Butch, the mechanic, spent the better part of the first day playing detective in our engine room going through each and every and I do mean every system that supplies fuel to Zephyrs engine. A different tank to make sure the fuel was good. New lines to make sure the old were not blocked. The list goes on and on. After about 5 hours, it was finally narrowed down the the small electric fuel pump used to help bleed the air out of the system. It was putting more air in the system than taking it out. Butch showed up Tuesday morning and went straight to work putting in a more sophisticated fuel line system. As you can see from the photo at the top, it looks a bit Rube Goldberg, but take my word for it, it's the cat's meow for making sure we get fuel to the engine. The new electric fuel pump can even fuel the engine should the main fuel pump fail plus it is strong enough that I will no longer have to fill the fuel filters before installing them on the engine.
With that being said, we ran the engine for an hour the day Butch left and it ran just fine. We just got back from Nuevo Vallarta and it did just fine getting us back and forth the 12 mile distance.
Unfortunately, the "off" switch on the engine has now decided to malfunction. Not a big deal as all we have to do to stop the engine is to open the door to engine room and throw a switch. The normal one that does it is electric so makes it handy to be able to shut off the engine from the steering wheel. I took off the wires and cleaned them and added my copper based grease to the contact and still it didn't work. We did see that the small rubber bellows that goes over part of the switch had finally come apart after all these years but though nothing of it. A call to Butch and voila--the answer. With the torn bellows, the arm that moves forward and backward to shut off the engine travels too far on the back stroke and locks in that position so it won't go forward when the button is pushed. Now we have to figure out a way to solve the problem. Shouldn't be too hard. A small line tied on it to restrict its movement and it should work just fine.
03/27/2011, La Cruz marina
Butch showed up about 0800 and I sat down with him and explained the problem and it's symptoms as well as what I had done on Saturday to try and fix it. In he went tools in hand. Now Butch is about 6 foot 5 inches tall so most engine rooms are a bit tight for him. Ours was a cinch. Big and airy. He disconnected and re connected and started the engine. It ran for about 8 minutes and shut down just like it did on Friday. Back in again. We did this several times, each time the engine dying about 8 minutes later. I won't boor you with all the things he did but we found that the washers--yes that's right, the washers under the bleeding screws on top of the secondary filters were defective. They are supposed to help seal the bolts once they get tightened. Instead, they leaked, not only air but also allowed air into the system. I just happened to be looking across the engine with a flashlight and saw some bubbling by the screws. Out came the screws and on with new washers and that part was fixed. But as expected, the engine still didn't work right.
After more exploring, it finally came down to the small electric pump that we use to bleed the air out of the fuel lines. Instead, a seal had broken somewhere on it and it allowed air into the system. So, Butch disconnected it from the fuel loop and once the engine started, she ran really well.
Tomorrow, Butch will be returning with a new pump and will plumb it in where it belongs. For some reason, it was after the first filter instead of before it. Now it will be put in where it belongs, before the primary filter so it can do its job properly. We let the engine run for a good 50 minutes in gear at the dock to put some stress on it and she ran just fine. Once the new electric back up fuel pump is on, we will run it again for several hours at the dock to make sure it works as it should.
With that being said, our new cast off date is Wednesday. The weather window is good for that day(at least that is what the forecasters think). We will fill up the water tanks tomorrow and get more things stowed safely so that by Wednesday, we will be ready to cast off.
Say a prayer for us that tomorrow works out. We are both chomping at the bit to get out of here and see new sights.
The picture is of the electric fuel pump that caused our problem. Tomorrow, out it comes.
03/26/2011, La Cruz Marina
We started in early this morning on Zephyrs engine. I disconnected fittings and blew air through them and ripped out fuel lines until I had changed out every fuel line on Zephyr(except the copper lines). Cut new ones and installed with hose clamps. Then a quick lunch and on to the water lines we had found so badly rotted out. These lines are so tough that they have to be cut with a hack saw becouse there is wire running inside the rubber lining. With them cut, on they went and hose clamped on.
Next--time to bleed the air out of the lines and there was lots of it since I'd blown through all the lines making sure there were no obstructions. That alone took quite some time. Once done, with Tracy on deck, i turned the key and after a few seconds she fired up. She ran and ran and ran. I checked the engine for leaks and found that one of the fuel filters was leaking so we pushed the off button and nothing happened. The engine wouldn't stop. So I grabbed the switch and turned it off manually. Heaven only knows what is wrong with it. It's an electric switch and the wires looked fine so who knows. Any way, off with the leaking filter and on with a new one. Bleed the system and turn the key. Again she starts right up and runs great--for about 6 minutes when she suddenly looses power and shuts herself off. It's like deja vu all over again.
It was time to throw in the towel and call in a "professional". I wandered up to the offices and sit here using their wifi as it's the fastest around. I'm lucky that the office lets me use their net or I would be back to really slow speeds. I called Butch(he fixed our water pump several months ago) and he will be at Zephyr tomorrow(yes--on Sunday) to see what the problem is. That's the way it works down here. These folks will come out any day(even Christmas) to make some money and get the work.
So tomorrow, we should be up and running. Then comes several days of testing the engine, early in the AM when the winds are less and if we break down, we can tow Zephyr back to the dock like we did yesterday.
So here we sit. We've done everything we can think of and still success eludes us. Tomorrow is another day. Maybe Tacos on the Street for dinner. I guess we will see.
03/25/2011, La Cruz Marina again!!
As planned, we went to the Port Captainia here in La Cruz yesterday and checked out of La Cruz. With that done, we headed over to Paradise Village to do the last of our laundry. Once home, we spent the evening cleaning and storing things getting ready to head over to Nuevo Vallarta to get our "Zarpe"(official clearance documents to allow us to leave Mexico and get into Tahiti).
At 0745, we started up our engine and started out of the marina with our two "buddy"boats for the short 6 mile trip to Nuevo Vallarta. About 1.5 miles out, our engine dies!!! It was like tsunami day all over again. It had died as we approached Punta de Mita while we waited out the waves and swells of the tsunami. We'd fixed it while out in the anchorage here and gotten into the marina where I further explored why it may have happened in the first place. Suddenly, here we were right back where we started--dead in the water!!
We deployed out big Genoa sail(after radioing our friends) at the bow and took advantage of what wind we had and limped back to the anchorage all over again. Out two friends continued on to Nuevo Vallarta and got checked out.
Once at the anchorage, I dropped the anchor and prepared to see what the problem was. With in a minute, a dingy took off from one of the other boats at the anchorage and came over and offered us a tow into the marina. He'd heard our call to our friends and came over to assist us. So here way a nice guy with a small 7.5 horse power outboard ready to haul our 50,000 pound boat. Amazingly, he got us up to 3.5 knots as we headed in!!! I was amazed but I guess it helped that we had had the bottom cleaned the day before so there was little drag from the hull.
Since the morning radio net had just started, I made an "emergency" call to everyone listening that we were coming in with a dead engine and could use some help at the dock. Several people called back and assembled at the dock to assist us as we came in.
Once tied up and with much thanks given to our rescuer, I started talking to other folks on the dock outlining the history of the problem. One of those on the dock was a mechanic so I hired him to come on board so we could find out what the problem was. We checked the tanks and most of the hoses and blew air through the lines to make sure they were clear. All appeared just fine though the engine still refused to start. We tried bleeding the air out of the lines with limited success. There appeared to be no fuel in the lines!! The extra electric fuel pump that the last owner had installed in the fuel line to assist in bleeding the lines appeared to have died also. No fuel was getting anywhere. We tried to make fuel move through the lines using the diesel fuel pump that is attached to the engine. No good there either. We came to the conclusion that the fuel pump had died and it needed to be replaced. Being the good cruiser that I am, I had a backup one already on board. Actually, I have two but that's neither here nor there(can't have too many spares you know). So out came the old one and in went the new one. In the process, we found two coolant hoses in the system that had just about fallen apart so off they came also.
Once the new fuel pump was installed, I tired to bleed the air out of the system. You guessed it---NO FUEL!!!! I think the words that best sum up my feelings are "OH CR-P!!!!. What now. Any how, with the fuel still not flowing, I headed into Puerto Vallarta to get new hose for the coolant system. Amazingly, the chandlary actually had it and I got home a bit after 1630. Tracy had left shortly after we had gotten back to the dock to get more kitty food as when we inventoried what we had, it didn't appear to be enough.
We I got back to Zephyr, I found out that one of our "buddys" had broken his wind instrument so he was off to town the thy and get a new one and our friends off GiGi(second buddy boat) were on board talking to Tracy about the checkout process. Lots of papers to sign and have stamped as well as a boat inspection. Not sure why the inspection as they didn't look at our boat when we came in but want to now as we are leaving.
Any way, back to the project(dead engine). Tomorrow, I'll replace the water hose and start in on the diesel lines. I'll replace all of them from the primary filter to the engine. Not sure how old they are but what the heck, I already had the hose on board so it's back to the engine room for more fun and games. At least the lines from the tanks to the first filter are copper so all I have to do is disconnect them and then blow through them to make sure they are clean. The rubber ones that I will be replacing shouldn't be that hard. I will simply become one with my engine. If I can't figure out the problem, there are lots of others here that will lend me a hand or make suggestions on how to get poor Zephyrs engine up and running. I not only want it fixed, I want to know why it died. This way, it shouldn't happen again. I'd hate to be 1,000 miles from here and need the engine to get through some storm and she won't run. We have enough stress already, we don't need more. It's not all sitting around and reading and noshing on chips and salsa as we have a margaritas. Boy don't we wish it was.
So stay tuned. There is more coming. We can't leave till at least Monday as the Port Captain's office is closed till then.
Here's the look of our new teak after just one coat of Boatlife teak oil and sealer was applied. It looks gorgeous!
03/23/2011, Marina La Cruz, Mexico
We're now in the home stretch. I did our taxes this morning and then cleaned out the bilge around lunch time. Both jobs that fall under the yuck area of life. Taxes were not to bad and the bilge had just a bit of water and no oil so that's an improvement.
I finally got our navigation(Nobeltec)software up and running after the tech support people through up their hands in frustration at the way the computer(or software more like it) was behaving. There was no way to unload a permit I'd bought from them for the South Pacific region of charts and the first tech support guy I'd talked to had invalidated the permit so that even though I'd bought it and installed it legally, there was no way for it to run and there was no way to get it out of the computer so I could reinstall a new unlock permit. They'd never run into that problem before. In the end, I uninstalled the program and all it's charts and reinstalled it with the same unlock permits I'd used earlier and it worked out fine. Now we have our Garmin as well as our Nobeltec up and running plus all the paper charts to cover the area we expect to be seeing over the next few years.
We had a refrigeration specialist come out and check our system(appointment at 1700, arrived at 1820) since we thought our freezer and frig should be getting cooler. The freezer is down to 23 degrees and the frig is at 40. Not bad, but they have been colder. I pretty much stay out of the freezer anymore. I used to go in daily to get ice cubes but as long as drinks stay in the frig, a cool one is ok. It doesn't have to be cold. I also got a haircut this afternoon. It's got to last me for a while. Tracy got hers cut a few days ago.
So far, since we got here to Bandaras Bay, we've done the following. At least what the memory can remember.
Take apart and rebuild the roller furling system.
Strip all the varnish off the teak side of the hull and then coat with two coats of teak oil and sealer(from Boatlife). Does more than just oil, it actually seals up the teak so it looks better longer.
Have the rigging retuned. It's been almost two years and 8,000 miles since we had it replaced.
Replaced the raw water pump on the engine and had the old one rebuilt as a spare.
Take apart the hydraulic steering and have new hoses made. Then bleed the system of air.
Take off all the anchor chain and wash and add on an additional 90 feet of chain.
Clean and wax the entire hull and top sides.
Take apart and relube the windlass.
Install 34 mast steps on the mast.
Change the oil in the engine.
Replace the diesel filters(set of three). The primary twice and bleed the system of air. The engine won't work if you don't bleed the air out of the fuel lines.
Changed the "pencil" zinc in the engine. Old one was worn out.
Replaced the "Joker" valve in the stern head. This required taking the entire toilet out of the boat.
Take apart and rebuilt the Aqua Drive unit between the transmission and the propeller shaft. The old one had come apart(at 0300) on our trip south from San Carlos back in early December.
Paint unsides of new hatch lids on the stern. Had them made in San Carlos.
Check fluid levels and refill batteries--twice since we got here.
Re wire lamp in stern cabin.
Plumb the forward head to the fresh water tanks instead of using sea water when we flush. Should make it smell better. Sea water stinks in a head.
Change oil in Honda generator.
Change oil and transmission oil in Mercury out board motor.
Change zinc on propeller.
Cleaned out and inventoried everything under the stern berth. Boy do we have a lot of stuff buried down there.
Sewed a patch on the Genoa sail. Had a small hole in it.
Finished installation of Spectra water maker.
Replace pads under engine that catch oil from the engine.
Water proof the dodger.
Washed and lubed every block on the boat.
Washed every piece of clothing and bedding on board--some twice.
Several trips to Puerto Vallarta to Sam's, Walmart and Costco for more supplies and provisions for the next four months. Foods not cheap here but it's lots more expensive out there.
That's all the memory comes up with off the top of my head. There's lots more little jobs but they are too numerous to list. As you can see, we've been VERY busy since we got here. It's far from lounging around and sitting back and reading books(unless they are manuals).
Tomorrow, back to Puerto Vallarta(a 45 minute bus ride) to see the local chandlary so see if my diesel filters have come in as well as buying new hose for the stern head. Old ones are beginning to smell.
For our next journey, everything has to be checked and made sure it is in perfect order. And even then, we know things will fail. It's what a boat does.
With luck and the Weather Gods, we will be off this Saturday, or Sunday, or maybe Monday at the latest.
The picture is of our teak with all the old varnish stripped off. What a difference it has made.