Monday, June 15, 2009

Its not a boat if it all works

That's what they say and its pretty true. While we've had our share of issues since we left Naples, our 6 weeks in the Exumas has really caused things to breakdown. My guess is that its hard on boats down here. You're anchoring a lot, which is always harder on a boat than being at a marina "plugged in". We've also been on the boat a lot more, so more things get used. Lucky has held up well, but there are a few things that need to get resolved.

Most worrying, and the reason for our plans changing, is the port (left side when looking from the back) engine. Leaving Staniel Cay to go to Little Pipe Cay I noticed the port engine couldn't maintain RPM. Our Volvo Penta D6 engines are rated at 370hp each and should be able to reach 3600 RPM at wide open throttle. I usually run at 3150, or 90% of WOT, as I'd read that that's the best load to run a diesel engine at. I noticed two things about the port engine. The RPMs were fluctuating around 3100 and it was running a little hotter, 195F rather than 185. From Little Pipe all the way to Warderick, I lowered the RPMs to 3000 and both engines ran fine, though the port engine came up to temperature (185F this time) quicker than the starboard engine. Mentioning this behaviour to CJ when we were all anchored at Hawksbill, he suggested we change out the fuel filters, which we did. I also checked the props for dings, but they are fine. Leaving Hawksbill today I found I had to lower the RPMs yet again. There's definitely a trend happening and it's not good. So rather than try to get the engine fixed in Nassau, we're heading back to Ft Lauderdale. While I have the mechanics in, I'll have an oil and filter change performed as well. Let them deal with disposing of 10 gallons of oil, rather than me!

An interesting update occurred today since I wrote this. A Lazzara LSX 75 pulled in next to us. They have 4 IPS 600 drives. I've lusted after this boat ever since I heard of them. Anyway, I chatted with the captain and he thinks there could be three reasons. A blocked air filter; an issue with the drive; or a blocked/faulty injector. There's no smoke, so a bad injector is less likely. The air filter is easy to check and replace. The drive oil temperature hasn't been too high, but if there's an issue the oil will appear black. So the captain, Brad, is coming over in the morning to check the air filter and drive oil and then we're going to call his mechanic in Ft Lauderdale. Hopefully, I'll be able to provide an update before I post this.

Update: Replacing the air filter helped a little. The engine is still burning more fuel and running hotter, but less than before the change. I Haven't been able to run the engines under load, so we'll find out more today when we leave for Normans. No smoke and the drive oil seems fine, so still no real idea. It looks like we'll have to run back to Ft Lauderdale to get it looked at. I got some good recommendations for mechanics from the captain, so hopefully we'll be able to get it sorted.

While in Ft Lauderdale, I'll be able to take care of a few other things.

Our house batteries are dying. we have five huge batteries that should provide 350 Ampere Hours of charge. This is a lot - enough to boil our kettle for a day and a half. Instead, we're down to almost nothing after a night at anchor with nothing except fridge, hot water heater and anchor light on. We have to run the generator at least twice a day now. Compare this to January, when we could run a whole day on only one three hour generator run. Talking with other boaters, a four year life seems about right, so it's time to change them. These things are not cheap and very heavy, so getting help putting them in will be required. I'll also take the opportunity to change out the three engine batteries as well.

Our tender mount works well with one slight problem. The bow roller and winch aren't in the center line of the rollers, making it more work than it should be to take off or put on. So I'm going to move the shoes that hold the rollers to the swim platform back about 6 inches. This will have the added bonus of letting the tender lie flat on the rollers, rather than a little tilted as it currently sits. This is going to involve some drilling and epoxy-filling work, stuff best done where there's a well stocked West Marine down the road.

The watermaker is behaving itself. It is still struggling to get the salinity down, but given enough run time gets there. So we've taken to running it every two days for 4-5 hours, rather than every day. Once disconcerting thing is a Salinity Probe Failure that occurs after the generator has been on for more than 5 hours or so. I guessing that vibration from the generator has knocked something a little loose. So I'll probably order a new one when we're back Stateside, as well.

There's a slight leak coming from where the depth finder has been placed through the hull. Nothing dangerous, but it upsets my "dry bilge" sensibilities, so if we need to be hauled out, I'll have the yard fix it.

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