All we wanted to do was take her to the car wash...

"Eventually..." still had a bunch of grime on her bottom from sitting in Elephant Butte last summer, so we decided to take her to the car wash and power blast her clean.  It would also be a great test for the new truck since we hadn't actually pulled her with it yet.  We had just installed the new brake controller and were very excited to try it out.  We backed the truck up to the trailer, and plugged in the cable.  We turned on the truck lights, stepped on the brakes, and... no lights on the trailer.

We hadn't used the trailer since last fall, so we had anticipated a little troubleshooting.  We pulled out the trusty multi-meter and started testing connections.  After about an hour of trial and error we figured out our mistake.  The trailer lights ground through the hitch to the truck chassis and we hadn't actually put the trailer on the ball!  We were just happy to find everything working, even if we did feel a little silly.

Part of the reason that we hadn't put the trailer onto the hitch ball, was that the ball currently on the truck was too small.  We knew that we would have to switch out to the 2" ball, but we had wanted to check the lights first.  Once we got the lights working, we attacked the hitch and ball.  Experienced towers recommend that you put anti-seize on the ball to stop the nut from seizing on.  It turns out that you should definitely heed that recommendation.   John has been wanted a vise for a while now, so this was a good opportunity.  After a trip to the store for the vise and a pipe wrench, we were able to switch out the smaller (wimpier) ball for our 2".

By then it was dark and looking gloomy, so we decided to wait until the next day to actually take her for a spin.  You know how they say that the way to get it to rain is to wash your car?  Well, I guess it works preemptively for boats.  Even though it's New Mexico, it rained all night and was drizzly the next day.  But since we figured we'd get wet at the car wash anyways, it didn't phase us.  We hopped in the truck and headed out.

We made it about half a block before we realized that we hadn't double checked the lights.  We pulled over and I hopped out and ran to the back of the trailer.  No lights!  So much for taking her for a spin.  I got back in the truck and we went around the block and back home.

After a little more trouble shooting with the multi-meter we realized that the problem was our old friend, the ground.  The ground wasn't making it through the ball to the hitch and then through the hitch to the truck chassis.  The hitch receiver is coated with plastic to prevent corrosion.  Turns out that it also prevents electrical contact.  The old ball had worn through a little and had been able to make contact the day before, but the new ball hadn't had a chance to wear in.  No big deal.  We decided to just take off the receiver, sand through the coating in a few strategic places, and presto, the problem would be solved.

We put down the jack to take the trailer off the ball.  The jack is pretty long, and doesn't swing up and out of the way like some models.  Because it doesn't leave much clearance, we had hit it getting the trailer down the curb, and it looked like the bump had bent the brackets and bolts.  It was so unstable that we weren't even comfortable leaving it on the jack briefly while we sanded the receiver.  So, we went on a mission to find a new bracket for the jack.

It seems that trailer jack manufacturers are very clever.  They don't sell just the jack brackets.  You have to purchase a new jack.  After going to all the auto parts stores and Tractor Supply (by the way, a very handy store), we came to terms with this fact and decided to go ahead and upgrade to a swing-out-of-the-way style jack.  Before leaving on our mission, we had cleverly measured the trailer tubing that we would be bracketing the jack to.  Before making our purchase we decided to measure the bracket that came with the jack, just to double check that it would fit.

One of the neat things about our trailer is that it has an extendable tongue to make it easier to get the boat in deep enough water when we're launching.  The inner tubing of the tongue is 3"x3" tubing.  The outer tubing, which our jack brackets to, is 3.5"x3.5".  This is all fine and good, until we're standing in the store, looking at our potential jack, whose brackets fit around 3"x3" or 4"x4" tubing.  It seems that those are the typical trailer tubing sizes.  And, as it turns out, that is the real reason why our brackets had gotten bent.  The extra room between the default bracket size and our odd trailer tubing had allowed the brackets to become skewed, and after a while, to bend from the weird torque.

We went ahead and got the jack.  By now it was dark again; another day spent on getting our boat to the car wash.  In the morning we fabricated a little block of wood to wedge into the bracket and take up the extra space left by our "special" tubing.  When we have access to a welder, we plan to weld the jack on, but until then the wood should keep the trailer fairly stable.

With it's wood spacer we were able to put the trailer on our new jack and take off the hitch to do our strategic sanding.  With the sanding complete and the receiver re-installed, the lights worked right away.  Only two days, a new vise, and a new jack, after we first started hooking up the trailer, we were ready to go to the car wash!  I'm happy to say that we made it there and back... eventually.  And "Eventually..." now has a clean bottom (that looks like it's ready for more bottom paint... a project for another day.)

The silver lining to this adventure, as it is with most of our simple projects that always seem to become more complex, is that we found, and fixed, a problem that we were previously unaware of.  It's always a bummer to spend more time and money than you anticipate on a project.  But it's definitely better to find the problem and get it fixed than to have something break (like your trailer jack... I'm picturing the jack brackets snapping and the boat toppling over onto our house...)  I guess it wasn't such a waste of the weekend after all!

Diesel Leaks...

A leaking diesel engine is something that most big boat sailors have struggled with... or perhaps constantly struggle with.  In our case though, it's not a good old Perkins inboard that's causing us headaches.  It's our new-to-us 2000 F-250 7.3 L.

Our friend Jen was wonderful last summer and let us use her truck to tow "Eventually..." to and from Elephant Butte.  We kept her in a slip at Rock Canyon marina until we brought her home for the winter, so there wasn't too much back and forth.  This year we don't want to spend the $200/month in slip fees, but we also don't want to impose on Jen every time we go to the lake.  So, we decided it was time to get our own truck.  After much reading and debate we decided that the F250 was the best combination of size and price for us.  We found what seemed to be a great buy in northern New Mexico, and after John's dad and uncle took a look for us (since they were up that way anyways), we made a weekend trip of picking up our newest form of transportation.

The truck has been perfectly reliable so far, but as with any "new" used boat/car/truck, there are a couple of things that we wanted to spruce up.  The first thing we started looking at is the drip, drip, drip of oil and coolant that have covered the underside of the engine in a thick black coat of grime.  We took the truck to the car wash and used "Gunk" and the pressure-washer to clean as much of the black stuff off as we could.  Then took a spin around town to dry everything off and get that leak (those leaks?) flowing, so that we could pinpoint where they're coming from.

Well... maybe pressure-washing an engine isn't the best idea.  Tons of people say that it's perfectly fine.  But, not long after we returned from the car wash, we tried to start her up and.... nothing but a little bit of smoke from one of the battery terminals.  There are tons of things that could cause this, and we didn't think it was the pressure wash.  She had started right back up at the car wash and a few times later that day.  Probably just bad luck on our part and something else had gone out.  Maybe the batteries?  Or the starter?  Or the funny looking wiring job that someone had done?

We took the batteries to be tested.  One was bad.  We replaced it.  Still nothing.  Ok, perhaps the starter or that wiring.  We checked the continuity of the wiring at the starter to make sure it was getting power.  It was.  We took the starter out and had it tested.  It tested as just fine.  Weird.  We asked around and looked online and then decided that it must be the starter... even though it's testing ok, it just doesn't have the ooomph to actually turn over the engine when there's a load on it.  Ok, so, new starter.  We put in the new starter... still nothing!

This is when we start to get frustrated.  Why have we taken out and put back in the starter five or six times already when what we set out to fix was an oil leak?  We decided to take a step back and think a little more.  What do we know?  We know that there is power getting to the signal post of the starter.  We know that we have a brand new starter.  We know that we have two good batteries.  Hmmmm.... thinking back on how this all started.... where did that smoke come from?  And why is this all happening right after we power wash the engine?  Coincidence?  Maybe not!

We took a closer look at that funny looking wiring.  It looks like someone decided to put a new battery terminal on the wire going to the starter.  And that they managed to stick the 000 gauge wire (a giant wire) into a connection on this new terminal that could only fit a 4 gauge wire (a much smaller wire).  They managed to do this by hacking off half the width of the starter wire at the end and just jamming it into that small connector.  Then they electrical taped it all together to hide their franken-wire.  Hmmmm... maybe a bit of water worked its way into the system somewhere, caused a temporary short (until it evaporated away) and that short caused the bad wiring to get worse.  Now there's power making it through that wire to the starter, but not enough to turn over the engine.

Ah ha! Eureka.  We go get a new wiring harness.  We put it in, and then put on the starter.  John's been putting the starter in and out all these times, but I'm ready to get under the truck and turn some nuts.  So, after he gets it bolted into place, he graciously lets me attach the signal and power wires.  This is it!  The very last nut!  John warns be to be very careful not to over-tighten it and then hands me the, by now much to familiar, 8mm socket.  I tighten it, figuring that, since I'm not super strong, I'll tighten it until it feels pretty snug and that ought to be good.  Snugging, snugging, snap.  "What are you doing under there?" John asks.  From under the truck I stay quiet and just hand out the socket, with the nut and half the bolt in it.

Yup, on the very last nut I manage to break a bolt.  Thankfully the starter has a lifetime warranty. After a few minutes of pacing, and a few choice words, John takes the starter back out and we head back to the parts store.  They are nice enough not to ask too many questions and just give us a new starter.  When we get back to the truck I let John attach those last wires.

And then... the beautiful, wonderful sound of a diesel engine.  Perhaps not what we started out to fix, but that wiring was a fire-hazard and obviously unreliable, so maybe this off-track adventure was serendipitous.  We'll tackle the oil leaks some other day... for now we load up the dog and head to the brew pub to celebrate the fact that, while still leaky, our truck lives again.

Sailors aren't Superstitious!

The Naming.  It's a very important part of owning a new sailboat.  And very controversial.  Do you rename it?  Do you live with the old name?  Is it bad luck to rename a sailboat?  After some brief, but intense, internet searching it seems that conventional sailing wisdom says that it is very, very bad luck to rename a sailboat.  However, most sailors want to rename their new sailboat anyways.  So, in order to be able to rename the sailboat, and avoid being forever cursed, it is important to have a Renaming Ceremony.  A Renaming Ceremony can vary widely, but must, according to the trusty internet, include the following:
   a) Removing all traces of the previous name of the vessel (possibly including burning something with the old name on it).
   b) Asking nicely, pleading with, or otherwise entreating whatever Gods or deities of the Sea/Ocean/Lake and Winds that you deem important (and try not to forget any!  You may make them mad!) to accept the new name of the vessel.
   c) Giving an offering of your favorite booze to the aforementioned Gods or deities and sprinkling some somewhere on the boat while saying the new name.
   d) Then of course partaking of said booze with all the friends and dockmates you can muster together.

The name the our boat came with, "Yankee Spirit," wasn't really our style.  Not that we're not patriotic... maybe it was the graphics that turned us off to the name...
An eagle exploding out of a flag is a little loud for us.  Well, whatever it was that we didn't like about "Yankee Spirit", now that we knew we could avoid the Renamed-Sailboat-Curse, we decided that we would be renaming her.  After weeks of brainstorming, and brain-wracking, we weren't any closer to coming up with a name that both of us loved and thought suited our first sailboat.  Finally, exasperated, John said, "You know, we're going to have to name this boat Eventually..."  It was just one of those moments.  We looked at each other, gauged our own reaction against the look on the other's face, and then... shrugged.  Yes, we would have to name her, "Eventually..."  It's a little corny, I know, but sometimes that just can't be helped.

And so, a few weekends later, we hauled coolers full of beer and champagne down the long ramp to our slip, and officially pleaded with all the Gods of the sea and the wind, to know and accept this vessel, forevermore, as "Eventually..."