Thursday, December 26, 2013

Back at Home

Well, you have to be wondering what has been going on since November.  Belle's engine conked out down in my favorite anchorage in the hook of Punta Blanco near Caya Costa.
It just had no power sounding like it was missing one cylinder.
Again on one of these trips, completely at the mercy of the for hire towing companies, I had to be thankful for towing insurance.  A simple call to Tow Boat US got me a tow within thirty minutes.  They happen to have a towing office right across the channel at Jug Creek Marina, which I happened to have been the day before.
This is not the first time I had this problem.  Up at Egmont Key, I had been nearly stranded on a lee shore as I inched my way out to a sailing angle.  I nearly set sail for Tarpon Springs that day thinking the motor was not reliable.
Amazingly, when I re-started it, I found  it ran fine--all the way down to Charlotte Harbor through several days of all-day motoring.
I must say, it acts like a stuck valve.  When I finally got it out and checked the compression, I only have 60 lbs on the top cylinder.  The bottom cylinder is 120 lbs like it should be.  The other possibility is a broken ring, but that is unlikely as it has been intermittent.
Anyway, after a two hour tow, I found myself at the repair dock.  Knowing I needed my truck to tow it home, I left it there and rented a car to make the trip back to Tarpon Springs.  After spending a little time with Jim at Marine Concepts, I said my goodbyes and headed back for Gasparilla Marina.
These guys and particularly John, the manager are amazing! There professionalism and courtesy was top-flight.  The cost for the nights stay and the haul-out was only $110.00.
 Once home, I had to come up with a way to remove Belle's 115 lb. engine.  Given my back problems and my (hate to even say it), march toward old age, I felt I needed a gantry to remove the engine.  Here is the result with the engine headed toward the test tank. 
I don't care to go into all the difficulties in building this (by myself) sufficed to say, a certain amount of ingenuity was required especially getting the cross-bars and the electric winch up and secured. Needless to say, the gantry is a temporary structure.  I will rebuild a smaller version inside my 18x41x12 foot shelter that goes in after the driveway is repaved and extended.
At the present, the 18 hp Nissan is in the shop for repairs.

I continue to work on small parts for Tridarka.  These are some I engineered and painted.  We won't talk about the troubles of winter-time indoor painting with a spray gun... The center piece is the new tiller head.
I had these plates cut for me at Metal Supermarkets on Pleasantdale Road.  The form the mounting plates for the tiller atop the steering head.  (Completed pictures will explain).

Here's the new tiller drilled oversize and poured with epoxy, then re-drilled to allow for a flexible tiller handle. I removed the varnish and put a layer off epoxy to seal out the water.  I will finish with at least three coats of marine polyurethane. 
All in all, this job is going well. I believe Tridarka will be ready for some fast and fun sailing at Cedar Key in May next year.
I am keeping my options open, but I think I would like to do a two week trip along the waterway in the Florida Panhandle after Cedar Key.  Stay tuned!