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Published: March 31st 2016
Last spring when we made the decision to re-power Whisper with a Beta engine, we had no idea how long and complicated a process it would be. It should not have been, but hindsight is 20-20. The new engine arrived in Puerto Rico on August 17, 2015. It was not installed until November 23rd
. Whisper did not go into the water until January 15, 2016, 2 months after our initial splash date! And then, all was not well. Turns out that the engine was not aligned properly and there seems to be an issue with the new prop that caused significant vibrations in the propulsion system. Another haul-out in February, re-align the engine, change the prop and our vibrations have been reduced, but still more than the Beta rep thinks we should have. So, our next stop will be St. Maarten, the home of the Beta rep who is a keen engine diagnostician.
Meanwhile, here’s a rundown of our engine misadventures and other adventures, with pictures!
Jon arrived in Fajardo on November 1st
, Kathy on November 17th
. While the boat was in the yard, we rented a little one-bedroom apartment in the hills of Ceiba. The drive to it
From the cockpit. Getting ready for the engine.
was an adventure in itself – the scenic route had a roller coaster type hill near the house, the other route was more residential and it was quite a challenge to see oncoming cars around each curve. But with TV and air conditioning, a stove, fridge and microwave, and a very nice landlady, it worked for us. So, everyday, we’d drive to the marina and wait for someone to show up and do the work that needed to be done. Some days, we were the only ones who showed up. We soon learned that in Puerto Rico, manana does not mean tomorrow, it means whenever I get around to showing up! Eventually, things were getting done, but as it was getting closer to Christmas and key electrical components had yet to be hooked up, we made the decision to fly home for the holidays. In Puerto Rico, not a lot of work gets done between Christmas and January 6, Three Kings Day.
It was our first Christmas home since 2011 and we enjoyed being with family and friends. The weather started out warmer than normal, so it was not too much of a shock for our tropical acclimated bodies.
But the chill returned and a decent snowfall kept us busy before out return to PR on Jan 11th
. Last minute jobs were finished on the 13th
and we were launched on the 15th
. The new engine worked, but we couldn’t do a proper sea trial until we changed the pitch on the prop. (We really didn’t notice the vibration at this time.) So into our slip we went and began putting the boat back together. Sails and furling lines on, bimini and dodger on, clean everything inside and out, fill water tanks, empty the storage unit…the list seemed endless, but it was getting done. Soon after we moved aboard, we motored to Culebra and that’s when we became aware of the vibration. Changing the prop pitch drove the boat better, but did not affect the vibration. Back to the marina and a week of troubleshooting. Then another trip to Culebra, this time for five days – at least we got to relax a little even though the vibration was still present. (My camera decided to stop working on one of my snorkel excursions. We’re now using our phones until we get a replacement.) Once again we returned to the
Easy does it
Slowly hauling up using a chain block and tackle on the boom
marina, this time to be hauled out for a week. The re-alignment that was needed required a hole to be drilled in our new cockpit floor! At least they got creative and didn’t have to make a large hole… Finally, finally, the vibration was reduced significantly – enough to do what we had planned to do back in November – go cruising!
Our time in Puerto Rico was not all work and no play. We joined the regulars at happy hour at the marina’s Seashore Bar. Nothing better than a cold beer after a hot and sweaty day on the boat! We already knew some of the regulars, but over the weeks, met lots of nice people from all walks of life. One Tuesday, when the bar was closed, we took over the place and had our own BYOB happy hour that lasted way longer and was a lot more fun than the bar’s! There were group trips to local restaurants and festivals. And lots of grumbling about the management – that they have no idea how to run a marina or restaurant or bar! It’s true – the owners are an investment firm in Connecticut with no marina
experience. Jon has a new name for the marine – MARINA ZONA DEL MUERTO! Oh well. We’ve been out of there almost a month now. Boogied over to St. Thomas to pick up Kathy’s sister and brother-in-law who joined us for 10 days around St. John. On this trip, Jon connected with an old friend who owns Pickles in Paradise Deli/Cafe in Coral Bay and our guests visited an acquaintance who runs the Spice Shop in Cruz Bay. All on the same day! We also saw part of the shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade in the world as we were leaving Cruz Bay on the bus. It’s not all snorkeling, swimming and hiking in the islands!
We returned to Charlotte Amalie for our guest's flight home on the 17th, then celebrated St. Patrick’s Day with cruising friends at Tickles. A few days later we returned to the lovely Great Lameshur Bay on the south side of St. John. While there, we decided to tackle the Tektite Trail on the headland just east of our anchorage. The trail connects with the Tektite Road, which was constructed to support the Tektite Project, a study that took place in 1969 and 1970
Newly painted binncale
and the floor is closed up
to test the effects of living and working underwater for extended periods. On our way to the trailhead, we saw a sign for the Tektite Museum and VIERS – the Virgin Islands Environmental Research Station. The museum was small but interesting, well worth the visit. Our trek took us up a very steep road to the trailhead, then up the trail to the ridgeline. We took in some nice views to the east before connecting with the Shoreline Scramble trail – well named! At least it was mostly level, just had to watch our footing on the rocks.
We’re now at Salt Pond Bay, near the east end of St. John. It’s still windy, as it’s been for the last week or so. The forecast is for a break soon - maybe we’ll be on our way to St. Maarten next week.
Tot: 1.882s; Tpl: 0.057s; cc: 8; qc: 51; dbt: 0.0281s; 1; m:saturn w:www (220.127.116.11); sld: 2;
; mem: 1.4mb