Whole lotta shakin' goin' on, revisited - Part 5...
When we left you, we'd arrived at Fernandina Beach, parked outside of the
paper plant. I'm guessing that they have done some air quality work since
the last time we were here 5 years ago, as we've not really smelled it,
other than the faintest whiff while were 3 miles away.
The next day, we moved to be closer to the anchorage, and connected our WiFi
to the public dock station. Our new in-laws, Ralph and Darlene Roellig
drove down and met us for supper, and on a couple of other days, we explored
the town. As always, a book swap is like a traveling library for cruisers,
and the local coffee shop where we stopped had one! Of course, in our
limited space, we have to take out books whenever we gain more, so we
donated several more than we took, having read a great deal since the last
On the way in to town, as is our custom, we stopped at neighboring boats
both to introduce ourselves and to offer to take garbage bags to the bins.
There we met Phil and Madie, whose boat we saw making a trip to the dock,
and back out to the anchorage. While they had no garbage, they invited us
for sundowners. We enjoyed each others' company, so made arrangements to go
to the Farmers' Market the next morning. While Madie and Lydia shopped,
Phil and I talked shop, about his troubled outboard. Walking through it
with him, it seemed as though his problem was electrical.
Sure enough, as we worked through his engine later, it proved to be his
safety disconnect switch. Enough fiddling with it, and it was fixed; the
engine ran reliably. Chuffed with our diagnosis, we invited them for dinner
All went well until the time for them to depart. Their dinghy was GONE!
While it was pitch black, being well after cruisers' midnight, we still
jumped in our dinghy to see if we could find it. What with the current and
the wind, we felt it likely went off into the marshes upstream from were we
were, but gave up shortly later in impossible-to-see conditions, even with a
However, after we delivered them back to their boat and announcements were
made to the general public, the coast guard, and the local sherrif, they
hailed a passing fisherman early the next morning, asking him to have a
lookout as he went up the river. Sure enough, when he returned, he'd
spotted it, and Phil and I were able to retrieve it from up a small creek in
the marsh. Once out, it started reliably and all was well.
Time and time again we prove that we are blessed; all of our excitements
have come to good end, and always while we're at anchor.
While we were in Fernandina, we were hailed by a friend we'd met in the
workyard in Ft. Pierce. He'd been gone and returned from the Bahamas in the
time it took for us to get launched and up here, and had met some mutual
friends in the Bahamas. Coincidentally, they came into Fernandina Beach
while we were anchoring near the mooring field, so they came over to Steve's
boat, Slow Flight for another set of sundowners with Jo, who'd sold the boat
we knew, and bought another. We continue to find people who we've not seen
for years, in the most unlikely (not that the originals were any more
likely!) places, and pick right up as though it were yesterday.
They were both headed out the next day, so we didn't get to spend any more
time with them on this trip, but Phil and Madie and we headed upriver to
Cumberland Island. We've wanted to go to the island on our prior trips
past, but there was always some schedule preventing, so we jumped at the
Cumberland Island is a US National Park and Marine Forest, a gift of the
Carnegie family. It's entirely primitive other than there are toilets,
electricity and running water at a few locations for the wilderness campers,
the museum and Rangers' offices and maintenance buildings. No trash
barrels, no place to buy souvenirs, or any of the other ways to spoil
wilderness, the island is entirely wild other than for the Greyfield Hotel
(a 7 room B&B with its own ferry service to St. Marys Ga), and the remaining
life-estate homes of the descendants from the time when Dungeness, the
Carnegie mansion, was operating early in the 1900s.
Otherwise, it's 20+ miles long, interspersed with hiking trails, and the
opportunity to see lots of wildlife up close and personal as, of course,
hunting isn't permitted on the island. We had two separate encounters with
one of the herds of wild horses, a 5-feet-away extended encounter with an
adolescent doe, many turkeys, and even an alligator.
We spent a week exploring and marveling at how they must have lived with
their 300 servants and other employees. If you get the chance, take the
ferry from St. Marys GA over for the day, or if you're wilderness campers,
for camping; you will love it.
After our week in Cumberland Sound, we motored (no wind, again) down the
sound and up the St. Marys River to an anchorage off the marsh, on the
Florida side of the river, the GA side being chock-a-block with crab pot
bouys, and further in, very deep channel of the river (no longer marked
above the main street in St. Marys, Osborne Street, in any of the charts,
electronic or paper, that we had - and we later learned in talking with
other cruisers that it's that way with everyone). Once on the hook again,
in a 5-knot reversing tidal current, we started in to deal with some issues
which had come up in this passage, but had not (as has been the case in
every instance of the many things addressed in this shakedown) needed
attention until we were at anchor.
If you've been following this shakedown saga (very little sailing, lots of
waiting for parts and then making repairs/rebuilding), you know that we've
met and solved lots of challenges. However, the trip up to Fernandina was
motorsailing or plain motoring, the longest we've done for years, about 40
hours, total, and coming to St. Marys added a few more.
We've also been searching, casually, for about 5 years, for new crush
washers for the pressure pump on our Perkins 4-154, because we had a very
small leak at one of the fuel line banjo bolts (banjo bolts being how fuel
is carried from a hole in a device, connected to a fuel line on, typically,
an injector or a pump; leaks are prevented with washers intended to crush to
seal). It's no longer small, and close inspection disclosed another leak
So, investigation intensified, and, eventually, we did indeed isolate the
proper parts. In the interim, while we got to that point, I worked on
getting the banjo bolt loose, it having resisted turning at a level at which
I was afraid to apply more force for fear of breaking it. We did find them,
courtesy of Bruce McCampbell, a very old (well, we've known each other for
10 or more years, and he was of great assistance in our recent refit, having
his boat in the same yard as well) friend who had a mechanic he felt knew
everything there was to know about rebuilding pressure pumps.
I'll save you that saga other than to say he was right, and new washers were
on their way quickly. By the time we got them I'd managed to make the banjo
bolt move, and I replaced the crush washers. No joy, it still leaked a
In the short time we'd been in St. Marys, however, we'd met a variety of
cruisers and residents; they universally recommended a local mechanic who
was able to come to the boat the next day. Again, saving you the saga,
after many different things were tried, we replaced the steel crush washers
with copper washers, which he had on his truck, and that joint was sound
However, the rebuilder had felt all along that the pump would need to be
rebuilt (details omitted here for the squeamish), and suggested that my
tightening the bolts on another part which leaked through a paper-gasketed
seal would be fruitless. It required dropping the starter, but I did it
anyway, as I could hardly lose to do so. Sure enough, it didn't stop the
leak, but it did slow it down. We'll have to see if we feel comfortable in
continuing like that, or if we need to immediately return to S. FL to have
him do the replacement and/or rebuild (I'd think he'd install an
off-the-shelf rebuild and then rebuild ours in his leisure - but I'm also
reasonably certain that he can do this in his sleep, the reason we'd make
the trip back to him rather than trust someone whose "chops" we've not seen
demonstrated). However, in our usual sailing mode, the engine nearly never
runs, and, it doesn't leak when it runs, as well as, per my and the
mechanic's opinions, runs like a top, the leak excepted, so we may try to
salvage some of this summer before we're once again chasing the warm weather
In addition, for reasons we've yet to determine, our Frigoboat refrigeration
system isn't doing the job. Part of it was the new gasketing I put on
(after removing the gasketing we did in the yard - *that* regasketing had
been done while we were moored in Vero Beach) on small portions of the area
being sealed, the swing of the doors not making the configuration I'd used
work well), but we believe we must either have some moisture in the system,
or some sort of blockage which comes and goes. At this writing, it's not yet
been solved, and I've enlisted the US distributor of this system to help me
diagnose and cure the problem.
So, here we are in historic, scenic St. Marys GA, just down the road from
the Kings Bay submarine base, home of the largest part of the US nuclear
armory, and a bunch of submarines and support vessels and aircraft. We got
to see some of that on the way in from the ocean on our passage (part 4),
and again while we were anchored off Cumberland Island.
We've started to explore the area and meet people, but that will have to
wait until the next installment.
So, until next time, Stay Tuned!
Morgan 461 #2
SV Flying Pig KI4MPC
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