Thursday, September 29, 2016

Back to the Boat

We made our way slowly, painfully back down to the boat today for what's planned to be a 3-week stint away from Minnesota, for me at least.  Dawn will be flying back after the Annapolis Sailboat Show and Cruiser's University on Oct 13th, while I'll be flying a 5-day trip to Lagos, Nigeria starting Oct 15th and won't return home until the 19th. Dawn's brother-in-law and his family are watching Piper (they own Piper's mom), thank God...we'll see if that poor dog even recognizes me in three weeks.

We had a 3am wakeup to make a 5:20am flight to Atlanta. Rather than sleeping on the flight, I played with openCPN on my newly refound Asus tablet (yes, it was in the little-used back pocket of my overnight bag along with the notebook containing my conversations with Mark). The flight to Myrtle Beach filled up so only I made it by sitting on the jumpseat, while Dawn had to wait for the next flight. Beth Schwab was kind enough to pick me up from MYR since Dawn's Jetta was still at our marina - thanks, Beth! - and then I drove back down to the airport to pick Dawn up. The Jetta was misfiring badly last time we were in town, and reseating the spark plug wires didn't help it this time. I figured it was a bad coilpack, which are notorious for failing on VWs in rainy weather (and it was a very stormy day, much like our last visit). So after I picked up Dawn we took the car to a nearby garage and waited for about 3 hours. They ended up replacing the spark plugs and wires as well as the coil pack just to be sure. Maybe not what I would have done right off the bat but my tools were down at the boat. Three hours and five hundred bucks later we have a perfectly-running Jetta. Oof. We probably should have just sold it in MN and rented cars every time we come out here.

Our two-hour drive to Charleston was interrupted by having dinner at a waterfront bar in Georgetown that we had visited the night we anchored there. We got here after dark, and thankfully found a way into the locked boatyard and down to the dock to Windbird. This time everything seems to be in order - we turned off all the circuit breakers except the battery charger and refrig when we left the boat. I spent some time tonight working on the Asus plotter tablet and finally got OpenCPN talking with our external GPS dongle. I also wrote a plan for tomorrow. We'll get up early to unbend the sails while it's still out, reshuffle the Vberth to get some things we need and stow some other things we don't, go on a West Marine shopping run, then in the afternoon I'm going to try to track down this fuel problem once and for all. The way I see it, there are two possibilities: running on a somewhat low tank that had sat for six months resulted in ingesting some sort of gunk that fouled lines or components upstream of the Racor filter, or else we're getting air into the system in some insidious way I hadn't considered (as Al commented in my last post). Frankly the recurring nature of this problem seems to point to #2. I think I have a good thorough troubleshooting methodology sketched out that should allow me to eliminate potential sources of either problem one at a time.

The rest of this weekend we'll do various other decommissioning tasks, on Monday morning Windbird will be hauled out and the refit will begin in earnest, on Tuesday we are flying to Concord NH for a celebration of Mark Handley's life hosted by New Hampshire Public Radio (Judy's asked me to do a reading, which I think is a pretty big honor - I've also liked the selection since I first came across it a few years ago), on Wednesday we're flying back down here to do some work on the mast and boom, and on Friday we drive up to Annapolis. Whew! In between I'll be coordinating lightning repair work with Leigh Jones as we'll likely want to do some of it while Windbird is out of the water and the mast is off. This is all (hopefully!) leading up to us moving aboard full-time around November 1st, so I just gotta keep my eye on the prize as we put in the long days of hard work necessary for that to happen.


  1. Re...Diesel Engine...Just my 2 cents..There are plugs on the injection pump that can be removed and reveal tiny filters, so small you have to know exactly what you are looking for. Just because you change the ext filter does not mean that the inside of the pump is squeaky clean and free of debris . Black crud builds up blocking passageways.
    As I mentioned AIR is the most likely culprit. If you have a manual pump used to bleed the system the seals and check valves are also culprits.Additionally fuel lines that connect to solid tubes might be metric and the fuel hoses/lines need to be metric as well. US and metric seem to work but compressing them with stainless steel clamps just distorts them always ready to leak AIR
    Barricade by Gates is a newer type hose recommended for most fuels.
    Diesel that sits for a while needs to have a stabilizer added to the fuel tank.
    This is important....from a maintenance standpoint. How many hours are on that particular engine??? What is the compression ???if not to min standards maybe an alternative action is needed. Fuel Injectors need periodic calibration. Injection Pumps need to rebuilt and bench flow checked.
    The fuel solenoid valve ()if you have one) going to the injection pump inlet might not be making connection so it might be an on off situation.
    A local Diesel Shop should be able to check compression and all of the other fuel related things I have mentioned

  2. Forgot to mention....starter should be bench checked , brushes replaced as well as all cables....they corrode inside the other she'll and then will not carry the starting amperage.naturally this maintenance action applies to the alternator or generator and fresh batteries are important

  3. One more about the " glo " system auto or automatic......need change glo plugs and retain old ones for spares

  4. Should have said manual or automatic