Paulie Goes Solo

While in Grenada and waiting on parts and service we got a call from home. There is a need for grandmotherly assistance in handling a daycare dilemma. Debra, being always ready and able to assist with those lovely Grandkids, has hopped a flight to the USA for a short stay while I remain in the floating workshop.

There she goes! She flew right over me.

The first night without the 1st mate was pretty strange though I slept better than I thought I would. I did wake up diagonally across the bed and all the pillows tossed about. That would never happen with Deb here. I would have been swatted. Getting out of bed and tip toeing about trying to be quiet and I’m like, what the hell am I doing? Put some music on! 
It’s odd not having Debra here. We’ll see how this goes. I’m not sure how long she will be gone but I might be talking to myself before this is all over. I may become one of those old sailor dudes who mumble to themselves and laugh too hard at shit that really isn’t all that funny. I promised myself I wouldn’t just sit in a bar the whole time she was gone and I’m sticking to it. Even yesterday after I got her in the cab in the pouring rain I waited outside a restaurant and not at the bar for the rain to stop. Will power is what I’ve never had got.
I woke up today wondering what I will do my first day alone. I should keep an online diary for fun. It could be interesting reading. A look at what happens to a man left to fend for himself on a boat. Will he survive? What will he eat? What will happen when all his clothes are dirty? Will he cook nice meals or eat spaghetti out of a pan? Can he change a roll of toilet paper? Make the bed? Clean anything? Will he wake up hungover at the bottom of a dinghy drifting to Central America? Stay tuned.

Cheers!

PJJB

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Floating Condo

I guess Grenada is our home now. I think we’ve traveled about 130 miles. Those miles include our trip from Trinidad and the hopping between bays. We’re falling way short of our usual 600 or so. It’s the way it goes sometimes. We can be miserable about it and make life worse or embrace the situation and make the best of it.

The work continues on KN. We replaced the engine mounts and the vibration got worse actually. We now shimmy and shake all the way up to 2000 rpm. The whole drive train was realigned again, yet still we shake. Scratching our heads I finally just stopped the process and asked for the coupling to be removed and checked. They pounded the damn thing off the shaft and took it to the shop. When it came back it came with the guy who owns the shop. He re-installed the coupling and left the set screws out. We ran the engine and she was smooth and quiet. He tightened the set screws and the vibration came back. Huh.

We figured out that the original shaft and coupling were mated and balanced. When we replaced the shaft and shoved it into the old coupling we got out of alignment. This is the theory anyway.

We have an old style coupling. One with a keyway that had no key but just two set screws to hold the shaft. Looking at it you see the set screws are on one side of the shaft. Who the hell designed this? You’re pushing the shaft to one side of the coupling if it’s not a perfect fit. Opposing set screws would be better in my opinion but I’m not a mechanic.

We have on order a new coupling. A two piece coupling made to center the shaft within it. I think this will work but I thought the mounts would work as well. So KN continues to mystify and stump the experts though I think we’re getting closer because we’re running out of parts to order.

I am usually hate to be negative but I fear with all this vibro action going on that we may have fucked up the cutlass bearing but that’s just Paulie Paranoia talking.

So, who’s up for a party in Grenada! Looks like at least another two weeks here if not more. Fly down and join us but you can’t stay on the boat. Get your ass into a hotel. If that V-berth gets cleaned out again it’s definitely becoming a man cave guitar bar rock center. Sorry. The noise from the anchor snubber would drive you nuts anyway.

One concession I did get from the mechanics was they will finish(?) the work here in Prickly Bay so that we don’t have to move the boat again. Not that it’s far but sometimes those waves can be large and you head right into them. With the drive train the way it is it’s kind of nerve wracking doing 4 knots at 2700 rpm and the bow submerging on occasion and tossing water into the air. You start looking at the reefs wondering what your game plan is if the engine stops. I kind of do this all the time anyway. One thing I learned was to stop doing this out loud. Apparently the other people on the boat do not like to hear your disaster planning.

That’s all I’ve got for now. We’re going to start some “make her pretty” boat projects while we’re here. As long as we’re sitting around we might as well get some things done. It’s what retirement savings is for. Sorry kids.

Cheers!

P

Oh, Deb has been taking all the pictures lately and she doesn’t share so I have nothing unless you want to see old stuff. When we’re out and about I just walk around in a daze while she snaps shots of flowers and fire hydrants and examines the utility wiring. Eventually I’m scouting for bars while she tries to capture the perfect cactus shot which is actually an Aloe Vera plant. She does take nice photos but apparently she does the publishing.

I felt guilty not putting a photo on here and yes, it’s another boring rainbow shot. For some reason rainbows make me run for the camera. Must have been all those Lucky Charms I ate when I was a kid. My Dentist mentioned something about that while drilling.

Our First

This might be the first time we’ve been immobile because of an unplanned boat related issue. I don’t like it.

We’ve had boat problems but nothing serious enough to kill a sailing season. Other stuff was recognized early on and a planned repair was initiated. This was a surprise. What was a little vibration last year has become bad enough to make you stop in your tracks. 

This is Prickly Bay. From here you can hop a bus to anywhere on the island. It’s a bit rolly but convenient.

We’ve been lucky until this point. All the boats we’ve owned have been trouble free until this weird vibration thing started. This is no ordinary vibration we have. It’s more like a shimmy. The engine is literally dancing on it’s mounts when we’re accelerating slowly from low RPM. You know the second you feel it that something is very wrong and taking her out to sea would be a dumb move. So, here we sit pecking away at the problem. 

We’re now looking at new engine mounts. The next and probably last thing to change would be the damper plate on the transmission but that’s fairly new (2 yrs) so that’s a last straw I guess. I don’t know what to do after all this. Just shimmy away to other islands? If anything it forces you to sail more often.

When we bought the boat we knew she was a little rough around the edges. That was OK. We weren’t looking for pretty. We were looking for sturdy and fast. We were also looking for a solid engine/drive train and we found it but this environment is harsh and sooner or later all things fail. The engine mounts look good but maybe they are a little worn. They’re starting to collapse a wee bit so maybe it’s time we replaced them and with any luck the tune the engine grooves to will be Good Vibrations and not Twist and Shout.

We do have some other chores to attend to like taxes and my favorite boat project, the watermaker. We blew up two valves and I am unplugging and plugging hoses in order to run the thing. Trying to decide if we should ship new valves in or reconfigure with what we can find down here. Our membranes are also geting worn out as our PPM is inching towards the unhealthy drinking water level. Not sure we can make it to July with what we have. We have to decide soon as it takes a week to get the parts here.

It’s going to be an interesting few weeks but at least we are somewhere we enjoy hanging out. Grenada is so cruiser friendly and beautiful and many sailors just hang around here all year long. It’s interesting the places where sailors congregate. Grenada, Martinique and Antigua are all places to relax for months at a time and enjoy the season. Our plan was to get to Antigua this season but that looks sketchy now. Dominica is still in view, for now. Fingers crossed.

Just some pics of our surroundings. We can hear the swell rolling over the reef and hitting the shore. Perfect sounds for sleeping.

I think today we’ll go get those taxes done and then head off to the Container Park for some brunch/lunch. Maybe over a few brews we can decide what to do with the watermaker parts or possibly come up with a brilliant solution to the engine issue. No matter what happens here in the next few weeks we are still in paradise, far away from the rat race and all the other crap that goes with it. 

Cheers!

PJB

Up with the Sun

I have good mornings and bad. Nothing to do with pain fortunately, just with how I feel.

When I get up before the sun it’s a better day then when I sleep in. I’m not sure why. It just is. I’ve been an early riser most of my life. When I was a kid I would be up in front of the TV with a bowl of cereal waiting for the test pattern to go away and the national anthem to start. My working life had me turning the lights on in my department and waking up the machinery to start the day. I was having my first cup of coffee before the rest of the employees were out of bed.

These days there are no test patterns and the only machinery lays quiet in the engine room unless we need an early start. My morning routine starts with opening up the breaker panel and switching on the propane and turning off the anchor light unless I’m really early. Next I look at the battery voltage to make sure it’s not too low. These days we’re locked in at night so I have to remove the hatchboards and I enter the cockpit for a good stretch and suck in the sea air while looking around at my neighbors. Everybody is in the same place they were last night. Cool. Off to the stern to open the propane bottle, tilt the solar panels to catch the first rays and then move forward to check the anchor chain and snubber. Standing at the bow and looking out on the anchorage I hear the roosters crowing. The slight chill to the wind blows off any cobwebs I might still have and I start to think about what our day will bring. Back in the cockpit our position on the chart plotter looks good. Tea time! In the dark of the cabin the blue propane flame is the only source of light as it heats up the old stainless camp stove coffee pot. The percolating noise let’s me know it’s ready.

With a hot cup of tea or coffee I sit and watch the sun rise.

We have some nice pinks and blues this morning. What will today bring? Moving  day? The last few nights have been adventures in rolling side to side. I was up at one in the morning the other night stopping a pan from skating back and forth on the counter slamming into empty beer cans as they rolled around. I can’t even explain that noise to you. There was also a cabinet opening and closing and the onions on the shelf were all moving and crinkling. Inside a cabinet a bottle of olive oil was in a mosh pit with the salt, pepper and soy sauce. I call it the fun house. You wake up to all these confusing noises and you try to maneuver through the boat finding the source. Craziness.

So I have been sleeping in a bit and waking up to a bright sky with a hot sun. The tea doesn’t taste the same and my mood is dull. I was meant to be up before the sun and here it comes. Feels good.

Have a fantastic day everyone.

PB

The fisherman have come out and are on the move. The loud ferry boat is moving workers from the main island to the private island to work on the resort. Some cruisers are already moving in their dinghies and a sail just went up, flapping in the breeze. Dogs are barking. Time for another tea.

Survival at Anchor

Survival at sea. You’ve seen this title to a story many times. Heroic efforts lead to boat and crew surviving the storm of the century. Hoping we never have a story title like that to post. Survival at anchor is something I can write about though.

When we left Trinidad we had a serious vibration rumbling through the boat as we accelerated from low rpm on the engine only to have it smooth out at around 1500 rpm. It was strange. I suspected alignment but wasn’t sure. We  made it to Grenada just fine but this problem needed to be solved before it got worse and it was getting worse. So, we called in the experts.

When we disconnected the shaft from the engine we found it perfectly lined up with the engine. What was odd though was the shaft was not lined up in the stern tube. It was off to starboard. I was thinking so what, but the mechanic thought this needed to be fixed by shifting the engine to port. I questioned what moving the shaft would do to the cutlass bearing because that bearing dictates where the shaft aligns. Anyhow this was discounted and the engine was moved. 

The other change made was that the rubber hose between the stuffing box and the stern tube now only has three hose clamps on it instead of four. One was removed because it was just squeezing the hose and not the end of the stuffing box. This is interesting because the clamp could have been distorting the hose which would put side pressure on the stuffing box which would explain the lousy seal I have always had around the shaft since the new shaft was installed. Could this have also caused some vibration?

With the shaft centered in the stern tube with the engine moved and the correct size flax packing plus the correct number of hose clamps, we are vibration free. We had some overheating of the shaft because they insisted on 1/4 inch flax packing. Now that we have 3/16 in there it seems just fine but, we still have to drive her around the bay for a bit to set the drip rate.

While all this was going on we ended up with a stuck valve on the watermaker. This valve assembly was screwed into a filter housing. I removed it, fixed the valve and when I put it all back together the housing on the filter cracked. At that point I was thinking of just swimming to shore and living in the bush on Hog Island. Deb could leave some vegetables for me at the shoreline and I would run out and take them back to my camp. It would be a simple life of solitude free of watermakers…until I died of dehydration.

Yesterday I rigged the system with another filter housing we had for filtering marina water and of course it leaks badly and some of the fittings that worked in the old filter now leak too. Plumbing sucks. I thought it was good enough to get the water maker going but now the boost pump is not pushing water fast enough through the whole system. It slows down at some point in the system so I have to remove hoses and find the blockage. This is a total repeat of what happened a few months ago. The dude who sold me this system gets mad at me because I keep calling with failure issues. I don’t expect him to replace shit after all these years but I want him to feel my pain. The very first day we powered this watermaker up the pressure vessel assembly sprung a leak and because we were in the Bahamas we ran at half capacity for a whole season. I do not feel guilty letting him know what’s fucking up with this system. I will be emailing him when he wakes up in Mexico.

Our problems are certainly not the worst problems out here. Plenty of other boats are sitting with dead engines, transmissions or rigging and structural issues. Some people have health issues and a lot have money issues. I would consider our problems to be minor in comparison but it’s still a pain in the ass. When I look around us at all the boats still here in Grenada I start to think that this is really survival at anchor. How long can you go? Where do you find parts? Will people help you or will they rip you off? Do you form alliances and out maneuver your fellow sailors for parts and services? As we enter the dry season who can find water? Survival Anchorage.

Coincidently there is a business here with that name. They provide transportation and moorings for cruisers. I always thought it was a stupid name for the business but now I feel it’s appropriate  😀

I know this will all pass and we’ll be exploring again. I just needed to whine and complain a little to make myself feel better. It’s working. Thanks for reading.

Cheers!

PB

Can we really complain at all with these views?

The day we do leave this island will be a sad one. We will look back on all this and wonder what we were complaining about.

Morning Tea, Grenada. On the hard

Morning Tea posts are a random collection of thoughts that pop into my head when I’m sipping a hot brew and staring at the tablet trying to come up with a blog post. It’s usually in the morning. I get the urge to write a post about something but nothing comes forward except these screwy things listed below. It’s a way of clearing out the junk so I can write something of interest instead of just blah blah blah anchor drag, or blah blah blah we’re on the most perfect beach or blah blah blah we had the most beautiful sail.

So here we go:

It was the most perfect sail ever! It was a total beam..   Kidding. Here’s a brain dump:

  • “Well it’s alright, living the life you please” – Traveling Wilburys
  • Living the life you please is a luxury most people fail to achieve. Consider yourself blessed if you do.
  • Sometimes we’re like potatoes. Laying around. Roots growing.
  • Some days we never get off the boat.
  • “We thought you guys flew home?” – boat neighbor
  • Life in a hermitage must have been extremely boring.
  • Thank the gods for internet service.
  • It’s cool staying in touch with the kids.
  • IS there any other news besides Trump?
  • Life was better without the internet.
  • With the aft head broken we used the forward head.
  • At anchor there is no escaping the forward head aroma.
  • Occasionally I see people sitting on the bow, breathing.
  • This boat needs some serious beautifying.
  • I discovered teak sealer.
  • I discovered teak sealer flows like water.
  • Barkeepers friend removes tough stains.
  • The local canvas stitchers drive by and stare at our boat.
  • I think we would make a perfect before and after ad.
  • I came across sailors with before and after cruising photos on their blog. Funny.
  • In our before and after photos we have the same clothes.
  • Every time a plane is flying over these dogs bark their asses off.
  • Fireworks at midnight and not a peep out of those dogs.
  • You ever sit down with a large group of people you don’t know except for one couple and you act yourself in front of your friends and the other people are like, WTF?
  • Some people accuse me of being the anchorage spy guy.
  • Our neighbor says, “Hi! We’re your neighbor!” I had no clue, so ha! I’m not a spy.
  • I’m getting lumpy as I get older.
  • What the hell is that on my leg?
  • Facial hair is annoying when it’s hot.
  • Actually all hair is annoying.
  • I wonder if we will evolve as a hairless species. We’d all look pretty stupid with no eyebrows.
  • Every time we anchor we seem to be near old solo sailors.
  • Old solo sailors are odd and they have no problem with extra hair.
  • So our neighbor keeps hauling buckets of seawater aboard. Deb said he might be bathing.
  • He probably thought we flew home for the holidays and had some extra privacy.
  • We raved recently about our outboard service guy. The outboard is running shitty and so is our Honda Genny. Rave over.
  • I deleted my Facebook App.
  • There has been way too much time wasted on looking at other peoples business.
  • That guy next to us bought a new bucket.
  • I wasn’t spying. I just happened to notice new buckets.
  • We dropped our propane off for refill just before the holiday. Bad move.
  • Island life requires patience. Learning to be patient took a bit of time but I feel I’m forever changed in that respect.
  • I just saw a turtle.
  • What will life be like when I look up from writing and not see a turtle?
  • I was in the dinghy trying to help a catamaran onto a mooring. He only had one engine. Now THAT required patience.
  • We are 5 years powered by the sun. Amazing.
  • Sailors like cloudy days because they can work outdoors without sweat and burn.
  • “I hate cloudy days”, he says while eyeballing the Honda generator.
  • Will humans be the fossil fuels of the future?
  • I picture these large cockroaches reading books to their kids about humans long ago roaming the planet and dying off to create the fuel they use.
  • It smells like cooked sausages around here.
  • Cruising – ‘Every day is like a vacation day!’ No. If that were true you’d be broke and in AA after the 1st year.
  • It’s not a sin to sit on the boat and read or putter about.
  • I need to walk more.
  • My sneakers are caked in mud.
  • This boats a mess.
  • Some boats are never dirty. I swear these people wait until we all fall asleep and then they go out and scrub their decks. 
  • A boat picked up a mooring and then they went below for 5 minutes, returning on deck to drop the mooring and motor off. They were both smoking when they left.
  • Is smoking after sex a thing or is that all hollywood bullshit?
  • Every now and then some nimrod at the resort takes out a PWC and rips around the anchorage between boats at 30 knots with a wooh girl on back.
  • Do some tourists land on the Island and immediatley think of how they can be a total dick while they’re here?
  • In St Lucia there was a PWC floating out to sea. I let it go. So did the locals.
  • Islands have unique ways of removing trash.
  • You ever in the cockpit and you look up and there’s a boat anchored next to you that wasn’t there a minute ago?
  • Do you think as you get older that you just randomly fall asleep sometimes?
  • Amazing how quickly Island life becomes the norm.
  • The thrill is gone?
  • Sometimes Deb throws the wrong breakers.
  • Sometimes I fail to open a seacock, like the one for the waste pump.
  • I know exactly what a shitstorm is.
  • Squalls used to have me sitting in the cockpit until it was over.
  • Sleeping through squalls is great when you wake up in the same spot.
  • Why do anchors suddenly pull out after weeks at rest?
  • I bet Aquaman can be a real dick if he wanted to.
  • You ever see what all your anchor chain does to the sea floor?
  • Life on the hard is hard. Hard on the wallet.
  • When we go to sell the boat I worry nobody will be interested in sailing.
  • I might offer free internet service with the boat for one year.
  • This boatyard is pretty much empty but the two stalls are usually occupied.
  • I have an image of people hopping around outside the bathrooms in May.
  • We have an extension ladder against the boat. Weird.
  • The ladder was placed upside down and flipped. Weirder
  • We’ve never been in this boatyard but they placed us next to a friends boat. Instant smile.
  • Our fridge and freezer run constantly in the morning but settles down as the day goes on. Strange.
  • I would love to add more solar.
  • The days of adding more gear to the boat are over.
  • What ever you do, DO NOT keep a spreadsheet on boat part replacements you purchased.
  • When you tell a guy to go easy on the pressure washer and he continues to try to waterjet a hole in your hull, just walk away and scream silently.
  • My blood pressure has been perfect.
  • Why do some guys walk into a restaurant in just their underwear a small bathing suit?
  • We have not ordered any food at this restaurant.
  • When you bring a roll of toilet paper with you and walk into a stall with no paper…feeling smart.
  • The looks on the people who watch you go into the stall without paper…priceless.
  • The looks on the people who see you come out afterward are even better.
  • Some guy just broadcast on the net a request for cockroach remedies.
  • Am I the only one who remembers the boat name in case they are at a pot luck dinner?
  • We used to fret being at anchor. “We dragging? OMG the wind picked up!”
  • We are soooo much more relaxed at anchor. Squall? Meh.
  • The only thing we fear at anchor is a French boat in front of us.
  • For some reason we always anchor in the same spots year after year. I mean right over the last place we dropped. Weird.
  • I hate waiting for people.
  • We need the jackstands moved so we can paint those spots. They’ll show up 1 hour before launch.
  • Is it really island time or is it don’t give a shit time?
  • Americans are so damn impatient.
  • I moved the jackstands myself. 
  • Deb was inside when I moved them. She was a bit worried.
  • She should be worried about the guy under the boat.
  • Turns out breakfast is NOT the most important meal of the day.
  • I very rarely eat breakfast.
  • I miss toast. We thought of bringing a toaster back with us from the States.
  • Every appliance here in Grenada is 220 volt.
  • I’ve been better at staying hydrated. No, not with beer.
  • I really want a washdown pump for the bow.
  • You would not believe how smelly the anchor locker gets when hauled out or in a marina.
  • We finally figured out why people end their season in April. Rainy season starts in May.
  • We haul in the rainy season. Going to be wet but the mangoes are delicious.
  • We had all this foul weather gear when we left the States. Never used any of it.
  • Sometimes I think the boat shows are for day sailors and weekend cruisers or sailors new to cruising.
  • If I read a Cruising World magazine now I would laugh my ass off I’m sure.
  • Friends come and go. Lately they’ve been just going.
  • Being on an island and realizing everyone you know has left is an odd feeling.
  • These solo sailors all take care of one another. It’s nice to see.
  • I don’t ever want to be a solo sailor unless I’m on a Sunfish.
  • I was going to leave our bottom paint can below the boat for the night but I realized it’s liquid gold and hauled it up top.
  • So, I spent $666 dollars on paint. I had a choice of red or black. Interesting.
  • The only thing gone to hell is my credit card.
  • I talk with my hands too much.
  • The dock master was watching my hands when I spoke to him.
  • Why do I do that?
  • I think I’ll go for a walk. With my hands in my pockets.

    Thanks for reading. Cheers!

    PJJB

    I did not use a spell check so I apologize for any stupidness. I use an external USB keyboard which helps me type but I lose the spell checking capability. I’m pretty sure my typing is the problem and not my actual spelling. 😀

    It’s coming along

    WordPress seems easy to use and I’m getting the hang of it though today I was genuinely disappointed that there was no spell check with the editor unless I loaded a plugin that is only available if I upgrade to a business plan. Damn.

    So it looks like I need to word process first before pasting into the app editor. Kind of a pain in the ass but it beats a monthly fee. Sorry you guys have to put up with ads. I’m a cheap ass sailor.

    Oops

    I wonder if this wreck was from hurricane Ivan or if it just sprung a leak while moored. I’m sure somebody here knows.

    Oh look it’s almost happy hour!

    Cheers!

    P