Monday, 9 July 2018

A Weekend Escape

Amazingly the Blog is up to date!  With our enforced extra-long stay on the hard at Chesapeake Boat Works, waiting for our diesel injectors to be sent back to the yard after being refurbished, we turned our attention to clearing the backlog of Blog entries.  If you look back as far as March you will now see new Caribbean Island entries for Dominica and various ports of call all the way up to Culebra in the Spanish Virgin Islands in early May.  More recently, in June, you will also see entries for the OCC Chesapeake Cruise in Company.

While we were waiting for the engine injectors to be refurbished we had started on a long list of jobs, some of which we had been putting off for some time.  It had taken a bit over a week but Nicky’s varnishing refurb of the galley lockers was complete, so we rebuilt the galley and admired the new-look woodwork. Against the smart, new varnish some other areas of the galley and chart table looked distinctly iffy, so Nicky set to work on those……..

Meanwhile, spurred on by the work I had done in the forward heads when fitting the new deck wash, I removed and replaced all the heads inlet pipework in both the forward and aft heads as well as the drainpipes for both basins.  It was hot, sweaty work in each heads compartment but it was a job worth doing and hopefully the new pipes will last us the next decade or 2.
4thof July celebrations. Clockwise from front left: Rick (Euphoria, Carla is behind the camera); me and Nicky (BV), Bob and Betsy (yacht name unknown), Ginna and Peter (Take Five) and Neil (Jenny)

In between these jobs, changing the engine gearbox hydraulic fluid, changing the engine oil and filter (again) and carrying out some gelcoat repairs on deck, we also tried to catch up with the blog (we had entries dating back to March to complete).  So it seemed pretty full-on even if we escaped each evening to the poolside area for a barbecue dinner (saves heating up the inside of the hull even more) and a swim.  We considered hiring a car and visiting Jamestown and Williamsburg to partake in the 4thof July celebrations but Nicky said that she felt a bit ‘bah, humbug’ and couldn’t really face enforced jollification and attending sessions where one could ‘learn to be a 1776 revolutionary militiaman’.  So we kept on at jobs on BV and had an enjoyable 4thJuly evening with boatyard chums [Ed: yes, more barbecued food!] with the sound, but not the sight, of fireworks from all around – the surrounding trees were too high to see the pyrotechnics.  By the weekend of 6-8 July we had both had our fill of maintenance jobs and, with no sign of the injectors, we gladly took up Bill and Lydia on their kind offer of a weekend escape.
Bottom right:  View across Moran Creek and out to the Rappahannock River from Bill and Lydia’s

The last time we had stayed at Bill and Lydia’s we had been on BV, moored to the dock at the front of the house alongside Dragon Run.  Consequently most of our activity had been centred in and around the dock on the eastern arm of the Corrotoman River.  This visit we had the luxury of an air-conditioned bedroom (far more pleasant than living in the heat of a dark blue hulled boat on the hard) and we spent most of our time in garden and on the dock at the back of the house, opening onto Moran Creek.  But, we also had to watch the football World Cup quarter finals – thrilling stuff!

Even so, there was still work to be done and the theme for 2018 seems to be engines failing to start.  Like BV’s engine, the outboard on Bill and Lydia’s powerboat had decided to come over all precious and not start.  So, between the football matches Bill and I pulled it apart and, assisted by the workshop manual, went through a series of tests on all of the electrical systems associated with the starter motor.  We eventually tracked down the fault to a microswitch on the engine which tells the clever electronics that the gearshift is in neutral, so permitting the starter motor to operate.  Somehow, the throttle cable had come detached from an attachment point and the slight movement that enabled prevented the microswitch from being pressed, indicating the neutral position.  Properly secured back in position and with a separate small water leak also fixed, the engine and the boat were ready to go.

On the Saturday evening we accompanied Bill and Lydia to a dinner with members of the Salty Dawg Sailing Association at the Indian River Yacht and Country Club.  The dinner had been arranged partly as an Association rendezvous but primarily as a farewell meal for those Salty Dawg members who were heading north on the Maine Rally.  Amazingly, Mike and Cate from Kealoha Vand Pam and Tom from Stealin’ Timewere also at the meal.  It was great to meet up with them all particularly since we hadn’t seen Pam and Tom since the CA get-together at Leverick Bay in the BVIs, back in April.  Sadly, for those who were supposed to be moving northwards, Tropical Storm Chris was loitering and building off Cape Hatteras so no-one was planning a swift move down towards the ocean the following day.
The squad shooting just before us

The following day, with Bill having recently joined a local pistol and rifle club, we spent a fun couple of hours clay pigeon (or trap) shooting with him and Lydia.  Neither Nicky nor I could give the other participants much of a run for their money but we had a very enjoyable time relearning some of the basics of shotgun shooting and manged to smash a fair number of clays along the way.

Having cleaned the guns, we took the powerboat out for a spin around the adjoining creeks for Sunday evening sundowners ‘just to prove the engine still starts’.
Lively Lady,in the distance, at anchor off Dragon Run’s dock

Osprey nest in Moran Creek with chicks
nearly grown enough to fly the nest
Happily, the engine started first time and Bill made short work of whizzing us around to Dragon Run’s dock on the other side of the peninsula.  Dragon Run was not on her dock over the weekend, being out on the hard having some work done, but Lydia was keen to meet and chat to the owners of Lively Lady, a ketch that had been at anchor off the dock all weekend, avoiding the weather outside the Bay.

We explored quite a long way up the eastern arm of the Corrotoman River and then headed back to the dock, past an osprey nest with 3 nearly full-grown chicks.  With the speedboat back on its lift, Nicky and I to switched our attention to the evening meal.

Whilst we’d been working on the speedboat and watching the football the previous day, Bill and I had baited their crab pot and had had quite good success, catching half a dozen good-sized blue crabs.  Lydia had steamed them and Nicky and I had picked them, producing enough white meat for 4 decent, and very tasty, starters.  Following that we produced chicken breast stuffed with pesto and cooked with white wine and cherry tomatoes, served with green beans and new potatoes.  And to finish up we had homemade dark chocolate soufflés. An excellent end to a lovely weekend away.
Corrotoman River, VA, USA

Friday, 29 June 2018

Chesapeake Boat Works Deltaville VA

Work on the engine problem stopped whilst Mack, the marine technician, ordered in some gaskets and seals.  Given the amount of work the yard had on we also knew that we would be on the hard for at least a week whilst the engine issue was resolved.  It was all very frustrating because we had been intending to head up to New York to anchor by the Statue of Liberty and to see something of the city before moving on north for an OCC Rally in New England.
The galley after Nicky took the locker doors apart

So, with time on our hands, we set to tackling lots of maintenance jobs that we have been putting off for far too long. The hull was looking beautiful [Ed: though there was still more polishing that could be profitably done with extra time available] and we had already completed the underwater maintenance jobs, so Nicky turned her hand to varnishing the galley area.  For a year or so now, Nicky had been saying that she was wanting to give the sliding locker doors a good sand and lots of layers of new varnish.  Whilst the job could be carried out with everythingin situ, it was a chore that would be easier if the locker was pulled apart into its component pieces.

Having pulled apart the 3D jigsaw puzzle, she set about sanding all of the doors and runners. As you would expect, it was dusty and very slow work but after a couple of days she was able to turn the saloon and forward heads into a varnishing shop.

Whilst it was a little inconvenient having the saloon out of action, we didn’t need to use the space on board because the marina and boatyard have a covered sitting out and barbecue area beside the swimming pool.  Each evening we decamped to this area for a swim and shower followed by a ‘grill’ dinner (note US speak).  Eating ‘out’ also had the bonus of not having the cooking heat inside BV, which was already more than hot enough with bright sunshine and an outside air temperature of over 32 degrees Celcius each day [Ed: and, of course, BV’s dark blue and so absorbs, rather than reflects, a lot of the sun’s rays].

Our good friends Bill and Lydia heard of our delays in Deltaville and conjured up a morale boosting trip out for dinner. Richard Farrington, an old acquaintance from work days, was in Fishing Bay on Escapade waiting for his wife Julie to fly into New York and get a train to Richmond to rejoin him.  So Richard was also invited along and the 3 of us were picked up by Bill and Lydia and driven to the south side of the Rappahannock River.  There we visited one of Bill and Lydia’s favourite eateries, Merroir, which specialises in seafood and, in particular, oysters.  It is a lovely spot and the seafood was delicious.  We had 3 sorts of oysters, some sweet (ie not too briney), some salty from different beds on the estuary, and also some that had been roasted.  Nicky had a large crab cake which seemed to be almost all crabmeat whilst I had some super-sized and very tasty scallops.  Eying each other’s dishes up with envy we decided to split them between us so that we got to try both orders.  Desserts ensured that we left stuffed but with just enough room inside us to give Richard’s malt whisky collection a good bashing back on board Escapade.  All in all it was a lovely evening with great company and once again we were indebted to Bill and Lydia for their generosity in looking after us.
The view out over Locklies Marina from the Merroir

Thursday 28 June was a day of highs and lows. Mack returned to work on engine diagnostics and, happily, found the source [Ed: one of the sources??] of our problems.  He pulled out all 4 injectors and took them away for testing.  One was terrible and just dribbled fuel, 2 were pretty poor and the 4thwas okay.  His/our conclusion was that the poor atomisation of the fuel by the injectors had stopped the engine from starting properly and the unburnt fuel had worked its way past the piston rings and contaminated the oil which is why it looked a little strange.

However, that didn’t explain the higher than expected crank case pressure.  So, the next step was to check the rocker/valve gaps and make sure that the valves were operating correctly.  The gaps needed adjusting slightly but the valves all seemed to be working properly so Mack moved on to checking the compression in each cylinder.  This is where things turned bad and potentially very expensive. Three out of the 4 cylinders had good compression but on one it was down to about 2/3 of what it should have been.

The most likely cause is leaking piston rings on that poorly performing cylinder, gummed up with carbon from poor combustion due to the poor performance of the injector.  In a car you can normally take the sump off the bottom of the engine to pull out a single piston.  Sadly, in a boat there is just not the access for that and so it looked like we would need to have the whole engine taken out and sent away for a recondition and rebuild.  The repair job was suddenly looking like it would be in the multi-thousands of dollars bracket!

Worse too, it would take a lot of time. Mack estimated that the whole job would take about a month.  He’d take the engine out and refit it but, to get the best reconditioning work done, he recommended that we sent the engine away to the American arm of the manufacturers, Beta Marine.

In short, we had 3 options. Option one was to send the injectors off to be reconditioned, fit 4 new glow plugs and then put it all back together so that we could set off sailing again.  We’d then return in October to get the engine rebuild completed.  The downside was that we’d be using an engine with one poorly piston.

Option 2 was to stop now for a month to get the engine removed, reconditioned and then refitted.  Option 3 was to fit a brand new engine.  Faster than option 2 and, with the high cost of labour due to needing to retrofit various bespoke items onto the engine, perhaps not that much more than an engine recondition.

We agreed Mack and Rick would get together some quotes for options 2 and 3 but kick start our own analysis I called Beta Marine to see what the cost of a new engine would be.  I was put through to Stan who runs the reconditioning workshop and he was most helpful.  A new engine would come in at an eyewatering $16,200 and so, with fitting costs, we’d probably get little change from $20,000 for that option.  There were no reconditioned units on the shelf but Stan would happily work on our unit to restore it.  However, he couldn’t quote for that work because the task would depend on what he found when he pulled the crankcase apart.  It was all sounding like a depressingly expensive and slow fix!

However, Stan wanted to run through all of the symptoms we had.  The engine, he said, was low on hours and should be good for a lot longer.  We were already doing the right thing getting the injectors reconditioned but before we jumped at getting the engine removed for a rebuild, he had a suggestion.  Had it been his engine in this position, he said that he would fit the repaired injectors and new glow plugs, launch the boat and then work the engine hard.  His theory is that with the injectors working properly, the heat and pressure on the pistons rings should get them working properly again on the poorly cylinder.  Stan said that he has had good results with that technique, particularly with generators that have been run at low power settings, coked up and lost compression.  Of course, nothing is guaranteed, and we may well end up having to get Stan to recondition the engine for us anyway, but we are going to take his advice, not least because it puts off a very large bill for the engine to be removed and rebuilt and it gets us sailing again.
Fishing Bay Marina – it’s beautiful weather and we’d rather be on the water!

So, the injectors are away at a specialist workshop being reconditioned, the glow plugs are on order, Nicky’s varnishing shop is in full swing, and I’m slowly ticking off the ‘eventually get around to’ maintenance jobs.  How long will it take for us to get going again?  We don’t know.  The 4thJuly holiday and celebrations certainly aren’t going to help but maybe by the end of next week; we’ll keep you posted.

The moral of the tale is don’t put off getting your diesel injectors serviced; get them pulled and reconditioned every 1500 engine hrs.
Chesapeake Boat Works, Deltaville, VA, USA

Friday, 22 June 2018

Back to Deltaville

Fishing Bay at Deltaville VA looking east

On Friday 15 June we had a very long and generally dull motor from Leonardtown, where the OCC cruise in company ended, back to Deltaville, where we had planned to be hauled out on Monday 18 June. Despite a reasonably favourable forecast, the wind was never quite strong enough for long enough for us to sail. Yet again, the engine sounded very sluggish at the start, if anything, it worse than ever. So, though we had intended to stop overnight at an intermediate location, we decided to do the 55nm passage in a single hop so that we didn’t have to run the gauntlet of additional engine starts.
Fishing Bay at Deltaville VA looking west

With the long motor in progress, we spent much of the time trying to catch up on blogs and home admin, jobs that we had ignored for far too long. Consequently, there are no pictures of the passage back to Deltaville because we were too busy doing other stuff. Lunchtime came and went and we did the washing up, and shortly thereafter there was a brief moment of excitement when we thought that we might be able to sail. We switched the engine off only for the wind to die….. so we fired it up again [Ed: it was hot so started easily]. However, in that short period of near silence I heard the (very quiet) freshwater pump motoring away – never a good sound if you’re not actively filling a basin of water. It turned out that the pressure switch on the pump had failed and, masked by the engine noise, it proceeded to over-pressurised the system causing the pressure relief valve to operate and dump all of the contents of the aft water tank into the bilge! Happily, there was relatively little water in the aft tank so mopping out the space under the pressure relief valve was not a huge job but it was jolly irritating, because we are normally very good at switching off the power to the pump when we are at sea, precisely to stop that sort of water loss. With the problem discovered and the mess cleared up, I fitted the spare pump and all seems well now. It certainly looks like we’d planned the maintenance period at just the right time!

We arrived back in Deltaville just before sunset and then spent the next couple of days preparing BV for haul out. The main jobs were to carry out an engine oil and filter change and to check the alignment of, and connections on, the wind indicator, which, in sympathy with the engine start system, had also decided to come over all temperamental. Happily, the problem with the wind indicator seemed pretty clear – some dirty connections – so hopefully that’s one job ticked off the list that won’t bounce back onto the list immediately!
Junior Week at Fishing Bay Yacht Club

The weekend saw the start of the Fishing Bay Yacht Club’s Junior Week, with hoards of Optimists and some good fleets of Lasers and double-handers all out around the bay. There was certainly no lack of parental support either judging by the number of adults that we saw out on the water, in kayaks and on SUPs, offering advice and guidance and discouraging the little darlings from getting too close to us.

Saturday 16 June was our 17thwedding anniversary so we celebrated in style with a fabulous fillet steak dinner with local ‘greens’ (asparagus), garlic mash, tomatoes and mushrooms. We decided to open our final bottle of Gerovassiliou, to accompany the meal. We had bought this wine from the vineyard near Thessaloniki in 2016 and it had been very good when we had bought it, but yachts make poor wine cellars and we were a little worried that the wine would not have lasted. Happily, it had travelled well and was still in excellent condition. Delicious!
Haul out at Chesapeake Boat Works on a 50T travelhoist so we had to disconnect the backstay

Monday 18 June dawned bright and early and we were ready to be lifted out as soon as the yard could take us. Unfortunately, we had discovered on Friday that there had been a misunderstanding somewhere along the line and the yard had not pencilled us in to be lifted on Monday and had suggested a haul-out first thing on Tuesday. Given that we had a surveyor booked to visit us at 0830 on that day we had spent some time over the weekend speaking to 2 of the 3 brothers who run the Fishing Bay Marina, Chesapeake Boat Works and Stingray Point Boat Works to try to ensure our lift-out at some point on the Monday. Happily, it all came good in the end and at 1545 we approached the travel lift. Adrian did a great job of the lift out, with careful sling placement, even going to the lengths of starting the lift, checking the sling positions, lowering BV, adjusting the forward sling and lifting and checking again. Pressure-washing, positioning and blocking off always takes longer than you think it will and once all that was done we had to set up the fridge to run from a large bucket of water (it’s water cooled), put the fenders and lines away etc etc etc. After all that, a late evening swim and dinner, cooked on the barbecues next to the marina’s swimming pool, were very welcome.

On Tuesday 19 June, the hard work started in earnest. Don, the surveyor arrived at 0830 and spent 3 hours poking and prodding BV and asking lots of questions. Nicky opened, emptied, refilled and closed up lockers for him and answered his questions. I spent most of the time trying not to clutter things up any further and instead cleaned the weed and slime off the hull where the slings had been, ready for preparing the hull for antifouling.

When Don left, Nicky donned protective kit and set to sanding the hull. We had been thinking about painting an ablative antifouling over what was left of the Coppercoat but, looked at close-to out of the water, the Coppercoat generally looks in pretty good nick, with plenty of copper left in the treatment. There are several places where the epoxy was lifting (primarily because the company that put the Coppercoat on didn’t properly clean off the antifouling on BV at the time) but apart from those areas and two areas where the coating is worn very thin, the Coppercoat is good for at least another 12-18 months. So, Nicky gave the whole underwater hull a good sanding and then, the next day, faired in all the lifted areas, ready for patch-painting. It was a big job and, as she posted on Facebook: ‘Today I have mostly been doing an upper body workout, dressed as a Smurf, in (as the Americans would say) 80+degrees of heat. #ratherhot#Iammelting#boatingissoglamerousNOT’!
Old starter relay (left). Servicing the Blakes seacocks (right)

Meanwhile, I started on our most important indoor job – fixing the engine start problem. When we were last in Deltaville, Sam at Hurd’s Hardware Store had said that we could use the store as a delivery address if we wanted to get in stuff that they could not source for us. When the engine start system started to play up, I took him at his word and ordered a new starter motor assembly (starter motor and start solenoid) and also a starter relay (required because the starter motor is so far from the start key which is on the engine panel in the cockpit). These had arrived the previous day and I was very keen to get to work with them. Given that the starter motor assembly is located where it can best be reached by a double-jointed 5 year old with 3 arms, I decided to begin by changing the starter relay. I had actually removed the old relay about a week before because it was so corroded (it had been in the firing line of the water leak that we had on passage from Culebra to Deltaville). However, I had not had a similarly sized relay with which to replace it so I had used a smaller one, but I was keen to put a correctly sized relay in place. Consequently, that was where I began the job…. and, it worked! After replacing the relay I tried starting the engine (just a quick go as we had no cooling water supply) and it fired up quickly and easily first time. Fantastic – and no need for the double-jointed 5 year old impression!

With that job done, I turned to greasing the Blakes stopcocks. That’s always a relatively easy job on the hard when you can strip the seacock down. If you are still in the water you can add grease but there is a tendency for grease gun to squirt grease everywhere but where you want it. However, as we were ashore, the second ‘must do’ job was completed in short order.
Muratic acid clean of the blue hull and white stripe – after (on the left) and before (on the right)

So, it was on to the ‘nice to get done’ jobs. Over the past 15 months or so, since we launched at Kilada in Greece, we’ve been rather poor at doing our superyacht crew impression and have not religiously washed down BV after each passage. Consequently, when we got to Bill and Lydia’s dock, she had an impressive calcium build-up on her and we were well aware that we needed to do something about it. Interestingly, as a result of the incredibly prolonged and heavy rainfall over the time we were in Great Falls, when we returned to BV the calcium build-up had been washed down off the sides of the hull and lay just above the waterline. If only there had been more rain, perhaps she would have been cleaned off properly! Anyway, the calcium needed to go. In Kilada we had successfully removed a lighter coating using neat vinegar and lots of elbow grease, which risked scratching, so here I decided to try a dilute solution of muratic acid (aka brick acid). It was fantastically effective both in terms of ease of application and speed of removal. Unfortunately the photo above doesn’t really show the calcium deposits on the blue of the hull but it does show the brown stain on the white stripe at the waterline which also cleaned off really well.

On Wednesday my newest toy arrived at Hurd’s – the deck wash assembly. After only a few weeks of anchoring in the Chesapeake mud I was fed up of having to slosh 30-40 buckets of water over the anchor and chain to remove the gloop each time we weighed anchor. I was also hugely conscious that it wouldn’t take much for a mistimed bucket swing to badly scratch the paintwork. Hence, the deck wash. Now it just needed fitting….. To save having to install yet another through-hull fitting I decided to tap the pump into the forward heads inlet pipe with a T-piece and a one-way valve if required. I fitted the pump itself into the locker above the forward heads and then braced myself for the nerve-wracking job of drilling a large hole through the deck close to the anchor windlass. Except for the fact that the instructions said to drill a hole 3mm smaller than was actually required [Ed: better too small than too large!], it all went remarkably smoothly and I was able to buy a sanding tip for the drill from Hurd’s (God bless Hurd’s!) to open out the hole in order to fit the deck fitting/valve. We sealed the marine ply in the deck with varnish and later bedded the fitting down on lots of sealant. And then we had the nightmare job from hell of running the water pipe from the pump to the deck fitting through an area with difficult access (isn’t that always the case?). But, once we had drilled holes through the top of the bulkheads, we managed to run the pipe surprisingly easily and, doubled up in the anchor locker, I connected it all up with the use of just a few choice swear words! A full check of operation and leak test will have to wait until after we relaunch – I’ll keep you posted.
The new protective rubbing strake

We had planned to relaunch on Monday 25 June but the forecast for that week didn’t look too good for our intended passage north to Newport, Rhode Island, so we asked to lift in again on Friday 22 June. That left only the Thursday for Rick (the brother who run the carpentry and maintenance side of the boatyard business) and his team to fit the stainless steel rubbing strake we had requested. Because of the now very short window of opportunity to complete the work, they pulled out all the stops and did a great job for us. The rubbing strake seems to be standard fit on most US yachts and it will protect the edge of our teak toerail from damage by the piled docks and mooring ‘slips’ which are the normal style on the east coast of the USA. We had admiredDragon Run’s rubbing strake when we had sailed in company with Bill and Lydia and had only discovered later that it was not an original part of the yacht but that it had been fitted retrospectively by Rick. That got us thinking and, happily with the shape of BV’s hull, the edge of our toerail is the widest part of the hull by quite some margin so we had no need for a teak rail to be added – the stainless steel strip could be fitted direct to the toerail making it more affordable and quicker to fit. Five and a half strips plus several hours’ of work later and the job was complete; it looks great!
Tidied up, serviced and ready for lift-in

And while Rick and his colleague worked on the platforms in the sun fittin the rubbing strake, Nicky (dressed as a Smurf once again) daubed black antifouling around on the damaged and thin areas of Coppercoat. It’s not the most elegant look but after a day or so the splotches won’t be seen.

Friday 22 June dawned windy and grim. With a fairly strong onshore breeze we thought it best to double check that all was OK with the engine start system as sitting in slings in a Travelhoist is not the time to find that the engine won’t start; we’ve been there, done that in benign conditions in Kilada and it wasn’t fun. So we tried giving the engine a quick turn over but all that happened was that the starter motor turned over exactly as it should (great, that problem was definitely solved!) but the engine failed to fire. We did all the standard checks – air OK, fuel all the way to the injectors etc etc etc. In the process we even changed the slightly suspect fuel lift pump (manual lever didn’t operate but the engine driven part works/worked fine) and the fine fuel filter but to no avail. By this stage we were very much at the head scratching stage so we asked the yard to call in their tame diesel engine mechanic. Whilst we waited we decided to check the oil level (we had changed the oil at anchor just before haul-out so there was only about 30min usage on this oil). The level looked a little high so we used the pump on the engine to remove some and found that it looked distinctly dodgy – grey when it should have been clear. The oil that we had removed when we did oil change was black and glossy, just as it should be after 200hrs use. We were contemplating the nightmare of contaminated oil (contaminated with what? Water? Fuel? Exhaust gases?) when Mack, the mechanic, appeared. He spent half an hour or so working the starter motor to undeniably blead the fuel system and get fuel to all 4 injectors (no bubbles of air and some impressive squirts of fuel across the cabin) but still the engine wouldn’t fire. A dreaded cylinder head gasket change (expensive) job looked like it might be needed, however, Mack returned after lunch with his pressure tester. Attached to the ‘radiator’ cap and pumped up, the pressure would have dropped if the cylinder head gasket was shot. Encouragingly the coolant system maintains pressure OK but disturbingly he did feel more pressure in the crankcase than normal. So now he/we wonder if the problem is one or several. Could it be that the valves or the injectors or the piston rings are leaking (hopefully not the latter as it will mean lifting the engine to solve the problem) or potentially there’s an additional, unrelated problem with, say, the high pressure fuel pump? In any event the problem is likely to be very expensive and slow to fix. Mack is arranging for spare rocker cover and injector gaskets to be delivered and, when those arrive, he can continue diagnostics by checking the valve clearances, pulling the injectors for bench testing, and carrying out a compression test on each cylinder. We hope he will be able to come straight back next week to try to identify and fix the problem but the yard is a man down on the mechanics’ team, there are plenty of jobs on their job list - we’re not the priority at the moment.

So, our plans of getting to the OCC Southern New England rally which starts on Sun 1 July are pretty much scuppered. With luck we’ll get up there before the rally ends 2 weeks later but we’re not holding our breath on that. The only saving grace is that the engine has died at an entirely non-critical time. It will get fixed and we will launch again (eventually). But it won’t be any time soon. Looks like we’ll have to start on all those jobs we’ve been putting off such as varnishing and catching up on the blog!
Deltaville, VA, USA

Friday, 15 June 2018

Leonard Town MD USA

Kalmar Nyckel motoring out of St Mary’s River

We left St Mary’s City directly after the morning radio net on Wednesday 13 June, initially motoring southeast down the river towards the Potomac.  As the river widened, the wind increased from pretty much on the nose so we switched off the engine and beat our way down to clear the sandbar off St George’s Island, the western headland between the St Mary’s River and the Potomac.  Behind us we could see the Kalmar Nyckel making stately progress downriver under engine and as she passed astern of us I managed to get another couple of shots of her, albeit into sun.
Members of the OCC fleet en route from St Mary’s River to Leonardtown. Clockwise from top left: Edna Mae, Seaquel, Sage, Sofia, Edna Mae, Dragon Run

Once on the Potomac we freed off and had a good fetch/close reach in a nice 8-10kts of wind, with plenty of opportunity to get pictures of some of the other yachts on the rally as we passed/were passed by them.  At the bottom of Breton Bay, the river leading up to Leonardtown, the wind ran out and we resorted to motoring the final 5 miles or so.
The fleet anchored off Leonardtown

We anchored as close to the Leonardtown wharf as we could get, conscious that we were arriving at the top of the tide. The chart plotter’s tidal prediction software suggested that by low water the tide would have dropped about half a metre at the entrance to Breton Bay but it was difficult to judge how much extra water was held in the pool off Leonardtown as a result of recent rains. In the end, we anchored in a pool that seemed amply deep and wide enough but we did touch bottom a couple of times at low water.  With the bottom, yet again, being a very gloopy mud, that hardly mattered at all.
Neil Langford (Crystal Blues) giving the first of 4 briefs on sailing in Cuba

We had needed to make reasonable time up to Leonardtown because Neil and Ley Langford (Crystal Blues) had offered to give some briefs on sailing in Cuba.  The take-up on their offer was so great that they ended up giving 4 briefs over the next couple of days.  They must have quite regretted their offer by the end of that marathon but we were very appreciative of their talk and, having already planned to visit Cuba over winter 2018/9 now have a better idea of what to expect and places to visit.
Dinghy drift selfie c/o Irial (An Gobadàn)

And following smartly on the heels of one unplanned event came a second – the great OCC dinghy drift.  We coagulated sort of off the Leonardtown wharf and drifted gently on the breeze, and a little on the current, until it looked as if we would go aground on a mud bank somewhat off the shore.  Then with 3 dinghy engines running, the whole raft was, somehow, manoeuvred back into wind across the pool where silence was restored.  That is to say, silence other than the sound of a lot of chatty yachties having fun and discussing their further plans for the summer.
Dinghy drift from another angle thanks to Tony Gibb (Sage)

It was all such good fun that we needed to reposition the raft several more times and small breakaway parties departed to on resupplying runs before returning to the fold. But, as the evening progressed the raft of dinghies became gradually smaller until just a hard core of 3 or 4 remained but when the squadrons of mosqitos came out in force as the sun eventually disappeared for the night, even we decided to call it a night…….
Dressed overall to celebrate Flag Day, 14 June.  Clockwise from top left:  Wilderness, A Capella of Belfast, Kealoha V, Dragon Run, Crystal Blues, Blue Velvet of Sark

…..but not before we had hatched a plan to celebrate Flag Day (14 June).  Bright and early the next moning the crack of flags breaking out on halyards sounded across the anchorage and as the morning progressed, the number of dressed yachts increased.  It was a lovely sight, particularly since the weather continued to play ball as well.
Leonardtown – lots of very attractive houses on quiet, well-kept streets and a far bigger town centre with more shops and services (though few food stores) than we have seen at several other waterside towns

And with the good weather we felt we needed to head into Leonardtown to see what this historic town had to offer. It’s certainly a friendly place and we spoke to several people on the wharf who welcomed us to their town and were interested to know why there were so many yachts at anchor and where we had all come from.  The town itself proved to be a much larger conurbation than Reedville (and, of course, than St Mary’s City) but we were still surprised at the lack of food shops in the centre of the town.  Had we walked further out it is likely that we would have found an out of town shopping centre within reach but we made do with the local organic, health-food shop for the few items we wanted, rather than needed.
Tudor Hall showing the inset portico, one of the unusual
features of the building (picture from St Mary’s County Historical Society advertising)
Lydia had proved us all with a self-guided walking trail of the older parts of town so we enthusiastically followed this, visiting the Tudor Hall, the Old Jail (now a museum) and viewing many of the other historic (and not so historic) buildings from the outside. The Tudor Hall was, in many ways, particularly interesting.  It was hardly a surprise to find that it wasn’t actually a Tudor Hall but the original land grant for the property dates from 1649 which is almost as old as it gets in America.  The building is now owned by the St Mary’s County Historical Society, having previously served as a private home, a public library and a Town Hall.  Having popped our heads in around the front door to view the hanging staircase (detailed as one of the unusual features of the house in the guide’s blurb) we were treated to a 45min tour of the ground floor of the property by one of the Historical Society’s employees.  The Society has aspirations to return parts of the building to as much as it would have been in the 1800s but, looking at the damp in the walls and the unsympathetic changes made to the building during its years as a library, they will have their work cut out and will need a vast amount of funding.
Leonardtown old jail.  In front of it is one of the original canons from The Ark,one of the ships that carried the first colonists to St Mary’s City in 1634

The Old Jail (now a small museum) was next on our list of places to visit.  The building was constructed in 1876 to replace a smaller jail that had become too small for the needs of the county.  The new jail, with living quarters for the jailer’s family on the ground floor and cells on the first floor, remained in use until 1942 when its replacement was constructed behind the courthouse.  The museum houses a multitude of local artefacts as well as the expected reconstruction of a prison cell and some of the jailer’s living area. Interestingly, one of the exhibits is a reconstruction of the town’s doctor’s surgery from the mid-20thcentury, presumably because the property that used to be the doctor’s home and surgery is now a private residence.
Leonardtown Courthouse

We spent a good few hours wandering around the town and enjoying the ‘larger small-town’ atmosphere of the place.
The Front Porch – site of the Rally’s final dinner

Importantly, we also found the Front Porch, the site of that evening’s final dinner of the rally, which was great fun as was the final cocktail bash which took place on the town quay.  We were even graced by the presence of the Leonardtown mayor who encouraged us all to stay a few more days and to visit one of the local wineries just a mile or so up river from where we were anchored.  And so, without any photos because we were enjoying ourselves too much to take pictures, the Rally ended and we gently tottered back down the hill to our dinghies and boats.  It had been a really fun few days, meeting many really interesting people and visiting places that we would most likely not have otherwise gone to.  We owe Bill and Lydia very many thanks for pulling it all together and, whilst we plan to see them again, we also hope to meet up with many of the other cruise participants in the future.
Leonard Town, MD, USA