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Old 21-03-2009, 14:51   #1
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Georgetown Passage Day 3 – January 5 and 8, and beyond – Part II Cruising is….

Georgetown Passage Day 3 – January 5 and 8, and beyond – Part II Cruising is….

We left you as we were heading for Georgetown from Normans Cay…

As is the case, usually, the weather is changeable, however, and after we got under way at about 4:30 PM Thursday January 9, picking our way through the coral heads at the entrance from the deep-water side, the wind was nearly calm. The run to Georgetown would be a straight shot, and we set course for 143 in 5-7 knots, making 3.7 knots in a broad reach. By 7PM, however, the wind had died to 3-5 knots, moving over to a beam reach, and we actually picked up speed slightly, making all of 3.8 knots in 1’ seas.

At 11, however, there was a sudden wind shift, going to 150 at 8 knots on a starboard tack, and we accelerated to an invigorating 4.5 knots. At this rate, we might even make Georgetown before dark!! The wind had been forecast to be more on the order of 10-15, beginning before dark, but we expected that there must have been some weather disturbance that delayed the onset, as we were seeing none of it. Of course, ever changeful, at midnight it backed again, making a danger of a jibe, so we tacked out 20 degrees on a new heading of 159 in 6-8 knots, moving up to the blazing speed of 4.8 knots. Hm. Maybe there’s hope?

At 12:40 for the shift change, when Lydia took over, we were rocking and rolling in following seas in very mild wind. By 4:30, the wind died completely. Not wanting to venture the tricky entrance, with all its coral heads, in the dark (which is how we perceived we’d arrive, at this rate), Lydia woke me and we reluctantly dropped the sails and fired up Perky, who seems to need a heat exchanger colonic, as he complained about the heat at 2500 rpm. We backed off to 2150, and all was well until the wind suddenly picked up about 9AM, when we enthusiastically raised the sails again.

We’d put out our lines as we left, and just after dawn, we had a very big fish spool our line. Evidently, the drag had been too loose, and in the excitement, Lydia hadn’t known how to tighten it, and all her reeling didn’t slow him down. Ah, well, fishing isn’t entirely free, and when I got up I spooled on another line from our supplies and made up another lure. Unfortunately, it apparently was the only fish in the neighborhood, because we got no further activity in the fishing department. So far, aside from losing big fish, we’ve had no luck whatsoever in provisioning by line (our conch gathering having been very successful earlier).

With the sails up and the wind cooperating, we made the entrance to Conch Cut at about noon. After picking our way through the coral heads, we had the anchor down in 11’ of water in Monument Beach by 1PM on January 8th. We immediately checked out the Internet situation and had 3 or 4 usable but marginal sites to choose from.

The wind continued to pick up from there, and our trip into shore to pick up our guests who flew in from Georgia had a very wet return to the boat, but otherwise our stay at Monument beach was entertaining, if uneventful. It was a full moon shortly after, and we got some marvelous pictures of a neighboring boat’s dog and master ashore, framing the hillside, as the moon rose at dusk. More on our stay in our next post…

So, back to the title…

Cruising is … … boat repair in exotic locations.

In addition to all the various “1-2-3’s” (the daily small chores that help keep us ahead of the maintenance curve), we’ve had multiple failures, some of them more than once, GRRR.

For example, there’s a design flaw in Honda eu2000I generators. We have one to power our hookah rig (it enables me to dive the boat, and, we hope, at some point, to visit deeper coral and other visual and victual sites), and also to charge our batteries when we’ve been profligate with power usage (chiefly 3 computers!) and the sun and wind power supply don’t keep up. That design flaw causes starter-cord failure, and getting to the recoil mechanism requires virtual disassembly of the generator.

After much searching around via Internet and telephone, I managed to find a service location that could tell me how to do that, and I got out the recoil, shortened the cord, and reinstalled it. It wasn’t a week later when that cord failed, just like the first time (chafe at about 4” in on the cord), too. GRRRR! So, I replaced the cord. Rinse, repeat. AGAIN!! Rinse, repeat. Then, I pulled the (third) cord out of the starter mechanism. GRRRRR!!!

Okay, enough of this. I went to the local everything-store (you wouldn’t believe what this tiny store has available – nearly everything other than groceries), Top II Bottom, and bought wire rope – galvanized multistrand wire – and used that for the pull cord. One problem though – it’s so much stiffer, that I didn’t believe I could merely knot the wire due to the space it would take up on the mechanism. I settled on crimp-on electrical terminals with the ends cut off. Of course, that proved insufficient, and I pulled the cord out of the handle on the third start and out of the starter mechanism on the 4th. I’m getting pretty good at disassembly and reassembly, not more than about a half-hour start to finish. The last one was to make a very tight knot in both ends, pulling extra hard to make sure the “overflow” wouldn’t interfere with the mechanism, and (knock on wood) that has proven successful.

However, in chatting up several cruisers I saw with similar units (they are ubiquitous in the anchorages, being much more effective for the types of electrical needs of those without full-sized generating plants in their boats than to take up the space and noise and fuel issues – we removed ours, early on – than the type designed to run air conditioning and other heavy-duty applications), I learned that my experience was not unique, with many having shortened their cords several times before they failed.

So, I did a VHF seminar on the subject of replacement, the chief difficulty for most being figuring out how to get to the unit.
Based on the mike-clicks I requested, we had perhaps 25 listeners to that seminar. I did that following the morning net, more, too, on which in our next posting…

We nearly had a fire (well, not really, but the potential was there) from our charging system… We’d noted that our shore power connection at the side of the boat (where you put the monster power cord to bring household power into the boat), and on the cord itself, seemed somehow to be flaky, indicating burn potential. Both the cord and the input showed signs of unusual heat. Then, one day, suddenly, during a charge cycle, the Honda went to idle (not working very hard any more), and I went to investigate.

The hot wire connector to the input had melted the connection point, and the prong fell out with the cord when I removed it. It had been inadequately wired, and the wire itself had melted through. Ooops…

Without, again, all the gory details, I was able to rewire the connection to the second shorepower input, disabled when we took out the air conditioning units early on in our refit. A neighboring (boats around you in the anchorage are “neighbors”) cruiser, on their vacation return for skiing, picked up a replacement input cord for the generator for us in thanks for their internet connection, and all was well again. We’ll replace the original input when we get back to the states, where ordering is vastly simpler.

The recoil mechanism on our 15HP (main dinghy motor) gave up, again, the day before we left. That’s one of my 1-2-3-‘s in the next few days. Boat repairs in exotic locations – location to be determined…

Louise’ mouse gave up the ghost while my computer was out for repair, so I loaned her my wireless one – but she went into withdrawal when I retrieved it once my computer was back. She’s reluctantly, but, finally, successfully, learned how to use the mousepad on her laptop :{))

The nagging diesel leak in the engine room was resolved by, first finding it (complicated by its nearly invisible location, found with the aid of a flashlight and mirror), and then tightening on the bolt involved, in itself a bit of a contortionist act. Along the way, our front-seal leak seems to have resolved itself (recall the departure from St. Michaels where we forcefully wrapped wire into the bearing during a fan belt failure), as we’re no longer getting the front-end-of-the-engine goop, nor any oil in the pan underneath the engine. Nice to have SOME hiccup cure itself!!

We’ve developed a small leak (maybe an ounce a week) in the fresh water pump under the sink. As it’s diminished over time, perhaps that will wait for rebuild time, my tightening all the screws I could see without removing it having lessened it from an ounce to perhaps a teaspoon.

Our flag halyard hoist line broke again, this time due to my attempt at securing the bottom of it to the hoist (helping reduce the amount of belly in the line during high winds, which made it rub on a shroud) by a stainless steel ring that chafed through it. I’ll use a rubber one when I go up the mast to replace it.

One of our rudder hydraulic pistons seems to have an internal seal that is failing slightly, as, over the course of a week at anchor, it moves from neutral to all the way over to port. That will likely involve a rebuild, which I’ll have to investigate when I get to the states again. I’m hopeful it’s just o-rings which I can replace myself. The system is otherwise sound, based on the remaining high pressure in the pressure canister, and no hydraulic fluid leaks being visible.

The rudderpost packing gland continues to be troublesome, letting more water through than I’d like. I’ll probably have to remove it on the next haulout, and try to resolve (with epoxy) the presumed cause, pitting on the shaft (which I presume abrades the packing). Otherwise it will be either living with it or having to pull the rudder for replacement (big bux, and a major mechanical nuisance)…

Back to the subject… The major repair item, of great frustration, was the computer. Without any of the innumerable failures and rescue attempts, the sending-off and receiving of it from the vendor tales, and all the rest of the hair-pulling which accompanied that adventure, the troubleshooting end result seems (so far, keeping fingers crossed) to have been an inadequate power supply. It’s a 12V computer, and, at least for the week or so we’ve had it reinstalled, a new line directly to the battery, of heavier gauge wire, seems to have solved the problem. Restoring all the programs is a nuisance, but not a disaster. It was this – all the experimentation, then failure, then waiting on both ends for the convoluted and expensive modus of shipping stuff to and from the Bahamas, plus, then, restoring the navigation and other programs we rely on – which kept us in Georgetown for as long as we were. For all that, the stay was marvelous. I’ll go on (and on, and on :{)) , no doubt) about all that in my next post…


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