Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Landfall: St. Croix!

Christiansted, St. Croix above Gallows Bay
We are in St. Croix! And the crew is happy to be here! Equinox endured a long 12-hour crossing from Puerto Rico in rough, jolting conditions, encountering intense squalls with lightning, head-on steep swells of 5’ - 6’ with additional chop stirred up by winds of 20-25 kts. Definitely not the most pleasant of conditions! Nevertheless, we just plugged along at 6 knots, gritting our teeth, until we finally made landfall Christiansted, St. Croix at 0700 on the 26th. We pulled alongside the St. Croix Marina fuel dock, tied up and made the boat secure at 17 degrees 44.8 minutes, 64 41.9 minutes. First time off the boat and onto dry land in a week -- my shoes felt a bit wobbly! 

While we are delighted to be here, it appears that we picked up a stowaway: a bit of Trouble! Right after arrival, we've had a crop of things go awry and are now having problems with systems that were just serviced. Literally. Just. Serviced!! (NOOOOO!!!) For starters, the salinity probe on the water maker failed -- this AFTER Spectra guaranteed that our unit was “factory perfect” after its rebuild this summer!! When Ron called them yet again, they admitted that they’ve had recurring issues with this salinity probe design for the past 5 years. (If so….why wouldn’t they work to correct it?!?) In the mean time, we have spares which we will use until they fail, which ... they probably will. Grrrr!!

Then, we went to put the dinghy in the water, only to discover that the davit boom now refuses to move down. Again: the davit was freshly serviced, and supposedly operating well! All other functions work fine -- we can rotate and counter-rotate the boom, drop the winch line, raise the winch line, and raise the boom….but not lower the boom itself. We spent the day trouble-shooting it via the phone with Ray, the technician who serviced it, and are now dealing directly with the service experts at Nautical Structures themselves. It could be a bad DIN connector or the Vickers valve assembly -- neither are items that need routine maintenance, so it's just incredible timing that something with the davit should go bad now. The worst part is that the unit is so tightly fitted into the housing that access to the DIN connectors is impossible without disconnecting a few of the hydraulic hoses, then unbolting and pulling the entire manifold out of the crane box!! It's more than we can do ourselves, and spare Vickers valves we do not have. 
The manifold unit inside the davit. The blue things are the
Vickers valve assemblies, and the DIN connectors are on the right. is the case with cruising, we are re-writing our itinerary and will follow a compass heading to St. Maarten, where there is an authorized service dealer that can repair the davit problem. In the meantime, the boom is at an angle that allows us to lower and raise the dinghy. We'll have to use the manual override to get the boom down and secured when we head out to St. Maarten, though.

We also had to change out the A/C sump located in the engine room. We realized that the engine room A/C was indeed plumbed to the sump, but we found that its hose connection at the sump had cracked and broken. Unfortunately, there was no way to repair or re-attach the connector, so we put in the new unit. Again, spares to the rescue, and the condensation hoses now are all properly plumbed. No more mysterious fresh water washing into the bilge! 
New AC sump in and working like a champ!
So…life is certainly never as you hope or expect, but then again, that is what keeps things from being dull, isn't it? I'll admit that after this series of setbacks (all in one day!) we're ready to keel-haul our stowaway, and leave him behind! Trouble, begone!

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