Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A nice visit

We are anchored northeast of Butler Island, South Carolina, just seven nautical miles from where we started the day yesterday in Georgetown.  We left just after noon, in consideration of the marina and incoming arrivals.  I was wrong about the little trawler in front of us -- they stayed another night, so I had to crab sideways from the dock for 20 feet before we could motor out.

With all afternoon ahead of us and only a few miles to go, I set the throttle at just 1,250 rpm.  Even so, we made six knots, as the tide was in our favor.  We dropped the hook right around 1:30 and settled in to await our friends.  I was able to find a friendly WiFi signal, so we spent a little time catching up on email and the world before we started setting up for guests.

Part of that setup involved dropping the tender, so that we could shuttle back and forth between boats.  We knew they would have a fairly late arrival and a very early departure, so using our tender was a more convenient option than theirs.  I went up to the davit, plugged in the handheld controller, and ... nothing.  Harumph.  OK, I admit that I knew the connector was corroded and getting spotty, and it was on my list to replace, but thus far it has always worked, perhaps after a little wiggling.

This time, no dice.  I was able to short the two pins in the receptacle that commanded "extend" long enough to unhook the boom, so we could raise it -- necessary to access the underside of the connector to even look at the problem.  We had also added a short loop of line between the hook and the deck padeye, for exactly such a circumstance, and I could have cut the line in a pinch.  The line also provides a bit of shock absorption for the davit boom under way.

The pin-socket on the female half of the connector (the part on the davit) for the common wire had corroded all the way through, and the operating wire was so loose in came out in my fingers.  I do not have the correct tool to extract the pin from the connector, and I was unsuccessful in removing it with anything I had on hand, so instead I removed all three wires from where they terminated at the operating solenoids, and pulled the whole thing out.  At some point I will try to find a source for replacement pins or else a complete female connector of this style.

I did not want to cut the male connector off the end of the hand controller, since it was in good shape, as it is not out in the weather full-time like the other end.  The controller is nothing more than an SPDT momentary switch mounted in a molded rubber grip, with perhaps 10' of cord with a plug on the end.  I had a similar switch in my parts box so I jury-rigged a hand controller with my spare switch and an 8' SJ cable I had lying around, the remnants of an old appliance cord.  Yes, that is the container from one of my sugar-free juice mixes that I rescued from the recycling bin for the occasion.  I did not want to leave that out in the weather, either (the switch is not weather-proof), so I added some spade connectors near the davit end of the cable.

In the middle of this project, while I was removing the common (hot) wire from the operating solenoid, I got a giant spark -- apparently, the circuit breaker at the helm labeled "Davit" does nothing at all.  I found a solenoid connected to it down in the engine room, but the davit power was not routed through it.  I did find a giant wire nut in the power wiring, so perhaps the solenoid was involved once upon a time.  No harm done, though, as there was a 100-amp thermal circuit breaker down there, right next to the bypassed solenoid, and it had simply tripped.  I left it off to finish the work, and once done I reset it and all worked fine.  Added to the project list is now re-wiring the davit power, just as I had to do with the bow thruster, to make use of the switch at the helm.

As a side note I will say here that I am unimpressed with Nautical Structures, the manufacturer of the davit.  This connector is not a marine-rated item, and neither are the operating solenoids or any of the wiring and electrical hardware I found under the davit.  At the very least they might have put the controls in a sealed enclosure.  When I replace the connector, the most exposed part of the system, I will use marine-grade wire and ring terminals, for a slight improvement.

With the davit now operating, as hokey as my juice-box controller looks, we were able to deploy the tender and be ready to greet Lime Time, a 53' DeFever POC (one of the models we had considered during our search).  They arrived just before 6pm, even after an hour's delay being boarded by the Coast Guard in Charleston.  They got the full treatment, something we thought quite odd until we learned of the bombings in Boston when we checked the news just before their arrival.

In addition to our good friends captains Chris and Alyse, aboard Lime Time for a training and delivery cruise, we met the boat's new owners Shannon and Shae, who are fixing the boat up to go cruising with their family of five.  It's a great boat for that, with three good-sized staterooms.  Even though it is only a couple of feet longer than Vector, the layout makes it feel like a much larger boat.  After a tour of their boat we all shuttled back over to ours, their homemade hot crab dip and chips in hand, for another tour, cocktails, and dinner.

It was a great evening, and we carried on till 9:30, when I shuttled everyone back.  I did two round trips, and each return I had to drive with one hand while holding two flashlights in the other; one facing forward with a red-and-green dome on it to serve as side lights, and a second facing up to serve as the white all-around light.  I am looking forward to having a tender with a steering wheel and lights.

While I was unloading the photos above from the camera I came across another photo I took, of the line that had been attached to the fender we tried to use as a marker float when we left our anchor.  You may remember that the float came free and was found somewhat upriver, and I had thought that my rolling hitch had just come undone.  But when I removed the line from the fender I noticed that it was a good deal shorter than I remembered, and the nylon was scorched on one side along a few feet of length.  In hindsight we think someone ran over it, and the scorch/melt marks are from a prop encounter, as is the tattered end.

Black section at left is melted nylon.

Today we are planning another fairly short day, just 20 miles or so, to the last decent anchorage before "the rock pile."  We'd like to do that section of the ICW on a fresh start, not as the second half of a long day, and there are no anchorages or marinas through that stretch.  So we are waiting here for a rising tide to bring us in to Enterprise Landing with favorable current the whole way.  Once again, I do not know if we will have Internet access tonight, so you may next hear from us in a couple of days.


  1. It sounds to me like Vector is very lucky to have obtained an electrical engineer as a new skipper! He won't be able to rest until she's all gone thru.... Sorry to hear of your troubles... Rod

  2. I love the "juice box" enclosure!
    Sometimes we just gotta put on our "Macgyver" hats.
    Good job.

  3. Sean any thoughts on heading out into the Ocean side at the NC/SC line near Little River Inlet and jump back in at the Eastern Channel.

    1. We don't want to take the boat outside until we have proper chocks for the scooters. Right now they are strapped down to a single sheet of 3/4" plywood, which is marginal. Good enough for the ICW and typical shore-side weather, but not up to keeping the scoots in place in seas over 2' or so.

  4. I for one am thrilled that you've gained enough confidence to describe tricky dockage maneuvering in trivial terms (you too, Lou), but to have regained your footing as the king of the sneaky wiring. You'll have Vector singing your praises in 7.1 surround in no time. I've also noted that we seem to have escaped the 'delayed' postings we used to endure with Odyssey (so you could avoid too many 'fan' visits). Internet issues aside, the 'real time' updates are even more interesting. I'm gonna nominate you guys for your own reality show. "American Docker"? "Dock Dynasty"? I'll email my suggestion to make you rich so you won't have to sink that low.


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