The Little Red Engine Conclusion

After many hours of hard diligent work on the head gasket, fuel injector, hone of the cylinders, and much more The Little Red Engine said no more.  After 21 years, she passed away at 9:16 on December 8th. It is sad but It is also a celebration. She has sailed/motored the great lakes, the Gulf of Mexico, Bahamas and Atlantic Ocean. Now we wait for the new arrival of her predecessor. 

This is the cylinders after hone; aren’t they pretty.  Deck is very clean, pistons de-carbon.


Putting the engine back together.


It’s funny the poor guy keeps trying to resuscitate the little red engine.  Here, we try to boost the crank speed with an electric drill.  The engine is getting fuel, air and now a bit more compression. She chugs every other revolution, but will not quite start.


We had a get together with some new friends, a few days ago. I am sure they are all getting restless and ready to set sail. It’s funny we are all from Michigan. There is at least 4 other boats here in Mobile Alabama from Michigan.

Grace the young lady on the starboard side with the long hair also stored her boat at Sailor Cove for winter storage with us.  It’s a small world. LOL..  Grace is next to Emily.  Then there’s Todd on the left.  He is headed to Panama.  And Mark and Linda are in the back.


Good food with good guests.

food for getoghtermobile

Look at the snow… We are in the south and it snowed. Mother Nature didn’t want to deprive the people from Michigan of snow. LOL


George is covering his eyes from the lights. LOL


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Playing the Waiting Game

Waiting for prices on parts and engine prices seems to take a bit of time since most places aren’t open on the weekend. Bryce continued to clean the head and block on the Little red engine. I am very positive that she will over come her sickness and we will be on our way soon. We have been taking walks and found 3 more marinas right next store. There is also a West Marine here at Turner’s but they were closed on Sundays. On Saturday evening we went down to the end of the dock and we watched a parade of Christmas lights. It sure is nippy in the evenings here. Bryce pointed out that we haven’t seen spider webs. I think it’s to cold for them.

I was so bored I make cookies for Bryce..  His favorite is oatmeal raisin.


Bryce putting together his list of things needed. Along with measurements of this and that for the new engine.  He has also priced parts to repair our little red engine.


After cookies I made bread…Little bread maker with purple lid


One problem! Now that I made this bread and cookies they have to be eaten. LOL


I liked this one best! They drove the boats close to the sea wall and tossed out candy. 


2nd best. These guys tossed out bags of candy with a glow stick in the package so the kids could see where the bag was.. Awesome idea.


The two Queens on the bow of this vessel where tossing out beads to the kids.


My 3rd best..Loved the lights… Santa had a lot of helpers on this sleigh…..


This pontoon looks like it was transformed into a 60’s motorhome… Kinda cool..


This cruiser was the leader of the pack. Full of Ho..Ho…ho’s.. and dancing animals on the bow.


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The Continuation of The Little Red Engine

This is the continuation of my story The Little Red Engine that huffed and puffed. As most of us know it takes time for a doctor to make his diagnosis after he receives all the test results. I believe this is also true when collecting or looking for reasons why anything stops running. My thoughts are  The Little Red Engine is Beauty’s heart so we must carefully look for reasons why she has been spitting out quite a bit of blow-by.  Here at Turners Marina they have a vehicle we can use to get things we may need. We took a trip to Harbor Freight to collect a few tools that we did not bring with us.


After we arrived back, the testing of the Little Red Engine started right away. I feel like a cheerleader. LOL I stood by watching Bryce hard at work while he (unbolted) I would say unbutton her covering. I handed him tools as needed or just plainly stepped out of his way.  


The burgundy Trail Blazer is the Turner loaner car. We are back from Harbor Freight  


Now I must tell you, Beauty is a bit shy… She doesn’t want to be seen naked; but has agreed to let me show you her heart. Bryce is undoing her Buttons and bolts and looks pretty happy at the moment…LOL


Glow pugs show a bit of difference between cylinders, but nothing bad.


Compression test is a key test that must be performed.  Normally, this test must be run on a warm engine.  However, Bryce is only looking for differences between cylinders.  Dry compression is 120,120,280,60.  Wet compression is 200,200,500,120.  Bryce is expecting all cylinders to be close and over 400 when warm.  Looks like only #3 is good.  Other three are low.


Okay looks Like he has collected antifreeze out of the engine. It looks a bit brown.


OM…Look It’s her main artery (her cylinder head) and the test results came back fabulous; NO Blown head gasket … that’s good and bad. Now we must look deeper into her. I am afraid she might need exploratory surgery! Are you sure doc? I asked. Without a thought…So lets see…..


Now look closely… you might have to zoom in with me…Now during the compression check the top piston was not firing well at all.  Her compression was only 60 you can see the brown that looks like rust right?  It is not rust, it is extreme glazing.  It is the source of the low compression.  The next one down had great compression, it is only glazed near the top.  The two bottom cylinders are low in the 100’s and show glazing at different parts of the cylinder and places not shown in this picture.

Well, I found out that the brown and black is called glazing.  But this glazing isn’t so good for pistons and rings so I am told.  These Dirty artery’s (cylinders) have to be cleaned.  Bryce says they only need to be honed and any stuck rings need to be unstuck.  He says otherwise the cylinders are like new.  There are no ridges at the top and some original hone marks can still be seen.  This engine has nearly 3000 hours on it.


Now, we really must make a decision… There are so many reason that we should say just clean her, put her back together and see if all is well.

Okay This is me Jane… I am not normal… see I understand saving money and I don’t gamble. Matter of fact every time I gamble I loss my twenty dollars!  No joke. The stakes are too high to gamble here for me.  I need to be able to depend on Beauty’s heart. I have lost faith in this engine. We were very lucky coming down the Mississippi that this didn’t happen. With that said my vote is to replace her engine with a new heart. I am not sure the out come yet. But I will keep you posted.

Do we look tired? The young man below Mark took this picture of us after we settled in at Turner’s Marina. 


I am sure Bryce wants to clean her cylinders/rings and verify by compression all is ok. Darn why can’t I feel that way Steaming mad  I am so mad at myself…We had oil leak issues caused by the blow-by and that concerns me.. What happens if we are in the Gulf or the Atlantic and the darn thing won’t start again.  I told you I am not normal.. so we will not stop… We will figure this out together and keep going. I think I would suffocate if we went home. LOL

Ok back to the bright side.. .Sun

We have meet some great people here already. Mark and Lynda Arman.. We have to laugh.. a young girl by the name of Tamara reached out to me asking me if I had meet her parents on the river. She told me what boat they were in and their names I believe. but they were behind us. I told her if I saw them I would tell them I had spoken to her.

Mark and Lynda helped Tow boatUS and the deck hand help us come in. Our conversation started when they asked about me posting on FB..I said yes that’s me. We all started laughing.. Mark said they had followed our trip down the Mississippi. It’s a small world. Get this…Are you ready… They are from Michigan too. I believe there are 5 boats here right now all from Michigan doing the loop. 


What a great couple looking forward to a few more glasses of wine with them. The boat name is Alice


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The little Red Engine That Said NO! More

This is my story of our little red engine that huffed and puffed and just could not reach it final engagement point to turn over. Along with the sails, it is the heart and soul of Beauty.

We were sailing in Mobile Bay sailing early afternoon towards Turner Marine.  The winds were awesome perfect 10. Dolphins serenaded us buffing air through their snout and conversing with a high pitch sound.   It was as if they were talking to each other.


I lost count there were so many playing around us


They looked so in love…..


Then it happened !!! We lost our wind and had to start the engine. He tried and tried we both looked at each other in disbelief not a word was said between us for a few moments.  Beauty was moving at 1 mph under sail. Bryce tried it again but it would not start.  I took over the helm while Bryce took her cover off (Engine cover). I don’t think anything was left uncheck. Bryce checked the glow plugs, fuel, filters and even tested an injector.  Nothing seemed wrong. Everything has checked out great. It sounded like it was going to start just couldn’t reach the final engagement.  Earlier the morning, it started fine as we left the anchorage and raised the sails.

Bryce suggested that he tow Beauty with the jetski.  I did not want to steer into Turner.   It was time to call Tow BoatUS. We took the sails down and Bryce put the engine back together. It was a sad moment. In the 30 plus years of our boating life we have always been the one to help tow boats in. Now it happened to us.!

Mark from Tow boatUS came to our rescue.


It was a beautiful calm day.


Beauty glided easily through the water at about 6 knots.


After we arrived in front of the marina Mark pulled his tow boat on our Portside to push us in to the docking area. It ended up being less complicated than what I thought. 


Mark friend Capt. came along and handed Mark a helping hand for a few moments.


Now in Turners Marina.  Bryce wanted to warm the engine to help it start.  The following morning Bryce he figured out how to warm the engine.  “You know how it pushes out hot water to heat the water heater when the engine is running.” I nodded yes, “I am going to pump the engine coolant to put hot water into the engine to heat it up.” I know what you mean like reverse cycle air conditioning! Anyways that what came in my thoughts. LOL

After heating the engine, it still refused to start.  After thinking about it Bryce is suspecting the head gasket.  He replaced the head gasket about 5 years ago.  It seems to be one thing that could explain the sudden failure.


Here is the steps Bryce did to heat the engine.

Step 1 heated up the water tank

Step 2 remove the belt

Step 3 he used my head band for a tiny belt

Step 4 he used a drill to spin the water pump

Step 5 find something to hold the drill using my pink step stool.

Step 6 should be ear plugs due to drill noise.. LOL

Step 7 wait..wait.. wait.. drink coffee..; wait…wait…  Bryce continues to work..

Step 8 results? failed

Does Beauty need a engine Transplant? To be continued…….

Time to make a decision on fix engine or new engine

While we were anchored in Biloxi a photographer by the name of David Salters took this photo of us anchored out. It was sent to us by a friend of ours on Facebook Nick Gault. Thanks to you both for sharing this amazing picture with us.


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Biloxi, MS to Aux Herbes

It’s so funny, I have to stop and think about where I left off. Crossing the open waters, doesn’t offer for a great photo shots. After leaving SeaBrook, we anchored near Half Moon Island. It was a nice place to anchor but we had to keep our eyes out for crab pots. The following morning we headed to Biloxi MS and found a nice sandy Shoreline to anchor near. It was perfect for the northern winds that blew in. When morning arrived, we pulled up anchor and headed towards Aux Herbes Island near Mobile Bay Alabama. Today we will head to Mobile Alabama. It is suppose to be a great day for sailing.

We were amazed at the smoothness of the Mississippi Sound today.


One of our daily entertainments are still watching Tows & barges passing by us.


I know you can’t really see them, but two dauphins were dancing next to the boat. 


Here they are coming towards us. I smile every time they come near. It never gets old.


The Mississippi Sound…How beautiful she is with only a ripple of a breeze.


Bryce is being funny taking a photo of me stretching on the bow.


As we were pulling into Biloxi I noticed these birds resting on the number 5 buoy.


Coming into Biloxi we could see the battering the waterway also took from hurricane Katrina. Very sad. Perhaps they need to add floating docks.


Apparently, Biloxi is known world wide as one of the largest processors of shrimp and oysters in the world.


When we left early morning this vessel was gone out looking for his daily catch.


After leaving Biloxi we headed towards Aux Herbes Island. Looking at WindAlert it alerted us to the North east winds that were to get pretty strong during the night so we protected ourselves snuggled up to this island. It was perfect.


During the night a fisherman anchored near us. His vessel looked so pretty all lit up.


When daylight arrive I took this photo of him. I think his favorite color is green.


As always Thank you for following us!Red rose

New Orleans to Half Moon Island

On Friday the day after Thanksgiving Bryce and I decided it was time to continue on. Beauty was complete with all her maintenance. We had two ways possible ways to head out to the ICW. We had heard that with the water depth on Lake Pontchartrain was low and wouldn’t be a good route.  So up until Friday we were going the industrial route to the ICW. Bryce got on Active Captain and his CPN and found out we had to give one of the bridges a 4 hour notice before they would open the bridge. We didn’t want to have to wait so we went through Lake Pontchartrain.  It seems much of our trips are often decided in a brief instance.  We wanted to visit with some friends in that area but on a Holiday weekend we were not going to intrude on them and their family. I was really looking forward to seeing them too.

We did go out with some other sailors for dinner on Thanksgiving and really enjoyed it. Starting on the Port side, Russ, Tammy from Iowa, me, Bryce and Dave. Fair winds to all of you. It is awesome meeting new friends.


This is a really pretty house we saw decorated for the season.


After we passed the the bascule bridge headed into Lake Pontchartrain, we immediately started seeing crab pots. Thanks for the heads up Ross, Tammy and Dave. But this pot looks like it needs a fishing pole rod on it.  lol


These are two bridges that had to be opened. The train bridge stays open unless a train is coming and the car bridge we had to call and request an opening. It was great; we didn’t even had to wait.


Bright green trawler sure is pretty looking.  She was coming through the bridge from the other direction.


Look at all the warm clothes everyone is wearing. It might be sunny but it sure was chilly.


This bridge had a clearance of 70 feet.  A bit higher than our 60 foot mast.


This was a cool pelican sculpture in the bridge support.


This was a really cool paddle wheeler that passed us.


I think these are really interesting homes. I wonder what they do in hurricane season. 


This bridge says it has a 65 foot clearance but it had at least another 5 feet with the low water. For some reason in this area the water level was a bit low it set off our water depth alarm.


It seems like some people really like to fish right at the bridge opening.


This guy was cleaning his boat after a long day of collecting his crab pots.


Our last bridge was this train bridge. It was really nice not to have to wait for bridges to open.


We started to see crab pot vessels come back in after hard day a work.


Finally, we get to see the dolphins again.  One day I’ll be able to capture the face of the dolphin.


After nearly 2000 miles we were able to put up the head sail.


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Boat Maintenance in New Orleans

Finally….I mean finally we are done with the maintenance on the boat!  We had the boat hauled out of the water and hung in the slings over night so Bryce could replace the dripless seal on the prop shaft.  I am always amazed with his ability to repair everything that needs to be done.  After over 2000 miles oil needed to be changed (again, once in Memphis) of course many other things. Enough of that stuff. We have meet some really great people here at SeaBrook Marina. I can’t believe it’s getting the Holiday seasons already. Where has the time gone.


Ron and Karen getting ready to leave SeaBrook they are headed to Texas for Christmas with their family.


Bye…..Have a great Holiday You three….


Look Santa Clause is traveling with Ron and Karen.


We had to get a few tools in case he needed them to help remove the dripless seal. First was a puller and a cutter just in case. I said Happy early Christmas. Should I wrap your gifts…LOL just joking.


Beauty is out of the water!! Boy she looks really good too.


The crew here put a ladder up so we could get up and down. It’s 3 p.m, we will be sleeping in the sling tonight.


We were able to see the underneath of the jet-ski lift.  We also inspected our rudder, prop, shaft and cutlass bearing.  Everything survived the trip down the Mississippi without incident.


So the work begins. Bryce used his new puller to help get the coupling off.  It really worked.  The dripless seal has survived over 20 years with no maintenance by us.  And we have put 25000 miles on this seal.  So I guess that is quite good!  The muddy Mississippi made kind of a mess where the seal leaked.


I know you can’t tell but the coupler is moving….


OM…..He is actually reading the instructions. 


It’s off. Time to clean up the shaft and put new seal/bearing on.


This is amazing; he is done and it only took 3 hours. Most of the time was spent just getting off the old parts.


At 7:30 a.m.  The guys were here to put Beauty back into the water.


Bryce gave Beauty a quick Mississippi smile bath before they put us in.


We meant Dave our first night here. He is a great guy. You can see his sailboat behind them.  Its a 52 foot Jeanneau. Dave owns his own company building enclosures and repairing interior on boats. He is planning on heading to Puerto Rico to sort out his business down there.


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New Orleans, SeaBrook Marina with Friends

I just can’t believe we are in New Orleans and all we have done is work on the boat.  We have met some nice people and have gone out for dinner a few times. We had to put a new macerator pump in. We rented a car and went shopping at Walmart.  We went to Sam’s Club to get our new batteries. We have had Amazon orders coming in every day and not any fun stuff. Today we are getting lifted out of the water to replace our prop shaft seal! We just had a lot of maintenance to do. Well the weather hasn’t helped either. We have had 25-30 mph winds and it has been darn right cold. Boy after reading this it sounds like I am complaining. I am not! Just must get things done. It’s funny; after spending a few days here, I really am ready to get back out.

Our old batteries were getting a bit old and one developed a shorted cell.  We had to buy 4 of these little guys. They are much lighter than the ones we had.  These are GC2 batteries.  They are suppose to be quite durable.


Port side to starboard: Ron, Karen and us at Pontchartrain Landing at the restaurant enjoying a night with good friends.  We spent three nights with these two and had a blast!


Karen and I started a conversation with the table behind us.   Port side to starboard Sue, Mike,Karen and me. Sue and Mike are traveling with their Airstream and our loving every minute of it. The are from CA


The Sauce Band started playing and of course we had to dance. It was a lovely night.


It was so funny, I was cooking bacon for BLT sandwiches for breakfast and George had his sniffer going. He could smell that bacon cooking.


Later that night after we retuned our batteries for the core, we decided to take a drive along the Levee system. When we noticed these little sailboats out for a race. The were headed back in. It was very windy I am surprised that they were out in 25 mph winds


This is Landry SeaFood House. We went in and had dinner. It was some of the best food we have had on this trip.  It overlooked Lake Pontchartrain.


We enjoyed a beer and dinner.


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New Orleans-SeaBrook Stepping Mast

Well what an exhausting day…But Beauty once again is back into shape and looking like a sailboat! We woke up around 4 a.m. and started to prepare for the day. It’s amazing all the prep work that has to be done. I received a call from Aaron one of the service managers here to move the boat around to the canal. Of course Bryce had taken a walk over to the gas pumps to see if they were open. I started the engines and disconnected the electrical cord. I was preparing to leave.  Finally out of no where I see Mr. smiles (Bryce) walking up to the boat. The gas docks are open we can get a pump-out and top off the diesel. Cool lets get moving.

It has been 4 weeks since our last pump-out. This is one time I am glad we had two heads.  At 22 gallons a piece I now know we can last a month on 44 gallons. We still have some maintenance to do on her so we will be here a while. Yesterday, I also did 4 loads of laundry. I think it’s getting time to do some fun stuff.

I was so excited to see the palm trees That is a sign I am in the South


Here is one of the last views of Beauty with her mast down.


This is Bryan; he is the expert putting Beauty back together again.


This is Steve another boater we connected with. Steve picked his boat up and is heading back home to Tennessee with her.


Bryan is on the lift to remove the Windex and wind speed off the mast. Bryce had shimmed out on the mast yesterday to put all the stuff on her.LOL


On your mark get set; get ready; go….Bryan is putting the hook on her. 


Scary at first.  It’s hard to believe one strap and hook can lift this heavy mast.  


Bryce and I helped with stepping the mast. We just did what Bryan told us to do. If we can be useful, we just like to help with our own boat. 


Bryan and Bryce are guiding her down into her spot.


The final part of using this lift. Bryan went up to reconnect our Wind speed and Windex. 


After Bryan tuned the rig, Bryce and I replaced the boom, vang and put the sails on. Look she looks like a sailboat again.


Bryce has had a lot of questions about the jet-ski lift.  Just a few stats.. Bryce designed and built the lift out of aluminum/bronze and stainless steel.  Since it is mostly aluminum, it weights about 150 pounds.  It operates with two hydraulic cylinders (black) shown in the picture below.  A small 12 volt hydraulic power unit pushes the lift up or down.  Two buttons on a hand held unit cause it to go up or down.  It easily lifts the 400 pound Sea-doo Spark.  I named the jet-ski “Patch”.  The build and a drawing are located earlier in the blog.


I keep getting question on what mapping app do I use?  We use “TrackMyTours”:


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Grandview Anchorage MM150 to New Orleans MM92

What a wonderful yet sad day. We are now in New Orleans. That means we are off the Lower Mississippi. Tentatively our thoughts are to run down the ICW but who knows what we will do. It’s time to re-provision and do some maintenance on the boat. I must also do a bit of exploring while we are here. With that said I am thinking a one week stopover. It has been nearly a month on the river without a marina. I am going to get Laundry done while the guys re-step the mast. 

This photo was sent to us from Billy Crews the jet-skier we met on the river. Thank you Billy


The Lower Mississippi was awesome. I am glad we did it. I do feel like Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn out exploring. LOL Would we do it again? Without doubt. I know a few of you are planning on making the trip down in the future. Remember a foldable wagon, cans for fuel & water will be your friend to walk into towns and get what you need. Google maps is a good device to use to see where fuel stations and grocery stores are. I would call ahead to make sure they have diesel before you take a walk.  We took on enough fuel that our tanks never dropped below 3/4 full.  We pulled into Seabrook Marine with more than 3/4 tank of fuel.


See how much happier you’ll be with a wagon.


This was our last anchorage on the Lower Mississippi. Grand View Anchorage mile marker 150. It is a designated anchorage.  It actually is a quite nice anchorage.  A few waves will rock you however.  We anchored quite close to shore in 20 feet of water with very little current. This anchorage is between Plaquemine Bend at mile marker 210 and New Orleans at Mile 92. It is almost in the middle between the two. It’s a 60 mile run from spot to spot.  A 60 mile run can be done in one day.  The other designated anchorages are not typically suitable for a small boat.  We often saw tows running though these other anchorages.  And most of the other anchorages were filled with barges.


One critical point we noticed is the tow operators become more nervous in the river between Grandview and New Orleans.  We think perhaps its due to the increased freighter traffic.  We found one tow operator got snippy with us.  We simply thanked him and went on.  We feel comfortable in this high traffic area, but perhaps others may find it a bit stressful.  Fortunately, this area is only 60 miles of the river.  Between Baton Rouge and Grandview, it is more relaxed.  Above Baton Rouge, its no issue. 

You must monitor channel 67 below Baton Rouge to communicate with tows and Freighters. Prior to Baton Rouge use Channel 13.  We contact every freighter or tow that we do not understand his intentions.  AIS is very important on all rivers, but becomes more important in the lower Mississippi below Grandview Anchorage.  Our chart plotter shows every tow, its name and speed.  It is critical to know the tows name so you can contact him.

Three tug boats on each side of the freighter to move it into the work area.


George is using his towel for shade. Laughing out loud


Look at these huge arms… Apparently, they use these to remove those big containers off the barges and freighters.  Yes.. we actually saw some barges with containers on them.


Have you ever wonder how products get shipped between countries? That is what these containers are for.  We saw large stacks of these on freighters crossing the Atlantic Ocean during our trip back in 2016.


Two “Cape Kennedy” Ships. My father was in the Navy.  When we lived in Florida, we would go to Cape Canaveral and see the ships come in. I just loved it!


A view of New Orleans from the water.


All bridges on the lower Mississippi are well over a 100 feet some are 160 feet.


This is a picture of the entrance to the Industrial lock.  There is a bridge shown here opening just at the lock entrance.


We waited for this tow/barge to come out, then we entered.  The bridge operator needs to know you are entering the lock so they can hold the bridge open.  The bridge operator and lock operator are separate people.


There is a second bridge on the other side of the lock.  This one would we were able to fit under or we would have had to wait till 7 p.m. There is a small area here to wait if need be.


The lock chamber is 600 feet, so quite large.  They provide a line for holding the boat.  Locking height is dependent on river level.  For us, it was only 2 feet.


This  a mooring that you tie up to waiting for the Florida Bridge.  It looks like a cell which are huge and concrete.  This is a smaller one and when Bryce stepped on it it was soft like a marshmallow. With all the bird poop it looked like concrete!! 


This is called the Florida Bridge. We had to wait on the mooring from 3 to 5:45 when the bridge was scheduled to open. It really wasn’t a big deal. I made dinner and did up a few dishes.  We pulled into Seabrook Marine at about 6:30.


Here is our complete route down the river from


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