Thursday, January 15, 2009

It's never a dull day!

Chris here... Alright, I know nobody wants to hear from me. "Stop typing, " you say. "Get Kristen writing the blog entry!"

Well, sorry to disappoint. Just kidding! I'm never sorry. Well, sometimes I'm sorry. If Kristen reads this, I'm going to be sorry. OK... I'm rambling... moving along...

This morning we were still at Charleston Boatworks. Yesterday they drilled the holes in our deck to mount our new liferaft. It's always a bit nerve wracking watching someone drill holes in your mostly watertight boat, but it would be kind of difficult to mount something on the deck without drilling holes. Epoxy was poured into the holes to make sure there was a watertight seal all the way through to the cabin when the bolts were put into place, and it took the epoxy 24 hours to set. We awoke at around 8am and I mentioned to Kristen that the workers would be on Pelican soon. A few minutes later we heard the sound of feet on our deck, and Kristen gathered the kids books and headed off to the Boatworks office for homeschooling.

Everything was going great. The new holes got drilled through the epoxy. The bolts got put in place. The washers fit in no problem. Everything was done with the liferaft install except for some finish work on the interior. John from Charleston Boatworks headed back to his shop to make some teak plugs to fit over the bolt holes.

It was at this point that I started hearing an intermittent clicking noise. I poked around some, lifting a cushion here, looking behind a panel there and couldn't find anything wrong. The noise went away for a few minutes. At this point, I started smelling something weird - a slightly noxious odor. I attributed it to the smell from the work going on all around us at the various yards. The clicking started again, becoming louder and stronger. I was finally able to trace it to our V-berth. The only mechanical items in, or rather under, our V-Berth is the air conditioning/reverse cycle heater, but it seemed to be running fine, pumping out glorious heat to keep the edge off from the 45 degree outside air.

I quickly dug through the layers that cover the storage area under our berth - sheets, memory foam, cushions, insulation and finally the wood covers hiding the compartment. When I ripped off the covers, a puff of smoke was released and a strong burning smell emerged. "Hmmmm... smoke... that doesn't seem normal," I calmly told myself. Well, OK... perhaps I wasn't that calm. Fine. The smoke came out and I quickly jumped on the phone and called the marina office where Kristen was working with the kids. The yard manager answered, and I yelled into the phone - "Please ask Kristen to come down to Pelican RIGHT AWAY - there's smoke in the cabin!" I swear I hadn't even hit the "End Call" button by the time she was bounding down the companionway - "What's going on????"

I turned off the heater and traced the clicking and smoke to a control box mounted inside our V-Berth storage. I popped the top off to find a slightly scorched interior and several melted wires, but fortunately there was no longer any burning after I turned off the heater.

By this time the person who was working on our boat was back, things were under control, and I calmly (this time I was actually calm) called the person who installed our CruiseAir in Annapolis. "Ummm... we had a small problem with our new air conditioning/heating unit." "What's up?" he asked. "Yeah, well, we had electrical fire on our boat from the control unit. Would you know who I can call for warranty repair?" "You what?" Once I explained the situation we ended the call so he could track down who could do the repair. At this point, our liferaft installer spoke up and mentioned that he used to work for an authorized CruiseAir dealer locally. He made a call, and within 45 minutes they had not only re-arranged their schedule, but they were actually on Pelican fixing the problem! This never happens. When was the last time you called a repair shop and had them at your place within 45 minutes???

He took a look at the control unit and determined that the wires were pulled too tight when the unit was wired at the factory. It appeared as if two of the ends came into contact with each other, shorted out and caused the meltdown. He rewired the unit, and less than an hour later was on his way.

We also had a visit from our friend and blog follower Ken today. He dropped off the new storage unit that he made up for us. It's absolutely amazing - we'll take pictures soon. In addition, he had made photocopies of a number of charts and notes regarding the Bahamas for us, and spent time reviewing them. He also showed us a type of flashlight made by a company called Surefire that was substantially more powerful than our huge Maglite, yet a fraction of its size. As a matter of fact, he didn't just tell us about them - he actually gave us one! I never thought much about flashlights, but these things seem pretty amazing. I'll let y'all know how the other models are since I can see myself ordering two or three of them. Ken also shared with us a couple of photobooks of his family and their travels to Florida and the Bahamas. He's an amazing guy, and we really appreciate all of his input and help. He never asked for anything in return except for us to continue our blog. If you ever see Ken and Ruth from m/v/ Semper Fi, make sure to say hi and to help them out!

This afternoon we headed back to the anchorage on the Ashley River. It was an uneventful trip back, and we were looking forward to seeing our friends from Evolution who made the passage down from Beaufort a couple of days ago. The kids wanted to launch the dinghy before we had even dropped the hook - they were so excited to see their friends Merit and Olaf again. We found a good spot, set the anchor and unloaded the dinghy. Within minutes we had a bunch of giggling kids down below on Pelican. It was great to see them all with such big grins on their faces! Karin from Evolution, their Mom, wasn't feeling great so we kept Merit and Olaf on board for dinner.

While we were having fun, our new friends from Provence (perhaps you recall Kristen talking about Yael who gave us a ride from the mall to the fabric store and then back to Pelican) arrived back at the anchorage. They had gone to a boatyard today to get hauled out so they could install a part for their SSB radio (a type of two way radio that, much like a ham radio, can reach over long distances). They anchored close to us, but we talked and just said we'd keep an eye on our distance from each other as the currents changed. I joked that if we got too close we'd just pass a drink over and figure out what to do.

Around 10pm I looked out the side window of Pelican and saw that we were perpindicular to Provence. Because of the way the currents are on the Ashley River, we should have both been facing in the same direction, with the current on our nose. Things didn't seem right. We continued to watch, and found that Pelican would pull sideways, then Provence would move forward, very close to Pelican, and then they would turn sideways while we straightened out. In addition to this, we found ourselves moving closer and closer to the City Marina during our dance - obviously something wasn't right.

We quickly grabbed the airhorn and floodlight. I didn't want to wake up the whole anchorage, so we tried shining the floodlight through their windows in an effort to wake them up. Everything remained silent on Provence. After a few minutes with no respite, I suggested that Kristen get in the dinghy and go over there to knock on their hull. Kristen prefers to leave the motoring of Pelican to me, so we felt it would be better to leave it up to her to go over there. As she was starting to climb in the dinghy, Antoine and Yael appeared on deck. We communicated over the radio and explained that we thought their anchor chain may be twisted with ours. They agreed to raise their anchor and we continued to drift closer and closer to the marina, their dock and shallow water.

Finally they had their anchor up, and they didn't have any of our anchor rode attached to theirs. I'm guessing that the rodes were twisted, but came free as they raised their anchor. As the wind pushed us around, we would pull their boat towards us, and our boat would move sideways from the forces. They proceeded to find another spot to drop their hook while we, too, looked for a new home for the night.

Casey had come on deck about a half hour earlier without a jacket. At this point it's close to 30 degrees out, so he's shivering like you wouldn't believe from the cold. Kristen had just pulled up 150' of anchor rode plus a 55lb anchor and was fairly exhausted. Kaitlin was also very tired, and here we were circling an anchorage in the dark, trying to figure out where to drop our anchor so that we wouldn't hit anyone when the currents shifted. The winds were fairly strong, as was the current, and boats were turned in all sorts of directions in the anchorage - it was near impossible to tell where people would land once everything was normal. I had given Kristen our handheld GPS to try to navigate us to the location we had originally dropped our anchor earlier, but she wasn't familiar with how to use it. What's the opposite of happy? That's pretty much the mood everyone was in. At that point I made the executive decision that we would tie up to the Megadock for the night and figure everything out tomorrow. Everyone was pretty happy with the choice.

We prepped the boat for docking, pulled in nice and snugly, and here we lie awaiting a new day. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that at some point in time we'll actually be able to anchor without incident, but in the meantime we'll take advantage of the amenities the City Marina has to offer.


Rooster said...

I just found your adventure. Keep up the good work and have a great life.

I'll be watching for all your adventures. I just read the whole blog but I must have missed the type of boat your on.

Anonymous said...

I am enjoying your family's adventure with some jealousy...and I believe that the science experiment is an animal cell....nice job!