The Big Apple-Alex meets Lady Liberty…

Yes dear readers, we all got to greet the Grand Lady and take pictures. Alex said he thought it would be bigger. How about that? But let us start back at Atlantic City on Wednesday.

We left Cape May with a plan. It was to run at speed all the way to Sandy Hook outside NY harbor, spend the night and enter NYC first thing Thursday. We were running about 5 miles offshore as the picture shows. Well, that plan went up in smoke with an overheated port engine 5 miles north of Atlantic City. All we could do was limp back to Atlantic City’s Absecon Inlet and try to effect repairs. Out in the Atlantic there were four foot rollers and it would be dangerous to try and work in the engine room under those conditions plus the noise from the running starboard engine and the heat would be torture.

A quick look while underway revealed antifreeze coolant everywhere leading me to suspect a burst hose. But after we reached an anchorage within sight of the casinos I discovered after much effort that there was no coolant leak. It had boiled over from the coolant recovery tank and sprayed the engine room. The real culprit was one we are familiar with and is a definate pattern.

It was a failure of the keyway in the impeller and the shaft was spinning when I asked Jan to bump the engine. But the impeller was sitting still just like the starboard engine did on the way to Solomons Island. I tore it down. Now, I was getting to be an expert at this, and already had a new key cut and ready to install. But what was causing this strange phenomenon?

It turns out those particular pumps have an inherent defect in that the keyway was cut too large and under high speed revs it slips to the end of the shaft and grinds against the backplate virtually chewing or melting down a key until it is too short and then it falls out causing pump failure. My good friend Ken Searl did some Internet research and found out all this plus where to get replacement pumps of better design. I actually lost what was left of this key when it fell down the incoming raw water hose that runs under the engine. Nothing I could do there so I took a chance and left it hoping the pump suction at lower speed would not be strong enough to suck that metal key uphill and into the rubber impeller destroying it. I will have to fish it out soon though. It is a calculated risk based on no real choice.

We lost 3 hours in Atlantic City and with no hesitation went back out into the ocean while consulting with the Commander via phone. He said the weather would hold and this was summer solstice so we would have daylight till after 8pm. Great to have smart friends. Onward!

Traveling at 1200 rpm instead if 2400 we only reached 10 mph with the following seas. Our goal was Manasquan Inlet where we would rest for the night. It was 8pm when we finally pulled into Hoffman’s Marina. There was a 5 mph current running at the dock and a 6 foot tide. To reach a slip you had to fight the current while waiting for a narrow RR bridge to open and deal with idiots in fast boats roaring around. Another boat actually paid a local captain to move his boat. Plus it was getting dark.We were having none of this. I talked the kid at the dock into letting us stay at the fuel dock so long as we were gone by 5am Thursday because they start fueling fishing boats at 6am. Yes, I crossed his palm with silver.

Remember me complaining about how expensive it was in Cape May? Well we set a new record here. $3 a foot plus $20 for power. I was not happy but it was done. We cleaned up and went to dinner.

When we awoke at 0430 everyone was in a sweat. The AC had quit in the night! A look told me the two units were functional but were shutting down due to lack of cooling water. Another dang pump issue. How much can go wrong? The only good thing was that Alex had been wanting to catch something for so long…

No time to worry about it now. Fishing boats were already lining up and we had to move. Shoved off at 0515. Jan said the starboard engine was running erratic but we had to leave. That engine was erratic and rpm’s fluctuated wildly. I had seen this before on our old Gibson and it had to do with restricted fuel flow. But by the time we got out in the Atlantic it had spontaneously resolved. I think it is past time to change the fuel filters again.

So once again we eased along at 10 mph and made progress toward NYC. Alex slept most of the way.

We woke him as we approached the Verrazano Bridge leading into NY harbor. Now folks, let me tell you this was high pressure driving. There were dozens of ships everywhere. One was over 600 feet long called the Vietnam Express. It was running 18.1 mph and we could only make 10 and she was directly behind us. Oh fudge! Luckily whoever was in charge of these things would not clear this vessel to come under the the bridge and enter the harbor due to lack of maneuvering space inside. So we just got a break.

Inside the harbor it was a zoo. Ships all around, ferries flying back and forth at speed, and water like the inside of a washing machine on agitate. But there was a little canal barge named Everglades towing a dinghy behind and moving through it all as if they knew where to go. I just shot over behind them and slowed to follow. They never would answer the radio but weaved us right through all the traffic without even a close call.

Alex was google eyed at all the buildings and chattering away telling us that Spiderman swung on that one and the Avengers met in that one. He watches entirely too many movies.

We eased over by the Statue of Liberty to take pictures and suddenly a small familiar cruiser came around from behind Liberty Island. It was Seabiscuit with Bill and Pam! We contacted them and had a brief reunion. I took some pictures of them and Alex talked to Pam on the phone since they are from Lexington, KY just like him. 

We saw the new twin towers replacements, the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building and Ellis Island. It was fascinating and still chaos was all around us. We even saw the aircraft carrier Intepid which has the space shuttle Enterprise sitting on it’s deck, but it is under cover until the grand opening. Still it was impressive. Eventually we worked our way north under the George Washington Bridge and up the Hudson. We will be back on Sunday by train.

The Hudson River Valley is gorgeous. So much to see and take in. Mystery question of the day. Anyone know what this building is? It appears to be some sort of Catholic cathedral on the side of the river. I do not have an answer so one of you will have to convince us. 

By mid afternoon we had passed under the Tappan Zee Bridge and eventually made it to Half Moon Bay Marina at Croton-on-Hudson. It was scorching hot and no AC. This was a mess. Oh did I mention the radar was non-functioning all day? Everything is breaking in a cascade of disaster.

Alright, no panic, just more work. First, the radar is just a blown fuse. Unfortunately a fuse I do not have but will find here. When we first saw NY it seemed shrouded in haze which is likely pollution but it looked like fog and I was worried that without radar we would be flying blind. Luckily that was not the case.

Second the engine fluctuation problem is likely fuel filters beginning to clog and I will be changing both oil and the fuel filters here. This is a half day operation but we have plenty of time now.

Third, the AC. This could not wait and as Jan tried to deal with a totally bored Alex, who could see a pool they would not let him use, I began trying to repair the pump that pulls water from under the boat to cool the AC compressors.

I had a spare impeller for the AC pump and it was supposed to be simple. Four wing nuts and pull the magnetic impeller out, pop in a new one and tighten the wing nuts. But when I pulled the old one out it was clear that a plastic piece inside the pump was broken and could not be repaired without some sort of rebuild kit which would have to come from Oklahoma, where the wind blows free across the plain.

Luckily there was a marine parts store locally but I needed a ride which the owner of the marina, Steve Plotkin, offered for later. Meanwhile I had to pull the old pump to take with me and make sure I got everything I needed plus any fittings. Now this turned out to be a job far beyond my wildest expectations. One, that engine room was hot as hades. Both engines were over 200 degrees and not cooling down very fast on a near 100 degree day. Two, the old reinforced hose was not coming loose easily and had to practically be gnawed off with nippers. Three, the electrical connection for the pump had to be disconnected from the AC main board and required a contortionist. In the meantime I was cutting myself at every turn. First my arm, then my other hand and lastly the top of my head. Thin blood ran freely that day and you would have thought I was butchering hogs when I was done.

A trip to the parts store, which we just made in time, revealed that they had a pump that would work but it was not the kind I had and was not what I would have bought given a choice. But it was the only game in town, a heat wave was in progress and Jan and Alex were depending on me. The owner said he could order what I wanted but it would be at least three days. So I bought the pump. You would be proud that I did not throw a fit at the price but I should have. $428 for the pump plus another fitting and hose. I was sick inside.

The reinstallation took over an hour but I caught one break which helped. All that praying down in that heat must have been heard. Yes, dear readers, we have a cool boat once again but no spare impeller for this pump as they must be obtained from the manufacturer. I will try to get one plus the parts to fix the old one, but doubt I will be able to get them before I finish this trip. The old pump lasted 12 years so maybe we will be okay.

A blessed shower and a walk to dinner for pizza. Alex dictates a lot of our dining. When I say walk, I mean a trek. I sure wish we had a third bicycle.

On the way back from dinner we stopped at the market to pick up only essentials as we will need a marina cart to bring groceries back when we resupply.

As we neared the marina we heard sirens and soon five police cars, an ambulance and EMT’s blasted past. Somewhere in this complex was either a dead body or a badly damaged live one, I expect, but I was too tired to investigate no matter how much Alex insisted.

Friday we will solve Alex’s main complaint which is the desire to go swimming. There is a beautiful protected beach a half mile across the bay where I can see dozens of people. We will take down the dinghy and run him over there. Jan can take a book and I will return to the boat and continue working. Then they can call me for a pick up.

The absolute first order of business today is to catch a bus to a Walmart and buy a cheap printer for the computer. I must print both Ground Zero and Air Tran tickets and we have pushed it too late already. Plus there are numerous transactions I have been putting off pending access to a printer. As a Senior Judge I still have certain filing requirements back in Georgia and have missed several deadlines but they will still accept them.

So you see life moves on though not always in the direction we want. Stay flexible, be patient and have a big pocketbook. Heck I don’t qualify on any of those. Stay tuned as we take on the Naked City.