Archive for September, 2011
Sept 27, 2011
As we address the damage from our recent lightning strike, our first order of business for Shear Madness was to get the engines operating again. Because they are electronically controlled and the lightning strike seriously damaged the electronic control units, we had to have all new parts shipped in order to get back up and running. This took some time, but yesterday the techs from Western Branch Diesel arrived with all necessary parts. The first thing we wanted to do was to try to start the engines in manual mode, bypassing the electronic controls to ensure that had we been underway and lost engines we would have been able to restart them. We had decided to wait to conduct this test until the experts were onboard. The first good news – the engines fired right up. However, without the controls there is no information available about RPM, temperature, oil pressure, etc. We would not want to run very long in that situation, but it would hopefully suffice to get us home in an emergency.
The techs were competent and efficient. Despite a few minor glitches with getting access to key areas, they were able to get most new parts installed and operating by the end of the day. We have a new hand-held GPS and have installed our navigation software and charts onto a laptop, so we have basic navigational capability. Bradley and John were also able to get one of our two anchors operational. We still have no depth sounder and that’s a big concern. The next phase of our repairs will occur in Beaufort, NC and will require a 300-mile trip down the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW). The ICW has a channel that should accommodate us as far as depth, but it would be a very nerve-wracking trip for us without a depth sounder. But we’ve had another bit of good fortune. Another Nordhavn, the 64 foot Sweet Hope, arrived at Colonial Beach last week and is planning to head south to NC. The captain, George, a highly experienced and capable chap, has agreed to act as our escort so we will be able to follow him down the ICW. Our plan is to depart tomorrow, stop in at Tidewater for another visit by the Western Branch Diesel techs, then head down to Beaufort. Unlike an ocean passage where we would travel 24 hours a day, the ICW can only safely be navigated during daylight hours, so we plan to stop at night either at a marina or at a safe anchorage.
If all goes well, we could arrive in Beaufort next week. The boat will then be hauled out of the water for further inspection. Then work will begin on the electrical systems (power), followed by getting the basic electronics (Navigation, communications, radar) functional. This will involve flying in people with the expertise to perform the repairs. Finally, once the boat is safely able to navigate in open water, we will continue on to Florida for the final phase of repairs – this includes items that are not critical to safe navigation such as water makers and entertainment system. We are planning on at least 3 months to have everything back in working order. Though it’s not what we had planned, in the end we will have learned even more about all the boat’s systems, so in the long run we will be more comfortable with that knowledge.
As we transition into the cruising life, one of the things we’ve decided is that once a week we will “dress for dinner”. This is meant to be sure we don’t forget how to do it just in case we ever return to civilization. It also ensures that we take time regularly to sit down for a proper meal with real discussion and “act like grown-ups” (or as close as we can come to doing that!). So when we invited George from Sweet Hope over for dinner, he asked “are we dressing” to which we said “Of Course”. George put us to shame with a proper British greatcoat and we had a fabulous time. So for any of you planning to visit us aboard Shear Madness, you will need to bring at least one nice outfit!
Bradley and I have now moved aboard the boat full time. We’ve left our house in Virginia in good hands with its new owners. Our dog Jordan has moved to North Carolina, where he is having a grand adventure with his beloved Aunt Meg (a family friend who has lived with us for several years). Although we love dogs, Jordan is too old to adapt to life on a boat and we have decided that cruising with a pet introduces too much complication, so we’ll be dog-less for the foreseeable future. It was difficult to leave the house, Jordan, and all our great friends in the area, but we are anxious to get through this phase and on to the “fun stuff”. Jordan had a farewell walk around the neighborhood lake before we left – click here to see the video!
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To say the past month has been turbulent would be an understatement! In the aftermath of the lightning strike, we have done a more detailed damage assessment (click here if you are interested in seeing the details). The insurance company sent a marine surveyor to the boat to evaluate the damage – yes, it IS covered by insurance! The repairs will be done in several stages. The first order of business is to get the engines operational. Although they are diesel engines, they are controlled by various electronic components (like the computers in modern cars) and those components are seriously damaged. Replacement parts have been ordered and the diesel techs are scheduled to arrive in Colonial Beach with those parts around Sept 19th. We’ll also need to get some basic navigation systems operational so that we will be able to move the boat to a location where additional work can take place. We expect that it will take at least 2-3 months to get the boat back in safe operational condition. We are also aware that damage from lightning strikes often does not show up immediately. It can be months or sometimes even years before the full extent is known!
Simultaneously with this effort, Bradley and I have been busy getting ready to close on the sale of our house in Oakton, VA, which I am pleased to say occurred on September 7th. We are very happy with the new owners, Dan and Marilyn, who we think will love that house as much as we did during our 14 years there. They have also been wonderful to deal with – we feel very fortunate with how the whole process has worked. Even though we had done a lot of divesting of “stuff” to prepare to put the house on the market back in May, there were many decisions to make and many more things to part with. I can say that Freecycle and Craigslist Free Stuff have been a big part of my life the past few weeks! I am now staying with a neighbor down the street along with our dog Jordan, who will be moving to his new home in North Carolina later this month. It has been raining furiously all week and yesterday serious flooding in this area wreaked havoc on the roads. The new owners of our house called me to say they were stranded and could not get back to the house due to closed and flooded roads. Dan asked if I could go down and turn off the Crock Pot they had left on. They also had planned to have their furniture delivered and it had been loaded on a truck but they had no idea where it was! I headed down the road for what I though was a quick trip to turn off the crock pot and make sure everything was OK at the house, only to find that the moving truck had arrived! So I spent several hours overseeing the move of the new owners things into our old house. Unusual, to say the least, but Dan and Marilyn finally made their way over around 10pm. We all agreed it would make a good story someday. So, everything has not gone completely according to plan, but at least everyone is safe, if perhaps a bit stressed. The cruising life demands the ability to adapt and to deal with the unexpected, so we are getting some good practice at that! Sorry there are no good photos to post this time, but take a look at this video of a guy tubing down Lee Highway in Fairfax, a major local road!