Friday, February 3, 2017

This is NOT Lock Wire

   Ok, time for a bit of trivia . . . Take a look at the above picture . . . What is it? I'm going to let you think about it while you're reading through my story this week.  I'll give you the answer at the end but, in the mean time I'll give you a few hints: Its use has nothing to do with where we found it . . . and it's not lock wire . . .

  This past Tuesday morning, Bill and I made our last run for errands, prepped the boat, and got underway.  The engine started up beautifully and the only "issue" was that the anchor was a bit difficult to pull up because there was a enormously thick layer of mud on it.  We were officially Bahamas-bound.

   As we made our way along the ICW (Inter Coastal Waterway), we had a smooth ride just puttering along and waiting for the bridges to open at their allotted times.  Just as we were passing under one of the bridges, we heard the bilge pump kick on.  "No problem", I thought.  Bill had run the water maker earlier and during the process, some of the water had been dumped into the bilge.  However, after it switched off, I heard it almost immediately come on again.  Hmmm . . . I went down to investigate and found only a little bit of water at the bottom of the bilge and that the pump had fallen over on its side (this usually makes it run incorrectly).  So, I righted the pump and returned to the cockpit.  I thought that would be the end of it . . . yeah . . . right . . .

   We continued to hear the pump cycle on and off.  I went back down again to check but, this time there was significantly more water than before.  I swapped places with Bill at the helm and had him take a look.  That was when he found that the rotor on our dripless shaft seal had shifted.  This left a gap between the other parts of the shaft and the hull, allowing water to seep in.

   Now, as you can imagine, this took our mood from carefree to panic mode in about a half second.  I pulled us over to the side of the channel, turned off the engine, and stayed at the helm while Bill quickly grabbed tools and started working on the rotor.  After a few very uneasy minutes, he popped his head through the hatch and asked me to come take a look; no more water.  The rotor just needed to be adjusted and tightened. Voila!

The pipe going from the middle of the
picture to the left is the shaft; the
orange piece is where the bolts go
   Happy to be on our way and, of course, not sinking, Bill started the engine again.  A few seconds of bliss and then . . . terrible noises.  The engine was running fine, the propeller was turning but, we were going nowhere.  We could rev up the engine and adjust the throttle all we wanted; no movement.  Great . . . now, thankfully, not too far from the area where we pulled off was an anchorage.  So, with very little wind, we let out the sails; slowly but, surely we inched our way into safety and dropped anchor.

   Once we were settled, Bill climbed down into the engine room to take another look.  This time, he found that the bolts that bore into the shaft (allowing the shaft and its adjoining parts to turn correctly and create propulsion), had come loose . . . We also found that these bolts are supposed to be secured with lock wire (allowing for a much more secure hold on the bolts since it's made to be load-bearing). . .  Note the word supposed . .  .

   They were being held in place with . . . (Ok, here's your answer) . . . electrical wire! Yes, electrical wire, as in the stuff you might run to things like light switches or a ceiling fan. . . .Yeah, we were not amused.

Note the single, thick strand of wire
here, versus the many thinner strands
in the top picture
   We already have the lock wire but, not the replacement bolts.  They're normally not that hard to come by  but, when you're just anchored out somewhere nothing is easy to come by. We have spent the last couple of days here in the anchorage, trying to make to old bolts work but, to no avail, they're just too worn.

   So, the plan is to pick up a ball for a couple of days in a local mooring field (The weather isn't good for a crossing until Wednesday anyway).  This will allow us to pick up the bolts at a hardware store, get them installed properly, and make a full test run before we leave.  Come Wednesday, we should be able to head out into the gulf stream and onto Bimini. Hopefully, when I write next time, it will be with a Rum Punch in hand.      


   Please let us know what you think. Feel free to ask questions and leave nice comments. (If no one has commented yet, there will be a "No Comments" link near the bottom of the post. If someone has already commented, there will be a number and the word "comments" beside it. Just click whichever of these is there, click "add comment" when the window opens, and type away.)


  1. The work is finished. Now, it is time for fun.
    May I suggest you post a chart with your graphic location and also the traditional Lat and Long.

  2. Thanks for the suggestion, Dan. We certainly intend on enjoying ourselves. We have been trying to decide for a while now on the best way to go about posting our location. I think for now we might just start posting a picture of the chart plotter.


Please let us know what you think. Feel free to ask questions and leave nice comments.