Friday, January 20, 2017

Final night in Madisonville

We are back at the city dock in Madisonville (map), where we arrived again yesterday after spending two lovely nights on the Tchefuncte River, at anchor near Brady Island (map). We're on our third three-day pass here, which would take us through Sunday, but weather is causing us to leave before it expires.

On our last "exile" to anchorage in the Tchefuncte, just a short ways past the swing bridge, we splashed the tender to do some exploring. My charts have either no soundings past the bridge, or else show a depth of just four feet. As it turns out, the river averages 30' deep all the way up to (and likely well beyond) the large marina at about the five-mile mark, Marina Beau Chene. We sounded out the Brady Island anchorage and found eight-foot depths all the way around the island.

Vector at the Madisonville city dock. Photo: Jeff L.

We returned to the dock last Friday and paid our $30 for three more days. We had mail en route to the post office here, and we figured that would take us through Monday to pick it up, forgetting that it was a holiday weekend. We ended up spending an extra night so we could run to the post office Tuesday morning to get our mail.

Not only was it a holiday weekend, but it was near perfect weather, and the city docks completely filled up Saturday afternoon. We ended up meeting a handful of other boaters, including a couple who keep their boat at Orleans Marina, where we had stayed for ten days earlier this month, and a couple who live just a few minutes from here and keep their boat a bit further upriver.

This local couple, Cindy and Jeff, came over for cocktails on Sunday and took us to a nice dinner Monday at a bistro across town. Jeff is in the pump business, and ended up leaving the boat with our failed Lugger coolant pump, which I've been unable to open for lack of Circlip pliers large enough for the task (it's held together with an 8"-diameter Circlip).

Circlip and cover plate, off at last. Photo: Jeff L.

Jeff's shop was able to get the stubborn cover plate off, and reported back that the impeller and housing are fine. One possible outcome would have been to learn that the wobbly bearings meant the impeller had contacted the housing, damaging either or both and rendering the entire assembly worthless, but this was not the case.

Pump guts. Impeller (bottom center) looks perfect and housing (left) is undamaged. Bearings are shot. Photo: Jeff L.

I've ordered the four parts I need to rebuild the pump (two bearings, a seal, and an O-ring) directly from the local Komatsu dealer for a grand total of about $140, or one tenth the cost of a new pump. Jeff has offered to have his shop guys put it back together for me when the parts come in, and we will again have a spare coolant pump on board.

We put both scooters on the ground on Saturday and were able to get a bit further afield to do some shopping. A pair of large shopping centers is close by and had everything we needed, but the restaurant selection comprised nothing but chain offerings so we opted not to return at dinner time. Strolling the enormous shopping center while Louise was getting her hair cut, I came across an overturned car. Clearly it collided with another car, but, sheesh, how fast were you going in a parking lot to flip your car over on its roof?

How fast were y'all goin'?

It was good to breeze out the tender and both scooters in the last week. The scooters have been on-deck since Memphis, and the tender since Baton Rouge. My scooter is overdue for an oil change, but that will have to wait until we are in the boatyard.

Sunday we were joined for lunch by good friend and fellow Red Cross volunteer Pat, who lives in the Baton Rouge area and saw that were were here at the north shore. She made the drive down just to see us, and we spent most of the day catching up, driving out to Abita Springs for lunch.

It turns out that Pat has an RV that she seldom uses, a 30' class-C. She has offered to lend it to us for the time we are in the yard, which is very generous. (She also offered to put us up at her house, but we really need to be much closer to the yard throughout the process.) The yard says we can park it right on site for $300 per month, with power, and that would be perfect, making for a nice stroll across the parking lot to keep tabs on the work. So it would seem our temporary housing conundrum has been solved.

So it was a busy and productive weekend, and we left the dock Tuesday, after retrieving our mail, with many burdens lifted. By Tuesday morning our waste tank was full, so our first stop was right across the river at Marina Del Ray to use their pumpout. Fortunately it was a strong pump, but the hose was so short we had to cram Vector up into a tight corner of a slip to get it to reach; I'm sorry I could not get a photo, as it was quite comical.

The trip upriver to Brady Island was very scenic. Pictures could not do the cypress swamp justice, but I did snap a photo of one of the local houses doing its best to compete with Hearst Castle on the statuary front. We had originally planned to just sit out our mandatory 24 hours there, but it was so lovely and peaceful that we spent a second night. That ran us out of fresh food, so we returned here yesterday.

Hearst Castle East.

Sunday the lake is forecast to have waves of 3'-4' with a four-second period, so we are leaving tomorrow instead, for the return trip to the free dock at Mandeville which we left two weeks ago. Jeff, who is thinking about moving to a trawler at some point from the express cruiser he has now, is going to come along for the ride. Today we topped up our water tank (the water is off in Mandeville) and restocked the fresh veggies with a walk to the Piggly Wiggly about a half mile away.

Our plan is to spend the next three nights in Mandeville and then, weather permitting, make the trek through the Rigolets passage and down the ICW toward the industrial canal. We should be tying up at Seabrook Marine on Wednesday.


  1. How many hours did you have on the coolant pump when it failed? What were the failure symptoms?

    1. Hi Rod. We noticed the pump was leaking at around 2,700 hours, a seal failure attributed to incorrect coolant. I wrote the symptoms and diagnosis up at the time, in this blog post.

      The pump ran another 600 hours over the course of a year or so before the bearings failed, which we noticed during a routine ER check, as documented in the post I linked in this post.

  2. That Circlip wikipedia article was a hoot!

    "The term "Jesus clip" comes from the propensity of the clips spring action when removing or installing. Typical remarks when the clip comes detached from the tool are "Oh Jesus, where did it go" or "Oh Jesus, we're gonna die."[citation needed]"


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