Leander Passage from Bahamas to NC: Day 3

At noon on 2 June, Leander is at 26.32 N, 78 50 W, motoring at 6 knots on a course of 309 magnetic in no wind. 149 miles traveled, 579 to Beaufort, NC.

For those paying attention, there was no “Day 2” update. We put into Freeport in the northwest corner of the Bahamas yesterday (at Knowles Marina) because we had some technical problems. Not such a bad result, as we got to see our friends on Piper, who had some engine problems too, and Alexander and Aylin got to play more with Finn and Mackie.

The primary problem was with the alternator. We have two of them. One is a 125 amp “high output” alternator. It had stopped high-outputting. I spent yesterday troubleshooting, and went to bed last night with no solution, and we all felt pretty down in the dumps. Was the problem with the batteries, the regulator, the harness, or the alternator? Our troubleshooting was providing conflicting answers.

I got up early this morning and took out the old alternator, dropped in a spare, wired it, and it worked. But then the engine ignition shorted out, and I could no longer start the engine?

Really!?

Time for some quick consultation with Tripp, on s/v Piper. We pulled out the wiring diagram. Was there a fuse? There was. We reset it, and the engine started. Could we prevent the problem from reoccurring by re-wiring the ignition start for the alternator? We could. A couple of hours later, we were back in business.

I had noticed a second problem doing all this work, and looking at the engine closely. We had a very small leak in the exhaust elbow. Not a good think to be dripping hot salt water on to the starter motor below, and neither good to be leaking exhaust fumes, however minor. Replacing the exhaust elbow is theoretically easy, but it is a bear to get it off of the engine. So I pulled out some quick-dry JB Weld, and that, too, seems to be an effective repair for the short time until we get to a better place for repairs.

Hopefully, these two temporary fixes will last for the next three days. We think that we’re having engine-related problems because (1) we’re using the engine a lot here with the light winds, and (2) the air and water temperatures are really hot here, and the engine would prefer it a little bit cooler.

So we got out at 10:30 a.m., as the tide dropped in the inlet to Knowles Marina. We were supposed to get out at half tide, or by 9 a.m.ish. The marina owner, a great guy, said that he “thought that we could probably make it out” without running aground. If we got stuck, we’d have to wait five hours or so for the tide to drop all the way down, and then fill up again.

We crept out, and saw the waves licking at the sand across most of the inlet channel. Alas, we ran hard aground about 200 yards from freedom. We could either back out, or try to push across the sand bar. We chose the latter, and Leander moved through slowly. After half a minute, she popped through into deeper water. Out!

We’re shooting to make Beaufort by the end of the day on Sunday, because bad weather sets in after that. If it looks like we’re not going to make Beaufort, we’ll bail out at an earlier landfall, hopefully somewhere in NC. The Gulf Stream should give us an extra 2 knots of current and speed, so that will be helpful. On the other hand, we’ll have slight winds, and at night only. At least we’ll be able to give the engine some rest at night time. And with the charging problem solved, we’ll be able to shut down the engine overnight without having to wring our hands in concern over the status of the batteries.

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