Sunday, May 1, 2011

San Diego - May trip

The next trip down my brother Bernie met me at the airport after flying in from Nashville.  We rented a car and made our home on the boat for a week.

We ordered and installed a new water pump and Bernie rebuilt the old one for a spare.  We had the alternator rebuilt and tested our spare alternator too. The tachometer was not reporting so we feared that we had no battery charging off the alternator. The list of repairs was growing. I had Paul from Fleming marine come out and he found two leaks in the refrigeration system and got our freezer and frige working for us.  Cold beer on the way! 

We had an appointment with a diesel fuel tank cleaning guy down in Shelter Island so we took the boat out from Mission Bay in the early morning into very dense fog and headed south down the coast looking for the entrance to San Diego Bay.  I had my first scary navigation as I used radar, a handheld GPS, a paper chart, and the depth sounder to feel my way down the coast.  The wrapped some kelp around the prop shaft in about 50 foot of water so I stopped the boat and reversed the engine to clear it.  Then we tried to stay about a mile off the coast in 100 foot of water to avoid more kelp beds.  Entering the bay just next to Point Loma, still in a dense fog, dodging large ships we saw on the radar, I hoped we were in the right place.  Then the fog cleared and I saw Point Loma looming up on our port and buoys Green 7 and Red 8 just ahead…spot on! 

We met with the fuel guy there at Harbor Island and he inspected and cleaned the two 65 gallon fuel tanks. We did not find the fuel crossover hose. He also cleaned the bilge for us. Then we filled up with 100 gallons of diesel at $5.00 per gallon.  On the way back up the coast we noticed the bilge filling up so we ran the bilge pump a couple of times.  Then later, at the dock, popping open a beer I checked the bilge again and it was way high and looked oily.  So I started ripping up floor boards and as I got further and further back toward the stern I saw a river of red liquid running forward.  Back at the stern I could hear a hissing sound. Finally I pushed a bunch of wires out of the way and did see the fuel crossover hose at the bottom front of the two fuel tanks and it was pissing a strong stream of diesel into the bilge.  That was the missing hose we couldn’t find and it was pouring my 500 dollars of diesel into a bilge that could not possibly hold all of it.

It was 5:00 PM and the yard was closing.  My brother came whistling down the dock thinking he’d done his day and was headed for the Crown Royal.  When he saw me jumping around frantically he came aboard, went to the stern, got down on all fours and found that leak.  Then he shoved his hand down, found the leak and stuck his finger in the dike just like a good dutch boy.  He said, “I’ll hold it til you figure out what we’re going to do about it.”

I got through to the receptionist at the Driscoll yard office and she got the last guy in the yard to agree to bring the travel lift around and haul us out. Otherwise we stood the chance of spilling diesel fuel into the water and risking a huge fine.  I took her to the lift and we hauled her out just as the diesel was almost reaching the engine pan.  We used bungs to hold a pressure pad on the hose and that slowed down the stream somewhat.  Now at least if we had to pump overboard, the fuel would go into the yard containment system instead of the bay.

We got the fuel tank cleaning guy (who we were not too pleased with for not finding the crossover hose in the first place) on the phone and he showed up at 8:30 PM with a truck and a pump and two 55 gallon drums. We emptied all the fuel into the two barrels. The boat stunk so I got a hotel room and collapsed. Bernie crawled into the vee, shut the door and opened the windows and crashed.  What a day!
With the boat out of the water we went ahead and got the fuel crossover line replaced and started on the bottom work.  I popped some blisters on the bottom (big mistake because I kinda got carried away) then contracted with the yard to fill them with fiberglass.  When Ovidio (our fiberglass repair man) drilled into the bottom of the the rudder and skeg, water started dripping out.  Quite a bit of saturation there.

After cutting into the soft part of the rudder and giving it lots of thought we agreed that Ovidio would 
take the rudder down to glass, do some patching, then wrap it with more glass. We also had the skeg reinforced.   Damn!  That was an expensive fix.  We had the bottom painted and put on new zincs of course. 

Brad Destache came by to look at the electrical charging system and we enjoyed tearing into the various boat electrical systems and talking to him about upgrading them into the current decade. Traveler had two battery banks of four (six volt) batteries each. The batteries were off-gassing madly.  Brad left to go prepare a quotation for me to look at later.  I then got on a plane and returned to Seattle leaving Bernie to finish up in the yard and see the boat put back into the water.

The next week when they splashed the boat Bernie had the yard mechanic Joe aboard.  Once in the water they cranked up the engine but no water was coming out of the exhaust.  So Bernie looked down in the engine compartment and found the water intake thru hull valve closed.  He opened it and sure enough we had coolant.  Someone dockside hollared out that they could see water being pumped out now from the bilge pump exit so Bernie went down again and this time found that the water pump hose had popped off the pump because someone had forgotten the hose clamp.  Simple enough to fix.  However, the bilge pump kept pumping.  This time the water was found coming in around the new packing gland that I had installed the week before.  I had not tightened it down enough so it was steadily pouring a stream into the bilge. Joe and Bernie tightened that and slowed it to a drip.

Somehow they got the vessel to the slip there at the marina and we arranged for Joe to keep an eye on the boat after Bernie left so we wouldn't have to worry so much about it sinking at the dock.  So there she sat, with a new fresh hull, rudder, skeg.  New water pump, new thru hull valves, rebuilt alternator and a cabinet full of red wine just waiting for my next trip.