Time Well Spent

After spending another 10-11 days at Old Port Cove in North Palm Beach we are ready to move on. Good thing because our insurance company wants us north of St. Mary’s, GA by June 1 and time is racing by. They want us to leave a safe haven in Florida for the hurricane-prone northeast!

Our plans are to head north. Pretty vague. In fact we were planning to leave 4 days ago but I’ve implemented a suggestion from Uno Mas and purchased a “crash pump”. Obviously, I hope to never need it but the standard bilge pumps on Tivoli just don’t have enough capacity to cope with excessive water in the bilge. That is, except for the big manual Edson diaphramn pump. That one pumps like crazy – it will also wear you out in about 5 minutes. So, we purchased an 8000 gallon per hour 12 VDC pump with a 20 foot power cord with alligator clips that can be attached to batteries or alternator. In an emergency, one plugs this bad boy in and runs the hose out a portal in the master stateroom or head. The only problem is this pump uses 3” hose. I tried Lowes, Home Depot, West Marine, Boat Owner’s Warehouse – no joy. Finally, I called the manufacturer Rule who referred me to a pump distributor in Clearwater (Depco) who very kindly sold me 30 feet of lay-flat 3” PVC hose. Perfect. But, it would take 4 days to ship to OPC; so we stayed an extra 4 days. Not a problem as it allowed us to catch up with friends and projects.

While here we’ve had our bow thruster fixed; a simple $18 plastic sacrificial coupler between the drive motor and the gear box had failed. They apparently only last 3-4 years. Until it failed I didn’t even know I had one; now I have a new one and a spare. This is a recurring theme. I also took the opportunity to change oil and filters in all three engines; another all day task even with a built-in oil exchange pump. I did some plumbing work, namely attempting to fine-tune our “Watercounter” installation that is supposed to track the gallons of water put into our tanks by our new Spectra watermaker. It is a Newport 400 MKII model watermaker and produces 400 gallons per day; a quart a minute. The Watercounter sensor was variable in its ability to accurately account for the known production. Something needed to be done as this was too large an error. Our friends Glen and Marie Darby on a sistership “Gone for Good” came up with an approach that should fix the problem; we call it the Darby Laminar Flow solution (DLFS). Glen even shared it with us at no expense (normally I have to pay him for good ideas even though I share mine freely – :-)). It involves adding some larger diameter tubing before and after the sensor. So, two trips to West Marine (way too expensive but nearby) and a half day in the lazarette toiling away had the DLFS in place. We started up the watermaker and carefully timed the rate at which the Watercounter measures the volume. Much improved! The sensor is now rotating evenly but the flow rate is still being underestimated; it takes 5.5 minutes to measure 1 gallon, a minute and 30 seconds too much….so it is still wrong but progress has been made. I will continue to tweek and have no doubt we will get it worked out. If you are not familiar with the Watercounter it is a simple yet precise device to measure water consumed and has worked well for us for the past 4 years. We have an LED gauge in the pilothouse that counts down each gallon of water used and tells us exactly how much water we have left in the tanks; the added (and currently inaccurate) sensor will now count up the water added to the tanks by the watermaker, insuring that the display is always correct….too cool.

I also installed a small power distribution panel in the pilothouse to independently power each of my 4 multifunction displays….long story why and what for, but another day is spent in labor and it is nicely installed and even works. This type of activity is common whilst cruising. Time in paradise is paid for by time in the engine room (or elsewhere) maintaining our good little ship.

The weather for tomorrow and the next day looks good off-shore. I use passageweather.com, buoyweather.com, grib file downloads from Ocens, and many other sources. They all seem to agree. So, we will take the outside route bypassing all the bridges and traffic and make our way north along the coast. We are meandering north to Chesapeake Bay for the summer months.

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