Saturday, December 30, 2006

Boat Blues

This vacation has definitely not gone off as planned. Kris and I landed in Houston Wednesday night and as soon as we touched down I started working on the boat. The plan was to get it fixed up enough so that we could make the overnight trip down to Port Aransas.

Things started off really well. I swapped out the original battery bank for a new one with 520 amp hours on one bank and a dedicated starting battery in the other. This was a big improvement over the original set up that had two 200 amp hour banks for a total of 400 with out a dedicated starting battery. I wired up two 6 volt golf cart batteries in series and paralleled the two sets for the total house bank and then used a batt selector switch for the cranking batt. So far so good.

Next, I had to pry up the old inspection port on the water tank. This thing was giving me all kinds of hell. Corrosion had almost welded the lit on the tank. Eventually, I rigged a crescent wrench giving me the leverage I needed. Unfortunately, it opened kind of violently throng my thumb into an old hose clamp rolling my thumbnail half way off and taking off a bit of a chunk. Oh well, at least I can say there is a piece of me in this boat. Never the less, we got the tank sanitized, flushed, and filled. This just left the proplock problem.

Sarns proplock went out of business years ago. I didn’t have much luck for finding the parts I needed, but sure enough the previous owner had stocked up on the brake pads I needed to get the system working again. After figuring out how to pull the brake system and caliper off the transmission I swapped out the pads and we were ready to roll for our sail to Port A. Then came the weather.

Being a good sport Kris decided we should give it a try. At least she humored me when I decided we should give it a try. We mostly motored our way down to Galveston, TX before throwing in the towel. The rain and weather just weren’t working for us at all. Kris was pretty miserable and although I would have stuck it out for sheer stubbornness I think she made the right call when we turned around at ~ 1:30. We had a decent sail back in and I was really looking forward to a beer after tying up the boat when I noticed a bunch of nasty looking water being pumped overboard. I confirmed with Kris that she hadn’t touched anything and that’s when I realized it was the automatic bilge pump. We were taking on water.

After a quick inspection I found the packing gland a.k.a. stuffing box was letting in water at a steady trickle. By trickle I mean an unbroken stream of water coming in from the connection between the prop shaft and the bearing that goes outside to the prop. I tightened down the hose clamps to no avail and will have to wait until tomorrow morning when Home Depot opens to get the wrench I need to try and tighten the packing nut in hopes of a relatively easy fix. Hopefully this will compress the packing material enough to stem the tide. If not, Kris and I will have the boat hauled asap. Guess I can get a jump on that first round of repairs. Now all I have to do is convince myself that the boat isn’t going to sink and that the automatic bilge pump will continue to keep up with the leak. Might be a long night.

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