June 15, 2020
Normally I don’t show the dark underbelly of owning a large boat, but an old friend posted a picture of himself sailing on a small boat today, and I was knee deep in a pile of to-dos . . . so why not.
Up until now I have tried to highlight all the fun that we have while out cruising, but perhaps today, for my edification and memory I will post the more mundane, work like things.
Home Free has a number of issues that progress from port to port, and I am looking forward to having some time in a quiet port, near to supplies, with a car and a zero balance on the credit card. Today is not that day, but problems have popped up just the same.
A few months ago, I ran Home Free with the fuel return valve on the engine closed. Now I could bore you with all of the details about how a diesel works, but let’s just say that you should NEVER, EVER run a diesel with the fuel return valve closed. When closed, the buildup in pressure will damage the fuel pump and possibly much worse. I have been running with a slight fuel leak since I left West Palm Beach in February, and since it was only about 10 days over the past four months, it wasn’t a lot of fuel, nor a big deal. Over yesterday and today I corrected that problem with the help of Bob Senter, aka Lugger Bob. (BTW, if you run a gasoline engine and have fuel hitting your hot engine, that is a huge, huge problem, it can ignite easily. Diesel, is much safer, making my small leak a waste issue, not a safety one.)
The Nordhavn community is lucky to have ‘Lugger Bob’, the best tech head in the world about Lugger engines who kindly and freely gives advice to those of us roaming the world when our engines have problems . . . even if they are self imposed. He runs all of the Lugger training and he talked me through finding the leaks, correcting them, looking for follow-on damage and was genuinely pleased when I discovered that my problems were not significant. As he says, I “dodged a bullet” and my “Lugger loves me”. Phew, a real sense of relief.
Meanwhile, while on passage, my dishwasher stopped working. Ooops. After spending a few hours on that today, I opened up a cover and noted the motor sticker on one of the electric motors . . . it says 220V 50Hz. Did I say ooops. When plugged into shore power I get 210V and 60Hz. I turned on the generator to see if the system worked with the generator (which produces 220V/50Hz) . . . it doesn’t work. I appear to have blown a motor somewhere. It worked for a while this winter, I don’t know when it stopped really. I guess I will have to go back to doing dishes by hand. I really don’t mind that, but the idea that I have to fix the dishwasher at some point is a real bummer.
But wait, why is the water pump running? There appears to be a problem lifting water from my fresh water tank. It was also dirty water, this is NOT a good sign. Well, in reality it is just about making the wrong associations when the signs are right in front of me. An inability to draw water suggests either an empty tank or an air leak in the hose somewhere. The dirty water suggests you are sucking the dirt off the bottom of the tank or you have an intrusion of dirt somewhere. The water level meter says that my tank is half full, so I can’t be out of water.
I was out of water. Sometimes you just have to assume the simple solution is the correct solution, but it took me an hour to get to the fact that my sensor is wrong or has failed rather than the other relevant facts dragging me to the inappropriate conclusion. It’s kinda like re-opening the economy with 10,000 cases of COVID-19 a day, thinking that since the curve is flat, all will be okay. The tank is filling while I type.
That isn’t the only bad sensor though. I have two other sensors, one for grey water (dishwasher, showers) and one for black water (toilets) and the grey water pump no longer turns on when the tank fills up. I have to manually throw that switch. That will have to be taken apart, cleaned and reinstalled. At least it’s not the black water.
To round it out, I need to clean the engine room one last time (Chris, the other 47 owner who had a tour last week thought my engine room was super clean. That made me happy, but gotta keep it up!) The entire boat interior, walls, floors, stainless, all needs to be cleaned, and that follows on five hours spent yesterday cleaning the exterior.
The good news is it’s raining, so there shall be no cycling prior to my departure for Canada. Just clean, clean, clean and repair where possible.
I still have other repairs that are outstanding, including installing my new VHF radio. Probably best as a two person job. In similar fashion, my wing engine controls need to be replaced. That is a really big job and so I may get professional help on that one.
The regular maintenance will have to wait until my return, and that includes changing oil and filters in the main engine, cleaning a fuel filter and a couple of other things I have surely forgotten. That’s about it I hope. Of course there is always packing, but that should take five minutes.
The big thrust is that running Home Free takes a lot of work, more than a smidgen of knowledge and is a lot like running a house except for the engine, the electronics, the plumbing, the electrical systems, the propulsion system, the stabilizers, and the communications equipment. But the rest … its just like a house.
Some days a smaller, simpler boat would be appreciated, but the world continues to call. The views are better than sitting at home at least. 🙂