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Whole lotta shakin' goin' on, revisited - Part 2...

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  • Flying Pig
    Whole lotta shakin goin on, revisited - Part 2... When we left you, a little more than 2 months ago, after spending two weeks at anchor resolving a bunch of
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 21, 2013
      Whole lotta shakin' goin' on, revisited - Part 2...

      When we left you, a little more than 2 months ago, after spending two weeks
      at anchor resolving a bunch of problems all at once, we were about to
      finally leave Ft. Pierce.

      Our purpose and general activity, to bring those who have wondered where
      we've been for the last two years up to speed, was to do a shakedown cruise
      of our home which we had worked on for most of the time since our last
      cruising report. As much as we'd done to the boat, and as relatively green
      as we are as mariners, compounded by our not having sailed in a couple of
      years likely depreciating whatever proficiency we might have had before, we
      felt that exercising all the sytems - and the captains! - within easy reach
      of TowBoatUS (ya never know) and the various chandleries which abound in the
      US would be a good idea before we started crossing oceans again.

      It was thus we set out on our first leg of that shakedown, from Ft. Pierce
      to Lake Worth, the body of water between the Palm Beaches, on February 9th.
      Recall that we were in the anchorage south of Causeway Island; we'd have to
      clear that, go north under the bridge, and then turn out the Ft. Pierce

      The anchor came up with little discussion at 8:15 (recall that this was new
      to us and the first time in the water; it's REALLY big, and a scoop rather
      than plow, so we didn't know what we'd face). Unfortunately for us, both
      the wind and the current, which was stiff at the time (we'd normally wait
      for favorable tides, but we wanted to be on the hook again before dark) was
      directly against us, so we motored, which is against our religion.

      However, once again, we were stunned to see how fast we were going. Our
      backbreaking (and, seemingly never-ending) work on the bottom and engine
      alignments, and whatever else we did to make it work better, paid off
      handsomely, as our through-the-water speed was gratifyingly 6 knots - faster
      than our 3.2knot speed over ground, most likely further diminished by the
      stiff headwind.

      An hour later, we turned south, having cleared the onshore obstructions, on
      a very broad reach - with the rock and roll due to the swells, we were
      between 120-150° to our port quarter. We headed 156°T with an apparent
      10-12 knots wind, but we were doing 7.2-7.8knots SOG (speed over ground), so
      the real winds were more in the range of 15-20. I concluded that all the
      freeing up, alignment, and lubrication we did on our speedometer
      paddlewheels (they send a magnetic impulse as they rotate past the head of
      the sensor) must have made them extremely more effective than before, as we
      just refused to believe our eyes in the speeds we were seeing. Each of our
      three - one in the fishfinder, centered forward, and one each Datamarine and
      Raymarine amidships - were reading in the high 8s. We'd have to do some
      calm-water/no-current calibrations, it looks like. Ah, well, that (along
      with the stuff which actually BREAKS) is the point of the shakedown, right?

      By this time, it was getting a bit rolly, so we bore up (headed a bit
      upwind) in order to stiffen the boat. With the wind a bit more sideways to
      the sails, it made it more difficult to bounce into the wind every time the
      wave went under us. Unfortunately for our comfort (it was never really
      "uncomfortable" - we've been in some truly uncomfortable seas, but this was
      just a nuisance), the wind died a bit, to an apparent 6 knots, and we
      wallowed through 100-120-150° and back again. None the less, we continued
      to make 6.4-7.2knots SOG on our course of 153°M.

      It was a beautiful day for our first sail in more than 2 years, and we
      enjoyed every minute of it. Dead reckoning had us inside Lake Worth well
      before sunset, and about all there was to do was to look out and give thanks
      for the privilege of being here and doing this.

      By 2PM, the wind clocked a bit, allowing us to turn downwind, bringing us
      back on a line to intersect the entry to Lake Worth, 170°T - but the wind
      was dying, too, with only a few "horses" on the horizon at the apparent 4
      knots we were seeing. As the wind continued to clock, we turned a little
      further downwind into a counter current. We still made 5knots velocity made

      By 4:30, we had our anchor down in an anchorage much changed since our last
      visit. Last time, we'd had a good enough connection that our VoIP (voice
      over internet protocol) phone worked perfectly, but this time found only
      marginal signals. Over the next couple of days, we'd move a couple of
      times, either shopping for WiFi or for water. We ended up on the edge of
      the channel coming into the turning basin, which avoided the "things that go
      bump in the night" - a couple of instances of touching bottom at extreme low
      tide. This was securely deep enough, and had a passable WiFi throughput for
      our various email and surfing, but still not good enough for telephone. As
      we were short-timers there, we grin-and-bear'd it.

      However, in one of those moves, I noted that our engine's alternator, which
      had been putting out a reliable 70Amps, suddenly dropped to the low teens.
      As there was also wind and sunshine creating incoming amperate, I couldn't
      even be sure of that. Ah, well, another of our shakedown breakdowns, the
      reason for doing this. An inspection showed that the regulator, mounted to
      a plug-point on the rear of the alternator, had a broken wire. That would
      do it!

      Fortunately, I had a couple of spare alternators in stock, and swapping it
      out wasn't much of a deal. However, it wasn't yet the LAST rotating part on
      the engine to go bad in this shakedown. Anyway, I got the new one
      installed, and changed the belt while I was at it, as the one which was on
      there was at the end of its travel. Those with us for a REAL long time will
      recall the time when we were getting about 10 hours per belt, but moving to
      the right size pulley, along with the right type of belt has allowed us
      about 200 hours per change. In order to try to stretch (pardon the
      expression) that a bit, as the belt I removed still looked to be in great
      shape, I've gone to a belt which requires me to manually turn the engine in
      order to mount it. Fortunately, my 38" sleeve arms, and a large screwdriver
      engaged in the crankshaft pulley bolts allows me to reach and easily do that
      2/3 rotation. Once actually ON the alternator, I can tighten it the tiny
      amount of available adjustment - but I'd bet I'll get 20 or 30 extra hours
      out of a change due to that extra length of adjustment :{))

      As we sat, waiting for our next weather window, we met some dear cruising
      friends on Gusto, currently in dock south of there, for lunch, and, on
      another day, toured Peanut Island. Unfortunately for us, the park was
      closed, being a weekday not in the summer, so we didn't get to tour either
      the Coast Guard museum or the bunker (Kennedy's evacuation bunker was in
      this spoil island in the 60s).

      I also repaired the inoperative depth sounder at the nav station, one of our
      squawk-list items which had turned up on this voyage. As it was a bit messy
      in terms of access, I'd waited until we got here to tackle it. I'd thought
      it was an electrical issue, something I've encountered before, but it turned
      out to be that the housing for it had come loose from where it had been
      glued to the hull. As that housing has to contain water, all of it had
      leaked out, and there wasn't a reading.

      Some sanding, cleaning, and aggressive caulk later, I remounted and filled
      the housing and reinserted the depth sender. Voila, there's now an accurate
      depth showing at the nav station. If this is shakedown-breakdowns, while
      it's a nuisance, and cropping up one after the other, I'm sure glad it's
      happening when we're at anchor, instead of under way where something
      critical would be a great deal more difficult to deal with. Like all of our
      shakedown repairs and experiences, pix of this event can be seen by clicking
      our gallery below and navigating to the 2011-2012 refit.

      A week after we arrived, we (again, without excitement) raised the anchor
      and set off for Ft. Lauderdale on February 16th. We were moving at 8:30,
      and out the inlet by 9AM. Again we had a very broad reach, this time ~120°
      to starboard. Our new (well, my replacement) alternator was chugging along
      at 60Amps over what we were using as we motorsailed a bit in really sloppy
      seas and only 4-8 knots apparent wind (not enough to stabilize us!)

      Of course, everything changes in cruising; by a little after 11AM the wind
      picked up a bit, and backed as well, allowing us to get a lot better angle.
      As the winds were still pretty light, we felt it would be a good time to
      break out the new staysail, as yet not flown. Up she went, and we tightened
      the leeward running backstay, supporting the mast where there was now a
      great deal of pressure due to what would be a full-sized jib on a fractional
      (the forestay doesn't attach to the very top of the mast) rig, and turned
      off the engine.

      With 8-10 knots at an apparent 75-90°, we kicked butt at 7.1knots SOG and
      7.8knots through the water (Hm. Maybe they DON'T need calibration?) in
      flat water (we were heeled only 7-10°), due to the wind coming from the
      west, and our staying close to shore, of necessity to avoid the Gulf Stream,
      roaring by in the opposite direction, only a couple of miles offshore. By
      noon, the wind clocked, necessitating a slight turn to the right, which was
      OK, as that was how the coast ran, anyway. At 188°T, and the wind picking
      up to 12-18, we picked up a bit of speed to 7.5SOG, but with the flat water
      and nearly no heel (10° or less), it was a fantastic sail.

      This would prove to be a pattern - changing winds - as, by 1PM we came back
      to 180°T to keep the wind at 80-100° apparent as it built, and our speed
      came up to 7.4-8.2knots. By 2 PM, it was getting a bit messy with gusts
      over 20, which allowed us brief periods over 8.5knots SOG, which was now
      FASTER than our through the water speeds. Hm. This may need more study...

      The wind continued to build so at 2:30 we rolled in the genoa, just to see
      how we'd sail on staysail and main. We lost speed, of course, with the
      removal of that big sail out front, but still managed 6.5knots. By 3PM, we'd
      turned the corner and dropped the sails. Because we'd consulted our guide
      book, we knew that there was a bridge which would open at 4PM - and not
      again before 4:30 - so we pushed our sturdy craft forward with the engine,
      arriving what should have been barely timely. Somehow, we wound up having
      to wait for what seemed a very long time, but by 4:30 we were again on the

      We knew, from talking with other cruisers, that there was an anchorage which
      could be accessed from the Intra-Coastal Waterway, Lake Sylvia. Our charts
      suggested it would be very marginal for us, and, indeed, though we followed
      the instructions about how to enter, we touched a couple of times on the way
      in. Anxious, we spoke with a boat we were passing, who assured us that
      there was 8' all around there, so we turned up into the strong wind, and
      once again threw out the hook.

      I did my usual routine of allowing the anchor to bite, and then letting out
      successive chunks of chain all at once, allowing it to jerk harder each
      successive length. Because of our close positions, I kept the rode (the
      length of chain between the boat and the anchor) to what I consider a
      minimum ratio of about 5-1 (I like to sleep at night). As usual, Lydia
      backed down hard on the last section, the snubber line stretched mightily,
      and we came forward again after she got off the throttle.

      After we'd tended to getting shipshape again, I was below and saw a boat out
      a port. It was moving swiftly, forward. As the only boat was anchored
      there, I concluded that we must be moving backward! YIKES! This is close
      quarters, and, regardless, one NEVER wants to drag. In particular, our new
      anchor shouldn't - but, there we were.

      "WE'RE MOVING!" I shouted to Lydia and sprang to turn on the engine. Key
      turns, and there is NOTHING - not a R-R-R-r-r-r, not a clunk, not a click.
      Panic time. No engine, and we're dragging.

      But wait. We're not. We're merely swinging at anchor in opposing
      directions. Phew! Out come the tools and I determine that the only
      possible answer is a broken starter (I'll save you the diagnostic
      descriptions, other than to say that the hammer/screwdriver-tap and
      shortings had no effect).

      Well, here we are in the marine capitol of the US. Surely there's someplace
      I can get this fixed. On line in usable, but not ideal, WiFi, I look around
      and see many places which should be able to rebuild this starter (last
      rebuilt in 2007, in Charleston - actually, a rebuilt off the shelf, with
      mine turned in). Then I called another fellow cruiser, this one a retired
      Rolls-Royce master mechanic, who lived in Ft. Lauderdale. He recommended a
      shop about a mile away. Coincidentally, we were visited the same day by a
      cruiser anchored in Lake Sylvia; he knew the shop well and recommended them
      as well. Well, that settles that.

      A phone call determines that they can, indeed, rebuild both our starter and
      our alternator. As I'd had, way down on my to-do list, getting a spare
      starter, it seemed appropriate to ask; yes, indeed, they had new ones in
      stock, at a price lower than I'd recalled from my Charleston inquiry (which
      is why I didn't get one then). Righty, then! We'll go there, drop the two
      bad ones off, and wait for instructions.

      That turned out to be a bit exciting, as a full-sized Delco starter for our
      engine weighs a LOT, and the alternator isn't all that light, either. Before
      we destroyed our pull-behind cart, we called a cab company. We'd stopped in
      front of a bank, which had a cab in front of it; we were at the shop in
      minutes. The tech spun off the backs of the starter and alternator's bolts,
      and it was apparent that it was time for that rebuild. No problem, we'll do

      Afoot, now, we set off to what was until recently, the largest West Marine
      store in the world, carrying two foul-weather gear jackets which had had
      failures. West will honor nearly anything with their label for life, and
      this was no exception; we got new jackets, and, to boot, after the discounts
      from the current sale, had $100 to play with later. We spent some of it on
      another wheeled cart, being fearful for the life of our current one, and are
      expecting that we'll be able to use up the balance sometime during this

      Out the door we go, to SailorMan, a huge facility of used, consigned and
      surplus gear, just down the street (literally). I love these sorts of
      places but you can't go, really, expecting anything. Instead, it's just
      opportunities which present themselves. Fortunately for us, Lydia found a
      new pair of flippers (her foot portion had died), I found some VERY obscure
      fender inflation parts (better yet, they were free) and some strapping with
      big stainless steel hooks. As we secure our dinghy in the davits with just
      this sort of stuff, but mild steel encased in plastic, and which tends to
      rust, at $3 total for 4 large SS hooks, two stainless steel rachets and a
      lot of webbing, we were happy campers as we walked back to our dinghy.

      Our rebuilds were scheduled for only a couple of days out, so we just
      chilled out a bit on the boat, relaxing. Once we retrieved them (on a taxi
      ride altogether, this time, as we'd not only be hauling the two heavy items
      we'd taken there, we'd also have a new starter), and came back to the boat,
      both starters and the alternator had no protective paint on them, let alone
      the famous Perkins blue - so I painted them before mounting.

      As the new starter was a new generation, and APPEARED to be much smaller in
      capacity, I wanted to mount that one first, keeping our now-rebuilt original
      for a spare. As it's made differently, it presented some challenges,
      chiefly that it's actually longer than the other, and necessitated taking
      out the oil low-pressure sender, a bit of a scary enterprise which turned
      out of no event, as there was no runout when I took it out.

      However, once mounted, I noted that the solenoid on this unit is quite
      different, and the "hot" line - the one with the honking-big red cable
      attached to it - came within about 1/10" of one of the fuel pressure lines.
      YIKES! Also, the other connection on the solenoid, the one the low power
      connection is made to, is now nearly out of reach underneath the two
      aforementioned items. As I, from time to time, need to get to that with a
      clip on a mechanic's starter button, that was an annoyance at best.
      However, a trial engagement with the battery in the "off" position showed me
      that it was a contortionistic move but COULD be done so I relaxed. As there
      was sufficient room to attach the red cable (it didn't get hung up in the
      small gap between the post and the pressure line), that, too, became a
      non-issue, as the only time that would be revisited would be if we had to
      remove the starter for whatever reason. However, while I have a spare
      solenoid for the original starter, as I'd expected, from the vehemence of
      the tech when I asked him about having the specific starter in stock, that
      I'd be getting another identical to mine. When it wasn't, I'd not been
      prepared for asking if they were the same; I'll have to research and buy a
      spare for this new starter, too, dangit!

      Oh, ya, the starter works fine, relying on gearing for the horses/RPMs
      needed to crank Perky. This installation completed the replacement and/or
      rebuild of every external rotating part on our diesel...

      Once again, we've been watched over and protected. All of our failures have
      happened at anchor, rather than when it might be a great deal more difficult
      to deal with. We rejoiced in that by taking the next few days to explore
      some of the waterways around our anchorage, going up the New River, for
      miles and miles. Unfortunately, timing was such that we were bucking
      current the entire way, coming and going, on our trips, but the exploring
      and visiting the museums was entertaining while we were there.

      Eventually, of course, we need to get back to Ft. Pierce, and up to Vero
      Beach, in order to go off to visit children, grandchildren, and a wedding,
      so, reluctantly, we looked for our next weather window. We'd fully expected
      to get to the Keys, or even to the Dry Tortugas on this shakedown, but the
      weather in the coming days was just exactly opposite of what we'd need to
      avoid having to "drive" back. So, we abandoned anywhere south and made

      With that I'll leave you in Part 2 of our shakedown - a couple of
      exhilarating and gratifying sails, lots more broken parts (by now, every
      external rotating part on the engine has been removed and rebuilt or
      replaced or both, e.g.) successfully and relatively inconsequentially
      resolved, and the new feeling of being guests in our own country. We've
      been exploring just as we would if we were cruising internationally, much to
      our benefit and enjoyment.

      So, until next time, Stay Tuned!



      Morgan 461 #2
      SV Flying Pig KI4MPC
      See our galleries at www.justpickone.org/skip/gallery !
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      When a man comes to like a sea life, he is not fit to live on land.
      - Dr. Samuel Johnson
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