21 December 2019
We’ve been back at the dock at Jekyll Harbor Marina, Just One Dance’s hurricane season home, for a couple of days now. Cindy and I had hoped to celebrate Christmas in St Augustine; it’s a beautiful Spanish town on the North Florida Atlantic coast that claims to be the oldest continuous settlement in the U.S. But with the issues we had on the way down, we don’t want to continue southward and further away from the boatyard until those issues are fixed. What with the holidays approaching, no one is going to be coming down to Jekyll from Savannah (it may take us 3 days by boat at 6 knots but it is just a 1 ½ hour drive) until after New Year’s Day, so we decide to celebrate Christmas and New Year’s Eve on the island.
The dock is fairly devoid of folks over the holidays. Cindy and I find a wonderfuk Christmas Day brunch at the Westin hotel on Jekyll’s east side and invite our friend Ritch to go with us. The spread is awesome, the Bloody Mary’s spicy and we consume our fill of both. We spend the week between Christmas and New Year’s working on our laptops with the heat cranked up since it is cold, gray and rainy outside. On one warmer day, Cindy undertakes a project she’s been wanting to do for a while…crafting a scratching post for Max and Jack out of the table leg in our cockpit by wrapping and gluing jute around it.
Max enjoying the new scratching post
On New Year’s Eve, a few of us boaters who are still on the dock gather at 5:00 at the marina picnic area for a potluck New Year’s Eve celebration and to swap sailing stories; God provides a magnificent sunset for our backdrop. We’re back on the boat by 9:00, our plans for finishing the evening at the Wee Pub on the other side of Jekyll falling by the wayside.
New Year’s Eve sunset, Jekyll Harbor Marina
We’ve not been able to diagnose the root issue with the generator, though we know that the starter battery, which we just purchased during our time in Savannah, is now dead. WTF?! I trace the generator’s alternator output wire, which i would normally expect to charge the battery, and see that it is connected to…nothing. The battery is instead charged by a 6-amp automotive-style battery charger that’s wired into the boat’s electrical system. Two guys from the boatyard come by to look at the generator and tell us the 6-amp battery charger is bad and needs to be replaced.
So I head over to the local Autozone in Brunswick and buy an 8-amp charger; we get it wired into the system and let the battery charge for a couple of days. Then we cross our fingers, say a prayer and fire the generator up. It cranks up immediately and runs like a champ! We let it continue to run and monitor the battery voltage level every twenty minutes or so…and notice a disturbing trend. The voltage is slowly but steadily dropping, even though the battery charger is on. Cindy logically concludes something must be drawing out electrical power from the battery even though the battery should just be needed to start the genset up. She tears into the paperwork and notices that the generator has an electric fuel pump and solenoid that draws 4 amps while the generator runs.
Now we think we see what’s been going on…the original battery charger only put 6 amps into the battery while the fuel pump is drawing out 4 amps. Even the new 8-amp charger is barely putting in 4 amps net. We’ve had issues with the generator not starting ever since we owned the boat. We don’t run it much; our solar panels provide enough power to keep our house batteries charged and if its a sunny day, we can even run our watermaker off of them. Now we can see why its had problems; the charger simply can’t keep the battery charged. We get online, order a 15-amp charger and wait for it to come in. Once it arrives, we wire it in and our battery has been holding its charge ever since.
Unfortunately, we’ve found other issues during our stay at Jekyll; we can see where water is leaking around the new sail drive seals in both engine holds (big problem!) and the heavy rains have revealed that one of the salon hatches that we had worked on is leaking as well. When I check the engine holds one morning and realize the ENTIRE well between the engine mounting stringers is filled with water, we decide that we have no choice…we have to go back up to Savannah and get hauled out again so the boatyard can fix these issues.
Seawater and oil between the engine mounting stringers
Therefore, exactly one month after we arrived back at Jekyll, we push off the dock, swing Just One Dance’s nose north, and, like a boomerang, head back up the waterway to Savannah. Our trip down south to the Keys looks like it’s never going to happen…