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Posted By Robin & Jim

The weather is finally going to break (somewhat) so we can head up to Key Biscayne and meet up with our Bahamas buddy boat.  Friday, April 16th we finally got out of our slip and traveled a whole 100' over to the fuel dock to top up the diesel tanks and fill all our spare gas cans for the dinghy.  We spent the night on the fuel dock since we were leaving before sunrise, and we enjoyed a last dinner and Marathon sunset at Lazy Days.  We left on Saturday morning and had a bit of a lumpy ride for several hours, but the seas settled down a bit after lunchtime.  We noticed a "Low Oil" light on the stabilizer panel, and when Jim went to the engine room to look he saw oil squirting from one of the stabilizer pistons every time the fin moved.  We centered the stabilizers and he added some oil to keep the system happy, but we were no longer happy when the seas kicked up later in the afternoon, about an hour out of Key Biscayne.  It was the first time we've ever really experienced the ride in a steep beam sea without stabilizers, and we had to tack (zig-zag) to ease our ride a bit.  We were tired, it's a long run (90 miles).  Jim grabbed the stabilizer manual to try to understand the situation better, and he noticed that the local (Ft. Lauderdale) dealer had a 24-hour phone number.  We gave the number a try and left a message, holding out little hope for any help on a weekend.  An hour later we had a call back from Stabilized Marine (the folks who installed the stabilizers in the boat 14 years ago), and they were going to check on parts availability, and squeeze us into their schedule on Monday or Tuesday if we could bring the boat to them in Ft. Lauderdale.  Wow! 
We anchored next to LUCKY STARS, ate a quick dinner, and zonked out for the night.  We were very disappointed about delaying our crossing to the Bahamas, but the weather changed and conditions were not going to be favorable for a few more days.  Stabilized Marine called us back on Sunday to discuss their recommendation for repairs and to say they would have to order the parts from Connecticut first thing Monday morning, with overnight delivery.  All they asked was that we try to get to Ft. Lauderdale on Monday so the engine room would be cool for the repairs on Tuesday.  NO problem - it was the least we could do for such great service and support. 
Stabilized Marine strongly recommended that we replace the pistons on both sides with a newer model - it has a larger diameter push rod and is more durable, and they suggested we upgrade our hydraulic pump to match the bigger pistons.  The parts were expensive, but the system is 14 years old and it's the first time we've had to do anything besides regular maintenance, so we couldn't really complain. 
The piston on top is the older style, and the one on the bottom of the photo is the newer type.

stabilizer pistons

The parts and guys arrived earlier than expected on Tuesday, and by the end of the day the repairs were completed and the system was tested and checked out fine.  We left at mid-tide on Wednesday morning and had a nice run back down to Key Biscayne out in the ocean - a good sea trial for the stabilizers.  Dan and Carol on LUCKY STARS were still waiting for us in Key Biscayne, and they invited us for dinner so we didn't have to cook!  The weather looked acceptable for crossing the Gulf Stream on Thursday, and we made it an early night so we could leave before sunrise.  At this point, I was wondering if we'd ever make it to the Bahamas!


 
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