Archive for the ‘Systems’ Category

Stasis

Thursday, May 26th, 2016

We’re now in the water and slowly working on bringing the rest of our systems online.  Mostly the refrigeration. And silly me; I look for the easy way.

While both systems; the DC and the engine driven compressor, have lost refrigerant there is still some pressure in each. Unfortunately there was very little in the engine drive system and in hindsight I would have been wiser to simply evacuate it and recharge, but I was trying to keep things simple and figured I will just add R-134a till it all works right. Silly me.

I added, I removed. I hadn’t put my professional gauges on and was using a wonky car AC gauge to read only the Low Pressure side.  I ran the system. My sight glass showed bubbles; low refrigerant. Finally, I dug out the gauges and connected them. Whoa!  I was still way low. I added another can. Still low. I ran the system and I was still low. I added another can of refrigerant and watched  the sight glass.  Finally after the can was empty the sight glass foam disappeared. But the glass was still a bit foggy so I finished the refrigerant in the can. The system ran fine and the pressures looked good.

The following run time the HP went up to about 200 lbs. Real close. Oh-Oh!  Now I have appeared to have added too much refrigerant.  Luckily  the high pressure switch did not shut down the system and as the temperature on the plates cooled the system down everything looked good. The refrigeration compressor still made a bit of a grinding noise; like rust on the clutch, but over time the noise was diminishing so I felt it best to leave well enough alone. On a boat my philosophy is simple, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.  Right now it “ain’t broke”.

For the next couple of days we watched it. I now have enough refrigerant left to do a complete recharge but that is it.  I do have a new compressor to install if I need to.  That would mean dumping what is in the system, evacuating, and recharging the system with the end result that I have no more

Refrig Comprssor on Generator

Refrig Compressor on Generator

refrigerant for spares. Oh, I can buy refrigerant here; but not in the small easily stored cans, only in 10 kg containers. That makes storage a bit of an issue.  The other issue I faced is that of evacuating the system.

While I have a vacuum pump, it runs on 120v 60 cycle electricity. The electrical system here is 240 volts 50 cycle.  Which means I need to run the pump on ships power for about 3 hours and that is near the extent of my battery bank. My minimal solar will not keep up with the power drain of evacuation.  As I would be evacuating the system attached to  the generator I don’t want to use the generator to charge the batteries. Too many spinning belts too close to where I would be working.  Now, if push came to shove I could do it; but right now I’m being nudged and not shoved. Patience, I will be patient. I WILL BE PATIENT! 🙂

While working on the refrigeration systems we were talking to Simon (the activities directory – sort of for the Boatshed Restaurant).   Simon presented a couple of  events that we attended.  During the Fijian History lesson we brought up the idea of visiting some of the places he had mentioned.  He was all for creating a tour and we tentatively  cleared it with Adam the Marina manager. Simon set about scheduling transportation and accommodations for  8-10 cruisers.  W/ signed up 8, one ended up with an infection from of all things gardening. and so we were down one couple.  Six of us went on a unique tour from Vuda to Suva and back.

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Into the Light

Wednesday, October 7th, 2015

The new Kubota works. And… it works well. I started it up and only had one small leak in the diesel return line. Tightening the hose clamp solved that issue. I love easy solutions with engine issues.  I’ve been running it for about 3 hours / day, easily loaded at between 5 and 30 amps for the first 10 hours. I was varying the rpm’s beginning at 1500-1800 and every new hour raising the amount. I’m now at the recommended rpm’s of 2800 and have been loading it up to 60 amps.

While I’m close to 25 hours everything is working perfectly and I AM A HAPPY CAMPER.  We’ll move off the dock and onto a mooring at Savusavu Marina. While there are three Marinas and one individual that provides moorings here; Savusavu Marina has brand new moorings with 3 helix screws, new chain and shackles, for each of their moorings. IMHO the most secure moorings in the field.

We pull off the dock and grab a mooring ready for the next 25 hour generator run and begin to look for a weather window heading west.  We’re all of 150 miles from our cyclone resting destination and need to get a move on. We have a reservation for November and I am getting a tiny bit concerned. For most of our cruising weather is our guide. But now we have a schedule and schedules and cruising are like oil and water. At times quite dangerous but mostly benign.

There are two areas we need be cautious with and ensure we have the correct weather, the Nasonisoni Passage which has a slew of rip currents out front and a nice flow of water down  the middle of the channel in the wrong conditions, and the Bligh Waters where the wind funnels between the two big islands and often is 10 kts higher than predicted with corresponding seas.

To top it all off, now a cyclone has formed N and a little W of us making any travel on the water rather iffy. We don’t like pushing our luck when we don’t need to. So we stay securely tied to a hurricane mooring and wait. We wait, and wait, and wait.

For two days we didn’t leave the boat. It was cloudy and spitting rain for almost 36 hours. In the buckets we had sitting on deck we found close to 30 cm’s in them. By the time the cyclone had moved S and a wee bit W of Fiji it was falling apart. Good news for us because that meant less wind and after a day or so smaller seas.

The first part of the trip involves us traversing the Koro Sea. Our track would take us along the S coast of Viti Levu making it a lee shore with quite often reflected waves and then the timing of the Nasonisoni passage would be almost as critical as in passages in the Tuamotus. Ah what we look forward to. The sweet joys of sailing on a schedule. NOT

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Yipee!

Friday, June 19th, 2015

I can’t believe it. I thought I was going to have to replace the fresh water pump on the ol’ Perkins 4-236.  But nope!

We waited for the near gale to abate before doing any more engine work. I didn’t want to be without ships power just in case we dragged anchor or someone else was dragging anchor down on us. So while the winds blew steadily 25-30 kts gusting to near 40 in the harbor we just hung out on the boat.

Towing sv Barbarella

Towing sv Barbarella

Sadly we watched as a friends 65′ boat broke free of its mooring and needed to be towed off the mud shore.  Unfortunately, the boat is so big that none of the cruisers could really assist. His anchor alone is 225 lbs and it would be impossible for anyone of us to carry it in the dinghy to set out a kedge. So Dick (the owner) went and hired some tugs to come pull him off and he is now resting comfortable at the marina (if it can be called such) here.  Finally, today the winds abated enough for me to feel comfortable taking the engine off line for a couple of hours.

Remember this all started in Penhryn when we first heard the ticking. After Steve on sv Lady Carolina came by with a mechanics stethoscope which by the way didn’t find the issue, we identified the source.  We pulled off the belt to the alternator, water pump and flywheel. When we did that the ticking was no more. Great! Now I know it is one of those three items. Actually, the fly wheel was not in the mix as is was turning without the belt. Thus it came down to the alternator, belt or water pump.

Thinking ahead I had ordered a new water pump while in Penhryn. Luckily their internet is quite adequate and operating 90% of the time or better. So when we arrived we had the water pump within a few days.

After working with Steve I realized I needed a spare alternator and as this wasn’t like the US 30 years ago I needed to order that too. So I found what I thought was a great company Great – Water who sold the same high quality AmpTech alternator that I had and I ordered that. They indicated it would be shipped as I requested, via USPS Priority Express; however, they had it drop shipped from the manufacture and they shipped it UPS Sure-Post.  What a mess. After waiting a month for it I contacted Great – Waters both by email and by their web contact form. Only their web contact form provided me some relief and I was able to get them to ship the alternator the way I had asked the first time and I received it in less than a week.

Today I switched out the alternators. Ran the Perkins for 25 minutes and …. and…. get this…neither I nor W/ heard the tick, tick tick that occurred not quite randomly but frequently.  Woohoo!  One less job to do here. Now; we are down to receiving two packages and then looking for a weather window to head to Tonga. We’ll be able to move again. I feel whole!

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So Dumb

Friday, March 6th, 2015

I generally pride myself on having a wee bit of intelligence. That coupled with being goal oriented and  slightly obsessive / compulsive in a few things (not counting spelling) has helped to keep  us out cruising.

However yesterday I came upon a bit of a shock.  Any long term blog reader may well remember that in Panama we spent a lot of time and money repairing our generator. We were not entirely successful in a perfect repair but ironically the generator we worked on is still plugging away.

When we had returned from our sojourns to the states, Guatemala, and Peru we set about to ready the boat for the Pacific. One thing I had replaced was the Aqualift muffler. After discovering that

Correct Operating Orientation for an AquaLift

Correct Operating Orientation for an AquaLift

the generator needed more care than I could give it; Greg at ShelterBay was called in to help.

Here my memory gets a bit foggy. I don’t think we (Greg or I) ever removed the muffler although I know we disconnected the hoses going to it. After the semi success (we never were able to get one of the head bolts to torque down all the way) I remember feeling that the generator was taking a bit longer to fire up. I chalked that up to maybe the compression was a wee bit off because I couldn’t get all the head bolts torqued properly or who knows what. I know mechanics will say

Aqualift Correctly Oriented

Aqualift Correctly Oriented

there is nothing magical about diesels but for me there always seems to be little differences and if they aren’t magical there is something else that effects their personalities and I don’t know what it is.

Fast forward to now.  One of the issues we’ve had in playing with the system is that we need to manually turn on the regulator. I don’t want it coming on with the key switch and pulling full power before the generator has warmed up. So we run the Kubota for about 3 minutes then at full rpm’s I or W/ switches on the regulator.  (I have ordered the temp switch to do this automatically but will not be able to install them until we pick it up in American Samoa). This entails daily going into the engine room and flipping the switch. Yes I could have installed it somewhere else but when I received the new temp switches all my time would have been wasted. Four times a day W/ or I enter the engine room and turn the regulator off or on.

Fast forward to yesterday.  I was going into the engine room to flip the switch on and looked at the Aqualift muffler; really looked at it, and found that the hose running out of the boat is connected to the port on the muffler that indicates “IN”.  Shit!  We shut down the generator and I began the task of turning the aqua lift around.

An hour later we were finished.  Although the exact task took about 15 minutes, on a boat nothing is easy.  We had to get all the tools out and there is nothing like a shop on a boat. In one locker we have all our nuts and bolts. In another locker we have the most used tools and then in a third locker we have sets of wrenches.  Basically two out of the 3 lockers were emptied and sitting on the floor and berths of the boat. I was in the engine room asking W/ for this tool and that. I removed the hose clamps and even replaced one that was giving me some concern. Once the hoses were removed I removed the shelf, dropped the muffler down, emptied the water out of it, reversed it and connected it back up. I had wondered  why the muffler seemed extra full of water lately. Now I know why. I suspect that the extra water added more back pressure to the engine exhaust and now I hoped that the little generator would start easier. Once reversed I slid the muffler back on the hoses, put the shelf back on, and tightened up the hose clamps. Finally I replaced any of the wire ties I had had to remove to have easy access to the various parts.  Start ‘er up!

Viola!  She seemed to start easier. Was it my imagination?  W/ confirmed that the start time appeared less but we will see after a few more starts if she continues to start as easy.  And as I’m writing this a day after I found the mistake and corrected it, yep W/ and I believe she’s taking about half the normal start time to fire up.  It’s nice when something actually works out.

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Cost of Repairing your Boat in Paradise

Friday, September 19th, 2014

The following is the cost of the; what I would say, simple repair in the replacement of the thermostat.  Notes are at the bottom.

Cost Thermostat Change for a Perkins 4-236 Diesel in French Polynesia

Item

Price CFP Price US Notes
Marina
52,088
612.80
(a)
High Temp Engine Paint
3,371
39.65
Hose 5/8″
780
9.17
Hose 1 1/2″
1,430
16.82
1/4″ All Thread
1,000
11.76
Gasket
1,000
11.76
(b)
Coolant
13,620
160.23
Thermostat
50.00
(c)
Bushing
128
1.50
(b)
Bus
600
7.05
Steel Cross Piece
1,000
11.76
(d)
Clamp
6,230
73.29
(d)
Total
81,744
845.56

a) Cost only includes our being here dependent on the engine not running. We felt the boat was safer here then on a mooring or anchored and we were much closer to services. Taxi into and out of town are $50 round trip and the bus is about $10

b) I could have gotten by without but felt in the interest of expediency it was better to buy now then pay the marina fee for another day or the weekend.

c) Luckily another cruisers had one and I paid him with a little extra. This is the single price and I picked up another and now have a spare.

d) I was trying to be patient and work the header off the stud. Had I known better and figured out to cut the bolt the first day I would have save about 5 marina days

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Fingers Crossed….Success!

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014

In the a.m. I was able to get the 1/4″ SS all thread. I also looked at replacing the strainers but the installation will be a little problematic. I had till 10:30 to decide as it takes me 30 minutes to walk to the store. I’m sure they wouldn’t close if I walked in a minute before and wanted to buy the $400 strainer.

What I was waiting to see mostly was could I get the one I had repaired. I started by removing the broken studs. It was much easier than with the header tank. I do think they were brass studs because for the most part they crumbled. I drilled a good part of them out and then attempted to use the easy out again (smaller size). All that did was tear more of the stud out and I was concerned about tearing up the threads on the fitting so I stopped. Then I grabbed the tap to clean up the threads. Being cautious to make sure it starts correctly and doesn’t change any of the current threads I slowly worked it through the holes. Bingo. I tried the new all thread in each hole and they functioned properly. If worse came to worse I was going to drill through the holes so I could run the all thread through there and just nut the bottom. Fortunately I didn’t need to do that.

With that done W/ set about to clean the bronze pieces. We heated up some Vinegar and dipped them in there. That wold get rid of any of the corrosion on them. We also cleaned up the gasket (just in case I bought some rubber gasket material.  With all that accomplished I was able to reinstall the strainer.

I liberally doused the threads with Loctite and screwed them into the bottom bracket. I then put some Teflon tape on the drain nut and on the center toggle bolt carefully fitting both items. The top nut most always seems to leak so this time I tried a Cu washer thinking I would get it to seat. I had it all back together and opened up the seacock and removed the clamp on the hose to the dripless stuffing box.  Water slowly entered the bowl, rose to the top and seeped out the center bolt seal.

I take it back apart and find a rubber washer we had in the spares and use it in place. I reassemble it and tighten it back up; remove the clamp, open the seacock and bingo. A little water fills in and then it stops.

In all this process I had checked my email and both my super people had given me hints. One was to check for a bleed screw on the coolant system (I can’t find it and there is only a place where I could have imagined one) and the other said to run it up with considerably more rpms.  I ran it at 1500 rpms and it still was getting a bit too hot. We shut the engine down and waited a couple of hours. Then I ran it up to 2,000 rpms and the temp went to 180, then 190, then close to 200 and settled there. I checked the engine temps and the coolant tub and they were all within the good zone. As I came back out to the cockpit W/ said the temp was going back down.  She settled at about 185 F.  FANTASTIC! We are in business.

We run it for about 30 more minutes and to be sure after we shut her down again and wait a couple of hours we run it again for an hour to make sure. It will take us about an hour to get to the anchorage and we don’t want any emergencies in the airport control zone nor the channel between the reef.

Clean Installed Perkins 4-236 Header Tank

Clean Installed Perkins 4-236 Header Tank

It’s almost too good to be true. The temp rises up to 175 and stabilizes there. The book says the engine temp should be between 160 and 190. So we are on the money and in the money. We celebrate by W/ dragging me out to a Pearl shop she’s found something she likes. It doesn’t matter. I’m on cloud nine; after 14 days of working on this project we’re whole again. Boats not broke, and I’m not broke. People talk about sympathetic pregnancies; I have sympathetic boat symptoms. But no more. I’m whole again.

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What a Night !

Saturday, September 13th, 2014

When there is only one road with a large log across it I think about how to clear the jam before I can rest. Any situation that is slightly beyond my understanding demands serious thought and my body and my brian will ensure I give it that thought. So it was with the Perkins.

Everything is back together and we’ve been adding coolant. We have all the coolant. We fill up the header tank, run the engine till warm,  the thermostat opens up and the coolant enters. We add more coolant and repeat the process. We’ve run it now 3 times and for the most part the engine now has it’s full compliment of coolant.  As afternoon approaches we figure to run it again like we’re moving. Run it for an hour to make sure everything is “hunky dory”.  W/’s out window shopping and I’m the one left to check it all out.

I start it up and the engine comes up to temperature fine. I get the infrared temp sensor out and check the sensors on the engine and a couple of places on the block. Not bad a little warm here and there but not hot. I return to the cockpit to see the gauge climbing towards 200 F.  Not good but I”m thinking it will drop back soon. It keeps rising slowly. About 15 minutes into the run the Hight Temp alarm starts beeping. DAMN!

Immediately I shut the engine down and my brain goes into 4 wheel mode. Every neuron firing and all demanding to do so at the same time.  I go through the check list, enough coolant, yep, enough raw water, appeared to be so – the raw water alarm did not go off – but I should check the strainer. OK, I’ll do it now; that ought to quiet my brain.

I get out some more paper towels; one of the most valuable things on a cruising boat, and open up the strainer. Yep, some stuff is in there but not what would appear to be enough to restrict the water flow. I clean it anyway.  That done I return to the engine room to put it back together. It’s a PERKO strainer and I’ve never liked it but never had the inclination to replace it. It works. There is one large toggle bolt that runs down through the strainer and screws into the bottom. I have to line it up for 6″ and pass it through the bottom of the strainer and tighten. Eventually I get it lined up and tighten. Open the seacock back up and remove the clamp on the hose feeding the dripless cutlass.  Water flows into the strainer,  I don’t believe that is suppose to be happening but I don’t think much off it. Water seeks it’s own level so I don’t worry; but as it rises towards the top of the strainer it begins to seep; or should I say flow out into the boat. Damn! I investigate and find that the bolt holding the one side of the strainer is broken. I shut the seacock,  clamp the hose and begin to remove the strainer. The bronze (or maybe red-brass or maybe even brass) bolt has parted where it enters the threads holding the bottom of the strainer.  DAMN.

I bring the parts to my work station; W/s galley sink, and begin to clean more and start to disassemble the other bolt. Without any real effort; instead of rotating and coming out, it too snaps at the point where it enters the bottom piece. Ok, I know we have some SS all thread so I could cut some replacement bolts. I go and check. I find it; but, it is not the correct size. I take a break. I’m dejected. I get some ice water and some comfort food; Oreos, and sit in the cockpit.

W/ arrives and I hop off the boat to pull it over for her to get on easier. She’s smiles; I’m frowning.  I explain the situation to her and she tells me that she saw a lot of SS all thread yesterday; guess where, Ocean 2000.  Fortunately tomorrow is Saturday and I’m convinced they are open at 8 am. Till then we are back to NOT normal. The boat engine does NOT work.

Fortunately the generator still does and all the boat systems do, we don’t have to move yet, we did pay for the marina till Sat. And too the Marina manager informed us that if we need to leave Sunday consider that his gift so we are good through Sunday.  Tomorrow I’ll hike to Ocean 2000 and be there when it opens.

Tonight I’m thinking of what I need to do and how to do it. I also email my shore side support and tell them of the situation. Knowing there is a 5 hour time difference I don’t expect to see anything till the am; if then. They do have a life besides answering my emails.

Raised Coolant Tube 1:

Raised Coolant Tube 1:

I can’t sleep. I think maybe it has to do with the coolant tube I raised. It could well have an air lock in it.  I’m a wee bit concerned about the raw water strainer. Can I get the correct size all thread?  Should I look to purchase  a new raw water strainer? Often I can be penny wise and pound foolish. Is that what I’m being here?  I need to check to make sure the impeller is fine and hasn’t fallen apart with blades restricting the water flow. If I can I’ll stop at the plumbing store to see if I can get a single bushing for the thermostat and move it closer to the engine then I can lower the coolant tube back to it’s original position.  All this is running through my head like tires spinning on an icy road. I need to slow down.

I climb out of bed and write down  “check the impeller”. I’ve found if I can write things down before bed my brain will stop spinning that wheel. I still can’t sleep, I get up and find a fitting the size of the sensor and the bushing; I put the two together for tomorrow so I can show the plumbing store and explain in my limited – almost non existent French.  Another wheel quits spinning. I go back to bed. Finally I fall off to sleep. Four hours later I’m awake … spinning.  How long I don’t know but eventually I get back to sleep.  By 4:30 am  I’m awake again. I roll over, again roll over,  and finally decide I don’t want to wake W/ so I just get up. At 7:30 am I’ll be leaving anyway to the store. I get up and prepare for the day, full of hope, dealing with my anxiety, wanting to move but knowing it’s foolish to try and we are after all in a good spot to do what we need to do.  W/ rises early too; mainly cause I’m up. She makes breakfast which helps distract me and by 7:30  I’m on my way. It’s only a matter of time. I tell myself it’s nothing like what Escape Velocity has to deal with; it’s only a thermostat replacement. They’ve had to deal with replacing their mast in a foreign country.  But it doesn’t matter, my brain doesn’t care at this moment what problems others have; only that I’m responsible for the mechanical functioning of this boat and right now it’s broke, and I too feel broken.

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The Panamanian Roller Coaster

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

And what a ride it is.  We’re here in paradise, working on Elysium, making changes to her that we hope will enhance our living on and sailing experience. The ups and downs at times are extreme.

We sold our 12′ Achilles inflatable… finally. I was going to title this blog “Buy High and Sell Low”. For it seems that only other people find great deals and we always seem to provide them. But then, I remember a fellow cruiser; Danny, who bought an ABI Aluminum Rib and after one day of ownership decided he didn’t like it, so he sold it for a $1,000.00 less then he paid! Sounds a lot like a new car purchase and truth be told, with the cost of all our dinghies and what we sold them for, we’ve lost much less then what we would have on any day we drove a newly purchased car off the lot.

Right now we do not have a dinghy, and we’re tied to the dock.  Our new AB Dinghy is in Panama City and we’re looking forward to having her. Our 12′ Achilles (which I loved) but which seemed to not love me back, is now serving another diver. The dinghy seemed to want to run free and some readers may remember the two times she went missing; once in the Bahamas where she was stolen and we luckily got her back… a bit damaged but usable, the other in the San Blas where I loosely tied her to a cleat and while telling stories (lies) at dinner Charlie (our host) counted dinghies and said one was missing. But she didn’t get far and with the help of the other guests the dinghy was recovered. Now I hope she finds her new home more to her liking.

With our new dinghy we’ve purchased a set of wheels; yes, you heard me right, wheels.  On the Pacific side the tides are so great and the beaches not as pristine that to visit them you need to haul your dinghy up beyond the tide line. (Tides are in the double digits there). So we’ve to attach them and as she has a hard fiberglass bottom I’ve purchased a rubber rub strake for the keel so beaching her won’t wear the fiberglass away.  Add to the list when we receive her we’ll make a cover for her while cruising and one for her when she’s deflated and set to carry on the aft deck.  Lots of work yet.

The unexpected was our generator which we are still sorting out.  Greg, a cruising mechanic has been working with me on the rebuild of the generator. When we first tore into her he found one of the rings frozen in place by carbon deposits. Thinking, hoping the frozen ring might be the cause of minimal compression he cleaned the rings and the head and put it all back together.  While torquing the head bolts,  he found two that didn’t want to torque down properly. As correctly tightened as we could we turned the hand crank to see if now we had any improvement in compression … and we didn’t. Back apart the generator came and we made a list of what parts I needed to order. It wasn’t looking all that bad and I proceeded to contact a supplier in the US and order the parts.

Bad Kubota Head

Bad Kubota Head

Perfectly timed Roger showed up (the cruiser friendly Panamanian driver) and I could send the head with him to Panama City for a valve job and general clean.  Off he went, and we began the task of getting our ducks in a row for the rebuild.

To receive the parts I needed to fill out some forms and work with the distributor and a retailer to enable the parts to be shipped. I would use FedEx as they are the most reliable for fast shipments to Panama and they deliver right to the boat. I contacted  Mary at  South Eastern Power (the Kubota Dealer for this area) and she had her retailer contact Carlos at Power Solutions handle the billing and  fax the paperwork back and forth.  Actually I faxed to the states and they emailed back what I needed.  With the order mostly completed Roger called. As there was horrible phone reception on the boat all I really had was a timed record of his call. I grabbed the phone, hopped off the boat and went in search of a good signal. Walking down the dock and around the marina until I had 3 bars.  I called Roger back and discovered a new let down. The head on the generator was cracked.  Oh-Oh! Greg never saw any crack, I never saw a crack, yet they said it’s cracked and un-repairable.

I anxiously called Mary to find out if my parts had been shipped. Nope! They were still in the queue waiting to be picked up. I added a new engine head to the order. That necessitated another round of emails to guarantee payment and a new calculation for the shipping cost. Thus another day added before they would ship. Next week, I would hopefully have the parts and have the heart of our cruising comfort working again. (As an FYI- the generator runs the high output alternator, the water maker, and the refrigeration compressor).

All there was to do now was wait.  And while we waited the dinghy almost sold and then was sold.  I say almost because the new owner came to look at it and he made an offer W/ couldn’t refuse. I’m never really happy selling anything, always believing I should have gotten more. Anyway, he left a deposit and in hindsight I should have accepted his offer on the contingency that he take it all now. But I’m not the best salesman and I didn’t add that clause. So during the night we (mostly I) worried about anything that could happen to the sale of the dinghy. We worried for naught for the following day he showed up …eventually.

The deed was to be completed at 11 ish. It was raining, Light squalls would roll through filling the dinghy up with water, I would empty the water then it would rain again and I would empty it again.  The dinghy was sitting on the dock fully inflated. He emailed me that he would be here closer to noon. Ok, we wait. Noon came and went. No buyer. Yeah, we would be able to keep the 100 dollar deposit but we didn’t want the dinghy and a 100 dollars. We had a new dinghy on the way and we didn’t want two … again.  About 3pm he showed up in the only break in the rain and some greenbacks came our way and the dinghy went his.  Later I discovered that at 1 ish or so he emailed that he was on his way. Thus our emotional roller coaster drop wasn’t as far as thought but there was a splash zone on the way.

With the dinghy gone we could again focus on Elysium. We began to prep the shear stripe / cove stripe that Lyman Morse neglected to paint.  We had given Dave the marina yard manager our old never to use again Poly Glow.  This deal was way better then “Buy High and Sell Low” as we had bought it and now were giving it all away. But on a boat there is no room to carry what we won’t be using. Only thing is; I forgot we needed to remove the old Poly Glow that was on the stripe before we add the new Signature Finish paint. Back to the new yard manager, Edwin, to explain what we needed and hopefully get some back. Edwin was kind enough to locate the Poly Glow stripper and we felt lucky; he didn’t ask for any money! We returned to the boat and proceeded to prep the area for painting.

Sailomat-Wind-Vane-Paint

Sailomat-Wind-Vane-Paint

With that part of the paint project completed there was a steel boat in the yard that was being sand blasted. I wan’t happy with the paint on our Sailomat Windvane. The blue paint (which I never liked that color on the wind vane) was pealing, cracking, and falling off. I approached Edwin about the smallish job of blasting the 6 items while there was a crew on the other boat project. He agreed to bring the blasting manager by that afternoon and give us a price.  He did and the price was too high.

They said $110 would do it. I balked. Maybe the one good time in my life when I did.  We are after all in Panama and the minimum wage is about $25 / day.  I figured I could, with Rudy (another cruiser friendly Panamanian driver, Colon based), find a shop in Colon that would bead blast them for less then $50. So I explained what I intended, that in the US I had some blasting of small parts done at an auto shop and this should be about $50 bucks in the US.  They agreed, I could get it done for $50. I would deliver the parts to the work area and they would remove all the paint.  Sweet.  I hate grinding away, stripping paint!

The following day no one worked. The sky never turned blue, and rain continued to wet the Earth off and on for about 6 hours. I was lucky as I didn’t yet have the vane off and in pieces and hoped by the following morning I would.

Finally off and in pieces I hauled them up to where the blasting was taking place and left them for the start of their renewal process. How sweet it is when things actually come together.

The pieces are cleaned and ready for etching, primer, and paint!  We’re making progress again. And!  FedEx shows up with my parts. Life is smoothing out.

Greg arrives the next am and we begin (mostly he) to put the heart of our cruising boat back in order. Piston in, bearings in, the end gasket is on and we begin to clean up the head bolts to put the head back on.  He discovered that the threads in two of the bolt holes are messed up. Remember the two that would not torque down correctly!  Most likely when Kubota put the engine together the bolts went in badly somehow or were fixed after the first assembly but before shipping.  I doubt Aquamarine had any need to do anything with the head and I never removed it nor even torqued the bolts (which I should have done). The end result is that there is a problem and the best way to fix it is with Heli-Coils. We stop work.  The plan is to go into Colon and at Garcia’s (which is a big bolt, nut, screw, place); pick up some M9 Heli-Coils. That’s the plan.

I went in expecting success. I don’t know why, I’m generally not an optimistic person but I’ve found most of the fasteners I need for the boat Garcia’s has.  I was disappointed. Garcia’s pointed me to another store and there too I was disappointed. Then I decided I needed to call Roger in Panama City. He could maybe pick up the Heli-Coils there and when he’s out this way I can meet him.

And that is were we’re at today. I’m waiting to hear if Roger has them or if I again need to order a set from the states. As they (Heli -Coils) appear to have a great deal of value for situations like this; should I need to order them from the states I’ll get a couple of sets. In the Pacific; I know I won’t find any. For now the ride has stopped. I wait for the next go around, knowing that the ups and down in life are all part of the experience.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

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Bad Diesel

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

Today it was “Two Steps back”.

I know the saying is “Two steps forward and one back” but that didn’t happen today.  Sometimes I’m lucky and sometimes I’m unluckily lucky. To further understand there is this parable I remember  “Maybe yes, maybe No” that is best referenced for you to read by another….then I’ll continue with my story.

I was cleaning up the wiring around the generator the other day and decided to shorten one long black wire. I didn’t really know exactly what it ran to but I figured I didn’t need 10′ extra spooled up hanging around the engine. I cut it and used a butt connector to put it back together.  I didn’t know at the time that

Aquagen Panel with TinyTach

Aquagen Panel with TinyTach

it was the wire for the Tiny Tach on the diesel. After all the electrical work that day on the generator we started her up to make sure everything was working right.  Yep, she runs fine; well a little rough but I know I needed to change the injector and clean all the fuel filters so I didn’t worry. But the Tach for the generator, stopped displaying RPM’s. Odd. I thought I just needed to clean one of the contacts and try again but that didn’t change a thing. All I was receiving was the engine hours. Well, not to worry, I had purchased a new one in the states and in a couple of weeks we will just add the new one and be back to working fine again. I wanted a lighted Tach and the one we had did not have a light, thus the new Tach.

Today I pulled out the old tack and it was there I discovered that the cable that transferred the signal was a Coax cable. Wire sleeve around a common core. So when I spliced the old wire together “I” screwed it up. Cleaning up the wiring actually ended up disabling the unit.  Damn, I never would have guessed. I’m sure my other cruising companions are now chuckling at my naivety in how the Tiny Tach works.  Now I have labeled the New Tachometer cables. Then while I was connecting up the new Tach I was rather concerned that I didn’t have enough Coax cable length.  I had just thought the wires were simply 20 awg wires and now if I need to add some length to the Coax I was going to have more work to do. Here at least I was lucky. The new cable length was perfect!  I had maybe an inch or two to spare and all went back together slick as a whistle. From here my day went down hill.

Finished with the majority of my work in the engine room I go to start the generator and the alarm sounds. Yep, it’s suppose to, the alarm sounds until there is adequate water flow. W/ mutes the alarm and cranks over the engine while I wait in the engine room watching for any issues. She holds the key, cranks over the engine. Nothing. Nada, Zip!  Ok, check the fuel, run the fuel pump longer and make sure there is good fuel to the diesel. We do that. Ok “Start the engine” . Again, nothing, nada, zip. Oh… the engine turns over. The starter is doing it’s job but the fuel isn’t exploding in the cylinder. I remove the hand crank from it’s mount and turn the engine over by hand. Uh – Oh!  I rather easily crank the engine. I ought not be able to do turn it over that easily. Not!  without using the decompression lever. OH-OH. Now we have a problem. A rather large problem.

I check the decompression lever and make sure it’s not somehow stuck with the decompression lever “on”.  If it was stuck then that would cause the issue. It wasn’t stuck.  Not good!  I go in search of a Canadian Mechanic that has been at the marina for a few years working. I talk with Greg and he gives me a couple of ideas, should those not work he’s available Wednesday. As with many things on the boat, this is nothing that can’t be solved by throwing more money at it.

Needless to say, I’ll see the mechanic Wednesday.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

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Workin’ Like a Dog

Thursday, August 29th, 2013

Yep, that’s how my mom would say it.  “Workin’ like a Dog” ! But I’m not sure if dogs really work. Is romping in the yard with another dog work? How about watering the grass, or chasing a squirrel?

Dogs pretty much do as they wish, depending often on how conscientious their owners are.  We too, do pretty much what we wish. Oh, I could wish for a Transporter like on StarTrek but now that would be fantasy wouldn’t it?

We spent 4 days in the city; that is, Panama City.  Needed some time away from the marina because our marina is a long way from everything.  And although the marina life has its place – we don’t love it here.  And I can hear some readers saying now “Then why stay”?

Panama City Summer Anchorage

Panama City Summer Anchorage

In Panama City we took some R and R. We also spent time shopping for needed items on the boat and did some research. We met up with fellow cruisers from the marina and went to chew the fat with Ann and Doug on sv Galivant. They had just returned from Ecuador and as we were planning on that as our next stop we needed to know…. everything they could tell us.  Much we had heard before but as one of my College Professors used to say  “You need to hear something 3 times to remember it….you need to hear something 3 times to remember it….you need to hear something 3 times to remember it….” And we would all laugh; he’s the one that had the red pen.  So we’re getting accustomed to listening for repeats and if it is repeated often enough then there is a good chance it’s true. That said we came upon one tidbit of info for cruising Ecuador that had not received much press. We could save a couple of hundred bucks on the cost of a Visa checking into Ecuador  if we applied for the “Family Visa”.  To apply all we need is a notarized copy of our Marriage license.  Uh- Oh. Now we just need to get a notarized copy to Panama and then we’ll save some money in Ecuador.  Add it to the list W/.

And the list seems to breathe like any animal. I guess maybe calling boats “She” does put the vessel into the perception of being alive. So the list grows and shrinks.  And I believe now she’s shrinking more then growing. We’ve completed the installation of the New engine control panel from Transatlantic Diesel. And while the Serpentine Belt Kit went well this had some bumps. One bump being that when we flew back to Panama I removed all the items from their boxes and repackaged them. When I called TAD -Transatlantic Diesel-to ask about which temperature sender was which, I received a gentle scolding as they were in their respective boxes marked. But TAD in their usual good business sense put me through to Marcus who patiently guided me thru the process and then too told me where to mount the High Temp switch (which we never had).  The only criticism I have of the setup they sent was that the wiring harness was not Tinned Marine wire. Why? Ive no idea but IMHO that is a check against them. Other than that, we’ve now a new working Tachometer and all our gauges correctly match the sending units.  Sweet.

On to the new Water Flow Alarm panel. We decided that the sooner we know when a pump breaks we can shut down the engine and save a potential costly issue. So I purchased an Aqua Alarm panel that has separate alarms for the generator and one for the main engine. After that I’ve only one more project in the engine room and then I can move out. I’ve purchased a new Tiny-Tach that has a back light so when we’re running the generator in the evening we’ll be able to easily see the RPM’s without having to locate a spare flashlight.

We could be doing all the projects while on the hook. Some cruisers would be, but we’ve found it easier to do them tied to the shore. We’ve shore side electric, there is a rudimentary workshop here that I can use. The vise is the biggie that I like there as well as a place to paint, there is a chandlery here that out of 20 trips to it I can find what I need maybe once, and beyond that I can 6 days a week travel to Colon and purchase there what I mostly can’t find here. Then too, there are times when we’ve worked harder then a dog and W/ doesn’t want to cook; I don’t want her to cook ( I enjoy her cooking but she needs breaks too) and we can just grab some simple food at the restaurant here. So we hang here, working like a dog; or playing like a dog, making progress and slowly getting ready for our Pacific adventure.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

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