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.