Shake and Break, part 4 - Sunday, April 12, 2015
We left you as we anchored just inside the Little Bahama Banks. Curiously,
and a bit alarmingly, all three of the references
we had for the area - our
chartplotter's Navionics charts
, the paper Explorer charts
standard in the Bahamas) and the computer-based charting program - showed
that we'd have 9 feet under us very soon after we entered the banks.
For our 7' draft
, that would be perfect. However, we never did find that
"skinny" (where there's not a lot under the keel) water
. Instead, the
thinnest, in the 9' area, was over 20 feet. Eventually we just gave up and
and anchored in 23' of water
. It wasn't a problem, really, just a nuisance.
We have massive ground tackle (what sailors call their anchor
with lots of available scope
(length of chain or rope
boat), and had no worries about dragging.
I got up bright and early, and, as the engine
room had cooled, got to work
replacing the raw water pump
which had leaked all that water into the bilge
and the pan under the engine
. Folks laugh at me a lot. For one thing, I'm
pretty tall, and a bit clumsy, physically. Secondly, I apparently have a
touch of Asperger's - which makes me socially inept. Thirdly, on the MBTI -
the Meyers-Briggs Type Index - I'm an INTJ, with a high J. That puts me in
a category of less than 1% of the human population. That high J also means
that I prefer order, planning and predictability, rather than chaos,
spontaneity, and surprises.
That, for me (and a great many other sailors, regardless of their MBTI
classification), means that I have a spare - or spares! - for nearly
anything critical which might wear out or break. Accordingly (more of which
anon), while I went into the engine room to check out the level of acid in
our massive batteries (a normal maintenance
chore), Lydia dug out one of my
spare raw (sea) water pumps.
The batteries were a non-event. We used more water (you top them up with
distilled water) than usual, but that was a result of our motoring the
entire way, which led to hotter (the engine room was VERY hot) conditions
and many more amps being put into the battery
than usual, particularly after
they'd reached the normal charge state, than we'd been seeing for the year
or so we'd had this particular set. It was well within the expected amount,
and I buttoned up the case, a large fiberglass
box screwed to the deck
with a fiberglass
lid which was secured with 3 massive nylon straps. Those
last two data points is to keep them from damage in the event of a rollover
or severe seas causing them to move.
So, that done, I set about to replace the leaking water pump. The impeller
which moves the water in these pumps is flexible neoprene rubber. It has a
dozen 'vanes' which flex as they go over a cam, squeezing the water in front
of them as it turns. However, to leave the impeller in the pump would cause
those flexed vanes to 'take a set' in that position, weakening them. So,
the replacement Lydia handed me needed an impeller. I greased the shaft
onto which it would slide, and the housing in which it would land, and went
about installing the new one. I didn't 'twig' to why it was that it was so
difficult to install, as my memory of past instances had it going on
relatively easily, but this was a bit of a wrestling match.
Then, as the vanes weren't all in the same direction, I tried to turn the
pump (it has a large pulley on the front to grab) in order to get them all
in the same direction before I put on the cover. WHAT!??!?? It won't turn.
I'm reasonably strong, but I couldn't get more than a couple of degrees of
movement. Raggasnaggagigafratz. Now I have TWO pumps to rebuild
Those of you who have been with me for the last couple of years will recall
that a raw water pump
was the very first of the breakdowns in our original
shakedown. As was the case in every stop, it was a gamestopper, as I really
didn't want to proceed with a failing raw water
pump. My expected level of
was another surprise. I had THOUGHT that I had several rebuild
kits. It turned out I had none, and we sat at that anchorage for a couple
of weeks while we obtained more.
While I was waiting, I took stock of what we actually had available, and
found that some of the bronze parts
of the pumps were worn. Finding
in these antiques is a bit of a treasure hunt, but I managed to
get not only the seals
needed for this and future rebuilds, but some wear
plates - thin pieces of bronze which are sacrificial to save the body of the
pump from the inevitable wear from the impeller pressing on it as it turns.
So, while it was a nuisance, the parts WERE available to rebuild our pumps.
Since the new one wouldn't turn, I pulled out the impeller, put all the
parts away in a bin for later work, and reinstalled the original, leaking,
pump. Before we start the engine, I do my "1-2-3"s - checking the belt
level and oil
level. Diesels sometimes use oil
"Captain Ron" the movie), so the fact that I needed some was merely a
item, which I did. By 1:15, we set off, again, for Great Sale
Oops. No response to the starter button. Maybe all the painting I did when
the pump was off affected the contacts (it shouldn't have, but neither
should there have been any issue with starting)? Out comes the remote
starter clip (I use that to work on the engine without having to run up to
each time I want to restart) button. Vrooom. Maybe it's that I
forgot to put the battery
switch to 'both' - making the starter battery part
of the circuit, instead of only the house battery. We put it into the
"both" position and tried again. First a click, then a start. Hm.
Something else to check on. We continue to prove the axiom that Cruising Is
Repairing Your Boat In Exotic Locations. At least it's HERE instead of on a
ball in Vero Beach!
So, once started, we do, in fact, get off, delayed only 15 minutes. Our
massive ground tackle resolutely held on to the huge mound of sand and grass
it brought up with it, but, eventually, it rinsed off as we slowly motored
SE, and I raised and secured it in our bow rollers. Initially, our COG was
130T in order to miss the bunch of tiny islands to our left. Wind
benign (well it would be nine after the 7 it started ☺) 7-9 knots but
essentially, again, right on our nose, at under 30į, causing our heading to
be 142T into 2' seas at 5.1 knots SOG.
Continuing the Perils of Pig, we discover that, somehow, our fishfinder
which is getting information from the chartplotter
, is also feeding
information back, and there's some form of interference
going on between the
two. As a result, we're no longer getting real time information about our
course or speed. Turning off the fishfinder
remedies that, and, later, when
it's not quite so dicey about the impending shoal area approaching, I'll
make the needed adjustments to the fishfinder setup to cure that problem.
About those shoals. If you're following us on
tinyurl.com/FlyingPigSpotwalla, you'll notice a sharp deviation from course.
That was to resolve the - again - anomaly of all three of our charting
systems declaring a shoal area, where, instead, we were seeing over 20' of
water. None the less, as they all agreed, and the Explorer charts were very
recent, we diverted to give the indicated area a wide berth.
Having taken that deviation to the south meant that we now would have an
even more sharp entry into the wind
. As our genoa
was alternately flapping
and slightly backwinded (if we'd wanted to heave to, that would have been
ideal, but in this case, it represented a lovely parasitic drag), we rolled
it up at 4PM. Shortly, the wind backed a bit, making it literally on our
nose - the wind indicator was at 0į with 15 knots of apparent wind - but we
were making 5.1 of those. As a result, the seas were gentle at 1-2'.
Ooops! Crab pots - out in the middle of nowhere. I'm sure glad we were
doing this in the daytime, and I could take evasive measures to avoid them.
Once again, we found ourselves anchoring
at night. This time, however, we
were doing so next to an island, and in amongst (well, near - it's a big
anchorage) a large handful of boats. This is a major staging spot for those
either coming to (like us) or going from (like virtually all of the others)
, so we expected company. We anchored well away from everyone at
about 9:30, and headed to bed
Time marches on, wherever you are, and it's yet another day into our passage
into the Bahamas
. We'll stay here for several days, as we do our chores,
and set about demolishing the remains of the food
that Lydia's mother so
kindly sent off with us the night before we left Vero Beach. We're not yet
there, but, soon, we'll be on Island Time, and only barely aware of the date
and day; our lives will revolve around our daily-but-for-Sunday contacts
with our weather
guru, and miscellaneous boat chores. Once we get those in
hand, we'll figure out where and when we want to leave here.
Monday morning, we started by moving in a bit closer to the island. That
would provide more protection from fetch - the buildup of waves as they
travel over open water - from the prevailing easterlies. Once we had the
anchor set, I commenced doing our repairs
. I rebuilt two water pumps - the
one we had, which leaked horribly (old seals
finally went, a regular
maintenance item), and the other, which had seemed locked up, but was merely
stuck a bit. After I took it apart I remembered how I rebuilt it, and its
misbehavior made perfect sense. I'll spare you the technical discussion,
but I remedied the mistake of the time I rebuilt it two years ago, after I
took it apart, using the same - unworn - parts to do so. So, now, I have a
spare ready to put on, when this eventually happens again. The pump which
had leaked was rebuilt with all new seals, too, of course.
is of great concern to cruisers, as, eventually, they all
break down and start shedding rubber parts which impede the flow of water
through the cooling
tubes. The one I took out was in generally good shape,
but I could see some deterioration. Thus, I tossed it, and, following the
directions I'd pulled up on the computer, used, instead of the water pump
grease I'd used in the past, the very thin impeller lube provided with the
rebuild kits. Surprise! NO challenge getting the impeller in. Even an old
dog can be reminded of old tricks ☺ - and now we had two newly rebuilt
pumps, with a spare for the next time the seals wore out on the pump I
In addition, we had two other pump bodies. One I'd thought ready for
rebuilding, and the other I'd thought to be a last-ditch spare part.
However, again sparing you the hours of working in the dim workshop (the
large fluorescent fixture in the workshop has failed, somehow. As it's not
a critical - just a nuisance-level - event, that will wait), I have one
complete pump body shorn of all itís previously frozen and/or badly worn
parts, and all of the parts to make up the rest of it with all new gear
the same problem which beset our presumed replacement pump could possibly
occur if it sat for a great long while (even though I didnít use the stuff
which caused it to bind in the last case), I'll not build that pump just
yet. The remainder parts I'll give away to someone who may find them
While I was dealing with water pumps, and getting sweaty in the enclosed
space, the weather
was just fine for swimming. Our routine aboard is that
we don't use fresh water (recall that we have to carry or catch-from-rain
all the water we use) for showering. Instead, we jump off the back of the
boat to get thoroughly wet, and to sluice off the most egregious level of
sweat and grunge. Climbing back up the swim ladder, we soap up with Joy.
Yes, the same stuff you use in the kitchen sink. There is a variety of
"sailors' soap" available, at "very interesting" pricing, but Joy is
frequently, among cruisers, referred to as "Boy Scout Soap," after the
adventure program which takes them out sailing and snorkeling - and bathing
in salt water
. It foams nicely, cleans well, and rinses easily. Jumping
back in and rinsing gets you squeaky clean.
Some cruisers keep towels just for such purposes, and wiping down
immediately after rinsing will prevent carrying salt
onto the boat. Not
only isn't that clean, it attracts moisture. Of course, after the
(motor-)sail we'd just had, the decks were covered in salt
, anyway. We have
an arrangement aboard. Lydia keeps the boat clean and shiny, and I keep it
running. As such, once we'd anchored where we'd be for a while, she rinsed
down the decks with a dishrag. For our showers, as we carry over 300
gallons of water, we do the seawater rinse, and then do a light freshwater
rinse on the platform. I know this is TMI, but in the wilds, as we are,
is optional. As such, when our rinse is finished, we don't
immediately reach for the towel, instead letting the air dry us.
So, by Wednesday (April 15 - happy tax day!) we're caught up on the major
boat chores; if our pump doesn't leak (we expect it will not) after we've
run the engine, I'll pump out all the water from the pan under the engine,
and all will be well in that area.
We have yet to drop the dinghy
from the davits
, and also have not yet proven
our 15HP outboard
since the time I rebuilt the pull-starter recoil. Recall
that Vero Beach water is incredibly dense with marine
nearly instant fouling. Our usual step to deal with that is to raise the
alongside whenever we aren't using it. The dinghy suffered from
being in the water during one of the trips Lydia took to see her
grandchildren, and the bottom sorely needs a scrub.
I've already dived on the stuck speed impellers during last night's bath,
and those are now free to tell us how fast we're moving through the water.
I also have to complete the final steps of installing my new computer, which
will involve removal
and disassembly (I had the hard drive from the old
computer mounted to facilitate migration of all the stuff we
needed)/reassembly/reinstallation) as well as the installation
of a new
power supply to handle our external drives.
is finally getting into normal temperatures - running the
engine constantly made for a broiling engine room, which made that side of
the refrigerator insulation
struggle to keep up. Our refrigeration
showed constantly increasing temperatures, and the freezer
(which, like your
home refrigerator, removes all the heat, and fans distribute the cold air to
the refrigerator) ran constantly on high speed. However, two days after
, all is again well. With any luck we'll be able to sail again
soon, and avoid using the engine so much.
In the meantime, while we remain at anchor, the forecast
, which has, for the
last two days, remained steady in this regard, includes isolated squalls for
an hour or two at a time, with winds from 40-50 knots, from any direction,
for Thursday and Friday.
Thus, our great protection from all winds with "E" in them may not be of any
benefit if they come from anywhere with a "W" in them. In those cases, in
addition to the things we have to do in order to insure that we don't have
any damage or loss topsides, we'll let out 100 or so feet more chain, at one
pound per foot. That will allow a great deal more catenary (the shape of the
chain under tension, rather than a straight line), and MAY help dampen the
hobbyhorsing which would occur with waves of up to 8 feet in such squalls.
On the other hand, we may get lucky, and only get the edges, while getting
the large amount of rain they bring. If so, we'll open the deck
install our dam (a chamois-type cloth rolled up) which will direct water
from the deck to the tank, and thank the Lord for His bounty in replenishing
Well, again, I've rattled on. We'll leave you here, hanging on by your
fingernails, wondering whether we DID get flattened by nearly 60MPH (a knot
is about 1.16MPH) winds. Stay tuned!
SV Flying Pig KI4MPC
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"Believe me, my young friend, there is *nothing*-absolutely nothing-half so
much worth doing as simply messing, messing-about-in-boats; messing about in
boats-or *with* boats.
In or out of 'em, it doesn't matter. Nothing seems really to matter, that's
the charm of it.
Whether you get away, or whether you don't; whether you arrive at your
or whether you reach somewhere else, or whether you never get
anywhere at all, you're always busy, and you never do anything in
particular; and when you've done it there's always something else to do, and
you can do it if you like, but you'd much better not."