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Old 16-05-2013, 08:07   #1
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At My Wits End

My wife and I have dreamt about owning a sailboat for years. Two months ago we bought our first boat. It's a Morgan Out Island 37. Us being very naive, trusted the man that sold it to us. We moved aboard along with our two small children and set off from Pompano Beach, Florida to The Keys. I had a job waiting for me and a reasonably priced marina. The engine died three hours off the dock. We were towed to Ft. Lauderdale. We met a wonderful guy who helped us rig the sails. We took off again for The Keys under sail only. As we were waiting on a bridge to open, we lost our wind and was pushed into the bank. After tilting to 45 degrees at low tide, we decided to abandon the plan and head back north to Sebastian. We have family there including one who is a diesel mechanic. We were towed back north to Lake Sylvia. We met some people there who helped us work on the engine. We were there two weeks before heading out Port Everglades inlet. We were headed for Ft. Pierce. It was going great until we hit a storm that ripped our sails, took our dinghy, and caused electrical problems, including killing the engine again. We were towed once again to a marina in Jupiter. We got the engine running, kind of. We made it about 20 minutes before it died again. We had to be towed again to Stuart, where the boat now sits. We are off the boat and are in Sebastian. We are now out of money and the towing company has canceled our membership. My question is...does anyone have any ideas or suggestions on how to get the boat to Sebastian? My wife and I have been wracking our brains for weeks and can't come to any solutions. There has to be something we aren't thinking of. Please help.
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Old 16-05-2013, 08:18   #2
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Re: at my wits end

Sorry to hear this. I can think of two options. One, secure the boat and head to that job. In other words, move off the boat and change focus where the boat is not primary. You say you are out of money, you need to establish an income and that means not focusing on the boat for the time being. The stress you suffer would likely drop a whole bunch too. Two, I think surely your kinfolk in Sebastion would have connections to help with the boat.
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Old 16-05-2013, 08:19   #3
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Re: at my wits end

Well, I'm sure you've thought of this, but why not drive your diesel-mechanic family member to the boat, at least for a diagnosis? Towing a boat 60 miles isn't going to be cheap -- so the question is whether he can repair it well enough to go that far, or at least serve as a backup when you sail it back.

You're going to need sails in workable condition to begin with, so you might as well get those now - you can probably find used ones to save some cash.
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Old 16-05-2013, 08:20   #4
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Re: at my wits end

Oh, and I agree with Richard5. The job and taking care of your family needs to come first.
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Old 16-05-2013, 08:31   #5
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Re: at my wits end

Not much to suggest except... make some money and get the boat fixed.

Quote:
Us being very naive...
Um, yes. Well, now you're a bit less naive, but i would still strongly recommend to find yourself a sailing mentor (hopefully a friend, but a paid captain if necessary) to help you plan the next steps, and to assist with long moves.
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Old 16-05-2013, 08:34   #6
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Re: at my wits end

I have secured a menial job at a local restaurant in Sebastian Florida and am staying in the cheapest hotel I could find. We are barely making it from week to week. Getting the boat up here and finding another dinghy would allow us to possibly fix the boat and continue on.
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Old 16-05-2013, 08:42   #7
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Re: at my wits end

Regarding the engine, have you checked the fuel filter? Is your fuel tank filled up with old fuel and diesel crud?

Time to re-think your plan, get a job etc.
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Old 16-05-2013, 09:13   #8
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Re: at my wits end

I am sorry for your frustration but this is why learning on a smaller boat and moving up with experience is a wise track.

Did the boat only come with 2 sails? And these two were damaged beyond repair? If not, get a cheap hand sewing repair kit and start sewing.

Also, you only really need 1 sail to sail. preferably a head sail for that boat.
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Old 16-05-2013, 09:15   #9
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Re: at my wits end

After the engine failed the first time I changed all three fuel filters. I possibly have a fuel leak but have been unable to find it. I'll look closer for a leak when I get back to the boat.
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Old 16-05-2013, 09:19   #10
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Re: at my wits end

The sails that came with the boat seem to be the original sails and appeared to be in fair condition. The jib still looks ok but the entire foot of the mainsail in ripped.
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Old 16-05-2013, 09:23   #11
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Re: at my wits end

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chopper1973 View Post
After the engine failed the first time I changed all three fuel filters. I possibly have a fuel leak but have been unable to find it. I'll look closer for a leak when I get back to the boat.


You should be able to see a fuel leak.....but what you may not see is a leak that allows air into the fuel line prior to the fuel pump
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Old 16-05-2013, 09:36   #12
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Re: at my wits end

Chopper, I am sorry for your predicament and hope that you can find your way out of it.

For the rest of the forum: this scenario is why I sometimes get crosswise with the "just go for it" folks. It is so easy for new sailors to get in way over their heads, and problems like this can be a harsh learning experience, perhaps even disastrous to a family's future.

I do hope that there is a happy outcome and that it becomes a step forward for them.

Cheers,

Jim
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Old 16-05-2013, 09:52   #13
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Re: at my wits end

A couple of notes; advice is free and you get what you pay for so I won't be bothered if you ignore them.

- The sails ripping underway was either because you didn't sail the boat correctly or your sails were in terrible shape, both of which are not very difficult to solve but require you to take sailing and your sails seriously.

- Being laid up for a year getting some boat thing fixed that frustrates the hell out of you is the norm, not the exception. Ideally you can time it so you're not in the middle of your "dream". I have a friend who's been dealing with his diesel for a year with mechanics in Mexico, getting parts shipped in and out. Super frustrating. It's basically screwed his entire sailing plan.

In hindsight what he could have done instead was put the boat somewhere cheap with a good mechanic, maybe even biting the bullet and beating to San Diego where great mechanics are everywhere. More costly, but the job will be done well.

Or, park the boat somewhere and focus on living in that community and not doing a lot of underway time. We're in La Paz, Mexico right now and although I'm happy that our boat is fully operational, if we did get sidelined it wouldn't be so bad because our daughter is in preschool here and there's a whole city to explore.

If you can, make lemonade out of lemons. If your plans require you to have a fully operational vessel at all times you will be frustrated a lot. There are people who dump $500k (or more) into a boat or refits of the same and can probably circumnavigate with only a few spare oil filters as supplies.

If you ever saw that movie Master and Commander with Russel Crowe, half of the movie was spent undergoing repairs in a substandard locale or on shore dealing with health issues. It's fittingly accurate.
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Old 16-05-2013, 09:52   #14
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Re: at my wits end

Thank you for your possitive imput, Jim. I'm sure things will turn out fine. We see this as an experience more than an ordeal. We fully expected to run into problems. We just didn't think they would hit all at once. We've met quite a few interesting people and what little sailing we did was definately worth experiencing. Here's to many more miles on the water.
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Old 16-05-2013, 09:59   #15
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Re: at my wits end

What about you going to your destination and getting the job, and wife staying behind with the kids (onboard?). and possibly also getting a job - either around school hours or family care......and saving the cash to fix the engine.

In the meantime, I would do some learning about Diesel engines - online / books / folk you can meet....even if you don't fix for self can eliminate some possibilities and will know WTF the mechanic is talking about (tends to be cheaper as well!), and for the future will pre-empt minor problems becoming major - for engine and / or for the boat.

With a dodgy engine I would want sails onboard - and to know how to use them! As as said already, can re-sew a sail by hand....it does not have to be neat or perfect (in shape or fit) and the sail can be junked when budget allows. And certainly before heading off on another leg of the journey I would get a few days of sailing in locally, as well as a serious test (hours and work rate) on the diesel - better it go kaput again near "home" (even if not your own) than half way somewhere.

IMO you are really not in a position to take the vessel under sail only (with a kaput engine).
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