Friday, September 20, 2019

Sep 2019: After Hurricane Dorian

Ghost Rider's Bottom Paint Getting a Much Needed Waterline Touch Up.
Rick didn’t visit RFYC and Ghost Rider again until Tuesday, 10-September, when he made the drive to check on work order progress and to coordinate logistics for splashing the boat once it was again ready for sea duty. 

The RFYC crew had been busy….they were about 80% complete with the bottom paint touch-up job, and had already torn into the two raw water intake seacocks for the main engine.  The one on the port side checked out OK – we visually verified the ball valve was moving to the closed position, plus they removed a hose end and poured water in to verify the ball valve wasn’t leaking.
Where the Starboard Side Seacock Used to Be.
The starboard side seacock definitely had a problem, though.  While we could visually verify the ball valve was moving to the closed position, when we performed the same leak check it was a veritable sieve.  Under pressure it would produce the scary flow that Rick had observed last time he tried to clean out its strainer basket.  Our guess was either there was upward play in the ball valve mechanism away from the sealing surface, or the Teflon sealing seat between the ball and housing was shot, or both – either way it would no longer serviceable.  The Groco replacement unit was due to arrive the following day.  (As it turned out, during bench testing of the removed seacock Rick discovered that the handle was traveling beyond the 90 degree closed position to a partially open condition - the mechanical stop had broken off the handle.)

Rick attacked a few new Wheelhouse maintenance items during this visit and also reconnected the boat’s WiFi system and camera network to the marina’s hotspot.  Along with the previously reconnected Monnit remote sensors, we now had our full remote monitoring solution back in service.

Two days later on Thursday, 12-September, after John (the yard manager) had called to verify they would be completing the work that day, Rick returned to RFYC and the boat.  This trip was to inspect the work on the bottom paint and the seacock, and to insure the boat was ready for splashing the next morning.  Everything looked good – the bottom paint touch up job was neat and thorough, and all seacock plumbing, hoses and clamps passed ready-for-sea inspection.
Bottom Side of the Removed Seacock.

Except for a few closed thru-hulls in the lazarette (mostly cooling circuits that tend to cavitate later if not closed off when on the hard) Rick also completed the engine room and laz preflight inspections.  That way we would be ready to startup soon after relaunching.  He also spent a little time wire brushing some barnacles off of some thru-hull trim rings and strainer slots; after that the bottom looked very good indeed.  The rest of the boat, however, was a dusty, grimy and bug-stained mess, so before leaving it for the day Rick gave Ghost Rider a quick hose down.

While we were hoping to splash the boat the following morning (Friday, 13-September), the weather forecast was changing quickly and not for the better.  The NHC was now calling for a tropical system of some sort to approach south Florida as the weekend neared, so we decided to leave Ghost Rider parked on the RFYC pad for the weekend.  Once again the models behind the NHC's cone of probability diverged significantly, with a wide gap between the GFS and Euro model path predictions.  The good news was that neither was calling for anything beyond tropical storm strength locally.  But with the likelihood of increasing TRW coverage along with windy conditions we decided to wait until this one passed.
By Saturday Tropical Storm Humberto Had Formed But Was Already Turning North & Staying Away From Florida.  A New  Disturbance Started to Spin in the Gulf but Was Moving Away Towards Texas.  We Would Need to Keep an Eye on the Other Three in the Middle of the Atlantic, but They Wouldn't Delay Our Plan to Splash Ghost Rider.
By Saturday morning, 14-September, NOAA's 5-day tropical outlook map was looking more like a game of tic-tac-toe with the number of potential hot spots it was tracking.  On Saturday night, caught between two low pressure systems, it rained like hell here. But as one (Hurricane Humberto) began to pull away to the north, and the other to the west towards Texas, they had sucked away most of moisture with them by late Sunday.

That made the weather forecast for Monday, 16-September pretty good for the slow slog down river back to Fort Myers.  So we dropped one car at Legacy Harbour and drove the other to RFYC.  We splashed Ghost Rider around 1030 and after leak-checking the new thru-hull seacock we were ready to take the boat back down river to Fort Myers.  The sortie down the big ditch was mostly uneventful -- both locks and the two low bridges were prompt in opening and we were the only traffic heading west on the Caloosahatchee this day.  We had good weather, with temps reaching the low 90's and just fair weather "popcorn" cumulus clouds.

Ghost Rider ran perfectly again -- right until we were attempting to dock at Legacy Harbour.  That's when the electronic throttle for the main engine failed.  Shit.
The Scarred Rub Rail on the Port Side Where Ghost Rider Crunched the Concrete Dock Piling After the Electronic
Throttle Failed in Forward Gear.  Use of the Bow Thruster Avoided a Direct Hit on the Anchor & Bow Pulpit, Which
Would Have Been Really Nasty.
And it failed (died...totally dead) while in forward gear, so Ghost Rider crunched the port side bow rub rail on a concrete piling before we got the main shut down and backed off using the wing engine.  We had a 15 knot crosswind for the stern-in docking maneuver, and that wasn't going to work with wing-only propulsion, so we backed down to a side tie near the entrance to the fairway.  

To say that Rick was torqued off would be the understatement of the decade.  More about troubleshooting and repairs in the next blog post.

A Close-up of the Rub Rail Scar.  There is Another Just Aft of This One.  And a Couple of FRP Scars Opposite
 on the Starboard Side.  This Won't Be a Cheap Repair.
Head-on View from A Distance at Our Temporary Slip....Ghost Rider Still Looks Good.  Up Close - Not So Much.
The Damage is Not Obvious Until One Gets Close.

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