When we arrived at Dog River Marina in Mobile, Alabama we knew that we would be waiting here for a few days. Ross and Laura of The Zone had been here for about a month as they had some repairs that needed to be done as well as going to Florida for Thanksgiving. We wanted to catch up with them so we could cruise with them to Florida. At the time of our arrival their boat was up on the hard (now back in the water). We also had a few repairs to be done. On the day we cruised down from the Alabama River Cutoff to Dog River Marina we noticed that our house batteries were not being recharged either by the generator nor the main engine. We also wanted to get the autopilot diagnosed. We got it checked out twice before but were always leery of what we heard. Dog River has a first class service department here so we committed to having them do the work. Dog River is a nice enough marina. It is highly rated by the looper community with a very large boatyard that can tackle just about any marine maintenance need. Indeed there were boats of all kinds being worked on either in the water or up on land.
Bryson, one of the lead technicians at Dog River came on board Why Knot and got to work. First was the battery situation. When we bought Why Knot we were pretty much warned that the batteries were going to be a problem shortly as they were kind of old. The boat has four very large and expensive 8D batteries in her: one for starting and three for house needs. We had to replace the starter battery back in January at Vero Beach. A house battery was replaced back in Charlevoix, Michigan. Now the last two remaining house batteries both crapped out together. They needed to be replaced. But instead of replacing just the two batteries we went ahead and replaced all three house batteries so that they would be the same age and make. So now we have a good starter battery, three brand new house batteries and an extra perfectly good 8D battery that we’ll keep as a spare.
Bryson then turned his attention to the autopilot. As I said we had it diagnosed twice before but each time it seemed that the technicians pulled their diagnosis’ out of their…hats. Bryson, however was very thorough. We tore the boat apart so that he could get to all of the components until he found the problem. A servo electrical motor that actually does the work of sending pressure to the rudder control had failed. A replacement was flown in overnight and he got it all together and operating successfully. That was on Friday. On Sunday we took Why Knot out for a sea trial and everything worked perfectly. (We also had the sea water impeller on the generator replaced.)
So, our work was completed and The Zone was now in the water docked right behind us all ready to go. But unfortunately the weather has turned to poo. Starting on Sunday afternoon the winds and waves have kicked up. Monday was worse with tornado warnings in the area. Today (Tuesday) was originally supposed to be good go-boat day but it stinks too. Wednesday is a possibility but we’re going to have to rely on the solid local knowledge of the marina staff to be sure. Thursday and Friday would be ok if the forecasts hold up. According to weather maps there are going to be a few cold fronts rolling through one right after another for a while. We’ll see.
So here we sit tied up to the transient dock waiting for a weather window so we can cast off and head on down to the Gulf Coast ICW to head east into Florida.