November 24, 2020
After ten days tied to a dock (two separate docks actually) in North Palm Beach, I would love to go on about how awesome everything is going. Unfortunately, there has been a lot of waiting and all indications are that the waiting will continue for some time further. To be fair, predicting the number of items I am waiting on is getting easier, but the termination of the waiting is no more certain than it was 9 days ago. At that time, I thought a week would be appropriate, and the current estimate remains, a week of waiting.
I arrived on the back end of my scheduled arrival date (I had projected arrival between November 11 and November 13, and arrived on the morning of the 13th), and with the help of crew (did I say thank you Paul?) rented a car, motored a dinghy to the repair shop to be re-powered (new motor), picked up a hot water tank and installed the same tank. In a single day.
On my arrival I was expecting my davit ram and my transmission to be removed for refreshing of various gaskets and added a late project of getting my VHF fixed because it has been sketchy for far too long and that really isn’t a good thing when operating a large complex craft in the close quarters of the ICW.
The sad part is that my davit ram was not removed for about four or five days, my transmission came off on day seven and the VHF technician showed up on day ten. The waiting is killing me. Next up is US Thanksgiving holiday in two days. Nothing happens in America from Thursday to Sunday, unless it involves food, alcohol or football. Home Free doesn’t make the grade. Waiting shall ensue.
After some begging I may be able to get the davit and transmission put back together by tomorrow, but the VHF is undergoing a pretty significant change, and parts will take until after the holiday, so I will wait here until at least the end of the month.
But then there is weather. It is simply foolish to cross from Florida to The Bahamas under two conditions: (1) when there is any sort of wind from the North or (2) when the water is much beyond 2-3 foot waves. In the first case, a North wind causes short, high waves which batter the boat and make the crew feel like they are on a constant amusement park ride for which there is no exit. In the second case, the waves really aren’t the problem, the problem is the Gulf Stream which is pushing hard and fast from the south (1-3 knots) and high waves (particularly those from the North) mean you lose a lot of boat speed. You’re simply fighting Mother Nature and she can be very angry at times. So there will be more waiting.
The good news is that much work will be accomplished on the boat by the time all is completed.
- The leaking dinghy lift appears to not be leaking any longer. This means no more showers at dinner time while sitting at the salon table on rainy days (yay!).
- The dinghy has a new motor which purrs. Unfortunately I couldn’t get a Yamaha as there are zero available in the country, so I went with a Mercury and it seems to be good so far.
- The davit (crane) should be refurbished with new seals, new hydraulic lines and it should be good for another few years at least.
- All of the fluids on all of the engines have been refreshed. This story is one that I have told before in a variety of ways. I opted to pay a technician to do this work (Thanks Rob/Yacht Tech) so that they could look over the boat for any issues. That was an expensive choice as a few issues were found.
- Rob found a few seals that probably needed to be replaced. We replaced them to be safe.
- Rob found that one of my impellers had broken apart, so bits of plastic needed to be fished out of the generator (phew, good catch on that one)
- Rob noted that my rudder bearing didn’t look healthy. I knew this already but let it go as there was lots of life left in it. When Rob started taking pictures and sending them to Comedy Central, I reconsidered my prior position and came around to the idea that my analysis was likely wrong. We replaced that bearing. (And that bearing agreed with me, it really, really, really didn’t want to go).
- I had a new Racor 500MA fuel filter put on the wing engine (the new one matches the filter on the generator, thereby allowing me to use the same filters in both engines.)
- I have also ordered a whole catalog of new spare parts. The spares on the boat so far are mostly a decade old and some are missing, so I will refresh everything before Home Free ventures too far from shore next week.
- Finally, in the end I will have two new VHF antennae and a backup VHF radio. To do this I will disable the SSB radio. This means that I will have a far more robust system for near shore communication (< 26 miles). The trade off is that I won’t have long range radio, but I have never used the SSB and have similar emergency functionality to the SSB using the IridiumGO solution if I am going to be off shore for significant amounts of time, or multiple EPIRBs if I am in a life threatening emergency.
I also have to give a shout out to the previous owner, David who has come to the rescue on coffee. As some of the readers know, this is a European boat. It has UK style ‘G’ plugs throughout and operates at 220V/50Hz. That means that you can’t plug in many North American appliances.
On the trip down from Virginia, the current coffee machine malfunctioned and after many hours of trying to save it, a few calls to technical support personnel, and a modest swear word or two, it has been declared dead. That means a new coffee machine from the UK was required. David has graciously arranged for a new coffee machine to be delivered thereby saving many days of caffeine withdrawal for the family when they arrive in The Bahamas. Thank you David.
A similar story is playing out in the world of printers. I have a totally awesome HP printer on the boat, but it prints too slowly for Jinhee’s business needs, so there is an effort underway to replace it with a better machine. Nope. Can’t get a laser machine that accepts 220V/50Hz (Update… I think the Epsons do. I am checking that out tomorrow) and they burn way, way too much power to be put on a simple voltage converter. The perfectly good printer I have?! It uses HP 652 cartridges. They are only available in Greece/Turkey and the Middle East. No, HP won’t sell them (printer with a UK plug or 652 print cartridges) to me in North America. Man do I despise modern commerce.
That’s the boat. I have also filled the freezer with meat, one hold on the ship with wine and beer, and have enough pasta to last us a very long time if necessary.
Unfortunately all of this is going to require more waiting. I would really like to write about some excitement here at North Palm Beach, but of all the places in the world I want to be, this is pretty close to the bottom of the list on the ‘interesting’ scale, particularly during a pandemic.