November 7, 2023
Oh the wonder of Island Time. It’s that time when you just let the world pass over you and do whatever you want, whenever you want. It’s so relaxing. Unless you are waiting for people who live on that schedule to get things done.
That’s where we are at now. Before departing Grenada in June we arranged to have a LOT of things done. Fiberglass work, a new top over the flybridge, a lot of soft goods and more. It’s now early November and we are preparing to leave and while a lot of work has been started, none of the work is complete. After five months nothing is complete and of course every boater in the South Atlantic is trying to get everything completed RIGHT NOW.
As well, we have a few new maintenance opportunities. Our depth sensors don’t work and after a lot of debugging and some guessing, we think the problem is the fish finder, and hopefully not the depth sensor. We won’t know the outcome until the new equipment arrives.
Originally I came down in mid-October to get ahead of the November 1 rush. There was a mix-up and my proposed launch date of October 28 was entered into the yard system as November 28th, and worse they put a catamaran beside Home Free that was so close you couldn’t get a foot between the boats, and promised that owner they wouldn’t move the boat until October 30th. As well that boat was put so close that work on the side of my boat was impossible.
I did get to know Chris (starboard side) and Thomas (port side) in the end and as always was surrounded by really nice people. (Chris charters his boat in the USVI and used to run a body shop. Thomas and Carol are on their second Sweet Caroline after hitting an object mid ocean last year and sinking half way between Turks & Caicos and Dominican Republic. See the ACR website for more on that.)
In the end we launched the boat on October 31 at 3pm. Right when they said they would get me in and Home Free began taking on water. The boat was in the water for 20 minutes and I realized it wasn’t going to get better so had them lift the boat again and back we went into the yard.
Jinhee was scheduled to arrive on November 2nd, and now my frustration was closer to panic. I needed to get the boat in the water.
The water was coming through my newly installed depth sounder (B744v) and my keel cooler for the stabilizers. Each of these make for good boating stories and the keel cooler may get a bit more treatment because other N47 owners may want to understand what I learned before they try. For now, suffice it to say that I have been fighting with the idea of fixing a small leak around this keel cooler because it is so very hard to access. Having the boat out of the water for the summer made that leak significant. Water was now pouring in. My options were gone.
In any case Trever Smith from Nordhavn got pictures to me showing where all of the fittings and bolts were and despite the nearly impossible access, we got the cooler down, but not off and put it back on with 5200 (a sealant that is virtually impossible to remove) and then bolted it all back on. It doesn’t leak anymore. Here are some photos to describe the magnitude of the situation.
Of course there are bolts on both ends but the other end just needed a few scraped knuckles, no new body parts were required.
Here is Wes, cleaning the hull and cooler before sealing it up.
And finally the stabilizer keel cooler (port side) installed and sealed with 5200 and some new anodes on the engine keel cooler (starboard side).
(Technical notes: Do not disconnect the hydraulics because you can’t pull the cooler plumbing apart anyway, the space is too small. If you do dump the hydraulic fluids like I did, turn off the seacock at the reservoir to hold back as much fluid as possible, get pads in the bilge to catch it early. Then refill with AW ISO 46 (32 is acceptable), and it takes about four gallons if you closed the reservoir seacock. To get the unit off a very long wrench or a very small person would be helpful (kids aboard?) The five nuts securing the cooler in the master require a very long reach and perhaps a remote camera. I had Wes’s reach and a make-up mirror to aid with visibility and reach. The four bolts in the engine room are much easier. In my case all of the hot/cold water plumbing had to be disconnected and tied back as well. The stabilizers are self bleeding, simplifying the refill process. With thanks to Trever Smith from Nordhavn for photos from another boat and descriptions.)
The other problem was my new depth sensor. That continues to be a bit of a marathon of effort. We put the sensor on, but didn’t put sealant in all of the right places. Of course it leaked. After lifting we put it on with 5200. Now it will never come off. It also doesn’t leak anymore. So there is that.
In any case, despite adding this new sensor, I still have no depth information from my chart plotters and that can’t be sustained. In the end I will begin acquiring new electronics. The email support I am receiving from the Raymarine folks suggests they haven’t used this equipment for over 10 years and that makes their support almost worthless.
As part of my search for a solution to the depth sounder problems, I have finally decided to remove as much of the old TV cabling from the boat as possible. It is difficult as the wiring bundles are thick, full of wires that I haven’t traced and in many cases almost impossible to access. Here is a picture of some of the wiring areas as well as items that I have removed, including bits of wire cut back to reduce complexity. (We are now dependent on wi-fi and probably Starlink for internet and television!)
Jinhee arrived on November 1st as planned and the boat was not in the water, so she had the less than wonderful experience of staying on the boat on the hard for one night in the steamy Caribbean. Luckily we returned to the water on November 2nd and the boat didn’t leak.
I have tried all possible tricks to save some money bringing in new anodes and it was more costly than just buying them from the local shop (which may have had similar delivery issues.) I won’t type that story up, but I do have some new Anodes on the boat as well. Here is the shiny new anode on the propeller which we got onto the boat about 30 minutes before it went in the water.
We have had a week to move the projects along, and we are doing okay, but the local help is not so effective. None of our projects are complete.
We are still waiting for the arrival of our flybridge cover. I have seen it in the shop but the supplier is both slow, lazy and a poor communicator. I have found out he also doesn’t drive. Yesterday after wasting an entire day waiting for instructions from him, we finally got the boat alongside a dock where a crane can bring the piece in (why did this not happen on Friday? Or Monday? I don’t know.) Parking the boat was a bit of a trick. I am very pleased to have both bow and stern thrusters. I brought the boat in sideways between two other boats with about 2 feet on either end of spare room. Not a comfortable docking situation.
The fiberglass and window frame work is continuing but the weather has not been helpful. The covers and cushions are still pending, but dependent on getting that flybridge cover on. Meanwhile the interior of the boat is mostly cleaned up and ready to go with a few more items to be completed.
We also took on 600 gallons of fuel to get us ready for the trip to Curacao. We have Paul and Michelle coming in as crew next Thursday and we will give them some private time on the boat while we travel elsewhere.
We have also discovered that we cannot extend our dock past the 20th because ARC sailors are expected to start arriving and they want to keep the slips open for those sailors. The time crunch is being felt.
Lastly, in a bit of good news, Jinhee brought my new bike and so I finally got a decent (very hard) bike ride in on the weekend. I am trying disc brakes again and have even upgraded to electric shifting, it is a lot to get used to but I hope it all works out. The roads here are anything but flat. I went out thinking I would go a long way, but I didn’t get very far. Just 34km. In that time I climbed almost 700m making for an average gradient of about 2%. The highest grade I recorded was 30% (I was walking for this part), and many hills were 12-14%. It is very tough riding here, but the new bike was a big help.
For now, it is back to projects, and hoping my welder shows up on time!