Sunday, March 20, 2011

Florida at it's Best

I must have done something right as the weather Gods decided to give me some of the nicest weather this past week here in Jacksonville. No humidity, 50s at night and 80s during the day. And the breezes have been amazing. I know in a few weeks this type of weather will be a thing of the past, but I am just happy I was here to enjoy it while it lasts. Anyway, Zachary and I had a real nice week and I am grateful.

It was not all sitting around with my feet on the lifelines however, I got quite a bit done and had a very pleasant surprise fall in my lap. I started the week giving Skylark a thorough scrub down, stem to stern. It's amazing how long it takes to wash down a 34 foot boat. Times like this I wish I still has the Coronado 27, but as I mentioned earlier, the weather was perfect, so I sucked it up and finished it all in a day. Skylark is all shiny, one task off the list, on to the next.

I have been looking for a cockpit bimini for some time now but have had other projects take priority. Many great things happen to a person just because they were in the right spot at the right time, so I guess this week was my time. It seems that a cruiser had ordered a bimini from the marina a few years ago and never picked it up. So when I mentioned that I needed one to a guy who work here, he pointed me in the direction for the storage loft and told me to see if it might fit. I guess every one gets lucky once in a while as after a quick look, it was easy to see that it fit though it was made specifically for Skylark. And, the color, even through it's a little darker than the blue on the hull, is certainly close enough. Especially if you take in consideration of the price. I don't really want to say the exact cost, but just north of nothing should give you a pretty good idea. So another pretty big check off on the to-do list, an unexpected treat. Thanks to Jason for helping me install it.

I am not sure if you all saw what we saw when the moon came up last night, but apparently it was a special kind of Moon, something called a super Moon. From what I understand, it only happens once every 27 years. Its the time when the Moon is the closest to the Earth as it ever gets. If you were lucky enough to see the Moon come up over the horizon last night you were able to see the largest, bright orange Moon you probably have ever seen. It was truly amazing. I tried to take a pic, but it doesn't do it any justice. I guess this was the week of lucky events. I will certainly take it. Zachary thought it was the coolest thing he as ever seen. Reminded him of something out of Star Wars. Yeah, it really did actually. It's about the small things. Very cool.

The engine work is still scheduled for next week, so I am very hopeful all will be done by the next time I am down. Really looking forward to getting out and dropping the hook for a couple of days. I know Skylark and myself are ready to get away from this dock. Until then.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Work to Be done

 After a quick 7 hour trip down to Jacksonville, (thank goodness for Sirius radio and Howard Stern) I made it safely to Skylark under a cloudless sky and 81 degrees. We have had terrible weather lately in Asheville, including snow last Saturday, so it was really nice to feel the sun on my face for a change. A quick glance across the marina revealed Skylark floating on her lines, right where she should be. A happy person was I.

So with a pretty calm work week expected, I plan on really doing some spring cleaning inside and out. Tomorrow's weather is supposed to be just as nice as today, so a thorough scrubbing of the decks is in order. As well, if the wind isn't too bad, I will run the jib up the furler and get the monster 155 genny out of the quarter birth. I have been meaning to clean that all out and repaint the wood, but the sail has been in the way since Skylark arrived in Jacksonville. After being here now for a while, I am glad I have the 155 as the winds are usually pretty lite along the river, but I will certainly look into something smaller before the next big trip.

Starboard pretty :)
You will be happy to know that the winches are installed and working well. Easy job fortunately but extremely important. Other than the engine work, that was the last official job that had to be done prior to the seasons first sail. The to-do list is still pretty long, but nothing that can't wait a bit.

Talking about engines, Scott had planned on pulling the engine this week, but was called away to an emergency salvage in the Gulf, so we had to reschedule to next week. In actuality, that works fine as I was here this week anyway and can get some stuff done prior to him coming down. If all goes according to plan, we should be ready for the first sail of 2011 the next time I come, woohoo! I can tell Skylark is ready to go...she has been tied to the dock for too long now. I know I am ready, that is for sure.

So with that said, I am looking forward to visiting with Zachary as well as delving into some projects this week. The weather is calling for 80s and sun, so I couldn't be happier. Will keep the updates coming.

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Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Verdict is In...Atomic 4 Rebuild in Progress

I have decided, for many reasons, to go ahead and try to get a few more years out of the Atomic 4. Scott, yes, the same Scott that helped bring Skylark down to Jacksonville, will be pulling the engine and taking it back to his shop. Once there, we will decide if the decision is correct and the old A4 is worth saving.

To be honest, I would prefer to replace it with a diesel, but the cost of a complete replacement really adds up fast. Unless I luck out and find a used direct bolt up diesel, there would be a lot of fabrication work necessary to get another engine type to fit in it's place. A big part of it has to do with Skylark having a V-drive which limits my choices dramatically. So a new diesel replacement is now choice C. Choice B, which is still a possibility, would be to keep the A4 out all together, use all that wonderful space for storage and stick a 15hp long shaft outboard on the transom. Since I know I will be using the boat near shore, mostly on the river, ICW and Keys, this could be a possibility. But I am not a fan of outboards on a boat this size and will only go with this option if the A4 is DOA.

In general, the engine ran OK on the trip down. Now don't get me wrong, there were quite a few issues on the trip, but these issues came from areas not directly related to the core of the engine. That is what we are hoping for anyway as the problems we know about can probably (and hopefully) be fixed rather easily. The oil pan and carburetor being those main problems. Replacing both with new parts is quite affordable and if it fixes the main issues, I will be back in business. But until it's on Scott's workbench and he goes through it all, all I can do is guess. These engines are bullet proof, so I am hoping for a miracle.

Regardless of how I was going to proceed, the Atomic 4 had to come out. Obviously it needed to come out so we can see what we are working with, but in addition, it had to come out because the fuel tank needs to be replaced as well. The fuel tank, from what we can tell, is original to the boat and probably has 3 inches of sediment on the bottom. We learned that the hard way trying to keep the engine running in a rolly sea way. So to get the fuel tank out, the engine had to be removed.

If all goes according to plan, we will replace the oil pan, carburetor, change over to electronic ignition, replace the alternator and repaint the block to prevent corrosion. Of course the fuel tank will be replaced as well as the wiring from the engine to the house batteries. With that complete, the engine should last for a few more years giving me plenty of time to enjoy the sailing in Florida. The weather is really getting nice so I had to make the decision now. I will let you know what we find out.
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