It had to happen…if only by the sheer weight of demographics. Mosey’s crew has pretty well explored the grills, bistros, sushi and fried seafood eateries within walking distance here in Beaufort. And on our walk-abouts, we had purposely ignored the apparent biker-bar right next door to our marina.
The Fillin Station
It is written in the cruising guides that this (local color) eatery is renowned for it’s Friday Night Steak Dinner (steak, baked potato, corn) grilled to your liking for ten bucks. The idea, of course, is that the steak is a come-on to get you into the bar. A loud, boisterous bar and gristly steak….not exactly our thing. But our dock ‘neighbors’ came knocking on the hull and suggested we all go up and give the place a try. Getting together with fellow cruisers we barely know is a major part of the fun. Dinner would be about good conversation and interesting people. Expectations for the steak were not high…
Upon entering, the bar looked exactly like it was supposed to….dim, crowded, pool table prominent…and peopled by folk in leathers and tank tops….all apparently having a good time and paying us no apparent notice. To get in line for the $10 steak, however, we had to proceed out back to the grill, pay for the dinner in cash and find a table to wait our turn…and patronize the bar, of course. No surprise in any of this. But looking around, you could not help but notice that pretty much everyone else looked just like us! No bulging biceps, no ‘leathers’, just beards, gray (or graying) hair, “casual sport attire”, and cheap wine or cold beer to drink…The patio looked to have seating for fifty or so and the conversation lively but not overly loud. Two Coronas into it, our steaks arrived, cooked to order. They were good! Marbled, nicely seasoned, and hot off the grill. For ten bucks! It was still early, barely six o’clock…we’d heard that you had to get there early because when he ran out of steak, that was it. The thought occurred to me…had we become those ‘old folks eating out early for the specials?’
What about the local color? Well, I’m pretty sure it’s essential to the mystique of the place…no parking lot for the bus tours. But as we left, I noticed the late model sedans left little room for the Harleys.
It’s been a very busy week aboard as we tried to get a handle on what was actually the source of oil in Mosey On’s coolant. As I readily admitted, this was a question well above my pay grade, so we hired a highly recommended local diesel engine mechanic. His experience paid-off when he didn’t pursue the most obvious point of failure (a blown head gasket) and instead advised investigating two (less costly) alternatives. This engine has two oil coolers: one for the engine oil after it circulates through the engine, and a separate one for the transmission connecting the engine to the prop shaft. Think radiators, but using coolant water instead of air flow to circulate around and cool the oil. These are not terribly complex components, but a failure of a weld or seal would account for the more highly pressurized oil migrating into its cooling water. [If you’re not a gearhead or your eyes are starting to glaze over at this point, I apologize. You can skip to the last paragraph.]
John Deere 668D
We removed both units from the boat and took them to be pressure tested for any sign of such leakage. The results were frustratingly inconclusive: a few bubbles…then nothing from the gear (transmission) cooler, nothing from the engine oil cooler. Do we go ahead and dismantle much of the engine ($$$) to replace the head gasket or….? Like a contestant on “Who wants to be a millionaire”, I needed a “Lifeline”. My wise old local mechanic could not really make a recommendation…In another time, I would not have had any idea where else to turn. If I didn’t call you, please take no offense! But in the Internet age, and as a member of the Nordhavn Owner’s Forum, I knew the name of the penultimate mechanical guru for Mosey’s very engine. I didn’t know if gurus had time for common folk, but I summoned up the courage to call him and relate our tale of woe. He took my call and before I had even gotten into the full swing of my story he stopped me.
“NOT the head gasket. It’s the gear cooler. Common on your engine. We’ve re-designed the internal seals to cure the problem. I will send you the white paper and parts list you will need to effect the repair. Note: we’ve not had a failure of the head gasket on that engine in the twenty-seven years I’ve worked here.”
Getting those and other parts necessary to put it all back together took time on the internet and the help of some knowledgeable and service oriented folks in the parts department of several distributors. Parts in hand, we re-assembled and remounted the coolers on the engine on Friday. A test run with fresh clean coolant seems to confirm the diagnosis and treatment. We cheerfully paid our local mechanic and are indebted for the assistance of many others.
Still not in any rush, but Mosey On is good to go!
No, not the sophomoric ploy on a hot date…but rather, at attempt to see the brighter side of the sometimes difficult relationship between man and his machine. Not to put too fine a point on it, but we may have a difficult engine issue as we take in the sun here in Beaufort, SC. It is creed that a sailor perform an engine room check every day without fail. That check should, at a minimum, review the belts, oil quantity, and coolant level in the engine. This has been an utterly uneventful ritual until this morning as we prepared to move Mosey On to a different anchorage near the town. On THIS morning, a check of the engine coolant level yielded a glop of oily gray goo adhering to the radiator cap and my finger!
It should be understood that the only substance that has any business in the coolant system is sapphire blue anti-freeze. The presence of the gray goo is NOT A GOOD SIGN. Its origin will be the focus of some intense investigation in the coming days. If it is oil…it may have migrated into the cooling system from one or more parts of the engine…none of them should allow this. It will take the expertise of a real diesel mechanic to ferret this out and then repair the breach.
Nobody hurt, no call to the Coast Guard or tow boat, no damage to hull or paint job, not even injury to my pride….Stuff happens….
The good news is that we’ll still visit with old friends here in Beaufort (although no boat rides in the immediate future) and we’ve no deadline to be on our way looming near.
Moseyin’ On suspended for a while…
For most all of last year’s cruise, Mosey On’s crew was anxious to take a kind of ‘grand overview’ of cruising as much of the East Coast as we could reasonably accomplish between March and October. We did what we set out to do, putting 617 hours on the engine from Palm Beach, FL to Portsmouth, NH and then wandering back to North Carolina as the Fall cruising weather closed down. But one of the very important things we’ve learned is that we need to set aside some real time to savor the special places we’ve found (and will continue to find) along our way! Despite our natural inclinations, we have to learn that our cruise (or even segments of it) is not a project with a start, finish and then ‘checked-off’ some list. This does not come easily to either one of us!
So….to help us re-calibrate our cruising style, we’ve returned to one of our favorite places, Beaufort S.C.
On the Beaufort River
We arrived Friday evening after a five day run down the ICW (Inter Coastal Waterway) from our home port near Oriental, N.C. We know it won’t last, but the weather for the last two days has been Sunshine, 70 degrees and light winds. Last night we dined at a marvelous small bistro that came highly recommended by old friends. Today we took the dinghy back into town and walked several miles through some of Beaufort’s older neighborhoods. Oak trees dripping with Spanish moss shade the streets. Back aboard, we met some folks in their own boat out admiring Mosey and we accepted their invitation to their riverside home for cocktails tomorrow. They’re leaving soon to cruise in Fiji! There are many art galleries in town, and I know we’ll probably visit a few tomorrow. We have friends from Oriental visiting Tuesday and another friend arriving the following week.
So therein is the outline of our plan: return to (or discover) places we love, take the time to see what all they have to offer and, when possible share them with friends old and new. Achieving that….then we’ll Mosey On.
We’ve been quiet for awhile. Spent the Holiday Season with family and friends ashore while Mosey On stayed tucked-in her slip at River Dunes along North Carolina’s Pamlico Sound. Colleen & I hunkered-down in our guest house marveling at how far south the cold had permeated this winter! We took this time to whittle-away on our list of maintenance like-to, ought-to, and must-dos. Some of those things will add to our comfort on-board. Some need repair to function properly and some absolutely had to be done before we took her out again!
We could have paid a marine tech to do these things and it certainly would have gone faster. But the great majority of these items were not technically difficult. In fact, most were simply grunt work in impossibly small, almost inaccessible spaces. My physical size was also something of a hindrance…We certainly had the time and the inclination to get ‘er done. I even had some good help from my neighbors who similarly like “messing around in boats” (when we had room for more than one body). And so it has gone since our return to home port in October. I was warned and now fully subscribe to the axiom that you’re never finished…it is a Sisyphean task. Often I would be in the midst of one project and note of work to be done on some item not yet on my list….the LIST didn’t get shorter….just different items in priority. Perhaps the whole point of this was that we’ve learned a tremendous amount about Mosey On’s many parts and systems. No owners manual came with the boat, so it’s been up to us. Bottom line – we feel confident in her as we begin our 2015 Season.
Soooo….we closed-up the cottage and moved back aboard our home. We slipped our lines yesterday morning and are heading south down the ICW aiming for Beaufort SC in about six days. We had hoped to be able to go ‘outside’ on the Atlantic, but the weather fronts are still coming too close together for us to have a clear weather window for such a trip. The “Ditch” is certainly tedious, but it’s taking us south to (presumably) warmer weather… Let the games begin!
Leaving Home Port