I had no idea the amazing number of surprises that lay in wait for us when we stepped aboard the 64′ Horizon Motor Yacht ‘Semper Fi.’
Wendy, Alan and I had flown to San Juan, PR with our delivery gear and a big bag of spare parts, after the full time captain of the past four years had told the owner that the boat could ‘not make it to Florida.’
The sleek 64′ ex charter boat bobbed expectantly in it’s slip at Puerto Del Rey Marina, as if to say, “Welcome aboard suckers, I’ve been expecting you.” We originally had estimated our preparation time at two to three days. This proved a tad optimistic, especially after finding the house battery bank installed on the floor of the main salon! A quick glance in the engine room revealed one of the worst scenes of chaos we have ever seen, and prompted our immediate desire to return to the airport, which we resisted, as in 30 plus years of yacht delivery we have never abandoned a boat. One of the two shore power cords was completely melted, so there was no air conditioning on board when we arrived, and this only added to our general testiness. The disgruntled ex-captain, after reluctantly returning the ships papers and ignition keys that he had removed and hidden before our arrival, departed with the words “I really hope you make it, but I don’t think you will!” As soon as he was gone, we got ourselves to work. Twelve days of ‘dawn to dark’ laboring and ‘bilge ratting,’ finally saw us ready to depart for Ft Lauderdale.
This is a brief accounting of how we began the necessary preparations:
** Replaced 2 inoperative bilge pumps, 1 inoperative float switch and 1 shower sump pump.
** Rebuilt the cooling system on the 20K Generator including the heat exchanger core bundle, replaced the cracked and weeping exhaust elbow, replaced raw water pump, alternator belt, replaced the raw water hose from sea strainer to raw water pump, and repaired or replaced obvious broken and “cooked” wiring.
** Cleaned gallons of dirty engine oil and water under both main engine pans.
** Replaced the raw water impellers on both main engines.
** Jury rigged an insulated welding blanket around the starboard Cat’s deteriorated exhaust elbow. Previously, the insulation had deteriorated and fallen off, with the result of melting the plastic sight glass, dumping gallons of diesel fuel in the bilge. We replaced the sight glass, of course.
** Tightened every accessible hose clamp throughout the vessel, and assisted the local Cat mechanic with some long delayed repairs.
** Had a diver clean the bottom and running gear, which took 5 hours of scraping and two or three tanks of air.
** Replaced the plastic garden hose on the propane system with approved hose, and filled the propane tanks.
When the numerous electrical problems overcame my ability to cope. I called the owner and requested reinforcement.
He agreed to have our friend and omni competent electrical genius, Scott Wiley fly down the next day. When Scotty arrived with additional spare parts and his fantastic energy, we set about working on the following:
** Replaced the Hynautic reservoir and bled the throttle and shift system to bring it back to life.
** Replaced the rusted and worn out shift rods on both ZF transmissions.
** Diagnosed the problem in the main charging system as a melted contact on the main battery switch, not allowing any charge from the port alternator to the main 24v DC battery bank.
** Diagnosed the inverter/charger as ‘fried.’ Scotty wired around that problem and continued.
** Provided a back up charging system for the electronics to keep us going if the generator failed.
After all of the above was completed, along with numerous other small tasks going on simultaneously, we took her out for a short sea trial. We ran the Cats for an hour or so at our planned cruise rpm with no hiccups, and returned to the marina to top up the fuel tanks and go to our slip.
We provisioned the boat, and departed Puerto Rico early morning on Sunday August 15, setting our course for Ocean World Marina in the Dominican Republic. As soon as we cleared the protected waters of the East end of the island, it was clear that we had totally overlooked repairing one important item – the closing mechanism for the large glass sliding door! The only way to hold the door closed was to use the turn latch on the inside. The latch mechanism and the outside key hardware were all missing! This made running the boat from the upper station nearly impossible, so the decision was made to all stay at the lower station. Thirty three hours later we cleared Customs, fixed a few small items including rigging a temporary compass light, and spent a quiet night in the marina. After clearing out with the Dominican officialdom who were very nice, no ‘mordida’ as in the old days, we cast off for the Bahamas. 44 hours of untroubled running later, we docked at Georgetown, Exuma for fuel and clearance into the Bahamas. We had a great dinner ashore at Eddy’s Edgewater, a good nights rest, and departed the next morning for Highbourne Cay, where we topped the fuel and water tanks, had dinner on board, and set out early the next morning for the final 215 NM to Ft Lauderdale. We arrived off Port Everglades at dawn, made our way to the dock on SE 14th St, called US Customs, obtained our clearance and went ashore for breakfast.
‘Semper Fi’ ran without missing a beat, thanks to our diligent preparation and the fact that the weather was almost perfect, with only one rough stretch off Caicos.
The next day we turned her over to a happy, satisfied and very relieved owner.
Total Distance: 1002 NM
Total Running Hours: 107
Average Speed: 9.3 knots @ 900 RPM
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