Saturday, November 30, 2013

Seeing magic

At 0900 this morning Kintala backed slowly away from the face dock, let the North wind ease her bow toward open water, and motored out into the Neuse. Oriental is a neat little town full of good people and we will surely head that way again (though we will avoid staying in the marina by the bridge). A few minutes after passing the breakwater the head sail snapped full, the Wester-Beast fell silent, and we set off toward Adams Creek at better than 6 knots.

It had seemed like a long time since we had sailed last, but soon a special bit of the magic of visited once again. At almost the same moment Oriental started to disappear aft the whole month of engine problems started to disappear with it. Something very similar happened when Boulder fell astern as nearly six years of effort and planning stared to fade into history. And again when leaving Oak Harbor; weeks of effort and frustration fading quickly into the mists. All life is a journey but cruising brings that reality forward and makes it the center of one’s being. We are here, doing this thing now. Once the sail fills and the boat is in motion everything that came before is preamble.

About half way through the day the magic took shape in the form of a small pod of dolphins sounding just off the starboard bow. They didn't jump in our wake or do anything fancy, just moseyed on by going about their business. (Ed note: sorry no pics - they were too elusive!)

About 5 hours later “here” is the anchorage at Taylor Creek in Beaufort, NC. It is a crowded place and when we pulled in the wind was gusting around 20 knots. It took nearly an hour and three different attempts to get the hook set with room to swing. Even at that, the spot we settled in is way too close to – what we think – is a buoy for a fixed mooring. It was bareley on the surface and has since disappeared as the tide came in. I am almost sure we set the anchor in such a way as we can't get tangled with the thing; but it isn't like I have done this a bunch of times before. Mooring-ball mined anchorages are something new.

Many of the potential parking spaces are similarly blocked or filled with clearly derelict boats lying to moss and weed coated moorings. It is like leaving the rusty hulk of a pick-up truck, sans tires and sitting on concrete blocks, straddled across four parking spots at the mall on Black Friday. Anyone who does such a thing forfeits any claim to having more than ten working brain cells. (I figure it takes at least fifteen to tie your shoes.) Also, in my humble opinion, all mooring balls should be illegal in public water ways. I couldn’t put up a “RESERVED FOR Tj” sign in front of my house in the city. How is a private mooring ball in a public anchorage any different?

But even with its clearly deficient efforts to keep the anchorage friendly, Beaufort looks like another neat little town. We might swing on the hook for a day just to check the place out. Or we might push on come morning. Another bit of the magic is that there is no law either way. But we hope to avoid piers and docks for a while.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Good-bye walk-a-bout.

 Today was spent getting out of the tied-to-a-pier-fixing-the-boat mode and back into a going-new-places-on-the-boat mode. Such a day allows one to enjoy many of the benefits of living and cruising on a sailboat. Topping the list is everyone's favorite, pumping out the holding tank using a hand cart. Note to self; an empty cart with nearly flat tires rolls downhill rather easily. A full cart with now very flat tires going uphill takes all the joy out of the task. Then we loaded the LPG tanks onto our little hand trolley and headed off to the hardware store for refills. Note to self; empty tanks and tiny tires is no problem. Full tanks and tiny tires take all of the joy out of the task. Fortunately new friends Chris and Sherry pulled up in a big 'ol diesel pick-up truck just as I was headed back across the parking lot and offered a quick ride back to the boat. They are the owners of the Gulfstar 44 I mentioned a couple of days ago and (naturally) were on a search for boat parts. Perfect timing so far as I was concerned.

With bottles secure in their locker I headed back up the road to help Deb carry groceries. The one mistake we haven't made is stuffing food on the boat as if our holding tank is a black hole with infinite capacity. Eight days is about the max between stops. The last boat chore for the day was installing a couple of padeyes in the cockpt to anchor tethers. For once a job went quick and easy and soon all the tools were packed away as well.

Then we went on a good-bye walk about. Ellen and Randy and Pat were all at the store. They have been nothing but the best in helping us be on our way. We chatted a bit about good places to anchor as we make our way South, there is nothing like talking to people for whom this is "home". It will be cold for a while but we are looking forward to being on the hook. Internet access will be the usual hit or miss when it comes to making blog posts. (An aside, the City of St. Louis thinks I still live there and sent a Jury Duty notice via our mailing address; which happens to be where Daughter Middle lives. It was kind of fun explaining to the court clerk that we lived on a boat (without TV!) and had no plans of being anywhere near St. Louis for awhile. In addition to the phone call she wanted an "official" email. Not sure what that means but I sent one today, complete with a copy of our invoice from the marina attached. Getting slapped with a summons when we do get back to St. Louis would be a bit of a downer. You don't think of things like Jury duty when tossing off the land lines.)

Ray's bikes had to be returned so we headed there after the store. The bikes got parked back next to the Enfield / sidecar rig but Ray wasn't home to accept Deb's gift of homemade pumpkin bread. We left a loaf securely wrapped and hanging on his front door; though the squirrels might get to it if he doesn't get home pretty quick. Then we made a last stop by Prinses Mia for a parting cup of tea with Martijn. We may see him again as he is headed for Moorehead City in the morning as well. After that he is off (weather permitting) to Bermuda while Kintala sticks to the ditch for a few more days. We hope to head outside soon (thus installing the padeyes) but for now following the ICW gets us to places where there are people we want to meet and see.

So come morning Kintala should be back on the move.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Storm lessons learned

The bent bar in the foreground was straight and is now broken   
I've been thinking about the weather all day today. The storm last night was the worst one we've ever been through on Kintala, and it has provided good fodder for thought now that my brain isn't being rattled by the pounding and jerking.  In no particular order, here are my conclusions:

This is what happens to a teak rubrail after pounding the dock   
Dock boxes and power stations are no match for a 30,000 lb boat
  1. If you're going to leave your boat at the dock to travel home for a few days for the holidays to visit family, please check the weather before you go and prepare your boat before you leave as if it will endure a 50 knot storm, whether or not one is forecast. It's unbelievably rude to assume someone else will check on your boat and risk injury to tend to it for you.
  2. If you ever leave your boat at the dock to go anywhere please be sure your halyards are secure so they don't slap on the mast. It's just good seamanship. This might also sound like a "duh" statement, but we've spent an unbelievable amount of time trying to secure the boat next to us so we can get a good night's sleep.
  3. Use double bow lines and double stern lines when you leave your boat, each led to different cleats if available. If you're not going to be on your boat, have the loop on the cleat and the bitter end on the dock so someone on the dock can adjust your lines if necessary.
  4. Use every bit of chafe gear you have available.
  5. Use every fender you have and then borrow some more.
  6. Remember - dock lines stretch. Just because your bowsprit is 3 feet from the dock when you leave doesn't mean it will be 3 feet from the dock in a 50kt blow. It takes way less time to secure your boat properly than it does to fix a broken bowsprit. 
  7. A 30,000 pound boat is a fearsome weapon in 50 knots. Power stations and dock boxes are no match for one.
  8. If a storm is brewing, leave your foulies and boots by the companionway. You'll need them at 2:00am. Also have flashlights and gloves handy. Have extra dock lines out and ready.
  9. Wear a life jacket if you have to go out on the boat to adjust lines. It's easier to fall off the boat  bucking and jerking on the lines at the dock than it is out on open water and just as dangerous, especially at night.
  10. While it's not always possible, try to move slowly and with purpose. It's incredibly easy to lose a finger in a dockline or a foot between a dock and a bucking boat.

After the blow

Coming up on 1100 hours, rain still pelts the boat and the winds are still gusting past 20 knots. But compared to last night all is sunny, quiet, and calm. It appears that Kintala came through without any damage, we are still floating anyway, everything still seems to be working and the hull appears unmarked. Given the torrents of rain that pounded the deck all night it is even kind of dry inside with just a couple of minor leaks. (One around the mast boot still ... argh!) Two of the boats upwind of us ended up with damaged bowsprits; the one that pounded the pier split its rub rail literally from stem to stern with a small chunk hammered out and missing. There is a trawler in a slip near the end of the pier, as exposed as could be to last nights storm. It didn't get damaged but the Captain is still a bit rattled after the night he endured.

So today we will dry clothes, clean up the inside of the boat a little, walk around, maybe trade stories with other sailors, and perhaps catch up on a little sleep. Tomorrow we have a reservation for Thanksgiving dinner at the marina restaurant. Friday is prep the boat day and, with any luck, Saturday will see us underway once again. The storm is past, time to move on.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Stormy thoughts

The time is 2300 and I'm on a kind of "pier watch." We are port bow into 25 knots of wind with gusts now passing 30. Between us and miles of open water fetch lies a single face pier; it isn't near enough to break the swell. We have eight lines set; two each off the port bow and stern, one port midships, one each starboard bow and stern, and a spring holding us off the face pier. There is also a stack of fenders along the starboard side at the piling, with a fourth flat fender hung on the piling itself. In spite of our precautions Kintala is lurching and banging against her lines. Twice already this evening we have gone out to check on things, reset chafe guards, and adjust the lines as the south winds blow the water out of the river. We have fallen more than two feet in just about as many hours. Depth under the keel now shows "0.0" but it doesn't feel like we are bouncing off the bottom just yet.

The boat upwind of us is mostly out of control. The bow sprit has already taken out the dock box bolted to the pier and wrecked the AC power station we shared. During my last trip outside I moved our power cord down the dock to the next station. Dock Master Mark has done what he could to lasso the thing, adding a second bow line and taking up the slack on the windward lines. If it manages to pull free Deb and I will be making a hurried exit and heading for the bath house for the rest of the night. After that I guess his insurance company will be talking to our insurance company.

The second boat upwind of us is also nearly out of control. For a while it had no windward stern line at all. I helped Mark get one rigged but that boat has already bashed the pier hard enough to shake it loose; it was moving about a foot every time the boat slammed into it. That boat is also pitching so hard that the bow pulpit is broken after slamming down on the wall pier. There will be at least one insurance call come later this week even if nothing else happens.

There are a lot of ways to get hurt out there tonight. The bow sprits and anchors bouncing up and down nearly 10 feet will break any bones not moved out of the way. Lines are bar tight when loaded; getting the timing wrong while trying to take up the slack during a bounce will easily cost a finger. The boat downwind of us slammed hard against its lines and rebounded against the walkway beween it and Kintala just as I was getting ready to step back onto our boat. I didn't step, I fell. Fortunately I fell onto the deck and not between the pier and our dancing - 25,000 punds - worth of boat. For just a moment though, falling though the dark and the rain, I was thinking this wasn't going to work out well.

As much as I like this town the transient dock in a hard south blow is not the place to be. We definatley did not get far enough south fast enough.

According to the prog charts an 898 (898!) mb low will be just north of us at 0100, about 2 hours from now. (I believe it, we just saw a 47 knot gust and, according to the radar, a tornado watch box is passing over us. Yehaw!) The worst should be over by early afternoon, but this is the worst weather, in the worst place, that we have yet seen on Kintala ... and its going to be a long night.


Monday, November 25, 2013

Breathe in...breathe out...

The gremlins have, at least for the moment, been swept into the corner. We want to celebrate that the engine is fixed, we really do, but we're only whispering that maybe (just maybe) the fuel leak is stemmed, whispering because we don't want those gremlins to hear.

Early this morning Tim had discovered the source of the leak, a badly scored ferrule in the compression fitting on the end of the line between the pump and the first injector. He spent a good bit of time with some 1500 grit emery paper trying to work the gouge out as I continued to try to find a new one to be shipped to us. It appears that Lucas and Westerbeke have the same business modelss and you can't buy or even look up part numbers for parts unless you are a dealer.

Several on-off-sand-test attempts were futile but he tried once more and had me climb up into the cockpit to start the engine. I held my breath the whole time the engine ran, waiting for the "Shut it off!!!!" to come from the aft cabin port along with a few other colorful phrases the likes of which had been blasting out of that port over the last few days. No expletives...engine running smoothly...I finally allowed myself to exhale and step to the companionway to see Tim eyeballing the engine with a spotlight just daring a drop to splash on the new, white, clean, oilsorb sheets beneath the Westerbeast's belly. No drops, no drips, no spurts. He looked up at me with that hesitantly hopeful "Could it be?".

While we worked all morning to arrive at that point, Casey (sorry if the spelling is wrong) in the Boston Fuel Injection parts department was busy trying to locate the new fitting for the pump to replace the one that was scored. No joy on a new one, but she and the tech were able to locate a used one in excellent shape in an identical pump to ours  on their back shelf. The tech cleaned it up and they are shipping it to us for a spare at a reasonable price. Yeah I know, hard to believe. Casey was the one bright spot in this whole venture. She went out of her way to help us out, not dropping the ball or passing it on to someone else because she didn't feel like messing with a $22 part. This place came highly recommended to us, and I can see why. Kudos, girl and tell your boss to give you a raise. (Have I mentioned that I'm a sucker for customer service?)

We did allow ourselves a celebratory lunch at M&Ms Cafe after which we spent a bit of time on our friend Martin's steel boat from The Netherlands enjoying his warm, comfortable pilot house and a bit of boat talk. The weather is about to fall apart so we'll spend the next few days doing laundry and shopping and cleaning, all things wonderfully uninvolved in engine repair.

A big thanks to all of you who have encouraged us over the last few weeks of frustration. And if you see any gremlins around?  Tell them we hear there are a few derelict boats still left in the harbor.

Sunday, November 24, 2013


Twenty-five is the forecast low for tonight. Clearly we didn't get far enough south. At least, with Kintala still stuck at the dock, there is shore power available to run our little electric heater. That should keep the inside of the boat nice and toasty, at least 45 or so. Clearly we didn't get far enough south.

Not for lack of trying, but the Westerbeast's fuel leaks are being persistent little gremlins. With the offending line completely removed this morning one could get a close look at the fitting ends. One could even bring a magnifying glass into play which revealed absolutely nothing that would explain the size of the leak. So it was reinstalled with torque and alignment as perfect as my nearly 50 years of practice allowed. (I started young.) And with the motor running at idle the fuel still flowed at better than a drop per second into the bilge. This is not a minor weeping of wet, the source should be clearly obvious. The next step, come tomorrow morning, is to start taking parts off the newly overhauled pump until the "obvious" is found.

That probably should have been done this afternoon. Instead Deb and I spent several hours drinking tea aboard Princes Mia. Her heavily insulated steel hull was unmoved by the 20+ knots of cold north wind and her cabin was kept warm by the wood burning stove. This is a ship built for high latitude cruising; scurrying south to get out of the cold isn't much of much concern to her captain, Marty. (I did mention her helm station is inside the pilothouse, no?) Indeed, I suspect her black steel hull, tiny ports, and fully enclosed helm would be out of place in the tropics.

In any case Kintala has to be moving south soon, or at least off the pier. Our one month of dock rental runs out come Saturday and we simply can't keep leaking money like we have been leaking fuel. If I haven't slain all the gremlins by then Mary has offered to fire up Princes Mia and tow us out into the anchorage. There is no shore power out there for our little electric heater; so I guess I'd better get the engine fixed before then.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

It's alive ...

After nearly six hours of chasing bubbles out of the fuel manifold Kintala's Wester-beast staggered to life like Dr. Frankenstein's monster, shaking and sputtering and barely coherent. It was pretty ugly. We shut it down, poked around a bit, and a diesel guy from two slips over came by to listen to the engine complaints. (He is suffering through trying to get a new-to-him Gulfstar 44 ready for cruising. His engine runs. It is the generator, batteries, and wiring that are the bane of his existence.) We kicked the Beast into motion once again and this time it ran a bit better. Not good, but better. Enlightened opinion was that it would take a few more minutes of exercise to cough up the rest of the air. That sounded reasonable but, then again, I'm not that enlightened. As the Beast continued to chuff and cough I went searching, and uncovered a new fuel leak; this one at the fuel line to the #1 cylinder, at the pump end.


I was very careful and deliberate in wrenching apart the 17 fluid connections needed to remove the pump. It should have been 18 but one was frozen so solid there was no getting it loose. Fortunately, that line could stay attached to the fuel filter cap and come out as a kind of dorked up assembly. I was just as careful mating all of those fluid connections back together. Getting these kinds of compression fittings cross-threaded (and thus terminally dorked up) is way too easy when they are new and shiny. Thirty years old, pitted and grungy, threads already galled ... bring your "A" game and hope for the best. My best this time around was 17 for 17 not cross-threaded, but with one leaking anyway. Un-torque and re-torque didn't help and the day was spent. So tomorrow will be day three of pump assembly and install. (Or day 23, it depends on how and what you count.)

Tomorrow is also Sunday so there is no telling if a successful conclusion to this side-trip to engine disasterville can happen. Monday looks to be the only weather window for scooting on out of here for nearly the next week; but if the Wester-beast is still oozing diesel into the bilge we will miss it and have to make a new plan yet again.

I have no intention of letting this blog become just an endless list of disappointments, break-downs, failures and troubles. I don't want this cruising life to go that way either. There are friends who have made it to the islands, others who have managed their first big water passage (and are justifiably proud), and still others who are way out ahead of us but staying in the States this year. We are going to follow along as best we can and are determined to have as much fun as possible along the way. Tomorrow will be another day living on the boat. It is going to be cold and another day spent getting smacked around by the Wester-beast. And it might be one of those days that I get a bit grumpy. But tomorrow will also be another day of living on the boat and being a part of this community. So I'll try not to be too grumpy.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Parts is parts

I remember we used to toss the phrase "parts is parts" around the maintenance hanger; particularly on those late night grinds to get something back in the air to meet the next day's schedule. Sometimes (complying with all the applicable paperwork and meeting the regulatory requirements - of course) some bit needed on the subject plane could be found on another plane that was in for a more extended maintenance stay. Low and behold, "parts is parts" and the schedule would be met.

Unfortunately Kintala has no such stable mate available to donate missing pump bits. But as it turns out the bits needed actually were sent on their way just before the tornado hit and, though a day or two late, arrived in New Bern quite unexpected. By mid-afternoon yesterday the bits were assembled back into a working pump. As fate would have it new friend Ellen was going to New Bern yesterday afternoon anyway, grabbed said pump, and had it in my hot little hands by 0900 this morning. Parts is Parts!

A tad more than 9 hours later and the engine assembly was done. All that remains is bleeding the air out of the system and trying to start the thing; and that will wait until morning. There are two reasons for this. The first is that bleeding our Westerbeke is a first class bitch of a job that will probably take several hours. It was time to call it a day. The second reason is a bit more esoteric. I do not want want to crawl into bed tonight having discovered yet another show stopping failure keeping Kintala from being rendered operational. Rather I seek sweet dreams that tomorrow will be a good day. If it turns out otherwise, I will deal with that tomorrow night. (We also installed a new pre-heat relay that is functioning perfectly - thank you. I will nod off with the happy thought that at least one thing is definitely working that wasn't working when we got here.)

One problem not addressed is the broken overheat warning switch. My thinking on this is as follows: Worst case is the engine overheats, I don't catch it because the switch is broken, the overheat turns catasrophic and the engine hand grenades itself. Then there would be no choice but to repower the boat and thus be relieved of the burden of the Westerbeke forever. True, that could be a bit risky. The eninge might hand grenade when actually - desparately - needed and thus other bad things might happen. But what are the odds? Honestly, we will work diligently to get a new switch and be back as close to 100% as I can make this beast, but we are not going to sit here waiting for that to happen.

Assuming the engine actually runs come tomorrow.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

A commercial

For those of you that don't frequent the Cruising Comforts tab on the top of the blog much, there's a whole bunch of new posts and recipes over there. When one is sitting in Oriental NC for a month there's a lot of time to cook it seems.

Coffee Meter: 10
On the Menu Today

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Practicing patience

 Kintala's little part in the cruising world has been kind of quiet these last few days. There was some hope that the pump would be done today. Unfortunately we just heard that the big storms that rolled through the Midwest shut down the supply house for the pump parts; the parts haven't even been shipped yet and the house isn't answering the phone. So here we are, no pump, no parts, and no clue. The search for other parts goes on. Many people have offered good ideas when it comes to the great Leyland / Westerbeke parts scavenger hunt and glow plugs have been sourced; from England, shipped via Royal Mail to arrive in St. Louis with ETA unknown. Pretty soon I may be forced to admit that our cruising life has been put in a holding pattern here in Oriental, NC. We simply can't seem to get the stars to align in whatever way they need so we can get going again. As determined as we might be, as good a mechanic as I might be, when mid-November tornadoes rampage through the only place providing the parts needed, determination and skill are over matched. The only choice now is to practice the art of patience.

Meanwhile the parade of boats through Oriental remains constant. Yesterday there were two different trimarans in the marina and this morning finds two, very pretty, wooden boats tied up at the city dock. Across from Kintala sits a nice looking Cat and Princes Mia still lies just a few spaces away from us. The weather is perfect / cooler though the north wind is ruffling up the marina. Kintala lies uneasy on her lines when the wind flows from the N or NE, setting up an endless rolling motion and tugging hard at her bow lines. That leads to a low moan causing imaginations of Kintala complaining, "Another day here? But I wanna go to the ocean with my friends." (As if it's my fault the engine started barfing diesel all over the place.) Teenagers and boats have a lot in common; expensive, moody, impossible to understand, but you really can't imagine life without them. (Or maybe you can.)

Friends out ahead of us have been dealt a serious health blow. It is not my place to tell their story; but sitting here when we would rather be moving there to offer what support we can isn't pleasent. We trust there will be good news soon, but being tied to a dock with a broken boat, especially now, is not what I had in mind when we left the midwest to go "cruising".

So here we be working on little projects when we can, though the days with a good N wind blowing limits the options. The rolling makes head down, close-in work being done in the cabin hard on inner ear. A stiff wind carrying temps out of Canada makes deck work a bit cold. Some days we work, some days we practice patience. And some days that is harder than others.

Monday, November 18, 2013


Today was a frustrating day of searching for parts. If nothing else, Tim's desire to replace this Wester-"beast" engine, as some people call it (Tim has another name), makes sense if only to replace it with something that has spare parts available. Nearly every single item I've looked for has been NLA (no longer available in parts speak). This seems to stem from the fact that our particular Westerbeke is one of the ones using a British Leyland block, and many of the parts are only available in the UK. Glow plugs for instance. Common part, used on nearly every older diesel engine and available anywhere. But ours? NLA. The only place we could find them was under a cross-referenced number guessed it...the UK. Engine overtemp alarm switch? NLA. Engine coolant temp sensor? NLA.The most frustrating thing is that I know most of these parts have a generic part number and could be bought for a song at the local tractor store if I could just get a cross reference number, but they don't seem to exist anywhere. The only success I've had was with the glow plug relay, found on amazon for $21. Wanna know how I found that one? I searched Google images until I found one similar to ours and then fine-tuned till I got the exact model.

So in the mean time we're getting some smaller projects done. Tim fixed a broken piece of teak in the cockpit today and re-mounted a piece of fiberglass framing around a shelving insert in the cockpit so the mounting screws actually went into the fiberglass instead of into air like it was from the factory. I've been working on some modifications to the dodger to make it better. Now that we've used it awhile there were a couple things we needed to add. We've been doing our daily walkabout and a few bicycle rides to the post office to pick up parts, some bread baking, and cooking and lots of reading. The weather has been fantastic. Except for a few days of thirties in the morning, we've been doing a pretty good job at meeting our goal of chasing 70° and missing the snow that some of you have had already. That's one thing I'm glad is NLA.

Coffee Meter: 10
What's on the menu today

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Galley window 11-17-13

Here's the view from my galley port this evening. This large power yacht has been next to us since we got here, but the people had gone home to Texas to visit so it's been sitting vacant. It has served to act as a very nice wind block on South and Southeast winds, one that we will miss since they are leaving and the wind is turning that direction soon. It's kind of odd to look out my window while cooking after dark to see  what looks like a large house interior. You can't see the actual boat in the dark, just the interior of the boat highlighted, and since the water is calm this evening and we're not rocking, it almost feels as if we're on land. Very disconcerting.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Book Review - Sailing A Serious Ocean

A good thing about being jammed up in Oriental for a couple of weeks is that our copy of John Kretschmer's new book "Sailing A Serious Ocean" caught up with us.  A disclaimer first; Deb and I have sailed with John on Quetzal, been to his house and had dinner with his family, and have recommended friends sail with him as well.  He is a friend. is in his world of sailing what I used to be in mine of aviation; a hard core professional who has earned his way, up close and personal, in a vast, sometimes violent, potentially lethal environment.  He has survived close calls with skill and an iron determination to never give up ... leavened by a little bit of luck.  He has written several books. I have read and enjoyed them all.  But this last one is a step above.  His writing skills are a match for his sailing expertise.  For those of us who are new to his world, or are working to join it some day, "Sailing a Serious Ocean" is a "must read" for gaining solid advice about what kind of boat it takes to face big water on its own terms.  John's opinions on the boats, equipment, sails, and gear are hard earned, offered without excuses by a man who has nursed all kinds of boats through all kinds of conditions.  Some of the boats, and some of the gear, were barely up to the task.  It is good to know of these things before one casts off the lines to join him "out there".

When it comes to what it takes, as a person, to face the sea on its own terms, "Sailing a Serious Ocean" is more than a must read; it sets a new standard.  John's candid tales of his own experiences, the times he should have made a different decision, are also offered without excuses.   The events he - and his crews - had to face as a result of those decisions are a revelation.  In my world of aviation a crisis normally lunges, proves deadly or is handled in a matter of seconds or minutes or, at most, tens of minutes, and passes by with the adrenalin still coursing though your veins.  In John's world the crisis builds to a crescendo that may last for hours, or days.  The sky will kill you quick and dead, but the ocean will break you first, attempt to disassemble your boat from under you, batter the crew to exhaustion, wear out the resolve to keep going ...

Yet somehow "Sailing a Serious Ocean" avoids making the realities of going to sea in a small boat sound terrifying.  Instead of scaring off the hopeful sailor John leaves the impression that most of us can do this.   He learned to find his way.  The hundreds of people who have sailed with him often stepped up, did what had to be done, and learned to find their way.  And we can learn to find ours.  His love for ocean, for the challenge, and for the rewards of sharing his world with others glows from every chapter.  The side bars on sailing weather, navigation, boats, and gear are the information every cruiser is seeking.

It is a serious ocean.  John is a serious sailor.  And this is a serious book.  But it is also a great read and should not be missed by anyone looking to do a serious thing.

Needing motivated

Randy offered his truck for taking Kintala's ailing pump to the fix-it shop in New Bern.  You know it is a cruising town when the person lending you a car asks, "When was the last time you drove?"  We sold the Z back in early October, so it hasn't been that long.  The trip was fun, New Bern looks like a place we need to visit some day, and word is Coastal Diesel will have the pump done by Tuesday or Wednesday.  How to get it back here is yet to be determined.

There is other stuff to do to the engine in the interim.  Wiring on two sensors broke off, the connections brittle from 30 years of flexing.  Finding new ones will be required.  Some parts removed for access can be installed.  The glow plug circuit isn't working and, since the plugs had to come out anyway to lift the pump out, putting new ones in after who knows how many years seems a good idea.  Not sure what the circuit problem is yet, relay, wiring, switch ... I should be working on that.

But I just can't get motivated to do it today.

One can't be around cruisers, listen to their stories, read their blogs, without knowing that a good bit of this life is taken up just trying to keep the boat moving.  Not to put too fine an edge on it, these things are ... um ... high maintenance to say the least.  If cars or houses or motorcycle or airplanes needed the constant work that boats do, we would all be walking and sleeping in tents.  Stroll up and down the docks in a place like Oriental and everyone seems to be working on something that is broke.  Boats drift in, get worked on for a couple of days (or weeks) and drift off to the next place where they will stop to get worked on again.  (SSB, fuel injection, broken tiller, failed furling, air lock, more engine problems, hull leak, torn sail ... this is a short list from those around us during our stay here so far.)

I understand this; it is part of the life.  But endlessly correcting failure after failure while trying to keep up with routine maintenance and cleaning tasks is not why we came this way; even if it is the majority of what we do.  We came this way to live on deep blue water, to meet different people, to have time for thinking different kinds of thoughts, and to get some distance from a society we no longer understand nor want too close.  We are still new at this and haven't gotten very far, but we have found more than we expected.  People become instant friends, we share what we know and help where we can, and then we wave as we go our separate ways.  The next place holds more instant friends.  This is a slice of the human tribe getting closer to what we should have been all along.

I'm sitting in the "sun room" writing; the boat rocking gently with open water just off her bow.  It is a perfect day; warm, light breeze, puffy white clouds in a perfect blue sky reflected in equally perfect blue water.  There are some sailboats out on the Neuse that look like a race from here.  We walked to the top of the bridge next to the marina just to see the view and take some pictures. Boats move across the horizon, lines squeak a little, the occasional halyard bounces in the breeze.

I'll work on the boat tomorrow.

Not so good at panorama pics yet...

Thursday, November 14, 2013


In the telecommunications world, the term provisioning means preparing a network so that its users can access it and receive services. I was thinking about that today while I was in the Inland Waterway Provision Co., on the corner near the town dock in Oriental, NC, because the network which is the cruising community is most certainly provisioned here.

The store has a varied and colorful history since its original opening in 1987, starting out as a company store for the Fulcher Seafood company, a place where the workers on the fishing boats could come and purchase both marine supplies and foodstuffs they needed for their time at sea. Eventually the store opened to the public, filling a void in the community's services. The store then passed through several owners, only to fall to bankruptcy in 2010. After nearly a year of shuttered doors Mark Henley, the current owner, came to town just to liquidate the remaining stock. After a barrage of requests for him to reopen the store, Mark acquiesced and began the process, succeeding with a grand opening of the store in pretty much its current arrangement on Memorial Day of 2011.

During the tenure of Jay and Paula Winston in the late 90s, the store was set up with his marine supplies on one side of a taped line on the floor, and her clothing / gifts / snacks, etc on the other side of the taped line. Although the taped line on the floor has long since disappeared, the general format remains. While the marine supply stock is physically smaller than most stores, I have found that the selection reveals the smart choices of a person who knows his boats. There is a good selection of a lot of hard-to-find maintenance items as well as chain, line, hardware, cleaners, fiberglass supplies, plumbing supplies, outboard and dinghy supplies, and a list of deck items such as boat hooks, life jackets, fenders, etc. While I haven't had the need (or the money) to peruse the other side of the store much, there seems to be a good variety of Gill clothes and shoes as well as some hammocks, chairs, bicycles and chartbooks and cruising guides. One of the things I like best is the inclusion of a variety of items from local vendors such as the coffee from Shawn at Nahala Roasting Company (to die for), and some jewelry and musical instruments from local artisans.

I am generally pretty choosey about the merchants that I review on our site.  After 30+ years in management of various aviation customer service businesses I have developed the attitude that any business who does not understand the value of treating customers like human beings is not a business worthy of my hard-earned dollars.  This type of customer service can be from the top down in a business, through training programs of its employees or an active, involved manager who holds those attitudes, or it can also be from an individual employee or group of employees that personally value their work in such a way. In the case of the Inland Waterway Provision Company, Mark Henley is very lucky to have employees who, as cruisers themselves, understand the needs of cruisers and provide the type of welcoming environment that they have come to expect from this store. In the weeks since we arrived here, I've had the pleasure of dealing with Pat Stockwell and with Ellen Ryder, who have been immensely helpful in finding the right parts and supplies, in arranging for workers to help us, and in general encouragement during what has been a somewhat trying time of engine breakdown.

Maybe more interesting than the telecommunications industry's adoption of the term provision, is the original Latin meaning of the word: "foresee, attend to". My future business with The Inland Waterway Provision Company has been assured because of these two employees' ability to foresee my needs as a cruiser and attend to them. If you're in the Oriental, NC harbor, be sure to stop in and patronize this store. I promise you it will be worth your time.


Deb tells me that my mechanical instinct is pretty good; that I should trust it more.  Ten days ago, although I couldn't put eyes on the leaking fuel because of a lack of access, instinct suggested that Kintala's injection pump was giving up the ghost and fuel was leaking out a weep hole in the pump flange (designed to protect the engine from just such a failure).  This would have been bad news.  Injection pumps are pricy.  Getting one overhauled was sure to take some time.  And getting this one out of Kintala looked to be anything but easy.

Various Westerbeke support experts insisted my instinct was wrong, that such was impossible because a) the pump couldn't fail that way and, b) there was no such weep hole.  So I shrugged off my instinct.  After all (and this is not instinct but sure knowledge born of 40+ years of fixing stuff) though I know a lot about some things, and some about a lot of things, I don't know everything about anything.  When the folks that design, manufacture, and maintain a thing point blank tell you something can't be, in all likelihood that something can't be.  Who am I to argue with experts?

The intervening ten day struggle, with these same experts, was to actually lay hands on the parts they suggested were the most likely source of the problem.  Parts that, by the by, cost roughly 6 times what they would have cost if we could but lay our hands on the generic version not carrying a Westerbeke part number.  Even being robbed,  it took Deb talking to a Westerbeke dealer in California to get the parts ball rolling.  The Virginia dealer who didn't have what we needed in stock, was insisting he had to get them shipped from the factory to him, and then he could ship them to us   (the reason it took close to a week to get the bit of tubing).

But he was wrong.  According to the CA dealer, the MA dealer (who Deb found had the parts in stock) could sell the parts to us with the VA dealer's permission and could also drop ship them straight to us, a fact that the MA dealer never bothered to mention.  Deb called the MA dealer, educated them as to their own company S.O.P. and got the parts here yesterday afternoon. (Tangle with one of the better parts people on the planet, especially when her boat is broken, and you will get your head handed to you on a platter.)

Randy showed up this morning to help me install said parts and bleed the engine.  A couple of hours later Kintala chuffed a bit of smoke, the engine caught, and immediately starting barfing fuel exactly as before.  This time I shoved face, mirror and light as deep as possible into the engine bay (risking catching my goatee in the water pump belt in the process) in order to see once, and for sure, from whence came the leak.

Yep, you guessed it already.  Fuel was spraying out of the weep hole - that does not exist - in the mount flange of the pump - that cannot fail in such a manner.  I guess I shouldn't feel too bad since I, an amateur diesel mechanic and wanna-be sailor, apparently knows more about diesel engines than the people who design, manufacture, and maintain marine specific Westerbeke diesel engines.  That's pretty good for a person who likes to think of himself as somewhat competent around a toolbox.

On the other hand I, an amateur diesel mechanic and wanna-be sailor, apparently knows more about diesel engines than the people who design, build, and maintain marine specific Westerbeke diesel engines.  How is that even possible?  How does an industry get this monumentally screwed up?  And why does it have to be an industry I have to deal with?  I wouldn't care if the wood burning stove industry was this bad, or the chicken feed industry.  At this point I don't even care if the automobile industry is shooting itself in both feet several times a day.  But I live on a boat and can't escape the marine industry.  This is not a good thing.

Deb found a place not too far away that will repair and / or overhaul the unit.  I tried to settle down enough to get the pump off the engine.  Completely frustrated and spitting mad is not a good frame of mind for starting a completely frustrating task like removing the fuel injection pump from a Westerbeke 50 crammed into a Tartan 42's miniscule engine bay.  Parts installed for 30 years are reluctantly uninstalled, a couple of things simply broke in my hands, (more Westerbeke parts to deal with) wrenches slippery with fuel dance away from cramped fingers, and itty-bitty parts disappear into the bilge mess never to be seen again.  Almost in spite of myself, by 1700 the pump was extracted, tools were stored, and the companionway engine covers / ladders were back in place. 

Oriental is a nice town.  Which is good since there is no telling when we will be moving on.  Instinct tells me we are far from having a running engine.  I have surely kicked over the nest of sleeping gremlins that has been lurking in Kintala's engine compartment since we bought her.  Corralling them all is going to take some time.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Leave Happier

I have to take a break from your regularly scheduled programming to plug a blog. As way of full disclosure, this blog is my daughter's blog but I'm not plugging it because it's my daughter's, I'm plugging it because she happens also to be a pretty accomplished photographer and has one of those blogs that makes you smile in a day and age when there are few of them. Specifically I'm plugging it because she's participating in a project called 365, where you take one picture every day in order to remember the little things that you might otherwise miss or forget.  A worthy challenge, one I've thought of tackling in the cruising community but have yet to commit to. If you need a smile on your face today, hop on over to

I promise you won't be disappointed.

Ray's bikes

S/V Happy Dance
It was pretty satisfying to motor away from Happy Dance.  An hour or so earlier Keith had collected me, a small assortment of tools, and a jug of fuel off the dock and putted us out into the anchorage.  The motor on his boat was suffering a massive air bubble in the fuel system and I had volunteered my modest diesel skills in trying to get it cleared.  It probably took longer than it should have to figure out, but we were both all smiles when the engine finally chuffed to life.  Deb and Katrina (other half of Happy Dancer's crew) were at the store, so I took their dinghy back to shore.  A little while later Katrina, after loading the dinghy with stores, headed home in it.  Last I saw Happy Dance was motoring out into the Neuse.

As good as it felt to help another newbie couple (and now new friends) on their way, the fact that Kintala's diesel is still MIA is frustrating.  All I need to try and get it going is two "B" nuts and matching compression collars; parts that should have come with the fuel line.  An email from Westerbeke feigned puzzlement as to why the parts weren't shipped.  I have suggestions ranging from the IQ, parentage, and training of the parts people involved to the corporate culture of Westerbeke and its contempt for anything approaching aggressive customer service.  Suggestions that I would love to share with the management team in language that would sear the bottom paint off of Kintala and set their hair on fire.  But, alas, I fear it would be a waste of colorful language.  They have a hammer lock on what is needed to get their unit functioning once again, will not part with it for anything less than extortion prices, and will deliver it in accordance with their internal bureaucratic dictates regardless of any and all other contingencies.  The good news is that Deb (rather than yours truly) talked with them today so the parts may yet arrive before the Neuse freezes over ... still at extortion prices of course.

"So", you ask, "what has that to do with Ray's bikes?"  Well, in an effort to find two supposedly common "B" nuts and compression collars without being soundly beaten and abused by Westerbeke, Deb and I headed out late morning to search every possible source of such within striking distance of Kintala.  Hopes of scoring a couple of bikes to use for our travels came a cropper as all of Pat's loaners were already loaned.  Deciding that walking is better than waiting on parts we started hoofing it to the first stop.  Along the way we passed Ray burning some leaves in his yard and asked if the road we were on could get us where we wanted to go.  He allowed as it would then asked if we needed to borrow a couple of bikes, "Complete with baskets."  We demurred, not knowing Ray from Adam.  But he insisted that, not only should we take his bikes, they need not be returned to his carport until we were done with them, whenever that might be over the next few days.  (Also in his carport was a nicely restored Enfield motorcycle and side car rig; dressed in Army Green and looking ready to take on the Russian Front.  An impressive bit of work but unavailable for loan...too bad.)

Ray doesn't know us from Adam or Eve either but, no mind, we are cruisers afoot in his town.  There was no way to turn down his offer so off we went ... baskets and all.  The attempt to find the parts was a long shot at best; we were left at the mercy of Westerbeke.  But Happy Dancer is on her way and Ray lent us his bicycles.

I've had worse days

Monday, November 11, 2013


The UPS truck dropped off a nice sized box from Engines 1 today.  Inside the nice sized box was a bit of copper tubing bent here and there and an invoice for $48.89.  There were no fittings on this bit of copper tubing, no compression collars, and of course no explanation of what I had done to deserve being the recipient of a nice sized box filled with STUPID.  Such STUPID is, of course, completely useless in the quest to get our engine running once again.  Deb attempted to explain the STUPID to various parts fools; but was unsuccessful in penetrating the false assumption that they had the slightest idea of what they were talking about.  "Experts" are supposed to contact us tomorrow morning in an attempt to fix the STUPID.  (You might be able to guess why Deb did the talking and not me.)

We rented a slip for a month ... not sure that is going to be long enough.

Meanwhile new friends sailed into the anchorage and dropped a hook.  They sailed in because their engine isn't running either.  Deb and I spent some time on Happy Dancer this evening to see if I had any ideas.  There appears to be an airlock in the fuel injection system but I couldn't move enough fuel with the lift pump primer to clear it.  They don't have any loose diesel on board to fill the filter bowls so we are going to head over there in the morning with some, see if we can't get them going.  Heading back to Kintala with nothing but an idea of what to try tomorrow was disappointing.  If I don't actually fix something pretty soon (rather than just flailing away like some kind of bone-headed amateur) it may lead to uncontrollable twitches and mutterings unsuitable to human ears.

Adding to the joys of cruising is the gale warning in effect from Tuesday afternoon through Wednesday; highlights include N winds 25 to 30 with gusts up to 40 and waves 2 to 4 feet.  The thermometer will just touch freezing come Wednesday morning.  So there are about 48 hours of fun and games headed our way. 

And yet here I sit, broken boat and impending night or two of little sleep while being buffeted by an icy North wind, and figure this is just part of being in this place we have wanted to be and doing this thing we have wanted to do.

Weather is part of the deal.  Broken boats are part of the deal.  But I could do with a little less STUPID.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

What's on the menu today

Since today was an thrilling cruising day of laundry, pumping out, and cleaning, I'll leave you instead with a Cruising Comforts post for what's on the menu today:

Saturday, November 9, 2013


For people who blog regularly, there are some days that posts just grab you out of nowhere and you simply must sit down and write at that exact moment. Then there are posts that you mull over for days, distilling your thoughts, wanting to be sure that the observations on which you intended to expound are in fact worth expounding on. Some days absolutely nothing worthy of notice happens and the blank page remains. Then there are those weird days where a half dozen things happen that are all worthy of some written exploration, and to lump them together into one post seems somehow to cheapen the value of each. Today was such a day.

Every Saturday morning in Oriental they have a farmer's market. Being as we've been here almost 10 days, this was the second day I had the opportunity to go. It's smallish as markets go, but you can buy good veggies, local honey, pastured pork products, freshly roasted coffee, and some baked goods. Sandie gets up at 3:30 each Saturday morning to make the bagels, muffins, and scones that she sells alongside her fabulous squash, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and peppers. I bought a butternut squash from her last week and we had some silky soup from it last night. Tim, who is not a soup person, even liked it which is saying a lot. This morning we bought another bag of Tim's Ethiopian coffee (yum - you should smell our boat), a couple bagels for breakfast, some maple sausage links fresh from the farm and another butternut.

The farmer's market is alongside the free town dock.  The town dock is exactly in the middle of town, studiously guarded by the town dog (whose name escapes me at the moment), complete with bandana around his neck as he sits in the middle of the main street forcing everyone to drive around him as they smile.  The free town dock is sort of the gathering place in Oriental, so if you ever plan on staying there, be prepared to spend a lot of time talking. We've met a lot of  people on that dock, just because you feel free to walk up and talk to them, and this morning was no exception.

We've been eyeballing a large steel boat that came in yesterday but hadn't been able to catch the owner until today. The boat is an amazing 45 ft steel cutter pilot house and its owner, Martin, is a man from Holland who single hands it, living full time on it. We had an opportunity to see the inside and we were both completely smitten. It's one of those boats that has the classic, work boat,  shippy look to it, with gnarled wood, tile, brass, and all the little artisan details that are lost on new boats. It did take me a while to drag Tim away from the engine room - and I do mean room. It even had a drill press in it. The head on this boat looked like a New York apartment bathroom, complete with palm tree in the corner.

After an hour or so of drooling we did discipline ourselves to work on a couple projects. Tim headed to the mast base to see about a leaking

seal, and I started the galley sink rebedding project. The way the galley sinks are designed, it is impossible to keep water from pooling around the edges of them. This has led to water seeping under the edges and I was noticing a bit of what looked like dissolved plywood so I figured I better buckle down and do the job. I was anticipating it would be a pretty major job because I had read a story on another blog we follow about the same job, and knew to expect some corroded anchor studs. I wasn't disappointed. The project took 10 hours and a few trips to various marine suppliers in the area, but it's done now. As you can see in the pictures, it hadn't been done in a long while, if ever. While I had it apart I used the time to polish the stainless.

In the middle of my project we had the opportunity to visit with some blog followers over drinks and appetizers. The other night we received a call completely out of the blue from some folks, Steve and Dorothy, who live just a few miles from here in New Bern, NC. They also own a Tartan 42, the one built right before ours, and were looking to spend some time chatting and getting some ideas for their boat. They, too, are retired and had hoped to head out for a longish cruise this month but ran into some difficulties on their boat that may delay their departure (go figure). We had a good chance to visit on two different occasions and it was a pleasure getting to know them. It is weird beyond measure that with only 30 Tartan 42 models in the world, three of them or their owners have been in this harbor this week.

It's been a good, full day. Great weather, projects ticked off the list, and wonderful company. We've enjoyed our stay here in Oriental, but we're already itching to get moving again. The thermometer was a gentle prod in that direction this morning, and as soon as the engine parts are in and the work is done we hope to be heading south again.

Friday, November 8, 2013


An Automatic Identification System is one of those things that just seems like a good idea.  (Unless you are one of those people who lies awake at night, loaded gun under your pillow, waiting for the Black Helicopter to swoop in and drop a UN Ninja Warrior Team on your butt.)  It would be nice to transmit though I doubt the big boats would (or could) move out of the way even if they got an alarm.  It would be really, really, nice to receive; giving us plenty of warning to get out of the way - even on a dark and stormy night when visibility is measured in parts of a boat length.

So it came to pass the we went to the Annapolis Boat Show with an AIS receiver at the top of our "buy" list.  After stopping at several booths we ended up talking with a knowledgeable sounding young man about the Standard Horizon GX2150 with MATRIX AIS+.  (Sounds really cool, yes?)  This, we were told, was THE unit for cost competitive AIS information and warning; all set to go, plug and play.

That seemed a bit too good to be true.  A VHF, all by itself, would have scant chance of giving even a hazy azimuth (or bearing) to a target, and no chance of giving a range.  So I asked, "The GX2150 has an internal GPS?"  And guess what?  I was assured by this knowledgeable sounding young man that, yes indeedy, a GPS came in the unit.  It seemed a bit odd that the manufacturer would go to the trouble of installing an internal GPS and then not have add on navigation capabilities offered, so I asked the same question again, this time with a bit more emphasis.  And I got the same answer with equal emphasis...plug and play, you'll have a good day.

So I bought it.

Only to discover upon installation that the Standard Horizon GX2150 with MATRIX AIS+ only has that AIS+ if you wire it into a GPS receiver; otherwise it is just a nice looking VHF radio.  Goat roping low life son of a donkey ... had by the marine industry once again.

Fortunately motoring down the ICW in a parade of boats isn't that hazardous, even if the MATRIX AIS+ lies inert and clueless.  But with the engine work gone as far as it can go until parts arrive, and it being a bit warmer inside the boat than out, and with Deb being her normal productive self this afternoon, I felt compelled to be useful as well.  Why not take a look at the AIS?

Two inches from the GX2150 is mounted our old Garmin GPSmap176.  It isn't much use as a chart plotter but it does talk to satellites and knows where it is in a latitude and longitude sort of way, and that is all the VHF needs to know.  Perhaps we could introduce the two to each other and have them make beautiful AIS music together.  A few hours of phone calls, emails, internet searching, manual studying, and head scratching later and it was done.  GPS Brown wire meet VHF Blue wire.  VHF Green wire meet GPS Black wire.

We now have a cute little AIS screen complete with symbols for boats displayed in relation to Kintala, CPA and Time to CPA alarms, a list of the boats on the screen, all kinds of direction and speed data, and even the ability to call them direct.  When first cranked up it beeped to let me know there was a boat right on top of us: BLACK CAT - Dist 0.01NM - BRG 218 deg T - CPA 0.01 NM - SOG 0.0 kts.  Stuck my head out the companionway and, sure enough, BLACK CAT, a very pretty catamaran, is tied directly across the dock from us.

I likes me some AIS.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

A Word of Warning

All you computer geek / gurus can quit reading now. This post is for the rest of us.

It came to my attention last night that a rather large quantity of the pictures on this blog had gone missing. Those of you who have been following this blog for awhile know that Tim complains about my nearly obsessive backing up of things and backing up the backups, so while this was not one of those "Oh my God all my pictures are missing!" scenarios, it did mean I was going to have a very long day. Fortunately, it rained all day so I had a good excuse not to be sealing the toe rail.

Recently a change was made at Google, and for those of you not paying attention it may come as a small surprise. Google is beginning to wrap all of its various free-standing applications into one behemoth, Google +.  If you haven't noticed it yet, you're now being asked to log in with your Google login for all the remaining programs (One Google - One Login). In the process, many of the most beloved programs like Google Reader and Picasa Hello were sunsetted, and there are strong rumors that Blogger will also fall to the Google + knife next year. In the mean time, there has been some fuzzy stuff going on with your blogging world.

If you have a Blogger blog, the pictures from your blog have been stored on Picasa Web, whether or not you used Picasa to edit those photos or to upload them to Blogger. The fuzzy stuff started when Google + came along because now your pictures are stored there. In addition, any pictures you take on your Android / Google phone are uploaded automatically to Google + which on the surface all seems great -  automatic uploads to back up your pictures. The problem begins when you decide to delete a picture from your Google+ account, thinking it's still in your Picasa Web album, which it's not. If you delete the picture in Google + it deletes across the platform. Another issue with the change is that all of your albums in Picasa Web that you have shared with someone can be re-shared with their friends unless you change the settings for the album to lock it. I have also found that not all of my pictures are being backed up from my phone.

In spite of all this information,  I still have no idea how the pictures disappeared from our blog. Nothing changed, nothing was deleted, they just disappeared. So backup is the key, and if you think this is difficult and you don't have the time?  There's a simple and fairly fast backup system on this tutorial. If you have a blog with pictures you value, back it up. Then back up your backups. Shit happens.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


Last night the anchorage across from Kintala was pretty full.  For the last couple of days it seemed a boat or two more came in then left.  Understandable, it has been pretty windy with the Neuse looking less than inviting once in a while. 

This morning it was empty.  From the next creek over Friends Nancy and David headed out as well.

It was all a tad depressing.  Then the clouds and rain moved in, and nightfall came too early.  (I find daylight savings time to be anything but.  How can we be saving daylight when it gets dark at 5:07 PM?)  All a tad more depressing.

Staying put to work on the boat, getting the motor squared away as much as possible while not dumping fuel in the bilge, that just has to be a good idea.  Getting the outboard running has to be a good idea.  Ditto fixing some leaks.  And the fact is, with fuel parts missing, Kintala couldn't go anywhere regardless.  On a good day we can sail off the anchor; no way could we sail out from between these piers, pivot around, miss the other boats, and make it out of the harbor.  But the fact that such a thought occurs at all?  Yeah, I wish we were back on the move.

Instead the inside of the boat stinks of diesel and old oil.  Changing the fuel filter turned into a hour long ordeal - one must take the fuel filter assembly completely off the engine, disassemble it to change the filter element, then reassemble and reinstall.  Are you kidding me?  At least the oil filter was a bit easier to change, what with the fuel line that normally blocks access to it removed.  (That's the one we are replacing.)  Tranny and v-drive fluid tomorrow, the other fuel filter, zincs ... an easy day of puttering then a wait for the new parts.

I wish we were back on the move.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Sometimes ...

... it's good to be wrong.  (If, in fact, I am wrong ... the jury is still out.)  Westerbeke gurus answered an email within hours and informed me that the injection pump on the W50 can't really fail in the way I feared.  Not a big surprise since I was envisioning an aviation recip. engine fail mode not a marine diesel engine failure mode.  Shortly after, Randy arrived and we started hunting for the leak.  Access to the area in question is so poor that he couldn't get an eye on the source any more than I could.  After several tries of running the engine without success the call was made to pull the alternator.  That made for better visuals but, with the belt driving the water pump now loose, there was no way to run the engine to look for the leak.  Instead we logic chopped our way to what appeared the only likely culprit; a line between the filter and the pump.  It was not as wet as expected given the size of the leak, but it was the only source in the vicinity, and agreed with Westerbeke's assessment of the probable cause.

With no real option the decision was made to remove the line and check it for damage.  Likely in place since Perseus offed the Kraken; the line was seized solid in the compression nut, which was seized solid in the engine case fitting, which (and this might be the true source of the problem) was barely finger tight in the case itself.  As expected (at least by me) and in spite of Randy's most careful attempts, the line did not survive the extraction process.  He set off to find parts to build a new one with only partial success.  Deb went hunting the internet for the part, found a source, and a whole new line assembly should be here by Monday.  (Have I mentioned that Deb is the best parts person I have ever known?)

So the problem might be fixed and it might be relatively minor, might.  Until the engine actually chuffs to life once again there will be no claims of victory.  While we wait on the part other tasks lie at hand, but we are being careful to enjoy our stay in Oriental and not work 10 or 12 hour days.  The only thing we have found that we don't like is the motion Kintala takes when the wind is out of the north, even when tied in a pier.  We roll constantly with the lines catching us up short and jerking the boat to a stop when she gets too enthusiastic.  If we didn't need the pier for the work being done there is an anchorage just across the face dock from us, but the holding is poor and there is little protection, with a long fetch when the wind is south or east.  (A boat dragged clean out of the harbor last night and ended up in the Neuse.  The harbor doesn't offer a lot of protection from north winds either, but at least a boat at anchor doesn't roll.)  For a place that is the "Sailing Capital of NC" it really isn't much of a harbor for transients.

It does, however have spectacular sunsets. This is the view from our bow.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Tartan forty twosies

There were 34 Tartan 42 sailing vessels built over the course of the short production run. A few of them have seen their demise leaving only about 30 left, so it was a real pleasure for us to host the owner and crew of Zephyr on Kintala for breakfast this morning. Stephen has been gracious enough to help us over the last year or so with a lot of advice and information about how Zephyr is set up and how she handles cruising. He is single-handing Zephyr down to the islands and happened to be in Oriental overnight last night with his crew Skip. We had a good chance to spend some time with them last night and again for breakfast this morning. What a kick to only have 30 Tatan 42s and have two of them in the same marina!

Fair Winds Stephen as you continue your journey. 


On Balance

The goal today was to get started on the routine engine work; oil and filter change, fluid change in the V-drive and tranny, fuel filters and zincs. The job went completely off track when the first engine cover came off to reveal a bilge full of oily water. For some reason the bilge pump wasn't on; don't remember turning it off nor is there an obviously reason why I would have done so. Whatever the reason it kept us from pumping oily water into the marina so, on balance, a good thing.

A quick check showed that the engine oil level itself wasn't down noticeably nor was there any obvious oil trails drooling off any part of the engine. The first rule of maintenance is, when one isn't sure what to do next, do the obvious. Cleaning up the bilge made it pretty clear there was just a tiny bit of oil involved so, on balance, a good thing.  (The first glance in the bilge inspired visions of holed cases with hot, broken parts like rod caps leaking out.)

The actual water in the bilge, once it was determined not to be coolant, wasn't much of a puzzle.  Rain fell with enthusiasm in Oriental the other night. Some of the water that enters the cockpit manages to find its way into the hell hole rather then going overboard through the scuppers.  From there it flows down the engine pan, under the engine, soaks through the oil absorbent pads, and dribbles into the bilge. Less than four gallons total had dripped in, a bit much maybe, but quite possible given hours of heavy showers. 

With the bilge cleaned up and the oil level checked the next obvious step was to wake up ye 'ole Westerbeke to see what might be amiss.

(An aside; once in a while during all of the motoring we have done, engine rpm would sag 100 or so then, a few seconds later, spin back up to where it was. It was just enough to notice when the water was placid and the winds naught. Any wind and wave would mask it and it went unnoticed motor sailing.  Still, it was enough to bother me and probably helped provoke the thought of stopping here for some work.)

The engine barked to life.  It took about a minute, then the beam from the flashlight glinted across a small rivulet of pink sneaking down the port side of the engine pan and under the oil mat. Pink? Moving into the aft cabin to see better, the pink stream had its origin up high on the motor and behind the accessory case, a place impossible to see. Bringing a small mirror into play (no toolbox is complete without several) the fluid first appeared to be leaking from the fitting on a small tube in the case. The manual suggested the tube carried oil, and this fluid was clearly not oil, in fact, it was diesel.  Diesel?  Four more times of running the engine in 5 seconds bursts and it seemed clear that we have a high pressure leak flowing from the flange between the fuel injection pump and the engine.  Truth be told, I don't really know what that means but, on balance, I suspect it isn't good.

My best guess is that the pump is suffering an impending, catastrophic, internal failure; the kind that brings engines to a clattering halt just when needed the most.  The rpm surge of the last few days was, in 20 / 20 hindsight, a clear indication of fuel delivery problems.   Another guess is that it is getting worse fast. Had that much fuel been leaking all along the inside of the boat would have reeked of diesel fumes; something Deb would have noticed immediately even if I had missed it. In any case the leaking fuel had washed some oil off the engine, mixed with the rain water of the other night, leaked into the bilge, and caught my attention.  Fortunately this sent me looking for a problem rather than trying to deal with an engine failure while working to get on a tight dock in a 20 knot wind or motor bashing hard into a 30 knot blow.  Unfortunately, finding such a fuel leak brought me to the limit of my diesel engine knowledge. Time to call in help.

We walked up to Inland Waterway Provisioning Company store to borrow a couple of bicycles with the intent of heading over to another marina in search of a diesel mechanic. While there we asked the man behind the counter (whom we have talked with several times and who seems to know everyone in town) where could be found the best diesel wrench in the area. He picked up his phone, dialed a number, handed the phone to me, and I was talking to Randy. Randy is a long time boat and engine guy. We talked a bit, he agreed we have a problem, and will join me at the boat tomorrow in the early afternoon to help sort it out.

I should be discouraged by yet another mechanical set-back; one that may prove both costly and time consuming.  But Kintala is securely tied to a dock already rented for the next month. It is a bit cold today but there is AC power for the heater and warmer temps are in the offering for next week. Oriental is a town we like while proving to be a good place for help when things go wonky.   And we didn't fill the bilge with diesel fumes and blow the boat into the middle of next week.

On balance, a good thing.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Oriental Walk-about

 It feels like we are far enough south to not be quite so pushed by the weather.  It can get cold here in Oriental, but it isn't that common. If a good chill does come along shore power is available for the little heater stored under the berth.  So Kintala has come to a short break in her travels while we catch up on a little boat work.  There is a complete engine / drive train service to perform, some leaks that need relocated to less obvious places, and the outboard that is still just a decoration on the stern rail.

The main reason for stopping here though isn't boat work.  Oriental is one of the places on our list of places we wanted to see.  Not sure why actually since, in many ways, it is just another little "water town" along the ICW and the coast.  There were several others along the way that looked equally inviting; Reedville sounded like an interesting place, Norfolk deserved more than a one-night stay, Coinjock deserved at least a one-night stay.  But Oriental was (other than Norfolk) the only one we had ever heard of before starting out, and stuck in our pre-cruiser minds as a place cruisers go.

About the only good use for an outboard...
It has not been a disappointment.  Each day there is time for a walk-about, a stroll past the commercial area, and a visit to the water front park.  (Not sure why that is so much fun since the boat is about as "front" as one can get.)  There have been conversations with dozens of people, old-time cruisers, newbies just like us, store operators, coffee shop proprietors, and the folks who run the marina.  We have been checked out by the senior dogs in town (one who sits in the middle of the road as the cars all ease around him).  Deb has met the cat who runs the marina.  There is a chance this will be one of those "second homes" that cruisers seem to find; a place to visit more than once where one knows the lay of the land.

Maybe not, we are still really new at this and Oriental (other than Annapolis) is the first place we have really stopped to explore.  This is how we live now, and it is good living.

The derelict boat in the harbor

Coffee Meter: 10
What's on the menu: seared Ahi tuna steak from Toucan Bar and Grill