Thursday, July 30, 2009

Change of travel plans - we're outta here :)

So the bad news first - the drive is damaged from having water in the oil and we need a specific part that apparently doesn't exist at this moment - they are being made in the factory! Our mechanic has 5 Volvo drives waiting on the same part. Volvo says they'll be finished in production, shipped and arrive on August 10th. Uh huh. So, that was the straw that broke the keel as it were. All the work to the boat itself is done and paid for. We have about 1 days worth of engine work to do and are hoping that will happen tomorrow or Monday. Lucky can't go into the water without the drive so she's officially beached until the part comes in. Martin has spent the last month, every weekday and some weekends, in 90+ heat in that boat yard. It was really disheartening to hear that we had another {minimum} 2 week wait.

And so, the good news - we're leaving! We decided that we have to get out of the hotel. Last June we went to Curacao and stayed in an apartment in Westpunt at Sunshine Curacao, owned by Sunshine and David. We loved it and had the best time. We're always talking about going back and wouldn't you know it - we are the luckiest people ever! The apartment is free from 8/1-8/15 and though we had to really search (thank you Sunshine for the airline info) we were able to find last minute tickets to Curacao. So we leave on the 4th and return on the 12th. In another stroke of luck, one of the dive masters we met when we were there, Andreas, just returned to Curacao from Germany yesterday! We are so looking forward to the warmth of the people, the serious pet love from Chaos, Nez, Jack and Nates (dogs) and Mio and K2, (kitties) that live at the house, Sunshine & David's incredible food at their restaurant Sol Food on the weekends, and the awesome (Shark-free!!!!) diving. We'll have lots of wonderful pics for the pic of the day when we return. Woo - hoo !!!

Now to brush up on my Papiamento... Bon Dia...

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

One Month in Fort Lauderdale

Well we're still here! Today is the 1 month anniversary of moving into the hotel. Work on Lucky is progressing - the canvas work is done - we now have a real bimini shade structure and a clear wall that can be put up behind the helm area so that space can be air-conditioned/heated as necessary. Our new batteries are installed and the several other jobs are done as well. There remains a few little things and the big thing - the drive and engine. Once the drive is back and in place we can get back into the water! We may know more about when that will happen tomorrow. We're keeping our fingers crossed for "within a week from now".

So how have we been occupying our time, you ask? Martin is still at the boat during the day but we've had quite a busy social life lately as well. We had dinner with Jack & Barb last week and got to see their house. It was great to see them again and Barb is an Excellent cook - yum! Then on Friday we had drinks with Geoff and Iza aboard Dreaming On, a gorgeous sail catamaran in the marina with us. They had engine trouble and then were struck by lightening so they have been hanging there for a couple of months waiting on repairs. Another couple came as well and we had a really nice happy hour. They will be our "neighbors" when we get back in the water and I hope we'll see more of them. On Saturday we drove out to Naples to visit Mike & Jackie's son Paul, his wife Sarah and their daughter Imogen. Paul and Martin are the same age and grew up next to each other. They hadn't seen each other in about 10 years so it was really nice to be able to visit. We spent the day on the beach (see pics) though the sky all around us was dark and threatening. It was strange weather! Then we went out to dinner with some friends of theirs. It was a really nice day. Sunday, Mart and I went to see Transformers at the IMAX. That was cool! Harry Potter 3D is coming there next week - that's a must!

I've been busy working out and taking advantage of the treadmill here at the hotel. I've even lost a bit of the "boat weight" from this winter (thank God). I'm also getting lots of quilting blocks cut and ready to be sewn on the boat - ah the life of leisure :) We're really, really ready to be back on Lucky and heading north to Delray! We'll post as soon as we know when that will be happening.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Still Hanging in Ft. Lauderdale

Hey everyone. I haven't written in quite a while so I thought I'd send out a quick update. I spent a week in Myrtle Beach with my Mom. It was awesome! I rarely get to visit her in the summer and it was nice to be able to enjoy the beach and boardwalk and get outside together. We had a great week spent relaxing, walking to the beach, checking out quilt shops... I wasn't as good as I should have been with the camera but I did get a few pics! The week spend by and suddenly it was Friday. Martin spent the week at the boatyard, in the heat, overseeing the work being done. Um, yes, I'm feeling a bit guilty!

On Friday night Martin and I celebrated my being back by going to an Italian restaurant down the street. Whoa... It was very cool. I think we stepped onto the set of Goodfellows! We were looking around trying to pick out the big bosses ;-) Saturday Martin and I went up to Delray to visit CJ & Margie. They have a very hard job in this heat. We went to a great restaurant for dinner and, as usual, had a wonderful time with them.

The last few days have been very mellow. I've been fighting a headache that has been dragging on for days and Martin has been very sweet to me while I mope around drugged up. They rarely last more than 4 days so the end has to be near.

Tomorrow night we have plans to have dinner at Barb & Jacks house. We're looking forward to seeing them!

As for the continues and progresses. Martin is there every day pushing to get people in and get the work taken care of. If we were out of town I think Lucky would be on blocks months while this work goes on. Things always come up that take the work crew away and they have to be pulled back to finish up jobs. Yesterday a sailboat in the marina was hit by lightening - just as work was finishing up repairing it from a lightening strike Last Year. Holy cow. Two strikes in 2 years! I'm glad we don't have a mast!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Yard work update

Its been a week since work started on Lucky and a lots happened. I've uploaded a bunch of photographs and you can see them here:

I've also replaced all the lights in Lucky with LED bulbs, including replacing the red "night vision" ones over the helm with blue ones.

So a lot of work has been done. Still to be done:
  • wire the lights and transducer
  • re caulk the rear hull seams
  • new pop-up cleats on the transom
  • new batteries
  • install low level bilge pump
  • replace seal on engine room hatch
  • reseal salon hatch
  • install rod holders for the bimini top
and that's just the stuff I remember. I'm sure there's other things we're having done. There is a list and we will be checking it twice.

No sign of the engine guys since Friday. They should be coming in next week to make a start. As well as replacing the prop shaft seal on the port drive, they're going to:

  • remove the crank shaft fly wheel and get the rust sandblasted off.
  • replace the Volvo Penta strainers with Groco on the vacuum side of the impeller
  • replace all the plastic pulleys with new, steel ones
  • put in two new alternators (I've managed to get two of the four reconditioned)
Once the engines are back together, we'll be able to put Lucky back in the water and finish off any remaining work in the marina.

The canvas guys were a no show this week, but they assure me they'll be in on Monday to make the patterns for the aft curtain. We'll see. They've already taken a deposit so I'm a little stuck. I'm having the yard apply pressure to keep them in the game. There's something about canvas makers....

Thursday, July 9, 2009


So far everything is going really well in Ft. Lauderdale. Martin is overseeing the work being done on the boat (and doing quite a bit of it himself as well!) Our room at the hotel is nice, I love having a kitchen, and the location is perfect, only a mile or so away from the boatyard.

Along with the boat work, we've both been doing a lot of visiting! We had dinner with Jack & Barb who just returned to Ft. Lauderdale from the Bahamas. It turns out that Coconuts is one of their favorite restaurants too. While sitting at dinner I had a "moment" when I looked up and realized that "Arioso", the megayacht-from-hell with the sea plane was docked right in front of us! It's a small world...

We went up to Delray on the 4th to celebrate with CJ, Margie and her sister Diane. We had an awesome time with them (as usual). Their house is absolutely beautiful - colorful and happy and right on the water. We had a great dinner and then went to the beach with thousands of other people - it was a huge local event. CJ showed Martin how to dig a "sand couch" and we all settled in to watch the fireworks in comfort. It was a great day.

On Sunday I took the car and headed to Naples to visit Sue & Armando for a couple of days. We went on a 20+ mile bike ride, chatted away over wine, and I got lots of kitty love from Tru & Blu. Sue & Armando are wonderful, the time passed way too quickly. While I was away Martin hooked up with Peter, a fellow Tiara owner whom we met in the Bahamas.

Now I'm back in Ft. Lauderdale but leaving this evening to go visit my Mom. I feel a bit guilty - Martin is out in the heat every day at the boatyard, but there just isn't much of anything I'm qualified to do there... I certainly can't complain that I have time now to visit with friends and family. Fortunately, CJ & Margie have promised to come down and check in on Martin while I'm away :) I'll be back by the end of next week and we're hoping that Lucky will be ready to get "splashed" then as well.

Being in Ft. Lauderdale this time has been a completely different experience from our first "pre-Bahamas" visit. I can't believe how many wonderful people we've met - and to be able to stay in touch and see them - well, life is very good.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Getting stuff done (to Lucky)

Getting hauled. Again.

So this turned out to be much longer than I thought. Be warned...

We're at Lauderdale Marine Center, a huge boat yard on The New River, just by I-95. We're here to get a bunch of work done on Lucky. We mentioned before the issues we've had with the port engine.

There should be plate covering this seal

Well, we also have an issue with the port drive. It seems there's water in oil. I don't check the oil in the drive very often as, like a car, the transmission isn't going to lose oil very quickly, if at all. Unlike an engine, where oil can leak past the pistons and go up in smoke out of the exhaust, transmission oil will have to leak out to go down. Any leak would be evident by an oil sheen on the water or drops around the drive in the engine room, neither of which are evident. Another reason is you have to let the oil settle for 12 hours to get the correct level. Anyway, after our long passage from Nassau, I checked the oil and low and behold, the oil had turned white, evidence of a water leak. According to the mechanic, there are four possible causes for a water leak:

- a corroded oil drain plug, which sits under water at the bottom of the drive
- a bent prop shaft
- a corroded prop shaft
- a leaky seal

All four require a haul out to get at the bottom of the drive, as does an oil change anyway. So we've hauled the boat. Turns out the cause is most likely a leaky seal. Prop shafts are fine, as is the drain plug. Behind the prop shaft is a seal to prevent water intrusion. This seal has failed. The cause of the failure is a missing seal plate. I was one of the early adopters for the IPS drives and the original drives installed are the IPS-A model, numbers 650 and 651, so pretty early models. In the later version, IPS-B, a plate was added in front of these seals to protect them from water pressure, which causes the seals to fail. This plate should have been added in January when we had water intrusion fixed the first time, but wasn't. The starboard drive hasn't had this issue as it's an IPS-B, a replacement for the original IPS-A that self-destructed last summer. The IPS-B drive, btw, has a serial number in the high 6,000s. So they've made quite a few since mine were first installed. What's not yet known is whether the drive has suffered any damage from the water. They're going to scope the drive on Monday. In addition the water inlet and outlet fittings are leaking on both drives, so they've been pulled for replacement. Also on the list will be a replacement of both solenoids, used to rotate the drives when turning, to a newer version.

The cause of the engine issues - low power, higher fuel consumption - is still unknown. On Thursday the mechanic, Roy, took off the superchargers, belts, pulleys and alternators. The superchargers were taken back to the shop to be scoped for water intrusion and electrolysis damage and got a clean bill of health. The pulleys need to changed out from the plastic version we have installed to the new metal ones and the belts will be changed. On checking the alternators, one was found to be dead and the trigger wire between the two sets corroded off. The trigger wire ensures that both alternators on a given battery bank (engine or house) charge at the same time. I dropped the alternators off at a local battery place to be reconditioned. The battery guy, David, isn't sure what he can do as Volvo Penta doesn't sell components within them separately. David will clean and recondition as best he can. With any luck, he'll be able to salvage at least two, if not three. At $1,000 a pop, the more he can save, the better!

This strainer needs to be replaced with one less prone to leaks

Another piece of engine work I'm going to have done is changing out the raw water strainers. Volvo's design and location of the strainers has had a nasty habit of popping the top, pouring salt water over the belts and drives, which then gets sprayed throughout the engine room. A fix for this is to put Groco strainers on the raw water hose and remove the Volvo Strainers entirely. Not only does this have the advantage of removing a flawed component, it also puts the strainer on the vacuum side of the impeller, which will protect the impeller from damage. A fix many D-6 owners have done, apparently.

So while the boat is in the yard, we're having a bunch of other work done:

Transducer mounting block under the hull, soon to disappear

Transducer from the inside. Behind you can see one of the float swtches to be replaced.

Transducer splice box. The wire going in comes from the electronics at the helm. The new transducer will be spliced in after installation. The box is mounted square, it's the picture that's crooked!

The transducer mount is leaking while under way. The transducer is the depth finder, which uses sonar to find the distance to the bottom of whatever we happen to be floating on at the time. It uses sound, in exactly the same way sonar in submarines work. The leak is allowing some salt water into the bilge, so this needs to be fixed. I'm having the old transducer removed and a new one put in. As supplied by Raymarine, the transducer comes in a mounting block, which is attached to the bottom of the hull through two large bolts, one of which also holds the transducer in place. Over time, water pressure on the block causes the threads to shift a little and water can get in. Instead of using the mounting block, we're going to "glass" (using fibreglass and epoxy resin) the transducer so that it's flush mounted to the hull. This will involve cutting the transducer out of its mounting block and making a mold for an internal mounting block so that it sits vertically. To simplify installation, we've put a junction box in the engine room and spliced in the cable from the helm. No need to re-run the cable if a new transducer needs to be installed. I'll be keeping the existing transducer as a spare, anyway.

You can see light between the two fiberglass pieces of the hull. This seam needs to be re caulked.

Not only is there water coming in through the transducer mount, but there's also water getting in from above. Even on dry land, we're getting water building up in the bilge whenever it rains. I spent an hour in the engine room on Thursday during a massive rain storm looking for leaks and found two. One is where the transom shower head sits in its mount. A door with gasket over the area should solve that. There's a seam between two pieces of the hull, the side hull and the transom "wings", that's letting in a lot of water. We'll get that re caulked. There's also a small leak in the through bolt for the starboard IPS zinc, so that will get re caulked as well.

The water intrusion also showed up another issue. The aft bilge pump float switch has stopped working. The float switch tells the bilge pump when to start pumping, so it's pretty important. We're going to replace all the float switches - forward, mid, aft and engine room - with a more reliable "ball in a glass tube" version. The aft bilge doesn't remove all the water. It leaves about an inch of water when it's done, as the hull forms a shallow "v". I'm going to have a manually operated "dry bilge" pump installed which will allow me to remove the last few drops. It'll have a remote suction head on it that will also allow me to pick up pockets of water elsewhere in the bilge as well.

I wish the engine room was the only place for water leaks. No such luck. The window on starboard side of the helm and the hatch in the main cabin both leak, so they're going to be fixed as well. The helm seat window was re caulked on Thursday, a cheaper "let's try this first" approach than removing the window. So far, through two massive rainstorms, it's held up.

I can't deny it any longer. The batteries need to be replaced. We have 8 batteries in total, 5 house and 3 engine. All are size "31", which helps keep their weight down to a svelte 70 pounds. I'm going to replace the existing Deka wet cell with Deka AGM (absorbed glass matt), as AGM batteries seem to do better in a marine environment. Maintenance free, to boot! At $200 a pop, they're not cheap but with an expected life of 3 - 4 years turn out to be one of boating's cheaper maintenance issues. Less than a tank of gas, when all is said and done.

After much consideration, we've decided to keep Lucky after the trip and truck her back to San Francisco. We've learnt a lot about boating in the last 5 months and figure we'll make far more use of her than we had in the past. So looking further than this year, we've added a bunch of "nice-to-haves" to the list.

Location of lights from outside of the hull

The port light will be behind all these hoses and wires, just to the right of the discharge hose

The center light will sit right where the bilge pump is now. We'll move the bilge pump back and make room for it by tidying up the AC and watermaker raw water inlet hoses.

There's actually quite a bit of room for the starboard light. The engine exhaust doesn't go all the way back and is cool while the engine is running - an advantage of a wet exhaust.

Probably the least practical, but the most fun, are underwater lights. Three 50w halogens, on the transom, under the waterline pointing backwards. They'll illuminate fish or, in the murky waters of San Fransisco, just "look cool". They use the same HID bulbs in car headlights, so plenty of light. I must remember to talk to the electrician about putting in a timer switch as well as an "on-off" one. That way we could have them come on automatically when we're away from the boat!

One thing we've both noticed is that we need a pair of transom mounted cleats. When tying up to fixed docks, it's hard to keep the stern steady as well as make allowances for the tidal change. Most boaters use stern cleats and cross them, putting a line from the starboard dock to the port cleat (and vice versa). The extra length allows for tidal changes and the boat remains centered. Doing this with our existing gunwale mounted rear cleats causes the lines to rub over the upholstery. I've already had to make repairs once. So we'll have a couple added. Easy enough to do, though it might require additional reinforcement behind the hull. I'll let the yard guys make that call.

I'll be the first to admit that my boat work is not the prettiest. That includes the mounts I put on for the dingy. So we're having the guys centre up the main rails - yeah I got that wrong as well - and pretty it all up.

The bimini top I made is looking pretty rough as well. It's too heavy and has slowly started to come apart with all the wind and rain. So I'm having a light weight bimini top made. It'll still zipper into the slant zipper, but will use uprights in rod holders to support the rear corners. It should be a lot easier to put up and take down, as well.

While the canvas guy is working anyway, we've decided on something else. While visiting Sharon Ann in Warderick Wells, we noticed that they had put a removable "wall" behind the helm seat. This allowed the air conditioning to actually work and made the helm space usable during inclement weather. So we're adding one. It'll have rigid panes of Plexiglas, a door, and be easily removable. One of the specifications is that we must be able to store it in the aft cabin, so that will have implications on the width of the panels. I'm actually quite excited about this, as it'll allow us to use the boat all year round once we get back to San Francisco, even on those cold spring days.

To save on battery consumption, I'm replacing all the G4 halogen bulbs on Lucky with LED versions. Same Lumen output - 120 - but a fraction of the power consumption, 2.4w vs 10w. As the main cabin alone has 10 lights when on, this is going to add up! Going through Lucky I counted 37 lights down below and 11 over the helm. While I'm at it, I'm going to put blue bulbs in place of the red bulbs over the helm. This should match the underwater lights nicely. Lucky's getting bling!

So that's the list. So far. I'm sure the list will grow. I find it hard to say no to a good idea if it's been suggested. :-)