Rusted Generator Mount

Last post I wrote about the passage my friend Randy and I made across the Gulf of Mexico. A lot went right, but a few things went wrong, so I’d like to do a little processing here if you’ll indulge me.

What went right…

We safely crossed a 360 mile stretch of water. I was offshore for 78 hours, 30 longer than my previous longest crossing. We had a good forecast of 10-15kt wind & 3-5′ seas for the next 4 days (although the forecast ended up being very inaccurate).

We used the canvas cockpit enclosure so we were able to stay warm and dry. Randy, reflecting on a rough and wet crossing he’d had a year ago on his 35′ boat, even said while peering through the windshield “This isn’t like sailing. This is more like watching a movie about sailing.” Had the canvas not been there to keep us from getting splashed by each wave, it would have been a much different, much less pleasant trip.

The boat has a lot of windage–the giant mainsail cover/stack pack and enclosed cockpit canvas being the biggest culprits. The highest winds we saw were 35kts and I think the boat would have sailed along just fine without any sails up at all due to said windage.

We made a habit of reefing before dark each night and we learned that in 20+ knots of wind, the boat is happy just running a stays’l and reefed mizzen. I’d heard that the Whitby/Brewers tend to need reefing a little sooner than you’d think, and I agree. For any wind aft of the beam, the stays’l alone worked well. We were able to balance the boat nicely using those two combinations and still manage 4-6 knots.

The greatest win of the entire trip, I’d say, was just learning how much the boat could take. We saw waves up to 20′ (later confirmed by the nearest NOAA sea buoys) and the boat was in its element. I’ve been in waves half that size on smaller boats & thought I was going to die. This time I wasn’t even worried about losing my lunch.

Save for a few hours after eating skunked ketchup, anyway.

What went wrong…

Despite having a well stocked tackle box, we didn’t catch any fish. Well, we hooked one, but it broke off. In hindsight, it’s probably because you have to have the lure in the water to catch fish, and ours wasn’t wet for long. The wave action was so rough, it was an acrobatic act just to get out of your seat for a sandwich, much less maneuver to the back deck to man a fishing pole. I’ve since learned that the rougher the water, the better the fishing though, so maybe we should have tried harder.

And the doozie.

On Monday night, night 3, I was sitting in the corner of the port cockpit bench and I noticed a slight creaking that hadn’t been there before. Something I normally wouldn’t notice, but it was different enough and I guess my senses were heightened enough for it to trigger a comment. I mentioned it to Randy, but he couldn’t feel it from where he was sitting.

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I didn’t figure out until the next morning that the slight creaking was the generator swaying on its rusted mounts. All 410lbs of the generator, which is bolted down in the engine room to a rusted metal track, was rocking 1/2″ or more each time we would go up and down a wave.

The crazy waves we’d had for the past 56 hours had broken away about half of the thickness of the metal track, so the generator was barely hanging on. It’s a miracle that the whole thing didn’t come crashing down on top of the engine. Had we been offshore for another day or two, I’m afraid that’s exactly what would have happened.

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Fortunately we were able to baby it into Charlotte Harbor with no major damage done. We spent the next few days trying to figure out the best way to replace the mounts, but it ultimately was a project too big for Randy and I.

So today, after a month away from the boat (did I tell you I got engaged? Oh. That’ll have to wait for another post.), I made it back down to Charlotte Harbor to spend a few days motoring her back up to Snead Island Boat Works.

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You may recall we spent several days here nearly 2 years ago, and I couldn’t think of a better place to deal with this issue.

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As far as the shakedown cruise, we accomplished everything we wanted to accomplish. And we even managed to break something along the way. Not a bad way to close out 2014, the year of boat work.


Bo is currently based in Orange Beach, Alabama working towards checking #31 off his bucket list. If you’d like to be a part of the adventure, consider sponsoring a mile. To get more info on the curriculum, visit JuniorCaptains.com.