. . . we’d have no luck at all.
NOTE: WE WOULD LIKE TO ADD AN UPDATE TO THIS BLOG WHERE WE DESCRIBE IN DETAIL WHAT TOOK PLACE WHEN WE DEVELOPED A “SHORT” IN A WIRE BETWEEN THE ZF CONTROLLER AND THE JOHN DEER ENGINE. FIRST AND FOREMOST, THERE WAS NEVER A PROBLEM WITH THE JOHN DEERE ENGINE OR THE ZF CONTROLLER. IT TURNED OUT TO BE NOTHING MORE THAN A SHORT/BROKEN WIRE, WHICH WAS REPAIRED WITHIN 5 MINUTES ONCE THEY FOUND THE PROBLEM. WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IS WHEN WE WOULD LEAVE THE SLIP AND BE ABOUT 20 MINUTES OUT (OR ABOUT TWO MILES), THE SHORT IN THE GROUND WIRE WOULD “OPEN” AND CAUSE THE PROBLEM OF COMMUNICATION BETWEEN THE ZF CONTROLLER AND THE JOHN DEERE ENGINE. ONCE THE SHORT IN THE WIRE WAS REPAIRED WE HAVE NEVER EXPERIENCED A PROBLEM AGAIN WITH THE BOAT. WAS IT A FRUSTRATING EXPERIENCE TO GO THROUGH BECAUSE OF BEING STUCK IN MARATHON, AND CHANGE OUR CRUISING PLANS? – YES. HOWEVER, WE KNEW WHEN WE BUILT OUR BOAT THAT THERE WOULD BE ISSUES THAT WOULD COME UP – JUST AS THERE ARE ISSUES IN BUILDING A NEW HOUSE. THIS TURNED OUT TO BE A VERY MINOR PROBLEM THAT SIMPLY TOOK A LONG TIME TO DIAGNOSE. ONCE DIAGNOSED, IT WAS REPAIRED BY REPLACING THE BROKEN GROUND WIRE AND WE WERE ON OUR WAY AND ENJOYING THE DANCE ONCE AGAIN. THERE WAS NEVER A PROBLEM WITH THE JOHN DEERE ENGINE OR THE ZF CONTROLLER. (IF ANYONE HAS FURTHER QUESTIONS ABOUT WHAT TOOK PLACE, PLEASE FEEL FREE TO DROP US A NOTE.)
On April 23 we attempted our departure out of Marathon to the Bahamas. As you read in our previous blog, we developed a problem and had to be towed back into the slip. It is now May 17 and we are still in Marathon trying to resolve our problem. To say the least, the situation is extremely frustrating and emotionally taxing. We try to remain positive that an answer will be found, but there are certainly times (mostly for Pauline) we feel hopeless to the situation. We do try to make lemonade out of the lemons, but we are getting pretty tired of the lemonade.
If it were a mechanical issue that could be diagnosed and repaired quickly that would be one thing. However, we are experiencing an electronic problem. While not touching the ZF throttle control lever, the John Deere engine RPMs fluctuates up and down erratically. Trying to diagnose the cause and repair that is no easy task. Initially the ZF technician thought that the problem had to do with the electronic throttle controller.. a mini computer. He scheduled an appointment to come back and swapped it out with a new controller.
Then both the technicians from ZF and John Deere came out to do a sea trial to see if we could duplicate the problem. We had tried to duplicate the problem several times in the slip, but it never reoccurred. We left the slip and reached almost the exact location where the problem originally occurred and it happened again! Instead of being disappointed, we were thrilled because now both technicians could see what was happening. Additionally, this time we were able to limp back to the dock and into our slip at idle speed without needing a towboat.
Based on diagnostic readings the technicians made, they had to look at the possibility that the problem was with the John Deere electronic control module, not the ZF processor.
The John Deere technician came back again with a new electronic control (ECU) module. He installed the new (ECU) but was unable to download the software to program it for our specific engine. He then gets on the phone with John Deere factory techs. They take control of his computer and attempt to download the software. After several unsuccessful hours of this, they determined that the new ECU is defective.
So the Deere factory pre-programs another new ECU (in Waterloo, Iowa) and overnighted it to the Key West based technician (of course this is a Friday and it did not arrive until Monday). The technician arrives on Monday afternoon with the second, new ECU. He successfully gets it plugged in. It had been programmed correctly, the engine runs properly and off we go for another sea trial. Guess what? After the same amount of time and almost in the same location, the problem happens AGAIN! The technician is at a loss as to why it is still occurring. He has some theories and needs to consult more with Deere factory experts. Once again we limp back into the slip.
Everyone involved in trying to resolve the issue are totally perplexed as to what is going on. But there is clearly a problem and it must be fixed. We are unable to move the boat until we are able to get the situation resolved. It is increasingly frustrating to read posts on Facebook from our Krogen friends about their travels up north up the east coast of Florida. That’s what we are supposed to be doing now.
As for the lemonade, part of that included having Scott (Mark’s son) and Emily, Scott’s girlfriend, join us in Marathon. We had planned a super fun vacation cruise with them in the Abacos in the Bahamas. The sad part of this was that they were not able to experience just what our life of cruising is all about. But we still really enjoyed their visit. We kept them busy with a day in Key West, a dinghy ride to Sombrero Beach, a fishing trip where our group caught 60 Yellowtail Snapper (yummy), and a snorkeling trip to Sombrero Reef. And of course, cocktails on the flybridge each night, watching the sunset. Plus many visits to local tiki bars, including Burdines for the Key’s best french fries and Keys Fisheries for stone crab claws. On one stormy, windy night, we celebrated Emily’s birthday. Scott handed her a card and small gift box. She opened the card first, which read “Happy Birthday! I only have one question…?” He then got down on his knee and proposed to Emily. She said yes! The engagement ring, of course, was in the box. After all the mandatory phone calls spreading the good news to other family and friends, it was too late to go out for dinner, so Pauline ended up grilling steaks in the rain. What a special and fun evening that was! We couldn’t be more thrilled that they will be getting married. We love Emily and welcome her to our family.
We booked them in a small art deco hotel in South Beach the night before they flew back to Colorado. Not sure that South Beach was quite their style, but they can check that off of the list of places to see. We drove them up to Miami and joined them for a final brunch at News Cafe, before heading back to Marathon. All in all, their vacation with us was a very enjoyable one.
A few days after they departed, our friend Louise Crowley from Wisconsin joined us for five days. Again, she was supposed to be joining us in the Bahamas. Her day started out with a mechanical problem on the plane departing Chicago. That delay then caused her to miss her connection in Orlando. She was delayed nine hours and finally arrived in Key West at 11:00 p.m. We got back to the boat at nearly 1:00 a.m. but still managed to stay up for one glass of wine! Louise, always the trooper, was just happy to be in warm weather and had a great time just chilling with us, eating, drinking, dinghy riding and she did get to experience a ride on the water with our last sea trial. We had a great day of snorkeling off of Sombrero Reef and the first thing she sees after jumping in the water is a shark! Freaked her out a bit but she stayed in the water. We took the dinghy over to Sombrero Beach one day to watch the Dragon Races. That was pretty fun. She even helped Pauline swab the boat one day. We capped off her visit with a quick tour in Key West, with a stop at Sloppy Joe’s, before she flew out.
So that brings us up to date. Now we wait to see what the next steps are in determining how to resolve our inoperable boat problem. Kadey Krogen has been there for us throughout this ordeal and are equally frustrated. There has been no other KK boat, comparably equipped, which has experienced the type of problem we are having. A conundrum to say the least.
Please send your good thoughts our way and wishes for our luck to turn. We need it.
Until the next time,
Fair winds and following seas (we can’t wait to get moving on the water again) . . .
Pauline and Mark
P.S. If you would like to see our cruising track, you can go to http://share.delorme.com/NextDance. You can see where we had to turn back. We have not had the Delorme on since 4/23 when we attempted our trip to the Bahamas. If we did you would have seen a few more circles back to the slip. Sometime soon we hope to turn our Delorme back on and you can see that track moving north!
Pema and I have mostly been enjoying lounging inside and outside the boat. We love hanging out on our cat tree and watching boats going by, seeing big fish jump in the water and birds flying just a little to close to our boat. Almost every night we go on the top deck with mom and dad and watch the sunset. It’s really pretty how the sky turns pink and orange. One of Pema’s favorite things to do is to watch fish videos on the iPad! She gets so excited! One day dad played his Eukelele for us. We enjoyed it very much 🙂
There have been strangers coming on board and making a lot of noise down by something called John Deere. We are sick of it. Sometimes the boat has been moving and all of a sudden John Deere makes some strange noises. We get distraught with all of the noise and activity. We sure hope they get the thing fixed soon and we can get our tails out of here! Lots of people say “well, if you have to be stuck somewhere, this is a good place to be stuck!”. Meow.
Scott came for a visit!! It has been a long time since we last saw him in Breckenridge, CO. He brought his girlfriend, Emily with us. They even got engaged on their trip! We used to scare Emily, but decided that now that she is going to be part of the family, we are going to be nice to her. We let her pet us and talk to us whenever she wanted. I wonder if they’ll let us be part of the wedding?? Meow. Scott played “pushy pushy” with me. I flop on the floor, stretch out and he puts his hands on my back legs and I push myself on the floor!! It is so much fun and it makes everyone laugh.
Then another lady joined us for a few days. I think she was afraid of us. Meow. Pema snuck in her room one night and was looking at her with her paws on the bed near her head. She woke up and was quite startled. Ha ha! It was purrty funny 🙂 She has now left and our family is now back to being “just us”. We love that.
It has started to get really hot here. We don’t mind it so much, but mom doesn’t like it. She says it’s like a sauna out there – whatever that means. Thank goodness we have air conditioning inside!
That’s it for now. Pema and I hope that the next time we write that it will be of us traveling on the Atlantic Ocean heading north to new sights and sounds. That would be purrfection!
Ming (and Pema), Boat Cats