Thursday, August 21, 2014

A Connecticut Yankee

We are anchored in Long Island Sound, just off the beach in Old Lyme, Connecticut (map).  There is a beach bar here called "The Pavilion," what looks to be a restaurant also on the beach, and perhaps a couple of other business up the street.  The listing in Active Captain said there might be a dinghy dock here associated with the bar, but there is none that we can see.

Yesterday we stopped briefly at the Mitchell Park Marina in Greenport to pump out our holding tanks after weighing anchor.  As we were bringing the anchor aboard, we both noticed that the bow thruster did not sound right, even though we were clearly getting thrust in both directions.  We opted to refrain from using it further until I could check it out, which made for some challenging docking over at the marina.  Fortunately, there was almost no wind or current, and the water was glassy all morning.

The pumpout was free, and the marina also let us put some water in our tanks.  The place was nearly empty, a stark contrast from when we visited them on the weekend as we strolled around Greenport with our friends.  It's a bit frustrating that conditions were choppy for our whole visit, whereas it was glass-calm before they arrived in Southold, and again became so right after they left.

Calm conditions and pleasant temperatures made for a lovely cruise across the sound, more or less a straight shot after leaving Plum Gut.  We dropped anchor in 12' just offshore, noticing a number of mooring balls closer in.  Those turned out to be complimentary moorings for The Pavilion, which also provided a water taxi.  I'm guessing we could have persuaded the taxi to come get us, but beach bars without a decent food menu do not really call us.

Shortly after we settled in, I set to work on the thruster.  As soon as I got into the compartment, which is below the guest berth, I noticed a fine layer of "belt dust" covering every surface.  There is no belt in the thruster, but there is a splined coupling made of the same material that connects the motor to the gearbox; it's even made by Gates Belt.  I also detected an odor of machine oil.

After removing the motor I inspected the coupling, but found nothing really wrong with it nor any explanation for how it is shedding dust -- there is no slippage in the coupling as there would be with an actual belt.  Around the transmission drive spline I found a thin layer of oil with copious amounts of belt dust mixed in.  I don't think there is any machine oil in the electric motor, so I am guessing this oil is seeping out around the upper seal of the "drive leg," which is the underwater gearbox that connects the vertical motor to the horizontal propellers.  The drive leg is supposedly a sealed unit -- no way to add any oil -- so if it is leaking, we will have a big problem down the road.  We've replaced this once already, as long-time readers may remember, and a new one runs nearly $2,000.

Finding no other problems, I replaced the Gates coupling prophylactically with a spare I had on hand (having ordered an extra when we sheared one in half last year) before reinstalling the motor.  We did a quick test, but the sound was still off somehow to both our ears.  With nothing obvious on the inside of the boat, I decided to dive on the props to make sure neither was missing, coming loose, chipped, or otherwise broken.  It was a chilly swim, in 72° water, but on a bright sunny day I could easily see there was no problem with the props.

We'll continue to use the thruster as-is, since we can't find any issues other than a potentially leaking drive leg.  If the drive leg goes again, we'll be faced with the option of buying yet another replacement, or replacing the bow thruster with something else entirely, given that this appears to be a design weakness of this brand.  In the meantime, I will be keeping my eyes open for a spare drive leg on the secondary market.

When we first headed for this anchorage, we thought we might spend an extra day, just to get rested and caught up.  We figured it would be a good stop if we could get ashore for some restaurants or other services, or if we found good WiFi.  Since neither of those came to pass (we're not inclined to beach the dinghy just for bar food, and the pair of open networks here are marginal), we will instead move along today.  We'd like to have the tide behind us, so we are waiting for low tide to weigh anchor and continue west, around 2pm or so.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Share your comments on this post! We currently allow anyone to comment without registering. If you choose to use the "anonymous" option, please add your name or nickname to the bottom of your comment, within the main comment box. Getting feedback signed simply "anonymous" is kind of like having strangers shout things at us on the street: a bit disconcerting. Thanks!