Monday, February 08, 2010

Always the unexpected ...

We left Daytona Beach on Saturday which started out cloudy and cold, but it stayed cold even when the sun came out. Of the course, the wind didn't help warm thing up any at a steady 18 to 20 knots with gusts over 30 knots at times. But, at least, motored sailing helped us make Titusville in good time. We were tucked in a nice protected anchorage by 1655 with congratulatory cocktails in hand by 1800. Funny how we don't mind a cold drink in hand in these temperatures. It was so nice to be out of marina and on the hook again. We had begun to think we were never going to get out of Daytona.
So the cold be damned, but says Pen, "Oh my goodness, it's frigid!"

The next morning, when we started to weigh anchor, I checked the line voltage after I'd turned on the engine to run the windlass and discovered that there was no charge going to the batteries.  We still had to raise the anchor and Pen had that job.  Hah! Hoisting anchor turned out to be an even more frigid, back-breaking, filthy job. There was mud up the gazoo that had to be dealt with via the wash-down hose. Yuk, yuk, yuk.  By the time Pen finished, we were almost to the Titusville Municipal Marina where I'd radioed for a slip and a mechanic to check out our charging system.  I figured it was the alternator, and ironically, we talked about getting a spare before we left after hearing the story of our Daytona marina neighbor G.W. who'd fried his alternator on the way to the Bahamas several weeks ago.

I found a mechanic who specialized in electrical systems, and despite its being Super Bowl Sunday, he came out in the afternoon, tested the system, and concluded the alternator was shot.  We spent the afternoon as part of the dock committee, watching a number of captains and crew struggle with docking with an east wind on the beam.  We felt really bad watching this one poor guy on a Beneteau attempt to get in his slip about half a dozen times before he finally made it...but that was more about how he was manhandling his boat than the wind.  I kept thinking there but for the grace of god go we as part of the dock.  We wouldn't mind the wind so much if we were "on the hook" but getting out of a slip with strong winds and/or currents can be pretty dicey.  (I keep remembering Beaufort, SC when the current and wind  swung our stern and pinned us sideways in the slip. It took an hour of winching and engineering to get out of that one.)

Turns out that a lot of these sailors were descending on Titusville because a space shuttle launch was scheduled for 0415 Monday morning (actually it had been delayed from the same time Sunday morning).  We had no idea a launch was scheduled, although I remarked to Pen when we were sailing on Friday and saw the launch towers: "Wouldn't it be something if there were a launch scheduled!"  And it turns out we did!  Omigod!  What a sight against the night sky and crescent moon. And, oh, the noise----it rattled the deck! We were atop our neighbor's trawler watching from quite the vantage point. We felt so lucky to have stumbled on such an experience. Guess it's one of those serendipitous things. And to think if the alternator hadn't gone our we would have been much further down the coast instead of  practically across from the launch pad. Talk about silver linings. It's the best kind of reminder that delays can actually deliver gifts to your cabin door.  Oh yes, and the same guy who had such a terrible time docking sleepily made his way topside on his boat just minutes after the launch and asked if the shuttle was going up.  Aren't we homo sapiens funny to watch? 
But back to this friggin ass cold weather!!  It's only warming up a tad and then getting colder.  And I put most of my warm clothes back into storage because I didn't want to be hauling them around the islands for three or four months.  Thank God I kept my long silk underwear, but I sure could use a pair of gloves and a watch cap.  Yuk. Yuk. I'll suffer through it, but not quietly I assure you.  I tend to cranky when I'm cold.  Poor James.

Speaking of poor James, he's really poor, poor James, literally. The mechanic just called and said he's found the alternator but at the price of almost $800.00 not including labor!  We were on the way back from the grocery when James got the call. You wouldn't believe the painful cries from a grown man. Thank God I was there to catch him when he almost fainted.  Ahahaha!  He seems to be doing fine now that the check is written and the promise made to install the alternator tomorrow morning, but I'll be watching him for signs of a relapse when the figure comes to his mind again and the money actually leaves his account.

Yep, the price tag seems a bit steep, but then it's a boat.  It's so nice to have Pen around to catch me when I'm fainting from yet another repair bill.  At least, we weren't in the islands, where getting parts can be time -consuming and really costly.


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