Monday, May 28, 2018

She Floats

Back when we lived in California, we were fans of a columnist at the San Francisco Examiner. His alias was “Joe Bob Briggs,” and his speciality was reviewing schlocky B movies.  If he liked a film, he would say, “Time to take the Ford Toronado down off the blocks and head to the drive-in.”

To steal a phrase from Joe Bob, last Thursday Cap finally got to say, “Time to take Dragonfly down off the blocks and dunk her in the drink." Watch the video at right to see how Dragonfly gets into the water. Rolling boat lift, Batman!

If all goes according to plan, we will start our voyage on June 1. And things are going pretty well--so far.  Cap has installed the pair of new motors and hooked them up. Even though the new diesel generator is not yet in place, with that task complete, she was ready to swim. At left, she's getting lowered into the water.

This Part is for Motorheads

But once Dragonfly was floating in the launch basin, Cap got a bit of a surprise. (Gear-head alert! If you like propulsion technologies, read on. If you are drumming your fingers and saying, “The heck with wiring diagrams, when will this blog give us more on the SlowBoat Bikini Workout?” well, hang in there! That’s coming your way soon.)

Anyway, there she was, ready to cruise. She needed to move from the launch basin, past the fuel dock, around the corner, and into her own slip at the marina. Just a few hundred yards.  But when Cap goosed the throttle . . . nothing happened.

Hmmmm. Back in Cap’s basement workshop, the new twin motors seemed to work just fine. They could turn the transmission shaft forward, or in reverse.

But that was at super low speeds, turning against air. It turns out that, at our (faster yet still slow) ordinary speed of travel, the motor can only turn the shaft in one direction. And as wired, that direction was “reverse.” Hence no forward motion.

Giving New Meaning to the Expression "Manual Transmission"

The boat couldn't sit in the launch basin all day--there were other boats to launch.  Peter Wiles to the rescue!

Peter is president of Mid-Lakes Navigation, the company that built our boat and that runs Mid-Lakes Marina (where we keep our boat). He gamely jumped down into the engine room and in a few minutes had adjusted the transmission so the boat would go forward.

That got Dragonfly out of the basin. But boats need a reverse gear just as much as they need "forward," in particular to take the "way" (forward momentum) off as the boat approaches the dock. So Peter stayed down in the engine room, manually shifting from forward to reverse to forward and etc. as Cap maneuvered the boat into our slip. Thanks for saving the day, Peter!

Meet the Morris Control

Popping down into the engine room every time you need to reverse the boat is, shall we say, not a long term solution. (Yes, you remember correctly that with our OLD diesel-electric propulsion system, Cap would go below to manually move a belt from one gear to another.  No, it wasn't the most convenient system. Yes, it was nerve racking in high seas, or wind, or when a half-mile-long Mississippi River barge was bearing down at a high speed.)

 Happily Cap already had the solution at hand--a Morris control he'd bought used, at a marine supply store, ages ago. This good-looking chunk of chrome, now mounted on the steering podium, interfaces with the transmission and allows us to shift (forward, neutral, reverse) at the touch of a lever. So civilized!


  1. So awesome! Glad to see you are still at it. Som many do the loop and are done, but not us! The Goode Life is still cruising!m Of course we still have not completed the loop! LOL

  2. Where’s your home water? Will we see you?

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