July/August 2010 Sailing Trip — Days 9, 10, and 11

OK, I’ve been a bit delinquent in blogging, but I have a good excuse, really! (I just can’t remember what it is :) )

On Tuesday, we drove the nearly 30 miles up to Hudson (just north of Port Richey) to take Peyton to his new home. Abby came with us, of course. Peyton’s new daddy, Steve, proved to be just as nice and caring about his Shelties as we’d come to believe from email and talking with him on the phone. Peyton seemed happy, so we felt very good about leaving him there. Steve’s leaving on Sunday for a short vacation in Colorado, so he’s going to bring Peyton to stay on the boat with us while he’s gone.

Steve also invited us to park our boat in the canal behind his house…for free! That would save us about $5,000 per year over where it’s docked now. Unfortunately, our research suggests that the approach from the Gulf doesn’t offer the nearly 6′ depths at low tide that Dream SeQueL draws and it doesn’t look like the canal has that much depth even at slightly higher tides. Worse, he ripped the dock out a few years ago, so it’s just not possible. Oh, well, the location would be much less convenient than where we are now, but we appreciated his offer.

Let’s see…on Tuesday, we drained the bleach-water from our tanks (again), cleaned the debris and silt out of them (again), refilled them with clean water (again), drained them (again), refilled them, drained them, and finally refilled them. And the water tastes great! I neglected to mention that during all this, we decided that the water filter we had must be no longer doing its job, so we finally got it open to see what kind of filter element it had. None. That’s what it had. It was an empty housing! Well, we bought a high-quality in-line filter plus a strainer and installed them just upstream of the pressure pump. That’ll also help the taste of the water…there’s virtually no chlorine taste at all now.

On Wednesday, we finally concluded that there really is something wrong with our AC battery charger, so we ordered a new Xantrex TrueCharge2 40 amp AC charger (twice the amps, 20% of the weight, 20% of the volume). It should be here by Friday…Monday at the latest.  Man, I hope it resolves the battery charging problem. We just cannot afford to have these batteries replaced…they’re only two years old, in any case. We also spent time getting the boat better organized for us to live on it while we’re here, which included getting the inflatable tender out of the quarter berth along with a bunch of other stuff.

We spent most of Thursday starting to work on some of the pre-planned jobs we wanted to accomplish. The first of those was to make sure that the iCom M802 SSB we installed earlier this year was actually getting a signal out, then getting the SCS PTC-II USB radio modem on the SSB working. Happily, the SSB was putting out a nice signal, which we confirmed by contacting a traffic-and-radio-check service on a non-ham frequency! Getting the modem to work required that we first install it, which meant running a couple of cables…not difficult at all. We haven’t subscribed to a radio email service (because it’s too expensive when we’re not at the boat very much to use it, that’s why), so I installed some weather-fax software on my laptop and hooked it to the modem. And got nowhere fast. Tomorrow, I’ll call the company from which we purchased all this gear and see if they can help me sort it out.

Oh! On Tuesday, Earle (our friend and the guy who keeps the boat safe and maintained when we’re not there) came by to visit and chat about various things. He told us that the engine wouldn’t hold cooling water and that he’d been having to re-prime the system each time he wanted to start the engine! So Barbara and I tackled this problem on Thursday. I’d already purchased one of the SpeedSeal Life kits to replace the cover on the raw water pump, so I wanted to install that anyway. When we removed the existing cover, we discovered that the paper gasket was missing about 1cm of paper, which was causing the pump to leak salt water onto an engine mount (rusting it, of course), but also was probably allowing air to get into the system making it difficult for it to prime itself. The impeller was, not surprisingly, somewhat toasted, so we raced off to West Marine for a new impeller, then came back and installed it along with the SpeedSeal Life. Bingo…no more salt water leaking and (so far, at least) no difficulty holding the water in the system.

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