10 Oct - 10 Dec 2012 - Part 1 - Back in the USA and the 2 weeks that turned out to be 2 months!

Mon 10 Dec 2012 03:09
Joe Wysong kindly met us again at Dulles, Washington airport  to drive us back to Deltaville; a car journey which took nearly 4 hours, including a stop for supper!  We were both absolutely exhausted when we arrived, so Joe headed off for another 2 hour drive home and we both fell into bed!   We sometimes forget the distances between places in the USA and the driving time to get to them, but many thanks again Joe, much appreciated!
We woke up to blue skies and glorious sunshine, but to our horror noticed something odd with Nimue’s teak decks.  A lot of the caulking (the black stuff in between the wood) had come out.  In fact Michael thought that the birds had been pecking away as it, as there were tiny pieces of black rubber all over the deck!  We did have some concerns earlier in the year that some of the caulking appeared to be ‘melting’.  We also knew that our friend’s (David & Jenny), had a Contest 48 built in the same year as Nimue (2000) and they had the same problem whilst crossing the Pacific in 2006 and ended up having their decks re-caulked.  Apparently there was a problem with quality of certain batches of caulking in 2000 and no-one seems to be accountable!  With Nimue, now 12 years old, we knew we wouldn’t have a ‘leg to stand on’, so decided to ‘bite the bullet’ and have them re-caulked.  To minimise the already expensive job, we agreed to take out the existing caulking, which ended us both working on our knees for a 7 full days digging it out (without damaging the teak).  A good test for Michael’s new hip and in fact, he felt that all the bending did it some good!  Anyway, it was a horrible job, as we came across black gluey/tarry mixtures and ‘hard as a rock’ stuff.  Mitch, an excellent woodworker and craftsman followed after us and started work routing deeper grooves into the existing teak, which would increase the overall longevity of the decks.  He would then squeeze the new caulking into the grooves, leave it for a week to cure and then trim off to give a smooth finish. 
The exceptionally long hot summer had taken it’s toll on poor Nimue and she was in need of some well deserved ‘TLC’.
Zimmerman Marine boatyard on a quiet day and where Nimue had spent the summer behind the white building (mid-right)
Michael stripping out the old caulking from the decks and the new caulking; curing
Mitch the woodworker, squeezing in some more caulking into the decks
The one expense we had planned prior to arrival back in the USA, was to have a new spray hood (or as the American’s say “Dodger”) and Bimini made.  Prior to our return to the UK, we met with Wendy of Wendy’s Custom Yacht Canvas to discuss our requirements.  We contacted Wendy on several occasions from the UK, insisting the work had to be completed within a couple of weeks of our return, as we were meeting some Canadian friends in Norfolk at the beginning of November. In fact the first morning back, she had arranged for herself and the stainless steel man “Bob” to meet us at Nimue at 0900hrs. All credit to Wendy, she and Bob arrived on time and we confirmed the details. Unfortunately, now that we had discovered the problem with the decks, it would appear that Wendy would have all the time in the world to complete the work! C’est La Vie!
We then came to turn the steering wheel; it wouldn’t budge!    The yard were ‘up to their necks’ in work, so Michael with the help of, yours truly, managed to take out the gearbox and autohelm motor.  Another good test for Michael’s new hip!  Fortunately, Zimmerman's had been very good in allowing Michael to use their workshop, so he was able dismantle and clean up the parts.  It turned out the gearbox was okay and was re-installed, but the bearings in the autohelm motor had seized. With the aid of special machine tool, Michael was able to get the bearings out, enabling us to take them to NAPA in Deltaville  to order new ones.  These arrived the following day and were successfully re-installed!
The gearbox (which was okay ) ..................................................and the autohelm motor which required new bearings
Michael using the machine tool to take out the autohelm motor bearings
Now here lies a story behind the broken fence! it was a quiet Saturday morning and Michael was in the workshop and I heard police sirens getting louder and louder.  The next thing I saw was a man running across the yard and a police car chasing him.  The man jumped over the fence, but the police car just smashed through it!  The man was eventually apprehended and was charged for a number of theft & drug related offences!  It was just like watching cops and robbers on the ‘telly’
Whilst waiting for the decks to be completed, Michael took the opportunity to replace the engine room bilge pump and engine fan. The gearbox oil cooler (the one temporarily fixed on way north in April 2012) and the exhaust (rubber) were replaced too, so Nimue was getting her much deserved TLC.  Not being an engineer, my contribution was to clean and paint the engine room, which was hardly a ‘walk in the park’, knowing that the skipper would pick up on the bits I missed, or spot drips of paint on the engine. In the end we were both very pleased with our efforts and I suggested that it would be a good idea to replace the wooden door panel to the engine room with a glass panel, so everyone could admire our good work!
The new exhaust rubber in pretty blue and it fitted in place in the engine room!
The water maker pump cleaned up and re-fitted and the new hoses fitted to the new gearbox oil cooler
We managed to antifoul (or as the American’s say “Bottom Paint”) Nimue completely in one day, so that we were ready to be dropped back in the water on the following Friday. The antifoul paint (or the lack of a particular brand) is another saga, but I’ll leave that for another day!
Michael dressed up in all his finery, to do some preparation work on Nimue’s hull prior to antifouling
Then came ‘Sandy’ (see Sandy blog), so launch day was understandably delayed.
Nimue was eventually dropped into the water on the following Thursday, only to find the engine battery had died, although Michael was able to jump start the engine.  Then our usual inspection of the propeller shaft seal and guess what, it was leaking (which meant another ‘lift out’ to replace it)?  As it wasn’t leaking too badly, we decided to leave Nimue in the water, as we were expecting Heather & Jonas to join us for a holiday (our friends from Calgary, who we spent time with during our Caribbean trip on their yacht, Sea Otter).  Once they left, we arranged a short haul lift out and Michael was able to install the new shaft seal within a few hours.
Heather & Jonas arrived during one of the colder spells and although we spent a lovely 10 days together, it was bitterly cold for the majority of the time, which necessitated keeping Nimue warm with heaters and electric fans on full blast!   We thoroughly enjoyed our excursions to the revolutionary and civil war sites and being enlightened by Jonas’s extensive knowledge on every type of cannon we came across!  (See separate blogs).
All set for launch day; hence smiles all round!
xxxx in charge of the travel lift and at last moving her from her summer home to the water!
All clean and ready to go!