The time is flying by here, mostly owing to the unending projects that have been keeping me busy night and day. In and among those projects, however, we got visitors, from out of the blue -- our first rendezvous with other cruisers.
Rod and Pauline have a Nova Scotia 47, and have been reading the blog, at least since I posted an introduction a couple of weeks ago over on the Trawlers and Trawlering mailing list, an on-line email list to which I have subscribed for some seven years or so now. They, too, moved onto their boat from full-timing in a motor coach, and they wanted to meet us and compare notes. As they were passing right by on the ICW, they asked if we might be up for a visit.
Apparently, the marina here has a "three nights for the price of two" promotion here in the off season, and so they opted to spend three nights, arriving Saturday and leaving with the tide this morning. We had two nice visits in the intervening two afternoons, with tours of our respective vessels. Ironically, another Nova Scotia 47, out of only perhaps four ever built, was one of the boats we very nearly looked at in Jacksonville, just before we made a dash to Savannah to see the boat we now own.
It was great making some new friends, and we copied down quite a few hints and tips from their four years of cruising. They are Australian, so they face even more obstacles than we do in regard to the bureaucratic paperwork and minutiae of keeping a boat. I am sure we will run into them again someplace.
After my last post here, nearly a week ago, I more or less gave up on finding a suitable TV before we left Hilton Head. After spending far too many hours on the project, I needed to move on to other, more pressing issues. The TV I had to return to Best Buy just arrived back there today, so at least I've now got my money back, and Louise thinks she's found a model, by Haier, that will work, which we might have sent ahead to Charleston, our next stop.
When we arrived back at the dock after our last training session and got everything secure, I did my routine check of the engine room bilges, and I noticed a trickle of water I had never seen before. Water running into the bilge is never good, and so I started pulling up floor plates until I found it -- a drip from the fresh water pump. The pump was not running at the time.
After scratching our heads for a few moments, we realized that we had completely filled the fresh water tank after returning to the dock, and so the level of water in the tank was likely slightly above the pump. It looked like there had been some leakage there for a very long time, and we later confirmed the drip slowed down to nearly nothing when the tank was below about 3/4 full or so, unless the pump was running, something it only ever does for a few seconds at a time. So we had not noticed it earlier, but it was not a new problem.
Nevertheless, having excavated to the pump itself and started the troubleshooting, I wanted to get the leak stopped, and to that end I bought a rebuild kit online for $40 and sprung the $30 for overnight shipping, so I had it in hand by Friday. That, of course, was before I knew we'd have visitors. Once the flow rate dropped to nearly undetectable, though, I was no longer so worried about it. I should note, here, that with everything, pump included, being ten years old and full of rust, my initial thought was to just replace the pump; that was before I found out they cost $3,000 (yes, really -- a water pump).
By Sunday I was ready to tear into the pump, but realized I had better wait to Monday when I would have access to the local hardware store till 6pm. That proved prescient, as I had to send Louise out mid-project for hoses and fittings to replace the ones I had to cut off with a utility knife. Also, I ended up calling the manufacturer, Groco, halfway through for advice, and a live tech support person answered the phone and was very helpful. The pump is now rebuilt and does not leak, although there is enough scoring on the shaft that I do not expect to get another full decade from it.
Of course, rebuilding the fresh water pump was not even on my original project list, so there's another day gone from the schedule. With no backup system for water pressure, this was also a project that, once started, had to be completed in one session. By contrast, Odyssey had two separate water pressure pumps (each only $300, not ten times that much), and also a fitting where city water pressure could be attached. Adding a city water fitting in the engine room, for the next time the pump needs to be serviced, is now on my to-do list. I'll do that when I replace all the galvanized fresh water plumbing with PEX sometime over the next few months.
As long as I was working on plumbing, which I detest, I also tore into the tiny air compressor in the flybridge coaming that runs the massive four-trumpet air horns. There's a small tank on it, perhaps a gallon or so, and a little DC compressor, which I judged adequate to inflate fenders and scooter tires, and so I put a Tee on it and a quick-connect fitting for that task. I've been missing my compressor since we left the bus, and getting a larger compressor, principally to be used for a "hookah" dive rig, is much further in the future.
That project was complete in time to inflate the new fender that arrived from one of my numerous online orders. There were three nice large black "barrel" style fenders on the boat when we got it, and we felt we could use one more. That will let us pre-set two on each side whenever we come into an unknown marina, with our four large ball-style fenders available to move around as needed. Once secure we can have all four of the nice barrels on the dock side, and stow the balls, which are faded orange and bear the battle scars of a decade.
I did finally manage to get the heading data working on the radar display, and my order of terminal strips arrived in the last couple of days so I can finally finish cleaning up the NMEA-0183 junctions under the helm. Once we get back under way we shall see whether that will cure the stabilizers of their penchant for centering at random times. I also ripped out a bunch of abandoned wiring under there, and managed to label a dozen or so wires that formerly were mysterious. It's all starting to make sense, but I can see several dozen hours ahead of me in cleaning up and rewiring things under there.
This is a rare month, inasmuch as there are five full weekends this month, and so even though we've been through four weekends already, counting the one when we arrived, we still have one left. We're hoping our friends in Savannah, who once lived here in Hilton Head, will come up for a visit now that we are done with training. We'll also try to take advantage of the next few days to get out to some of the local establishments that we've missed up to this point, including the other side of the Palmetto Dunes resort, now that the seasonal shuttle has just started running.
Sunday we took the boat out on our own for the very first time. We only went as far as the fuel dock, because we needed the pumpout station, but still it felt like a big milestone. We got that done just in the nick of time, too, because if we had put it off another day, we'd not have been able to get over to the fuel dock in the ~40-knot winds yesterday. The winds let up a little overnight, but were back to storm force again by mid-morning today. I am hoping for much calmer conditions when it comes time to leave.