Chris here... There's good news and bad news. The good news is that we pulled off the mixer elbow and there wasn't a carbon buildup. The bad news is that water and oil poured out of it when we pulled it off. There's not supposed to be any water or oil in it, and the elbow itself APPEARED OK, but you can never be 100% sure. We pressure tested the cooling system and it was fine, so the only place we can figure out that it MAY be, however unlikely it is, is something called the "Water Lock" which is supposed to prevent the water from doing exactly what it is doing. Unfortunately, we can't easily check it since it's literally encased in our keel. The exhaust hose runs into the keel, a second hose runs out, and both of them are glassed into the keel itself. Our mechanic's guess is that there MAY be a crack in the box which is causing a pressure loss and allowing water to back into the exhaust system. In addition we found condensation on the cap for the oil fill which usually means there's some water in your crankcase. We'll find out when we do our next oil change which will be in about 8 hours of engine running time. So... his recommendation was to check the elbow for water after the boat has sat for a day. If there is, we need to look at the keel for damage or softness to see if the water lock may be the issue.
The starting issue appears to be OK at this point. We ran the new cable and the engine starts up. However, possibly associated with the above issue, it still has to crank for a little bit before it starts. Our mechanic THINKS this may be due to a slight amount of moisture in the cylinders - not enough to create a hydraulic lock, but enough to cause a slow start. It's fairly apparent that he knows his stuff, and he differentiates between what HE thinks vs. what the manufacturer thinks. I love honesty, and I'd highly recommend Chuck from Charleston City Boatyard.
So when are we going to move on? Well, there's a weather window tomorrow and Saturday, and Shiver and Sea Gypsy are both taking advantage of it to head to Beaufort. As we speak, Miakoda and Aly Cat are in the Gulf Stream heading to Carolina City. When the fact that it was best to leave tonight came up my gut wrenched in two. It wasn't because it was a bad thing - I just had two different and equally strong feelings about what we should do, so the only way I can describe it is by saying my gut wrenched in two. Feeling number one - we should go and take advantage of the window since it will be at least a week before we'll be able to head north again if we don't. Feeling number two - we haven't spent much time exploring the great city of Charleston, and we'd like to check things out, so why rush it?
Then I remembered the yard in Charleston where we had our liferaft installed. Their specialty is paint. We saw the work they do and it was beautiful. Awlgrip, one of the leading manufacturers of boat paint and the de facto standard on the most luxurious yachts, uses paint jobs by this place on the covers of their brochures. If they're that good with Awlgrip, they've got to be pretty good with bottom paint, right? So I called them up and found that while they aren't the least expensive around, they aren't outrageously priced and they can paint our bottom right away. The reason I am really interested in having them do it is that we'd like to raise our waterline and there's a bootstripe currently butting into our bottom paint. The redo the bootstripe requires some precision and skill, and these guys have it. In addition, they'll let us work with them on the prep which may save us a few dollars.
So... it looks like we're going to explore Charleston. It will take them a week or so to do the work, and hopefully we'll have a weather window at the end. In the meantime, we'll enjoy our time here and take advantage of the region's amenities.