Saturday, 9 December 2017

South To St Augustine, Florida

Atlantic Sunrise, Off The Carolina Coast
Too Small & Too Bloody - Mackerel Tuna
With winter rapidly setting in, we escaped southward last week, sailing offshore down the Atlantic coast in warm weather bound for St. Augustine, Florida. Light winds from astern were not helpful, so the Cummins engine worked hard once again, as we pushed south and west, staying close to the coast to avoid the north-setting Gulf Stream current.

I wasn't surprised to find the Admiral on deck early one morning, with a fish hanging off a lure ... but really, did she have to start fishing before breakfast? Unfortunately the first three fish that came in were low-value Mackerel Tuna, and they were all released. With this state of affairs the Admiral gave up in disgust - she wanted Mahi Mahi or Wahoo, or Spanish Mackerel. Dream on.

So the fishing tackle was stowed once again and relaxed cruising resumed. We arrived at the St. Augustine bar right on time, in the middle of a rising tide with a following wind. The entrance was therefore drama free and Crystal Blues found herself safely moored on a City Marina mooring ball well before it was time for drinks. Perfect!

Christmas Lights In St. Augustine

This town, reported as the oldest city in America, was once a Spanish outpost. Now, with Christmas approaching, it kinda feels like a Disney outpost. Trolley / tram rides clog the streets, carrying droves of serious tourists from sight to sight, from Ghost Tour to Spanish Fort, restaurant to restaurant. This is not at all what we expected. But the decorative lights are really nice, and the spirit of the place does eventually get to you. Music is everywhere! St. Augustine has an incredibly vibrant live music scene - we've enjoyed great bars and restaurants with excellent live entertainment and usually no cover charge.

Checking The Injection Elbow
However it hasn't been all glittering lights and music. Our beloved Cummins 4BT engine was due for a major 4,000 hour service, so this past week we've tackled everything that can be checked and refreshed on the unit. The standard lube oil and filters, fuel filters etc were ticked off early, before we moved on to the gearbox lube oil and filter, then flushing and cleaning the gear oil cooler and the engine heat exchanger. Then we inspected and checked the turbo, serviced the Walker AirSep filter system, serviced the syphon break, checked the exhaust injection elbow, replaced the drive belt and replaced the belt tensioner.

The Salt water pump was checked (all blades Ok after 500 hours) and the coolant was tested with a Fleetguard coolant test kit, then adjusted to the correct chemical mix using a measured concentrate. For good measure we finished off with valve lash adjustment today.

OK, I'm slow, but it has taken almost six days to work through the job, in between shopping trips and the essential cruising social activities. The weather here has now turned to winter again, with a series of small cold fronts moving in. Predicted 2 degrees Centigrade overnight tomorrow evening. So we'll probably move aft and turn our attention to the Northern Lights generator - its now ready for service.

Valve Lash (Tappet) Adjustment On The Cummins 4BT

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