After waiting out some bad weather days, we were more than ready when Bill, our engine mechanic, said he was coming on Saturday to re-install Orion's engine. To re-cap the story; we discovered a problem with the engine last summer, requiring it to be re-built. We had it pulled out and re-built over the winter, fixing the damaged #1 cylinder and anything else Bill noticed that needed attention. In anticipation of its arrival, we had sanded and painted the motor mounts, checked and replaced the starting battery and cleaned the engine room floor.
The alignment process was quick, with only minor adjustments required to re-connect the drive shaft. One by one, the hoses, bolts and wires were re-attached. We opened the raw water through-hulls and were ready for the moment of truth. With Dave on deck and Cathy and Bill down below, we started her up and the sound was music to our ears. After a few minutes, Dave put the engine into gear. There was some knocking that didn't sound too good as it moved into gear. We discussed the idle rpm's and decided they were too low. Bill increased the idle a bit and the sound disappeared. The engine moved from neutral into forward and reverse and ran at higher rpm's effortlessly. Orion is finally whole again.
You might think that we immediately dropped the lines and headed out for a sea trial. However, there was more to it than that. Orion's hull had not been thoroughly cleaned since September. So, before moving her out of the slip, we needed a diver to clean the bottom. It didn't make sense to do that right away, since we were about to leave her for a week or two. As we were loading our engine on board, Pat and Fred were making their way up through NC toward us, and arrived in Hampton a couple of days later. We were planning to take Pat's place and help Fred move Marianna the rest of the way home. So, it didn't make sense to have someone clean the hull, when the boat would then sit for another couple of weeks, getting fouled again. The sea trial would just have to wait until we got back.
Battery Ups and Downs
While in Marathon, we received a call from our friend, Steve, about a problem with Orion. It appeared the inverter had somehow been turned on and left running, and since she was disconnected from shore power, this had drained the batteries. Just in case there was something wrong with the inverter, Dave talked Steve through disconnecting it from the battteries and then had him plug the boat into shore power. After a few days, he called back to say the battery monitor continued to show very low voltage on the house bank. So, as we returned to Otion, Dave was sure he was looking at some serious battery problems and likely some replacements
As he began to check each battery in the house bank and its voltage, he was becoming confused. Although the battery monitor continued to show seriously low battery voltage, what he measured on the batteries themselves was much higher and well within normal range for the 12V battery. The Xantrex Link 20 had been working well for a long time, so we had come to trust the numbers it gave, but it was time to investigate further. We discovered an error message on the display that we learned was due to an “open lead” on the wire that sensed the battery voltage on one of the battery banks. After eliminating any corrosion in the connections on either end as a possible cause, we managed to find a gap in the insulation a few feet from the batteries that was the source of the problem. Dave cut the wire at the break and spliced the wires together. No more low voltage. The house batteries were fine.
It also appeared that there was no problem with the inverter, which Dave simply re-connected.
However, the starting battery was another story. The sulphur smell coming from it once we re-connected to shore power made it plain that it had a problem. Upon closer inspection, Dave discovered the cap had popped off the top. So, we replaced it with a new Group 24 and it started the engine without a hitch.
We were lucky enough to join the grandkids to celebrate our oldest grandaughter's, Alexis' birthday at a roller skating rink in Richmond. Since most of the kids were only on skates for the first or 2nd time. It was helpful to have a couple more adults to help the little ones around the rink. It was fun, and pretty amazing that the neither of us big kids ended up on the floor in the process.
On the following weekend, just after our engine was installed, we attended our first event at the Old Point Comfort Yacht Club, which we had joined in the fall. (Our first event was supposed to have been the night before Sandy arrived.) We attended the Blessing of the Fleet, joining Sue and her friend Steve on Steve's power boat, Pla-Sea-Bo. Earlier that week, we had received a panicked call from Sue that she was taking on water on Daisy Sue. Dave had responded and helped her locate the source of the problem within the toilet's vented loop, complicated bya non-working bilge pump. Luckily, this problem was discovered before Sue headed out up the bay to have her boat hauled. So, although Orion and Daisy Sue were not able to be blessed directly, they got a much-needed blessing by proxy by virture of our presence on Pla-Sea-Bo. After being properly blessed, we joined the club for lunch. Later, we took a tour of Norfolk on Pla-Sea-Bo, before returning home late that evening.
Pat and Fred arrived at Joy's on Monday, having struggled north after suffering a lightning strike off Dinner Key in early April. After securing Marianna to the slip next to Orion, we caught up on the weeks since we'd seen them. Dave helped Fred rig a fuel pump to help him clean the fuel in one of his tanks, while Cathy arranged to have supper on Orion. By Wednesday, they were on their way north to deliver Pat and a car full of Marianna's excess baggage to New Hampshire. When Fred returned, we would join him for the trip further north.