Repairs, Repairs, Repairs

Tuesday, June 7, 2005
Belize

017-28.320 N
088-14.880 W
Marine forecast for this location

Ahoy from the crew of the BlueJacket!

It's been quite a while since I wrote. Between editing diving photos, producing weather forecasts and personal e-mail, I just kept running out of time. And besides, with the cold, damp spring that the Northeast has been having, who wants to get e-mail from someone frolicking in the Caribbean!

One of my last reports was from when we had friends visiting and we were having battery charging problems. The inverter/charger which runs off the generator is our primary charging system and had malfunctioned when John and Chris arrived. Considering that this provides power to everything (making water, instruments, etc), this was a major problem, but we survived. After they left I was able to access the charger which is buried in a behind a bulkhead at the foot of the bed in the guest cabin. Oh, did I mention that I had to remove the water heater to get to it; that it weighs 72 lbs; or you have to lay on your back to get to it? I love working on it! :-)

I determined that the problem was an intermittent cooling fan and replaced the fan with a spare (it's amazing how many spares you carry). Of course this required removing the unit from the wall that it hangs on, pulling the covers off, replacing the fan, reassembling it, and hanging it back on the wall. That fixed the problem, but I realized that I had forgotten to install 2 retainer screws on a circuit board, so I removed the unit from the wall and replaced the screws. I was doing this in the tiny space described above and when I was replacing the cover I managed to short the circuit board which caused major damage. I was able to repair some of the components and got it to charge but not invert, but that was sufficient for a while. Unfortunately a power glitch blew up this fragile system, so we were without a real charging system. It would take weeks and lots of money to get a new system in here, so I went out and got a 120V 40 amp car battery charger which I strapped into the aft cabin. Hey, it worked! Maybe not well, but it would get us out of the marina.

We headed out to Lighthouse Reef where we met up with Kim and Carl from Querencia and Greg and Judy from Lone Star Love. We got in lots of great diving and ate way too much good food. While we were out there I noted that the generator was getting harder and harder to start. It had always started within seconds. I started playing diesel mechanic in an attempt to diagnose the problem. I changed injectors, checked valve clearances, looked for air leaks in the fuel supply, and on and on. Everything looked good. I finally pulled the exhaust elbow, which mixes the exhaust gas with the cooling seawater. I was looking for an obstruction, but found that the elbow had developed an internal leak which allowed seawater to drain into the engine. This was a BAD thing and basically destroyed the engine. We decided to head back early into the marina to determine what needed to be done to repair it. The answer was a new piston, valves, connector bearing, springs, etc, etc. Basically all of the moving parts of the engine.

The good news was that we had planned to head back to the Boston area for a quick trip home and we could bring the parts back with us. Our trip back home was spent researching and ordering parts, meeting with contractors, getting the garden in, and seeing friends. I felt like I didn't have a chance to breath. The UPS man became a frequent visitor to the house and all too soon we were packing up bags of stuff and heading back with a new inverter, jib, watermaker motor, and lots of other equipment.

Getting through Customs in Belize with all of this equipment was a real problem. I had already contacted Customs before I left to discuss what I needed to do, but they still hassled us. Eventually they agreed to just charge us 1.5%, but I wasn't sure that was going to be the case.

Once we got back the real work started. The new inverter/charger was a different form factor and required pulling cables throughout the boat. Believe me, pulling cables in a boat is a major project which requires disassembling large sections of the boat. The inverter worked fine for a day and then the control panel stopped working. It's still charging and inverting, but I can't program it. Xantrex support hasn't responded and it's been over a week since I first wrote. I'm not happy.

The generator was pulled out of the boat and rebuilt. Unfortunately the work shop manual for the motor had the wrong torque specs for the head bolts (42 ft lbs vs 75 ft lbs) and as a result the head bolts stretched and now we're waiting for new bolts and a head gasket to arrive...

We've been working non-stop since we've been back, and the project list is finally down to next to nothing. Now we're just waiting for the bolts and at the point that I think that we're making up projects. Yesterday we spent several hours digging small welding splatter BBs out of the deck from the boat's last stay at a boatyard where we guess that they were welding nearby. Then it was several hours of canvas work. It's definitely time to get out of here!

Life in the marina is nice, but not why we're down here. Our plan is to head to Lighthouse Reef for a few weeks and then move the boat to La Ceiba, Honduras for hurricane season. We're flying back on July 1st and will be home through mid-January. We hope that all is well with you and that spring/summer arrives soon!

-- Geoff & Sue
Log ID: 692

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