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ContinuousWave: Trips and Rendezvous
Spring Break 2008
|Author||Topic: Spring Break 2008|
posted 04-27-2008 02:33 PM ET (US)
Here are a few random observations made during our recent Spring Break 2008 trip:
It is easy to forget the wonder which is the U.S. Interstate Highway System. We just drove about 1,000 miles and did not pay a single highway toll. We did pay $5 for a bridge toll (for the four axles of the truck and trailer) to reach our island destination. We could have even avoided that if we wanted to take a longer and slower route using another non-toll bridge.
Most off the roads were in excellent condition. Even in areas which were being repaired, the road was open and with enough capacity to prevent back up of traffic.
Along the way we took advantage of dozens of free rest areas. Some of them even have free internet access via Wi-Fi. Every time we entered a new State we soon found an information center, where we obtained free highway maps. I really like getting the official State highway maps; they're usually the best ones.
The farther south we drove the more lush and green the roadside vegetation became. I read recently that some unbelievably large number of trees are being cut down each minute. Well, I don't know where they are cutting them down, but it certainly is not in the eastern central United States. Our roads ran down an endless corridor of beautiful forest, with only a few areas of dense population intervening every 100 miles or so.
In hilly terrain the highway grade was reduced by numerous road cuts in the hills. The cuts themselves were beautiful as they revealed a terraced strata of geologic history.
Hauling our boat along reduced our fuel economy to about 11-MPG. Gas prices were about $3.55/gallon. We drove about 1,000 miles, so we've spent $350 on highway gasoline. Other than the notion that this is almost twice what we paid for gasoline as recently as 2002, the cost of travel is not excessive. If we had flown to our destination, we would have spent as much. And when we arrived we would have to rent a car and a boat. Since we brought both of them along, I think in the long run we will be ahead.
We are sick of flying. We are sick of standing in lines to take off our shoes. It does not make us feel safer when we have to throw away four ounces of dandruff shampoo because some federal minion says we can't board the plane with it. The last time I flew I had to throw out $40 worth of boat soap (a last minute gift I received) in order to insure the security of the airline. We are not flying for vacation or recreation any longer. It is too much nonsense and senseless aggrevation. We enjoyed two days of car travel. We saw a lot more of the country from the road than we could have from 35,000-feet.
Coming out of Nashville it was a thrill to see the transmitter tower of WSM. Its design evoked memories of the good old days of radio broadcasting, and of hearing WSM come through in the clear winter nights in Michigan.
Entering Alabama we gawked at the Saturn-1B rocket on exhibit at the information center near Huntsville. That was extremely cool. We spent an extra ten minutes walking around it and looking up.
I also noticed that in the information center there was a new kiosk which was placed along the wall. It was right in front of a dedication plaque for the building which mentioned the then Governor of Alabama, George Wallace. I wondered if the placement of the kiosk was intentionally done to obscure the other sign.
posted 04-27-2008 03:44 PM ET (US)
Did you get to do some Whalering down there and what did you think of the area?
posted 04-27-2008 03:52 PM ET (US)
Boating coming soon--waiting for a low pressure system to blow through. Small Craft Warnings, and the inlet looks rough. We're on a tenuous Wi-Fi connection. Have to find the hot spot to get access.
posted 04-27-2008 10:24 PM ET (US)
"We are not flying for vacation or recreation any longer. It is too much nonsense and senseless aggrevation."
I'll sure second that. I used to drop $8-12K for two-three weeks
posted 04-28-2008 06:21 AM ET (US)
I'm guessing you are visiting the Orange Beach or Dauphin Island area? Pensacola maybe?-k
posted 04-28-2008 08:57 AM ET (US)
Please write a cruise report about the area. My wife and I did a quick cruise on the Holiday out of Mobile but didn't have time to explore the Mobile Bay area. It looked very inviting for potential snowbirds.
posted 04-29-2008 04:07 PM ET (US)
We are staying near Orange Beach, Alabama. The coordinates are
30° 17.5' N
We left Detroit Thursday after work, that's "after work" in quotation marks, i.e., we cheated a little and left about 1645. We drove to the Ohio River, crossed into Kentucky, and stayed at a nondescript MicroTel a few miles south of the border. We have had good luck with MicroTel, but this one needed a face lift. We pulled in around 2200.
We were back on the road on Friday about 0930, and we drove all day. Through Kentucky, south to I-65, into Tennessee. Then into Alabama. We stopped for dinner at Cracker Barrel. Then back on the road for another hour or two after dark. We pulled off the road about 2200 at a nice motel about 150 miles up the road from the beach.
On Saturday we pulled to the local launch ramp about 1200 local time. It was a good thing we did not need a trailer parking place; there were none. People had boat trailers parked everywhere. That made the ramp traffic light. We slid CONTINUOUSWAVE into saltwater about 1230. The 1992 Evinrude 225-HP fired up on the first crank. With the warm air temperature it did not even need any choke.
Chris drove the trailer back to our rental while I drove the boat across the bay to the rental dock slip. Then we hauled the trailer over to the storage yard where we had a rental storage place. (These arrangements are complex but all worked out ahead of time by master trip planer Chris.)
After we parked the trailer I gave it a close inspection. Wow--found a big problem in the making: all of the nylon cable ties which were holding the brake lines in place had snapped off and were gone. The steel brake lines were free to vibrate in the air stream, and you could see where there were marks indicating they had been. This is another thing to check on the trailer. I recall replacing those nylon cable ties a few years ago. I better make it an annual replacement item.
We did not go boating on Saturday. We were too tired from the three days of driving. We just relaxed on the balcony, had a few FOSTER'S, and went out to dinner at Doc's Seafood Restaurant, which is right down the road.
Sunday a big ugly storm front blew through. We left the boat rocking and rolling in the slip. Read some novels. Watched CARRIER on PBS.
Monday the back side of the low pressure was still coming through, with high winds from the Northwest and lots of clouds. We took a road trip up to Battleship Park in Mobile. We toured the USS ALABAMA. It is well preserved. However, I have to say, the USS NORTH CAROLINA was cooler. On the NORTH CAROLINA they have cut through the 16-inch armor barbette surrounding the 16-inch gun turret and you can walk right into the breech area.
However, we toured many other military relics on site, including the USS DRUM, a submarine from WWII. Also they have an SR-71 Blackbird. That is an amazing aircraft. And also a BUFF, a B-52. It was my first close-up look at that amazing airplane, too.
By Monday afternoon the low pressure system was finally on the way out. We got out for a short spin around the neighborhood in the boat. After dinner we watch some more of CARRIER, which was even more fun now that we had just seen the F-18 at Mobile. Those carrier landing planes are built to take some abuse.
posted 04-29-2008 04:23 PM ET (US)
My unofficial Alamaba outboard survey, conducted with a pair of binoculars from the balcony:
First place goes to Yamaha four-cycle outboards. They are everywhere, on about 50-percent of the boat transoms.
Second place goes to Suzuki, again all four-cycle.
Third place is a tie between Honda four-cycle and older Yamaha two-cycle motors.
There were also quite a few OMC V6 two-cycles, especially the Ocean Runner series, and a couple clamshell case V6 Mercury two-cycle motors.
So far only one E-TEC sighted. And no Verado motors in sight, however on the road we did see a new FOUNTAIN with triple Verado motors getting hauled to a marina, probably for launching.
This area has a lot of boats. There seems to be plenty of 40 to 70-foot diesel sportfishing yachts coming and going.
posted 04-29-2008 05:03 PM ET (US)
You're one battleship ahead of me, I toured USS New Jersey (for the third time in 50 years) last June. Though I did get a nice telephoto shot of the Alabama from the deck of the Holiday. Your georeference coordinates put you at the end of the pier. Nice location, enjoy, we have frost warnings up here tonight......
posted 04-29-2008 05:25 PM ET (US)
I checked your coordinates also, and Hoosier correctly states that you're near the end of the pier in Terry Cove:
I look forward to reading more and following on the satellite maps.
posted 04-29-2008 06:42 PM ET (US)
If you have a chance to go to the Naval Museum in Pensacola do it! -k
posted 04-29-2008 09:00 PM ET (US)
Since your in the neighborhood, the wood boat festival is May 3-4 at Pirate's Cove. It's a lot of fun. piratescoveriffraff.com.
posted 04-30-2008 01:18 AM ET (US)
The winds were still Northwest today (Tuesday) at 15 to 20-knots, and some high pressure started rolling in. The skies were clear and the sun was bright. We headed out the inlet and found the Gulf of Mexico was laying down, at least near the shore. We took off on a 15 mile run east, with a small following sea and downwind.
The old boat was running well. We got over 2-MPG the whole way, cruising along about 27-MPH. We ran down to the Pensacola Inlet, and came in there. We cruised a few miles further east on the inside, until we could take a look into the bay. That was far enough, and we turned around to head back on the inside.
On the way back we had headwinds all the way, but we were on the flooding tide, so we got a bit of a boost in speed over the bottom most of the way.
After a 50-mile boat ride we were back at the dock in the mid-afternoon.
Fuel at the gas dock is about $4.30. And 50 miles at 2-MPG or less means a fuel burn of about 25-gallons. That is about $110 in gasoline, but where else can you get four or five hours of fun on the water at that price?
By the way, revise that survey I mentioned above. We walked the docks for a closer look and four of the Yamaha four-cycle motors turned out to be Yamaha HPDI motors. Also a couple of the Yamaha four-cycle motors turned out to be V8 350-HP motors. In fact that seems to be the hot set up for these big 32 to 36 foot center console boats: a pair of 350-HP V8 four-cycle Yamaha motors.
People said this area was "The Redneck Riviera." I have to confess, I was not expecting to see so many high-end boats down here. My old Whaler and its ancient two-cycle motor are sort of bringing down the fleet average.
posted 04-30-2008 01:28 AM ET (US)
With the wind out of the north for two days, the temperature down here is a balmy 54-degrees-F tonight. To get the WiFi to work--I am getting a free link from the building next door about 200-feet away--I have to be out on the balcony. So I am sitting out here typing with my jacket on!
This has taught me a lesson: I am going to look for a high-power PCMCIA Wi-Fi card with an external antenna input. Then I will get an external antenna and a little coax feedline extension. I'll be able to get a signal at longer range, and maybe be able to work indoors! The Apple G4 Titanium case laptop is somewhat famous for its short WiFi range. I can use the boost.
Actually this is the first vacation I have brought the computer with me. I guess the laptop is so integral in our lifestyle that we cannot leave it at home anymore.
posted 04-30-2008 08:30 AM ET (US)
Have you guys noticed that Google has added an image date stamp to their high res images? The image of where Jim is relaxing was taken January 31, 2004. They got my car parked at my place in the UP on May 24, 2007.
posted 04-30-2008 09:10 AM ET (US)
Jim, we saw our first ever Hinckley Talaria in one of the boat houses at Orange Beach Marina that you may be able to see from your condo.
Also your outboard survey would not be complete unless you go into the rack storage at Sportsman's and Zeke's.
posted 04-30-2008 04:29 PM ET (US)
I started something, a couple of CW members have asked about the date stamp.
Here's what I think is going on. It's not on Google Maps. I updated my Google Earth to
a couple of weeks ago when I got my new iMac, that's when it started showing up. Check your version number or just go update to the latest version. It shows up after you've stopped zooming in on a location or placemark. Look in the center right border at the bottom of the image frame.
posted 04-30-2008 06:05 PM ET (US)
Another nice day here in the Flor-Abama region. We poked our nose out the inlet about 1030 this morning (Wednesday). There was an east-southeast wind at 15-knots, and the Gulf had three footers. We headed off downwind for about a mile pointed toward Mobile Bay. Even going downwind the ride was not great--a lot of up and down rolling over the waves. A comfortable speed was about 21-MPH. It is about 30-miles to the next inlet. I looked at Chris and said, "I don't want to do this for the next 90 minutes just so we can turn around and come back."
She agreed. We made a 180-turn and pounded back to the Perdido Pass Inlet. ["Lost Pass" in Spanish]
We stayed inside the rest of the day. We circumnavigated Ono Island at idle speed, cruised around Perdido Bay, and came back out of the AIWW and felt our way along in some shoals. Managed to put 35 miles under the keel, most of it idling along.
I never got any digital cartography for the chart plotter for this area, so we are back to reading the paper chart. Actually, it is fun working with the chart. Having a chart plotter, a GPS, and detailed electronic cartography takes a lot of the fun out of navigation.
Bought $100 of gas for $4.15-per-gallon. Everyone sells ValvTect Marine Fuel at their marina fuel dock around here. I guess if it is good enough for all those brand new Yamaha four-stroke outboards, it is good enough for my 1992 two-cycle.
Oh, speaking of outboards, we saw more Yamaha four-cycles motors. Good heavens, they are on all the transoms around here. The local dealer must be very strong. He looks like he has made a fortune. He probably drives a BMW.
Finally saw a Verado underway--on the fancy new Alabama Marine Patrol boat. It looks like a MonArk with a pair of Verado motors. The crazy thing this morning was there were THREE law enforcement boats on patrol right outside the marina. You can bet we idled slowly and headed in the other direction. I started thinking about my flares. I wonder if they are still in date.
When we got back to the marina we fiddle around with the hoist. The slip we are renting has a hoist, but it is set up for a larger and wider boat. We experimented to see if we could get the Whaler hull lined up. Yes, it worked, but then we realized that once the boat was up on the lift it was too far from the dock to reach it. We had to lower it so we could go back aboard and get all of our gear out.
posted 04-30-2008 07:33 PM ET (US)
The correct spelling is Flora-Bama not Flor-Abama.
posted 04-30-2008 08:22 PM ET (US)
I think Mark Twain said something like he couldn't respect a man who only had one way to spell a word!!Flora-Bama , Flor-Abama...:)
posted 04-30-2008 11:24 PM ET (US)
Flor-A-bama would be reasonable. The common "A" is shared that way. Flora-Bama just doesn't have the right morphology. I guess we'll have to go with the locals.
I stopped at the storage yard to fix up the brake lines on the trailer. After adding a half-dozen new nylon cable ties, I gave the rest of the trailer a close look. Wow--another problem in the making found!
The spare tire mount had sheared off one of its two mounting bolts. The spare was being held in place by one bolt and the pad lock. We'll be making another trip to the hardware store for a new bolt. I think the bolt broke because it was probably fractured when it was over-tightened at some point. The part of the bolt remaining showed a nice clean break, not an ugly worn away face. This is another little problem discovered before it became a big problem. A thousand miles on the highway can create a lot of vibration, bumps, and loose fasteners.
I checked all the wheel lug nuts. They were all tight, although one was not at the same torque as the other 19 were.
I forgot to mention: this morning on the way to the inlet we met a classic MONTAUK 17 with an OMC V4 coming the other way. The Montauk had Michigan registration numbers! Two Boston Whalers in Alabama and both from Michigan.
We also saw many more classic Boston Whaler boats. I'd say the brand is very well represented here.
Tomorrow the forecast is for the wind to haul around to the south. That should bring rough seas in the Gulf. We'll be in the inside again. Probably take a trip part way down the Alabama canal. It looks like it was excavated to make the connection to Mobile Bay, as it runs in a straight line for several miles.
posted 05-01-2008 04:40 PM ET (US)
Today, Thursday, the wind is building from the southeast, and the inlet is now full of breaking waves and surf. We did not even try to go out. Our neighbors who have a 28-foot catamaran center console with a pair of HONDA BF-225 motors went out this morning about an hour ahead of us. Just as we were leaving the marina about 1030 we saw them returning. Too rough out there for them or us.
We cruised on the inside, taking the AIWW westward. About 15 miles away we stopped at LULU'S, a restaurant right on the north side of the Alabama canal.
The calling card for the restaurant is that its owner is Lucy Buffett, the sister of famous singer and musician Jimmy Buffett. I think that alone would draw people in, but the great food and good atmosphere must keep them coming back. I had a "Cheeseburger in Paradise" and it was excellent. They have docks for visiting boats to tie-up. We walked in at 1200 and got a table right away, but our waiter said that during the summer and on Friday or Saturday night there is a three hour wait. The place seats 500 and serves 3,000 meals a day. We recommend it.
On the way back we caught the tide and current advantageously, so we could idle along and get excellent fuel mileage. Normally idle speed with my old V6 two-stroke is the worst fuel economy, and especially so when bucking a foul current. But our luck was good, and we got a nice boost, about 2-MPH I think. The NAVMAN 3100 said our MPG was 2.5--that is great for our boat and motor.
Took a short cut across a 3-foot shoal and encountered another classic Boston Whaler: a MONTAUK 17 that had been re-powered with a 90-HP E-TEC.
By the time we got back to the marina the winds were really blowing. Our slip lay crosswise to the 20 to 25-MPH wind (and waves--no breakwall on these docks), and it was difficult to maneuver the boat stern first into the slip in those conditions. Our neighbor with the twin Honda's ran over to take a line from us just in time to save an abort on our second attempt to back in. Downwind was the pristine hullsides of a gold-plater 50-foot Sportfisherman--we were trying to be very careful!
posted 05-01-2008 07:12 PM ET (US)
Continuouswave is bouncing around the slip. Check the dock lines tonight!!! The Whaler "police" are watching you. If you don't treat her with great respect, they will confiscate her. Have been watching you this week, via the north webcam at Sportsman Marina. Even saw you walking down the dock. Enjoy the warm weather, we had frost again this week. Cold north wind is blowing.
posted 05-01-2008 07:54 PM ET (US)
Jim, it sounds like your talking yourselves into a new motor. Maybe someone here will chime in about their idle MPG with a larger E-TEC but my new 90 hp is getting 35-MPG or more at idle.
Glad your enjoying LA (lower alabama), actually that is what some of us Floridians call the panhandle, have fun.
|Tom W Clark||
posted 05-01-2008 08:08 PM ET (US)
ContinuousWave is indeed bouncing around. The view is currently substantially obscured by a large raised pilot house motor yacht but you can see the Mills canvas and the Evinrude 225.
posted 05-01-2008 08:17 PM ET (US)
That is way cool Tom. John
posted 05-01-2008 08:41 PM ET (US)
There must be a lot of people trying to watch Jimh, I can't seem to get the site to connect, just when it says to push the control button it disconnects
posted 05-01-2008 09:46 PM ET (US)
BTW, the shrimp loaf and fried green tomatoes at LuLu's are my favorite.
posted 05-01-2008 11:08 PM ET (US)
I'll have to check the marina cam tomorrow. It's pitch dark now, and, oh boy, is the wind howling off the Gulf. I can't imagine what it must be like to be on this coast when a hurricane comes roaring ashore. This 25-knot breeze and 7-foot seas are enough for me. I am going down to check the dock lines.
posted 05-03-2008 09:27 AM ET (US)
The Orange Beeach Perdido Key area is great. It is one of our favorites to boat and fish and close to Pensacola. Wish you did not have all the wind because the fishing is great down there. Below is a link to a house we rented twice. Once before the hurricane and once after. It is on a canal that goes all the way up to the beach road. Only 1/2 block to the state park beach and protected waters behind the house to moor the boat. The dolphin would feed right off the dock which was good entertainment while having your morning coffee. Hope you have a safe trip back
posted 05-03-2008 10:17 AM ET (US)
Jim's in for a rough morning;
|Tom W Clark||
posted 05-03-2008 11:22 AM ET (US)
posted 05-04-2008 06:18 AM ET (US)
This is a frustrating part of the year. Same time last year I went down to Key West looking forward to some Whalering. Winds were 25 kts plus the entire week with little relief on the leeward side of small islands, except exceedingly close to shore in shoal water.
posted 05-04-2008 07:40 PM ET (US)
Thanks Jim for sharing your vacation and upbeat experiences with us. How refreshing in this day and time where negativism, criticism, and general unhappiness seems to be the order of the day. You are visiting a great area whose patriotic and hospitable people appreciate what they have and hardly fit the northern idea of what "Rednecks" are. Have fun.
posted 05-04-2008 11:29 PM ET (US)
We are back at home in Michigan. Just in time to watch some hockey (Dallas v. San Jose Game 6), have a MOLSON Canadian, and get ready for work tomorrow.
I have some more stories to tell about the trip. I'll catch up later.
posted 05-05-2008 10:26 PM ET (US)
When we first arrived in Alabama, we had some difficulty in understanding the local dialect. Some folks down there have quite a drawl.
Our rental accommodations were in a gated community, and the entrance gate was controlled by a keypad. The landlord had given us a code to use for entry. When we pulled up to the entrance for the first time, we punched in the code, but nothing happened. We tried it several times.
Soon a line of cars built up behind us, waiting for us to clear the gateway. Finally one of the other residents came over to see what was the problem. We explained we had the code, but the gate would not open. The friendly fellow gave us some further instructions, but neither Chris or I could make any sense of what he was saying.
We sat there dumbfounded, trying to figure out what the fellow was trying to tell us. Although he repeated it several times, all we got from his instructions was an odd phrase that sounded like "hie da pawn sawn."
Finally, the fellow reached over and punched in a code to open the gate. Later we learned that our problem with the code was the omission of an important element. Our instructions failed to mention that the code entry sequence must be preceded by the # key. It was then we realized that the guy had been trying to tell us to "hit the pound-sign" key.
I noticed that several brands of gasoline, Texaco and Chevron for example, sold fuel which was advertised as containing Techron additive. I don't recall ever seeing Techron mentioned up here in Michigan, but it seemed quite common in the South. We probably ran 100-gallons of it through the truck's engine.
posted 05-05-2008 11:12 PM ET (US)
When we put the boat and trailer into storage last October, all was fine, however over the winter the trailer seemed to have developed a bit of a problem. The front driver side wheel seemed to be running a bit hot on the first tow home from the storage yard. I figured it was just a bit of rust on the brake and it would wear itself off in a few miles. We towed the boat to a ramp to start the engine and burn off the fogging oil. That put about 40 miles on the wheels. I checked the temperature of all the bearings, and they looked good. Later I towed the boat back to the storage yard, and again things looked OK.
The night before the big trip I towed the boat home from the storage yard so we could pack for the trip. Then the day of the trip I hauled the boat about 20 miles to work, where we would depart later in the day. In all, I probably put 100 miles on the trailer. The bearing and brake temperatures seemed to have settled down to their normal levels, and we seemed ready to go. So off we went.
We towed 1,015 miles to the beach, and all along the way I checked the bearing and wheel temperatures at every stop. They all seemed normal and there were no changes or inconsistencies. The wheels and bearings on the sunlit side are always warmer than the ones on the shaded side. The tires run quite warm, often over 100-degrees, and on a long drive this heat is transferred to the wheel and the bearings. As long as there is no huge temperature differential between any one wheel, I figure things are good.
When we arrived we launched the boat and stored the trailer. The trailer sat for a week in the sun. Then we loaded the boat on the trailer, and hauled over to a coin-operated do-it-yourself car wash, where we gave everything a good rinsing in fresh water. We had scouted this car wash during the week while we were in town. It was the perfect place for a boat wash, and there was even a special hose to run over to your motor for flushing. (Unfortunately, I did not bring my hose adaptor!) After eight dollars in quarters into the slot we were rinsed and ready.
The next day we were back on the road heading north. Again, I checked all the tire, wheel, bearing, and brake temperatures at every stop, which generally means about once an hour. The initial portion of our drive north was in very heavy rain, but this was actually somewhat welcome because I figured it would really give everything a bath in fresh water.
We drove all day until about 2000-hours (8 p.m.), when we stopped for dinner. After the break we got back on the road and continued north, driving into the night. We were making very good progress, and we surpassed our own record for most miles in one day with a boat in tow. About 2200 we stopped for fuel. I checked the all the temperatures. I noticed that the driver side front axle brake and bearing were running a few degrees warmer than usual, however, they were only about 4 or 5 degrees different than the last reading. We had been driving in some hilly areas, and we had to use the brakes more than normal, so I was not overly concerned by the slightly higher readings.
About midnight, as the trip odometer was clicking up 780 miles for the day, we pulled off the interstate in Ohio just north of Cincinnati to get a motel. I stayed in the truck while Chris went in to check out the place and get a room. She came back to give me the high-sign, and I put the truck in gear to pull around to the back to park for the night.
When I took my foot off the brake and gave the truck some gas, I knew immediately something was wrong. The trailer did not want to move. As we were blocking the entrance way, I had to pull forward. I gave the truck more gas and horsed the trailer into motion. There was an ugly screeching sound of a stuck brake. I only had to go about 40 feet, so I just continued.
When I stopped it was clear that there was something awry with one wheel on the trailer. A quick check with the temperature gun revealed the problem: the driver side rear axle was very hot. (This was the one whose temperature was slightly elevated two hours earlier.) The brake drum and the bearing were both at 275-degrees! Wow, I had never seen anything close to a reading that high before. I moved my hand toward the axle to feel for heat. It was hot. In a moment of stupidity, I thought I would bring my finger closer to feel for heat. I got too close. OUCH. I had a substantial burn on my finger tip. Why did I do that?
Since it was now past midnight, and we had been on the road for 16 hours, there wasn't much else to be done at this point but go to bed. I would have to deal with this problem in the morning.
I retired to our hotel room--Holiday Inn Express of Springboro, Ohio. It was a very nice room, and the WiFi connection was very high speed. I sent my son an email to let him know where we were. The burn on my finger was starting to blister and the pain was not going away. I used GOOGLE to search for "burn first aid."
The Mayo Clinic website said to immerse the burn in cold water--do not put ice on it directly--until the pain subsides. I got a glass of water, threw in a few cubes of ice, and sat there for about two hours, waiting for the pain to go away. The last two FOSTER'S provided some additional pain relief, along with 400-mg of MOTRIN. At two o'clock, pain or not, I was ready for sleep.
(To be continued)
posted 05-06-2008 05:39 PM ET (US)
How will the cliffhanger end?
A.) jimh's finger succumbs to gangrene. The finger gets amputated. No longer able to keep up with Tohsgib's typing speed, jimh gives up being moderator in frustration.
B.) jimh unhooks boat in futile search of brake parts. His beloved continuousWave gets towed and impounded. It is sold for scrap at auction and parted out to China.
C.) Swelling and aggravation goes down next morning. jimh is able to free up brake and disconnect. He continues on journey and makes it home in time for hockey game.
Stay tuned, same Bat Time Same Bat Channel ;)
posted 05-06-2008 09:02 PM ET (US)
Why? Wet paint syndrome.
posted 05-06-2008 10:29 PM ET (US)
Actually, I still have a blister on that finger, and it makes typing a little difficult.
Sunday in Ohio
The Holiday Inn Express room was great. The bed was very comfortable, and the pillows were just perfect. I got a great night's sleep. On Sunday we were up early, and we enjoyed the very nice breakfast in the motel's lobby. Cheese omelets, sausage patties, cinnamon rolls, and gourmet coffee on the house.
The overnight low was about 40-degrees, so the trailer bearings were quite cool when we started off. I put the truck in gear and inched slowly forward. There was no sign of a stuck brake or wheel. I backed up a few feet to check that direction. Again no problem. However, before departing our safe haven for the interstate, I decided to take a slow drive around the parking lot of the adjacent shopping mall. We cruised around at low speed for a few minutes.
I got out of the car and checked the bearing temperatures. Oops--the driver side rear axle was already beginning to heat up. I decided to head back to the motel parking lot to tear down that axle and see what was going on.
In the two hundred yards of driving back to the motel, the bearing on the axle failed and the brake began to drag. With all sorts of groans and creaking noises, we got back to the starting position we had left a few minutes earlier. I got out of the truck and saw the driver side rear wheel was leaning out of alignment--not a good sign.
I changed into the old clothes I keep in the back of the truck, dragged out the floor jack I carry with me, and jacked the driver side rear wheel off the ground. I removed the Bearing Buddy, the cotter pin, and the axle retainer nut, and pulled the hub off the axle.
The outer bearing was fine, with plenty of grease, but the inner bearing had disintegrated. The drum brakes were also a mess. One of the brake linings had broken loose and was bent. I removed the remains of the brake system on that axle, but left the piston and the hydraulic lines intact.
The inner bearing was gone, reduced to pieces of metal and a dozen or more roller bearings mixed in the grease. I began to collect the pieces and parts, and to remove the contaminated grease from the hub. What a mess.
The outer race for the inner bearing was in bad shape. I gave it a blast of WD-40, and let it soak. Using a long screwdriver I tapped it out of the hub. The outer race for the outer bearing looked good. I left it in place.
From my spare part kit I opened a set of new bearings. I tapped a new race for the inner bearing into place, using the old race and some odd pieces of wood I carry with me to act as a makeshift bearing press.
I pre-greased the new bearings using the grease cup accessory I carry with me. It makes pre-greasing the bearings much easier. I had a grease gun full of high-temperature bearing grease.
Next I tried to put the hub with the new bearings and seals back on the axle. But it would not fit. It took me a while to figure out the cause of this problem: the inner race of the old inner bearing was still on the axle. In the heat and pressure of the bearing failure, it had become more or less welded to the axle--a very ugly problem.
After a few unsuccessful attempts to get the remains of the old bearing off the axle, it became clear it was not going to come willingly. I dropped the trailer off of the hitch of the Suburban, and got in the car. I drove off to find the nearest home-hardware store. I was in luck: just a few blocks away I found a WALMART.
In WALMART, I bought a propane torch ($14) and a Dremel Tool ($60). Back at the trailer, I used a cut-off wheel on the Dremel Tool to grind a notch in the old bearing race. I was very careful to cut the notch only to the depth of the bearing race, and to not touch the axle itself. This took a while, and also taught me how fragile the cut-off wheels can be. I broke a couple.
Eventually I had a very nice groove cut into the bearing race. I had a large screw driver which fit perfectly in the groove. Chris found a book a matches for me, and I lit the torch. For many minutes I heated the old bearing race with the flame of the propane torch. I used my temperature gun to monitor the temperature of the axle and bearing race.
Then I began a sequence of applying heat, WD-40, and giving the bearing race a whack with a hammer via the screwdriver which was positioned in the notch I cut. This continued for about 30 minutes without any sign of movement or change.
At one point I was almost convinced that I had misread the situation and this thing I was trying to remove really was part of the axle. I began to think that somehow I had purchased the wrong size bearings, and that was the reason they would not fit. But later I reverted back to my original assessment: the problem had to be the remains of the old bearing that was stuck on the axle.
I kept up the pattern: heat, WD-40, a whack with the hammer. Finally, just about as I was ready to give up, I thought I saw the tiniest movement of the bearing race. Was I seeing things? More heat, more WD-40, and another whack. YES! The bearing definitely moved. Hurrah! More heat, more WD-40, then another whack with the screwdriver in the notch. SUCCESS! The old bearing flew off the axle, with a hairline crack in the remaining thickness of the notch. I don't think I felt more happy at any time during the trip. That GD bearing was off the axle.
The axle was not too badly scarred from the stuck bearing. One more trip to WALMART got me some extra fine (220) grit sand paper from the paint department. Using WD-40 as a wet sanding lubricant, I buffed up the axle and removed any burrs and bumps from the axle.
The axle was quite warm from the torch, so I had to wait about 30 minutes for it to cool off enough to allow the new bearing to fit. Finally, I could slide the new bearing into position. I reassembled the hub, put the new inner bearing in place, reinstalled the dual-lip grease seal, and put the hub back on the axle. I installed the outer bearing, the retainer washer, the axle nut, and pre-loaded the bearings. Then I backed off the nut, and re-tightened it finger tight. I gave the hub a spin. It turned freely with no wobble or play. The axle was repaired! We were ready for the road.
It took a while to clean up the mess we had made. I had to thoroughly wash up, using some heavy-duty hand cleaner from my truck spare parts box. We repacked the Suburban, which had been torn apart to dig down to the various tools and spare parts we needed. Finally, after a long morning and afternoon of work, we were ready to get back on the road.
I felt quite confident about the repaired axle and bearing, so we pulled out of the motel parking lot about 1545 and turned right onto the interstate. I figured we could run a few miles on the highway, then pull off at an exit can check things out. The next exit or two were very large interchanges with other major roads, so they did not provide the easy-off, easy-on situation we were looking for. We skipped by them, and continued our way home.
Before we had gone a mile past the last exit, the interstate came to a standstill. All lanes stopped, then began to creep forward at about 1 or 2-MPH. What had happened?
It was very frustrating. After all morning and most of the afternoon working to get on the road, here we were, on the road an going no where. What a disaster. Finally we crept along far enough to reach an exit. We did not know where it went, but anything was better than sitting in this colossal traffic jam.
With Chris navigating and me driving, we began a long passage across the outskirts of Dayton, Ohio via obscure streets. After about 15 minutes we had navigated around the traffic jam, and we re-entered the interstate. As we came down the entrance ramp, the highway was eerily empty of cars. Evidently, we realized, all traffic had been diverted off at the previous intersection.
We drove along in solitary fashion for an eighth of a mile, then at the next on-ramp a flood of traffic rejoined us. Later we learned there had been a fatality in a traffic accident, and the police had closed the interstate.
By now we were rolling along smoothly. We stopped at the next appropriate off-ramp to check the wheel, bearing, and brake temperatures, and we found everything in good order. It was onward to Michigan, albeit at a slower pace.
One artifact of the brake tear down on the one axle was a loss of braking action on the other wheels. The piston of the axle with the missing shoes was free to move and had to bottom out before any of the other wheel pistons would begin to react to brake pressure. This meant a slow and easy pace for us on the highway.
Eventually around 2200 we pulled into our own driveway. The trip was over. We had made it safely home.
posted 05-07-2008 01:41 AM ET (US)
Let me back track to Friday, our last day of boating.
Stars and Stripes
Friday's weather forecast called for afternoon showers and thunderstorms, so we decided to limit ourselves to just hauling the boat out and getting back on the trailer. We figured if we waited until late in the afternoon to go to the ramp, we would probably end up getting rained on as we were recovering the boat and buttoning things up for the 1,000-mile ride back north. Better to do it early and not get wet.
The weather was influenced by a big low pressure system to the north of us, and that had the effect of pulling in a lot of wind from the south. When I went down to the boat in the morning, it was covered in salt spray. The wind had been blowing all night and had whipped up some little white caps on the bay in front of the marina. The skies were mostly gray, with occasional patches of sunshine.
We drove over to the trailer storage place, hooked up the E-Z LOADER trailer, and came back to the marina. The cross wind was so strong I would need a hand getting out of the slip. I also had to recover one of our long dock lines from the downwind piling. Chris helped me warp the boat over to the piling so I could remove the line. Finally we were ready to head for the ramp.
I drove the boat and Chris drove the truck and trailer. No sooner was I underway and clear of the marina that I noticed our flag was missing. It wasn't in the socket at the stern, and it wasn't stowed in its usual place. I tried to recall if I had taken it down yesterday when we tied up. Loosing the flag and its beautiful teak flag staff was a real bummer. That flag is one of my favorite parts of the boat!
The tidal range is not very great, the bay we were on does not have much current, and the tides were near the neap tides. These factors all added up to the current probably not having much effect on where that flag and staff went. The wind would be the dominant influence. I turned the boat around and made a quick pass along the shore downwind of our dock, but I did not see anything. Darn it. No flag.
At the now-empty public boat launch we hauled CONTINUOUSWAVE onto her trailer. Our boat has no anti-fouling paint, and I had checked the bottom a few days ago to see if there were any critters forming on it. To my surprise, there was quite a collection of very tiny barnacles forming. They could be easily removed with the brush of a hand, but there were plenty of them on the hull. This concerned both Chris and I. On our previous three experiences is saltwater, we never found any marine growth, even after as long as two weeks. Now we had some.
We drove from the ramp to a coin-operated car wash and gave the boat and trailer a thorough washing. Even with the high-pressure of the car wash nozzle, we found that the barnacles would not come off. You had to use a brush to scrub them loose. We spent quite a while hunched over with a brush, cleaning the hull bottom.
Next we drove back to the storage yard. The condo had strict rules about no boats or trailers in the parking lot, so we had to store the boat off-site for the last night. Finally, about 1330, we got back to the condo.
Chris went up to our unit to make some lunch, but I went down to the shore. I set off downwind looking for the missing flag. I walked out on every dock and checked carefully in the water around every boat and boat hoist, looking for that nice flag and beautiful teak flag staff. It was not in our marina. I headed downwind to the next marina and condo development. There I began walking their docks, looking for the flag. Still nothing. I reached the last dock, and decided the flag may be a lost cause. I started to turn back to go to our place and join Chris for lunch. Then something on the beach caught my eye, about 100 feet further downwind.
On the strand there was a small sand castle recently built, and atop the castle and planted in the sand was my flag, flying beautifully from its 48-inch teak staff! I was delighted. I had found the missing flag.
posted 05-08-2008 06:03 AM ET (US)
Thanks for your writing, Jim.
posted 05-08-2008 08:34 AM ET (US)
Jim, I am impressed with your resourcefulness on the road. Get a pair of those Tyvek overalls that painters use and some Nytril surgeons gloves. Makes the cleanup easier and not as hot in the South. Think about the St. Johns for your next trip. It will take some planning, but the water is fresh and the wind won't be as much of an issue.
posted 05-09-2008 07:30 AM ET (US)
Great highlights of the trip. I wish you did not have all the wind because it is a great area to explore. Those long trips are rough on a trailer. I took that long 1,400 mile trip to Key West a few years ago. By the time I got back to Atlanta thinks were falling off the boat and trailer and I had to detail the entire boat due to the driving rain storms and constant road grime. The flag story was just a great ending. Thanks Again
posted 05-09-2008 09:06 AM ET (US)
The Perdito Pass area provides many boating opportunities. When offshore conditions are rough there are lots of places to go on the Atlantic Intracoastal Water Way and other inland water. From Perdito Pass you can go offshore and east to Pensacola (about 15 miles) or west to Mobile Bay (about 30 miles) to the next inlets. And you can return via the AIWW. So you can take two different loops from your starting point.
Our visit in late April was during the off-season, apparently. We got a reduced rate on our accommodations, and in general the area felt very uncrowded. The peak season there must be in the summer months. However, we thought the balmy 70-degree temperatures were delightful; perhaps it is our northern perspective.
The beaches along the Gulf of Mexico were spectacular white sands. And they seemed to be completely empty. We hardly saw a soul on them.
posted 05-09-2008 10:22 AM ET (US)
Agreed that trailering such long distances places great strain and substantial wear and tear on the trailer as well as the boat. On my 4007 mile round about from Milwaukee to Yorktown, VA to Little Torch Key and back to Milwaukee, I lost my winch strap and transom tie down. Thankfully, I had no wheel or bearing problems while on the road.
Just this past weekend I was finally able to give my Outrage the thorough scrubbing that it desperately needed since early January of this year. It was an absolute wreck from the long winter tow back north. Road grime, grease and salt had caked the boat for nigh on 3 months despite a thorough fresh water rinse and wash at the completion of our stay in the Keys.
How did you handle cleanup upon arrival home, Jim?
posted 05-11-2008 12:20 PM ET (US)
Since our first vacation (In March 1995) to Perdido Key and Orange Beach, Conrad & I did alot of exploring (by automobile). Found it to be very low key and a great value during their off season. Their high season is June, July and August. Since our first trip to this area, there are a lot more high rise condo complexes. Lots of interesting places to explore and great food especially fresh shrimp and fish. At home in northern Michigan, I very rarely order shrimp in a restaurant or purchase frozen shrimp, because it is not the same quality, because of the added preservatives.
During our last vacation to PK and OB were did shop for a BW at the Marine Max in Pensacola and Foley. Couldn't come to a mutual price on a Montauk, but we are very happy with the Outrage 18 we purchased about 3 weeks after that "Redneck Riviera" vacation.
Jim - Sorry that the weather, especially the wind, hindered the vacation a little. I hope that you and Chris found time to do a little of the land exploration I suggested.
posted 05-11-2008 05:38 PM ET (US)
A couple of follow up comments:
I do have a pair of Tyvek overalls in the truck, somewhere... djahncke gave me a pair as a gift at our Mullet Lake Rendezvous a few years ago. I should have thought of them! Fortunately, all the dirt came out of the clothes I was wearing (except the work pants and the filthy work gloves) while making the repairs. No harm done.
We did visit almost all the local hot spots on Martha's List. We really liked Orange Beach and environs. For one thing, we had the place to ourselves, almost literally. At night, when I would go down to the boat to check the dock lines, I would look back at the shoreline full of very luxurious condominiums and see only the lights on in our unit and maybe one or two others. So many residences, and so few residents!
On Sunday morning when I woke up in Ohio, I jumped out of bed with the sudden realization that after hauling the boat on Friday in Alabama, I had neglected to connect the bow eye safety chain on the trailer! I had driven over 780 miles with only the winch strap holding the bow eye of the boat.
After this epiphany, I proffered to Chris the mandate that we must make a checklist for LAUNCH and LOAD for the trailer. It is just too easy to get distracted. When we loaded the boat we were completely focused on getting the marine growth off the hull, and I totally forgot to connect the bow safety chain or to tighten the bow hold-down strap.
(Still have not made the check list.)
On the trip down, we pulled off I-75 in Florence, Kentucky, and drove just a few hundred feet off the interstate to the Micro-Tel at the exit. This interchange is about eight miles south of Cincinnati, and the area is quite suburban. There are several motels and a large shopping mall at the exit.
We backed our truck and trailer into a spot in the parking lot adjacent to the building in a well lighted area. Just before going to bed, around midnight, I checked on our rig, and I found a second traveller pulling in with a big truck and trailer.
The new fellow was hauling a very nice custom enclosed trailer which was about 25-feet long. I helped him back up into a parallel position next to my modest 1995 Suburban and well-covered Boston Whaler. We chatted briefly to be sure we could each exit the parking lot without interference from the other rig. I commented about the sleek black glossy trailer, and the proud owner showed it to me. It was filled with two very expensive motorcycles, associated parts, a work bench, and lots of tool. The couple were also from SE Michigan, and they were heading down south to do some motorcycle riding in the mountains. He was pulling it with a 2007 Cadillac Escalade, also black and also very shiny.
The next morning, after we had breakfast, I went to the parking lot to give my rig a look. Everything appeared normal; there was no sign of any mischief. Then I noticed some broken glass on the pavement, near the Escalade. I though to myself, "I didn't see that last night."
I looked up at the Escalade. Its rear passenger window was broken. Clearly there had been a break-in. I had just seen the fellow and his wife having breakfast at the motel lobby. I had bad news for them.
They came out to discover their truck and the theft: two laptop computers, an iPod, and a GPS unit. The fellow went to make a telephone call to the police. His wife told me that they'd been the victims of a break-in before, having had tools and other equipment stolen from their trailer. It was very upsetting. I was upset, and it wasn't even my truck!
Chris and I left Florence, Kentucky and the Micro-Tel as fast as we could after that. I could not help but think that if that fancy new Escalade had not been parked next to our old Suburban, it probably would have been my window that was smashed out, my stuff stolen, and the start of my vacation ruined.
Yes, I have a boat, I have a big SUV, and I get to go on a few vacations each year, but that only happens because Chris and I work hard the other 48 weeks. We save our money, and indulge ourselves with a few days of the good life now and then. It is really frightening that our beautiful country has become so full of crime that you can't park your car in a well-lighted motel parking lot and get a good night's sleep. I know people complain that our prison system is over-flowing, but there is at least one guy who needs to get caught and be thrown in jail.
The rest of the morning there was a pall hanging over our drive. We felt sorry for the nice couple who had been victimized. I suppose they were well insured, and they'd get that window fixed. They'd get replacements for the laptop computers. But even though nothing had happened to our truck and boat, we felt violated.
Some idiot once observed that it was a manifestation of an alleged control-freak personality that I was bothered by crime--because it was something out of my control. What nonsense. We are a great country. We should not have to live in fear of crime. Crime steals from everyone. I have even hesitated to recount this incident to my readers because I don't want to spread further the notion that crime is rampant in our country. However, it is. I found it very disturbing that morning in Kentucky, and I am still affected by it now.
As the sergeant on HILL STREET BLUES used to say, "be careful out there."
posted 05-12-2008 09:22 AM ET (US)
Fyi everyone- the week jimh spent down here is later than local spring break activity and before students' summer vacation . Expect crowded conditions if you're earlier or later than Jim.
posted 05-13-2008 08:25 AM ET (US)
Yes, we might have picked a good week for low-traffic in the area. I'd go there again. But I wouldn't stay in Florence, Kentucky on the way down.
posted 05-13-2008 03:09 PM ET (US)
Jim, your narrative is a good reminder for those of us planning to do some trailering after a long winter. Like yours, my trailer brakes and bearings were in fine shape when I parked it late last fall, however that was not the case when I gave them the pre-rendezvous check out last week. I have finally learned to do this task at least 2 weeks before the trip, to allow enough time to gather parts and do the work in advance of the scheduled departure. Usually I am repacking a wheel bearing at a time when I should be packing the truck! Long story short, the old and oft repaired drum brakes are gone, along with the drum/hubs, bearings, seals, actuator and hodge podge of brake lines. New and in place are a brand new set of Kodiak disc brakes, with stainless steel calipers, vented silver cadmium plated rotors, new stainless steel brake lines and a new Tiedown Engineering actuator-coupler. My wallet is about a grand lighter, my life is a weekend shorter, but I will drive with confidence towing Namequoit the 120 miles to Petaluma in a predicted heatwave this weekend. Thanks for the reminder, and good on you for your cleverness in making the repairs in the field. (Just in case, I'm bringing some spare bearings, grease and tools. Ya never know...)
posted 05-13-2008 03:48 PM ET (US)
Sadly, I agree that this is true. One look at my boat's key ring shows that it is dominated by keys for various locks designed to keep people from stealing things big and small from my boat and trailer (including the boat and trailer).
posted 05-13-2008 07:31 PM ET (US)
Andy--I found your choices for the brake re-fit very interesting. They just about match exactly what I have been eyeing.
posted 05-13-2008 11:23 PM ET (US)
The cable ties that failed: were they white or black? White
cable ties are for indoor use only. So are SOME black ones,
but good outdoor cable ties are black. It keeps the UV from
the heart of the tie.
Where else can you get four hours of fun for $110, on the water or
posted 05-14-2008 01:04 AM ET (US)
Stay tuned for an article on my installation process. I took a lot of photos, and learned a few things along the way.
posted 05-14-2008 09:40 AM ET (US)
The failed cable ties were probably an assortment of colors. My boat spends 95-percent of its life indoors. The boat is probably on the trailer about 98-percent of the time. I don't think the cable ties saw that much sunlight, but some of them probably were 16-years old. Old age killed them, but, yes, UV resistance is important to consider in nylon cable ties that will spend a lot of time outdoors. All the new ones I installed were black, however, I am not certain they have a special UV-rating. I'll have to check the package they came in from Home Depot's electrical department.
posted 05-14-2008 09:42 AM ET (US)
I finally got around to looking at the brake shoe I tore off the failed axle in Ohio. I am embarrassed to say, but there was no sign of any brake lining left on the brake shoe. If was metal-on-metal. I guess 16 years is too long to go between drum brake linings.
posted 05-14-2008 12:14 PM ET (US)
16 years has got to be some type of world record for longevity of drum brakes on a boat trailer! My current personal best is a little over 2 years (with some parts replacement). I have never had the metal parts last long enough to actually wear out the brake linings (but have had the rivets rust off and "drop a shoe"). There is definitely something to be said for fresh water boating.
Jim, if you are considering a wholesale brake replacement, I recommend the Kodiaks. This is the kit I ordered, and found it to be the lowest price around.
If you can live with silver cad plated calipers instead of the stainless steel units, and need a new stainless brake line kit as well, the packages sold by Champion Trailers are a better deal. Since this post is somewhat off topic, we can continue it in repairs/mods if you want some more details.
posted 05-20-2008 09:05 PM ET (US)
Sounds like a great trip
"Most off the roads were in excellent condition. Even in areas which were being repaired, the road was open and with enough capacity to prevent back up of traffic."
LOL, When was the last time you made a visit to the Mid Atlantic States? From Richmond, VA to Boston is a complete mess.
posted 05-26-2008 07:33 PM ET (US)
Jim, I have to thank you for the wheel bearing saga. I went and inspected the bearings on my 1986 Montauk's OEM Cox trailer from McCarthy Marine (see another thread). Needless to say, I was VERY LUCKY. I installed new bearings, races, and grease shields last weekend. I had pitted and scorched bearings, pitted races, and both grease shields must have failed years ago. I think the only thing that saved me was Bearing Buddies keeping the whole mess packed with grease.
posted 01-10-2009 09:51 PM ET (US)
I really do enjoy reading about Jim's adventures. The trailer bearing story stuck in my mind.
David Jenkins and I are already making plans for the Fourth Annual Waccamaw Trip (April 25 and 26, 2009). We will start a post sometime in February.
I once got a flat on the interstate between here and Conway, SC. I had a spare tire, but it threw off my entire trip and I ended up spending the night at a hotel. It is no fun changing a tire on the side facing the interstate at night. Every 18 wheeler that passes feels like its gonna hit. Since I had shredded the old tire, I kept stopping to make sure more damage was not done (over heated bearing).
Friday Jan 9 we had spectacular weather here in Georgia and I had the day off. I ran down to West Point Lake, put my boat in the water. I then dropped off the trailer at my good buddies at Mitchell Marine. Since it is slow in January they were able to install new bearings and a missing bearing buddy for $150 in about two hours while I took my boat for a spin.
I feel much better about making the upcoming trip.
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