Whole lotta shakin' goin' on...
- Whole lotta shakin' goin' on...
Any boat, if it's been modified greatly, and/or if it's sat up for any
significant period of time, has many potentials for unhappy mischief once it
goes back in the water, either due to changes made or aging components.
Since Flying Pig had been on jackstands for just shy of 2 years, and the
amount of changes we'd wrought were stupendous, but not of the usual
interest-points to the readers here, we've not said a great deal about
what's been going on. However, you can see, by clicking the gallery link
below, and then the 2011-2012 Refit subgallery, what we've been up to.
Plenty of places for trouble to brew!
As a result, a prudent mariner will conduct what is known as a "shakedown
cruise" - activity back on the water where, in some cases, problems occur
which can't be seen or anticipated before the boat's in the water.
"Shakedowns" are designed to allow failures to happen more conveniently, by
cruising coastally, staying close to supplies and towing, should we need it.
So, before we left, I renewed my TowBoatUS subscription, (lapsed when we
first left the US), for unlimited towing. Surprisingly, they apparently
knew I'd be back, as the renewal was in the same membership number as my
original. Then, when we splashed on Saturday, January 26th, on a lunar high
tide (so that we'd have all the possible advantages of depth as we exited
the marina), we stayed in the launch slip to assess all the places which let
in, or kept out, water from the outside of the boat. We also wanted to see
how our engine did in the water. All the testing we'd done so far had been
done with the raw water pump disabled (by taking off the fan belt) so as to
not burn up the impeller from not having any water.
So, we cranked the engine. Vroooom! Look out the back - do we have any
water? Yes, a torrent, where before we had splatters. Apparently my having
done the work on the heat exchanger, removing small particles of prior
impeller from the front, and ramming clear the many tubes through which the
raw (sea) water ran, was to very good effect. So, water got to the pump,
water went through the pump, and, to our surprise, as we'd felt in the times
we ran it to get it warm before my oil change, the engine sounded much
quieter than we'd recalled. Perhaps all the changes we'd made in our
alignment woes (driveshaft subgallery) made a difference as to how
everything fit. So, satisfied that our engine would run and stay cool, and
including that our new thermometer/temperature gauge was working properly,
we shut down.
Our next two items to check were our new rudder and shaft packing glands.
In the case of the rudder, it wasn't really a new gland, but the shaft was
very different than it had been, and we were anxious to see if we could make
it behave as new. Much tightening of the shaft as Lydia spun the wheel from
lock to lock finally got our water ingress to a bare seep. We'd have to
revisit that as we went along, as it was brand new and not yet seated/mated
to the shaft, but all looked well. In the case of the drive shaft, as we
couldn't run it in the slip, we couldn't really tell how tight to make it.
The normal gland should not drip at rest, but allow a few drops a minute to
come through as lubrication and cooling when under way. That, too,
therefore, would have to be revisited as we went along. However, for now,
all looked well.
All of our through-hull fixtures worked as they were supposed to, so the
water stayed outside the boat unless we asked it to come in (salt water
washdown pump, motor cooling water), or out (drains of the sinks and
toilets), we were happy to see. Satisfied that we wouldn't sink to the
extremely nearby bottom of the slip we went to bed and luxuriated in the
slight motion caused by boats passing in the channel, sleeping soundly.
Sunday we slept in, but got up expecting to have Lydia's mother and the man
whose house she's living in slightly north of here, in Vero Beach, here for
lunch. They'd not had a chance to see Flying Pig since we started work, and
so were anxious to come aboard. Lydia's mother had cruised with us in the
past, so she in particular was anxious to see how we'd done. I'd promised
them hamburgers over our new grill. So, I went out early to see how our new
(replacing the rusting out prior trusty barbeque) grill would do. It won't
light. Dang. I get out a screwdriver and try the trick the manufacturer
had suggested when she had sent us a replacement regulator. No such luck.
There were a variety of things I could try, later, but without the proof
that I could cook hamburgers for them, I wasn't going to commit.
Fortunately, Mark and Lydia's mom were ecstatic with the thought of pizza
from the local parlor that wins all the awards in Ft. Pierce, A Touch of
Brooklyn. It arrived in due course, and a great time was had by all, with
some pizza left over, even, for Lydia and my lunch on our first day out. We
said our goodbyes and settled in for the night. But "tomorrow" was another
As we went to start our engine on Monday morning. we were dismayed to hear
only a sluggish RRRRRRRRR. No go. Yikes. The slip needs to be emptied, and
we can't start the engine!
I quickly went into the engine room and did a load test on the start
battery. Marginal. Not "failed" but also not "full" - so we elected to
replace it. After 4 years, it's possible it was toast, anyway.
Fortunately, just as we'd been doing all that, one of our yard friends
walked up and offered us the use of his truck, and we hustled off down the
street to get another. The battery place sez we've been fortunate to get
this much time from the battery, as the typical life is about 3 years. Ah,
well - In she goes, and up she fires. No problem, once the engine turns
fast enough to develop the compression on which diesel engines ignite their
To our annoyance, we had a honking wind outside, which would make
maneuvering our 50' of overhangs, front and rear, in a very confined
channel, "interesting." However, the yard had a couple of their guys take
lines from us so that we were aimed down the channel rather than straight
across, with our bow being blown into the other boats. Using our engine to
ease their way, we quickly were in position to exit.
Out we go, to no ill effect and with sufficient water under us in the
channel that we make the Intra-Coastal Waterway in short order. Our first
dragon is slain, having conquered us on the way in to the tune of three
groundings, one of which required me to jump in the dinghy and pull over the
Once there, we turn right, south, to go for fuel, and then to an anchorage.
Much to our amazement, we're just flying along, making over 8 knots through
the water. NEVER in our time of ownership has our home moved that fast
under power. All that backbreaking labor we'd invested to make the bottom
of the boat perfectly smooth, the feathering propellor rebuilt and perfectly
balanced and the alignment of the shaft in its new packing gland paid off
The lift bridge asked us to hang back a bit so the other two sailboats which
were approaching could catch up with us. Accordingly, we slowed to a crawl
against the still incoming tide, and, in due course, both the boats to our
rear caught up, and, as we got close, the bridge opened.
Down went the throttle again, and we hustled downstream. Immediately south
of the bridge, at, now, full high tide, we called HarborView marina, for
water, diesel fuel, and gasoline for our outboards and also our portable
Honda 2000i generator. Honda 2000i "suitcase" generators have become a
near-fixture among cruisers due to their economical operation and quiet
running, AND their easily being able to keep up with any excess charging
needed over and above our solar panels and wind generator. Given that,
somehow, we'd managed to have very flat batteries in the slip overnight, we
were also very concerned about our house batteries when our engine wouldn't
Our house batteries (that's what provides all the 12VDC power in our home,
as well as, through inverters, any AC power we may need) are seriously major
batteries. They weigh in at 125# each and are only 6V, which means that you
need 2 of them to get 12V. We have 4, and to replace them would be well
over a boat buck (BOAT - Break Out Another Thousand). We elected to see how
they did in real life use. So, whether to constantly charge them, or merely
use the Honda occasionally when wind and sun weren't sufficient to keep up
with us, we needed gasoline as well as diesel fuel.
In addition, the water in the yard where we did all our work was foul - not
for drinking - and our tanks had not been used in all that time we'd been
living in the yard. Accordingly, I took a piece of the rigid plastic tubing
we have for our plumbing aboard and connected it to a shop vacuum. Using a
penlight and squinting, I cleaned out as much as I could of the sand which
ALWAYS accumulates in the bottom of the tanks, as well as various growths
which had occurred in those two years.
Once done, we filled both tanks with the yard's water, shocking both of our
tanks with excess chlorine. After running water through all of our plumbing,
including the hot water heater, to get that highly chlorinated water into
all the lines and fixtures, we let it sit overnight. Once we were in the
water, we emptied the larger tank and, as we filled that larger tank at the
fuel dock, we'd empty the smaller one, refilling it after the main tank was
The marina had suggested that we'd only make it at full high tide, but as
that was what we had, we weren't TOO concerned (going aground is chancy at
full tide, as one may not get off easily due to the tide falling immediately
afterward!). I brought Flying Pig alongside, with her nose closest, so that
Lydia could hand off the bow line to the waiting attendant. Then,
alternating forward and reverse, taking advantage of the "prop walk" (the
direction the stern wants to move when in reverse due to the rotation of the
propellor) and forward steering against that, I sidled her up to the dock.
So far, so good! The engine started, we made LOTS of way to get here, and
reverse works just fine. Maybe this shakedown thing won't be of any event,
Once fully loaded, and with a presumed greater depth due to the
approximately 3000# we added, we piroetted off the dock and headed back out.
Once again, we found our way without touching bottom, despite the
admonitions that we'd need full high tide to accomplish the transit, given
our depth. In short order, we again reached the Intra-Coastal Waterway,
passing the inlet we'd come through nearly 2 years ago, on the way to our
By the time we were approaching the fixed bridge (one south of the lift
bridge), we had the current with us, having passed the inlet, and we were
nearly at full high tide. Some of the work we've done has been at the top
of the mast, and with the water all the way up, we held our breath as we
slid under the bridge with none of all that stuff we'd hung up there
touching the bridge. From 60' below, looking straight up, it's VERY
difficult to gauge whether that whip antenna sticking 30" up from the top of
the mast will miss the bridge! More exciting would have been the hard
antenna for our Wi-Fi system, a few inches shorter. When we leave the
states and its bridges, we'll mount a new antenna which is even more
powerful, but which would extend to a height likely to touch in US bridges.
So, that experiment will have to wait.
Crossing the Intra-Coastal Waterway, we tucked into the lagoon south of
Causeway Island, the connector which forms the southern boundary of the
channel out to the open ocean. That showed on the charts as having lots of
depth available (with a 7' draft, we're cautious about where we anchor
compared to other boats with shorter distances from the waterline!).
Another excitement for us; we'd redone our anchor system, and bought a new
anchor; neither had been used in the water.
Our previous primary anchor, a Delta 55#, one size larger than that
recommended for our boat, became our secondary anchor. Our new anchor, a
73# Rocna, is two sizes larger than recommended. Until we'd bought it, we
hadn't seen Rocna's advice against "oversizing" anchors, as the performance
of this 3rd generation anchor was so superior to the second generation
anchors that oversizing wasn't needed. None the less, we LOVE the idea that
we can set it and forget it; I'm not sure that a hurricane would cause us to
drag in anything other than a hard-pan bottom (where no anchor can get a
grip). As folks say in the cruising world, when pressed as to why so much
armament up front, "I like to sleep at night!"
So, my first time down was an experience. In about 15' of water, down she
went. As is my practice, I let the bow fall away on the wind (or tide, in
cases, where there wasn't much wind) so that the chain would not pile onto
the end of the anchor. Using our newly reinforced windlass to run out the
chain, I stopped momentarily at about 25' - WAAY too short for anchoring,
but fine for starting the bite of the anchor.
Yank! the nose came around. It was set. I let out 10' increments of chain
in rushes, so that we continued to tug on the anchor with some force as each
slack was taken up with our backward motion. With 5' off the water, and 15'
beneath the waterline, we had an effective depth of 20' - so I let out 150'
in total, the last 50 feet in a rush, and attached the 30' snubber. With
lots of slack available, Lydia backed down, hard. The slack was taken up,
the chain got bar tight, and the snubber, 1" MegaBraid (12 strand nylon rope
designed to stretch) stretched mightily. When Lydia got off the throttle in
reverse, Flying Pig leaped forward, all 44,000# of her, as the snubber line
pulled back. "We're Hooked!" I shouted, and we shut down.
So, there we were, at anchor for the first time in nearly 2 years. What a
feeling it was to be rocked to sleep, again, with the soft whoosh of the
KISS wind generator above us, and the stars shining down through the window
we'd installed in our hatch over the bed. Ahhhhh.
So, once settled in for a bit, we'd have to wait for an appropriate weather
window to head south. But first, let's have another tour around the boat to
see about our through-hulls and everything else which connects to the
outside watery world. Yikes. The engine pan (the fiberglass pan under the
engine, above the bilge, designed to catch any oil which might escape from
the engine, before it went into the bilge) had LOTS of water in it, and
there was a steady drip from the hose under the raw water pump (the thing
which pumps sea water through the heat exchanger to cool the diesel, much
the same effect as a radiator on a car or truck).
I'll spare you the agony, other than to say that we went through everything,
including replacing the hose, to make that quit, including several times
taking the pump off the engine. No such luck. It STILL leaks. More of the
same protection from stultification from an overdose of information, I won't
tell you of all that we went through to resolve it, other than than it
involved waiting a week for parts from eBay and a pump vendor to be sent to
City Marina, which was across the way, after having been rudely rebuffed
from the private marina which shall remain nameless, but is the only one in
the middle of Causeway Island in Ft. Pierce. A week later, we had all that
in hand, the several pumps I had rebuilt, and the new one mounted. Success.
No water from the outside of the pump! Immediately afterward, I cleaned up
the pads I'd so lovingly layered on the engine pan (so that even the
smallest drop of oil or coolant wouldn't mar the clean engine pan) and
replaced them with new.
But wait, there's more! The forward head ("bathroom" to most people)
Y-valve (the thing which allows you to direct your sewage either to a
holding tank or directly overboard) leaked. Again, saving you the gory
details, a replacement failed, an attempt at cannibalizing the OTHER two
spares I had failed, all due to breakage, and I gave up and ordered, again
to come to City Marina, a new-generation Y-valve.
Like everything on a boat, it was shockingly expensive for what you got, but
the much bigger detail was that it wasn't the same size as what we took off.
I'd been putting off doing this for years, accumulating more spares of an
obsolete design, because the new ones available were either equilateral
triangle type, which would have a totally misaligned orientation to fit into
the current plumbing, or much larger than the "football goal posts" design
we had before. Therefore, some major alterations to the plumbing system
might have to occur in order to make this new one work. In addition,
because of the old hose we'd been using causing, due to stiffness, our prior
breakage issues, I ordered the only length of new hose available, and which
could arrive in less than a week for a shipping charge which was only
painful rather than excruciating - 12.5 feet - which would absolutely,
positively, not ever have a "head smell" to it. A 20 year history with the
product assured me I could depend on it...
Sure enough, both arrived in due course, while we sat and stewed. Without
the raw water pump, we couldn't run the engine, and without a working
Y-valve, we couldn't be legal in inland waters, where discharge of untreated
sewage is not allowed. Much temporary measuring, fitting, removal and
replacement convinced me that not only would I not have to do any surgery on
the existing plumbing, we'd be able to get away with only a 4" chunk of that
1/4 roll (a roll is 50') of sanitary hose. The actual fitting involved lots
of contortion and grunting, along with repositioning a standoff for the PVC
pipe with which, during our initial refit after purchase, I'd replaced all
the stinky hose which came with the forward head, along with a shortening of
the hose leading to the holding tank (that place you put the untreated
sewage until having it pumped out), but in the end, worked just fine.
So, here we still are in the same place, nearly two weeks into our
"shakedown cruise," and we've scarcely moved since we went in the water.
Our time at anchor was a forced wait, and offered us an opportunity to use
the new grill which we'd bought to replace our rusting previous trusty
dinner-maker and fish-griller. I turned my attention to the task of getting
it to work, digging up the old address I'd had for the grill manufacturer,
and wrote off to see what should be done.
Fortunately, we not only were receiving our packages and mail at City
Marina, we were also their guests on their WiFi system. All of the
parts-ordering had been done, easily, at anchor. So, email was easy, too.
Luckily, I'd been in correspondence with the grill maker when we first got
it, again because of a regulator (the thing which controls the gas to the
grill) issue. Again, shortening the story, because they'd been having
difficulty with the type I had, another, different model, regulator was
sent. As is becoming common, now, nothing's simple, and I'll spare you the
details, but a complete disassembly later, and the receipt of a file from
the company displaying tricks of the trade which could increase our gas
flow, eventually worked such that we now have heat. Unfortunately, we now
also have wind, and it's strong enough that we can't cook on the grill.
Fortunately, Lydia does a great job with the fresh vegetables we'd brought
aboard, and we have yet to miss a meal! However, on the first reasonably
calm day, we'll christen the new grill.
Before we'd left Ft. Pierce, we had provisioned such that only fresh food
would be required as we went along on our shakedown. But, we'd been here so
long, our fresh stuff had been nearly exhausted. Fortunately, one of our
anchorage buddies told us where to find our closest grocery store, only
about a mile away. On the day when the last of our parts arrived, only a
thin envelope, we went ashore to go shopping, intending to pick up our last
pump parts as we returned.
When we were cruising in the Bahamas, we'd bought a pull-behind, folding
cart which served us well on our treks to the stores we favored. Carrying
the folded one like a briefcase, we secured our dinghy to the City Marina
dock and set out on foot. We had gotten only about halfway when a horn
blatted at us, and we heard "SKIP!! LYDIA!" from our left. Whipping our
heads around, our friend Bruce was in his truck, offering to take us and
deliver us back.
As this sort of thing happens only sometimes in our cruising, and we already
knew him from all the advice and assistance we'd traded back and forth about
our boats, we accepted. As our list was short (only eggs and fresh
veggies), we were out and on our way quickly. As it happened, Bruce and we
had mutual friends from the Seven Seas Cruising Association who were
arriving in their boat that evening, and wanted to go to dinner with us that
night. So, we dinghied back to our boat, put away our groceries and had our
afternoon cocktail while we awaited our friends' arrival.
Sure enough, as we're tilting the last into our throats, Equinox heaves into
view, and throws out the hook next to us. Their crew, Dave and Trish,
dinghy over to say hello, and check that our dinner arrangements are still
in effect. Sure enough, all is well, and we set out again, crossing the
Intra-Coastal Waterway on the way into City Marina, from which we'll walk
the couple of blocks to our restaurant. All was extremely well, and
fellowship flourished. Sated with good food and good friendship, we took
our two dinghies over to the anchorage and turned in. Another great day
while we were waiting to have it all done!
Our finish to our visit to Ft. Pierce was time with Ted and Diane, a couple
with a bread-and-breakfast business in THEIR home, Boatel, who were visiting
the area. After we'd had dinner ashore, and wandered the FFFF (First Friday
Festival in Ft.Pierce), we returned to our home, anxious to get under way.
Our target was Lake Worth, the body of water between West Palm Beach and the
affluent island of Palm Beach.
But that's a story for another day, this having gone on for long enough for
one missive, I think. You can see some of our shakedown pictures as a
subgallery of the 2011-2012 Refit gallery. Depending on when you see this,
there may well be pictures missing, as I've not had enough time to process
all of them yet. However, as time goes on, all of the shakedown pictures
will make it up there
As annoying as the above is/was in the development of the "squawk list,' it
was just the beginning...
So, until next time, stay tuned!
Morgan 461 #2
SV Flying Pig KI4MPC
See our galleries at www.justpickone.org/skip/gallery !
Follow us at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/TheFlyingPigLog
When a man comes to like a sea life, he is not fit to live on land.
- Dr. Samuel Johnson
Morgan 461 #2
SV Flying Pig KI4MPC
See our galleries at www.justpickone.org/skip/gallery !
Follow us at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/TheFlyingPigLog
When a man comes to like a sea life, he is not fit to live on land.
- Dr. Samuel Johnson
- Dear Skip,
We met when you visited our roundtable on Asian sailing at the SSCA Melbourne
2011 Gam. Loved your blog, though couldn't pull up the photos.
We can truly relate to your recent post splash trials and tribulations, as we
just splashed 2 weeks ago in Grenada after ZEELANDER had been on the hard at
Spice Island Marine since early May. We lived aboard the last three months of
that sojourn, catching up on all the big and little things that had been put
We only got as far as Petit Martinique be foe the storage gremlins hit: the
starboard engine wouldn't restart...and had a bilge full of fresh water...a
whole tank's worth! Several days later, the leak was traced to a worn hose in
the cockpit shower, so we replaced the shower with a new-to-us unit bought at
the Annapolis Gam flea market. John ended up rebuilding an old starter engine
and last Tuesday, we were off again to check in to the Grenadines at Union
Island. Four days later, still here, as the port engine valves were clicking,
indicating a need for adjustment. Galley bilge pump wires were corroded and
the watermaker wouldn't start without a new switch installed. Only made two
gallons before shutting down, so another work in progress ensues.
Fixing boats in Exotic places is a recurring activity needing to be constantly
relearned, but it could be worse...we could be freezing in NJ!
We expect to haul out for the Hurricane season at Palmas Del Mar in Puerto
Rico this year, then decide next season whether to stay longer down here in
the Caribbean or start up to FL through the Bahamas. We've never sailed there
yet, even though we circumnavigated both the world and the Caribbean, so maybe
it's time as we approach 80! Hope to see you there,one of these years.
Suzanne and John
SY ZEELANDER 39' Privilege Catamaran