Sunday, April 12, 2020

April 2020: Final Maintenance, More Madness

Foreword:  We’re stilling hanging in there, practicing the recommended distancing protocols, and keeping busy.  And we are reconciling with the reality that things will be this way for quite a spell.  While leadership is hard to define and impossible to teach, the absence of it eventually becomes obvious….and costly.  Churchill once said, “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak, it’s also what it takes to sit down and listen.”  We don't have a Churchill.  Of course Sir Winston also said “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”  So there’s that.  Keep on going.

As if We Weren't Spending Enough on the Boat, the
Condo Got a New Fridge / Freezer.
By this time we originally had planned to be in the Bahamas, but for obvious reasons that wasn’t going to happen this year.  So during the second weekend of our stay at Loggerhead Marina in Palm Beach Gardens we took care of a mix of personal and boat business.  Charmaine (Chelle’s mum) drove down from her winter home in Frostproof, FL, and we loaded up her car with supplies and food.  Chelle and Char then drove back over to Fort Myers to our condo and got Char settled in.  Unfortunately, as they were stocking the freezer they discovered it wasn’t cooling; that had happened before, so we decided we were done with that (LG) unit and had a new one delivered.  LG may make decent televisions, but their refrigerators are crap.

Rick had a couple of projects to attack over the weekend as well.  The first priority was tracking down a slight water leak somewhere on the starboard side of the forward engine room compartment.  That turned out to be the strainer lid for the main engine’s raw water cooling loop; it wasn’t loose or cracked, but it was missing one of the two o-rings that provide the seal between the acrylic screw-on lid and the strainer’s bronze housing – an easy fix.
Strainer Baskets Leak a Lot Less with
the Correct O-ring in the Lid.

There were also two other minor items that Rick had been putting off for a long time – and time was one thing he currently had available.  The first was cleaning, lubricating and adjusting the three sliding doors on Ghost Rider – two small ones in the pilot house, and the big beast at the rear of the salon.  Another item was the anchor’s blocking pin on the bow pulpit.  That’s a beefy stainless steel rod that serves as a mechanical brake when the anchor is stowed, and it has worked well enough except for the way that Nordhavn fashioned its safety line tether: a length of wire rope attached to the bow roller pin, whose rotation tended to twist and wrap that wire into a gnarly and tangled ball.  Rick cut off the wire rope, tossed it in the trash, and replaced it with a much more flexible segment of paracord, attaching that to a fixed stanchion instead of the roller.  That’s one less thing to worry about when deploying or retrieving the big Manson Supreme.

Maintenance – Part III
Yacht Tech reappeared at the boat on Wednesday, 08-April, to begin tackling our next project, which was to replace some of the aging and increasingly odiferous black water hoses.  If there was ever a maintenance item worth offloading to a third party, this was it.  It’s a difficult, messy and smelly endeavor.  But parts of Ghost Rider’s black water plumbing was showing its age, and while we had no leaks (thankfully) some of the older hose runs were permeating.  If one opened certain compartments or inspection plates a distinct sour odor would start to waft around.  It was time for action….or a divorce according to Chelle.
It Isn't Difficult to Tell Which of These Two Hoses is the Smelly One....the Bottom (White) One is Still in Good
Shape, but the Top (Yellowed) Hose Needs to be Replaced.
Dan & Paul drew the short straws at Yacht Tech, or were on James’ shit-list, we’re not sure which.  They wore gloves and masks, although this was an endeavor that called for that regardless of CDC guidelines for the current pandemic crisis.  We decided to go with James’ recommendation of Shields Poly X sanitation hose (at $22.50 per foot, or $30 if you’re crazy enough to buy it at West Marine), but pulling old hose lengths and running new ones is not for the faint of heart.  We decided to focus on the oldest (yellowest) hose runs and ended up replacing about 40 feet in total.  And, since one of those hose runs was the one going from the master head toilet to the black water tank – and that required disassembly of the toilet – we also replaced the toilet’s base and sealing gasket, using a spare kit that Rick already had onboard.
Paul (with the Heat Gun) and Dan Looking Less Than Happy Pulling Out Old Black Water Hoses.  This is a
Project That Warrants Hazard Pay.  The Heat Gun Was Needed to Remove Some Hose Ends that Had Been Glued.
While they labored on that delightful project Rick tackled one of his own down in the engine room.  The dipstick housing tube on the main engine, a big Lugger 6108A2 diesel, is a rather poor design – it features a sleeved fitting that wasn’t particularly tight and would seep small amounts of oil after a few hours of run time.  It certainly was not serious, but it annoyed the hell out of Rick.  The consensus was a whole new replacement tube would be just as problematic.  Bob Senter (aka“Lugger Bob”), the NOG’s resident Northern Lights expert, recommended removal, a thorough cleaning, a light sanding with a 3M Scotch-Brite pad, then a coating of either Permatex or Loctite Blue before reassembly. We had both sealants onboard but Rick chose the Permatex, since it tended to be less brittle after curing.  Reassembly was fairly straightforward, and testing will occur whenever we sortie back to Fort Myers.
The Dipstick Housing Removed from
the Engine Block.

Then, on Thursday, 09-April, Yacht Tech decided to shutter its operations.  Some neighboring shops were starting to report employees with suspicious symptoms and James did not want to take any chances with his employees and customers. He got no argument from us, it was the right thing to do.  Together we had made good progress on the Ghost Rider punch list, with only two items left outstanding – the rub rail replacement on the port bow, and the Triac heat cycle switch on the A/C compressor.  The former is just cosmetic, and Rick thinks he can figure out the latter item on his own between now and the next time we need heat on the boat.

Chelle drove back from Fort Myers to the boat on Friday, 10-April, this time in our own vehicle.  Eventually we’ll return to fetch it back home.  Her only stop was to fuel up ($1.69/gal at Costco) and also brought along a few fresh food items that we needed to restock on the boat.  Then we began to plan our escape from Palm Beach.  Right now it’s looking like we’ll have a decent weather window to get back underway on Tuesday, 14-April, with the rather modest goal of simply getting back to our home port in Fort Myers.  That will be an interesting journey since there are no marinas along the way accepting transients, but we’ll figure it out.  We’ll have more on that in the next blog.

In the meantime take care of yourselves and each other.


  1. Once again; thumbs-up on knocking out so many maintenance items. I'll be interested to see how you structure the run back with no marina options on the table.

    I guess you could double team it and come home from 7 Mile; Didn't your radar system have a feature that lit up the lobster pots after dark?

  2. Hi Bill,

    Right now we’re thinking an 18 hour run from here to Key Largo (Rodriguez Key anchorage); then a day sortie to the Marathon anchorage; then another 18 hour run from there to Fort Myers.

    Re: radar & crab pots….yes, the Furuno DRS X-class array can be tuned to light up the pots @ close range, although you need pretty settled sea conditions for that. Will let you know how it goes.