Thursday, May 27, 2021

Prince of Tides

Yesterday I moved the boat from Ford to Thunderbolt, the area where the Intracoastal Waterway passes closest to Savannah. It takes approximately 40 minutes to drive my car from home to Thunderbolt, but in my boat it is a winding 33 nautical mile passage that takes nearly five hours. I go part way down the Ogeechee River to a spot where it connects to the Grove River. The Grove then merges into the Little Ogeechee River which empties out into Ossabaw Sound where I join the Intracoastal Waterway north to Thunderbolt.

I am normally required by my draft to depart our marina at Ford close to high tide and I benefit from the tidal current rushing out that adds to my usual 7.5-knot pace. This week, because of the full moon close to the earth, our tides have been extreme. The range between high and low tide measured at Fort McAllister is normally between six and seven feet. But today for example, there is a low tide this afternoon of negative one foot followed by a high tide tonight of 8.7 feet -- a range of 9.7 feet. (Tides are expressed relative to "Mean Lower Low Water", which is the average height of the lowest tide recorded at a tide station each day during a standardized 19-year recording period.) All of this water dropping nearly 10 feet over about six hours creates very strong currents, and at one point yesterday I was cruising at nearly 11 knots downstream. It was a fun ride and shaved roughly 30 minutes off of my trip. 

The reason for this trip is a story about problems in the "supply chain" for many items right now. Last week, when taking my boat to Thunderbolt for some minor electronics issues, the depth finder started acting up. It would rapidly jump around showing random depths that had nothing to do with reality. After some diagnosis by Mike King of Coastal Marine Electronics and a discussion with Garmin, it was determined that the transducer that fits through the hull of the boat was faulty. This is a fancy and rather expensive forward-looking sonar that shows the depth out in front of the boat to help avoid running aground. Mike called to tell me the good news was that that the transducer is under warranty and the bad news was that Garmin had none in stock and didn't know when they would be available. In fact, there was some indication it might be next year before I could get it replaced. 

I needed an alternative. It is pretty treacherous to operate in waters in this area without any indication of water depth. So Mike came up with a solution. I have an additional transducer that is a simple paddlewheel to show speed through the water. We could replace it with a not-too-expensive "tri-mode" transducer that would show depth, speed, and water temperature. The replacement was supposed to fit into the existing sleeve through the hull, but of course it didn't. So we scheduled to have the boat hauled out this week to replace the sleeve and install the back-up transducer.

Meanwhile, after all of this messing about, the replacement Garmin transducer that could have taken a year actually arrived at my house last Friday. So I brought the boat back to Thunderbolt yesterday to have it hauled out to both replace the Garmin and go ahead and put in the other we ordered as a back-up.

The haul out was scheduled for today, but when I arrived at Thunderbolt yesterday I learned that the lift used to haul boats had a flat tire. These are serious tires for a lift that picks up boats weighing up to 150,000 pounds. The tire is being repaired today but I didn't want the boat hauled out Friday only to sit in the hot sun without air conditioning until Tuesday after the holiday weekend. So the schedule now is to haul it Tuesday and put it back in the water Wednesday. I should be bringing it back home next Thursday. Sigh...

Long story, but this is often how things work with boats. We will eventually have everything in order.


1 comment:

Louise said...

This is a textbook case of getting things fixed on a boat. Hope it all works out!