Monday, February 22, 2010
Weekend AAR 1-10
I took off a bit early on Friday to ready the Barco for our weekend trip. I got to the boat about 1430 and noticed immediately the smell of rotten eggs was back. There was a note from our boat fixer, Nick, which explained that he trouble shot the the holding tank system and found no discrepancies.
Oh well, I started putting food supplies in their appropriate bins and decided to check fluid levels. This is where I messed up.
It had been about three months since the batteries had been looked at, so I retrieved the distilled water to add to the cells. The second I lifted the cover I smelled rotten eggs.
Damn, there must be a leak from the holding tank (Which is situated below the battery compartment). Pulled off the little caps on the first battery and noticed some of the cells were bone dry.
"No problem", thought I, and I proceeded to fill. Again and again. I used an entire gallon of water in that battery, "I hope this battery will hold power to get through the weekend..."
A thought came to my mind, it was lonely, but it was still a thought.
"When a battery goes bad, it sulfates. This means a substance will form and clog the lead mesh in the acid solution. Sulfate... Sulfur... Rotten eggs."
Well, at least my brain still worked. Our batteries had boiled water away and had self destructed. And it was 1600. On a Friday.
No problem, We have dealt with this before, just add water, run the charger and we can get this through the weekend and not delay the trip.
The trip home was a worried one, the motors started but I was worried that the battery system was going to bite me in the butt, especially with a departure of 0700 looming ahead.
Some good headwork started to emerge when I called Battery Distributers Southeast at 1630, and asked for a quote on 4D batteries. The response was $139 less tax. The lady asked if I wanted to pick them up right away...? They close at 1700.
Bad Headwork popped up and I said jauntily, "Why no, I'm sure I can get through the weekend and I will see you on Monday."
Dinner was calling at 1800 and we went to the Yacht Club and dined well on beef tenderloin in the formal dining room. We went back to the Barco Sin Vela at 2030 for nightcap and early bed.
I thought I would check the batteries and when I popped up the cover I noticed excessive heat coming from the number one (The one that I poured a gallon of distilled water in earlier). The sides were bowing out and I was witnessing a thermal runaway. Instead of progressing on from "Worried" to "Panic", I jumped right to "Freaking the F%$*# Out".
The time was 2100, I had a bottle of red wine in me and a weekend that was ruined. I called my good buddy Elmer and asked him to go buy some 4D batteries from Walmart, and that I would pay him back.
Walmart does not carry 4D truck batteries.
I went to bed at 2230 completely upset that my poor planning was going to destroy this fun weekend. 0500 came early and we departed the Barco to see if we could find a battery supplier and do a last minute check for anything else. This included a drive by of Wally world on 103rd Street.
Nothing open there, we passed Auto zone and NAPA and noticed all were closed. We returned to the Barco at 0650 and found Elmer and Lisa waiting patiently for us breakfasting on fast foods.
I helped grab the luggage and we discussed options. Elmer, being the calm and collected one suggested we pull the starting battery out of the borrowed car and bring jumper cables. My thought was that little battery could never start the 200 Horse Perkins tractor motors, but we may as well try, since nothing would be open until 1000.
Darn, Elmer came through! He attached the little battery direct to the cables and the number one diesel fired right off. We used jumper cable on the second battery from the little starter and got the number two diesel fired right up. Underway three minutes later, we arrived at the Metropolitan Park marina three minutes before the planned time.
Elmer and Charlie helped us tie up to the dock;
I actually started to relax. Barco Sin Vela was backed into a primo boat berth and we secured our selves for the weekend. Oh, did I mention that the sun was rising in a beautiful blue, cloudless sky? I gotta lighten up, huh?
Now the challenge was to figure a way to acquire batteries when a store opened, have them delivered to the Barco while at Metro Park. My first inclination was to check out one of my friends near home, But then I remembered that Phil was on his boat at NAS Jax probably having coffee and a cigar on the waterfront. I called his cell and mentioned that Elmer and myself were at Metro Park, and that Phil might want to come by since fun was on our event horizon.
Could you bring a couple of boat batteries, too?
That's the way I roll, baby. Passive aggressive procurement.
Phil indicated that he would be happy to, just give him a few hours to get organized.
I was finally relaxing, there was no reason to imagine that the day was going to hell in a handbasket.
There were some boats approaching the dock and I watched the docking show. On nice looking Wellcraft cuddy cabin boat was flying an orange "T" flag on the aerial. A blond haired lady was on the bow with a line in hand. I motioned to the boat and asked the Spousal Unit if that was a certain "Missy" we once knew.
We exchanged looks and said together, "No way".
She Who will be Obeyed said, "It might be, wouldn't that be funny if..."
I just shot off with my mouth, "George!"
The driver looked over at me and said in a familiar voice, "What?"
The last time I had been to a Buffett concert was in 1995 at the then "Jacksonville Auditorium" (Same location as the new Veteran's Memorial Auditorium). George was a squadron mate at HSL-44 Mayport, He and Missy bought the tickets and a group of us went to the concert and had the best time tailgating before and after the concert. We last saw George and Missy in 2000 at Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico on our way back to the United States.
What are the odds of this happening?
At the same time another boater pointed at me and said, "I know you...!"
It was "Rob", another HSL-44 Aircrewman who I had served with from 1990-1995. Rob and George were still friends who cruised their boats together to the local coastal funspots. They both pulled their boats behind Barco and we spent the next few hours reconnecting and talking of the past twenty years. Over beer and daiquiris.
Rob boat (Middle), George boat (Right)
George and Rob, former HSL-44 mates;
George onboard Wildebeest III in Puerto Rico;
This was turning out to be the best weekend, ever.
Around noon, I called Phil to check on status. Phil told me that a rescue trawler would be getting underway with four batteries and a crew of Navy retirees would be inbound from Navy Jax Yacht Club. Sure enough, an hour later a boat of Pirates pulled promptly to our Port side, proffering powercells.
A full blown party had broken out on the end of the dock, and it was only 1430. The Barco Sin Vela had full twelve volt power restored on board and we joined the revelry.
Our Rescue Trawler from NAS Jax;
The Happy Spousal Unit;
End of dock, lovely Florida Yacht Club Ladies;
The Spousal Unit proposed a walk through the big stadium parking lot to watch the Parrot Heads, which I happily enjoined.
This is the flag from the Conch Republic, it is seen wherever particular Parrotheads Congregate;
Crazy Hats were the uniform of the day;
The parties were in full swing;
Very nice folks who offered us shots;
Here is a Parrothead Weirdo being funny casting a different kind of lure;
We returned to the Barco and began dinner prep. Barbecues are not allowed on the dock but everyone did it anyway. I lit our barbecue and the Fire Marshal happened along to yell at some other boats about the open flame business. So I secured our barbecue and cooked the burgers and dogs down below in the galley. The party moved inside.
Mike from "Arial", one of the rescue crew from NAS Jax;
More inside Barco;
More pirates onboard Barco;
The Charming Lisa;
We departed for the concert at 1915 and walked to the auditorium. It was a full house but everyone was fairly well behaved. Jimmy played 29 songs and we enjoyed the concert although it will probably be our last. $300.00 is an awful lot to pay for the music, and I had a better time at the dock party.
We returned to the Barco Sin Vela near 2300, we chatted with our crew for another two hours and called it a night.
The next morning we were up with the sun at 0700, I cooked some sausage and waffles for all. The Barco was underway at 1030 to drop off Elmer and Lisa. The rest of us went to Ortega river for fuel and holding tank pump out. We stooged about the St Johns River until 1500 when we dropped Phil off at the base. Full stop return to the Pirates Cove was a half hour later.
It was a grand weekend, I cannot wait to return to Metro Park for more boat partying.
I went over to this place and purchased two 4d Batteries yesterday. West Marine sells them for $280.00, each.
Call this a plug for the good people at this place;
I acquired two batteries for $280.00. Hoorah!
Second Epilogue: I need to lighten up when doing short weekend trips. We were always within a few miles of home so there is nothing worth spooling up about. It was all going to work out whether it was 0900 or 1400. Time and credit cards heal most boating problems.
My gratitude to all who helped make this a most memorable weekend!