Saturday morning arrived with light air, fairly nice clouds up high, and the sun poking through in various areas. Following an egg and bacon breakfast up came the anchor and off we headed on a light air beam reach along the south side of Anacapa Island.
One thought was to run up the watermaker and verify it was up to snuff; sure enough it powered up just fine and started to kick out fresh water, but I hadn’t charged the batteries much as I wanted to minimize load on the transmission. With battery voltage around 12.1 the little ShurFlo pump was pushing 93 PSI to the watermaker with resulting output at 4 gallons per hour (GPH). The watermaker is rated for 6.3 GPH, I looked through one of my notes about the watermaker and it pointed out that fresh water output is directly related to pump pressure input and pump pressure correlates to voltage at the pump. I turned on the engine to charge the batteries (in neutral, no load on the transmission) and pump pressure jumped to 150 PSI with 13vDC and fresh product water went up to 6.7 GPH – all is good with the watermaker. I let it run for two hours, producing enough water to fill up the day tank as well as flush the watermaker with fresh water to push the salt water out of the system (pump, filters, membrane).
The breeze gradually filled through the afternoon, eventually backing to the west, which made for a pleasant gybe to port and we haded towards Channel Island Harbor.
Got to watch the USCG perform a ‘rescue’. Over the week I had kept the VHF radio turned on to VHF 16 and heard quite the variety of boaters calling for help to the Coast Guard. “I’m out of fuel”, “My engine won’t start”, “Battery is dead”, “Stranded”, my favorite was an on-scene Good Samaritan boater at the west end of Catalina Island standing by a non-working boat: “they have a dead battery, are dead in the water, don’t have a VHF, anchor, GPS, or cell phone” … on it went. In each case the Coast Guard would verify that there was no immediate danger, ask them to put on their life jackets, then ask if they were a member of Boat US Tow or Vessel Assisst – and all stated they were. The Coast Guard would then connect the caller with one of those services and that was the end of their involvement. Nice to have the Coast Guard acting a dispatch for those services.
Things were different Saturday morning when a boat called Coast Guard to say he was adrift off Anacapa Island in his 23 foot power boat, dead battery, not sinking. The Coast Guard asked for his GPS position, there was a pause (I couldn’t pick up the power boat), then the USCG fellow says, “Can you read to me the numbers that come after the 34 and the 119?” That was too funny. Next moment he says they have an asset on its way to his location, ETA 30 minutes, and then we see one of the orange rescue helicopters go zooming out across the water and can track it right to where it goes into a low hover and the pilot calls over the radio, “We’re going to keep you company up here until the rescue boat arrives.” And then one of the 45′ Station Channel Islands boats roars by – they go quick when they want to. We met up with them again at the entrance to Channel Islands Harbor – the USCG boat ahead with the small power boat under tow behind. The Coast Guard must have been running a drill with the helicopter and the rescue boat, and when a call came in from a suitable location the Coasties turned the drill into an operation so they could actually do something. Moral of story – if you’re going to get stuck out on the water at the Channel Islands, know the drill times for the Coast Guard and you might get your own helicopter on scene!
When we got into the harbor there were lots of little Duffy boats about, we dropped the mainsail, engaged the transmission and it worked, and got into the slip without a problem.
Today’s task it to check the transmission fluid to see if it is dark, and it occurred to me last night that the problem could be in the damper plate – I’d forgotten about that plate, it’s a spring-loaded steel plate that dampens the successive bangs the driven piston creates on the crank shaft as diesel explodes above the cylinder head. If the springs or plate have failed that could make a noise, though any noise the damper might make is supposed to be less pronounced as RPM increases – which is not the case here.
I will find out more today about what to do with transmission. Cats are curled up mostly asleep, Kristen is discussing the finer points of fly catching with NumNuts. I’m not sure he’s paying attention…