A Travellerspoint blog

Cape May, NJ ..... Again

rain 88 °F

Friday was not a good boat day which means that it was not a good day ..... at all. We started getting ready to leave about 0600; there was no reason to hurry, the trip from Atlantic City to Cape May is only about 40 nm, including both channels. Stowed the electrical cables, started the engine, singled up the mooring lines and then the fun began. Tried to power up the chart plotter ..... bupkus, nada, zip.


Looked at the other electrical .... none of the DC circuits that recharge our several phones, iPads, computers, etc. were working; every device was draining power. It was deja vu all over again, a repeat of what happened in Oriental before we headed north. Same chart plotter symptom: no power to either unit .... at the helm or in the cabin.

Somehow, once again, a commonplace electrical issue had bled over from the DC outlets to the instrument circuit. This is, of course, still not possible, except that it has happened twice. I messed with things and made no progress for several hours. Finally, Carol rented a car so that we could go to West Marine and Radio Shack to get new parts and pieces. Worked some more hours with frustrations at every step of the way. The list is too long and it would sound like whining because it is whining. Every time I closed things up, thinking that I was through, something required going back and doing it again, and again, and again. About 1800 (6pm) everything actually worked. The concern is that I really don't know what the problem was so I don't know whether stuff worked because of what I did or despite what I did. Which is to say that it may happen again. Part of the issue is fuses, the old glass cylinder type, of which our boat has nine. The fuses look OK, ie the metal filament is intact, but either no power flows or reduced power flows. How this gets at the navigation system is the mystery. As a precaution, I stocked up on fuses.

Carol summed up the day when she said, "This will make it easy for you to sell the boat." Unfortunately, we have another issue with the chart plotter that we may be able to resolve in Cape May, having found someone to look at the issue. Either way, that may make it even easier.


Saturday was an OK boat day and an OK day. We got to Cape May without issue. It was a bumpy ride into the wind but we made good enough time and were moored securely just after lunch, which suited Carol just fine. She had an appointment to get her hair done and was much concerned about keeping that appointment. There are just some things that "regular guys" will never understand about women, beauty parlours being, possibly, a top ten item on that list. There will never be a gender bending version of Steel Magnolias with old guys sitting around on lumpy chairs with torn naugahyde upholstery reading years old copies of Popular Science, Guns & Ammo and Sports Illustrated, but never the swimsuit issue, and getting more hair cut from their noses, ears and eyebrows than their heads. Not much visual drama there.

Carol was resplendent with her hair just the right shade of chemical red, replacing streaky mauve and puce with accent streaks of neon orange. A visit to the salon almost always makes her feel better, more confident, a better self image. I swear, from a mile away, that I could hear her singing as she walked back to the boat:

I feel pretty
Oh so pretty
I feel pretty and witty and bright


Anyway, you have to be old enough to remember West Side Story. Point two on Carol's agenda was another visit to the Lobster House restaurant; having cooked one night in a row she thought that this was her due, so we did. Once again she managed to avoid the tuna melt. Of course, all the excitement of having her hair done, eating out and spending 10 minutes on the helm wore her out and she was asleep before 8PM.

My agenda only had one item: get nekkid and get into the very nice showers here at the marina. I did both.


Sunday was not a good boat day which means that it was not a good day ..... at all. Our chart plotter/radar system is a monochrome antique but had always performed well and we are used to it; a color screen has never seemed, a priori, a value adding proposition. The system has two displays, one at the helm and one in the cabin. An area of the screen on the unit at the helm had gone bad, readable, but with difficulty. My bright idea was to swap the units which we did Saturday morning before getting underway. It mostly worked except for the radar, a resource on which we have come to depend. I called ahead and, improbably, had a guy that came over to the boat on Saturday afternoon to look at the system after we arrived. Warren looked more like a termite inspector that a marine electronics specialist, but he knew his stuff. He was unable to resolve the issue without a call to Raymarine, not open on Saturday. He did mention that the radar cable was usually 10 meters long and the cartoon "idea" light bulb went off over my head. If we could find the cable we could reroute it to the cabin and everything would work, MAYBE!

On Sunday morning we found the cable in a very inaccessible part of the boat and it seemed, on inspection, to be long enough to reach the main cabin. Then the fun began, a concatenation of actions that typify the most aggravating aspect of boating. The cable has a 1.25 inch connector/lock and was too big to get through the channel in the sole of the cockpit. So, to get the connector and cable through the cockpit sole it was necessary to remove the Morse cables that control the engine speed and transmission. In order to remove the Morse cables it was necessary to disassemble the Teleflex throttle control. To access the Teleflex throttle it was necessary to remove the helm and autopilot. To get to the pieces that I dropped I had to remove the panel with the rode chain counter. We had to empty one lazarette and most the the galley cabinets to access the cable run. We did all of these things. Finally, we rerouted the cable, drilled a bunch of holes, got the cable to the unit, hooked it up and, voilĂ , the payoff was a working, readable navigation system at the helm with radar. Eight hours on Sunday, several more on Monday. This type of work would have cost $100/hr. So, I guess, we can appreciate the sweat equity we have invested in the boat. But, if that's such a good deal, why didn't we enjoy it?

On the plus side, if there is one, I found two potential disasters. I had to get under the steering mechanism to access the Morse cables and the radar cable and, while there, found a nut and washer, one of four, on the steering mechanism that had fallen off. I probably hadn't been in that space in two years, or so. We have an emergency manual bilge pump built in and I noticed that part of it was cracked and it probably would not have worked. Finding these sorts of issues is never a positive thing because the next question is always: What else have I missed?

Monday was a very busy day but without the stress of: what if I cannot do this, what if I do it and it doesn't work. That was until I started checking out an error message on the battery monitor panel. It indicated a blown fuse, or interrupted circuit to the house battery bank. Using Occam's Razor, I took several of the right fuses to the lazarette and we both cleared things out to access the batteries. Sometimes the good friar's razor cuts wrong, to wit, we had a broken positive battery post connector, improbable to the max. It's a fairly simple replacement unless you have about a jillion wires connected, old hands and nearby negative terminals against with these positive wires can short, all true in this instance. Got this problem fixed and the battery monitor is still goofy. The question I cannot answer is whether there is a real problem or the monitor is hosed. I'm pretty sure it's the latter .... I hope.

It seems, at times, as if events are conspiring against us or, maybe, we're being tested; regardless, the number of hurdles between us and Brunswick has appeared unreasonably large and growing. Any pretense about a "fun trip" has gone away; we are now on a working trip to get the boat back to Brunswick, GA and the to-do list grows daily. Strangely, this is hectic but seems normal and, in a left handed way, comfortable despite the anxiety. We have a goal and are focused on that attaining that goal. It sometimes seems that Carol and I do better under adversity, working to achieve an end than we do in "playing and having fun."


We had thought to go to Ocean City, MD before heading to Norfolk. That would have shortened the trip by about 40 nm. I think that Carol wanted to ride the roller coaster, ironic since in 2-ft. waves she is heaving chunks over the side. But the weather forecast has winds from the north on Wednesday and we plan to hitchhike on those to speed the trip south.

The order of travel is:

1. Cape May to Norfolk, VA: 180 nm ~ two days, one night
2. Norfolk to Morehead City, VA, via the ICW to avoid Cape Hatteras: 180 nm - four days, no night travel
3. Morehead City to Charleston, SC, 220 nm ~ two days, two nights
4. Charleston to Brunswick, 160 nm - two days, one night

And miles to go before we sleep,
And miles to go before we sleep

This will be the last blog entry for a while. This is all territory we have covered before. I will probably do a recap when we reach Brunswick.

Posted by sailziveli 14:23 Archived in USA Tagged boats boating

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