This is a blog featuring my personal stories of food, gardening, yachting, photography, travel and life. I love it all!

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Generator Working, BIG Engine Project Almost Done

It has been an unexpectedly expensive off season so far. The Honda generator went into the shop and came out ready to go for another season. Both engines are receiving expensive makeovers with some of their cooling parts.

Project #1--The Honda generator went into the shop as described in the previous entry. Hardware Sales turned it around quickly and it is home in the garage ready to go. I purchased a gallon of that expensive synthetic fuel to run through it in the off season.

What was the generator's problem? The same one that seems to afflict all small engines. The tiny injector that sends fuel to the cylinder (as I understand it) gets gummed up with impurities in the fuel and makes it difficult or impossible to start. My Honda 2 hp outboard has this same issue from time to time. I switched to better fuel but the problem remains. So, Hardware Sales says to drain the gas out of the device and run some of the synthetic fuel through the lines. It is a more stable fuel during long down times. So, hopefully, problem solved.

Project #2--As described previously, my twin Hino diesels turned out to be in need of some repairs and replacement parts.

My mechanic asked me if my manicoolers and exhaust risers had ever been inspected? I had to admit that as far as I knew, they never had. He suggested he open them up and take a look. I readily agreed. When he opened up the risers he discovered they were so corroded that the intakes were in seriously bad shape. He declared them DOA so we began looking into where and how to go about replacing them.

New ones were just not to be had which meant having new ones fabricated. Yikes! That's gonna cost ya'! We found a firm down in Texas, formerly from Tacoma, that knew exactly what we needed and they agreed to make them. I'd heard ceramic coating them would also add to their lifetime so I had that done, too. Once the finished new stainless steel risers were built, they were shipped to a firm in Auburn, Washington to receive their coating of ceramic. They arrived  on my doorstep a couple of weeks ago ready to install.

However, my mechanic also found the manicoolers to be in questionable condition and recommended they be boiled out and pressure tested. That was done by Whatcom Radiator. The test came back that they had some leakage that needed to be repaired. They explained that if they were not repaired the engines would probably suffer a catastrophic failure within the coming year. Double Yikes! Yes, please fix it!

Those repairs were made and a couple of days ago, they called to say they were ready. About $400 was much better news than the tens of thousands I would have paid had I ignored my mechanic's advice.

So, this weekend, my mechanic will dive into the engine room and put things back together. Approximately $4, 000 later my cooling system will be like new. I am told I should see increased speed as a result and engines running at cooler temps. This I look forward to.

In the meantime, several other, more cosmetic projects will haveto be postponed until next season since so much had to unexpectedly be spent on the engine project. So, no new furniture for the flybridge this summer. My water and waste system monitors will have to wait too. Oh, well!

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Took my Honda generator down to Hardware Sales small engine repair shop yesterday. They advertised a tune-up special and since I have not been able to get the generator to start I thought maybe they could clean up the carb and do any other maintenance it might need. It has VERY low hours on it so I really wantto keep it ingood shape. I use it aboard the boat as a way to top off the batterieswhen we are not on shore power for more than a few days. Itis a marine model meaning it hasa shore power cable plug built into it. So I simply plug in the sore power cable into the generator and the other endinto the side of the boat and crank up the generator. I keep the generator up on the cockpit roof so it is out in the open. No exhaust issues that way. The Honda is often described as the option most boaters go towhen they have no genset, don't want to spend the thousands ir would take to install one and and want the capablity of a generator. Many complain that a portabe generator is a CO hazard but claim the Honda, when properly vented, is less of a hazard. I don't know. I just know our Honda has been great without any sign of a hazardous situation. We do have CO detectors aboard. The Honda is also much quieter than most portable generators on the market so it is less likely to set off complaint from neighbor boaters.

Back to my story. Hardwares Sales saidthey would also fill the generator with synthetic fuel because it was more stable when the generator was not used for long periods of time like over the winter. The issue is that regular gas sittingin the unit tends to gum up those tiny injectors that inject the fuel into the cylinder making it difficult or impossible to start the engine when you need it. That forces you to take apart the carberator and clean it before the unit can be used again.The cost is usually arounf $80-100 for this service. I have been having to do this with my Honda dinghy outboard nearly every year and now my generator. Hardware Sales solution is to use synthetic fuel except whenever you are actually going to use the units. Then run regular fuel sans ethanol. Then as the use comes to an end each season, dump the fuel and run synthetic fuel through the system ridding it of regular fuel and leaving synthetic fuel in the lines. That way the engine is ready for non-use during the winter months. I don't know if this is a good idea but I am willling to give it a shot. The downside? A galllon of the sunthetic fuel runs $20 and I haven't found a less expensive source. So it is pricey but, as the Hardware Sales guy put it, you can pay $20 for the fuel or pay him $80-100 every year to fix the resulting problem. Well, when you put it that way....

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Repair, Clean Up and Hold the Line

We’ve been considering the purchase of a new dinghy now for a few years and keep putting it off for reasons of the cost or because we were able to extend the old dinghy’s life with a stop gap repair. The problem has been that ever since a Canada cruise several years ago when I went fishing in the dinghy, little pin holes from fish flopping around on the inflatable deck developed. Repairs at the time seemed to work but in the last couple of years either the repaired leaks and or new ones have developed so that the floor doesn’t stay inflated for more than a week or so. That’s not good if you suddenly need to abandon ship.

It was my wife who thought up the idea to just replace the floor. The outer tubes are rock solid so maybe that was a possibility. Contacting Mercury HQ I found out that there is a replacement floor available for about $450, a far cry from the cost of a new dinghy. And as every penny counts I decided to go ahead and order the part through the local Mercury dealer—Cap Santa Marine in Anacortes. More about this in a future blog as it will be about a week before the part arrives. So, the hope is that this, though another stop gap remedy, will hold off the need for a new dinghy another few years. Cross your fingers!

I have been frustrated for a long time with having to haul our heavy gas powered pressure washer down to the boat every time I need to do a heavy cleaning. In an ad the other day Harbor Freight listed their 1750 psi electric pressure washer on sale for 20% off, only $80. I took advantage
of that and the new washer is assembled and fits perfectly in our dock locker between uses. It’ll get pulled
out for its first use very soon.

Finally, we have had a problem with a canvas repair done by a local canvas shop for some time. When they replaced the windows a few years ago after sun and time had cracked them, the repair worked fine for a season or so, then suddenly the canvas shrunk so that it no longer stretched far enough to allow the snaps to meet between the boat and canvas. This allowed the canvas to flap around bouncing off the cap rail rubbing it raw in places. My fix was to purchase snap extenders which add  an inch or so to the canvas allowing it to be secured to the boat. It’s quieter in windy conditions and causes less wear and tear on the cap rails and canvas. As for that canvas shop? I found another shop which works cheaper and faster AND their quality is much better too. Interested? Try Northwest Tarp & Canvas on Holly Street.

The Key of Sea, meanwhile, made a fine show of herself on our first cruise of the season--the Shakedown Cruise to the Cap Sante Marina about 15 nm south of Bellingham. We left the harbor on Thursday, 12 April and aside from a rain squall part way there, we had a very quiet cruise.

I can't say the same for day 2. Friday dawned with gale force winds gusting to 45 MPH. It was a stay in dayand except for brief visits to other boats who had made the journey the day before and a docktail gathering around 5:30, we did just that.

Day 3 was calmer but the rains came. Still several more boats showed up and by 5:30 we were all heading down to the party barges for a dinner of BBQ pork loin and plenty of pot luck dishes.

Day 4 was time to head for home. Happily the day dawned calm and partly sunny. We went out to breakfast at Dad's Diner down on Commercial, a popular breakfast/lunch joint, with some dear friends of ours. Then headed back to the boat for our pre-departure check and farewells to neighbors. The cruise home was as smooth as Thursday's cruise south. Docking went great and we were home and in the shower by a little after noon.

Next cruise? Possibly to Blaine for the SeaSkills Rendezvous or else to points west later in the summer. We have cruises planned for the south sound and to the Gulf Islands of Canada this year.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Coolest Toy Ever!

So, my wife's dad was young at heart right up to the day he passed. Just to show you what I mean,  Ldad bought two of the sets in this video, oh,  back probably 25 years ago. He set it up every Christmas. He absolutely loved this thing. He laughed just to watch it go andto see other's getting a kick out of watching it. It’s hypnotic! 

I don't recall where he said he got it bt it was quite a bargain. I think he said he got them for about $5 each; a steal! I don’t know what happened to the other set but after he passed away we got this one. It has been in a box on a shelf out in the garage. We found it among out Christmas things so, what with a nearly 3 year old coming here soon, we wanted to be decorated for Christmas to the hilt.  

Out it came. Down in the bottom of the box was a hand drawn diagram for how to put it together. Turned out to be my handwriting.  I put it together and changed the old AA battery. I started right up. Now its our turn to watch and get a kick out of other's enjoyment. Evie is gonna love this! Thanks, Gramp!

Happy Christmas!

Sunday, November 5, 2017

A Few New Items For the Boat

From time to time we make Amazon purchases. Usually I see something I want and save it to my cart waiting for enough items to be added so that I can take advantage of the free shipping. It's been suggested I should just go ahead and get Amazon Prime but I figure, how does paying a fee for Prime make the shipping free? Hmmmmm...

So, once the cart has enough items in it I go ahead and push the buy button and the purchases come to me. 

Recently, I got a small shipment of items that will all go to the boat on my next visit. All stuff  I've thought about that ought to be aboard but thatI just haven't got around to buying. 

First item is a teak through-hull plug. Huh? Yeah, its a funny looking thing that could, in certain emergencies aboard, save the boat and you. Shaped like an ice cream cone, in the event of a through-hull  or other valve or hose failure, this simple device can be shoved into the breach to 
Teak through-hull plug
staunch the flow of water into the boat. It's a good idea to know where it is and can be accessed quickly in the event of an emergency. Like any number of items aboard, an emergency is not the time to have to start thinking about where you put it. Mine will go into the cockpit cabinet adjacent to the engine hatches. There are three through-hull valves down there along with lots of hoses. So, there it will go, just in case.

wash bottle
The second item in the box delivered the other day was a small wash bottle. Another odd device but I have a great use for it. My battery bank, especially my house batteries, are in cramped space that makes checking the fluid levels difficult and adding fluids even more difficult. Distilled water needs to go into those little holes in the top of the batteries, but holding a gallon bottle of distilled waer over those holes and trying to get water into them without making a mess is hard. I saw this wash bottle and thought...problem solved! I can squeeze the bottle gently and get just the right amount of water into those tight spots. 

Having spent my life not protecting my hearing has left me somewhat deaf, especially in my right ear. Many years ago, as a teenager, my grandfather took me to the gun range as he routinely did with my dad and I whenever we came to visit. On this occasion he handed me a .45 handgun and gave me a few instructions for firing it. I held it close to my right ear intending to lower the weapon slowly towards the target before pulling off a round. Unfortunately, the hair trigger went off right next to my head.  I felt the hair on the side of my head flip up as the bullet went past it. I put that gun down and that was it for my day. In fact, I think it may have been the last time I ever fired one of my grandfather's guns. He just laughed his head off at me but I felt I came a little too close to losing
Safety Ear Muffs

All these years later I have purchased headphones to use when operating loud equipment in our yard or shop and I use them religiously. But aboard the boat with its two noisy diesel engines, I had nothing. Well, now I do. These should do the trick and though I am seldom in the engine room when they are running, they are still a good idea when anywhere near them. I'll store these in that cockpit cabinet. 

Item #4 in the shipment was a couple of Satco brand Rough Use, Shatter-proof 100 wattlight bulbs. These bulbs running 24/7 during the cold months add just a bit of heat to the engines. I have a single bulb hanging between the engines. They hold up well when the engines are running despite the heavy vibrations and each bulb lasts about 2 seasons before burning out. I finally needed some new ones and they topped off my Amazon order to get the free

They are shatter-proof as well so if they do break you don't have a mess in your bilge to try and clean up. I've found them in local hardware stores as well so they aren't a rarity. They are pretty reasonably priced too. 

The final item ordered was a Micro Dry/Wet Vacuum by Shop Vac. This little wonder came highly recommended by my mechanic. I saw it in action recently when he was aboard. He loved it. It has good suction despite its 'Micro' size. 

So I had to order one. What with very limited storage aboard the boat, something that must always be taken into consideration when bringing anything new aboard, this little device seems like a no brainer. 

It holds one gallon of liquid and is 1 hp. It comes with a couple of attachments, hanging hardware, a six foot cord and everything you need to get started. And, its by Shop Vac, a quality product. They run about $40.

So, there you have it. A few little somethings for the boat. Nothing spectacular but all with specific and necessary purposes. The Amazon cart already has some more items in it...waiting. They probably won't get ordered until next spring though as they are all items I'll need to prep the boat for cruising season. I can't wait!!!

Snow? In November?

Taken on November 3, 2017
Well, yea, it does happen on occasion. But snow in early November is pretty rare here in B'ham. So a lot of us were taken by surprise when we, first noticed a few flakes falling on our way out the door from the Bellingham Sail and Power Squadron Dinner Meeting on Thursday night at the yacht club, and then awoke to a pretty substantial amount of snow on the ground Friday morning.

Amounts varied throughout the region but up on our hilltop we gazed amazed at nearly 5 inches sitting on our deck railings.

It didn't stick around on the street very long so my wife was able to drive down the hill to work. It was just enough to look beautiful on the trees, shrubery and lawns. Perfect day to sit in the front window reading, occasionally gaze out the window and sigh.

Our Oil-filled Radiant Heater does the job!
I haven't been to the marina to check on the Key of Sea yet but friends who had been to their boats all recommended staying away until things warmed up a bit as the docks were covered with 3-4 inches of snow on top of ice. So, pretty slippery and not worth risking a fall or worse, falling in!

I'll head down tomorrow sometime during the day to check on things. I want to make sure the heat is up high enough. I already turned it on but purposely kept it low as it never gets this cold this early in the season. Fortunately, I have already turned on the 100 watt light bulb I hang between the engines and the electric oil-filled radiant heater. I still have some things needing done though before I feel really winterized.

The dinghy outboard  and the generator both need to come home and the kayaks are still outside the boat. They either need to be dragged into the salon  or deflated and hauled home to inside storage.  I need to pour a bit of anti-freeze down the drains and sump pump and open the cabinet doors to allow warmer air to flow through them. Aside from that, I think we are in pretty good shape for the winter. Not that that isn't enough to do and that needs doing pretty soon before damage sets in. Guess I ought to stop writing and get busy!

Monday, October 23, 2017

Fall 2017 Boat Projects Completed!

Final push tonight to finish up the fall boat projects aboard the Key of Sea. Also, pay day for my mechanic.

Tonight he installed the new Y-valve, the last thing needed doing. The old valve was cracked when he removed it. The new one is considerably better built and he mounted it to the bulkhead. The old one just sat, unmounted , on the floor of the utility tunnel. Everytime it was turned it probably added to its demise.

The Y-valve controls the directional flow of the waste tank contents. Turn it one way and waste can be pumped out using a Marina’s pumping system. Turn it the other way and waste is pumped overboard through the macerator pump directly into the sea. This can only be done in certain places in Canadian waters. In the US the valve must be zip tied in the marina pump out position.
Failure to do this is subject to a hefty fine from the Coast Guard.

Here's a series of photos of the valve mounted to the bulkhead, much easier to get at than its old location. Also, notice all the new white hoses running around. The macerator pump is in the foreground and just behind the sky blue cylinder is the waste tank. Above the new valve is a grey box with a red switch. This is the macerator pump switch. A circuit breaker on the DC panel below the main helm must be on before this switch can be activated. This prevents the pump from accidently running when thee is no liquid in the line. The pump would burn up if that happened.

When I got on the boat this evening the old odd non-descript smell had disappeared. So, I guess we did need to replace those old toilet hoses!
New Y-valve replaced 10/23/2017