Saturday, March 21, 2015

Dead in the Water

Well, it's not quite that drastic but we really are at a standstill.

An extremely bored pit bull (and don't think the guilt isn't killing me)

We may have cast off our lines at the end of January this year, say six or seven weeks ago, yet we both agree that it seems more like six or seven months ago. We've dragged anchor too many times, motored more than we've cared to, sailed way less than intended, spent more money than we'd hoped (our budget went out the window during our first week and that trend shows no sign of abating), endured freezing temperatures, and unexpected high winds caused damage to our solar panel connections which then started a whole domino effect of problems here on the Knotty Cat.

We were thrilled to get to the Dry Tortuga's on a high note; we actually sailed for four of the eight hours it took to get there from the Marquesas. The winds were brisk while we were there, and Windy, our generator, pumped all kinds of amps into our batteries along with the solar panels, and thankfully our anchor played fair for a change and stayed put.


A side note here about anchoring in the Tortuga's. The water there is a beautiful shade of aqua and appears to be very clear. We were anchored in fifteen feet of water and had read about several boats dragging so Hans dove on the anchor. He was happy to report we were dug in nicely and wouldn't Wilbur like to go for a swim? So while I held his retractable leash Wilbur swam around with Hans on two separate occasions. In the meantime I'd read about Goliath Grouper fish taking up residence underneath anchored boats there and I pretty much pooh-poohed this legend along with the Loch Ness Monster and Big Foot. On our second night at anchor we endured super high winds and the next morning Hans dove on the anchor again. Now, Hans is a plodder; he's a methodical thinker, and at times he moves at a glacial pace while his brain makes deliberate calculations (unlike me who runs in two directions at once while never really accomplishing anything). So while I sat in the cockpit with my morning coffee I watched Hans slowly snorkel over the anchor, dive, and swim back to the boat. As he approached the stern I heard him call out to me. I didn't hear quite what he said but I did notice that he'd picked up the pace a bit and I was stunned to see him scamper with some alacrity up the swim ladder complete with his big flippers. "There's a huge fish under the boat!" he sputtered. I carefully leaned over the stern and sure enough in the relatively clear water I could see a huge (and I mean like over 6 feet long and nearly as big around) fish hanging in suspended animation under the Knotty Cat. This fish had a grumpy, brooding look about him (for some reason I envisioned him smoking a cigar) and I named him Maury. Needless to say, Wilbur (and Hans) never got in the water again, and getting in and out of the dinghy each day gave me a horrible thrill.

Maury continued to use the Knotty Cat as a rent free garage until we departed.


On our way back to civilization we noticed some oddities in our power supplies. The wind was dying down so Windy was pretty much on vacation and our solar panels didn't seem to be holding a charge like they had been. Boca Grande (the final stop before Key West) is where Hans ended up cutting that pesky alarm wire at the helm that wouldn't stop shrieking. We continued to Key West where the wind disappeared, the sun hid behind the clouds, our batteries died, and we came up with all kinds of excuses. After many readings with our meter and taking panels on and off which is time consuming in itself but then add me having to play 'Operation' with tiny tweezers while I dig through spaghetti-like wires in order to rescue yet one more screw Hans always drops, we ended up bypassing the solar panel control box and hard wired the solar panels to the battery.

Eureka! Problem solved. But it was cloudy again, and totally windless, and our batteries were still struggling. No problem! run the generator! That is until Hans went out into the cockpit and discovered alarm lights were lit up like Christmas on the helm pod. He ran below and found the starboard engine alternator was hotter than hell. Once again he moved faster than usual and yanked a bunch of wires off the alternator and we were both relieved when it finally cooled down.

Long story short; apparently our starboard alternator is shot (at least that's what the electrician we called told us), and on Monday if there are no emergencies and the weather cooperates, he'll motor out to us and replace both the offending starboard alternator along with the most-likely-to-fail-next, port alternator.

Even though we're stuck here, it could certainly be worse.

Next up, we need to get our little hot house flower (otherwise known as Wilbur) off the boat and get some much needed laundry done.

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