Posts Tagged ‘Aquamarine’

Ready to Go – Oh N0!

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

We’re ready. Well almost. We’ve loaded up on the stuff we need. We have a schedule to pick up fuel. W/ and I are going with the group to get the last of the fresh vegetables.

But for some quirk of fate I was in the engine room looking for a new sound W/ and I heard while running the generator, to check and see if there was something amiss on the alternator, HP water pump or the refrigeration compressor as well as the Kubota.  I turned over the Kubota with the hand crank.  Seems to me like there isn’t as much compression anymore. This is just not good.

But; the little Kubota has been running, it has run the water maker  and it has run the refrigeration compressor and kept the batteries charged up. Guess it’s ok.

The following day about 2 days prior to our heading S. we run the generator again. Charging the batteries; good, running the refrigeration compressor, fine. We shut down the refrigeration compressor and turn on the water maker. Check the quality of water

Kubota EA300

Kubota EA300

and begin to fill our center tank. Fantastic. Must be my imagination.

About 5 minutes into the 2nd hours run the generator stalls out. SHIT!  We turn off the HP pump and I restart the generator. She starts back up and I let it cool down properly then we shut the whole thing down again.

Now we have to go to Plan B or could it be C or G or M or P.  We decide that to head across the Pacific with this demon over our shoulder is not something we want to do. I send out queries to purchase a new motor. We’ll have to have it brought into Panama and I’ll replace the motor. I just don’t trust what we have anymore and trust is important when you are all alone on a HUGE ocean.

Thinking about the Kubota all day I figure I can’t now do any wrong. When back at the boat and the engine is cool I begin checking things. I check the oil, no water in it, I check the coolant level, no change, I take off the valve cover. Might as well check the head bolts as that would be the main place to lose compression. I didn’t believe there would be loss of air out besides the piston as we have a new piston and new rings. 5 of the 6 head bolts are fine. The 6th was suspect when we did the rebuild if one remembers my past blogs.  We had drilled it out 2 times and used Certs but even the second time it wouldn’t hold and there just isn’t enough meat on the Al block to drill it out farther.  While I have the valve cover off I check the gap in the valves. Wow!  It’s only about 3 thousands for each one. The specs say the gap should be 6-7 thousandths. So I re gap them and then close it all up. Once put back on I turn the crank over and … humph, we have much better compression!

That evening we run the generator for an hour and all appears well. Sweet. But we still choose to replace it. We could maybe nurse it and if we were in the middle of the Pacific we would. But right now, now we have the opportunity to replace it and start over with a new one, with a new warranty (for what good it will do) and then head across with everything working top notch.

A few days later I try again to run the water maker. We make about 20 gallons and then the generator begins to lug and slows down ready to stall out. Maybe I don’t have the valves exactly right. I might still be a bit tight on them. I’ll see. That evening and the following day I run the little Kubota again, charges fine, runs the compressor fine and I shut it down. Keep nursing it along till the new one arrives. An old saying in mechanical circles is “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”.  We’ll it’s broke, but it’s also working. I won’t screw with it much more.

And my new saying is “If it’s broke, replace it”!

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Watermaker In and Working!

Saturday, January 25th, 2014

She’s looking good. We received the new Giant High Pressure pump last Friday and now

Not Identical

Not Identical

we’ve replaced the one that was problematic. But twas not likitty split like I had hoped. We have the same pump, well, same pump number, the pump is on the correct side of the shaft, the house for the pump is the same but the crankcase is slightly different. The foot print is the same but they’ve moved the mounting bolts a little more inside the case which using the mounting holes on the generator plate put the whole thing so close to the motor it would not fit with the mounting holes on the plate.

So I needed to mark and drill some new holes. That I did. All marked correctly, I drilled a pre hole because larger bits like to walk in metal and end up where you don’t want them. I then drilled 4 over sized holes so I have just a little play in the pump for alignment and then go to mount it; again.  Something just isn’t right.

We remove it; and this isn’t a light piece of equipment, and I investigate. Yep all my marks are right but the hole the farthest away and most difficult to get at, the one where I had a leak in the old pump where corrosion was happening on the Aluminum plate, that hole was drilled in the wrong spot.

For that hole I drilled by feel mostly, very little light there, as far from where I’m at, and I thought that I had the bit in the pilot hole when in fact I had it in a spot o’ corrosion.  DAMN!  So now I need to enlarge the hole, file to clean up and then mount the pump again.  Needless to say Dave was not a happy camper.

I had already bid this job at 2-4 hours.  W/ keeps up the pretense that I can’t seem to be on the money with my time estimates and I’m bragging that I’m getting so very close now to my estimates that she doesn’t need to counter propose any more. Well, she wins….. again.  This whole job ended up close to 7 hours with her assisting me.  And part of the time I was searching for some mounting hardware.

I never liked the way AquaMarine had the pump attached. An Aluminum housing shimmed with SS nuts, SS bolts and then stud,  nut and lock washer on the bottom. It was just a frustrating issue getting it all back together and lined up. So; I think, in Colon to purchase some longer bolts (mine from AquaMarine were just a tad too short) and then make my own studs and when I need to be working on the pump again I’ll put them in. I took them to the workshop at Shelter Bay Marina and made studs out of some metric hex bolts, cleaned up the threads and we stored them on the boat….somewhere. We just could not find them.

After searching most every locker we could think of that we stored them in; we gave up and just installed the pump the old way. Here in Panama City I’ll buy some more and make some more, but not now.

Finally, Finally, we finished for the day. Only need to fire up the generator and turn on the watermaker. We’ll run the watermaker the following day for now; just recharge the batteries and chill the freezer and icebox. Tomorrow I hope to fill our water tanks again;  Hurray!

And we run the water maker in  the am. We turn it on. I check for leaks, none. Hurray!  We begin to increase the pressure in the pressure vessel.  And she’s holding.  We were concerned. We hadn’t run the WaterMaker for a year preferring instead to adequately flush it. We flushed 3 times before we left for the states. After returning from the states we flushed it again. Went to Peru, returned for our projects and then flushed each month till the pump began leaking so badly we had to stop. So it has mostly sat for 3 months.

Now this is when the birds come to roost. I spoke with the Water Maker expert in Antigua and he said he never uses the pickling solution. Only flushes 3 consecutive times and then she properly stored for quite a bit. Never heard exactly for how long.  Our friends on New Haven follow this method and they leave their boat for 6 months at a time without any problem. We’ve followed this method  a couple of times before and it’s always been fine. But never for this long.

The result is 170 ppm of solids in the product water.  The EPA say’s anything under 750 ppm is good for drinking water.  I’m happy. W/’s happy we’re looking to check out and head to Ecuador.  Yippee!

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Penny Wise and Pound Foolish

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

Most would say we’re crazy. Not for sailing, although with sailing too most would say we’re crazy. We’re crazy to order parts from the US and have them flown in by FedEx.  Yeah, we’re doing that, flying spares into Panama.

Oil Pressure Switch

Oil Pressure Switch

We have an oil pressure switch that isn’t functioning correctly. I spent all day Monday traipsing around Colon looking for a replacement. All this adventure cost was 1/2 day and about 5 bucks taxi fare.  I couldn’t find one and as stores kept saying just around the block or just in town or just out of town I finally had had enough and took the bus back to Shelter Bay.

There I decided to call the maker of our generator / water maker  (AquaMarine) to ship me a spare. Not just one spare but 3. We’re heading into the Pacific where supplies are minimal and far, far away.  And ordering 3 parts would give me a working part and two spares.  Cost for the parts $100. Cost of shipping $80.

Now that sounds like a lot. Of course I could maybe save 20 bucks on buying the switches in Panama City; that is, if I can find them. This is how I figure. The cheapest route to Panama City  is about $5 per person. If W/ chooses to go with me then we’re up to $10.  Next I need to get around in the city. If we rent a cab by the hour and we’re lucky we could pay $10 / hour  so estimate 3 hours before I get too tired looking for the pressure switch or I find the part. If I buy them then I now need to return to Shelter Bay.  Cost the cheap way is again $5 for me and if W/ went along another $5. Then once we’re in Colon we can hopefully get a taxi to take us; it;s now dark or close to it, take us to Shelter Bay; cost if we’re lucky $25.

As a summary, if we’re lucky the minimum cost would be $65, and the maximum on the cheap would be $75.  And remember, there is no guarantee we would have the part. We could well be out $65  or $75 and a days traveling and still not have the oil pressure switch.

And so it goes, I order the parts and have them flown in. At worst, this cost me a difference of $15 for shipping and at best I will have saved $65 just by not taking the chance of finding the part in Panama City. What would you do?

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Cruising, etc…

Friday, October 19th, 2012

We’ve been here in Shelter Bay Marina for about a month now. Some things are going well and some frustrating as; to be almost politically correct, Hades. My mom has come and gone and has three blogs written, one of them soon to be posted. Since her flight home we’ve been working on the boat most every day, mostly mornings.

We work on Elysium primarily in the mornings.  When we work on any project we seem to open a good many lockers, parts and tools are out everywhere, and counters covered with the things we are working on and the tools we need. The boat is literally a mess. We try to time it so that around noonish or soon there after we begin the clean up, pick up routine. We either put things back in their place or hide them in the engine room the things that we know we will immediately need the following day. Then we find we’re able to live in a relatively clean or should I say not messy home. It is after all, paradise.

The Aquagen is apart and back together as much as possible. The new heat exchanger is in and all plumbed.  I have to wait till

New Heat Exchanger

New Heat Exchanger

we get the Centek Aqualift Muffler replaced and need two parts to complete the exhaust system and finish that side. The high pressure (HP)  pump seals have been replaced and it’s put back together.  Dan at

Watermaker Pump Rebuild

Watermaker Pump Rebuild

Aquamarine was helpful as I couldn’t see that one piece from the pump housing still came apart till we called him on a Sat; twice, and I finally got the idea. The rebuild then went slowly and smoothly. That was one day I worked 6 hours on the project and we actually put the pump  in the second day. On our list is to now buy a spare so when I need to do this again I can replace it easily and then do the rebuild at a more convenient time. Also the bracket that held the alternator on has been replaced with a SS one and the bracket that holds the Alternator to the top of the high pressure pump housing is going back to Aquamarine to be beefed up! I will say while there have been some issues with the generator setup; Dan at Aquamarine has been always helpful in either assisting me in fixing a part or in repairing / replacing a part.  Calling on Saturday was wonderful and he even answered the phone the second time with “Hello Dave”! 🙂

And now since we have a window AC unit the boat is dried out some and I can get the floorboards up. A 9 month rainy season is hell on a boat.  I’ve trimmed off about 3 mm off one or two sides and now we’re revarnishing the sides. Hopefully  they will never be able to swell up enough to lock into place. Some items we store in the bilge we do need.

Mr. Gasket

Mr. Gasket

We replaced a broken fuel pump. This pump was made and sold to be good for diesel and although it maybe was, the plastic hose piece wasn’t good for even 3 years.  Never again a Mr. Gasket fuel pump!

We’ve tried to contract some with Lyman Morse Panama  but 2 of the 3 things we wanted them to do were an outrageous bid. We paid last year to have the boat waxed, the SS polished, and the teak scuffed up with a scotch brite pad  – $240 including tip and marina fee. This year the same work was quoted at approx $1,200.00.  Even W/ broke out laughing when she heard that price.  The Cove stripe just under the cap rail on the aft of the boat was quoted at appox $550.00 and we signed on for that to be done using Awlgrip and actually changing color a bit!

perkinspart

Perkins Part Needed

We traveled to the big city; Panama City, and spent a few days of  RnR. Oh, we can’t just hang out so we  did run some errands. We stayed at the Milan where before we’ve had a comfortable time. The internet worked about 80% of the time but we did accomplish a great deal. We found Bronze Wool, 30 weight oil, and Pet Safe Antifreeze which we hadn’t found in Panama before. We attempted to get the injector for the generator rebuilt and were unable to find the parts here. We attempted to find a Perkins Marine engine part and that too was a bust. But we suffered our trials well by eating out with some other cruising friends in the old city, and enjoying a night at our favorite steak place; Martin Fierro.  W/ and I made it to one of the two Chiropractors in Panama and so we were moving freely.

However as our Spanish is only good enough to order meals, ask for the bill, and find a restroom, we were calling and dealing with the Doctor.  She unfortunately had a child get sick and had her staff call her patients. Since her staff didn’t have our number or know we were going to show up we arrived at 5:00 p.m.in the rain by cab. We paid off the cab and entered to find that Dr. Lillia wasn’t there and our cab had left. We paid our bill and walked a short way in the rain to find a taxi.  Now we are in rush hour and there is a steady rain while we stand under an eve from a restaurant on the main throughway.  After we signaled about 20 taxi’s (all had fares) one finally stopped. As we’re gringo’s we want to make sure all the expenses are up front, thus W/  asked about the  fare back to the Milan.  Again she almost fell down laughing; the driver wanted $20 to travel the same distance we had just paid $5 for and the same distance we’ve now walked 3 times in less than an hour. Because we’re adventurers and because we like to walk;  we choose to walk in the steady drizzle, hiding under every overhang we could find.

An hour later we arrived at our hotel, wet and relieved.  We showered; changed, rested and then walked to Martin Fierro where W/ and I  split a HUGE Filet, shared a bottle of wine, gorged on salad with baked potato, shared dessert (I had one spoonful … almost) and then strolled back to our room.

The following day we took it slow and easy, we ordered boat gear that was going to be shipped to my moms in New Port Richey, we played some games, watched the TV and met Teddy our Taxi driver at Albrook Mall in the afternoon.  There we had a leisurely trip back to our home; Elysium, in Shelter Bay Marina.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

In the Water

Friday, June 10th, 2011

“WENDY, I”M IN THE WATER” I yelled as the inflatable slides out from under me trying to get back on the boat.

This journey seems to have started a couple of days ago.  We were on Kaya having dinner

Sunset Cocos Banderos

Sunset Cocos Banderos

with some other cruisers in Cocos Banderos. We were first to arrive. Kaya is a 40′ Cantana Catamaran and I tied off our dinghy on one of the HUGE cleats on the stern. Ironically; most of the time I tie it with all three lines.

While in Kuna Yala (San Blas to the Spanish) islands we’ve put the inflatable together and been using it quite a bit. We have a 15hp  on it  and tool around fishing, site seeing and attending beach parties. When we tow the dinghy we actually have three lines attached; one line to each towing eye and then a larger line that runs through a bridle at the bow and connects to another line that splits and runs through the transom where they end in stopper knots thus we really tow the dinghy from the transom. Tonight for some weird reason I used only one of the three lines. The two lines that connect to the towing D rings are about 3/8″.

Huge Cleat

Huge Cleat

At Kaya I tied only the small 3/8″ line  off on the HUGE cleat and even thought to myself; humph, if for some reason she comes loose it will stop at the barrier reef that protects this anchorage.

We ate, we laughed, we drank, we laughed and as Charlie was cleaning some of the grease from the fresh conch they had fried up; he was back on the starboard hull,  turned slowly to us and said “I hate to alarm anyone but there are only two dinghies hanging back here.” We thought he was kidding but just to be sure everyone went to check. Sure enough one was missing, ours!  The small line on the large cleat with only one turn around and one locking hitch had slowly worked it’s way off.  Oh! Oh!  Charlie and Mark (Mark’s from Reach – I’ve not yet found out why they named their boat after dental floss when both of the owners are chemists) jumped in Mark’s dinghy, Blake from Slow Mocean and I jumped in Blake’s dink. It was pitch black.  No moon. With electric torches we raced out astern of Kaya towards the reef, Charlie and Mark in one and Blake and I in the other. Somehow Mark and Charlie made it around the small patch reef astern of Kaya while Blake and I bounced over. Blake’s dinghy is an AL floor dinghy and as long as we went slow and he picked up the engine we made it over the reef without any damage. I was shining the torch back and forth looking in the water for the depth and shining it along the surface hoping to spot our dinghy. Lightening was flashing in the distance as it’s now the rainy season.  We finally made it over the patch reef and were coming up on another still watching for the dinghy when a lightening flash occurred  and I scanned the horizon with the torch, while also trying  to watch  depth.  In Kuna Yala  reefs rise steeply from about 15′ meters to less then 1/2 a meter; shallow enough for an outboard to hit something.

I thought I saw our dinghy in one of the flashes of lightening and we were also watching Mark and Charlie.  No one figured the dinghy would have made it out the channel as an inflatable (no hard bottom) she would blow more to the light breeze then move to the current. I hoped anyway.  As Blake and I were still making way towards where we thought the lightening had silhouetted it,  Mark and Charlie started moving towards us. Two minutes later they whizzed by with, of all things, a dinghy in tow. And truth be told it was our dinghy!

After Blake and I bounced a few times on the patch reef again returning to Kaya we made  our way up the stern to a crowd rather pleased with itself. Thanks to Blake, Charlie, and Mark we now have our car back. But; we’ve had to give up some Karma to get it back. 🙂

That adventure settled,  I tied the dinghy up slightly better; well not really slightly, I tied it up so if Kaya went off the edge of the Earth the dinghy too would have no choice but to follow. We then settled back in with that adventure behind us, told some more tall tails; Charlie and I talked about night diving for Lobster but although he would go; me having had a few beers backed out.  Tonight we all added one more tale to the bank and eventually took our car (dinghy) back home (to our boat).

The following couple of days flew by, Reach and Kaya took off making their way to be hauled (Reach) and Kaya having a stay in a Marina for a bit of land adventure for Liz and Charlie sailing in Spain (Charlie is a professional sailor – and one hell of a lucky ass spear fisherman too 🙂 ) .

They were gone a couple of days and we had planned on hanging another week or so in Kuna Yala. Then we would headed to Shelter Bay Marina for our summer of boat projects and exploring a new area-mainland Panama. But as sailors love to say “plans are written in water”. About a day after Reach and Kaya left we were running our generator, pulling down the temp in the freezer and refrigerator, charging the batteries and running the water maker.

Near the end of the cycle (about 45 minutes into the job) W/ and I smelled something rather hot. Well, you can’t really smell “hot” but you can smell things that give off gas when they get to hot. We smelled something. I checked the idiot light and the engine wasn’t running hot, I went back into the engine room and looked things over and everything looked ok.  With the room closed up I thought maybe things were warming up enough to help some  of the cleaning products we often use to  outgas more. So I returned to whatever I was doing and then 5 minutes later the watermaker suddenly shuts down.  Who knows why? There is a high pressure cut off switch and a low pressure cut off  that both trip the same switch, but if either of them trip the switch  there is no light that comes on telling you which; high pressure or low pressure  tripped the light. So I dialed down the pressure and figured I would just restart the watermaker. With no pressure in the membrane I flipped the switch on and heard a grinding noise.  Immediately I shut the system  off and moved; as quickly as a guy 195 cm tall can, back to the engine room. There I now saw some sparks. “W/ SHUT IT DOWN” I yelled. She turned off the fuel all the way and the generator was still turning. Oh-Oh!   No fuel, engine still on, not a good sign.

The only thought flowing through my brain was that we now have  a runaway diesel.  To stop a “runaway diesel” the  book say’s to block the air intake and so I shoved a large towel into the small air intake. The engine  still ran. Oh! Oh!  not actually what I thought but this is a public venue.  I turned off the fuel to the generator. The throttle control was already shut down but just in case she was getting a little bit o’ fuel I closed off all possibilities of diesel entirely.  The generator still ran. She was running slowly, maybe 100 rpms but she seemed to not want to quit.  “W/ go turn off the key”.  I was running out of options. Shut everything possibly related to the generator down. W/ was hanging over my shoulder in the engine room as worried now as I was.  She turned the key off and the generator still ran!  Damn!  (Not what I really said but it will do).  What now? I could see that the engine was heating up  by the starter,  it was sizzling there  and there were small amounts of smoke (smelling bad) eking out of the same area.  But she’s still running. DAMN!  I thought to try the decompression lever. If a diesel has no air (I thought maybe it was getting some from the oil sump as well as sucking up some oil which is what a runaway diesel will do) and no fuel she can’t run.  Law of nature. Compressed air with fuel will blow up and thus we have  combustion in a diesel engine. So I open up the compression lever and she runs FASTER!  What the HELL!

My world is quickly turning upside down. The laws of physics just don’t  seem to work here.  Getting down to my last possible strategy; if this doesn’t work; I’m just not sure what I can do. More smoke is issuing from the central part of the engine immediately under or behind the starter.  I tell W/ to grab a towel. I’m thinking that if I can jam another towel between the fly wheel on the engine  idler arm and starter gear then I can effect a stop. I stuff the towel there and slow the rpms down from maybe 100 to 50! I”m making progress but there is more smoke beginning to fill the engine room. I ask for a large wrench so I can stuff the towel further into the small space (a hand or finger getting in the space would not be good out here – not that loosing a finger or hand would be good anywhere, just out hear most likely death wouldn’t be far behind) and effect a stop. Faster then light W/  (remember she’s petite and can move quicker than I on the boat) hands me a large crescent with a rubber handle. I’m stuffing and making some headway. My hands are beginning to lose small chunks of skin but the engine is now turning about 25 rpms and looks like I”m stealing the life from it.  I get the generator  to finally grind to a halt, breathe a sigh of relief and leave the engine room  to get some fresh air.  The generator starts up again!  What the HELL, is this engine possessed?  Again I reach and shove more towel in between the teeth and the armature that holds the starter and the idler on. Again she finally stops. I wait, I think she’s stopped I wait.  I exit the smoky engine room as quickly as possible and get some fresh air.  She didn’t start up again. Whew! The boat is a afloat, no fire (the absolute 2nd worse thing on a boat – the first worse thing is a hole below the water line), and I’m alive but with torn up hands.  I thought we were finished but we’re not.

Once the air cleared of the noxious fumes  and we could investigate further we discovered that the power to the boat was non existent.  No lights, no fan, no ships radio ( we did have a hand held VHF), and that means something else was going on. Since I knew the generator has some issues I first disconnected the positive and negative wires to it completely isolating it from the boat. Then I tried the ships power. No power. I checked at the panel, we weren’t getting power to the panel. I check the batteries –  they had power. Somewhere between the batteries and the panel I was losing power. I disconnect the Prosine 2 Inverter Charger from the system wondering if that was effecting the power. No change.  Eventually I discovered that somehow I had blown a 300 amp fuse that powers the ship. With the generator and  the POS Xantrex Prosine 2 Inverter (that worked) /Charger (that didn’t work) disconnected I replaced the fuse. Yep! had one aboard and if I didn’t have one aboard I would have stolen the fuse from the Prosine Inverter / Charger to replace the one blown.

This actually took me some time to trace it to the fuse as I’ve never seen a large fuse like that blown. Blown it looks more like an old  brown faded color  then new but the fuse  didn’t look all burned up. So with the fuse replaced we now had the fans, lights, and radio back. The radio I wasn’t too concerned about but I was about starting the main engine. Now we can start, power up the ships engine. There hasn’t been much wind lately and so if we had to make it out of Kuna Yala most likely we’d have to motor. By now we had decided that we would be leaving a week earlier then expected. To keep the Lobsters we’ve bought and the meat we brought frozen we needed to keep the freezer going. We don’t have near enough solar to do that and if we have to run the batteries  about 200 amps / day for the DC refrigeration with the 100 amp hour alternator on the main engine it would take about 3-4 hours of run time to keep everything going. Thus if we’re going to run the ships main engine we might as well be running it to Shelter Bay Marina near Colon where we are planning on our work summer to be.

One good thing about the Aquamarine Genset is the owner Dan is always willing to help. And one weird thing about Kuna Yala is that as remote as it is there, there are Digicel towers at various places-which means cell phones. We were within phone service so I called Dan and discussed the issue with him. He suggested to by pass the electrical panel for the pumps (fuel, and two cooling pumps) and then use a remote starter switch to start it up. He felt that somewhere in the switch I had fused a connection.  I did all that thinking it would be wonderful if I could get it to run this way. Not perfect, just ok but ok would be good.

After an hour or so of re-wiring I connected up the remote starter switch and the engine would crank; barely,  and the house lights would dim. That’s it, nada, no more. the engine didn’t start. I have tried to hand start  the generator before but never been able to.  So what to do. Move.  We committed ourselves to move the  following am.  We prepared the boat to move and by 8 am expected to be on our way.

That evening whilst W/ and I were enjoying the sunset and discussing our predicament I came to realize that I didn’t have a runaway diesel I had a runaway starter. Since I’ve put the conundrum on some of the sailing boards and found out that a runaway starter is not all that uncommon.  I’ve never had it or recognized hearing of it before. I will however remember it hence forth.

First stop Porvenir. In Panama we needed a Zarpe (permission to change cruising  areas) and we had to see the port captain in Porvenir to get our Zarpe for travel to  Colon (where Shelter Bay Marina is). If this can be said of a sail boat; we had a wonderful motor to Porvenir!  The water was glass like, we had our little awning from the dodger to the boom gallows up, and we ran the refrigeration so the food stayed frozen, and the refrigerator kept our essentials chilled.

Porvenir was a none event. W/ came ashore with me and we visited the museum, got our Zarpe, and ate at a Kuna restaurant while watching two local teams compete in Soccer; or as they call it down here, futball.

The following am we weren’t as blessed with the “motoring” weather as we would have liked. It had rained, squalled a little the night before and there was some weather mess  left over. We had a light breeze say 10 kits out of the NE  with some choppy seas and the wind was predicted  to die during the day. We were planning on coastal sailing (really coastal motoring) to keep our essentials frozen or cold and we expected it would be shy of 7 hours travel time no more then a couple of miles offshore. Towing both dinghy’s; the engine off and on the boat, we motored out and around the reef of Porvenir.

As the day wore on and the miles were slowly sliding under the keel we were comfortably on our way. The freezer and refrigeration we’re being chilled. W/ threw together a lobster salad for lunch and for the moment all was well with the world. We didn’t know what was happening politically in the US or Europe, or China and we fully understood that the world would continue on it’s course without our immediate intervention. Of course when things are looking good, almost too good considering that they could be good with a major system down, a Yang event must occur to keep life in balance.

W/ looked back and said, “The hard dingy is towing funny”. And indeed it was. Somehow in the benign day the dinghy had taken one wave that filled it 1/2 full of water.  Time to remove some water. “Not to worry; I’ll get it out”, I said. So I pulled the inflatable up to the transom, W/ held the painter for a moment and when I hopped aboard she let it go. I was now in the inflatable being towed behind our boat. The hard dinghy was so full of water I didn’t feel I could get aboard her without swamping her end and me getting wet. I wasn’t interested in going for a swim. For the next 15 minutes or so I bailed the hard dinghy.  I tried the small bailer we made out of an empty plastic container but I was using a teaspoon to put the ocean back and I came upon the idea to use the look bucket. It’s about a 5 gallon sized bucket that has a glass bottom in which we can put one end in the water and see clearly what is hidden beneath the surface. We use it for scouting dive spots.  But since it’s a bucket I can dip more then a quart of water out at a time and soon I had most of the ocean back where she belonged. I sponged up the rest and told W/ I was done. During this entire  process she had slowed the boat down from about 6 kts motor sailing to 3 kts sailing.  With the main ships engine in neutral it was time to get back on the boat.

Windvane turning block Assembly

Windvane turning block Assembly

I pulled the painter to the inflatable and hauled the inflatable and me up to Elysium while the boat was sailing, I then grabbed hold of our SS Windvane turning bracket to ascend the 5 feet back onto Elysium.  I got a good hold on the SS mount and stepped up on the side of the inflatable just as a small wave rolled through and slid the inflatable out from under me.  For one second I was sliding on butter and the next I was hanging over the deep blue Caribbean with only water under me. Now maybe when I was 20 I could have simply done a pullup and then a push up of my entire body weight; rolled over the transom and been on the boat. However; I’m no longer 20!  And being truly honest, I’m not sure I really could have completed that feat even when I was 20 and roughly 30 lbs lighter then I am now.

“W/ I’M IN THE WATER” I yelled. This is not a good thing although either I’m blind to any danger or too foolish to recognize it.  I fully trusted W/ and we were only about 2 miles from shore. Should she have decided to leave me at that moment I didn’t doubt I could swim ashore. The water was warm, the sun was out and the seas were calm.  But that wasn’t to be the case. She still loves me 🙂  she’d make sure I would get back on the boat.

I knew I wasn’t getting back on the boat from shear strength. So I let go the SS apparatus that holds the turning blocks for the windvane and slid down the painter to grab on to the inflatable. We were still going 3 kts and although that doesn’t sound like much (it’s akin to a really fast walk or really slow jog), a body being dragged through the water at 3 kts is trolling for sharks with a large morsel of food- that food was me. I tried to get in the dinghy from the bow and I was constantly being pulled under the dinghy by our break neck speed and my clothing (aka pants) were being doggedly tugged away by Neptune. After about 3 or more seconds of this I made the decision that I wasn’t going to climb into the dinghy from the bow.

There was a rope handrail running down both side and handles secured to the dinghy on both sides. I slid over to the side of the dinghy and figured I could wrap around the side like riding a horse and slide back up on top. Generally we get in the inflatable by hanging vertically in the water and by going under water and with fins kicking, launch ourselves out of the water like a rocket,  pulling for our life’s worth over the  side of the dinghy, rotating on the tube and finally wriggling aboard.  That’s with the dinghy stable and not moving.  There was NO WAY I could do the rocket launch with the boat going 3 knts and there was no way I could do the horse move where I’m one moment hanging on the side and the next back on top.  Another minute gone by.  I was going to have to work my way round to the stern of the inflatable and pull myself up the transom. Barring a quick exit from the deep blue there W/ would have to heave to (I never thought of that while in the water) or furl the head sail.  She had indicated later that she would have dropped the dinghy off and I could have gotten in it while it was not moving, she would then have come back and picked me up.  Luckily that day I hadn’t ticked her off a lot. Maybe a little, but not a lot. 🙂

So I’m  now round the stern of the boat and Neptune is doing his finest to remove my shorts. I’m spread eagle attempting to keep  them on as I pull my self up over the transom. Damn glad we’d removed the engine because if the engine  was still on the dinghy  this maneuver would have been a “don’t do this at home, save for professionals ” one. I’m now half on the dinghy with my legs spread apart and Neptune now has a hold of only 1/2 my legs and feet.  I slither aboard the rest of the way and take a breath. W/ too is relieved and I see a little PO’d. Swimming was not part of the plan for the day.

This time we discuss it  and I’m not going to attempt to board Elysium alone. We’re still sailing about 3 kits. She locks the wheel on coarse and that will keep the sail full and the boat going relatively straight for a couple of minutes, and she then comes back to the stern. I pull up the dinghy to the stern and she takes some of the painter and wraps it around the SS pushpit  effectively cleating in place for a minute or two. Now the dinghy can’t easily slide out from under me. I grab the SS turning unit on the back of the boat and grab the pushpit. Had I earlier had a hand on the push pit I felt I could have gotten aboard. Now I do, with the adrenaline in my system I’m again like a 20 year old and I clambor aboard to hugs and reprimands as W/ lets the dinghy slide back into place. We’re both aboard now and we power Elysium back up while I receive the rest of my tongue lashing, dry off, and put on some different cloths. Today Neptune didn’t get anything from me. He’ll patiently wait I’m sure.

About an hour out of Linton I choose to run our refrigeration system again so we’ll maybe get some time there to see friends Kiaya’Song and Peking.  Once the DC5000 fires up and is running for about 15 minutes I go and check to make sure all is ok. It’s not. The electrical refrigeration motor (DC5000 unit) is erratic, running faster then slower, then faster again. This is the same motor we had fixed in Trinidad. The fix lasted about 10 months with minimal use and cost what it would have to buy a new motor and have it installed. Fortunately,  I now have a new motor on board so when we get to Linton and anchor I’ve another project to begin. I’m not looking forward to that one, I don’t like “having” to do projects and would much prefer to do any project  on my schedule not the boats!  But the boat; like a living person, has it’s own agenda; at least one would think  that giving what’s happened the last few days.

Go Slow Sail Far Stay Long

Throwing Money

Saturday, October 2nd, 2010

Two steps forward; one back! Yeah, that would be nice. Some days I actually feel like it’s two steps back and one forward.  Today’s been one of those days.  We had sent the refrigeration motor off to get “refurbished”. Came back; installed everything. Motor still becomes very  hot. It did however run  better. But the motor got very, I mean, very hot, hot enough to melt the insulation off the wires. I upped the wire size to 8 AWG and reconnected the motor. Keates (our Trini refrigeration expert) asked us to wait for him before running it. We did. He checked everything out and the motor still became hot. It would run for an hour or so and I’d have to shut it down because it was approaching 200 degrees F.  Yep; close to boiling water! He contacted the rewinders and they said the motor was “good”. Funny; it still gets hot. Keates concluded it was in the brushes. He’d look for some new brushes on the island  or ones that could be adapted and I wouldn’t run it so long as to avoid heating  up and burning up the motor.  We limped along for a week or so thus. Finally, Keates thought he had some brushes that would work. He came by this am and tried and tried and we couldn’t get them to work. We ended up

Missing Motor

Missing Motor

concluding that the motor needs to be removed; again, and so we did. Upon removal of the motor we placed it on the table for examination.  We discovered that the brush housing for one side moved. The top of the housing wasn’t secure! I firmly remember the rewinders saying something about that and yet they didn’t do anything.  Shame on them.  Keites took the motor saying he would have it fixed and back to us Tuesday. Hopefully then we’ll be back in business.

Our Ground Tackle

Our Ground Tackle

While we’re figuring out the big projects we chip away at the little ones. We flipped our anchor chain end for end to even the wear. The galvanization is off of one end and I hope to get it regalvanized in Columbia. We also switched anchors and moved the XYZ to the 100′ chain, 200′ line rode and the big CQR to the all chain rode. (After more research the XYZ I’ve discovered that it likes lower scope for resetting and that’s my experience too in the first set. With too much scope out and trying to reset the anchor it will turn on it’s side and drag.  I need to have the shank lifted some for the tip to bite. Once set however it holds better then a Mac truck.)

In the mean time I was taking apart the Oberdorfer water pump that was on the Aquamarine Generator.  The front bearing (on the back of the water pump was grinding). I hoped I could shove some grease in there and stop the grind. I tried. I did get the grease shoved in there but the grinding still persisted. I tore it open to

Base Oberdorfer Pump

Base Oberdorfer Pump

find the bearings and the retaining ring working against each other.   Often in paradise there are people that have figured out how to make anything work.  But here I was out of luck.  I emailed Aquamarine and Dan suggested I eliminate the water pump and put in an electric. He’d mentioned that in his newer units that was what he was doing, so OK, I’ll do that but how do I run the refrigeration compressor?  I needed the bottom pulley.  Eventually after trying to do some of the leg work myself; I skyped Aquamarine and talked to him. He could make a new top plate for the diesel that would fit the compressor, give me two belts and a new water pump. Viola’ !  He could send it out today if I gave him the approval and that we did. So we have a fix coming our way….. Hopefully.

A month earlier we had ordered a new holding plate for the freezer. Yesterday I picked up the plate.  Instead of all 1/2″ tubing there is one set of 1/2″ and one set of 3/8″ tubing. Back to the phone (Skype) and calling Seafrost. Remember they made our original stuff and the entire system is Seafrost.  Ok; I didn’t send him everything on every part of the plate that they made that I had bought from them when we were refurbishing the boat. That may be a lesson learned. No detail is too small to report.  (Other cruising friends said they once ordered a part for replacement – with the exact part number they ordered the part, believe it or not  the company had changed the part numbers and the part they received had the correct part number but was the wrong part – go figure.) Anyway I spoke to Cleave at Seafrost and he said to let him know what fittings I needed to be able to adapt to the 3/8″ tubing and to fit the plate first in series  He would send them out Monday. I’ve emailed him the info and hopefully we’ll have everything we need to make the change somewhere down the road.

Who say’s “Throwing money at something won’t fix it!”  They’ve never been on a boat in a semi remote place trying to get everything back working again!  We’ve thrown money at these two problems. We’ll let you know what works and what doesn’t.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

AquaGen Followup

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010
The offending Bolt

The offending Bolt

Well, she’s back together.  At least 98%. I”m not satisfied with that so when we’re in Trinidad I’ll have to take it apart and put it 100% right.

Monday went as follows: Started out locating and getting some 6mm SS  bolts at Budget (not) Marine in Grenada.  I rode a friend’s bicycle to town and just so you know; I walked up a couple of the hills or what they refer to as mtns. Wanted  to get some of the stronger steel bolts  but couldn’t find them. Tried the Toyota dealership the BMW dealership (have found what I’ve needed at auto dealers before) and Ace Hardware.  I ended up with 10   6 mm x 3/4″ and 2  6mm x 5/8″  SS A-80 bolts. I wanted all 5/8″!

So once back on the boat I spent a goodly amt of time in the engine room using a hack saw and cutting  the

Me and My Long Arms

Me and My Long Arms

longer bolts down ! Then I filed  the ends so the threads would be good. Now remember it is hot here and the boat doesn’t have AC and even if it did with the generator down we wouldn’t have AC anyway. So I’m shirtless cutting the bolts in the engine room and after every 30 minute or so I  take a 5 – 15 minute break.

Once the bolt lengths were all correct I went about cutting a new gasket out of the cork gasket material with the black stuff embedded in it.  I used the gasket silicone on it. What a PITA on the Aquagen.

When the Aquagen works she’s a dream, but working on it isn’t.

After we got the coolant  top  that the compressor attaches all gooped up  I began to put the new gasket on the engine with all the gasket sealant. About  half way installed, I discovered there is one bolt that won’t naturally turn down. It’s the one by the SS tubing Aquamarine added to  hold the compressor. I have to put that bolt in first and then turn it down, then put the others in. @#$%^#$^. to say the least. I removed what I had already

It's the bolt behind

It's the bolt behind

installed; lifted the gasket with the goo off and proceeded to put the single PITA bolt in and turn it down so the gasket all fits correctly. I proceeded to install the other bolts and once they’re all in, put the compressor back on. I notice the compressor fits  snug (physically touching) to  the bolt that was broken off. DAMN!  Maybe that was the cause of the broken bolt.  So I remove the compressor and take the locking washer off the offensive bolt (yes I considered it offensive by now) !  If the bolts are torqued properly the locking washer shouldn’t be needed anyway. Off it comes –  change out the washer and put the compressor  back on. Put it all back together and an hour or two later start it up.

What I started out to do was simply replace the gasket on the water pump with one made out of a waterproof chart paper and tighten down one bolt on the coolant cover that was leaking coolant (I was afraid the cup seal wasn’t the perfect size).  I’m not getting any water out of the gasket  but the cup seal is still leaking.  And with the cup seal leaking I”m getting a small amt of saltwater spray sent all over the front of the engine room. Then too I see a little green up by one of the bolts for the coolant at the top of the engine!  DAMN and that wasn’t all I said. So like a good sailor I jury rigged a fix. I wasn’t interested in taking it all off and starting over, I’m tired and it’s a been a long day. I don’t have the bolts I would prefer and I don’ t have  perfect replacement gasket. I used a fender washer for a  1/4″ bolt and cut a gasket out of the same cork material and gooped it up to and then installed the bolt.  Finally it’s not leaking but it ain’t pretty.  When I torqued the bolt down (BTW I looked it up and they’re only torqued to 7 ft lbs or so and I may easily have over torqued the others the last time when I had this off to put the vent plug in that Aquamarine suggested) the cork with the gasket goo squeezed out quite a bit!

Thus I’m wondering if I wasn’t to not use the gasket goo on the cork impregnated with something gasket?  If W/ had pulled out the  gasket paper I would have used that instead.  As luck would have it she pulled out the cork gasket material.

When we get to Trini I’ll  redo the top plate. The generator will be 100%. Right now it’s holding the coolant  but I don’t want to remain this way on a passage. That would be a bigger PITA should it fail there. And I fear that if I leave this for any length of time the antifreeze will react with the bolt, the cover and the Aluminium block  making  the bolt much more difficult to remove.

Go Slow
Go Far
Stay Long