Things are not always as they seem.

It’s early Saturday morning and here I sit in Morehead City NC aboard Pandora after aborting my attempt to get to the BVI.

In my last post, I talked about multiple equipment failures and my decision to head back across the Gulf Stream and stop near Beaufort to get things sorted out.

Faced with white smoke and an overpowering smell of electrical burning, I was convinced that my refrigeration had crapped out along with several other problems during our rough crossing of the Gulf Stream.

The real clincher was the “failure” of the refrigeration that made a stop seem like a really good idea.  So, as much as it depressed me to accept it, heading back to land was the sensible thing to do and the idea of arriving with a freezer of rotting meat wasn’t something that I wanted to think about.

Ok,trip aboarted and with a day and a half to sort through things, what really happened?

It all started with water in the propane locker that leaked into the interior of the boat through some inadequately caulked holes where wires passed through the bulkhead.  Salt water had built up in the locker as we thrashed along in heavy conditions and when we tacked to get a better angle on an “eddy” south of the stream, the water that had built up in the locker leaked through those holes and spilled all over the solar controller which was located right under some wires.

When I opened up the unit there was evidence that this had happened in the past but the controller decided to “croak” this particular time and boy it was a dramatic end.  As it was overcast and rainy when all of this was going on, it never occurred to me that all that white smoke could come from way back there and I incorrectly assumed that the refrigeration was the culprit.    One thing for sure is that it could have been worse, much worse.   I shudder to think what might have happened had there been “fire where there was smoke” in an area so inaccessible. Is is possible to love a blown fuse?   Let me count the ways…

Ken, Jim and Cathy, my crew, have been great and helped me remove everything from the “leaky lockers” as well as the “not so dry” interior aft compartment to get it washed and dry on the dock.  I sprayed out the interior section and set up an electric heater to work to dry everything out.   I caulked the leaky spots, inside and out to be sure, , make that double sure,  that this won’t happen again.

All was cleaned up by early afternoon so I turned my attention to the “doused” controller.

How could so much go wrong at the same time? Hard to believe that the fridge, controller and Oh yeah, the watermaker, which I forgot to mention, could all have problems at the exact same time.

Ok, controller issue resolved.  Could it possibly be that the fridge wan’t messed up after all?  I turned it on.  IT WORKED!  Can you believe it?  I had turned off a perfectly functioning piece of equipment.  Who knew.   I couldn’t decide if I was happy or sad that it worked.  I had aborted my run to the BVI for a “mission critical” failure that hadn’t failed.  The real culprit was the controller, something that I could easily have replace once I got there.

Can you believe it?  Isn’t 20/20 just great?  However, when faced with white smoke and the smell of an electrical fire while out at sea I made my best guess and I was wrong.    Now that I am writing this, I realize that it could have been worse, much worse, as it never occurred to me that the problem was way aft in a locker that “doesn’t get wet”.   The smoke and odor was coming from the solar controller, not the fridge.  Who knew?

Ok, it seems that the refrigerant is a bit low but that’s going to be addressed today.  Not a big deal.

But wait, there’s more.  I also have this automated watermaker that needs to backflush every 5 days to avoid damaging the membrane when it’s not being used and I discovered that it wasn’t backflushing any more.  Oops.  Great, another failure to deal with.  Good news, it looks like the fix is going to be fairly simple but I won’t know till later today when the part arrives from RI.  Can you say $68.47 for Saturday delivery?  That’s just the shipping. Don’t ask about what the part cost, you don’t want to know.  Hell, I don’t want to know.

Of course, the big question is “what about the BVI?”  I talked to Brenda and she still wants to spend the winter there so I’ll be recruiting crew for “yet another attempt” and hope to depart right after Thanksgiving.  All of this sounds like I am preparing for an expedition to ascend K2.  Is it me or does leisure really need to be so exhausting?  Hmm….

I do hope that we can salvage all of this and get to the BVI this season.  Besides, our friends Maureen and Bill on Kaloonamo (did I spell that right?)  are making the run from Trinidad to the BVI to meet up with us so we really have to be there… Right?

Almost forgot… When we arrived here my crew bought me dinner as they felt so sorry for me.  A sort of “pitty dinner” and it sure tasted great.  A cold beer… Thanks, I needed that.

I guess that the moral of the story is that things aren’t always as they seem.  However, a rough passage white electrical smoke? Better safe than sorry.

Editor note:  My brother Bill is going to be pissed.  Yet another post with no pictures.  Too busy fixing F%$#@$% problems to take photos.

 

7 responses to “Things are not always as they seem.

  1. Glad everything is fixable. Glad trying after Thanksgiving. Maureen and Bill-Kalunamoo

  2. Personally you made a live changing decision – I would never regret what you did. I really enjoy the thoroughness of our posts – My wife and I will be sailing in about 5 years to all this wisdom is beautiful. I do have one question – Do you prefer a mono over a cat – my wife HATES the idea of sailing sideways…lol – I am in negotiations with her right now…we are taking a Cat charter this Christmas to see how she likes it.

    • Tom: Good to hear from you. If you are smart, you’ll go for a cat as if she likes it, you’ll spend more time afloat. When the queen is happy, there is peace in the kingdom. As it should be.

  3. It’s funny how things work sometimes. Good to hear it can be fixed. It could be a blessing in disguise with that tropical low lurking.

  4. Pandora Sail, put a capital “S” in shake down sail. There are hidden blessings in this all happening. How else would you have discovered the generosity of your crew and those in North Carolina that offered you a freezer? As so often said, its not so much about the destination as it is the journey. Of course come this winter, with all the snow on the ground, I’ll be thinking of all of you drinking lovely fruity drinks in the sun down in the BVI!

  5. Hi Bob – You sure are making me appreciate my simple little boat!! Hope this is the end of all your issues for awhile. I’ll be leaving for Hilton Head on the 13th, maybe I’ll catch up with you. Sharon

  6. Your brother is fine with the “no pictures ” thing. Just glad you are all ok!!

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