Wednesday, June 18, 2014

A tale of 2 engines....

June 17, 2014.

Predictably enough, a tale of 2 engines begins with an engine that won't start. The owner said that he just brought the boat up from Saint Johns where he's lived aboard it for the past 3 years. He told me that somewhere along the line he dumped a few jerry jugs of fuel into the tank and the engine hasn't restarted since. Both engines are plumbed to the same fuel tank and the starboard side still runs fine. So call me a little skeptical. He changed filters, said he found a ton of water and bled the engine to no avail. Since I believed the owner wouldn't mislead me with his event history I also jumped into bleeding the engine.

This catamaran is powered by a pair of tiny 1 cylinder Yanmars sitting atop saildrives. Miniscule single cylinder engines trying to push a 35 foot catamaran across the water seems like a pretty big design shortcoming to me. But whatever...

While the owner turned the key I bled the small Yanmar and was struck by how little compression the engine seemed to have as it spun quickly at the turn of the key. I engaged the compression release and there seemed to be no difference in the quickly spinning engine. Ut-oh.

I pulled the miniature valve cover off and realized that every time the owner started a sentence it should have begun with “Once upon a time....” because this guy was a story teller. The valve cover was full of goo and after wiping a good bit of it away I could see that both of the valve springs were broken. The broken springs explained why the engine wouldn't start but what really surprised me was the amount of sludge that had built up inside the valve cover.

I went and bought new valve springs and retainers and returned to install them. While I was gone the owner left and won't be back as the boat now sits with a local broker. After removing the valve assembly I got down to cleaning everything before reassembly. Thats when I realized just how an accomplished storyteller I had been privileged to meet. What I had taken to be a build up of sludge was actually grease. I guess that when the first spring had broken someone thought it would be a good idea to pack the valve cover with grease to keep those pesky broken parts from making noise.

Did he think I had a magic wrench and the engine was going to miraculously start? Did the guy really think nobody was going to find the broken bits? I just can't believe that he went out of his way to waste both our time. Douchebag.

The second engine of the day was a Perkins 4-108. The owner said he saw some black smoke, hes had the 30 year old boat for 13 years and since hes leaving on a cruise he'd like to get the injectors rebuilt. I headed there picturing a thirty year old rust covered engine with ancient injectors firmly wedged in their ancestral homes.

Imagine my surprise when I got there and found a perfect scenario. The engines location allowed complete and easy access to the injectors. Its nice when the sweat runs down your body rather than up into your hair. The engine was as clean as if it were new. I put my wrench on the first banjo bolt for the return lines and … cracked loose easily. Actually, everything I put a wrench on came apart so easily I wouldn't have been surprised to find out that the engine had been assembled only yesterday. In no time I was out of there with the injectors in hand.

So the catamaran with the nefarious owner is listed with a broker for resale. Supposedly the price will reflect the fact that its going to need 2 new engines. Even at a discounted price could a boat formerly “maintained” by this guy ever be worth it? A valve cover packed with grease just makes me wonder about everything else he might have touched. Conversely, the Bristol 45 with the aging Perkins appears to be in magnificent shape. If it ever shows up on the market, well, I don't think you could go wrong. Two different people are going to buy these boats and the new owners are surely going to have different versions of the dream.....

Sunday, June 8, 2014

June 8, 2014.

Wow, where has the time gone. Contrary to what people might be thinking we are not dead nor have we fallen off the edge of the earth. To say that we've had a lot going on is an understatement.

First off, we're both healthy and happy but my buddy Tucker has had a bit of a relapse with his Vestibular Disease. He's still alert and has his appetite but hes stumbling around pretty badly. Last time it took about a month before he regained his form. Its been about 2 weeks, we'll have to see how it goes. We're trying to remain positive but hes definitely in his twilight years so its only a matter of time. It just doesn't make it any easier.

A couple of months ago I wrote about us deciding to sell the Veranda. After cruising her for a season after the major refit we decided that now was the time. The Veranda is in great shape and the previous years upgrades had proved to be spot on. The Pearson 422 is fairly rare and a very comfortable cruising boat.
There’s a mini cult following and we had the names of 3 couples that were looking for a 422 so we decided to forgo using a broker. The broker would take 10% so we just asked 10% less than we would have so the buyer would have a built in savings right off the bat. They pay less, we still get what we want for the boat so its win win.

One couple was only a 20 minute drive from Annapolis so we contacted them first. Phil & Kathy have been looking at 422's for 2 years and have even had 2 previous boats surveyed in the search for their cruising home. They're intimately familiar with the 422 and spent about 4 hours that first day going over the boat from stem to stern. They verbally committed to buying the boat on that first visit so the gravity of what we were doing hit us. We've got no place to live. Crap.

During the middle of all this the Blue Angels came to town for the first time in years and as always the airshow was spectacular. There were at least a thousand boats anchored out in the harbor for optimal viewing.
Why take pictures when I know John Kelly will be there and he'll do an outstanding job of it.

Also stolen from John Kelly and no, its not photoshopped.  Hes just awesome.
I left work early and gathered up Christy and a cocktail and headed out to watch. We might have won an award for smallest craft as we anchored out in our dinghy but a couple of folks in kayaks showed up.

Feelers went out and Christy started looking for a place to rent. There were hints, rumors and close calls but it was a cruising connection that finally came through. Di, formerly of the Far Niente, let us know that a friend of hers in Annapolis has a huge house and she always had room available for a sailor in need. Perfect.

We drove over and met Carol. We hit it off and now shes got roomates. Christy spent days packing up our belongings. We spent the Memorial Day weekend moving a pile of boxes off the boat. Carol had several rows of shelving available for us to store our stuff on. She hasn't said anything but I wonder what she thought when she saw our 12 rolls of paper towels, 2 dozens rolls of toilet paper and hundreds of cans of beans, corn and anything else you can think of show up on those shelves. She must think we're pack rats.

Once in the house we moved towards selling the boat in earnest. All told, I spent 18 hours going over the boats systems and idiosyncrasies with Kathy & Phil. While hanging in the travel lift for the survey I noted that we had removed 7000 pound worth of stuff from the boat while moving to shore. The survey and sea trial went well so the deal moved ahead. We exchanged signatures for checks and now we're pretty much the only people in Annapolis that don't own a boat.

But life's a funny thing. A couple of days before we sold the boat our new landlord, Carol, took possession of her new boat, a 1988 Tartan 34. So in my free time I've been working my way down her survey list making repairs. We have had the time to take the boat out twice so far. The Tartan reminds us of the boat we had before we owned the Veranda. It takes very little breeze to get her going and she points so well I swear we could go straight upwind. We do miss the Veranda very much but having the Tartan available to get our sailing fix is making the transition to shore a lot easier.

Speaking of the transition to shore. We're planning on spending the rest of the summer here in Naptown before moving south and buying a home on the west coast of Florida. Its been a long time since we've owned a place and for the moment we're enjoying real estate shopping via the internet. Things have changed so much since we left land in 2006.

I'm still using a ratty laptop thats on its last legs. We stopped at a Best Buy the other day just to look at technology.  We stopped in to get a rough idea of whats available and what things cost. Do we get a desktop tower system or an all in one touch screen tabletop model.  Since Windows 8 is out there's going to be a learning curve so should we just bag it all and go Apple? 

Then there’s music. We have more than a thousand CD's in storage but it looks like MP3's are the wave of the future or do we just go cloud based with Pandora or Sirius? Home sound systems have evolved. Do we get a traditional receiver or go with a computer based sound system. There’s so much to learn. Before we left to go cruising we read all we could to prepare for the transition. There were a ton of books on the subject but there doesn't seem to be any guide for coming back to shore. It sounds crazy but we're feeling a little overwhelmed by the choices available to us.  We need a teenager....

After spending an hour with the computer expert we practically ran through the televisions. When we left we had huge box shaped televisions, the biggest of which was 35 inches. And we thought we were livin' the life. We had no TV on the boat and we've never owned a flat screen television. 70 inch TV's dwarf the 46's and the 35 inch monitors, those are computer screens now. Its insane. Oh look, there's even curved “flat” screens now. Christ. Within five minutes of arriving in the TV aisle we didn't know where to begin so we were out of there and on the way to appliances.

Christy's eyes rolled back into her head when she opened a side by side fridge that boasted 27 cubic feet of space. She went right down the row from one to the next just opening them and starring inside. I'm pretty sure she climaxed right there in the aisle at Best Buy when she came upon (no pun intended) a fridge claiming to have 31 cubic feet of space. We just spent 8 years living happily with 9 cubic feet of fridge and now I find out we “need” closer to 30 feet. Then there were washers, dryers and microwaves oh my.

So to recap. Tuckers holding his own, The Veranda is gone, we're living in a house and we're okay with it. We're working here in town and I still have stories to tell so for now the blog will continue.  The Veranda has been renamed so if you run across Kathy & Phil on the Unicorn please be kind to them as they start their new adventure.