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Cruising With The Chilbergs: Prisoner In Paradise (BLOG)

Well, I knew it would happen eventually. I hate it, but it has to be done. In order to avoid paying someone approximately the same amount as a Saudi Crown Prince’s monthly oil royalty, I had to do it.
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“It is extremely rare to find reason joined with enthusiasm.”


“When we focus on abundance; our life feels abundant; when we focus on lack, our life feels lacking. It is purely a matter of focus.”

—Sue Jeffers

June 3, 2016:

Well, I knew it would happen eventually. I hate it, but it has to be done. In order to avoid paying someone approximately the same amount as a Saudi Crown Prince’s monthly oil royalty, I had to do it.

“What is it?” You say. Long time cruisers will guess it right … changing oil and filters! I pull two 5 gal cans of oil out of the lazarette, and an empty 5 gallon can for the dirty oil.

I climb down into the engine room. My attitude is falling like the October 29th, 1929, Stock Market Crash. My joints ache in anticipation as I remind myself that on my last trawler, a Monk 36, I had to kneel down as if I were attending a three hour Catholic Mass and use a bucket with a pump motor on top that inevitably would spit black oil around the engine room like an angry cobra.

The tools of my sentencing.

The tools of my sentencing.

But, I was 20 years younger! Now a soon to be 65-year-old, gray, neuropathy-footed curmudgeon mumbles obscenities as he descends into what is called “The Holy Place” of a yacht. I prefer the term purgatory. Ten gallons of oil, three oil filters, and four fuel filters later, a sweaty, oily, older man emerges with a smile of triumph! I won’t have to do this again until we reach Florida.

I start my trusty Cummins engines and they purr with their new clean oil and filters. Success is in my grasp. All I need to do is test the generator. She starts up and as I am about to begin my victory dance, she dies. After a few unsuccessful tries, I climb back down into the generator compartment that is the size of a midget’s coffin and, oh no, I see coolant and salt water.

I call Adrian, my Bahamian mechanic and guardian angel, to come rescue me.

He is as tall as I am, but 20 years younger. Adrian arrives and crawls into the coffin of financial doom and reappears later reporting that it is not loose hoses as I had hoped, but a bad raw water pump that spewed salt water all over the generator. As I feel my bank account resembling Oct. 29th, 1929, Adrian is finally able to remove the pump. He departs in search of a replacement whose odds of finding one are in the range of winning the lottery.

The glorious marina at Spanish Wells.

The glorious marina at Spanish Wells.

The words, “FedEx from Ft. Lauderdale.” are his final words as he rides off like the Lone Ranger with my Silver. Several hours later he returns with a new shaft and bearing which needs to be assembled. With no press to get the shaft in the bearing, I place the shaft in the freezer and steam the bearing on the stove to shrink the former and expand the latter. Adrian works his magic and installs the pump.

She starts and all is well … The generator then dies again and is still leaking coolant. S#$%@! Adrian descends again only to return with the news that the heat exchanger has a leak due to the fact that it has slipped down on the generator housing and the vibration had worn a hole in it … S$#@&%!

Fortunately, I had an old heat exchanger that works. Adrian has now taken up residence on Mud Puddle Rose in exchange for my bank account! The ordeal appeared over for the moment. We left Nassau for a lovely protected anchorage with a white sand bottom over gin clear water in Eleuthera.

Myself, Adrian and Dennis.

Myself, Adrian and Dennis.

After we anchored and relaxed for a bit on the flybridge, I started the generator. It started up without issue, but when I flipped the switch for 120 Volts … 0 instead. S@$#%$#! I needed to run the main engines to create charging power for the inverter batteries from midnight until we pulled into the Spanish Wells Marina at daybreak. After we tied up and plugged in for 120 Volts at the dock, at least we could pause and stop the engines. After numerous phone calls to all the mechanics on the island and several “We are booked.” conversations, Saint Herbie of the local power company came over, diagnosed the problem and fixed it. A broken breaker on the generator itself was the culprit. Now we are back in business … I hope!

We celebrated with a fabulous dinner at the restaurant at the newly renovated Spanish Wells Marina. Upon returning to Mud Puddle Rose, we collapsed into bed and enjoyed air conditioning and no main engines running. Paradise has returned after a weeklong trial and struggle.

The renovations done at the Spanish Wells Marina are spectacular.

It now rivals any marina in the Bahamas and even surpasses those in Sarasota. Had we not had the generator problem, we likely would have skipped the Spanish Wells Marina and never met St. Herbie! I learned new aspects of the generator and look forward to continuing our cruise.



Much like a woman in childbirth who glares at her husband and says, “I’ll never let you do this to me again!” , only to want another child a few years later, I, too, will forget these last five days after a few glasses of wine, a mahi dinner, a sunset, and day of snorkeling.

“What problems on a boat? There are never problems on a boat! I don’t remember what a pain it is to change oil and filters. I don’t think I ever had generator problems. Would you please pour me another Rum Blaster, as my memory is starting to return?”

Then I recall replacing a roof on my house one summer in California. I remember stripping, staining, and sealing my log home in Tennessee. I still have nightmares about my handyman telling me that the builder neglected to put flashing around the windows of another home I owned.

Yes, I‘d still rather have a boat. “Oh, and may I have another mahi fillet.”

Read more of Joe's blog, here.