What’s the Story?

We’ve just returned to Rode Trip from our vacation in California. Yes, even though we live on a boat we can still take a vacation and it was glorious! But I haven’t forgotten that you all are still reading. So, here’s the story…

We returned to St Marys, GA just in the nick of time. Santa was coming to town! We quickly unpacked our bags and strolled into town toward the sound of Christmas carols. Tiny, white, holiday lights were glistening through the treetops down the center lane of town. People were crowding the streets to get a glimpse of Santa Claus as he made his grand entrance. Down the lane trotted a horse drawn carriage carrying Santa and Mrs. Claus. Cheers erupted from the crowd and confetti burst into the air above our heads. Then, eyes following Santa, our gaze was turned to the Christmas tree at the end of the street and “Viola!” the tree was lit and applause filled the streets. Now, it’s officially Christmas! We met with our friends, Scott & Kim (s/v Anthyllide), and returned to Rode Trip to swap stories about our previous week’s adventures.

So what’s the story with our travel plans? Truth be told, as I write this to give you the scoop, we don’t actually know! We’re watching the weather, which is not promising for an offshore trip forecasting light, south winds for days. We’re debating whether to motor down the Intracoastal Waterway to make tracks south and east or to sail east across the south winds for several days hoping the next front holds true so that we can drop south into the Bahamas either at Abacos or Eleuthera. This is not adventuring. This is cruising on a schedule. We’re trying to make the most efficient trip, having limited time to arrive in Staniel Cay, Exumas to welcome our friends on December 20th. When we make a decision and/or land in a new destination I’ll be sure to let you know!

Out with the Old, In with the New

When we began the process of building a new exhaust system. One piece that had to go was our muffler. Here it is welded out of stainless steel.

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After reading up on how the exhaust should be installed, all the experts agreed that after water was injected into the exhaust line it should run downhill all the way into the muffler. That makes the elbow on top of this muffler a real problem. It is on the inlet to the muffler, so the exhaust gases have to push the injected water uphill at least a little bit. In addition the welds were starting to rust on the bottom of the muffler, possibly leaking a little bit of salt water. We decided to replace the muffler with one better suited to our boat.

After speaking with Centek about the correct muffler for our engine we had a plan. We were going to replace our metal muffler with a fireproof, rust proof, fiberglass muffler. In addition we could get a muffler that had the inlet on the side, making it easier to mount the muffler below the water injection point. Just before calling Centek back to place the order I contacted Defender to see what their price was for a similar muffler. They had the exact same muffler listed for a much lower price. Unfortunately they didn’t have it in stock, but they could have Centek ship it directly to me…I don’t quite understand the pricing, but I’m happy to keep the extra dollars!

Here is the new muffler safely installed in the engine room.

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Now all we had to do was come up with something to do with the old muffler. We came up with a lot of ideas, but we’re starting to think this muffler-like object isn’t really good for anything anymore.

We tried using it as a dumbbell to keep us in shape since we’ve been anchored for so long.

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We tried using it as an anchor for the dinghy…

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We tried using it as a watering can for our new thyme plant..

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We tried using it as a teakettle…

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We tried using it as a new musical instrument, very tubalike but without any pleasing sounds.

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We had it try out for “The Wizard of OZ” but they found a better tin-man…

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However our muffler was most successful as an internet billboard to deliver this message!

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Why the holdup?

To answer the question that I am sure all of you blog readers are asking…no we have not moved in to St. Mary’s, GA permanently. Very soon we plan on getting underway again and heading for the Bahamian islands.

Our engine has been continuing to exhibit some strange behavior with very inconsistent oil levels. It would go up for a little while and then it would go back down, and we decided to take a little bit of time to get it completely sorted out before we leave the country. The engine troubleshooting indicated that our oil level would go up while the engine was not running, so we found a good secure anchorage next to our friends on Anthyllide and proceeded to not run the engine. After about a week the oil level had risen very significantly, so it was time to drain the oil and see what was in our oil pan other than oil.

We managed to pull out this liquid

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This is water that was sitting in the bottom of our engine oil pan! YIKES! Thankfully we didn’t run the engine with this much water in there, but it indicated that we have been collecting saltwater and then evaporating it out of the oil for a while now.

The good news about having water in the oil is that there are very very few options for how it can get there. The mostly likely cause is our cooling water pump. It bolts on to the front of the engine and has the possibility that if seals fail then it can leak into the timing case on the engine.

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We had a problem with this pump dripping previously and a rebuild had appeared to fix the problem, however now it looks like the rebuild just changed the location of the drip to a location where we couldn’t see it. We currently have a disabled engine, but have a brand new raw water pump in the mail. While it is shipping we are going to continue to monitor our engine oil level to make sure that disconnecting this pump actually fixed the problem.

After identifying the fact that we had salt water in our oil we changed the oil and oil filter twice to try and remove any salt from the system. After we reinstall the new pump we will run the engine for about 25 hours ( not continuously) and then change the oil one more time. Hopefully this will end our engine excitement for a long time!

Meanwhile we are enjoying the reasonably warm weather here in St. Mary’s. The town is full of very friendly people who have made us feel very welcome here. We even met another boat registered out of Portsmouth. The owner Ron has sailed his 33ft steel boat around the world in the high latitudes around Cape Horn. He has amazing stories and is giving up cruising (at least temporarily) to bike around the United States. If anyone is looking to join us we can check out his boat for you…I’m sure we could delay another week before we get under way.