Archive for January, 2012
January 29, 2012
It is with distinctly mixed emotions that we bid farewell to Jarrett Bay, where Shear Madness has been and the community of Sea Gate where her crewed have lived for the past four months. One of the best things about the cruising life is the unexpected wonderful things that can come from what at first seem to be disasters or plain bad luck. Yes, there’s been a lot of tough, grind it out work in facilitating our repairs. There have been many frustrations along the way. And I will write more about those later, I promise. But now we are feeling good. We are back on the water with all the repaired systems running just fine. We have calm seas and little wind. These conditions are about as good as it gets. We are headed south and will stop in at either Charleston, SC or St. Helena, just a little further south for a night or two before heading on to Savannah.
But as happy as we are to be back on our journey, it was hard the past couple days saying goodbye to all the great new friends we made in Beaufort. Sea Gate, the community where we rented our house, is a fabulous place, full of people who will share their internet connection, invite you to their parties, lend you their books, invite you to dinner, loan you their cars, and become lifelong friends in a very short time. Sea Gate even has a neighborhood dog, Jenny, who serves as the unofficial mayor. Jenny does live in a house, but she is most often out on patrol, welcoming guests and keeping up with everyone in the community. She was one of the first ones we met when we went out for our first walk in the neighborhood. The spirit of Sea Gate was evident when Jenny was hit by a car and disappeared into the woods. It was late afternoon and soon the word was out – everyone needed to help find Jenny! Bradley and I took to our bikes and the search was on.
The amazing thing was how many people were out there looking – on foot, on bike, in golf carts, in cars, even in the cab of a semi. We were all scouring the streets and trails, stopping to visit with one another and share a real sense of community. Unfortunately we did not find Jenny, even when the search continued the next day. But lo and behold, late that evening, she showed up, battered and bruised, but alive and with no serious injuries. She’s going to be just fine and within minutes the word was spreading and we were ecstatic to get the call that she was OK. We had a chance to attend several dinner parties as well as the community Holiday and New Year’s Eve parties. During our last week, we had dinner invitations almost every night. It’s hard to put into words how special our Sea Gate experience was.
We also made many friends among those who did work on Shear Madness while she was at Jarrett Bay. Our electrician Steve and his family adopted John and Leanne for Christmas while Bradley and I headed to Virginia and Florida. And Steve’s family also hosted us all for a good bye oyster roast at their home the night before our departure. If you’ve never been to a good ole southern oyster roast, you don’t know what you’re missing! A fire, some cinder blocks, a piece of tin, a wet blanket, some sawhorses and plywood for a table, some vinegar, hot sauce and cornbread, followed by Smores at the campfire – all I can say is YUM!
Once the boat repairs were nearly complete and we were back in the water, we invited all our new friends on board for a Happy Hour. This marked our official transition from “work mode” back to “Cruise mode”. Now we are heading south – we’ll do an overnight passage to St. Helena or Charleston, then on to Savannah, and then to Florida. The entire Shear Madness crew would like to thank all our new friends in NC and all our old friends from all over the world for your support and friendship over these past months.
This is being published while underway with limited bandwidth, so photos will be minimal! More will be posted later……as I publish this we are now about an hour away from Charleston Harbor and will anchor there for the night. Another post about our passage to follow shortly!
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January 26, 2012
Filling up your Nordhavn is not quite like filling up your car. Shear Madness holds 4465 gallons of diesel in 5 separate tanks. Two aft tanks hold 1400 gallons each, two forward tanks hold 800 gallons each, and a “day tank” holds 65 gallons. The engines draw fuel from the day tank which can accept fuel from any of the other tanks through a series of valves and transfer pumps. Fully loaded, our fuel weighs over 32,000 pounds, so it’s important to keep the port and starboard tanks relatively equal to prevent listing to one side or the other.
We had only a couple hundred gallons of fuel in our tanks when we arrived in NC. Since we were planning to fill up, the first step is to negotiate a good price! Given the variation in fuel prices between states and between marinas within states, filling up at the wrong place can costs hundreds of dollars.
A check of marinas up and down the east coast and input from fellow Nordhavn owners who have recently fueled up confirmed our own research that showed NC was a good place to buy fuel. Jarrett Bay agreed to match the price of another marina if we committed to a large purchase, so we were able to get a good discount off the regular price.
The next step is to move the boat to the fuel dock. It’s just a short move, but despite the lack of wind (good), there was a very strong current (bad) making Bradley thankful for the fully operational bow and stern thrusters. We took our time and made a couple approaches to the fuel dock where we were soon safely moored.
Next is to determine the order in which to fill the tanks. First, the day tank is filled from fuel in the other onboard tanks. Then we ensure that we have opened the diesel fill holes (which look just like the ones for filling the water tanks – there are many stories out there of people putting water in their fuel tanks or vice versa!). Then we ensure that the hose we are putting in is connected to Diesel fuel, not gasoline (ditto previous comment). Before adding the fuel, we add the appropriate amount of fuel treatment – in our case Stanadyne Performance Formula Diesel Fuel Additive, which is designed to clean, protect, and stabilize the fuel. Then we start fueling the aft tanks, adding several hundred gallons to one before switching to the other in order to keep them somewhat balanced. This is repeated until both tanks are at the desired level. Then this process is repeated for the forward tanks. Throughout this process, John is monitoring the hose while Bradley is observing the tanks from inside the boat, watching the sight gauges as fuel is added and ensuring no leaks are apparent. John and Bradley communicate via two-way radio to ensure that all is OK and to coordinate switching between tanks. Someone on the dock monitors the gallon counter and keeps John apprised of how much fuel has been added.
The whole process takes several hours. Once we are full of diesel fuel, we also take on some gasoline, which is used in our tender (the smaller boat used for going ashore when we are at anchor). Our tender holds about 60 gallons of gasoline and we have an onboard tank that holds an additional 60 gallons.
The next step is the hardest of all – we have to pay for the fuel! In this case, we had agreed to pay by check in order to get the best price. Since we do almost all our banking online these days, writing a real check is a bit of a novelty! We took on 3800.2 gallons of diesel and 76 gallons of gasoline, so the total was just over $13,000. Fortunately, we don’t have to fill up very often! This will take us over 4000 miles, enough to get us to Florida, the Bahamas, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, back to the Caribbean, and then some!
For now, we just move back to our regular dock, full of fuel and ready to go! After all these months, we are finally ready to go cruising. But wouldn’t you know it – now the weather has decided to turn nasty, with high winds and big seas forecast through the weekend. So we’ll stay put until this passes, then start our journey south. Hopefully this will give me a chance to post a couple more updates!
Here’s a short (1 min) video of the process, set to appropriate music:
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January 13, 2012
Shear Madness is back in the water! Much more work has been done and I will provide more details of that work in my next post, but for now, we are tired of talking about work and repairs! Yesterday we conducted sea trials! That means we went out into the ocean to test all the newly installed and/or repaired electronics, hydraulics, bow and stern thrusters, and inverters. Ideally, you do not want to conduct sea trials in calm waters – it’s good to have a bit of seas in order to give the systems a good test. Well, we sure did that! Winds were blowing 25-30 knots as we left the dock. Engines, bow and stern thrusters performed well and soon we were back on the water! We headed down the intracoastal waterway (ICW).
Along for the ride were Brian from Celtic Marine Electronics and Justin from American Bow Thruster (ABT) to test and fine tune the systems they had installed. While still in the ICW we performed some tests and turned some slow circles to calibrate compass and autopilot systems. Brian was able to find and correct a problem that was causing inaccurate heading data to be sent to the autopilot resulting in problems holding a course. Once corrected, the autopilot performed well, so we headed for the open ocean.
The good news is that the systems, as well as the crew, got quite a good test! As the ICW gave way to the ocean, the wind was a-blowing and the waves were steep and short, resulting in a pretty wild ride! In fact, it was the roughest conditions we have experienced on this boat. Fortunately the boat and the systems handled things pretty well, as did the crew. Since we had not anticipated such rough conditions, we had not adequately secured everything and had a few “flying missiles” and a few crashes and bangs, but no serious damage. After a good run in which we turned in all directions to give the stabilizers a good workout with seas coming from all directions, we turned and headed back into the ICW. We all breathed a sigh of relief as we entered the calmer waters.
While there are still a few minor issues to deal with, the end is now in sight! We are hoping to depart NC within the next week or two. The boat has now been washed and the interior thoroughly cleaned. It’s starting to look like a boat again and not a mad scientist’s workshop.