February 24, 2016
We’ve continued to enjoy Morehead City and catch up with old friends. We’ve also experienced some interesting weather. On Super Bowl Sunday, we had a pretty intense storm pass through, with winds as high as 57 knots – that’s tropical storm strength (65 MPH). Fortunately, we are at a reasonably protected dock at Moorehead City Yacht Basin and did not sustain any damage. More importantly, we never lost our DirecTV signal so were able to watch the whole game! Bradley got bored with the game by the third quarter and was very disappointed in the ads. Just last week, we had an early morning severe storm, resulting in some nearby tornadoes and winds here at the marina of 65.8 knots (75 MPH)! It was intense but again no damage. More severe weather is expected today.
We would also like to take this opportunity to send our thoughts and blessings to a good friend and leader within the Nordhavn community. Braun and his charming wife Tina have crossed both oceans in their Nordhavn’s, first a 62 and later a 64, and have explored more of the world that most owners. In December he was struck by a combination of health issues, that has put him in the hospital for many weeks. The latest update indicates that he is slowly on his way back to health, but still faces many challenges. We are sending our best wishes and blessing for full and rapid recover. Good Luck Braun.
We hope to be back to cruising within the next few days. We’ve been doing some provisioning with trips to Costco, Walmart, and the Nahunta Pork Center to stock the pantry and freezers and are anxious to get back on the water!
But while here in Morehead City, we decided to tackle a few maintenance projects. The rule of thumb on a boat is that for every project you start, you find several more. This time was no exception! We’ve ended up with a very tight timeframe to get a lot done. Don’t worry, we won’t be offended if you don’t read the rest of this as it describes our maintenance.
Here are a few of the projects:
A/C repairs – Shear Madness uses a reverse-cycle CruiseAir system with two compressors and eleven air handlers. We had previously replaced one air handler, but have had various problems with the system, including several leaks, As the air handlers are now 11 years old, we decided to replace 4 more of them. This is no easy task, as the units are tucked into spaces with limited access and newer models are never the same size as original. In addition, we decided to have our ducts cleaned, resulting in debris being blown out all over the place! Of course several other issues developed during the process; we also discovered problems with a keypad and with the installation of the prior unit we had replaced and one of our control boards was bad. But all is now working well.
Electrical – when we arrived here, we were unable to connect to shore power. The problem turned out to be a Charles AB switch which had failed. Our electrician came to the boat, found the problem, and was able to bypass it. We called Charles and they said there are very few parts inside the unit, so they would send replacement parts which the electrician could install. When the parts arrived, it turned out not to be so simple. The parts were not the right ones and proved impossible to install. So instead, we decided to order a new unit. Which of course is NOT the same size as the old one. Nevertheless, it was finally installed and works.
We have an ongoing problem with our sonar unit, which has controls in both the Pilot House and Flybridge. Whenever the flybridge unit is connected, the sonar would not work at all. We had previously sent the flybridge control unit back to Furuno for evaluation but it was returned with no problem found. Further diagnosis revealed a different component that was the likely cause – it too had to be sent back and repaired, then re-installed, solving the problem. Untold hours spent last year and this year on correctly resovling.
We also decided to upgrade our onboard wifi/cell data system with a new Pepwave HD router. This device will pick up local wifi networks and also use cell SIM cards to provide internet access. It essentially combines the functions of our older Wave Wifi and broadband router into a single device with much better software and management options. However, it requires one wifi and two cell antennas. We determined that we could use our existing Wave Wifi antenna for the wifi part, and order antenna and cable for the cell antennas. Running new wires is always an adventure, as is placing the device in a place that is both secure and accessible.
While we were at it, there was a VHF antenna that had some loose wiring that was addressed.
We have recently replaced our old satellite phone and SPOT Satellite tracking device with a new Iridium GO! device that combines satellite tracking, calling, email, and text into a single unit with more flexible airtime plans. We tested the unit on our trip down and, deciding it meets our needs, wanted to mount it permanently in the old sat phone spot. This of course is in a tiny cabinet, and required a different power source, meaning it was a bit more complicated than just plugging it in. But it at least can use the existing external antenna and is now securely mounted.
In the process of all this, our microwave quit working. This is an 11-year old GE Microwave and Convection oven which we use often. The convection oven is a great alternative which uses much less power than the large standard oven, so I use it often. We would have been happy to replace this with a new unit, but it’s not that easy. Every single new model microwave/convection oven is either four inches deeper or three inches wider than our existing one, making it impossible to replace without extensive re-modeling. Fortunately, parts are still readily available and a local repairman was able to fix it – though the cost to do so approaches the cost of a new one!
On another appliance note, our small refrigerator in the flybridge has been making awful noises. Again, we had to be careful to select a new one which would fit into the existing space. We eventually selected a GE compact refrigerator with small freezer which we ordered from Lowe’s. Somewhere in the process, the “home store” got switched so instead of coming to Morehead City, the new fridge went to Naples, FL. That meant we had to cancel and re-order, this time having it arrive here in Morehead City. The crane was employed to take the old fridge off and get the new one on. Once in the new space, it has to be secured and sealed, but is now in and working.
We had another challenge in finding a part – our table in the flybridge has a hydraulic gas spring (strut) to allow it to be raised and lowered. The strut blew a seal and was not repairable but finding a replacement proved difficult. Our unit was made in Taiwan and we could not find one that was the same size with the same thread pattern. We were finally able to get one that was close enough – a local machine shop was able to adapt it to fit.
We also needed to stock up on motor oil – main engines and generators require periodic oil changes and we carry oil in two oil tanks which we typically fill from 5-gallon buckets of Rotella-T. Walmart often has the best pricing, but we needed 16 5-gallon buckets and they did not have it in stock, so we had to order online. No problem, except that Walmart then sent each bucket separately by FedEx. No problem with 13 of them, other than they all arrived at different times and were packed in boxed with lots of bubble wrap. But 3 of the shipping labels came unattached to their packages, resulting in long delays, many calls with FedEx to track them down, and ultimately not receiving two of them (which Walmart of course re-funded, but it’s just a typical experience of trying to source and order stuff).
We’ve had some ongoing issues with our Vacu-Flush heads and had ordered a new toilet back when we were in Portsmouth, VA. But it had arrived damaged and had to be re-ordered and sent here to NC. Unfortunately, the toilet expert we had in Virginia is not here! And as this is an electrically controlled toilet it requires some complicated wiring. And of course, replacing an older toilet, it of course is a slightly different size and cannot use existing holes. We ended up having to replace the actual mount to the hose, and redrill new holes in the floor to secure. Luckily the old holes in the tile are covered by the new toilet so we only had to fill them and not worry about matching 12 year old tile.
We’ve had all the remaining old caulking around windows and seams replaced– this has been an ongoing project over our last several stops. We use 3M 4000 Polyether Adhesive Sealant for this. We also wanted to address the vents in our outside cabinets – these are stainless steel vents which allow air flow through the cabinets. They were painted and have begun peeling and show some rust spots. The question was what to do and how. After much research and an original idea from Steve D., we arrived at a plan – remove the vents, sand blast them, and have them electro-polished rather than painted. We did one as a test, sending it to a shop across the state, and liked the result. So that meant taking off each door and removing the vent – they are very tight and required the use of a press to remove. While the vents were being worked on, each cabinet had to be covered with a temporary cover – saran wrap, cardboard, and tape! Once the vents were returned, they needed to be re-installed and sealed with caulk (3M 4000 again). Of course no matter how careful we were, in the process 4 of the doors were damaged during the process of removing the vents and need to be repaired, gelcoated and polished.
Our good friends from Western Branch Diesel did some main engine maintenance, including replacing water pumps on both engines. Looks like we did this just in time, as when the old pumps went back to the shop for evaluation as spares, they were found to be not worth keeping. During the process we found some broken sensors, very poor design by Detroit Diesel and also a leaking fuel pump on our port engine. The starboard fuel pump was replaced last year.
In our ongoing quest to replace energy consuming halogen and fluorescent lights with LED, we found new lights for the engine room and outside deck lighting. While the new LED replacing the Fluorescents do not appear to save as much power as we hoped, we like the lighting much butter. Also we can now use the LED ceiling lights when operating so there will be substantial power savings while underway.
One the tech side, we’ve updated all our electronic charts and finally have gotten almost all our technical manuals downloaded onto our boat computer and iPad. So we got rid of all but the most important or most obscure paper manuals as well as the folders and boxes they were in, freeing up more space for other stuff!
For those who continue to believe cruising is all fun and cocktails, I can tell you we have been working 10 to 12 hours days to get all projects completed prior to month end, which turned out to be 1 to 2 weeks past our original hope date.