With the boat no where near ready to be fixed until we can resolve just exactly what part do we have on this boat, we decided our best bet was to find a larger, more full service marina and continue our search for the part along the way. We thanked bubba electrician; paid his bill and that of the marina and pulled out, headed to Shelburne Shipyard, that has a good reputation for repairs and a good electrician. Hopefully, they can resolve this part issue.
|Burlington, VT in the background across from Shelbourne Shipyard|
|Coming into Shelbourne Shipyard dock|
Ah, Lake Champlain lives up to the reputation. Absolutely beautiful! A wide lake, ringed with mountains on both sides that we could just make out through the mist and cloudy skies. I look forward to spending time on this Lake, anchoring out, swimming and just enjoying. We are to meet Dale and AnneMarie on Friday at his house at South Hero Island to spend a few days with them on and off the boat and then off again. I hope this electrical problem doesn’t ruin our plans. Dale has even gotten a baby sitter so he can take off for a night or two aboard. We have had too many plans screwed in the past because of ‘issues’ with this NEW boat. We will have to traverse back to Dale’s as this Shipyard is about 20 miles south of them.
The electrician showed up right away and also diagnosed the electrical problem as the switch. By now, and more hours on the phone and computer while underway today, Andy finally had a fair idea of what the part might actually be. The electrician did locate a ‘son of Sam’ part that should work, at a cost of $400+ just for the part. Of course, we are now at the mercy of someone packing and shipping the part in a timely manner.
|The WORST - Can't someone FIX this thing?!!|
Try cruising along, minding your own business and carefully watching depth and having NO depth reported, nothing. Add to that the fact that we have had NO music for nearly a year and that seems to be not able to be fixed either by the same shop….After spending a fortune adding the stereo, speakers, iPod connection and all the stuff that goes with our Clarion AM/FM radio, CD player, etc. it is for crap, still shorting out and skipping constantly.
The VHF Radio that we had worked on in the Chesapeake to be certain all was well when we would have to lower the boat’s arch did not work after all after lowering the arch in the Erie Canal. Then, several hundred dollars later paid to yet another ‘expert’, at Bremerton, we departed there to find that while the radio did work if one was within shouting distance of us, it would not work a mile or so out. … a very dangerous situation for us.
|Working to turn the shafts in Bremerton|
We are now in a spitting contest with the builder in China and the boat broker. The DeFever builder, POC in China and the Broker, Andy, have basically called us stupid, naïve and gullible and intimated that the marina where we had the work done and the boat surveyor we hired to document the issue were in collusion and scheming to get money I guess. Amazing. Now this no name or maybe it is a two brand name part fails. I am sick to death of all this.
We are now here until at least Friday, the earliest the part can come in, tied up to a working boatyard. No place to get off the boat and no place to go if we did. So absolutely frustrating……………why can’t all these ‘experts’ we’ve had to deal with over the past year FIX anything and have it STAY fixed? Why do things fail so short in their life span? I am still convinced there is something wrong somewhere. Again, back to WHY do we have these problems? WHY is this switch FRIED? WHY have we fried 4, yes, FOUR, coffeepots, one iron, one hair dryer and nearly fried my curling iron? We are out about $600 - $700 thus far just on these personal fried items, not counting the upcoming repair for the switch. It’s probably a very good thing we are several weeks of cruising time away from Chesapeake. Perhaps I’ll cool off before we get there and have to deal yet again with getting all these things REfixed. Again, ##**%!!#.
Thursday & Friday, August 20, 21, 2009
Lazy Thursday, tied to the Shipyard dock, with waves bouncing us about day and night. We occupied ourselves while waiting for the part to be delivered doing catch up work all day. I’m running out of food as we have been unable to re-provision for some time..
Six hours of work by the electrician Friday got us started up so we can recoup our planned weekend with friends 30 miles back up the Lake. The aft power source doesn’t work, and we will return here next week so they can figure out and fix that problem that just cropped up. We can live without that for the time being as we plan to anchor out anyway. We have a forward power source, so we could use that should we need to be in a marina with shore power.
|Dale & AnneMarie aboard Finally Fun|
We located Dale’s house at Hyde Point on Grand Isle and via cell phones, pulled into a small cove just south of him to tie to his neighbor’s mooring ball. Well, long story short, the ball wasn’t set up properly for us, with only a polypropaline line tied to a chain somewhere deep below. Neither Andy nor I taking turns pulling or handling the boat could pull it up. Also, no one told us that there was a shale shelf closer to shore and 30’ out, we hit it. Frustrated, we pulled out of that cove, seeking shelter in another cove just north of Dale that was more protected and larger and had a mud bottom we were told.
An easy, successful dropping of the hook and we were firmly set, but all was NOT well. Andy suddenly hollered, “Sharon, we’re screwed!”. Let me not have to repeat again all my frustration with boat repairs that are never done right. We were looking at exactly the same problem we went into the Shipyard with. NO power, same voltage readings, etc. etc. after 3 days there and an $800 bill. Their repair must have lasted the 2 minutes it took to 'check it out'.
Back to square one, except now we were in desperate straits. It was getting DARK, and we HAD to get to a shore power source or we would face dead batteries and no AC power in the morning as we had no way to generate power to charge them. Bottom line, that means: We discharge the batteries used to produce AC power or not power to the two refrigerators. You replace the batteries at a cost of several thousand dollars. We were also in the “Inner Sea” of Lake Champlain with a drawbridge that does not open up from 8 PM til 8 AM. We were stuck and could not get out. I called the only marina in the Inner Sea that we were aware of, having passed it on the way in. Ladd’s Marina answered the phone – now nearly 8 :30 PM! Emily and her husband, the owners, were catching up on paperwork! They understood the significance of our problem and walked their marina docks looking for empty spaces. In reality, they were full and no room for such a large boat as ours. BUT a couple of their customers had their boats out already for the weekend and they had someone else move temporarily so we could get to a larger space! Talk about going over the top for us! After pulling the anchor in quickly, mud and all splashing on our deck, and fighting that anchor YET AGAIN, because the anchor still wants to flop back into the water just as it enters the boat (another issue we have had worked on to NO AVAIL) we pulled out in the nearly dark night.
About 20 minutes later, we turned into Ladd Marina in total darkness. Guess what, the Guess spotlight doesn’t work. Same spotlight we had replaced last year because it didn’t work. We have used that spotlight ONE TIME in the night in the Bahamas and now it has failed when we needed it the most. Have I said I AM SICK and TIRED of ALL THIS CRAP.
Suddenly, we saw several flashlights waving from boats along the dock we needed to turn into and another light waving us along side a dock, so we were able to see were we needed to be! Again, friendly boaters to the rescue!!! We tied down with a lot of help from the crowd that had gathered, I guess, hearing our plight from Emily as she & her husband searched for space for us. Dale & AnneMarie picked us up about 9:30 for dinner at their house. We tumbled into our beds about 11:15, all weekend plans trashed as we have to go back to Shelbourne Shipyard immediately to get this fixed and to have our props looked at.
I am taking names, dates and issues and I do believe I should start publishing all on the DeFever blogs and other boating industry blogs. I can’t take much more. I either do that to vent or start a business of fixing boats – one stop shop. Of course, I’ll only work on boats I KNOW are departing for places far away, no one local, so I get paid for crap work and not have to worry. This seems to be the way business goes in the water world from my perspective, so why not?
This is the most frustrating experience ever. The only comparison was the house we bought in Atlanta and had to sue the builder due to such lousy work. (We won big time.) I love boating but am beginning to NOT love this boat and anyone connected to it. I think I’d better start scrubbing again and drinking before my blood pressure pops my veins……that OR sell this trawler thing and buy another sailboat. I did learn to sail and owned two sailboats years ago simply because we bought a power boat that never worked. After months of frustration and hauling the powerboat back for repairs every single weekend we tried to use it, we got ugly and got all our money back We used the money to buy a sailboat, took sailing lessons and never had any mechanical problems after that….Sweet. A lesson here I do believe. Wonder if Andy can bring in a sailboat to the dock as well as this trawler thing??? Hummmm.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
|Curled prop - we had TWO of these!|
An uneventful 4 hours back down Lake Champlain to Shelbourne Shipyard traveling at low speed due to the props. A LONG discussion ensued with the Chief Electrician who does believe there is something behind all this and pointed out a couple of issues with what he’s seen already. They will start work on Sunday and haul out the boat on Monday. Here we go again. Me, I'm finally please this electrician listened and listened to the litany of things that have gone wrong electrically, especially all the appliances we've had to replace, the spotlight, the surges to the chart plotter which shut it down, etc. etc. etc. Previously, my litany of all these woes was always met with a patronizing look and basically a pat on my head from the broker & the guy who did all this work, other electricians along the way and also included from my husband......let's see where this ends up.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Well, no one is available to work on the boat as we had been led to believe. Another day off the life of our cruising and another day of quiet fury on my part. We’re tied back up to the side of this shipyard and it is rather bouncy and loud, with the waves slapping hard…sleep is interrupted quite a bit.
Salvation! We learned that a Vermont Cheese & Wine Festival is being held at Shelbourne Farms, near here. Unloading the bikes, we pedaled the 11 mile round trip without too much difficulty, walking UP some of the hills. Our gears are now rusted closed and we pedal with whatever gear each bike happened to be in when it was stored in the aft cockpit – my ‘garage’ as I call that area. Ah, doesn’t take much salt spray to ruin everything…. We thoroughly enjoyed the day sampling cheeses made from cow’s milk, from goat milk, from water buffalo milk & from sheep’s milk. FACTOID: Did you know that ewe’s milk (that is sheep to you non-country folks) has 90% more calcium and 65% more protein than other milk sources!!
Seems VT has been making cheeses since the 1800’s and is noted for their small batch, specialty cheeses. While these were great, we had the opportunity of sampling many Canadian cheeses while in Montreal at their local food festival. We both agree, those Canadian cheeses are to DIE for, they are so rich, so creamy and so very tasty! Very different from VT and other brands and I much prefer those Canadian cheeses, especially any from the Province of Quebec. We also sampled the VT wines made locally – just ok to our palates. I especially loved a demonstration of how cheese is made. Andy got so excited he now wants to make our own cheese…okay by me, but NOT on the boat!! And of course, not to be missed is the ability to people watch. Vermonters do live up to their ‘granola’ image. We had a delightful day and ultimately slept like logs in spite of the loud slapping, bouncing from the dock. An 11 mile bike ride will tire one out!!
Monday thru Thursday, August 24 – 27, 2009
Worker bees all over the boat every day, trying to get it fixed. All agreed that the switch we replaced for $800 was not likely the culprit and that other problem(s) exist somewhere. I’m impressed, because these electricians at Shelbourne Shipward are listening to us and do see all these little issues as an indicator there is something amiss…In the past, my recital of the litany of things going wrong has been met with a patronizing look by the macho repair folks. “ Me, Macho. Me know what is wrong.“ Mucho chest pounding. Mucho repair bills. Mucho continuing electrical problems. Send the monkeys back to the cages.
Finally, these electricians found that the neutral wire in the generator must have become disconnected and burnt through, thereby creating all these false and erroneous readings. Why did this come loose? Vibrations? Not secure enough to start with??? Why NOT? Remember, this is a NEW boat. We paid big bucks for NEW so we would not have to deal with repairs. What a joke.
The aft shore power connector ceased working for us(meaning we had no way to connect to shore power from the rear of the boat) was found to be wired backwards so it acted like an off/on switch and not like the circuit breaker it should have been, however that was not the problem, the neutral wire in the generator was the problem. THAT alone could have created a fire aboard. Guess it was a good thing it just QUIT. Who wired this?
The CD/AM/FM radio that no one could figure out why it would not work (skip/on/off) for the past YEAR was found to be wired incorrectly so we are told. Who to believe???? If one has more than two sets of speakers (we have 3) you should only wire one set of inputs to the distribution box. Both ours were wired, thereby explaining why it cuts in/out all the time. Radio no longer works (probably fried as a result) and has been shipped back to the manufacturer. We’ll see what they report as to what is wrong & what the guy who installed & has been trying to fix this radio, has to say.
The GUEST spotlight that will not turn on, nor MOVE around, will have to wait to be fixed by the same guy who replaced it already once. He replaced our original one as it NEVER worked and now this one worked once, in April, in the Bahamas. Wonder if this is yet another backward wiring issue???? Update: Guess finally admitted they had a problem with this particular spotlight and replaced it for us....WHY don't they notify purchasers? We had to pull that info out of them after loudly complaining to them about their TWO faulty spotlights, both of which failed quickly and always at a critical moment.
Belinda, the 3rd engineer on this team at Shelbourne Shipyard, spent a lot of time working with the faulty RAYMARINE Chart Plotter and cannot determine what is wrong either. I’m sick of this….over a year and the damn thing still doesn’t work properly. I’m for ripping it all out and buying another totally different brand. Maybe GARMIN makes a better quality product that would work. I’m so underwhelmed by all the ‘experts’, by the ‘brands’, by the crappy workmanship.
The anchor & chain that keep unwinding and dropping into a rapid free fall into the water as I try to bring it up was partially fixed. Seems the windless might not have been set into the boat properly. One nut was missing from the aft bolt; and the holes originally drilled for the windless are too large. This thing needs to be re-secured better…another major job that will be addressed when we get back to the Chesapeake. We had the windless tightened; put another nut on; and added an additional roller on deck just in front of the windless to keep the chain flatter against the deck as we pull up the anchor. This should prevent the anchor & chain from coming up, flopping a bit and the chain then flipping OFF the windless, thereby starting its free fall back into the water. This has been very scary for me since it started happening in the Bahamas – and it has been a dangerous situation for several reasons. (1) Sometimes many other boats are very close, limiting our maneuvering room (2) Andy has taken to placing a wooden cutting board by the chain & holding it against the chain coming up with his foot. He brings it up while I handle the boat. I live in fear that the wooden board will slip and the chain will somehow grab his ankle or shoe. He could lose his foot in a sudden amputation or get pulled overboard and drown as the chain and anchor take him under. Our ‘repairs’ done to this while we were back in the Chesapeake at Mears Marine in June did not solve the problem at all.
The VHF radio that we had worked on at the Winter Harbor Marina in Bremerton (ie giving us enough slack in the wiring since we had to lower the arch) that never worked properly after that repair was fixed by Belinda. We could be heard at close range, but not at any distance. Imagine, we have to cruise outside in the ocean along NJ; cruise across Delaware Bay & Chesapeake Bay, just for starters on our return trip south… a very dangerous proposition without any ability to communicate should a problem develop. Belinda put in an entire new wire from the arch and through the antenna and ran it into the radio. We are now booming over the radio waves…….
|Up & down in this lift so many times we lost count!!|
And as to the repairing of both of our props – another repair gone wrong. We hauled the boat (for you non-boaters that means the boat is driven onto a sling and hoisted out of the water and held in the sling or placed on a wooden support if repairs will take time, like in Bremerton) and had both props removed. Both had a couple of dings/curls to a couple of the blades on each….nothing huge.
It was determined that we could DRIVE the props to Chambly, Canada, for quicker repair at a place deemed to be very good. We rented a car and took off with several hundred pounds of props in the trunk. Long story short, we drove the props up on Monday, 8/24 and I returned on Tuesday to pick them up. The props were put back on Wednesday morning & off Andy & I went to check them out. Within a few moments (1100 to 1400 RPM), this god awful eardrum piercing sound assailed our ears. If I were a dog, I’d have been howling in agony!! It was both props, yet at higher RPM, it went away. A call to the prop repair place was met with disbelief and what I later determined was a pretend ignorance. Hauling the boat out of the water yet again (now our 3rd time in/out), the guys removed the props, re-checked everything & I headed BACK to Canada for the 3rd day in a row. Questioned at the Border Customs crossing, the guy said to me, “Lady, didn’t I hear this same story about boat props from you yesterday?!!” I told him if he saw me tomorrow with this same story that someone better check the mayhem I would leave behind in Canada. Good thing he had a sense of humor – unlike the airlines. I could have been spending some time in either the US or Canadian ‘jail’ or whatever, answering a lot of questions stemming from my flippant comment.………….ah, feels good to vent.
Seems the initial ‘disbelief’ or disavowal of any knowledge of singing coming from props was a ploy. As soon as I got there, one of the repairmen discussed with me what he would do to fix this harmonic sound, sanding down the brass on one side vs the other side. He also told me, tongue in cheek, that perhaps I might not want to get it fixed….that whales would come from near and far to follow our boat……frankly, I don’t want to get into some kind of weird mating dance with a WHALE out in the ocean!!! We have more than enough troubles as it is without encouraging any more! One hour on each prop repair and I was headed back to Shelbourne, two hours away. Yet another haul in/out on Thursday morning, props reattached and yet another check ride…Much much better,with only a hint of sound that quickly goes away as we increase RPMs. We will live with this.
By about 5:00 PM Thursday, the boat was cleared of all workmen (and one woman) and we were deemed ‘ready to go’. The Shipyard was fair to us and negotiated the bill. All agreed that the first $800 spent on that switch was probably unnecessary given all that transpired since. No one is willing to take that part off and ship it back to the manufacturer, however, because they are not certain. We are WORKING now and that is what counts…well maybe. I’m still angry that we now have a $400 spare part (the old switch that probably is working just fine) that we will never need, as apparently these things rarely fail….Bottom line, the Shipyard reduced their overall bill and did not charge us for dockage and for half of the haulouts. We are still in four digits for the bill, however!! We feel okay with this and don’t feel ripped off. I do feel ripped off, however, by Winter Haven’s VHF radio repairman, by China and by repairs that fail to work by Rick. All these issues will be addressed within this coming week.
Friday, August 28, 2009
We pulled out of Shelbourne Shipyard about 7:00 am, 9 days after we first checked in here, headed for Champlain Canal, a 7 hour cruise. The entire Lake runs from the US Border at Rouses Point, NY to Whitehall, NY, 109 miles away. While we never did get to explore the Lake as we had planned, cruising down it today was a beautiful experience.
Over 9 miles wide in many places, and very narrow later as the Lake turns into more of a river at about Crown Point, mountain ranges rise high along both the VT and the NY shorelines. We spot sandy beaches, numerous coves and little islands and few people and little wildlife. Seagulls are the predominate bird…this IS fresh water, not salt!
This Lake is drop dead gorgeous, reminding us of our cruising last year in Desolation Sound in British Columbia, way up north towards Alaska. These mountains aren’t as high, nor is there snow on top, but still equally scenic, remote looking and glorious. This experience has also generated a new interest in the history of our country as so much of it took place along these routes that we are cruising. I want to read about Samuel de Champlain, the first European to discover this lake; read about the Revolutionary War and especially about Benedict Arnold…why did he become a. traitor? So many events critical to the birth of our country took place along this route! I also want read about John Quincy & Abigail Adams and this time period…..I know nothing about them, but hear from a fellow boater that they and especially SHE are fascinating. Wisps of stories and facts from grammar school and middle school history are swirling about my brain and now I am truly interested – some how many years later?! And there will be NO test….
|Harvesting water chestnuts in Lake Champlain|
|Who knew water chestnuts were in these waters??|
Cruising along in the afternoon near Crown Point, the ‘river’ portion of this Lake and the site of large battles and where Fort St. Frederick is located. This Fort was first French in 1759, then captured by the Brits almost immediately and renamed Ft. Crown Point. The Americans gained control in 1775.
About 11 miles later, we turned fairly sharply starboard and I just happening to look back behind us, spotting huge Ft. Ticonderoga sprawled atop the high bluff overlooking the Lake! Built by the French in 1758 as Ft. Carillon, this Ft. was also attacked by the Brits in 1758 but it was not until a later attack in 1759 that it actually became British. The taking of this Fort in May, 1775 by Benedict Arnold & the Green Mountain Boys was American’s first important victory during the Revolutionary War. We, however, lost this Fort in 1777 to the Brits and could not gain it back. The War then ended shortly thereafter and the Fort abandoned. It has now since been restored and opened to the public. Gotta find a library or book store!!!
Surprise! Our friends aboard Side by Side that we met during our cruise in Canada at St. Anne de Belleview are tied up here. We had a fun ‘reunion’ catching up on stories aboard their boat on Friday evening. They have a great ‘tradition’ I think we should implement. Every Friday evening is cocktail night (mind you, Friday is not the only night one is sipping spirits of some kind!). On Fridays, Tony mixes a real drink, like a martini, etc. (instead of their normal wine, beer, etc.) and they celebrate the end of the week for them. I think this is a great idea, not because I want a mixed drink, but because this is one way to help fix in my head WHAT DAY IS THIS? While cruising like this, it is hard to keep track of what day it is. Forget about figuring out the DATE – it is the DAY of the week that also escapes me. I could now at least count back ….let’s see, it has been 3 days since I had a gin and tonic, therefore, this must be Monday, Might help, as long as I don’t drink too much of the hard stuff and forget everything. Certainly would help in getting rid of the hard stuff we have on board that we don’t drink, nor want.
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Lazy day with drizzling rain spent aboard Finally Fun tied up at the wall in Whitehall, NY. I cooked up a storm, filling the freezer with chili, and several soups made from all the produce I had bought on my last trip in Canada with the props. Andy cleaned bilges.
|Cruising down Lake Champlain|
|View from Skene Manor - Finally Fun on the wall below|
We loved the play which told the story of Samuel de Champlain and a bit of his personal life and certainly about his explorations and battles here. Some of my questions regarding Benedict Arnold & his role during this time period were answered during the play and we learned about the town of Whitehall (formerly known as Skenesborough) and how this town is the birthplace of the U.S. Navy. B. Arnold fought America’s first great naval battle on this lake and we heard all about it during the play. A Great Evening! There is much to treasure about small town Americana and this is one of them. This is a very small rust belt town, with really nothing here and all on the decline. Sad place, but full of nice people. At least four groups offered us all rides home as they saw us walking down the street from the theatre.
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Ah, Leslie’s birthday today. How can I possibly have a daughter that is 39 years old? Can’t believe it…bet she can’t either! Grin
We are the only boat left on the wall – lazy day again, just catching up. We hiked way up a hill to Skene Manor, the castle on the hill for a sandwich lunch and tour of the place. Interesting, but with a long way to go toward full restoration as they rely on donations and grants.. Lunch was okay, but ever so slow. An all volunteer ‘army’ here that is well intentioned and not necessarily professional. After the hiking up the hill, TWICE, because there were no road signs, I thought my tongue would hang out on the table I was so thirsty. Twenty minutes for water……..ah well, rural Americana.