12 Days in Annapolis - What took us so long?

Martin and Elizabeth Bevan
Mon 17 Jun 2013 22:59

Date                Thursday 6 June to Monday 17 June 2013


Well you might ask, but the time went and we were certainly not idle.  Sid and Rebecca very kindly loaned us Rebecca’s car whilst they were out of town and this meant that we could get around and use the opportunity being close to one of the USA’s biggest yachting centres to get all sorts of things repaired and updated.  Some of these were long term issues and it was very satisfying to have them sorted out.  In summary:


·         The outboard – after a couple of false starts we were put on to an excellent if somewhat eccentric fixer of engines, Tim Whitney of Boatworks Annapolis.  His workshop is crowded out by three classic cars in various states of renovation, a museums worth of antique outboard motors and machine tools and three very large, very black, very noisy Great Danes.  Not only did he sort the engine out he even rang the following day to ask if it was OK.


·         The VHF radio.  We have been having range issues with this since arriving in St Lucia in 2010.  Various experts have pronounced about the problem and in Martinique we even replaced the VHF with a new identical set.  Some basic pointing out of the obvious (easy to say in retrospect) got me to swap the VHF antenna lead to the main mast with the AIS/VHF antenna lead to the mizzen.  Result VHF with a range improved from 3nm to 30nm and AIS with a range reduced to 3nm from 30nm.  I had no idea that VHF antennas wear out.  A day’s trip around to Port Annapolis to have a new antenna fitted and we are once again getting good ranges out of everything.  I also had the AM/FM antenna on the main mast replaced and the couplings within the boat changed to match those of the VHF radio so we now have the ability to swap to a spare in the future without upsetting the AIS.


·         Furuno chart plotter and AIS.  When we upgraded the AIS (the system that shows us details of ships over 150ft, location, speed and course, and who by law must carry and operate it, and smaller vessels equipped with AIS transmitters) in 2010 we installed a third party device linked in to our main Furuno system.  I was told that because of the way that it had to be linked in it might slow the refresh rate of the chart plotter.  Well it did to the extent that always at the wrong moment when changing scale the chart plotter would freeze for up to 30 seconds; very inconvenient when you are negotiating an obstacle.


Well the solution appeared to be to bite on the bullet and purchase the correct Furuno item which I did, at considerable expense.  As part of the preparation for the installation it was necessary to upgrade the firmware of the plotter which with the help of the Furuno helpline I carried out.  Result – the chart plotter was now working better than when the boat was new and it was not the AIS after all.  Fortunately the supplier took the uninstalled Furuno AIS back and provided a refund.


·         The water pump.  Having replaced the accumulator tank in Norfolk the pressure regulator switch appeared to have failed.  Some online advice through the AMEL Owners Yahoo group explained how to adjust the switch which appeared to be a type commonly used in US well systems.  For the princely sum of $23 a replacement was purchased and fitted.  We now have a fully functioning water system again.


In between all of this we received some great hospitality from fellow Amel owners and OCC members Dick and Jill Breen and from Fred and Annie Hallett, we celebrated our 39th wedding anniversary and Elizabeth cycled around the place admiring large waterfront properties and found his sign, but no bears; perhaps she was not going fast enough?:




I meanwhile, doing a suitable impression of a prohibition busting booze smuggler, extracted some 12 boxes of assorted bottles of wine, spirits and beer for storage ashore in preparation for our trip to Canada where the customs regulations are reputedly draconian.



All of this had to dinghy’ed ashore and carried up the hillside to Wolfgang and Gemma’s barn, they being the OCC Port Officers for Annapolis and who also kindly gave us the use of their dinghy dock for getting ashore and parking for Rebecca’s car.


Our final day in Annapolis was occupied by moving the boat into a neighbour and friend of Dick and Jill Brean’s dock and filling with water; a very kind offer that meant that we did not have to find a marina when we eventually got around to leaving.


The view from the watering hole across Crab Creek.  Caduceus on the dock had spent the previous 10 days anchored in the middle of the creek and Wolfgang’s yacht is on his dock in the middle of the picture.


Our final event was to co-host a party for OCC friends in Wolfgang and Gemma’s house.  Wolfgang and Fred Hallett currently both have mobility issues so dining ashore made sense, especially as it was raining.  Wolfgang and Gemma very kindly gave us the run of their kitchen and house for the occasion.  They provided the starter and pud and we (as in the Mate) cooked a chilli and salsa whilst the compass of my achievements were limited to some sous chef’ing and the bar tendering.