Thursday, May 03, 2012

No One Is Smoldering


April 30 – May 3, 2012

Remarkably, all of the FLUKESTERS have managed to stay mostly happy and busy while we have waited out the windy weather.  The days have blown by since we have kept busy with boat repairs, neglected maintenance chores, shopping trips, and some sight-seeing.  I will also admit that we finally got some much needed rest and conquered the fatigue that we all felt from the long days of getting ready to leave Vero and the “excitement” associated with our aborted crossing attempt.  We didn't get around to launching the dinghy until the afternoon of our third day on the mooring, which I think is a new record for us.  Usually we can't wait to go ashore and explore.

The Sewer project ended successfully, or so we think at this point.  The bilge pump got a new float switch installed, so now it should shut off and not burn itself out.  The flapper in the check valve was cleaned and turned over in hopes of making a better seal.  We won't know for sure if that works until we get into some moving seas again.  While we are at rest, the exit hole is above the waterline, so we can't make a good test run while we are on the mooring.

After the smoke cleared
After the smoke cleared

The first night on the mooring we fired up the generator for some cooking electricity.  The generator ran fine until it abruptly stopped: no sputtering, no hissing, no change in r.p.m.  That was something new, and we figured it could only mean one thing – an electrical problem within the generator.

So, early the next morning, the generator area was prepped, and all the instruments laid out for exploratory surgery.  From the above photo you can see that the operating room is rather confined and you need to be flexible to perform certain procedures.  Before the battery was disconnected, Wayne reached in to show Eddie something and hit a loose wire (the one that caused the generator to stop).  The wire hit the metal box it was housed in and shorted out, immediately causing a cloud of sparks and the wire insulation to catch fire and melt.  The acrid smell was toxic, and poor Eddie was right down next to it.  Wayne ran to get the fire extinguisher, but Eddie grabbed the wire to isolate it from other flammables and started blowing on it and put it out.  The rest of the operation was not only successful, but they also discovered another problem and fixed that too.  So, there was no need to hire a “specialist” to come out to FLUKE and perform any remedial actions.  Chalk up another victory for the W & E Marine Maintenance Team.

Child's play
Child's play

Sometimes we all act like kids when we're aboard.  I think that's why cruisers as a whole tend to have more youthful attitudes and joie de vivre towards life than the our mainstream contemporaries.  The fresh air, need for self reliance, and sense of freedom and adventure cruising brings is invigorating.  As I watched this little girl playing on her boat next to us, I was taken back 50 years in time.  That would have been me, hanging upside down on the mast boom, swinging from the ropes, playing with the 3 dogs aboard, and jumping back and forth from the mother ship to the tender, barefoot and as nimble as a cat.  At least this old dog still takes delight in those memories and seeing others growing with the sea.

Stay and don't shake
Stay and don't shake

I had meant to give Ursa a bath before we left home, but had never gotten around to it.  However, just because we're aboard doesn't mean that we don't maintain normal routines, even for the dog and cat.  Since we'll be going to the dock for water before we head out to sea I didn't need to feel guilty about using tank water for the bath.  Ursa wasn't too thrilled about it, but judging from all the hair that came out, she should feel a lot cooler with her clean coat now.  Wayne combed her before and after the bath too, getting rid of even more of the old hair.

Watch the sun set
Watch the sun set

Sunset Bay Marina is a beautiful facility, with a pretty West Indies style main building looking west over the picturesque St. Lucie River.  In fact, the first night here, there was a wedding on the steps leading up to the main porch.  There are places to sit on the porch and a whole row of rocking chairs waterside, facing west.  With all this wind, they rock back and forth, and I told Eddie they are holding the ghosts of sailors past, all cackling about their adventures on the high seas.

Better than a walker
Better than a walker

Besides the 69 moorings, there is an enormous number of wide docks with protected slips.  The main dock looks to be 300 yards long and is so far from the main building, the employees use these Segway-like vehicles called GoPets to go back and forth.  They go really fast, and I would imagine there have been some wet accidents.  Eddie eyed them every time we went by.

900 feet long main dock
900 feet long main dock


This shot gives you a good feel for how far out the main dock extends and how many boats slips are available.

Artsy restroom
Artsy restroom


The sea theme is everywhere, even in the restrooms, as evidenced by this colorful wall mural.  The walkways have colorful brick pavers with sparkles and a design that looks like the sand and water.

Scuba turtle
Scuba turtle

Sailors Retreat is the popular riverfront restaurant on the premises and it has an open air sitting area and bar.  It seemed like there was live music of some sort on most nights.  Steve, the scuba turtle, greets visitors at the main entrance, encouraging safe diving.

Sunset Bay Marina is the terminus point for what is called the Riverwalk area of Stuart.  You can walk along the riverfront from the marina all the way to the old restored downtown area where there are lots of restaurants, fashion boutiques, art galleries, and curiosity shops  The opposite end of Riverwalk ends at a riverside amphitheater.

Walking along Riverwalk
Walking along Riverwalk


Many of the restored buildings have an art deco flair and color to them, and are centrally located such that you can walk both in front and back of them.  One of the largest buildings has some three dimensional mural work done in every window, with themes relevant to the commerce and history of Stuart.

Watching for her sailor
Watching for her sailor


The prime waterfront lots are occupied by some restored cottages that are used for business and/or living purposes, all with island style architecture and colors.

Island style cottage
Island style cottage

While I loved the style of this cottage and snapped the picture when I was walking by, it wasn't until I off-loaded the photo that I noticed the wonderful fish pattern in the fence.  I've decided it is the perfect design for some decorative shutters I've wanted to put up on the house.

Abundance
Abundance

The statue of Abundance keeps the water flowing in Haney Circle.  She was created by a French artist for France's exhibition at the 1939 World's Fair, but never made the showing.  Kept in storage in New York for many years, she was eventually purchased through the efforts of a local woman's club as a centerpiece for the busy circle.

Even dogs are welcome
Even dogs are welcome


While Ursa didn't drink from Abundance's fountain, she found a cool drink from an artsy bowl outside one of the galleries.

 The marina provides free bus transportation to several local big box stores farther removed from the easily accessed Old Town area on Wednesdays and Saturdays.  They also have free bicycles, but riding around this area of Stuart can be  challenging because the traffic is very heavy.  Eddie decided to walk to Radio Shack to buy a new antenna for his radio and didn't realize how far it really was.  So, thinking he may have missed it, he stopped to ask directions from a local.  The black woman raised up her arm to point in the direction, and Eddie was distracted from the glittering white snowflakes that were sprayed onto her armpits.  I'm not expecting that we will see any cruisers with that new fashion statement, although I've had a few glimmering fish scales in my pits before!

With what looked to be a good weather window arriving, we thought we would be leaving on Friday (tomorrow) morning to head down to Lake Worth and anchor for the night to get up in the dark and make another attempt at crossing.  In fact, it appeared that two other boats were going to be following the same plan, so we would have some company.

However, when we woke up this morning, we found out that the freezer temperature was reading 9.4 degrees, instead of its usual 4-5 degrees.  To make matters even worse, it was rising more as we watched it!  Wayne shot into diagnostic mode to try to figure out what could be happening.  His best guess was that our battery voltage had dropped below what was acceptable to run the compressor, and it had kicked off.  Further electrical measurements indicated we had over a volt and a half drop with the way the wiring went to the compressor.  After a couple of phone calls, to the manufacturer and installer, it was determined that undersized wire had been used for the installation.  That coupled with low battery voltage and an extra leg in the wiring circuit just didn't give much of a margin for the voltage to drop.  So, Wayne spent the afternoon taking out the extra leg to eliminate some voltage drop.  Plus, we started the generator to charge the batteries, and the compressor kicked right back on.  However, I think it is puzzling why this has never happened before this incident.  We will rewire the whole circuit when we get back and, in the meantime, hope that this initial “repair” will get us through the trip.  We sure had some anxious moments wondering what we were going to do with a freezer full of food if couldn't get it to cool properly.  It's not like many boaters around here would have any extra precious freezer space.

Plate size jellies
Plate size jellies

I thought I was going to have to spend another few days watching these big jellyfish squish themselves through the water.  As it is now, this post should be the final one from Florida.  But, like the water changing the sand patterns along the shore, our plans may be altered again should another problem be discovered. 

P.S. We never have discovered the source of the mysterious green slime on the floor of the machinery space.

2 comments:

  1. You haven't even left the mainland and already I'm excited by the sites, and laughing out loud. Hope all these troublesome interruptions clear up so you can relax and enjoy the rest of the trip. Love Ursa's expression in the tub shot!

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  2. Anonymous9:24 PM

    Wonderful.

    Loved the pics - especially the jellies...

    Thanks for sharing.

    Jerry

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