Saturday, January 23, 2016

Smoke Test

Back when we were in the Abacos and heading south we had a major system failure. The following describes what happened.

Every hour we are underway yours truly goes down below to check the following:

1. Bilges
2. State of charge
3. Engine room
    a. Look for Leaks
    b. Smell anything weird?
    c. Strange sounds?
    d. Belt melting?
    e. Regulator/Charger indicators normal?
    f. Exhaust leaks?
    g. Battery temp
    h. Fuel filter gauge normal?
    i . Filter bowl clear?

 4. Drive shaft seal check
 5. Rudder shaft seal check
 6. Is the beer where it should be?

If we are sailing with the engine off I will still take the time to go below and perform every check except number three.

I'm down below on one of my rounds and I am at Number 2 on the list and we are not charging. Interesting. I get to 3e and all is normal. Noted. Regulator indicates normality but we aren't getting anything in the battery bank while motoring along on this lovely day. Noted and confused. Do I have an alternator issue? Another hour goes by and we are charging normally again. Anomaly? I actually dislike that word. I can't count how many times at work a machine would do something completely stupid and then go back to normal for weeks or months only to have that "weird thing" happen again only this time it's fatal, usually on a Friday afternoon. There is a reason for everything. Anomaly is a label for something we wish away and hope never to see again. We had a manager that was an anomaly.

In the dark corners of my mind and right next to the room of High Anxiety (door number 3) is the room of This Ain't Normal and It Will Bite Me in the Ass Eventually (Door number 4). Three and four are adjoining rooms. Behind door number 4 you will find a mainsail that's progressively hard to bring down. A continually rusting rudder. The outboard that needs more and more choke to run right and that lump that keeps getting bigger. Now I can toss the quirky engine charging system into that room.

So Deb says to me later while we are motoring along, "You feel more vibration?" I jump below and make the rounds again. I stopped at step two again and checked the state of charge. Shit! No charging at all. I stop at 3e.  Shit God damn the regulator is dark. No lights. Well this can't be good for cruising to far away places. I wasn't too awful worried about the charging. We could always hump it back to Marsh Harbor and buy a new alternator with a built in regulator. The thing that really freaked me out was that Deb could sense the change in the load on the motor just by vibration. Whoa! Deb is like one with the boat now. She's like a Jedi. This scares me a little. We could be down to the last good bottle of beer and with the wave of her hand she could say, "You don't really want that beer". I don't really want that beer. She would then snatch the last winter lager and I would be left drinking the box wine.

We motored on without getting any charge from the alternator and eventually dropped the hook in our anchorage. I went below to the engine room for the next four hours. I found a blown fuse from the alternator to the regulator. Ten amps. Damn. I only had twenty to replace it with. Hmm (this means stupid thoughts are rolling by). I remember getting mad at an electrician once who decided he could find the troubled piece of electronics the easy way by going up in fuse size and seeing what "Burnt up". He said, "Tired of screwing around here son, so we're going to smoke it out." He did, and so did I. I popped that 20 amp fuse right in there and watched in shock and with some perverse fascination as the Balmar ARS-5 regulator lit up like some of the bridge controls on the Starship Enterprise whenever they got attacked. Snap crackle pop!

What's with those indicator lights on the Bridge of the Enterprise? Why they all flashing at random? How stupid was that? Think about flying a plane and having just one light start flashing. WTF Over! Now imagine travelling across star systems in the pure vacuum of space and all those alarm lights are fucking going off. I can't even watch the show anymore. WTF Scotty!

Debra the electrical engineer was mostly at a desk working on designs throughout her long smarty pants career. I spent most of my corporate servitude in the field and factory with deranged individuals. When I came up topsides through a few wispy tendrils of the cooked remains of a regulator, I looked at Deb and said in a good ole boy accent, "And that right there is the smell of fried electronics." Emphasis on the fried. It was hard to read her expression at the time. What does one look like when they realize they sailed away with a crazy person?

OK, so it's not the alternator then. This was good because I had a spare regulator/charger still mounted from the old charging system. I pulled the alternator and checked it out and it looked good. I then wired it to the old Heart Interface charger and Bingo! We are charging. Phew! Advice from the field: If you are replacing working old gear with new, save the old in case the new turns out to be junk.

In hindsight I should have checked the alternator and then just wired it to the old regulator and left the Balmar just sitting there doing nothing. Curiosity can be dangerous. That damn Balmar unit lit up like a damn sparkler on the 4th. Not something you really want to happen in an engine room.

We bought the Balmar system before we left NY and it's only really been in use while cruising which isn't very long. C'mon Balmar! The insane prices we pay for this stuff, only to have it crap out in a year or two is very irritating. This is why there is beer.

Cheers! May the Force be with you.

Not sure why I threw this in. I came across it and marveled at what people do in relation to their dogs. This guy had to have looked at himself in the mirror yet still decided to venture outdoors. You have to thank him for having the balls to do this to make people laugh and have a story to tell at the dinner table.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Morning Tea, Georgetown, Exuma Island

Morning Tea posts are a brain dump of thoughts I have about where I am and what I'm doing at the time and anything else that happens to pop in there and then make it to the keyboard. Some days I do not have enough energy or material for a whole blog post and so I just spill it all into a post and see what happens. It's not always related to sailing or cruising. Sometimes I go way off the tracks.

Windows open. Windows close.

Weather window. Is it a Bay window or a frosted bathroom window. Can I fit through it?

Haweshole. What's a Haweshole?

Such a large amount of water for such a small hole

Remember to plug your hole in big waves

I should read more sailing books

I still have Dennis Conner's Sail Like a Champion book

Sail Like a Slacker. Anyone write that?

Hatch seals get pushed open by waves.

Wave breaks in front of hatches are not standard on sailboats.

Don't know why I'm on anchor watch all night after being in a blow all day. Obviously we aren't going anywhere.

It's the other guy

Mega yachts do drag.

Anchor alarms. Even our old Garmin 128 has one.

I love the the Spring.

Chicken Harbor, Chicken Harbor, Bawk bawk bawk!

Trying to live cheaply.

We should motor less. Repeat. Repeat.

Sailing always seems to be close hauled so the thorny path should be more of the usual. Right? Hahaha  I know.

Rolly Rolly Puke Puke. Exuma anchorages.

Spare pump parts would be handy. Who stocked this boat?

Try not to think about how "on your own" you really are in the Bahamas.

Name the places to haul out in the Bahamas

We have learned to avoid moorings

Some people can't resist a mooring.

Some people never pay for a mooring

There are fewer moorings

I have never been interested in blogging about our daily activities

I think we're hermits

Doc said walk more.

We walk everywhere when on land.

Deb hates the dinghy

Fresh vegetables. Why so scarce?

Apparently it's easy to confuse zucchini and cucumbers.

Greek Salad. My kingdom for a Greek salad...with cucumbers

I miss Olives

I paid $8 for a can of peanuts. $5 for olives seems reasonable.

Every time the engine is running I cross my fingers.

Arthritis hurts

We are salt encrusted. We glitter in the sun.

Every tool in my possession is getting rusty. I know what you're thinking.

The pointy end should not be the heavy end.

Aluminum toe rails are great for strapping things down.

Why do we strap things down near the bow?

Start the motor, then untie the dinghy. Duh.

Less beer. More rum

Make Mayan a Hawaiian

There's a method to my madness. No. Maybe madness in my methods.

I should write a book. Diary of a, that's been done. Diary of a smirking paranoid. There we go.

They do not put enough ink in pens.

I would read your blog but it gives me a migraine. Its not your writing.

Some blogs have white text on a black or blue background. Sorry, but it's a migraine trigger for me. Weird huh?

Why are pens so expensive? Ahh, nobody writes anymore.

Cheapest keyboard I could find is still working.

Power over patriotism. The flag casts a shadow over the solar panels. Flag less

We are not radio professionals. If I am on land calling the boat my handle is not Kelly Nicole Mobile. I am Jetpack! Long story. Deb is usually Laundry Lady.

Batteries spoil quickly in the heat and humidity. My Sony SSB receiver knows all about this.

My Sony SSB Receiver is toast.

We are kind of leaving a trail of hardware along the way. A trail of batteries anyway.

So far assholism has been kept at bay.

Stupid still reigns

I need to put a lock on those cabinet doors before the next beer storm hits

I need to snorkel more.

Every time I snorkel my left ear plugs up for weeks. What the hell. Does that mean there is seawater teaming with Copepods near my brain?

You ever see the movie Body Snatchers? The one with Donald Sutherland who points and shrieks at the woman at the end. Still scary.

The evening feeding frenzy under the boat is not a good bedtime lullaby.

Kids living on boats are amazing to see and hear.

I miss my grandsons

What's a Derecho? You don't want to know.

We have an awesome anchor

We have some anchor chain that just got introduced to saltwater

Anchored in 17 ft of water. Add 5 feet from bow to water. Multiply by 7 for stormy weather else 5. Easy eh? Don't forget the tides.

Anchor buddies. Why so close? Why such short scope?

We will miss the Bahamas.

Will we ever escape the Bahamas?

30 gallons per minute. It only took 1.5 yrs to get there.

The aft cabin is like a cone of silence for Deb.

A watermaker is expensive but I can't imagine being out here without it. Wait, yes I can.

I'm back on the coffee again. G-g-giddyup!

I talk quite a bit when under the influence of the bean.

I have no one to talk to once Deb is in the cone of silence. I should call people on the radio. "Magnolia, Kelly Nicole." Magnolia Here. "Sup dude!" Go away. Magnolia out. "Odin, Kelly Nicole" Odin, go ahead Kelly Nicole. "Hows the weather over there?" We're in the same harbor. WTF over! "What's for breakfast?" Ended 3 hrs ago. Odin out. "Dos Libras, Kelly Nicole. Dos Libras, Kelly Nicole. Dos Libras, Kelly Nicole"

Getting older ain't so bad when you are on an adventure

Adventures are not all day everyday. Thank God.

Naps are awesome

We could be heroes

I wish I had the power for a kick ass sound system

I tend to say hi to everyone. Not everyone replies.

I was told not to trust someone who smiles all the time. What about a smirk?

The pressure cooker did not explode

You can always find root vegetables in the Bahamas

Tofu has also been readily available. What!? I know, pretty cool right?
Why is it called Tofu? Poor marketing. Compressed brick of pureed Soy sounds way better.

Jolly Ranchers melt even when kept in the fridge.

Sweets are scarce and expensive. So are dentists.

Whenever I get into Debs chocolate she gives me the stink eye.

I need new glasses.

My good glasses broke about a year ago. I'm wearing my old safety glasses from work.

Procrastinators unite! Tomorrow!

Our cabin sole is hosed from all the water and beer floating over it

I have never been happy with our boats interior.

Our cushions look like they were made from fabric recycled from your grandmothers couch circa 1940's that survived 10 yrs of a college dorm.

Our dinghy has to be the wettest ride of any.

I could stand up while riding the dinghy. I could fall while riding the dinghy too.

We can only get the dinghy on plane if we fill it with helium. That will not work so don't try it.

We learn as we go, until we can't go anymore. Then we tell others how to do it.

Some cruisers are just plain miserable.

Some cruisers can't stop smiling, or smirking

But honey we already survived a Derecho so how much worse can it get?

I'm getting diesel soot on our hull. Injector issue I think. I have new injectors.

The shower drain pump fails sporadically. Needs a joker valve. I have no joker valve.

I always thought it was a choker valve which makes sense because it chokes flow in one direction. Joker makes no sense at all.

All the salt we have onboard is melting. Rice does not help.

I see cruisers walking around with black mold spots on their clothes. Years ago I would be grossed out. Now? Meh.

My Keen sandals are totally trashed yet still functional. If we survive the Mona Passage I am buying a new pair. No sense getting them now if I'm going to wear them to the bottom of the trench.

I have a slightly more positive outlook on life lately. Not sure where that's coming from.

Stupid me buys a 3 gig data plan and then at the end of the month it expired with 2.5 gig left. I thought we had it until it was gone! So I sign up for another 3 gig. Daughter Kelly calls on facetime and we pull down 1.5 gig instantly. Doh! Old people and technology.

As an old gray white guy I am embarrassed to be associated with other old gray white guys from time to time

Some old gray white guys think they own this town. No excuse for being rude to the awesome Bahamian people. We are their guests. Start acting like it.

We always lock our dinghy. I used to think this was terrible. It's not just Georgetown. We locked it in the states as well. Especially Florduh.

To not have a dinghy is a total pain in the ass.

I like how cruisers help one another. Some people are saints.

You ever think of owning a trawler?

You ever think of getting a more modern sailboat?

You ever think of just dropping anchor in another country and staying a long time?

You ever think that all your money will evaporate (stolen by banks) in the next depression and all the previous thoughts will vanish except the one about living in another country?

How far is it to social security? Oh.

I ate all the olives but I want to do something with this brine.

The cruisers net is insane in the morning. Who talks to anyone before 10 am?

Cruisers are a fun bunch but I have yet to talk to anyone at length about hockey or anything science related. Hockey and science. That's right.

I'm not missing Lake Ontario much.

I miss Sunfish racing of all things

There is a Sunfish dagger board in our salon. Thanks Don

Ever have any of those awkwardly quiet moments among cruisers you just met? You kind of stare off into space wondering what to say next? Try this, "The Mantus anchor is the best. Everything else sucks." That should get something going.

Talking boat projects can be tiresome. Doesn't anybody talk about fun stuff anymore? Like Superman VS Batman. C'mon. Man of Steel against a dude in a bat costume with cigarette voice and a cool utility belt. No contest. X Ray vision alone would end it. "Hey you're billionaire Bruce Wayne! Hey everyone Batman is Bruce Wayne! Hey Bruce, why the lace panties that say Boy Wonder?"

Whats the bat gonna do? Punch him? Unless he's got Kryptonite in his utility belt it's over. Total humiliation without any violence. "Oh I found your cave under your mansion. I bored through the earth to get to it and came up under your batmobile. Sorry dude. That transmission is guano."

I should probably go before this gets weird.

What? Too late?

OK that's all I've got for now. The stuff in my head right now is just too weird even for you guys. There are chores to be done and places to see. Thanks for stopping by.

Sporadic and untimely blog posts will continue. I might have something to say about the Derecho but we came through better than most for some odd reason. Some folks ended their cruising afterwards because of boat damage or because they got the shit scared out of them. Sorry to see this happen but sometimes we forget how truly dangerous this lifestyle can be. Everything is great until that freak storm punches you in the face and sends you home, or that corroding thru hull finally lets go while you are at the Rake and Scrape. Sorry, I should stop that. This life is much safer then riding in a car on any US highway and if it was so wonderfully easy everyone would be doing it. So enjoy it out here. You're special.

See. I can be totally positive and encouraging. Better check those thru hulls though.

On a more positive note, we are having a blast and meeting cool people and seeing amazing places. If we could do it over again we would do the same thing only sooner. We were in the rat race too long.

Cheers People!