Friday, May 11, 2018

Limping in circles...

Kintala is still swinging to a mooring ball in Boot Key Harbor. We have been here a week or so, waiting out beam seas and headwinds in the Hawk Channel. This morning held promise of being the start of a marginal, but doable, two day weather window that would see us in No Name Harbor.

Ah, but then we did the engine checks…

Deb found the engine case around the Jabsco water pump completely encrusted in salt. That pump, now officially designated as a Papa-Oscar-Sierra so far as Kintala is concerned, has failed yet again. The good news is it didn’t start puking on the way from Marco Island to Shark River, rather waiting until we left Shark River to come to Marathon. Here we can borrow bikes to ride to West Marine, order up a new pump (again) and a rebuild kit (again) for the old pump. The old-old pump from the last time we did this doesn’t look like a good candidate for rebuild. The plan, from now on anyway, is to have a rebuilt pump always sitting on the shelf. In fact, we will likely have both a pump and a second rebuild kit on the shelf. That is how little we have come to trust this essential piece of equipment, particularly given our tendency to anchor out in places far from support facilities.

Some days I really, really hate the lack of quality control that seems endemic in the marine industry. This would be one of those days. It is the seal at the drive pulley that keeps failing and, yes, I know that often indicates too much tension on the belt. No, it isn’t the belt tension on Kintala causing the problem. (I've put on a few thousands belts.) A good friend of ours, also with a Tartan 42 / WesterBeast, had so much trouble with his Jabsco that he replaced it a different manufacturer’s pump. It turned out the replacement pump had issues of its own, specifically a drift key much too light for the loads placed on it. At least a leaking pump will still move enough water to get one to shore. A sheared drift key will bring the Beast to halt. So we will stay with the Jabsco.

Though this is a good place to get stuck with a mechanical, missing the weather window is now a pretty sure bet. As a result we are going to modify our cruising routine a bit. Back when I made  a living as an air ambulance pilot the procedure was to do a post flight inspection rather than a pre -flight. That way we could be airborne as quickly as possible when called. We still did a quick walk around when climbing aboard, mostly to ensure that no one had bumped into the aircraft with a fuel truck or something.  That was a routine I had established years before. A habit formed the night a fork truck driver at New York’s JFK managed to poke a window out of the Navajo I was flying, but didn’t bother to tell me about it. Fortunately I had duct tape on board…seriously. There are lots of stories in the airplane world you probably don’t want to hear. Anyway…

From now on, when Kintala drops a hook or picks up a ball somewhere where she is likely to be for a couple of days, we are going to do a post-sail deck and engine check. The deck check is sort of done just by putting the boat to sleep for the night or, more accurately, setting up the deck so we can sleep. But, from now on the engine checks are going to get done as well. If that had been our procedure last week, we could have fixed the WesterBeast while sitting, waiting on weather anyway.

We really can’t keep missing weather windows.

It is fair to say that I have been a life long wanderer, by airplanes big and small, cars, motorcycles, hiking boots and, late in my life, sailboats. If this particular trip was being done in any of the above (except a sailboat) the weather that has kept us stationary - and will likely keep us parked even after the Beast is repaired - would not be any consideration at all. It would not cause the least bit of discomfort while moving and certainly would not entail any additional risk. At the moment I am finding that to be a bit frustrating. I know, “The journey is the destination” but this doesn’t feel like journeying. Between trying to stay at least somewhat comfortable while under way, and nursing the mechanicals of a boat in a salt water environment, if feels like limping in endless circles.

But we will limp along knowing, eventually, some kind of wandering line will eventually be drawn on the chart. We will be somewhere else, and that much closer to catching up with Blowin' In The Wind.

1 comment:

Mike Boyd said...

I feel your pain. But it could be worse. I can think of worse places to be than on a boat in the keys. ;-) And some pumps that are direct drive have the same failure...but instead of seeing it, you find it after seawater has been dumped into the crankcase. Bathing engine internals in saltwater and turning the oil into something that looks more akin to gray soft-serve ice cream is not pleasant. So, is good. :)

Take care and I hope you are able to get this taken care of quickly and be back on your way. And I'll keep my fingers crossed for you to get some good weather windows.