Friday, November 7, 2014

Fall in San Diego Bay

Pacific Ocean looking down from Sunset Cliffs
Well, since we've had to turn back our clocks an hour, guess Fall is officially here.  We enjoyed daylight savings time, but we can't figure out what to do with several months worth of savings.  All we know is that happy hour needs to start an hour earlier because of the new (and improved?) time the sun drops into the ocean.  

We've expanded our walking horizons a bit and now include (every other day) a hike due west, over the hill that is Point Loma, to Sunset Cliffs, take a breather, then hike back over the hill again.  Almost like climbing a small mountain.  But good for the cardio-everything.  Sunset Cliffs is just south of Ocean Beach, which is just south of La Jolla, which is w-a-a-a-y south of San Francisco.  Speaking of exercise, we've even managed to get our bicycles to shore and take a ride or two around Liberty Station (the old Naval Training Center where prospective sailors had basic training).  

Hal admiring tile work
Brother Vern had another bathroom that needed some attention, so big brother spent some time there and sawed tile and posed for an "in progress" pic.  Nancy keeps saying there aren't enough pictures of Hal in this blog.  Well, most of that dearth of photos seems to stem from who is taking the picture and who is brave enough to stand before the camera.  Anyway...

Our little Honda 2hp outboard was starting to give us fits when the throttle was turned up.  It is supposed to go forward when one twists the handle.  Problem seemed to be that the mechanism that engages the clutch went on strike.  We hauled to motor up to a shop that fixes them.  We got word back a couple of weeks later that the corrosion (which stemmed back to a "sinking" of the motor into Port Angeles Harbor while hauling up crab pots in windy/wavy weather) necessitated replacing many major parts of the engine. Cost estimate: $550.  Ugh.  Told the guy to box up all the pieces and give them back to me.  Bought new motor.

Alternator removed an awaiting exit from engine room

 Speaking of motors, our 4.3Kw generator started to billow out smoke from the engine room, where it shares space with the main engine.  After shutting it down, started troubleshooting the small diesel engine (which turns the alternator) and found nothing wrong on the front end.  Thought perhaps there was too much load put on the alternator, so restarted and slowly applied bits of electircal load.  Everything was fine, for about five minutes.  Smoke alarm notified us that there was indeed a problem.  Shut it down again.  Concluded problem was in the alternator.  Of course, getting to the alternator required some 4 hours time in order to get the generator positioned to even get to the back of the alternator.  

Back of alternator with broken bearings and other loose stuff 

Needless to say, after opening it up, it was quite a shock to see all the loose pieces of what was once parts of the alternator laying at the bottom of the casing.  Time to stop and reflect on options that may be available.  Besides, it was now happy hour.

What came out of alternator after flying around at high speed

After pulling out all the pieces, decided that it wasn't going to fix itself, and especially not while attached to the engine.  I placed a couple of calls to the folks who originally assembled the generator, and was lucky enough to chat with an actual technician, who helped me through the process. Luckily, we had the right hammer....  Finally broke it loose, after two days of pounding, and hauled it up to an alternator repair shop. Luckily it was close to the dinghy dock and was just small enough to fit into our large canvas shopping bag.  The shop told me that if they could find the necessary parts (Italian manufacturer) the estimate to repair would be between $1500-$3000!

After recovering from this shocking news, I immediately got on the internet and started roaming.  At least I found out that Alt Mecca (the Italian company) was still alive and producing alternators.  I then called the folks at Central Maine Diesel, from whom I'd purchased the generator from, and found out that they would sell me a brand new replacement alternator for $784, shipping included.  Deal was done, went back to local shop and unceremoniously tossed the old one, and waited for the shipment from Chicago to arrive.

Meanwhile, we (Nancy, Hal & brother Vern) hopped into Vern's car on the 17th and drove north to San Francisco to attend a Memorial for brother Wayne.  We stayed with Mom & Dad in Concord during the few days we were in the S.F. Bay area.  

Hal & Vern relaxing on new (Vern-built) bench in front of
 Mom & Dad's place.  Nancy took pic as evidenced by her
reflection in the window
Upon our return to San Diego on the 22nd (October), the new alternator was waiting for us. The process was reversed and, miraculously, alternator got attached to motor and repositioned. Hooked up all the wires, fuel lines, etc.  At 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, the 26th, we were back online and generating (smokeless) power!  Would rather not have to experience this again...
These are local regular customers of the Point Break
Cafe who kind of get together occasionally and
goof around with their guitars.

One of our favorite places to hang out, sip a few, chat with folks, watch football games (if we don't get them on our antenna tv) and sometimes get a chance to watch and listen to live music on the patio, is the Point Break Cafe.  The Cafe is really close to where we land our dinghy to go ashore, so it's convenient and, when we're really hungry, a great place to eat.  It's really like a place you'd find near, or on, a beach.  The "crew" there are really great.

While walking our "Shelter Island Shuffle" route, we just happened to get lucky and see a lady arriving by car, get out and immediately attract a large flock of seagulls. Apparently they know her, and they became frenzied when she pulled out her bag of bird food and started throwing it behind her as she walked.  We chatted with her for awhile, learing from her that some varieties of seagulls were becoming extinct because of lack of food.  Apparently, according to her, the food chain has been interrupted, suspecting a chain reaction from the Fukashima nuclear power plant that was swamped by the Japanese tsunami awhile back.  And, apparently, the flocks have dwindled because of the cleanliness of the area, leaving the seagulls with very little garbage to munch on....

Catching up with the flotilla
The annual Baja Ha Ha fleet assembled during the latter part of October and sailed away on the 27th.  We jumped into the dinghy and watched them leave.  Some 151 boats sailed out this day, headed for Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, with stops in Turtle Bay and Mag Bay.  We had actually met a few of the crews of boats joining this rally.  We had previously decided not to join the rally, as it was scheduled to move too fast for our tastes, so we'll take our time and "smell the cactus" on our way down the Baja coast.

Harbor Police boats "water waving" goodbye to the fleet

The "Grand Poobah"'s (leader of the pack) catamaran

The fleet (or most of it anyway)
A familiar sight to some...harbor seals at the transient dock
at southern tip of Shelter Island, with Shelter Is. Bay in background.
Panels mounted on pulpit railing
The solar panel project finally got underway, now that the generator problem seems to be resolved (and working well).  Decided to add two 100w panels mounted on the bow pulpit. These will, necessarily, be only for use while at anchor.  Installed some quick release plugs on the leads coming from the panels, which then allows for the panels to be removed and stored below while underway. An additional 100w panel was added some weeks ago to the aft port rail.  The two panels amidships, attached to our port and starboard deck storage boxes will remain where they are mounted and the three panels on the aft rails will be up or down as weather dictates.  We now have a total of 670 watts worth of solar panels.  Hopefully this will reduce wear and tear on the newly rebuilt generator!

The new 60 amp controller
The "junction" for the 3 pairs of panels.  Still needs dressing out.
And, as always seems to be the case, we take photos of sunrises and sunsets which is a good way of signing off for this particular update.  We're looking forward to getting our act together and finish up some projects and doctor visits and stocking up and all that stuff. We're still hoping end of November will be our time to depart the U.S. and head southward.

A Fall morning sunrise

Moonrise yesterday evening (6 Nov)....5:40 p.m., calm, 82 F...
hard to beat!