I can’t help but think we are stuck here because we said out loud, “Hey, we made it to a port and nothing broke along the way”. Yep. Probably shouldn’t have done that.
I made a rookie mistake in Fernandina Beach when I ran the shore power cable. When at dock, we plug Cream Puff into electricity at the marina using a “shore power” cord. This cord is like the main wires coming into a house. It provides power to the entire vessel. Fernandina Harbor Marina has concrete floating docks. The entire dock rises and ebbs with the tides. The great thing about floating docks is both the dock and boat float together making getting on and off the boat easier. The dock is held into place by pilings driven deep into the river bed. The dock floats up and down on these pilings and has a small space around the pilings. This is where our shore power cord was eaten.
We were lazing comfortably aboard Cream Puff during the hottest part of the day enjoying the luxury of air conditioning. The power went out. Whenever this happens my initial thought is, “Is it us or everyone”. I guess the same is true with a house. When the power goes out, people look toward their neighbors to see if they have lights. It didn’t take me long to figure out other boats had power. I checked our breaker on the dock box. It was okay. And then, I saw the cord. It was jammed in the small gap between the piling and the dock and as the dock had risen, it sheared the cord. It is amazing there wasn’t a huge arc and bang. I turned off the breaker and unplugged the power. Not to worry. This is a quick fix. I cut the cord and reattached the plug to the now shorter cable. We lost about 4 feet of our shore power cable. Oh well. This could have been much worse. Once the plug was attached and cord reconnected to the dock, voila, we had power. Our only damage was a little shorter cord and very embarrassed red face.
Fast forward a couple of days. Our friends, Paul and Karen left to continue northward. Mona had gone to Ft. Clinch. Cindy and I are aboard thinking about lunch. The power went out. Oh not again, I thought. Has our cord been chewed up again? We can’t keep shaving 4 foot lengths off this thing. Nope. This power outage came with the undeniable smell of an electrical fire. Oh crap!
Quickly, we turned off the breaker and unplugged the boat from shore. It didn’t take long to hone in on the smell. In our engine room is a little box. In the box is a contactor switch. The purpose of this switch is to automatically change power sources between the generator and shore. It is fried. This means no power until we replace this part. No power means no air-conditioning and having to start the engine to charge the batteries (to run refrigeration, pumps and light systems). These switches rarely fail and because they rarely fail we don’t have a spare. No worries, right? We are at dock, we have internet access, order a replacement, have it shipped overnight and install it. Not so fast! I found out this part is no longer manufactured. I cannot find one anywhere in the world. For a short time, I thought I found one in Turkey. But alas, it wasn’t to be.
Living without air-conditioning in Florida is not really a comfortable option. I removed the burned contactor and hard wired the shore power to the breaker panel cable bypassing the switch. This is a temporary fix until we figure out a replacement mechanism. We sat back and took a look at our options.
- We could continue north without using the generator. We can use the engine’s alternator to charge the batteries. The downside to this is we have only one means of charging batteries. Since all of our boat systems (including navigation) work from the batteries, this is a little risky.
- We could hardwire the generator to the beaker panel. This would work and give us multiple options to charge the boat house batteries.
- We could wait here, figure out a replacement part, fix it and then move on.
We decided to wait here and fix it. I say “we” decided but really the weather decided for us. While we were weighing our options, we lost a good weather window. And now, the weather offshore stinks for the next 10 days.
The Amel factory in France is making a replacement part for us. We hoped to have it arrive this week but alas, it is not going to happen as we hoped. I ordered some parts from Amazon allowing me to make a temporary fix until our part ships from France. In the meantime, we are enjoying the town and restaurants of Fernandina Beach, doing laundry, and provisioning for our next leg of the journey. We are hoping to hop to either Charleston, SC or Beaufort, NC. It all depends on the weather.
Amelia Island has a paper mill. Paper mills smell. While here, the winds have blown the slight scent of paper manufacturing across the city of Fernandina Beach. This is not a horrid smell but rather the occasion whiff of… well, I think it smells like Indian food. Curry to be more specific. The entire time we have been here, I have had cravings for curry. Not just any curry, chicken curry. My taste buds are constantly watering for chicken curry. I can’t stop it. All day long, I keep getting images of yellow chicken curry over white rice pop into my head. I cannot get curry off my mind. I don’t even like curry. I know this is a little crazy. Perhaps I spent a little too much time out in the sun on our last leg. I think we need to move on.