Thursday, June 30, 2011

Port Jefferson - At anchor

Been here awhle - notice the bird's nest on top!
The weather has just been phenomenal with temps in the 70's everyday and winds around 10 kts and no rain. We only had 20 miles to go today to reach Port Jefferson so we had a lazy morning. The anchor came up covered with thick mud, a byproduct of the excellent holding by Sand Island but it did require a lot of work with the washdown hose in the anchor locker.

We sailed out of the harbor but then the wind died as we turned the corner to head east and we motored the rest of the way, oh well. Port Jefferson was not as crowded as we expected and we found our favorite spot available with only short dinghy ride in for Hoolie relief.

Fleetwing in the distance - Hoolie relief beach at right
Tonight was Matthew's turn to prepare dinner (Nachos covered with chicken, salsa and various other ingredients) and now we about to sit down to watch the second installment of Pirates of the Caribbean, part II. Over the summer I installed a 32 inch LED LCD TV that runs 1080P picture resolution. The picture quality is fantastic and the size is just right for the main salon. The TV only draws 80 watts (due to the power savings LED lighting) and the DVD player only draws 15 watts. We run the system off the inverter using just the house batteries. Modern technology is wonderful.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Northport - At anchor

The pebble beach at Northport
Before leaving Manhasset, I tightened the fan belt (well, there's no fan belt on a marine engine since it's water cooled, not air cooled - but you know what I mean). I had installed a new belt thinking that the old belt was slipping, causing the erratic charging which in turned cause the erratic compass readings which in turn caused the autopilot to steer erratically (trying to follow the varying compass headings). The end result was that a slipping belt caused it all. Although the belt was new and replaced an old belt that was slipping, the new belt stretched (since it was new) and also slipped at first. Once it was worn in a little and I tightened it again this morning, all was fine. It's another illustration of following a root cause on a sailboat. It's not always what it seems. Something malfunctions and then you ask, "What caused that?" and asked the question again when you find the next cause until you come to the true root cause of it all.

Well, that took care of the autopilot problem and the charging problem but the genset lack of good flow in the cooling water still remains to be solved. On top of that, the freezer seems to not be up to snuff, it's not keeping the freezer at our customary 18F but rather at 24F, that's a problem for another day.

Meanwhile, we made it to our Northport anchorage by Sand Island and the kids enjoyed the beach, although it's mostly small pebbles, not real sand. We saw some small box jelly fish off the back of the boat which is why we went to the beach. The anchorage area here is huge, not crowded at all. In fact, there's only one other boat in the anchorage. It's calm with what wind there is coming off the land so it ought to be a restful night. On Wednesday we're headed to Port Jefferson.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Manhasset - At a free mooring

Notice the Freedom Tower rising at the south end of Manhatten (two cranes)
The current didn't change at Hell Gate until 2:30 PM so we had time to kill before leaving Haverstraw Bay. After a lazy morning, we got underway around 9:00 am and ambled south in the hazy morning sun.

Brooklyn Bridge (and the Freedom Tower just under it)
Right away I noticed something wrong with the autopilot. It seemed erratic, swerving to the right and left sporadically. After some investigation it seemed that the fluxgate compass was not stable and the autopilot was merely following orders from the compass on which direction to head in. However, it turned out not to be the compass. The dealer put the fluxgate compass in the worst location possible, right in the middle of a nest of wiring heading to the 12v panel so anything on the boat that's turned on or off will pulse a magnetic signal to the compass throwing it off-course. I suspect it's actually caused by the charging circuit that's varying between 50 amps of current and 0 amps. Looking on the internet, it could be a bad connection on wiring that senses the voltage of the batteries. That's a chore for the morning after the motor cools down.

The last few days of boat problems got us into a conversation on the number of systems on a boat that could fail. If you required each system (charger, autopilot, GPS, depth finder, etc.) to be 95% reliable and there are 20 such systems on board (there are actually more than that on most boats), then the probability of every one operating without fail for some period of time is only 36% (64% failure rate!) Of course that's an argument for keeping things simple but some need (me!) modern conveniences not to mention navigation aids such as a chartplotter and GPS. At any rate, I now have two "systems" to diagnose: the genset water supply and now the charger that runs off the engine, such fun!  
The East River and Hell Gate was like a millpond and with little traffic. We're now in Manhasset Bay on one of the free moorings from the Town of West Hempstead. There are 10 in all and the best bargain in Long Island Sound. We'll head to Northport on Tuesday.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Croton Point Anchorage

Beautiful beach for Hoolie
It was a beautiful day for traveling down the river with temps in the 70's and very little wind (at least it wasn't on the nose...) The river is full of debris, we spent a good amount of time just avoiding limbs, trunks, logs, etc. Even so I managed to nail a couple of small logs but no apparent damage was done.
We anchored on the north side of Croton Point and tonight it's as calm as a lake. Hoolie relief is a short ride to a deserted, sandy beach - everything we need for a restful anchorage. Meanwhile, I started up the genset and the repair I had made using ample amounts of 5200 on the cooling block did not leak! I was pretty happy about that until I measured the output of the cooling flow - it was only 7 liters/minute when it should be 10 to 12 - in short, no improvement! That was rather disappointing so I guess I'll go hunting again sometime when we do a layover. At least the genset is functional for now.

On Tuesday we're headed through Hell Gate and on to Manhasset to the free moorings (hopefully). The East River is always interesting (when it's now closed due to United Nations meetings).   

Sunday, June 26, 2011

PYC - headed for Long Island Sound

We are once again on our boat. We have Matthew but also Sarah, his sister, for her first voyage without her parents. We're headed for four weeks on the Sound and will meet up with the rest of Matthew's family at Branford for the 4th of July. The amount of "stuff" we had to pack was much more than we anticipated. The photo was only of the last load in the van, there were many loads before that during the week.

I'm still battling my genset, trying to find the source of the restriction on the cooling water supply. In taking the electrical heat exchanger apart, I discovered a piece of glass blocking the port and a piece of hard rubber blocking the other port. Both were much bigger than the holes in the intake strainer. I have no idea where they came from, neither looked like impeller residue. In reassembling the exchanger, I noticed that the last nut of the four to be attached turned a little too easily. It seems the bolt came loose from the aluminum cooling block and now I need a new helixcoil, perhaps. I'm hoping that all the 5200 I used as a sealant will be enough to ensure a water tight connection, we'll see Tuesday morning. Otherwise, it will require taking the whole thing apart again, cleaning off the old 5200, putting in a new helixcoil on the one bolt and resealing a second time. Boating is such fun!