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August 25, 2003

Bent Strut

The starboard strut is bent. Nice to now know what is wrong. The problem is that the supplier of this part is out of stock and will get the next shipment of forged, but not machined, struts mid week.

It looks like CP will be in the yard over Labor Day and I'm bummed.

August 24, 2003

Haul Out and Repairs

After consulting some friends over at Boatered, I decided the prudent course of action was to haul her out to have the prop shaft alignments checked, repack the stuffing boxes which needed it anyway, and repair the dinged props and put them back on.

My good friend who recently sold his 65' Viking accompanied my on my birthday to Pittsburg and over to the yard at Bethel Harbor while Heather and the Bean chauffeured.

We got over there and they wanted to look at the stuffing boxes in the water. We got in the engine compartment and the port side was full of Pepto Bismol. Sometime between the Moke idle down and heading to the Travel Lift, the transmission cooler failed. We hauled it out and the bottom looked quite good as I had been worried that it was about time for a new coat of paint. I can wait for next season on that.

I left it in the yard and got a call Monday the 18th. The shaft on port was just fine, but I had asked them to look at starboard as I couldn't turn it by hand when it was in the yard. It looks like the engine is out of alignment. Its weird because starboard was coming up to nearly full RPM at full throttle. They said it looked like it had been out of alignment for quite some time, but that would be kind of odd as I had had props switched out in late March for the trip from Seattle and I'm sure the diver/shop manager would have noticed then.

Later that week I dropped the props off for work and found out that the worst damage was actually to the starboard prop. It fits with a detail of the grounding incident. Namely, when I heard the first sound of trouble, I yanked the throttles all the way back. That wasn't much further as I was already slowing, but I didn't think fast enough to put the engines in neutral and a beat or two later the starboard motor shut down. Its quite possible that I glanced off the stump on port and the still running starboard tried to lift the boat via the prop on the same obstruction. That might explain the alignment issue.

Its all a bit disquieting as the only thing found wrong with port was the water intrusion from the failed transmission oil cooler. That might be enough to take 300 RPMs off of the top end, but I had checked the bilge, transmission, and stuffing boxes while underway in the Moke just because I was worried about such things. It also leads me to ask how a grounding caused a transmission cooler failure. Maybe it was the long period at low RPMs?

No matter. I plan on picking my props up mid week and having them put on and getting the boat back in the water in time for Labor Day. The repaired props will allow me to rule those out as I suspect that my spares may have been damaged between being taken off in Seattle and being put back on in Railroad Cut. At best everything will be back to 3000 RPMs at full throttle and the smooth ride of those tuned props. At worst, I will be able to rule out all the gear below the water and can address anything left from dockside.

I'll be convoying with Bravado all Labor Day weekend anyway and her top speed under power is about 7.5kts. We'll be on the hook in Potato Slough around what I believe is called Bedroom 3 after sailing in Jazz Cup to Benicia.

Returning to Pittsburg

We were hustling to get to the bridge when I thought I noticed some vibration. It was pretty clear that port was vibrating around 1300 RPMs, so I immediately decided to bring the RPMs down to around 1100 where there was no vibration.

Hindsight being 20-20, I should have remembered another time where I sterned into a shallow anchorage and got mud on the props as I have a hunch that was what happened.

We got through the bridge at 4:58PM after calling ahead to make sure that the bridge attendant did not leave us. We made about 6 knots all the way down the Moke and all in all it was a fine speed to see this area in the late afternoon.

When we got to the Highway 12 bridge over the Moke, I tried throttling up again and low and behold the vibration was almost completely gone. I had visions of not having to haul out in my head, but Neither engine was able to make a full 3000 RPMs at full throttle, so something still wasn't right - it was looking better but not perfect.

We made it back to Pittsburg, cleaned up in the 35kt winds and headed home.

Railroad Cut and Prop Switches

We floated down Locke Slough to Railroad cut and anchored about 200 yards down Railroad Cut.

What an amazing anchorage area. At the end of the day, I think we found a better anchorage than we would have found at the Meadows. It is a no wake zone with a relatively calm current. Shore and trees are easily accessible. Most folks bow in and basically run the bow up in the mud to the edge of shore and tie off on a tree. You could use a boarding ladder and step onto shore from the anchor pulpit. We broke tradition and sterned in partially because we needed to assess the damage closer to shore.

Shore is a state park on the old abandoned railroad line behind Locke. Easy dog walking and you could park your car 15 yards behind your boat if you were so inclined. In addition, the trees provide shade at anchor from about 1PM on all the way up to the helm station on the flybridge when sterned in. That fact alone pushed us to want to stern in there in the future.

Spence dived in and came back saying that the shafts felt pretty good, but that the props were pretty clearly cupped on the tips. I made some calls and Tom from TowBoat Delta US got me in touch with one of his associates who brought the truck out and dove to swap out my props. They did an unbelievably good job and once I saw the props out of the water and knew the new props were on I started to feel a whole lot better.

Port looked worse than starboard as three blades were dinged up. Starboard only had damage to one blade. However, the diver mentioned that something may be amiss as he couldn't turn the prop by hand...

We had a great rest of the weekend though we had a little rush to get back to the swing bridge by 5PM.


I'm delinquent in posting, but as I tell the story I'll bet everyone will understand why.

Spencer, Tara, Heather, Bean and I went up to the boat for the weekend of August 8. We picked the boat up in Bethel Island where the finishing touches had just been put on my new inverter install and ran down to my new temporary slip at the Pittsburg Municipal Marina. The boat was running great, but there were still a couple of gremlins in the electrical install, so we decided to spend the night and get an early start for our intended exploration of The Meadows state park after I grabbed some parts from the local hardware.

It was a beautiful run up the North Fork of the Mokelumne River. We found out that the swing bridge north of Guisti's is only tended 9AM to 5PM, so that made us feel lucky that we had waited for Saturday morning.

After we cleared the initial no wake zone, I throttled back up to cruise on the way up to the long no wake zone that protects the entrance to The Meadows state park. Just as I had come off the throttles because we were nearing the no wake zone and because I knew that I ought to start watching for shallow water we heard a huge crash. I was skippering from the flybridge and thus didn't notice the charted island that was invisible on the outgoing tide. We had completely struck something - most likely a tree on its side below the water. I think the smallest depth sounding was .9 feet... Not good

I gently worked the boat off the island and then immediately went below to see if we had taken any hull internal damage at the shaft logs or to the cutlass bearing mounts and to make sure that we were not taking on any water. We were ok, but I was shaken. We quickly assessed what to do next and Spencer recommended that we stop short and head up Locke slough as it was closest to civilization instead of continuing on to The Meadows anchorage.

We didn't vibrate too badly in gear at idle, but the transmissions were making the standard Bayliner/Hurth complaint.

In the spirit of helping others avoid this fate, the island/snag in question's southern terminus is at 38 14.772 N 121 29.814 W. Looking at the depths, one should proceed carefully from east of the Delta Cross Channel on north...