
them available when we find ourselves benefiting from their services.

So, back to the shake-and-break, there have been added little stuff that
I'll try to attend to when we're back in Vero Beach. We have found that I
can work on the boat while Lydia works on her mother, so I'll address the
most recent oopsie, a leak in our waterlift muffler.

On most marine engines, the exhaust is cooled with raw water which is
propelled from the exhaust stream by the volume of the exhaust. That water
has first been through a heat exchanger which takes the nominal place of a
radiator such as you'd have on a car. The reason for it going out with the
exhaust is that it's only warm, not exhaust-pipe hot. There are some boats
with a hot stack-type exhaust, but they're usually large commercial vessels.
Making those exhausts safe for being around takes a bit of a different
approach. Cooling the exhaust makes it possible to put your hand on the
exhaust pipe as it leaves the engine, as it's merely warm. However, there's
a great volume of water which goes with it.

Common marine engines use a container into which the engine exhaust, along
with the cooling water, is pushed. The intake line is just open into the top
portion (ours comes in the side, some come in the top), while the exhaust
line is a fiberglass tube which goes to within a few inches of the bottom of
the container. Ours is a 12" diameter fiberglass tube about 15" tall. When
the water rises to the level of the exhaust tube, it's spat out by the
pressure of the exhaust. However, we've developed a leak in the bottom.

I've already re-fiberglassed the intake tube and the entire top of this
muffler, so it's no particular surprise to see the bottom now leaking. The
very good news for us is that the volume of water involved is so much that
it never runs dry, so we have no exhaust gasses escaping into the engine
room. Repair will involve removing the muffler, a bit convoluted, but of no
great moment, inspecting the bottom, and fiberglassing the fault area.

Likely, I'll reglass the entire thing, as if one place was weak, likely
there would be others which developed. Indeed, my redo on the top was the
second time I did it. When I sanded it down, I kept discovering added
places where a leak was happening, and decided to redo it all. As that DID
put not only exhaust gasses, but a salt-water mist into the engine room,
remedying that was a big deal at the time. The engine gasses left soot
everywhere, and the salt spray did some serious damage to some electronics
in the engine room, to boot. This problem only puts out water, the water
preventing the exhaust gasses from making it out the bottom.

A side effect to that leak is that the water in there of course, leaks out
when the engine's not running. As such, instead of having a reservoir of
water in the bottom of the muffler, it's dry. That's cause for a minor
potential heart attack for any raw-water-engined boat's owner when he
inspects the output of the exhaust. There SHOULD be a lot of water coming
out, in spurts (unless it's wide open throttle, in which case it's pretty
much constant) - but, initially, there's none.

Normally, that would mean that the system isn't getting any cooling water.
Clogged intake, clogged filter, or bad water pump impeller, assuming
everything else looks OK, all of which have to be addressed if you don't
want a serious overheat event, and, if it's one of the first two, a ruined
otherwise-good impeller, initiating a rebuild of that portion of the
seawater pump.

Once I'd regained my breath and thought about it, I realized that I just
hadn't put enough water in the system yet; raising my RPM above an idle did
the trick. The water was coming through to the exhaust just fine.

However, that leak in the muffler puts a great deal of water (but, hooray,
no engine exhaust) into the bilge, which means the pumps come on a great
deal more often (usually never) than normally. That's not a critical event,
but a nuisance which can wait until I'm not trying to see a bunch of islands
we sailed right past on our way in.

On which subject, you can see our trip by going to You don't need a leading www in the URL,
which translates to a very cumbersome address (so you don't have to!) which
shows the entirety of our travels since I started using the page. However,
to see where we've been on this trip, go to the top left-ish of the page
and click the drop-down arrow next to our name. Click on "adjustments" and
select the period you wish to see. We left on this trip on May 30th...

So far, it's been very light winds. However, there are ominous forecasts
for next week in which our weather forecaster has suggested we seek shelter.
He's normally extremely conservative, so we're not entirely concerned, but
if you look at the path of our boat, you'll see that we're sort of out in
the middle of nowhere.

However, local weather forecasts from more than one site all have winds in
the very manageable under-20 knot range. However, there is a 48 hour period
where both sites expect over 2" of rain. We certainly hope so, as we'd love
to fill our tanks, again, with that lovely sweet, soft, free rainwater. It
turns out that we only had to switch tanks at the end of the day our first
day out. As that tank was smaller by a third than our main tank, we've
apparently been very frugal with our use, as it's rare that we get that long
on the smaller tank.

Another ongoing chore is "mowing the lawn." That's what cruisers call
cleaning the grass off the bottom. Here in the Bahamas, that's as bad as it
gets; when we are back in Vero Beach, even if it's only for a week or less,
we'll have developed barnacles, grass and slime. All of these slow the boat
down. So, on the 31st, before we left our anchorage, as the wind was nearly
nonexistent, we went around the boat and both scraped and brushed off the
waterline area.

Scraping gets the big stuff, but the lower layers respond better to a very
stiff brush. In addition, the way our bottom is painted, the paint is
designed to slough off (ough?) as it's used, retarding growth in the
meantime. Scraping doesn't really rejuvenate the surface, but scrubbing
with a brush does, as witnessed by the small cloud of paint being rubbed
off. That exposes a new surface, complete with its copper, which helps keep
the growth at bay. If we sailed often enough, we'd not need to scrub, as
the natural friction of the water would expose the new layer.

We painted two different colors of bottom paint to give us an idea of how
long would our bottom job would last. If we did a good job of how much went
where, the first coat should wear off relatively evenly, and start exposing
the next color down pretty much all over the hull. Currently we can see the
faintest traces of black under our primary red color. That means we got
more than (we're hardly finished yet!) 2 years from the first coat. We well
might make it to 3 before it's really gone. So, we're hopeful that we'll
see at least the 4 years we saw on the job we did in our first cruising
segment, 8 years ago.

As I write, June 1 is peeking over my shoulder, so I'll stop here. Will we
get all that rain? Will we see terrible winds, and wish we were in a harbor
(harbour in the Bahamas)? Will we have a benign crossing of the Gulf
Stream, which strikes fear and trembling into the hearts of all sailing
cruisers for the mayhem possible in the wrong kind of weather? Will we make
it to Vero by June 10th in order to meet Lydia's mother on the way out of
the rehab facility?

Well, as always, you'll just have to wait. Until next time - Stay Tuned!



Morgan 461 #2
SV Flying Pig KI4MPC
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