Southport, NC to Adams Creek, NC

DSC03331aDSC03333a Two of our good friends that we have known for many years pulled into the marina across the dock from us on Saturday afternoon. We had planned on leaving Saturday after we dropped off the rental car, but the weather had turned to, well let’s say crap. It was raining and blowing so we decided to spend another day at the marina. After all, this is supposed to be fun. The rain came down in buckets all day and this would make a trip up the Cape Fear River a very unpleasant experience. As our friends arrived late in the afternoon, their first remark was, “you made a good decision”. They had a pretty uncomfortable day and were pretty wet and tired. But after a short rest we had a very nice dinner on their boat and caught up on what was happening with us and them. They had been at the same marina that we had been in Beaufort, but left for a trip up to Norfolk and were now heading back south. It is always good to meet up with friends unexpectedly and share a good meal.

Myrtle Beach, SC to Southport, NC

The Coquina Yacht Club is really one of our recommended stops if a marina is in your plans. The staff are great people, former cruisers, the facilities are well protected, the WiFi works, the showers, restrooms and lounge are spotless, and you can always find someone willing to give you a ride to the grocery or where ever you need to go. One night is really not enough to enjoy it but that was all we were able to stay. The weather was still a bit less than we would have liked to see, and as we got under way the next morning it was indeed raining. But we needed to go anyway and we were once again only doing about 30 or more miles to our next stop. Now we really don't usually do these short days but circumstances were slowing us down. Susan received a call from an organization in Baltimore that wanted her to come in for an interview THIS WEEK and Of course we had almost no notice. We would have stayed in Coquina but the rental car companies near by were less than easy to deal with, would not pick us up and want ridiculous charges for mileage and her trip would be close to 1,000 miles round trip. If we headed to Southport we could get a rental from the same companies to pick her up, give her a car and no mileage charges, only daily rates. So off we went, rain and all.

Georgetown, SC to Myrtle Beach, SC

The new alternator arrived a little after 11:30 AM and by 1:00 PM it was installed and checked out just fine. Since it was a newer version of the same unit we had, a few modifications were needed for both the wiring and mounting. One big plus was that the new unit registers the amps it puts out on our battery monitor. For whatever reason, the old unit did not. The service tech came by the boat and was less than friendly about returning the alternator he ordered and not having him install the new one.  By 1:20 PM we had readied ourselves and the boat and were shoving off from the dock. The skies were blue, crystal clear, the breeze was up and it was a beautiful day. Much different from the gray skies and drizzle that we had off and on yesterday. It was really good to get under way again. This whole fiasco had been a four day delay, not to mention the additional dockage we had to pay just because someone made a mistake and wouldn't admit it. The old adage is correct, if you want something done right, do it yourself.

Still In Georgetown

The strainer glass (plastic) arrived right on time and it took only minutes to install. Good news, it did not leak. Bad news, the alternator that was sent to us had the wrong size pulley for the belt. The tech specifically told the alternator company what size we needed for the belt, 1/2 inch and they sent 3/8 instead. Now they are saying they won't take it back even though it is not what we ask for. As soon as I find out the name of the company that shipped it I will post it so you can be sure and avoid them. The Service Tech will be here tomorrow and hopefully we can work things out between he and I. In the mean time, once again, American Diesel has saved the day. Brian is shipping a replacement alternator overnight, except no one overnights to Georgetown on Saturdays, and we will have it on Monday. This will be a further delay, but what can you do. We have found all too often over the years that suppliers often make these kinds of mistakes and refuse to own up to their mistakes. Those that do get repeat business from us and many others. Those that don't, we try to let others know, so they can avoid the same problems and hassles we have to deal with. Because of the suppliers mistake we will have to pay additional dockage for three days waiting for parts and delay our trip for the same amount of time. The folks here at the Boat House Marina have done all they can to try and help. BTW, they did get the WiFi working as promised. It looks like we will be enjoying the hospitality of Georgetown for a couple of more days.

Minim Creek to Georgetown, SC

Living and cruising on a boat is not for the faint of heart or anyone with a lack of perseverance or good problem solving skills. That is unless you have large sums of money to afford a crew, engineer, and full time mechanic. For us it is perseverance and ingenuity and not much else. In the past we have always noted that we almost never have just one problem.

Our plan was to head for Georgetown, about 15 miles north, to deal with the alternator and to sleep in a bit since the distance was so short. But neither of us were able to sleep late and found ourselves up before the sun anyway. A quick breakfast and before starting our usual routine, we made a couple more checks on the alternator. We also spoke with Brian at American Diesel just in case we overlooked something. Brian suggested we bypass the the oil pressure switch which activates the alternator in case the switch was bad. This would cause the alternator to not activate. We gave it a try but no joy, so we prepared to get under way. About that time the lines on the head decided to blow apart, we can only surmise a clog caused this. So we had to reassemble the hoses and clean up before we got under way.

Stono River, SC to Minim Creek, SC

We had a very quiet evening anchored on the Stono River. We were up at 6:00 AM and ready to get underway by 7:00 AM. Before we get underway each day we go through a regular routine. All fluids in the engine are checked and topped off if needed. The battery levels and water levels are checked, fuel and water in the tanks are noted in the log and the electronics and bilge pumps are checked, as well as noting the engine hours before we fire up the engine. We check the local weather reports and make notes of the expected forecast, which is usually wrong. We also acquire any weatherfax, wind and wave forecasts and reports and whatever else we can get. These we use more than the forecasts to determine when and where we move. It sounds like a lot but it gets done quickly and usually takes us about 1/2 hour. Then we can fire up the engine, haul up the anchor and get under way. Our newly installed wash down system did a fine job of cleaning the anchor rode, chain and anchor.

Beaufort, SC to Charleston, SC

We were off the dock this morning at 7:30, a bit later than we had planned, and turned onto the Beaufort River heading north. This would be our first trip with the boat and all of the new equipment we have installed. The first few days, especially on an untested boat, always make us a bit anxious. The weather was absolutely perfect with temps in the low 80's and a moderate breeze. We cleared the Beaufort River and turned into the Coosaw. This can be a bumpy ride in the wrong weather but today it was wonderful. The Ashepoo/Coosaw Cutoff has been dredged so this once problem area has plenty of water. We found 9 to 14 feet in the lower cutoff and 16 feet or more in the upper section and we transited this right at low tide. The currents were with us and against us off and on all day. When it was with us we would make 8 knots or better and when against us, it slowed us down to 5 knots. Even the dreaded White Point area presented no problems when we followed the magenta line.

Steering Issues And Preparing For A Cruise

All of our recent activity has been for a purpose. We are preparing Beach House for a trip from our current location in Beaufort, South Carolina, to the Chesapeake Bay. We know it is the wrong direction for this time of year, but recent events have required us to head north. If all goes as planned we will leave the dock on Monday, September 14th and head along the ICW for the next 600 miles or so. We have made as many improvements as we felt were necessary to make the trip safe and comfortable.

One issue that took some extra work was the steering system. The upper and lower hydraulic helm pumps are Wagner 700 Series, very substantial and dependable units. The upper helm had developed a leak so we decided to send both units in for testing and service which included replacing the internal seals. We chose Florida Rigging and Hydraulics for the service since we had received good reviews from folks that had used them in the past. They did an excellent job and turned the units around very quickly at a reasonable price. They also spent the time on the phone to be sure we understood the requirements for bleeding the system and the proper fluid to use.

Replacing The Fresh Water Circulating Pump On Our Ford Lehman 120

If you had read our previous post, we discovered the fresh water circulating pump on the front of the engine had developed a leak and needed replacement. The great folks at American Diesel were quick to get the replacement shipped to us and in my discussion with Bob Smith, he suggested that we replace the engine belt at the same time and be sure and replace it with the proper belt to assure there would be less likelihood of another issue with the pump soon. We agreed and had a belt shipped with the pump. The replacement was actually quite easy.

Servicing The Cooling System On Our Ford Lehman Diesel And Other Things

After the transmission cooler was replaced we decided to also replace the oil cooler since it was probably the same age and condition. But after removing it we found it to be moments away from a total meltdown so the decision was a good one. We ordered the parts again from American Diesel and they arrived within a couple of days. When we went to re-install it we found the oil hose sizes on the engine to be different than the hoses need for the new cooler. So we ordered the correct size from America Diesel and they too arrived in a couple of days. Although not related to the cooling system, we had planned to add an oil changer to make the oil changing process much faster and cleaner. With the hoses off for the cooler we took the opportunity to drain the oil from the crankcase, using a small pump attached to a drill. This is slow and messy but the attachment for the oil changer needs to go in the bottom of the oil pan so it had to be drained.