Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Beware the check valve ball on your Racor!

A word to the wise, your diesel may die for reasons not related to your filters being clogged. While crossing the Straits of Georgia last week, on a windless day, my trusty diesel did the old "thump, thump, thump, dead". I had just done my annual change of both fuel filters and had recently cleaned out my entire fuel tank, so I was completely surprised.

As it goes, this was not a bad time, given that we were a mile away from any land, but the lack of wind meant we were bouncing around and drifting with the current right toward that pointy island over there.

I immediately began working the problem and had replaced the primary Racor filter before you could blink. No luck. Engine started, but then died. What? It had looked clean, as it should. I went ahead and replaced the secondary filter. No luck. Started, then died. By now I was truly befuddled. We had gotten uncomfortably close to the the nearby hard rocks when a puff of NW wind allowed us to sail toward our destination of Nanaimo. While my boys sailed us along, I was down below cogitating. I knew it was a fuel issue.

1. It was not the filters.
2. I had no reason to suspect a vacuum leak as none of my fittings had been touched, or were loose.
3. After changing filters over the past 12 years I had never had my motor not run smoothly. The Universal 5432 has a bleeding screw near the injectors that always seem to bleed off any residual bubbles.
4. It was not a problem with my injection pump because during the short intervals of the engine running, I could feel each injection line had the normal pulses of pressure from the pump.

I would start the motor, then it would run for 3 minutes, or 2 minutes, or 1 minute. I must have done this 20-30 times, hoping whatever residual air in the system was getting worked out. I was getting concerned about various things, mainly losing battery power and what I was going to do if I couldn't get it working.

As we got to within about 5 miles of Nanaimo, I decided to call Victoria Coast Guard and request a commercial tow. The wind had died, and there was no prospect at that time of my motor working.  I was soon put in touch with Vessel Tow out of Nanaimo and they would send someone to pull us in a bit later. In the meanwhile, I kept thinking and problem solving.

Finally, a light bulb. Aren't our brains fascinating? I remembered how once upon a time, on this very blog, I had written about how a bunch of hair like gunk had fouled my check valve and prevented the ball from seating, and how this had prevented the diesel from running. I decided to pop off the plastic cover and inspect the ball.
The Goop. All that was below the check ball valve preventing it from seating. 

Sure enough, when I removed the ball it came up with a whole bunch of what looked like hair. I dug down into that area and pulled up more gobs of this hair like stuff. I got my dental tool and scraped out even more! Once confident it was clean, I put the rubber ball back, tighten everything up, and started her up.
Here is the Racor image of the check ball on a 200 series spin on filter like what I have.  There are also check balls on the 500 turbine series and many others.

Purr, purr, purr. 5 minutes later, purr, purr, purr. 15 minutes later, purr, purr, purr. Damn if that wasn't it. Never was my filters.

Another BC and Straits of Georgia summer!

These will never get old. I will never get old doing them. Heading north from Friday Harbor and crossing Boundary Pass is a rite of passage to my life, and one that I crave on at least an annual basis. This year it was saddened by the inability of my dear and lovely wife to join us, so it left just a bunch of Y chromosomes on the boat. We made do.

Owen and I started off as the only crew and headed first to a night on Prevost in Selby Cove. One of many nice little spots in that area. Though we didn't do it, I understand there is a trail that takes you from here over to the more used anchorage at James Bay. We had a lovely evening and hot, benign conditions. This would remain for the bulk of our next week. It meant motoring, but as the islands glide slowly past, and the sun arcs across the sky, there is that cultivated state of mind that cannot be engendered other ways.
Salish Sea: everywhere

We went to DeCourcy the next day, our favorite spot in the northern Gulf Islands. My anchorage choices are heavily influenced by 1. The boys on the boat and their need for play and adventure and 2. Me on the boat, and my need for play and adventure. DeCourcy provides all of that.

We always anchor in the south cove, and prefer the views and spaciousness of that spot, rather than in Pirates Cove. Happy to say the pirates chest had an ample amount of booty in it, though my own boys are now too old to feel appropriate for taking things. We swam like fish and jumped off the pilothouse and hiked around the park and immersed ourselves into the consciousness of the place.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Mantus Anchor Swivel

I've decided to try the Mantus Anchor Swivel on my system to alleviate some chain twisting I've experienced over the years. From all I can read they are stout and not a weak link. I used the S2 or size larger than is recommended, as it still fits my 5/16 HT chain. An interesting characteristic of the Mantus Swivel is the oblong pin that goes through the chain. It's a clever, simple way to get more metal in there for a stronger pin.

Here is my current set up, looks sharp and should work well

Sunday, June 17, 2018

New Anchor Rode for Aeolus. G4 Chain and 8 Plait.

I've updated my anchor along the way to the fantastic Mantus design that I've written much about on this blog, yet I attached it to my same old 3/8 BBB chain. I've had that chain regalvanized once myself a few years ago, and it was showing signs of rust again. I'd long wanted to upgrade my chain to High Test G4 and finally got around to doing that this week.

Acco 5/16 G4 High Test chain with a WLL of 3,900 lbs
I ordered 100 feet of 5/16 G4 Acco chain from Defender, which has a WLL of 3,900 lbs. The larger diameter but weaker steel 3/8 BBB had a WLL of only 2,600 lbs. I'd swear the size difference is more than 1/16 as the new chain is so much smaller looking. Yet it is stronger. Part of my motivation is that although Aeolus has a wonderful Lofrans Tigres electric windlass, the controls for the windlass are in the pilothouse and not near the anchor locker. So when I am sailing alone, which often happens in summer when I am delivering our boat north to Desolation Sound, I have to pull that heavy 3/8 BBB up by hand. No fun, especially as I get older.
NE Ropes 5/8 8 plait with a WLL of 10,600 lbs. 

I also went ahead and replaced the 3 strand nylon because it was about 10 years old. This let me upgrade to the New England Ropes 8 plait that is far easier to work with and will lay better in the anchor locker. I hear it absorbs shock better, but haven't seen data on that. I use a 5/8 size nylon as recommended.

Tonight I spliced the 8 plait onto the chain and it's all ready to go. Altogether I keep 300' of rode hooked up on Aeolus, which has proven more than ample for even our deeper anchoring spots like Teakerne Arm at 70' depths. That Mantus anchor has never once, not once, in storms, so much has budged, and so even 3:1 has always been sufficient in moderate conditions. In anything resembling storm conditions in typical anchoring depths of 25-40 feet, we can go more than 6:1. And of course our bow roller is top notch and accepts two separate rodes, and I keep a back up anchor and rode aboard for truly horrendous conditions of a sort I have yet to experience despite year round cruising in all weather here in the PNW.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Tumbo Memorial Day--Again!

Where better to go for a Memorial Day than our favorite island? Nowhere better!

I've written so much, so many times, about Tumbo, and am sure there is nothing new I can say about a spot so special. This trip was of a kind. Sunny skies and wild things, great food and family time. Island walks and rope swings. Secluded beaches and sunsets. All one could want.

I'll let the photos tell a few stories:

So much to see! 

NO more picturesque view than Mt. Baker framed by marsh

The rope swing of the Gods

Had to

Cult Priest dons Cult Head Gear. Praise Cult Leader! 

Rocking at the wheel

Isn't every place a voyage on the sea of life? 

Uh, yeah

Friday, April 6, 2018

New Joker Valve for Jabsco Head

The Jabsco head on Aeolus is pretty much original to when I first bought the boat. I have never replaced the joker valve, and the head had been back filling and burping for some years. So I finally got around to the stinky job of replacing that valve and what do I find but hard encrusted scaly unmentionable things caked around the now dried out valve that kept it from closing fully. New valve installed, the area cleaned out, and problem solved. Replace your joker valves every couple years, they are cheap.

Wet escape and Sucia

The boys and I took for what was supposed to be a lengthy adventure into the Gulf Islands and the enjoyment of some of our favorite northern places. However, it's a crap shoot with the weather, and this time we came up short on the rolls.

Starting out on Monday we had grey skies but no deluge, as we headed to Jones for the night. I was really pleased to see two young families on Jones with two sailboats and three or four little rug rats. Always looking for more young people to experience the Salish Sea wilds. At one point we were exchanging pleasantries and they said this was their first time up in the San Juan's from Olympia and asked if I had any suggestions of places to go??????!!!!!!!!!! I shared a few places...
We started with nice weather, but it didn't last. 

The forecast at this point was calling for SE 15-25 and some SE 20-30 in the Straits of Georgia. With this forecast we shied away from going to Tumbo as planned (getting to Tumbo from the San Juan's requires crossing Boundary Pass, which in strong SE winds can be distinctly unpleasant, especially with a strong ebb running, which it was), so we decided to go to Sucia instead. In Shallow Bay there were two other boats, and we had a great afternoon running on the trails and hanging out. Again, the deluge had yet to start, but it was grey and cool. The following morning we did a new hike out to Ewing Cove. The walk there from the head of Echo Bay is about 2.1 according to the park sign, and it goes right along the shoreline and past many lovely Madrone trees and coves.