Second Day of Spring 2017
22 March 2017 | Whortonsville, NC
As far as I am concerned, winter has no redeeming characteristics. I do not like cold weather and I am always ready for spring. Winter is the time where we look forward to warmer weather and sailing opportunities. For many years now the mate works during tax season which this year covered the calendar from shortly after Christmas until April 18. We typically make at least one or two trips to Ensign Harbor during tax season just to check on the boat and go out to dinner. This year it seems that the tax office staff is lighter than usual. As a result my mate has worked most Saturdays. On the Saturdays that she does have off, she wants to see grandchildren and do other activities that do not involve driving 10 hours round trip to check on the boat. I can understand her position.
I have changed oil in Southern Star’s engine every year since we have owned her. I seriously doubt that this is absolutely necessary but I do it anyway. It can’t hurt. I did not change fuel filters last year because if the extremely small amount of fuel we used during the past season. I don’t use any kind of fuel treatment in the fuel tank to prevent algae growth so I think one year is enough to skip.
Monday March 20, 2017
I didn’t make the final decision to make the trip until early Monday morning. The weather was warm for February and I didn’t have any other obligations until Thursday. It took me a while to get everything together. I left shortly after noon. I had several stops to make, one was to an auto parts store to buy a gallon of Rotella-T motor oil. South and east of Raleigh the fairly new Highway 70 bypass was completely blocked. Traffic was not moving. I, like many others, illegally crossed the median and backtracked 10 or more miles to get on business 70. I had planned in a quick fast food lunch but found myself passing by the “Rockin’ Comet” diner in Garner. It is a great little restaurant and I enjoyed their chicken quesadillas. I ordered the large portion and dinner was provided as well.
After a quick stop for supplies I reached Ensign Harbor after a longer than usual trip. I unloaded and shipped my personal supplies. A mechanic told me once that I should change the oil when the engine was cold. His thinking was that all the oil will be in the oil pan and not in the upper part of the engine. I am not sure why this is important because there is no way you can pump ALL the oil out of the oil pan anyway. Since the engine had not been cranked since December I wanted to make sure it would. On the advice of another diesel mechanic, I do not leave the battery charged on when we are gone from the boat. He said that the batteries would last longer if they were charged and then discharged.
In their present state the batteries were not quite strong enough to crank the engine so I turned on the charger, which (when on) actually replaces the batteries as far as cranking. As a bit of extra insurance I bled the fuel line near the fuel injectors. I am not sure that was necessary but I knew it wouldn’t hurt. Anyway after a bit of complaining she fired up and ran smoothly. I finished my leftover chicken quesadillas and had no trouble sleeping after the long drive.
Tuesday March 21, 2017
It rained overnight and the skies were murky on Saturday morning. I didn’t get started as early as I had planned. My procedure is to start pumping oil out of the engine while I change all the filters. From past experience I know it takes at least an hour. The oil filter is hard to get to but I have developed a good method if removing it with a strap wrench. A couple of years ago I replaced the old DAHL fuel filter with a newer Racor replacement. My hope was that it would be less messy and get less fuel in the bilge. I was wrong. I have come to the conclusion that it is impossible to change filters without making a mess. The pump got about as much oil out as it usually does, about 2 and a half or 3 quarts. While it was doing its work I got all the filters changed and bled the fuel line at the filter and at the injectors. After a couple of false starts the little engine fired up and ran smoothly.
I did my best to clean up the bilge and clean up the general mess. I think this is why the mate does not like to accompany me on the annual oil changing mission. It makes a mess and it requires use of the entire cabin. I had allowed for being gone from home for two days but things actually came together a lot quicker than I had anticipated. Since I had no other tasks planned and it was still morning I decided to head for high ground. After a shower to remove all the authentic diesel aroma, I headed for home with my mission accomplished. The trip home was uneventful. I stopped for lunch and gas and arrived home a little after 6pm.
We are looking forward to another sailing season and we especially hope to have grandchildren aboard.