22 September, 2015
On the 5th, 3 ups ‘n downs got us from Bangor, ME to Asheville, NC. I took it as a good omen that all of our flights were on time, and our luggage arrived intact (although the Admiral carried her wedding clothes). Turned out that the first day of our 11 away from the Girl was just the beginning of an incredible happening. Leading in to the 12th, we spent some quality time with Suzanne’s sister Sheila, her husband, Mike, and our nephew Ian. My Dad came in early from Michigan, and Suz’s Mom lives in Asheville, so we had some one-on-one with them too. Our son, Jeremy came in on the 10th with his family and immediately filled in some holes in our planning, ferrying people here and there, and generally being the “Go to” guy. Suzanne’s other sister, Sharon, threw a brunch for the ladies on Friday before the evening “Welcome” party at a local microbrewery. The weather was typical “Asheville Fall”, and the outdoor ceremony and reception at Mike and Sheila’s home on the top of the mountain went without a hitch. (I lied. We ran out of wine after the cocktail hour, but none of the guests were the wiser, as emergency supplies were brought in before the first glass was empty. I told the owner of the wine shop several times that we were dealing with real professionals here, but he still underestimated by 5 cases or so. No harm, no foul.) Anyway, the Bride was gorgeous (of course!), we got a chance to see most of our friends and relatives (who travelled from long distances), and we gained another son in the process. Not bad for a weekend’s work. The flights home were smooth. Our luggage even beat us back to Bangor.
So………….our routine maintenance-Hmmmmh not so routine. We had the impression that things were not going as smoothly as anticipated due to receiving a few calls from the mechanic asking us about this’nthat. When we returned to the Girl, her prop was on the ground next to the boat, and the shaft was pulled out. The engine room looked like a war zone. There are some things that you just shouldn’t see out of context, so we closed up the hatches and unpacked our bags. We got a call from the service manager at Hinckley, informing us that the mechanic, Jay, would be there in the morning to reassemble the drive train. Launch was scheduled for the tide at 13h00. Cool. We were up by 07h00 cleaning and waxing. Jay gave us the short version of the tale of woe. Seems that the bolts in the entire drive train had been coated with a permanent thread sealer when the Girl was built. This entailed bringing in a torch to cook the sealer on each and every bolt as it was hauled out with the aid of a 3’ lever attached to an over-sized wrench. A special tool had to be fabricated, which took a half day of machine shop time. Long and short, it took a day-and-a-half to do a 2 hour job. (Ka$$Ching). All of the rest of our jobs went smoothly. Well, we got about ½ of the hull waxed, and then it was time to launch. When the Gal was lowered into the water, she started hemorrhaging water from the new shaft seal. No worries, I had them put 2 spares on the shaft. New seal out, 1 spare in. Still leaking. Tide’s going out, so Alizann is re-hauled and wheeled back to the yard. The shaft needed to be pulled again and new parts installed. New parts to be overnighted ($$$), try again tomorrow. The silver lining was being able to wax the rest of the hull. Next day, prop and shaft out (1 hour, 47 minutes), part arrives at 13h30, we’re back in the water by 15h00. Sea trial, everything’s working, and No leaks-Yay! Hinckley puts us up at the marina again, the next morning we’re off to Merchant Island, 3 hours away (check out run). All the way, the bilge was dry (new seals working), and the Girl was happy. When we awoke in the morning for our trip to Rockland, there were a few drops of oil in the bilge. Hmmmm. Looks like it was coming from the gaskets where our emergency get-home hydraulic motor clamped around the main shaft-not good. This is getting long, so suffice to say it was Saturday. Hinckley closed. Make decision to head back to Southwest so they can re-eval on Monday. This is where it gets good. As we pass the Hinckley service dock, we call Shaun on the VHF and tell him what’s going on. He directs us back to the marina in town, and tells us that he’ll have Scott, the head mechanic give us a call. No call from Scott, we’re doing the math on days until we have to be in Solomon’s, MD for the Krogen rendezvous (have to be there, ‘cause we’re chairing it next year). Get a knock on the hull, and its Shaun, who drove into town after he was done with work to check on us. Scott’s been trying to call, but our Verizon is not up to the task in these parts. We call him on Shaun’s phone. He’ll get to us first thing on Monday. On Sunday we’re doing laundry and catching up on some chores when we hear a knock on the hull. It’s Scott. This has been bugging him, so he stopped by on his day off. He’s already spoken with Jay, who said that there was oil in the bilge when he started the job. Well, I say, “There was black liquid in the bilge, but it was from the leaky shaft seal”. I feel a “he said, she said” comin’ on. We’re down in the engine room, and he’s checking the gaskets with a mirror and flashlight. He lifts his head up, looks me in the eye, and says “It’s our problem, we’ll take care of it”. You coulda knocked me over with a feather. We don’t have a day to spare, so I ask him if it’s likely to get worse. He says “No, probably not”, so I ask him if we can continue the job when we are near the Hinckley yard in Stuart, FL this December. “Yep, we’ll call them and set it up-see my guy Chris, a great mechanic who used to work for me here”. I know this was a long tale (and I shortened it considerably), but I had to tell it because integrity and honesty are so often lacking in the world we live in.
We departed Great Harbor Marina in Southwest, ME at dawn on the 21st, bound for Rockland, ME. Last year, we visited the Farnsworth Museum there and really enjoyed their collection of Wyeth paintings. The majority is Andrew’s, but there is a smattering of his Dad’s (N.C.), and his son’s (Jamie). The paintings rotate through the museum, so you can have a return visit and see different works. We went, we saw, we enjoyed. Although our friends Randy and Cindy (Krogen Manatee “Morningstar”-recently moved here) were unable to join us, we had a delicious dinner at Cafe Miranda, where we sat at the bar in the kitchen. As usual, we took pictures of the menu for our new son-in-law, Ben (Chef de Cuisine at The Edgewater in Madison, WI). It was an early evening-we had to start making tracks on our 600 and some-odd mile slog to Solomon’s. Portland for fuel and good eats tomorrow.