Last November, yes it was 2018, we pulled into Grenada after a rough ride from Trinidad and while looking for a spot to drop the hook in Prickly Bay we noticed a serious shake in the engine at low RPM. Debra and I looked at each other thinking this wasn’t right and we needed someone to look at it. I think we both knew at that point that we were sailing for home though neither of us brought it up in conversation. I thought of just ignoring the problem and making tracks but I’m now glad we didn’t. Who knows where we would have broke down.
We called the local shop that everyone recommends and we invited them over to have a look. I think we all know by now how the story goes so let me just show you in bullet points how it progressed (If I can still remember)
In Trinidad our mechanic notices our engine seems shakey, hours before we leave.
Horrible trip in the dark from Trini to Grenada.
Slow speed anchoring and the engine is shaking enough for me to feel it at the bow.
Call for service
Mech says shaft not centered in the stern tube. Move engine!
Boat hauled too long and paint dies
New packing and cleaned up shaft seal and shaft centered in tube
Drive around Wobourn Bay. Looks good! Feels good!
Go to Prickly Bay
Low RPM looking for an anchor drop spot and she SHAKES!
Engine Mounts changed
New and better coupling because my old one was suddenly no good
Shaft. Got to be the shaft.
Shaft too long. Cut shaft.
Haul out for season
Order new shaft
New shaft installed
Buy flexible coupling and install
Must be the prop!
Oh fuck off I’m not ordering a new prop!
It’s your transmission!
Bad clutch cone in the transmission
Shake is gone and we are unshackled.
It’s a whole new attitude and feeling aboard the KN. We’re prepping for voyage!
Homeward Bound Baby! Well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. One island at a time and we’ll see how it goes. She’s an old gal and we’re going to treat her to some nice sails. Nothing wild. I think she wants a nice relaxing trip with no sporty passages. We will try our best to accommodate her.
Even though we are excited to leave we are a bit anxious about heading out into the deep blue sea. We have not been out there for over a year so it will take a bit to get our mojo back. Our first sail will be to the island of Carriacou, a favorite stop. It is still part of Grenada but it will be a nice short trip to make sure things are cool. There is also a good marina there if something is NOT cool.
We will miss Grenada. This island felt like home to us. To me especially as Debra left me here to fly back to the States for a month and a half. I still can’t believe I didn’t do anything stupid that whole time I was left alone. I must be maturing.
Carriacou is actually still Grenada but it’s another island. When we get there we will most likely be back into our groove again. It will feel good after all this time.
When this old tub makes it back to the States there’s going to be a party on KN!
While Debra sat contemplating her future cruising life I fired off a text to the chief mechanic expressing my lack of enthusiasm in their efforts to rid us of this plague infecting our drivetrain.
Apparently the message got through because boss man said he’d be there bright and early to see what’s up. Uh, so you want to watch it shake itself to death despite the new shaft, coupling, engine mounts and assorted other adjustments over the last oh…Hey almost a year now.
We collected ourselves and got the boat ready for time on the water. Figuring we were going to be here at least another month in this harbor. I had the (dumb) idea of getting a mooring. You ever leave an anchor chain sitting in the water for over a month? Yeah. Disgusting. You ever test an engine in gear while at anchor? Yeah, you drag your chain right up to the anchor and chances are some douche is going to drop the hook right on top of you so you can’t go anywhere (see last season) anyway. So a mooring it is. I wanted one as close to shore as possible. They laughed.
We had a restless night as you can imagine but come morning the guy we give gobs of money to arrived. “Yep, she shakes.” Brilliant!
What you need is a flexible coupling. It will mask the actual problem but it will make it all go away.” What? Do it! Buy me a magic coupling and make all this go away! At this point I could give a rats ass what the original problem is.
We said goodbye to our Guy We Give Gobs of Money to and we prepared to shake our way out to the mooring. I asked for help with the lines. One of the “Helpers” pulled the bow too hard to port and we scraped the side on the way out. Asshole.
We got tied off to a mooring and Deb was like, “Too early for a beer?” Hell no woman. Crack em open. Normally we don’t drink this early unless we drop the anchor in the morning after a good voyage. This was a special occasion. A beer. Some breakfast and a nap. Being in the water is better than the yard even though we’re still F’d up.
The following morning I was pretty excited about the magic coupling. I was walking on my toes with anticipation. The Guy We Give Gobs of Money to showed up with the magic. Ooh, I just had to touch it. This was the device that was going to get us home and possibly save my boat from an early sale.
Wrong bolt size. Son of a bitch! The Guy We Give Gobs of Money (TGWGGOM) to left to find another one. More waiting.
We got off the boat and popped around the isand a bit. We made it to the University area where we ordered veggie bowls and beers. We stopped at a place called Options and saw some old faces. We even got to watch a Purdue football game and had some good conversation with some football fans. It felt good to get away from the boat.
TGWGGOM shows up with the proper sized magic coupling. He slaps it on while I pace.
“OK she’s installed. Lets start her up and put her into gear.”
We were ready for all this to be over with and I stood tall with my hand on the gear lever where I whispered a little prayer to who or what wants to listen. Here we go….
She shook worse than ever. 😦
I heard TGWGGOM below, “ah fuck”. So I said it, “Ah fuck”. Then Deb said it, “Ah fuck”.
I shut the engine off and took a seat. How much more of this can we take? This boat has been stuck in Grenada for about a year now. OMG a friggin year!
“You want me to remove the coupling?”
“I don’t know what else to do?”
“We could pull the prop.”
I’m not hauling.
“We could dive on it. Pull it. Replace it with another temporary prop to see if the prop is the problem.”
Sure, knock yourself out.
“You could buy a new prop.”
I’m not buying a fucking prop.
“I’ll find a temp replacement and we’ll swap it out underwater.”
Debra started working on the for sale ad. I worked up a price that would sell fast. The boat was never a factor in our retirement. We assumed a loss so anything we get for it is a bonus.
A prop was found to slap on the shaft but then it was found to be bent. Goody. I asked for a compression test and injector replacement. I have spare injectors. The transmission is showing no signs of a problem so we’ll not bother with that for now. I’ve started looking for others to help and I have some leads. I can’t keep lingering here with zero satisfaction. In the mean time we’re getting other boat chores completed and enjoying the place.
It’s a Friday and it’s a shopping day. We were going to go but there was a threat of rain so we bailed. Sure enough just before lunch a squall hit. We sat down for lunch below decks and finally the sun came back out and a gentle breeze flowed. It was going to be a gorgeous day.
The anchor alarm went off. This thing is annoying. Every time we rotate after a storm we get the alarm. I go up top to reset….
HOLY SHIT THE MOORING PULLED OUT!!
I started the engine and put her into reverse to pull our bow away from the boat we were about to hit and then slapped it forward to move away from the other one behind us. We powered forward dragging the mooring with us until we found a spot to drop anchor. We dropped the hook, set it and called the marina. If we had went shopping KN would be on the rocks and totalled. Damn it! Why didn’t we go? 😀
The dockmaster came out and asked if we were securely anchored. He then went back to get his dive gear.
Uh, dude. Untie me from this dead mooring you knob.
He came back in dive gear and a spear gun. WTF. He plopped over the side and was gone for 10 minutes. What the hell is he doing. He pops up with a fish on the spear and throws it into his dinghy. “The mooring pulled out of the ground!”, he said.
“I put you on a better one all the way up close to shore.”
Dude I don’t think I want another mooring. “It’s a good one. Guarantee.” Damn. Why do I let these things happen to me. A mooring works out better for us with all the work going on. What the hell I’ll take the mooring. He then vanishes underwater for another 15 minutes. Seriously man? He pops up with another fish and says he will meet us at the next mooring. He really didn’t care about the mooring. Just his dinner.
We’re now as close to shore as you can get and we have a sandbar behind us to stop the boat if she breaks free. A thorough beating against the rocks would probably be best at this point. I mean, we could be worry free 😉
So here we sit again waiting on mechanics to throw darts at this problem. I’ve expressed my dismay and anger to no avail but we’ve finally taken control and are calling the shots. Other eyes on this problem will solve it no doubt. We will prevail.
How much worse can this get we thought. We get an email notice that we have mail from Novamar, our insurance company.
I contacted the bastards and they said they will not insure anyone in the Caribbean right now. OK so let me get this straight. You insured boats in the danger zone and low and behold there was danger and they filed claims. So many claims that you pull out of the area. Meanwhile us follow the rules types stay out of the danger zone but we get cancelled. Piss off eh!
You really have to laugh.
I forgot to mention that our batteries died. Yes we got 3 years out of those Trojans. I bought some cheap AC Delco batts. Maintenance free. They worked for a few days and then one died. Yep. I’m still laughing. Deb might be on the verge of complete humour removal. I’ll keep an eye on her.
Life is still good. We have rainbows and cold beer.
Oh. So we’re close to shore now right? This work boat pulls into the marina to POUND pilings into the earth for the next month or two. LOL. We might be batshit crazy by the time this season ends.
Launch day was usually after weeks in the steam and rain of Trinidad where we lived on the boat next to the jungle getting KN ready for sea duty. It was a slow process because you could only do so much work in that heat and humidity. There was plenty of time to rest and regain some fluids. It was still stressful because when you launch you pretty much head out to sea. There’s no lingering in that nasty harbor and as you may recall we had to turn around a few times with issues. Leaving Trini at night on the day you launch is VERY stressful.
We expected a Grenada launch to be somewhat more relaxing and easier on our bodies because we were sleeping in an apartment at night and not in the boat yard as usual. I’ve come to the conclusion that launch day is stressful and tiring no matter how you go about it. If I was a money bag sailor I would just have everyone else do the work and we would fly in, have a big breakfast, watch the boat launch and then sail away with champagne in hand. Alas, poor Paulie scraped, sanded and painted his way to launch day.
There are few days worse than launch day. Dying Day, Judgement Day, Arraignment Day, Tax Day and the day after Boat Purchase Day (what have we done?) come to mind but for the most part Launch Day really sucks.
It started off with me waking up on the boat in the yard at four in the morning. I realized I had not checked the mast lights. While it was still dark I scrambled out of the boat and into the yard in boxers and flip flops. I wasn’t sure when security was going to make their rounds but I was not quite awake yet and didn’t really care. I’m sure they’ve seen worse like the dude peeing next to his boat as security walked up behind him. Oops.
I had turned on all the lights and they looked good except I could not see the anchor light at the mast head so I walked further away down the yard. Ah, she’s lit. Good. At that moment a swarm of mosquitoes caught up to me and I was waving my hands around trying to get back to the boat and my flip flop caught on one of the metal loops for the tie-down straps. I stumbled trying to catch my balance still swatting bugs as our neighbors walked up to their boat to start their work day. I just kept swatting my way up the ladder and back into the boat to start some tea. I wonder what they thought they saw?
As the sun started to rise and I had my fifth tea (double bagged) I started my mental checklist of things needed to float this tub. It was a rough week for me having a hideous cold and cough while trying to scrape, sand and paint the bottom along with all the other stuff. I was running on empty and starting to get panicky. I got the fenders out, the docklines, all the seacocks closed. I went through my list, prop painted, zincs in place, tape is off the depth and speed transducers, radio works, anchor is ready. OK. I’m ready. Let’s get this fking over with. Let’s Go! Let’s Go!
We sat. Our 9am launch was slowly ticking away as we sat in the cockpit waiting for the trailer to take us to the water. One and a half hours of my knees bouncing up and down and biting my nails and chattering to Deb like a chipmunk on speedballs. Soon we heard movement down below. A dude with a big rasta bonnet comes by. “Hello Kelly Nicole! You have to get down now!” Finally. We climbed down the ladder and sat in the shade as the trailer came in and they started lifting KN and positioning her for the trip to the haulout. I’m forgetting something. What am I forgetting?
We walked behind the trailer as it moved through all the boats and towards the waiting travel lift. The lift! The lift is facing the wrong way I thought. I want to go in the water bow first. Hey! I ran up to the driver of the trailer. “I want to go in bow first!” He threw his hands up and another dude yelled to another dude and that dude yelled to the travel lift driver dude that I wanted bow first. There was some yelling, arguing and hand gestures but the travel lift swung around while the trailer moved out of the way. Making friends.
Now everything was ready and the travel lift scooped up KN and rolled towards the water and started lowering her. They stopped with the transom close to shore so we could hop aboard. We’re on.
When we got into the water I started the engine and then I went below with a flashlight to check for any leaks. Bow to stern I checked all the bilges and seacocks. As I was moving the flashlight away from the seacock under the sink I saw a sparkle. Water? Oh fuck. The seacock was leaking. NOOOooooo!
I came up and notified the lift driver. A tech jumped aboard. We determined it was leaking through the handle. It has to be replaced. As we were discussing what to do next the engine died. Just shoot me now.
The trailer came back and the lift lowered us onto it and they parked us in the yard while the seacock was replaced. I had a spare. They said we would try it again after lunch.We had lunch but no tech showed up. I wasn’t going to fight that drain hose. This I will spend the money on. It’s now 2 pm and finally the kid shows up. Half hour and we got a new seacock installed. Phew. We’re ready now! Hello!
We were moved to the last launch of the day at around 3 PM.
Before lunch they just walked away with the boat on the trailer. Too high for us to climb aboard. I asked for a ladder. Rasta dude found a broken old fiberglass ladder with one leg all splintered fiberglass. It just reached the stern ladder. “You better tie dat down.” I did. I found a too long line but used it anyway and tied off the ladder. Should I do both sides? Nah.
At 3 PM the yard manager yelled for us to get off the trailer. Now! OK dude. Debra went down the ladder and then I went next and paused to untie the long line. Just then the trailer engine started and it went into gear. Deb screamed STOP! But it moved forward with me on the ladder. I untied the line and jumped as the ladder started falling and I landed and caught the ladder as it was an inch from the ground and casually walked away. 😀
The yard worker spotting for the driver put his hand over his mouth and stared at me as I walked away giving the driver the “Fk you” look. Don’t know how I didn’t fall with the ladder crushing all my fingers. Bastards. Had I tied both sides I would have been dragged along with the trailer. If I had both hands in a cast because of these idiots I would have busted into the office and used my huge casts to trash the place. Then I’d bust their car windows. Pauly Smash!
KN was lowered into the water again. No leaks. The engine would not start. She wasn’t getting any fuel. I started the electric lift pump to get the fuel moving and eventually she turned over and ran for a while. Everyone ran away to smoke a blunt and go home. We were left to stay in the slip overnight. Sweet.
In all the chaos we forgot to test something. The new shaft! Hey Deb let’s put her into gear and check it out! Here goes…
Shake rattle and roll! She shook like an LA quake. Deb put her hands over her face and sat down. I stared off into space forming new obscenities to type into my phone for my mechanic.
It was three in the morning when I heard the dude upstairs start his shower. Usually I wake up at two because he’s pissing in the toilet and it’s about the time I have to go anyway but a shower at three? C’mon man. I tried to fall back asleep but the water kept running. I tossed and turned and then resigned myself to just staring at the ceiling until I felt like getting up and making some tea.
The water kept running. I’m usually up before this dude decides to clean himself so I have no idea what the shower sounded like down here but damn it sounds too loud. Actually it sounds wet. Almost like the dripping is in here. I couldn’t stand it anymore and I walked into the bathroom to look around with the light on my phone. I stepped in water. What the fuck! There’s water running down the walls! There’s water coming through the ceiling fan! There’s water everywhere! Deb!!
We got towels and I called security because it’s just what I thought you should do. Knocking on the neighbors door at three something in the morning seemed wrong. Security told me they would drive around the building. What? What the fuck is that going to do? They have to wait until daytime hours and call the owners to get permission to enter the apartments. Oh for Christ sakes.
I got my shoes on. Oops. Pants too. I ran upstairs and BANGED on the door. That might have been a bad idea. I knocked again a little softer.
“Yeah! Hold on!” I heard grumbling and mumbling. All I could think of was the dude was looking for his gun. From deep in the apartment I heard, “Aww fuck me”. I then heard footsteps towards the door. The dude opened it up almost naked with his hand over his forehead and his eyes closed saying, “Man, I’m sorry man it just overflowed. The toilet valve is fucked up and well I just noticed it.”
Picture a southern Tommy Chong minus the beard with a giant beer belly.
“I usually know when it’s fucked up but I had an accident man and got like seventeen stitches in my head so I been sleeping on the couch to keep my head up.” The couch was pulled out in front of a massive TV which was playing some old black and white movie. There were paper shopping bags all over the place filled with stuff and well, if there were twenty cats in there too I would not be surprised.
Is the water shut off? “Yeah man it’s off. My truck is down the road and I have a wet vac in it. I can suck it up tomorrow if you want”
Thanks but as long as the water is off we should be able to handle it. “Alright man. You here through the weekend? Cause we got an owners meeting and I will bring it up that my fucking toilet did it again.”
Uh, OK. Hope your head feels better.
I’m so tired. Tommy Chong is moving around up there now. We let the owner know what happened. Tommy better not appear at our door with a wet vac. I think he should put another movie on and light up and enjoy the day while using the guest bathroom.
Update: Tommy just knocked on the door and wanted to see the damage. I let him in. He doesn’t even look like the same guy this morning. He’s off to work and before he left us he mentioned he quit drinking and the damn doctors should have told him he might pass out cause that’s why he got stitches in his head and why he didn’t hear the toilet flowing. Thanks for the info Tommy.
Getting the new used bike on the trails here on Hilton Head Island has been fun. It’s nice to just pop on the bike and burn off some energy (calories) whenever I feel up to it.
Yesterday I did some beach riding. Upwind was brutal but it was worth it to see a guy walking his bike through the creek that flows out to the atlantic. He must have crossed at low tide and it wasn’t quite low enough to avoid a good soak on the way back. Oops! Once he got up to his balls in water I couldn’t watch anymore and took off down the beach. A glance back caught him on my side drying off and his bike laying in the sand. If he waited any longer it would have been one hell of a long ride to get back or a swim without his bike.
I got off the beach and road the trails for a while ending up along the main drag on the island. This was a long stretch and slightly downhill so I got up to speed and really flying down the path. I made it to an intersection and the light in the crosswalk was in my favor. I slowed to almost a stop and was balancing slowly, slowly, trying to get the attention of the driver wanting to make a right on red. I got a look so I took off. He either didn’t register my presence or assumed I was staying where I was and decided to move forward into the turn while looking at oncoming traffic. I yelled and sped up and lucky for me his wife slapped his arm for him to stop. He stopped inches short of my rear wheel. It was a Prius so my odds of serious injury were slim.
I looked back at him and he was apologizing with his hands and head shaking. Close one.
I always wear a helmet and try to wear bright clothing. I don’t have any LED lights/strobes for the thing yet but that’s next on the list. One thing I should have done is come to a complete stop and wait for the dope to wave me on. The traffic on the main road is brutal and you really are at risk in those crosswalks because people want to jump out in any break in traffic even if they run you over to get there.
I’m going out again after dinner for a lazy ride and hopefully the traffic will be lighter. I don’t like these close calls. It’s like you only get a certain number of them and after that…squish.
We had a blast up in Western New York. We were so busy that the time just flew by and before you know it we were heading south again. Kelly and Eric kept us busy with plenty of activities. Late summer in NY is a great time. There are festivals and concerts everywhere you look and the weather was spectacular. My only complaint was there was too little time.
As always it was a tough goodbye with the kids waving from their doorstep as we drove out of view. I wanted to hit the brakes and run back for one more hug but we had to jam more stuff from the apartment into that little road weary car and head south to the other half of the family who eagerly waited for us to arrive.
I picked up some germs and ended up with a nasty head cold as we were leaving. Talk about miserable. Trying to pack everything in our little car with me sniffling and sneezing and a pounding headache was not a fun time. Poor Deb. I kept whining about all the stuff we’ve accumulated. Somehow I wedged it all in and we hit the road.
To this day I am still amazed at the affect caffeine has on my body. I only needed to be relieved of the wheel for a couple of hours the first day and managed to do the whole drive the second day. Thank you java.
I’d open the door at a gas station and all my snotty tissues on the floor of the car would blow out the door. I didn’t care. How Deb is not sick right now is amazing though she has a runny nose and I hear her sneezing this morning. Update: She got the bug.
After the road trip I was toast. I’m just now starting to feel better and getting back to my normal self. Do I have a normal self? I was just thinking about all the people that caught this cold from me in PA, WV, VA, NC and SC. Except for the snotty tissues leaving the car I was pretty careful about washing my hands and sanitizing but those gas pumps might be crawling with bugs. We’re lucky we only get sick maybe once a year now.
Now we’re in a condo near the beach and relaxing a bit. Our SC family has some activities but the kids are in school and the parents working all day so we have some time to get prepped for the coming boat projects and sailing season.
I have mixed feelings about this season. The whole vibration thing is not going as I had envisioned and I’m getting a bit anxious about all the miles ahead of us. Granted it’s mostly off the wind which is nice but something about the boat bugs me lately. Call it my machinery instinct. I used to have a sense for when machinery I was involved with were about to give me heartburn. I kind of have that sense with KN right now. She will be getting a thorough going over before we go anywhere believe me. I am one paranoid little man so maybe this is just pre voyage jitters.
On the other hand I’m thinking this will be more like the party cruise we had on the way down. Some new places. Some new faces. Lot’s of excitement, the good kind not terror on the high seas. It’s going to feel different that’s for sure.
I hate being up so early. I’d rather get about seven to eight hours sleep but most nights this does not happen so here I am. Four in the morning is no time to be up and typing. Deb is sleeping. She will sleep through the noise of me making tea by boiling water in the microwave but wake up if I tip toe on the carpet past her because I forgot my reading glasses in the night stand.
These fking microwave ovens. The door to the damn things are always difficult and noisy to open and close and does it really have to beep like a dump truck backing up when it’s done? Why does the coffee mug I put in there always stop with the handle to the back of the oven? Other than boiling water in a pot on the stove there really is not a quiet way to make tea. I tried to shut the bedroom door but it squeaks like hell when I touch it. Oh well. Deb seems to be sleeping through it as usual.
I drove to Buffalo yesterday to take my Mom to lunch. She wanted to go to a fancy place so I had to go out and buy some pants. I have pants, just not the proper kind for where we were going. While I was at it I picked up a shirt. I felt like I was dressed for work and it kind of creeped me out a bit. I drove down the Thruway which runs across the state connecting the major cities. It’s a boring drive. Totally straight with nothing but farmland to look at and people pulled over for speeding. Mom decided the bar and grill along the river would be better. Now I really looked like a worker bee. Everyone was in shorts and t-shirts. It was a beautiful day with the breeze blowing in and power boat antics on the water. It was also the best fish fry I’ve had in some time. I got coleslaw on my new pants.
Oops. Deb just popped out to see if I was OK. Must be the light above the stove is too much. I’m usually in the dark but I don’t have a lighted keyboard anymore. I said I was fine and even in the little light that there is I could see the look she’s giving me which is probably the “Thanks a lot for disrupting my sleep pattern you creepy ass night stalker”. 😃
My Mom is doing OK. She still looks young for her age and still smiles a lot. In all the shit she’s been through all her life I always remember her having a slight smirk when most of us would be filled with anger and rage. The times she yelled at me for doing something stupid (many) and she was dead serious and trying to make a point with me I could always detect a smile about to erupt. Of course that was just me she was dealing with and I was quite the idiot at times so maybe she was serious with others and managed to maintain a stern look. I know she wasn’t smiling at my Dad sometimes but me she found it hard to not laugh.. I think.
We told some stories and remembered some people over the years and had some laughs. Mom’s tend to remember everything about their kids and she had some good stories. I really was an idiot back then. With Dad gone it’s nice to chat with Mom. I’m more like my her than my Dad and he couldn’t stand it when we both got some coffee into us and were chirping like magpies out in the kitchen. She’s more relaxed now and it makes a difference. I really enjoyed our lunch together and I’m hoping and wishing on the stars that we can see each other again in June.
There’s a little bit of rain this morning and the cars are starting to accumulate on the road. The sound of the tires in the rain are getting louder as the day gets brighter. I might get a walk in if this rain stops. We have brunch with Kelly and then dinner with friends later. It’s the time of our visit that I get a bit sad. It’s the goodbye time.
Another tea. Debra went back to sleep. I should creep past the bed and see if she wakes up. If I was out here in the dark on the floor pleading for help she would sleep right through it. If I snuck out of bed and raided her purse for some cash she would be right behind me, “What are you doing?”
With NY time winding down I’m starting to get a little anxious about the boat. I got an email from the yard asking for the combo to the lock. Uh, it’s the same one I left in the paperwork. They said they can’t get it to work. I asked them if this is the first time they’re trying to access the boat to check the batteries? In two months? I have not received a reply yet. I might have to drink beer today.