Wednesday, March 25, 2015

And yet one more unexpected pit stop


Celebrating a boat with working systems. Finally!


Roosters and chickens everywhere in Key West. Wilbur was puzzled about these very strange creatures



Actually I should say 'expected' pit stop because when you live on a sail boat these things are going to happen. Maybe some day I'll go with the flow and just accept this way of life.

My last few posts have mentioned our issues with power, voltage, alarms, etc... And I'm happy (HAPPY!!!!!) to say we think the Knotty Cat is fixed (until her next melt down anyway).

A brief rundown here (this will also serve as a diary I can refer to when Hans and I discuss this in the future, and believe me we will):

The morning we left the Marquesas on our way back to Key West we noticed our batteries were very low. Even with the engines running, when I started the coffee the batteries did a nose dive and I had to shut the coffee maker off.

We blamed our problem on a completely calm night where our wind generator did nothing. Of course solar panels don't work at night either, right?

Later that afternoon we anchored in Boca Grande and after shutting down the engines an alarm (a very piercing alarm) at the helm went off. Hans thought this over and said it only made sense to sever the wire to the speaker (like when I turn up the radio in the car when I hear noises I don't like) and all was quiet. It was once again calm with no wind and our batteries still drained quickly. Well, crap! I inspected the solar panel connectors at the bow and realized they really were shot so Hans went ahead and cut them off and hard wired them.


We still weren't happy so we ran the generator.


On to Key West where we picked up a mooring ball. Still no wind and we just knew the solar panels should be doing better so we started the laborous process of trying to find out if the solar panel control box was working. Of course it's in a horribly tight spot in the engine room and Hans had all kinds of fun bypassing it and hard-wiring the panels straight to our batteries.

We both could have sworn it helped but then by nightfall we had to run the generator again. I don't know how long this would have gone on if Hans hadn't stepped into the cockpit during the night and saw alarm lights lit up on the helm. That's when he went down into the starboard engine room and found one very hot alternator and ripped a bunch of wires off of it.

And of course the next day was Friday and when we got ahold of a mechanic he told us he'd try to fit us in on Monday if there were no emergencies.

By now we'd not been on shore for quite a few days and poor Wilbur was starting to get depressed and looked like a Mr. Droopy Drawers. At one point he went below to our berth and curled up into a tight ball with his back to us. I told him I was sorry and he heaved a huge sobbing pit bull sigh and I'm pretty sure I heard him say, "You just don't understand." That's when I told Hans we were going ashore.

Getting our dinghy off the deck and into the water along with lowering the motor onto it takes about forty five minutes and it's a lot more pleasant doing this on a calm day. We zipped Wilbur ashore and surprised him even further with a visit to an off leash dog park! He had a wonderful time sniffing and running and we knew it was time to go when the local dog walkers showed up with their yapping charges and Wilbur latched onto one of them for a hump-a-thon (he may be fixed but he still gives it a go when he can).

At the park getting a drink from his personal water bottle

Wilbur and Jordon the boxer ignored each other after introductory sniffies.

Finally a worn out and happy pit bull. We had lunch at a cuban restaurant.


We arrived back to the boat with a happy dog and when the mechanic showed up on Monday, we too were happy. At least we were until he slapped a new alternator on our engine and it spit out some sparks and died. Just like that. Then he told us what we really needed was an electrician.


And this is where our unexpected pit stop became a very pleasant one. We agreed to meet the electrician at a dock the next day and we chose Conch Harbor Marina since we'd already been there twice for fuel and we knew it was an easy place to dock. We were thrilled to get a slip and even more thrilled when we saw how wide it was and within seconds Hans had us docked. We were still getting our lines secured when I spotted a friend from the South Pasadena marina we'd lived at for over three years standing on the dock behind us. What a surprise! An even bigger surprise was the boat right beside us; a couple from the very same marina. There are so many marinas here in Key West I still can't believe we all ended up right beside each other.

Our electrician promptly showed up and a couple of hours later we were fixed. It all boiled down to a bad alternator (and apparently the new one that died was defective out of the box). When ours went bad (although the engine can run without it) it allowed the batteries to drain back into it when it wasn't running. And our solar panel control box was just fine and has been put back into action. It's just that it's hot down here in Key West and since our refrigerator has to run more than usual, this challenges our solar panels. We've come to realize our wind generator does a great job (when it's windy!) and this has been an unusually calm week (weather wise anyway).

So many interesting things to see

Our stay at Conch Marina was wonderful and it killed me to only be able to stay one day. Wilbur got tons of walks and came back to the boat exhausted each time. He met other dogs on these walks and was a perfect gentleman. This morning a tiny pekinese type dog lunged and barked at Wilbur and he immediately turned the other way while Pancho's owner apologized for scaring our pit bull.

The marina pool

Pelicans and huge tarpon behind a charter fishing boat that had just came in

If you ever get to Key West you've got to go to the Boat House. Their 4-6:30 happy hour consists of half off appetizers, some beers, wines, and well drinks. We went there twice and if we'd stayed today we'd be there tonight. We shared three appetizers, several draft beers and our bill came to $20.00. Honestly!!

But all good things come to an end and after just one day we left on our trip as we head back toward Marathon.

Sitting at the dock, Wilbur says, "Welcome aboard."


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