78 Sea Trials

by

Here are the nuts and bolts of getting a new boat ready for travel. Journal 79 contains the fun parts about being in St Petersburg.

Odyssey floated easily along the dock glowing in the late afternoon sun. We stepped aboard and made a quick tour of our shining new home. Odyssey at Caladesi IslandMinutes later, we were hard at work moving our belongings aboard. Immediately ‘do-did’ started. “Where ‘do’ we want to store the deck brush,” was followed shortly later by: “Which locker ‘did’ the deck brush go in?” when a companion item was found and we had to stop and think or swap notes on storage locations.

Saturday our friends Gene and Debbie, formally cruising on Gwylan and now living ashore in Plant City came over to help move our stuff from storage They became our first guests aboard Odyssey. ‘Do-did’ became more difficult as storage spaces filled and the number of items to remember where stored got longer. Futile searches began as we failed ‘did’ and finally stuffed what ever into a convenient storage location to be sorted out later.

A pile of stuff to give to Goodwill began to grow. No only hadn’t we used some items since moving aboard Tranquility almost three years earlier, but we were finding Odyssey while physically bigger, did not have as many nooks and crannies for storing stuff. We’ve since begun to find nooks and crannies as we slowly sorted stuff into a more organized locations. Surely but slowly ‘do-did’ is dying out as we get comfortable with where everything is stored.

Comforts on Odyssey quickly became apparent as we began a systematic test of Odyssey’s systems. Our first load of wash went into the washer/dryer and we puzzled for a few minutes to find the correct circuit breakers and valves to bring it into operation. For us who lived with Laundromats for the last three years it’s a luxury. It’s now our laundry hamper. Once full, Ruth adds soap, turns it on and does a load. Clothes come out dry. We’ve even enjoyed the luxury of doing laundry while underway in the calm waters of the ICW.

Our expectations were high. Endeavour was rapidly taking care of items we were finding that were not just right. The people at Endeavour were a pleasure to work with. It looked like we could complete sea trials in a few days and be on our way again after four long months of being at a dock. We anticipated on leaving after a week of testing. In anticipation of leaving, we accelerated our shore excursions for new items. Mattress pads, towels, flares, additional life jackets and many other items were tracked down to make our new vessel complete.

Engine trials set us back-way back. One transmission had gear chatter at low speed. The mechanic tried to tell us it was normal wouldn’t hurt anything and we’d have to live with it. We asked if he’d accept a Cadillac with a similar noise. Endeavour worked with the transmission distributor, and got the manufacturer involved. Finally after a week of work two mechanics showed up, took the transmission off the port engine, opened it up and put in a new dampener plate and eliminated the noise. As we watched the mechanics work in the opened engine compartment we realized the engine and transmission would not be hard to service in the future.

While waiting for the transmission fix, Rob Vincent, President of Endeavour came over and began teaching us the fine art of operating a trawlercat with two engines. We practiced docking and made a trip on Tampa Bay to begin to get the feel of Odyssey under power. After the trip we found oil in the starboard engine bed. We suspected an oil leak from the oil change pump connection to the oil pan. The mechanic showed up to fix the leak. The next day he was back to dig deeper trying to find the source of the leak. Help showed up and the starboard transmission was removed from the engine.

Our spirits crashed as we learned the starboard engine would have to be replaced. The crankshaft had too much play and had destroyed the main bearing and seal. To remove the engine, a hatch would be removed and it’s opening extended by two feet by cutting the deck. Mike, Endeavour’s production manager had been our contact for all problems. He’d rapidly earned our trust as he juggled production at the plant and followed through with getting anything we found fixed. However, we were not sure we could trust his comments that the replacement would be done two, maybe three days max and that the hole cut in Odyssey’s deck to get the engine out would be invisible when they were done.

The next day, Odyssey limped to a working marina on one engine, was hauled and the starboard cabin was taken apart. Not wanting to watch someone taking a saw to the deck, we left only to return later to see the hole and see how much progress had been made. We spent an uneasy night as Endeavour’s guests at a motel. The next afternoon we were on hand to see Odyssey launched again with a new engine and an invisible deck repair.

Friday morning marked our second week aboard. Ruth ran a load of wash as we waited for a dinghy cover we ordered to arrive. We planned our first overnight trip away from the Vinoy Resort Marina (quite luxurious) to get some running hours on the engines. When Ruth went to unload our wash, she found wet clothes instead of dry. Testing found everything on the washer to work except that the drum didn’t move. We guessed the belt came off. Endeavour came out, pulled the washer from it’s in wall mounting, opened the back and found nothing wrong. Quick phone calls lined up a washer repairman to come first thing Monday morning. Friday afternoon we took off for a weekend cruise with laundry hanging on the lifelines.

Safely back at the Vinoy dock Monday morning the washer repairman found a plug had come loose deep inside the washer. Inserting it fully into its socket locked it in place. A mechanic showed up to check engine oil pressure and then replace sensors. We’d found low and high readings on our weekend trip. Around 1 PM, the canvas man showed up with our new dinghy cover. Everything was complete and our fix list exhausted. After 17 long days we looked at each other and agreed it was time to leave. Lines came free and we were off free to travel again.

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