Slides from this chapter
First MisstepsHaving gotten everything more-or-less stowed away, and having had a couple of days to take the edge off of a truely phenomenal case of jet lag, we decided to go for a motor down the Coomera river with the possibility of a sail if the weather outside the Gold Coast Seaway was clement.
Before leaving the slip, I dropped both daggerboards so that it would be easier to steer against the crosswind in the marina. I also decided to check the motors while still tied to the dock. Starboard side seemed fine, but the port side wouldn't budge the boat. Hmm... Visions of a $3000 propeller eaten away by electrolysis shot through my head. But wait, the tide was quite low and the board wasn't all the way down. Could it be touching bottom? I cranked it up a few inches and retested the motor. Success.
Hmm... no warning lights. Engines look OK. Perhaps a bit of gunk in the engines from months of idleness or some fouling on the props. We slowed up and the black smoke went away and I cracked open the diesel book to read up on black smoke.
We motored as far as the Gold Coast Seaway (the start of the Pacific Ocean) but it was too rough for a sail so we turned around and headed back up river. At one point the port-side engine died and refused to restart for several minutes, but we were able to get it restarted after checking the fuel and air filters.
We motored back up the river with both engines at 2000 rpm. Because of the recent problems with the port-side engine and the history of that engine stalling out at inopportune times, I decided to do a few test manuvers out in the river before weaving our way back into our berth. Sure enough, as soon as I shifted the port-side engine back to neutral, it stalled. Since we were right in front of the marina, anchoring seemed to be the best choice.
Of course, because we were going for a day sail, we'd left the dingy back at the slip. A passing powerboat was flagged down and proved happy to ferry Karin and Tristan back to the marina 50 yards away. Where, they were unable to start the dingy outboard, and, the dingy oars were, where else, stowed aboard Endless Summer. After half an hour of fiddling and some help from someone at the marina, the outboard roared to life and they motored back to Endless Summer where we spend the night. Fortunately, we'd topped up the water tanks and gone shopping so it was a comfortable night.
In the morning, I tried to figure out what had gone wrong. The port-side engine still wouldn't start and the starboard side started but wouldn't charge the batteries. I phoned up Steve (the boatbuilder) and he came out and we changed fuel filters (no sign of problems) and bled the fuel system (removed air from it). Still no luck.
As the wind was favorable, we decided to try motoring over to the fuel dock on one engine, but with only one engine, our slow speed manoeuver repetoir appeared to consist of only 270 degree right turns. Also the starboard engine cut out a couple of times. Back down with the anchor.
Fortunately, the marina was able to provide a tow to the fuel dock where we spent a few days awaiting the ministrations of various mechanics, boat builders and electricians.
Ultimately we found out that there were three problems:
Fortunately, all this happened while we were about 50 yards from home, and it is all easy to repair. After talking to several electricians, I discovered that the only one advocating above-ground alternators happens to be selling very expensive above-ground alternators. Everyone else suggested that above-ground was far more trouble than it (might) be worth and that, to be truely "above ground" you would have to do far more than just modify the alternators.
TrevorIt would have been a rainy miserable weekend on the fuel dock but Trevor, our, electrician invited us up to his house in Burringbar, NSW.
Trevor grows bananas, oranges, tangelos, lemons, and mangos right around his house. It is not unusual for pythons to slither past (one of the neighbors found a 4 meter snake in the back yard) and Kookaburras wake everyone up at 5:30am.
Just what we need after a couple of weeks fixing up the boat.
Our plan was to do the whole thing in one day, but the boat ahead of us needed more time and the paint guys recommended letting the paint dry overnight anyway so we spend the night on the hard. Very strange sleeping on a boat that doesn't move.
Bright and early next morning the crane came to pick us up. You get a brief grace period to paint the places where the stands were and then the crane dumps you back in the water. Everything worked, even getting into the slip in the crosswind.
We've gotten nearly all the antifouling paint off of the kids but one of my toenails still has a nice blue spot. I'll make future reports on how effective it is in discouraging marine growth.
School is in SessionThe kids were mortified to discover that our trip was not in fact a comprehensive tour of skate and amusement parks in tropical paradises. Didn't realize that a marine could be such a fruitful whine growning region.
PlansWith the exception of the heater which should be in on thursday (just in time for really nice weather) the boat is done, gassed up and ready to go.
Our plan is to run about 300 nm up the coast to Hervey Bay all in one go. It is easy to get into Hervey Bay and there are anchorages for most weather conditions. We'll wait for the next low pressure system to spin off the coast and then we can head north with reasonable confidence in a few days of SE winds. Farther north, where the barrier reef is closer to land, the navigation is much trickier and people usually avoid sailing at night because there's no way to see the reef.
We'll try and pick up Geoff Mercer somewhere along the way for the run up to Great Keppel.
By 1 September we'll have started the journey north!