A Little Maintenance

February 15, 2021

I have been sitting inside of Pipe Cay for almost a week now and it is ridiculously easy to stay put and do nothing of importance for that long! A few boats have come and gone, and I have been getting lots of little things done and making friends on other boats as mentioned in prior posts.

Yesterday I watched as S/V Purrfect went to the beach at low water and filled their (leaking) dinghy tubes with air, spun the dinghy a few times and waited for things to dry out. I did go and offer some help (namely my boat deck as a sand free place to do the work), but they had that well in hand, so I focused on cycling and reading back on Home Free.

The ‘office’ on Home Free is in the forward guest cabin. Working here has been getting harder and harder as there is a constant whistle as the boat bumped up and down. Perhaps it is because I am right over the main tidal surge/flow for this little bay, but it seemed to be getting worse and worse. This morning, with no significant objectives, I decided that it was time to figure out where and why.

Prior to this I had looked through the holding tank lines for a loose pipe or other area where air could get in and whistle. Alas that was attempted again today and nothing appeared, so I began taking the boat apart.

That is always an ominous sounding statement, but Home Free is a Nordhavn, and Nordhavns, perhaps more than many other boats, are designed with long term, far away maintenance in mind. So when I say ‘taking the boat apart’, really I just removed one panel where the sound was coming from, but it sounded heroic and epic and well, I have to take small wins.

The forward cabin and hallway contains all of the tankage and plumbing for grey and black water waste. I suspected this plumbing for a long time and honestly who wants to deal with that, but when I took off the vent/panel, I quickly discovered the problem. Thankfully it wasn’t a gross and messy one.

Vented loops allow air to enter the plumbing and prevent a pumping/suction action that can back fill tanks/engines/etc. I think that every hose that leads from a piece of equipment aboard the boat, overboard to pull water in, or push fluids out, has a vented loop to prevent this suction action from drowning the associated system.

I am no expert, but the whistling sound coming from the vented loop was obvious and was likely caused by a duckbill valve in that loop (air in, nothing else out). A little bit of research and the interweb pipes returned the answer that when the lips of the valve don’t close, you get Scottish bagpipes at no extra charge. Well, I think that is incorrect. The replacement cost on that tiny valve is approximately the same as a set of beginner bagpipes, but we will ignore that detail.

Anyway, I set about taking things apart, looking at the valve (yep, the lips are slightly separated, tuned to somewhere between cat in heat and dying bird) and trying a few tricks to make it go away. Soap seemed like a good idea (clean it, make it move easier) but it really moved well when it slipped out of my hands and fell down into the depths of the walls. Just so you know I CAN fit my head into that little hole.

After contemplating what to do next I realized that that little valve was likely under the stairs somewhere because whoever designed this boat (Jeff Leishman) is either super lucky at making things accessible or really smart. I found the duckbill under the stairway leading from the pilothouse, still soapy. My head only has minor (and unnecessary) chafing.

So both the black water and grey water have vented loops back here and I have no spares. Hmmmmm. Let’s take the valve off the wing engine (which almost never gets used, and the back of the boat has a lot less movement, and the engine room has sound proofing, and nobody sits there doing work, or lies there sleeping . . . you see where I am going.) But wait, if there is backflow to the wing engine, that’s not going to go well. The valve still works, it’s just noisy.

So far everything has worked out. The boat is back together, the bagpipes have stopped serenading me and I can think again.

I have a growing list of things that need repair or replace when I return to civilization (entered here for my memory) but it’s a boat, so all of this should be expected.

  • Powerview engine monitor (mine may have a stuck key or something of the sort)
  • Raw water pump (used my spare over Christmas, need a new spare)
  • Duck bill anti-siphon valves (replace all, carry four spares)
  • Replace dead battery on VHF radio, (carry a spare?)
  • AAA batteries
  • More Aere fenders/throw away old fenders
  • Replace damaged dockline
  • Refill Propane tanks

Things here are still as beautiful as they were when I arrived and I have little reason to move along. The one thing is that it gets bumpy when the tide turns. Perhaps a flatter spot at Black point or a move to the Eleuthera’s would be better. I will consider my options for tomorrow later.

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