Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Real Time Update and Finishing the Engine Installation

 In my last entry we were finishing up the installation of our new engine. It had been a long road and we were now looking at another week in a less than desirable motel/apartment. My Birthday is August 6th. I spent that Friday working on the engine with Adam. It was a very long day, but we were close. He left about 3:00 to go work on other boats, but I worked on into the evening getting the raw water system put together. I had a list of things to do over the weekend to get the boat ready to go back in the water on Tuesday, August 10. It was over that weekend that a storm named "Fred" started to become a worry. At first it was just another tropical storm way out in the Atlantic, and then the models showed it could grow into a hurricane and it was heading straight at us.  

Now for the real time Update: We are safe and sound in Demopolis, Alabama. Demopolis is 155 miles from the gulf coast. This is a very safe place from most hurricanes. How we got here, will be detailed in the rest of this entry, and future entries. I just wanted to let everyone that reads this blog know, that there is nothing to worry about. 

Back to the story: I spoke with the yard manager and he agreed to put us in the water on Tuesday, August 10. Monday was a very long day. Kim and I both worked hard on all of the last minute things that had to be done before going in the water. 

The Beta looks beautiful sitting in her new home. The polished Stainless Steel Alternator bracket was custom built by me.

I wasn't taking many pictures at this point. I was just ticking things off of the list. We splashed on Tuesday after paying our yard bill. The lift out and then 15 days in the yard and then splashed was about $500. 

It is always a scary thing to see your home lifted up and carried to the water, but these guys a Pitalo's Marine did a great job.

Cameron keeping a watchful eye as we approach the water. Stacey was at the controls of the lift. 

When SHIFT was in the water, I jumped aboard to see if there were any leaks. Oh No! there was a leak in the shaft seal. I quickly grabbed a wrench and tightened it up and we were good to go. I guess all of the shaft movement when it was getting cut caused the leak. We were very close to being ready to start the motor. We warped the boat (which means we used the dock lines to pull it over) to a small barge and tied her securely. 

SHIFT's new home for a few days. 

It was then that I bled the fuel system and then cranked the engine. She fired and then sputtered out and died. I tried again and then it settled into a smooth idle. I was so happy to see water coming out of the exhaust and all looked good. I sent a message to Adam that we were now ready for commissioning and sea trail. We scheduled it for the next day. That evening the forecast for Fred looked worse. The storm was taking a move to the west bringing it right at Mobile Bay. Scheduled arrival was still not until Monday August 16, but we needed a plan. I talked to the yard and staying where we were, was not an option. We considered going back to Gulfport, but that is not a safe place in a storm. 

Adam showed up on Wednesday and we went through an extensive checklist. The new motor passed all of the tests at the dock including running it in gear for 20 minutes at 1500 RPM. We made a cloud of mud. It was now time to head out to run the engine much harder. The engine sounded great as we raised the RPM. First to 2000, then 2500, then Wide open. It reached 3300 RPM. It should have made 3600 RPM, so that means that we will need to change our prop to make the engine run at it's best. It was then we started to see smoke coming from the engine compartment! We shut it down and investigated. It was just some oil on the exhaust header. That was there from the installation and welding. All was good and we passed the test and were now ready to go. 

While we were on our sea trial, we saw this dead alligator floating in the bayou. It is not the hunting season, so I don't know what happened to it.  

Kim and I discussed our options and decided our best bet was to rent a car and  move the truck to Demopolis the next day and then depart the following day and head north as fast as we could. The truck moving day went well. We drove to Demopolis in 3 hours from Gautier, Mississippi. It took us much longer in the boat, but that is a story for another entry. In my next entry, I will begin to tell the story of how it feels to run from a storm with a brand new untested engine. I am not going to lie, I was worried.


  1. Goodness,what a project but that engine should be good for the duration plus you now can pretty much handle any issues that may occur with it.Glad you are safe & sound.Very much enjoy your adventures & blog; looking forward to your next Sail.
    All the best.

    1. We are looking forward to our next sail also. That should be around the first of November. Thanks for the comment.

  2. The engine looks great! We bought a new Polaris Ranger a year or so ago and called the dealer when the engine started smoking. He too said it was burning off the oil they put on the engine parts during manufacturing. Who knew?

  3. Yeah the smoke was a bit unnerving, but all is good.

  4. So glad you guys are safe and this is behind you. That sure is a nice looking motor. Now to enjoy it for many years.
    Dick & Cathy

    1. So far so good. It does feel good to have all of that behind me.

  5. That’s a lot of steps to pass. Sounds good so far. Glad you made if to Demopolis!

    1. Thanks Debbie. It felt like the steps were endless, but I feel good now.