We arrived in Ft. Lauderdale, took a slip at Los Olas Marina and started calling marine electricians. The slip cost $80/day and a mooring field ball was $30/day, but we had to remain in the slip until we could get an electrician aboard. Several times on this journey we have had electricians look at our system but they never could find the problem. However, when we woke up and didn't have any power in Vero beach on the hook it was clear that this had to be finally fixed. Through the Seven Seas Cruising Association, we were able to find a really great electrician, but he was booked for a week solid. This meant that we had to stay in the slip at Las Olas Marina until he was free. In the meantime, we had a blast seeing the city.
Our friends Joel and Meri Jane live in Miami. Joel took us to a preseason baseball game - the Marlins vs. The Baltimore Orioles. It was in the Orioles home field, but many Marlins fans were evident. We had second row seats behind home plate. The stadium was an intimate size and it was the perfect way to see a game.
A highlight of our visit here was when Joel and Meri Jane took us to a botanical garden south of Miami called Fairchild Gardens. There, we saw an exhibition featuring work by the artist Chihuly. Click here to see a page on this outstanding exhibition. That evening, we dined in Miami's South Beach.
The next week, we visited Bonnet House and Birch State park. Bonnet House was built in 1920 on the barrier island fronting the ocean. It remains a beautiful jungle enclave surrounded by the condo towers of Ft. Lauderdale. Click here to visit a page on Bonnet House.
We also paid a visit to the Stranahan House. This was a trading post and the first home built in the area around 1893 at the site of a ferry crossing, all built by Frank Stranahan. This was near the site of Ft. Lauderdale, commanded by Major William Lauderdale in 1838. Later, we walked through the visiting exhibit of King Tut at the Ft. Lauderdale Art Museum.
Finally, the electrician was available to check out the system. He was very professional, knowledgeable, and patient. In the first few minutes, he determined the problem: when we had the system rewired a year before, a number of things had been done incorrectly:
1) The negative cable from the alternator was very undersized and he replaced it with one the same gauge as the positive cable. This substantially increased the power generation of the alternator.
2) The alternator power cable ran to the starter batteries, not the house bank. This was changed.
3) The power cables from the shore power charger was run to two adjacent batteries, rather than to each end of the eight battery bank.
4) When the engine had been rebuilt last year, the new alternator bracket was reversed and the alternator belt could not be easily tightened. This was the most difficult problem and he could not fix it and joked that we do so the next time we pulled the engine. Since the cable replacement made the alternator pull much harder, it now made the belt slip continuously. We went to Sears and purchased 10" and 20" extensions to our socket wrench and were able to tighten the belt. Rana was able to hold the socket on the bolt and Mike worked the wrench at the other end of the engine. We then tensioned the belt with a crowbar and tightened the two pivot nuts. Belt tightening is now at least a two person job.
After that we moved out to the mooring field just across the Las Olas bridge form the marina next to our friends on Viking Rose and Diana. We are now varnishing, painting and waiting for a weather window favorable for crossing to the Bahamas.