Thursday, July 29, 2021

The Process Has begun

 It has been a busy time for us since we returned to Gulfport after our long trip. We were hoping to get started with the engine swap right away, but the installing company put us off a week. That actually was a good thing, because we really needed some down time to rest and get ready for the time in the yard. We have been keeping a close eye on the tropics and all is quiet for now. The main issue with the timing is that hurricane season looms, and the most active months will be here soon. We really want to have the boat up the river to give us the best protection possible. 

The delay also let us have time to say good bye to all of our new friends in Gulfport. We really had an awesome time there. One of the cool things about this marina is that it is a stopover point for many boats that are either moving east from Texas or boats headed back to Texas from Florida. We have had the pleasure of meeting many that were on one of those journeys. The other day a boat came in and took a slip just of our stern that looked very interesting. 

Two Guys from New Orleans sailed this boat from St. Pete directly across the Gulf of Mexico.

I walked over to them and said, "When I saw this boat I figured there had to be a good story". They both laughed and we begun an hour long conversation about their adventures. They had just sailed this steel boat from St. Pete directly across the Gulf of Mexico to Gulfport in 4 days. This is a French built boat that at one time was a race boat. It looked a little rough, but they assured me it was very seaworthy. They are from New Orleans and are heading home after spending some time along the Florida coasts. They, like all sailors, were very cool people and I really enjoyed the conversation. 

I had one issue that I needed to try to solve. I will be left with this Yanmar Diesel engine. I decided to list it on Facebook Marketplace and see if I could sell it. I had a buyer just a few hours after I listed it. He said he would be out to see it the next morning. I marked it as "Sold" and waited for him to come by. He never did, and after trying to reach him over the next three days, I gave up and listed it again. The good news is that the second time went better. The buyer was local and he came by and we made a deal. He lives 6 miles from the yard and will come by and pick it up when we get it out of the boat. Sweet! one less thing to worry about. 

The call came that we needed to be at the boat yard on Tuesday, July 27th to have the boat hauled out to replace the engine. We decided that pulling the boat out of the water was the best plan because we are probably going to have to pull the prop shaft to shorted it about an inch and a half. We will see if that was the right decision. 

The first problem is that we needed to move our truck to our new location, which is the coastal town of Gautier, Mississippi. The work is being done in a small yard on the Pascagoula River a little inland from the Mississippi Sound. This meant we needed to move both the truck and boat about 40 miles. I asked a dock neighbor if he could help and he said "Sure". Thanks Duane! So we both drove over to the yard and he brought me back. We did enjoy a nice dinner together. 

The only problem was when we talked to the yard manager they were not sure if they could haul us this week. A lack of available help and a full yard were the problems. He finally said, "bring it on, we will figure it out." Alrighty, then...

Kim and I were up at 4:30am the next morning and underway before sunrise. It was a beautiful calm morning and we headed out of the marina and out into the sound. A very different scene than when we arrived back in November, but we arrived in the dark and are now leaving in the dark. 

Watching the sunrise over the Mississippi Sound over the casinos of Biloxi.

While we were cruising along enjoying the sunrise, I recorded this update: Sunset Over Mississippi Sound 
Click the link to watch the video.

We had no wind at all, so we could not sail. The old Yanmar just purred along. It was putting out a little smoke, but I have to say that old engine never let me down. I ran at 2100 RPM, which gave us 5 knots.

We made the channel at Pascagoula at around noon after a very nice cruise along the coast. As we approached we saw the large ships of the Ingalls Shipbuilding Complex. This is where they build a number of US Navy Ships. They have a number that are under construction.

Ingalls Shipbuilding is a busy place. 

We cruised right by Ingalls and up the river. We had to open a rail bridge to get in, but had to wait about 15 minutes for a train to pass. 

When we arrived at the yard, they were waiting for us and in no time had us in the slings and then up in the yard. It was a long day, but we were very happy to get this part of the project completed. The one bad thing about this yard is that we are not allowed to live on the boat. 

We found an "interesting" place to stay. It is not nice, by any standards, but at about $250 per week it will work. The interesting part is they provide nothing. I mean no toilet paper, no sheets, just a bed, TV, Table and chairs, refrigerator, two burner stove and couch. It is like renting a furnished apartment. We do get regular visits from the little critters that call this place home, but we are on the gulf coast and roaches are just part of life. We learned that when we lived in Houston just after we got married over 41 years ago. To say we are motivated to get back to our floating home would be an understatement. 

SHIFT on the hard in Gautier, Mississippi. Ready for her new engine.

The work has begun unhooking everything on the old Yanmar engine. Some of that work was done by the company I hired to do it and some by me. That looks like the way this thing is going to go. I will explain how things are going in my next entry. 

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Busy Time in Gulfport and the 3000 Mile Trip

 We made the decision to buy the new motor for the boat that I wrote about in my last entry. Now, we had some time to wait for it to arrive. We also had two very important to us, things happening. Our Son, Mark was getting married in Missouri on July 14th and my father was turning 90 in Colorado on July 11th. We were planning to wait until after the wedding to go see Dad, but now we saw an opening to get to Colorado at the same time as my three brothers and see Dad on his Birthday and then drive to Missouri in time for most of the festivities around the wedding. It was a crazy plan that would involve over 3000 miles of driving, but we decided to go for it, but first we had to wait for hurricane Elsa to stay on her projected path and turn east up through Florida and then the East coast. While we were waiting for that to happen, we had some things happening around the marina that were kind of cool. 

First, was a sailboat race. We had heard that there was a race to Gulfport on June 12th. We saw the boats come in and one of them pulled into the slip right next to us. We enjoyed getting to know the crew of "Madam J". She is a very fast boat and has a large crew. 

The "Madam J" from New Orleans, LA. 

 We found out that the sail to Gulfport was really just to get set up for the big race on June 25th from Gulfport to Pensacola, FL. The boats were in the marina during the Tropical Storm Claudette on June 18th. That storm was not too bad with some winds around 50 knots and water up to top of the docks, but there was no damage other than lost sleep. We even got up the next morning and drove the 70 miles to New Orleans for our soon to be Daughter in Law, Callie's, wedding shower. We spent some fun time over in New Orleans with Callie and her Mom Christie and our son Mark. New Orleans is a cool place to visit with a person that really knows the city. 

On June 25th, we went out on the Jetty to see the start of the big race. 

It was hard to see much, because the start was 3 miles off shore, but it was cool to see them mill around with partial sails and then right at noon, they all brought up full sails and they were off. 

They sailed through that day and all night and arrived in Pensacola before noon the next day. It was a tough race with 25+knots of wind coming right from the direction they wanted to go. The Madam J finished 2nd overall! We were watching the race on the tracker and found that a good friend from the marina was racing and did very well. Dwayne is a 74 year old captain and just had a total of 3 on the boat.  

The July 4th weekend was crazy around the marina. We had a big fishing tournament and live bands playing just outside the office and a carnival set up in our parking lot. 

We have private access to the office building because our bathrooms and showers are there, so that served as a private skybox to watch the live music. Some of the bands were very good. 

And then behind us was the carnival set up in our parking lot. We had to park a bit further away, but not too bad. 

We then had a great fireworks show on July 4th. They shot them off on the jetty at the end of the marina. We just sat out on our foredeck and enjoyed the show. No drama at the end, we just went below and went to bed. 

On July 6th we drove the 8 hours to the DFW area to see Kim's parents. They are both in their 80's and doing very well. We really enjoyed our time there. We left at 4:30am on July 9th to drive the 12 hours to the Denver Area. We got there in time to enjoy dinner with everyone on a deck at my parents complex. 

Much of my family. We had a great time seeing everyone. 

 The next day on the 10th, Dad and I went swimming in their pool. Dad, at 90 years young, swam 20 laps. I swam 14 and had enough. Dad is amazing, and it is so great to see both him and my Mom doing well again after a tough couple of years. Then we had the big birthday party around the pool area. It was a great time. 

On Dad's birthday, the 11th, we went to church and then out to brunch. We are so glad we decided to make it for this special time with all of my brothers and parents. Then about noon, we headed out for the 12 hour drive to Missouri. We thought we might stop half way, but I am not very good at that, so we arrived at our daughter, Shannon's at 12:30am. It was good to get that drive out of the way. 

The next day we went to the lake with Shannon and son Michael, his wife Audrey and their kids and Amelia. Fun Time! The next day we had to run out to the ranch to find clothes to wear to the wedding. My suit still fit, and we were good to go. We made it back in time for a BBQ at Mark and Callie's house.

I got this shot of our 4 kids. The youngest, Mark on the left, then Scott, Michael and Shannon. Oldest to youngest and tallest to shortest. It is so great to see them all together.

The next day was the big day. We were all so excited for the big wedding and it went off without a hitch. I did not take any pictures because there was a professional there for the whole thing. I think I will make that an entry by itself for the extended family to see. 

On the 16th, we drove the 3 hours to Michael and Audrey's house. After a nice evening with them. We slept well and then got up and made the final 8 hour drive back to Gulfport. It was a crazy trip, but we are so glad we did it. It has taken the past three days to catch up on sleep and get used to life on the boat again. We are so glad to be home. I called the guy who is replacing our engine and he wants to start next week the 26th. That is a week later than we wanted, but it is fine with us, we really needed the rest. 

In my next entry I will either write about and show some wedding pictures or we will begin documenting the engine replacement. My number of readers as dramatically increased in the past few months and I am not sure why. If you are new here, please leave a comment and let me know how you found out about this blog. 

Thursday, July 1, 2021

We Have Made the Decision

 In my previous two entries, I have written about the work I have been doing to the engine in our sailboat. I knew this engine was 29 years old and had well over 3000 hours on it. I felt strongly that I was going to do whatever it took to get a reliable engine in our boat. We have big plans and I did not want to spend the entire trip worrying about the engine or worse, having a major breakdown in a place with no way to get service. 

I looked at what it would take to replace the engine. I ran into many roadblocks. The first problem was that Yanmar (the brand of the engine that we currently have) did not have any replacement engines. As we all know the supply lines on just about everything around the world have been disrupted by the Pandemic. We would have to wait until at least September to get a new engine. There is also the issue that I wrote about the local dealers and their complete lack of customer service. 

I felt like I had no option. I needed to see if my engine could be repaired. That is what I have been doing for the past month. About two weeks ago,  I was searching for information about repair options when I found a company that I had not considered. It is a UK company called Beta Marine. Beta takes the Kubota tractor engine and marinizes it for use in boats. They even have a specific line of engines for the sailboat replacement market. I am not the first person to do this. 

The funny part is that Kim and I were driving the other day and talking about our options, when a large tractor trailer truck was next to us loaded with Kubota tractors. I commented how nice the tractors looked. I guess someone was sending me a message. 

I was amazed to find that there was a company right here is Gulfport that does engine replacements for Beta. I made contact with them and they have been very responsive. They even helped me find a local mechanic that knows the Yanmar engine. He came out yesterday and spent about 45 minutes with us. The bad news is that he pointed out a noise the engine was making and even isolated it to which cylinder it was coming from. I had heard the "knock" , but didn't know enough about these engines to know if it was a problem. I told him about our plans and he said, "I would not trust this engine". That is all I needed to hear. After spending the time with us, I decided to trust him. He also would not take any payment. I was stunned. 

Kim and I have spent the last 24 hours doing research, measuring our engine compartment and making phone calls. I even called and spoke with the master dealer for Beta Marine USA. He talked to me for a half hour and answered all of my questions. He told me to call him anytime and promised I would be happy if I decided to install a Beta. 

We have decided to move forward with the engine replacement. We have ordered a Beta Marine 38. It is a little bigger in both horsepower and physical size than our current Yanmar 30 horsepower 3HM35F, but it should fit with a couple of small modifications.

The engine is in North Carolina now and will ship next week. We are hoping to begin the replacement just after we return from our son Mark's wedding on July 14. The replacement will be completed by the local dealer, but I am sure I will be right in there making sure I understand what is going on. 

I am sure this replacement will have it's challenges, but we are ready with an open wallet to make it as perfect as possible. We are expecting it to cost around $20K all in. 

I am hoping that this engine will give us the confidence to travel more freely on inland waterways. We are still planning to go to the Bahamas next year and then up the east coast of the US and much of that may be with the motor. The east coast is notorious for difficult sailing conditions off-shore. 

Today, we have a new tropical storm, Elsa. It is still a few days out before we will know if it will come to this area, but we have to be ready to evacuate our marina if it comes this way. Our life is full of challenges, but we still love what we are doing. We are happy to have this difficult decision out of the way and moving forward with the new plan. 

Just another beautiful sunset in Gulfport, Mississippi