A Travellerspoint blog

A Month in Marathon

sunny 84 °F

Well, I was half right, not too bad for a a not too bright older guy. Everything could have happened as I thought. In addition, the engine mechanic thought that, maybe, the check valve on the Racor 500 fuel filter was sticking. This also could have caused the symptoms. So we did a rebuild of the filter housing and sundry parts; not too complicated, if I can remember all the steps. Then I got a mechanic's lesson on how to prime the fuel system; I may be too old and slow for that. Anyway, the fuel filter rebuild is now a line item on the maintenance schedule for yearly action. On the other hand, the whole thing might just be an intermittent problem that will occur again. Who can tell? We can only hope that the Earl of Occam's premise is right. Regardless, at this point the choices are two: go or quit. Not a lot of quit in either one of us. Or, maybe, it's just old fashioned stubbornness pretending to be principled persistence.

We are at a marina so that the mechanic could come on board. It seems strange after having spent most of our recent weeks time at anchor or on a mooring ball. When at anchor or on a mooring ball the boat is always orienting itself into the wind and we are always aware of that relationship to the wind, sometimes consciously, sometimes not. Now, that awareness seems conspicuous by its absence. The other difference is shore power; we can run everything all the time with no concerns. On the minus side, being in a marina just seems to demand that work must happen; this stop has honored that perception. Work has been hard on Carol; the daytime temperatures have been in the low to mid 80's, well above her sub-zero, red headed Nordic Princess comfort range. She has to wear the SPF jillion clothing which has all the comfort of Saran Wrap and then slathers herself with oily sunscreen. The net effect of this is about like basting a turkey and putting it in the oven. But, she sweats, she wipes and she labors on. Finally, she broke down and accepted the offer to power up the AC; warm days are OK, warm nights are a problem.

Having easy access to fresh water we decided to purge, clean and refill the water tanks and jerry cans. When I was transferring water from the jerry cans it appeared, too late, that one may have had some contamination. The mechanics of all this were not too difficult; the details were ugly. Both cabins had to be completely emptied and the deck plates removed. The rear cabin was not too much of a problem since we do that regularly to access the engine area. The front cabin was an issue since it's the store room/locker/pantry/et. al. and under Carol's pervue. Carol was not amused. Since it's her mess I let her deal with it. Anyway, things are now disinfected, we hope, and the water is potable if still redolent of bleach.

The marina in which we are moored is very narrow, not much room to maneuver, so on Friday we moved the boat around the corner of the face dock so that we could get underway in the morning without crashing into boats and concrete sea walls. Mostly we did this by hand with bow and stern lines to turn the corner. Bob and I were on the dock with the lines and Carol was Captain for the Day. She did OK, with a little guidance from the dock. Of course, the total distance traveled was less than 100-ft.

While at the marina, on Friday, March 25th, Carol turned 65. Another milestone, and her second birthday, spent in Marathon and not in the Bahamas.


The principled persistence was put to the test on Saturday morning. We were ready to leave, the perfect weather window to the Bahamas had arrived. So we powered everything up, stowed all the shore power cables and hoses, and fired up the engine to give it a few minutes to warm up before we put it to work. Big Problem! There was a steady flow of blue/gray exhaust that, when it touched the water, created an oil sheen. Pretty clearly this was incomplete burning of diesel fuel, probably an injector problem and, probably the middle injector. We shut down the engine and called the repair guys. So, Carol went to pay for a few more days at the marina. On Monday, Ralph showed up again and we talked about the problem, then we fired up the engine. It purred like a satisfied cat. Everything was as it should be, not a bad answer but now we're wondering about intermittent again. So Tuesday we left the marina early to run the engine, never getting too far from Marathon so that if things went south again we could get a tow back to the harbor. We ran it hard, we ran it easy, we ran it for six hours and it was great, no problems.

So, once again, go or quit. There was a weather window for Wednesday that was going to close out sometime Thursday night. It was not much of a window, pretty windy, but at least the wind was from the right direction. So, we gave it a shot. As we headed south the wind was, as forecast, in the 15~20 knot range, about the upper end of our comfort zone for a prolonged passage. When we cleared the reef, it was 20~25 knots. When we hit the Gulf Stream the wind was sustaining over 25 knots. That just seemed too difficult ... the boat was hard to handle since we had to steer manually, so we headed back to the marina, where we are, now, on the monthly rate. When we returned we found that several other boats had made similar decisions and returned to the marina. Just a bad deal.

So, now, we have no good prospects for traveling east. Fronts are coming which will whip up the Gulf Stream; the we'll have to wait for the waves to diminish and the wind to clock south of east. That won't happen for at least several more days. The good news is that we've met some nice people. The cocktail hour has included a German couple who live in Knoxville, a Canadian couple who live north of Toronto and sundry American couples. This makes for some interesting conversation. Lots of people here have cars, so a ride is no problem. It's a great place to be but we'd still rather be somewhere else.

Posted by sailziveli 07:57 Archived in USA Tagged boating

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