Yesterday I got up at the crack of dawn and drove down to Tahina. I was expecting a mechanic to arrive at about 9 AM to help perform my first maintenance on the hydraulic steering. Unfortunately, I was told he couldn’t get there until after noon. But, I also had two other projects planned. So, after checking E-mail and blogging a bit, I got started.
I had two other projects planned: 1) Install a new voltage regulator for the chartplotter (our Raymarine E-120).; 2) Do maintenance on the port-side holding tank macerator pump (yuck).
If you have been following the blog closely, you may have read about the E-120 issue I’m trying to fix. Instead of buying the expensive voltage regulator Raymarine suggested, I purchased a device recommended by another sailor (Chris of s/v Billabong), which he used on his vessel.
To install the box, I needed to find a good spot. I traced the power wire for the E-120 and found the Raymarine supplied wire had been connected to wiring from the circuit breaker at a junction panel beneath the instrument panel. It was a bit tricky, but I had just enough wire to place the box on the wall there and, after disconnecting the old connectors, connect the new regulator box. Believe it or not, it actually worked on the first try! I will need to do a night-time passage to see if the problem with the backlight is really fixed.
Meanwhile, the mechanic – Mike – showed up. We spent a few minutes looking over the system. We found a couple of places where a small amount of fluid had escaped. He tightened the fittings. Also, we found a couple of washers were showing sign of corrosion. The system has dissimilar metals in the shut-off valves (which can increase corrosion). The corrosion seemed to be confined to washers at this point. We’ll change those out later. We then proceeded to try filling and bleeding the system. We started at the top, which went pretty smoothly once we made a custom funnel to get around the wiring. But, we had problems on the lower end. He decided to come back the next day after doing some research (rather than bill me for time puzzling it out – which I thought was kind).
The next project was the dreaded hold pump. I had suspected that the rubber impeller was the likely culprit, so I bought a maintenance kit that provided a new one. Sure enough, that was indeed the problem. But, first I had to stick my head in the bilge (under the floor in the kitchen) and take apart the pump. This is probably the least fun job on any boat.
The trickiest part was removing a hex nut from the cutting blades. I had to hold a screwdriver on the top of the pump to keep the shaft from moving, and then use a small wrench on the hex nut. But, this is all under the floor through a “hatch” to the bilge area. I was half-twisted, upside down, with my head holding me from falling in against a pipe. Bilge pump gymnastics! Ugh. Did I say it was also a nasty job? Anyway, after getting the blade off, the rest of the disassembly was smooth. And I found pieces of the old impeller all over. I soon began reassembly. Unfortunately, it was much harder to put back together. But, I eventually got it back together. I won’t be able to test it until we’re offshore though. So, I just spent a good 30 minutes using a disinfectant to clean off all the tools, the bilge, the floor, and anything else I touched. Then I went to take a shower and shed the dirty clothes. By this time, it was nearly 8PM.
It was a long day, but, with the exception of the steering maintenance, it went pretty smoothly I think. It’s all part of the life of boat ownership – there is a trade-off for the pleasures of sailing around the world. The trick is having more days relaxing on the boat than doing maintenance.