18 October, 2018

“A diesel loves oil like a sailor loves rum”

Captain Ron


Getting off the dock at Killkenny was no small trick; our first attempt leaving bow first resulted in the wind just pushing us back against the dock again. We decide to work with the wind and depart aftward, letting the wind push us back instead of fighting it. With the marina owner pushing out our stern, we swing out into the current and back easily away from the dock.

The weather today is sunny but the wind is incessant; blowing at 20+ knots, it roars in our ears and chaps our skin. As we approach Hell’s Gate, we enter Ossabaw Sound, another inlet to the Atlantic. Its topography results in a shorter fetch, reducing the dangers of crossing an open sound in these conditions. Still, it’s a rough ride. The water is choppy and JOD bucks up and down the waves; between the wind and the current, our speed slows below 4 knots at times. Again, I marvel at what we’re willing to do these days compared to when we first started cruising.

We approach Hell’s Gate, with its notorious shoaling, at close to high tide and cautiously feel our way through. Although our depth meter shows single digits at times, thanks to our 4-foot draft, we are never in any danger of grounding. We pass through the Gate, continue into the Vernon River and at Mile Marker 86 swing our tail to the wind and exit the sound. The wind effects die down now that we are running with it and once we clear the Sound, the land and trees offer us some protection.

We now wind our way along the shore of Skidaway Island, the last leg of our trip before reaching Savannah. Now we have a new issue though. If we don’t reach Thunderbolt Marine before 6:00 pm, everyone working there will go home and there will be no one to meet us and help us with docking. Doing some quick calculations, its going to be tight. Worse, if it gets dark, we have no navigation lights, a seriously dangerous issue.

Fortunately, the tide works with us much of the way, changing direction so that we are at least not fighting it. We pull into the Thunderbolt basin just past 6 and are happy to see that a couple of the guys have stayed on to help us dock. Cindy tries to land us on the spot they wave us to, but with the wind blowing as hard as it is, we can’t overpower it and swing JODS’s stern up to the dock. Fortunately, we are in a corner spot and the other side is open. Our friends on the dock just make the bow dock line fast and the wind swings us around onto the other side, pretty as you please. We tie off, cut our engines and the journey, for now, is over.

We meet the next morning with Kevin, our project manager at the yard, to discuss the work to be done and lay out a schedule. Dylan, our engine tech from W. W. Williams, comes out later in the day and confirms that the port engine raw water pump shaft seal is leaking and the pump needs to be replaced. He also compliments the state of our ten-year-old Yanmar diesel engines, something I take no small amount of pride in.

He starts troubleshooting our generator and will ultimately find that the issue is the impeller on the genset’s raw water pump (the generator is just another diesel engine and needs a seawater cooling loop just like the main engines). The generator has less than 100 hours of run time on it but the impeller vanes are totally gone.

Our thoroughly trashed generator impeller…

He opens the heat exchanger that the seawater flows into looking for the pieces (lest they clog the water flow through the exchanger) and finds a bunch of barnacle growth inside the exchanger as well and cleans that out. Cindy thinks to tell him to check the heat exchangers on the main engines as well and it proves to be a good thing; they likewise have significant barnacle growth in them.

Our barnacled heat exchanger…

It will likely go on like this; boat projects tend to grow even faster than home projects. We’ll be in the yard for the next few weeks and other things will likely come up. Stay tuned…