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.
In due time, we were hauling up the anchor and using our handy wash down system. Unbeknown to us, one of the high quality hose clamps we had just bought from Worst (West) Marine had come apart and the wash down pump was leaking into the locker where it was mounted. That meant we had a very wet floor in the forward cabin. With it shut off, the leak stopped and the hose clamp was replaced. We planned to replace all of the Worst Marine hose clamps when we get to Georgetown. The short trip took about 3 hours, only because when we hit Winyah Bay, the tide was on the Ebb and we had about 2 to 3 knots against us. But the weather was again beautiful, with blue sunny skies and warm temperatures. The portable generator and the house battery charger were doing a great job of keeping the 12 volt system happy and healthy.
We had called ahead to the Boat Shed Marina in Georgetown for a slip and to inquire about the alternator. They did not have someone to do the work but immediately called a tech for us, Jim Johnson of Diesel Services, and made arrangements for him to meet us as we arrived. We chose Boat Shed instead of the repair yard here because these folks have always been friendly, professional and extremely helpful any time we stop. This is a marina and high and dry with not a lot of dock space so it does fill up quickly in season. The WiFi service was not working well but the owner was working to fix it, which he did.
The place is always clean and well cared for and they do sell fuel. We had not been in the slip more than 15 minutes when the tech arrived. Keep in mind that we could have easily ordered a replacement alternator and replaced it ourselves. There is no one in the Georgetown area that can repair our alternator, the down side of these smaller towns. That would mean we would need to find a source for the alternator, get it or pay to have it shipped, install it and if it did not work for whatever reason, deal with those issues. If we used a local tech, he would handle all of the logistics, install and test the alternator, and deal with any problems. Too often we have received and alternator, installed it, and it did not work. We did not want that delay. In addition we put a little money into the local economy and the total time we would have to pay the tech is minor.
Georgetown is always one of our favorite stops along the waterway. Since our first visit, when many of the downtown shops were closed, today there are many shops restaurants and stores and it seems there are always plenty of tourists. Our favorite restaurants and ice cream shop are still here. Unfortunately for the folks that lost jobs, the steel mill is closed, but it does make the town a much quieter, less polluted place with noticeably cleaner air. Unfortunately for the boaters, the harbor is full of anchored "local" boats and the only anchorage area left is at the south end, which is more exposed and with questionable holding. That pretty much makes this a marina stop.
But that is not the end of the story. I removed the non-functioning spare alternator so when the tech arrived we could quickly install the new unit. While in the engine compartment, I noticed a slight drip at the bottom of the clear glass on the Groco sea strainer for the raw water intake. Upon inspection it showed a tiny crack in the plastic, not a good sign. Keep in mind I have been inspecting this thing a couple of times a day. This is an important part of the engine cooling system and an underwater fitting so it should not be taken lightly. And of course no one in the area stocks this part so we had to special order it, which means another days delay. But this is all part of cruising.
We always say the true definition of cruising is repairing your boat in exotic places. The alternator arrived at the service techs office the next day just as he stated and he immediately brought it to the boat for installation. Now we need to wait for the strainer glass (plastic) and it should arrive mid day tomorrow, Friday. It should be a simple 10 minute repair and unless we find something else in the meantime we will be under way again shortly thereafter.