Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Penultimate week in Hilton Head

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.


  1. What makes your current water pump 10x more expensive than the ones on the bus?!?! $3000, for a pump??? Gads!

    1. Hmm. Good question. Probably a good start is that it is a "marine" item, and anything with that word in it already commands a premium. For example, the "marine" freezer on the back deck was $4,000 new. Beyond that, it's much higher pressure and volume than a typical RV pump. It's probably overkill for this boat, as it is advertised as the go-to domestic water solution for "large yachts," whatever that means. And having now taken it apart, I can say it's a very high-quality pump, with the motor separated from the pump body by a Lovejoy coupling, solid brass pump body, delrin impellers, and very, very close manufacturing tolerances. And I was impressed with their customer support. That said, I probably would not have chosen this pump if I had outfitted the boat from scratch. Unfortunately, replacing it with a more modest RV/marine pump such as a Sensor VSD, such as we have in the bus, is not an option at this point, as the fancy (and also spendy) toilets require much higher pressure and volume than those pumps can deliver. For the curios, the pump is a Groco Paragon Senior and it is backed up with a five-gallon accumulator tank.

  2. After the TV suggestion, I'm a little gun shy...but would a dedicated GPS receiver mounted up on the fly bridge get rid of some of the 25 foot cables.. Of course you would have to watch which sentence you are using most use gga or rmc and the baud rate.. But if the receiver was right at hand locally you wouldn't be worried about rs 232 or ttl signal levels.. Which would improve levels down below from the lighter load... Just a thought. as some of those little receivers are below $200...

    1. Rod, first, rest assured that I do not in any way hold you responsible for Best Buy's shortcomings -- it was a good suggestion, it just did not work out.

      Regarding the GPS, no, not really. From the flybridge console to the top of the arch is actually even longer. Mounting marine GPS receivers is also non-trivial; most likely, I'd need another mount welded to the aluminum, which would mean unlacing all the canvas, etc.. There really is no reason why I should not be able to get this working properly with the cables that are already in place; probably less effort than running new cables and adding yet another GPS receiver.

  3. Not sure if you are finding it the same but your journey to get the boat up to your high standards is fascinating. I find your posts pretty interesting.

  4. It is indeed an easily identifiable 'skip in your step' to have a whole new set of problems to solve, Sean. It's not like you quit problem solving on Odyssey, but instead that you had previously solved the lions share before. I'm sure Vector is going to be a similar joy. With such fine crew, what could happen? BTW, have you ever gotten around to watching "Captain Ron" with Kurt Russell? If not, it is definitely time. Perhaps if the new TV works out. If you haven't seen it prior to our first visit, it will be a requirement then.

  5. Another thought on your TV problem. The new Roku box for streaming video such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, comes with a wireless remote that has a headphone jack in it. Much easier than running a cable from the TV. You would have to figure out how to use it with regular TV. It's another option.

  6. Thanks for the update. Always enjoy hearing about what you have fixed. Water leaks are no fun as you said - glad you got the pump fixed. Looking forward to your next post!

  7. Panasonic has a line of slim tv's. While they don't have earphone jacks, they do have a menu for turning off the set's speakers. From their digital audio optical output, a simple dao-to-mini plug adaptor should do the trick? They have a 32" and a 39'. Here's the specs:

    39" Class EM60 Series Slim LED TV (38.5" Diag.)
    Super slim LED LCD TV 120hz, 240 Back Light Blinking Technology Media Player (USB) x2 HDMI, x1 USB EnergyStar V 6.0 Compliant
    Retail Price: $599.99

    Dimensions (W x H x D) (w/o stand) 35.1" x 20.9" x 2.4" (General depth: 1.7")
    Weight (w/o stand) 24.3 lbs
    Digital Audio Output (Optical) 1 (rear)
    VIERA® 32" Class XM6 Series Slim LED HDTV (31.5" Diag.) TC-L32XM6
    Super slim LED LCD TV Media Player (SD and USB) x2 HDMI, x1 USB EnergyStar V 6.0 Compliant
    Digital Audio Output (Optical) 1 (rear)

    Dimensions (W x H x D) (w/o stand) 29.2" x 17.7" x 2.2" (General depth: 1.8")
    Dimensions (W x H x D) (with stand) 29.2" x 20.2" x 8.2"
    Weight (w/o stand) 15.4 lbs.
    Weight (with stand) 17.6 lbs.
    Retail Price: $379.99
    -- Jon

  8. I happened to be at Sam's club today (Ft Myers,FL) and looked at flat screens,some for me and some for you.
    For you,specificly ones with 1/8 inch headphone jacks (designated by universal icon) and found 3 sets
    VIZIO 32" Model E320i-AO LED w/built in wifi.$288.
    VIZIO 29" Model E291-A1
    Samsung 24" Model T24B350
    Maybe these are available elsewhere.

  9. Additionally


  10. additionally:from the first review:

    For audio connections it has an optical audio out connection and a 1/8 inch mini-jack audio out. This 1/8 inch jack is a standard headphone jack and the volume control of the TV controls the volume of this jack. The Samsung TV does NOT have this feature and I sorely missed it. I use the 1/8 mini jack to hook up a nice pair of computer speakers for better sound and being able to turn off the TV speakers and still use the volume control from the remote to control external speakers is a great convenience.


  11. Additionally regarding the Samsung model ( cnet and other reviews abound):
    Freeze at approx 1:06

  12. Enjoy reading your blog. But, after owning planes, boats and a diesel motorhome I will tell you that as far as expense too own you are now in the middle one and only the plane is higher. But keep in mind that you can't take it with you so enjoy.

  13. Sean and Louise...we are following your adventures as you know ...you both are our hero's.........the part we are going to miss is seeing you both in the Northwest.......keep on moving !!!! Love you both.......Bob and Shirley

    1. We'll get there eventually in the boat. But PV is on the way!


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