Sunday, September 4, 2016

Fuelishness Fixed

I flew one leg from Orlando to Minneapolis yesterday and then immediately bummed a ride to Atlanta. Unfortunately Momma D cut back her flights for Labor Day weekend so I had to wait 7 hours in ATL for the flight to MYR, during which time I hung out in our crew room, played with OpenCPN, and read its entire (quite thorough) manual. I arrived in Myrtle Beach a bit after 10 and our marina in Little River about an hour later, where I was happy to see that Windbird survived Hermine unscathed.

This morning I was up at 6:30 to bend on the staysail while the winds were light, and it was a good thing I did as they picked up around 7:15. The post-Hermine weather is gorgeous here: not too hot, a brisk northwesterly breeze, and decent humidity. After getting the staysail on I putzed around with various projects until the marina office opened, when I went to retrieve a TON of packages that had been delivered from Amazon, Defender, Home Depot, and the Handleys. I had ordered a number of tools and various supplies online a week ago on a layover, the better to save me time-gobbling West Marine and Harbour Freight runs. In fact I didn't have to visit either store today.


My #1 priority today was to fix the problem with our fuel system. Our first outing on the boat last week was cut short when the engine lost power multiple times, and the Racor vacuum gauge gave a strong clue with an abnormally high reading of 9-15" Mercury. I figured it was a blockage, a persistent air bubble, or a loose clamp that was letting air into the system. Before I started troubleshooting I had to fix the engine room floodlight (loose connection, corroded terminal block), then decided to start with the easiest thing: checking all the fuel line clamps for tightness and all the hoses for signs of leaks. Then I figured I'd bleed the system once more, but be a lot more aggressive than last time. I'm using a small inline diaphragm pump that's just downstream of the Racor, and I previously stopped using it once it started spurting fuel out of the designated high point in the system, a bolt atop the secondary fuel filter that I had loosened. This time I continued pumping the fuel into a rag for a good 10-15 seconds to make sure I got all the air out. And when I started the engine, the Racor vacuum gauge returned to its normal reading of 2-4" Hg! For once, the quick and easy fix turned out to be the correct one.


The easy fix gave me time to tackle lots of other boat projects, some of which I had planned for tomorrow. I think I got the instrument & navigation network pretty well figured out. The instruments are SeaTalk, the GPS is NMEA, but virtually everything goes through the now-fried Raymarine SmartPilot autopilot brain like Mark said. It acts as a multiplexer among other things. Since I'm planning to replace it with a like unit, I think I need to use the current installation as a guide to figure how I'm going to integrate the Vesper XB-8000 as well as the Garmin 741. I'll do some more thinking about that tomorrow.

I put the fried Garmin 76Cx's chart chip into my spare Garmin 76Cx (that I'd previously used for dirtbiking in Baja and a self-drive safari in southern Africa) and tried to fire it up. It didn't work using the power/data cable at the helm, which was expected because the now-fried 76Cx hadn't been getting power from it either (and my battery box is too corroded to use). So I traced the cable back to the compartment above the engine room and was surprised to find that the power wire is connected to a terminal block on the galley circuit (along with the high water alarm). I'm not sure why that is, it's a bit strange and I'll eventually change it, but for now there is no harm keeping the galley circuit breaker on so long as the propane solenoid is off when not in use. So now my Garmin 76Cx powers up and navigates...but since the data in/out wires are routed through the SmartPilot, it's not supplying any information to the instruments and I have no way of uploading routes to it. Can't wait for the insurance adjuster to visit so I can start fixing this stuff.

One of the packages I received from Amazon was our new Asus Transformer Book T100HA. I've spent much of tonight downloading, installing and configuring OpenCPN as well as the NOAA raster and vector charts for the east coast. I think it's going to work great as our nav station plotter/planner. It also perfectly fits the tablet mount that Judy Handley sent us, so I won't have to buy a separate mount for backup usage at the helm or on the rod behind the bimini that was formerly used to mount the Pixo remote monitor.


I met some new people on R dock today, Howard and Michelle, a very nice couple from St. Louis with a Beneteau 390 named Le Bonne Vie. They're doing basically the same thing as me: working on their boat to get it ready for cruising. This afternoon I helped crank Howard up his mast to retrieve a lost halyard; sadly he didn't have the needed tools to access it so there will be a repeat performance tomorrow. They're hoping to get off the dock this week, as am I. My parents had to cancel their visit but my friend Lance is planning to fly in from Seattle on Tuesday morning. With the fuel problem fixed, we should be able to go sailing for a couple days!

That means I have a full slate of labors for Labor Day tomorrow, so it's off to bed. It's good to be back on the boat.

No comments:

Post a Comment