05/06/2012, Vuda Point Marina, Fiji
Yesterday, I went from the highest highs(twice) to the lowest lows(numerous times). With that being said, the highest high was up to the top of the mast(twice) to install the repaired wind gauge that Paul on Star Struck brought back from the US last Tuesday. I'd mailed it back to the US back in February(took 21 days to get there)for repairs and he was nice enough to bring it back. I headed up the mast with Tracy using our Milwaukee drill to get me up there(along with me using the steps I installed before we left Mexico). Once up there and plugged in, Tracy went below and turned it on. Nothing came up on the screen. So down I came and headed below to see what might be the problem. When I removed it, I'd not only labeled every wire as to where it went, I also made a schematic of where they went and then took pictures just in case(paranoia is my friend). Well, I'd installed it alright but what we missed(myself included when I reinstalled it) was an "ON" switch on the back of the unit. It normally turns "on" with a master switch on the front panel. Once I toggled that switch, she came right on line. I had to go back up the mast as I'd forgotten to take a product called "Rig Wrap" that's used to fasten wires down so they won't blow around. Much like an elastic strap that gets stretched and once stretched, will adhere to itself making a nice durable bond. Another project done.
Next, on the replacing one of the bales(rings that are attached to the boom that the boom vang(rope contraption that holds the boom horizontal when big winds blow)attaches to. When we had Zephyrs rigging replaced, the rigger used a line called "Amstel Steel" that is as strong as steel cable. Not the stuff you want on a boom vang that is supposed to stretch when a big load is put on it. During our crossing, the Amstel Steel line made two big blocks that hold the line explode. And I do mean explode with a BANG. I'd replaced the line with a simple three strand line that worked much better. Unfortunately, the pressure on the fitting during the crossing started to tear the stainless steel plate that holds the bale to the boom. I had the replacement so we did the job of sliding off the old one and putting on the new one. To do this job, we had to take off the end of the boom and unscrew every fitting on it and there were lots of things screwed to the boom. Off with the old and on with the new. Tighten a bunch of screws and done. Another job down.
Next, down the the "lowest low". Into the bilge, the darkest stinkiest place on any boat. Ours was filled with a mixture of water(leaking water heater and holes in the deck), oil(broken oil cans under the stern bunk--3 gallons lost) and soap that we had poured in to try and break up the oil. It was a big slop of slimy, slippery gooey black yuck. It all needed to come out. I had to stick my head through a pair of small doors under the stairs and stick the top half of my body down just so I could reach the yuck. First, I had to disconnect the wires to the bilge pump and drag that messy piece of equipment out so Tracy could clean it. I used a plastic glass(never to be reused) to scoop up some of the yuck and pour it into a bucket, slither out of the hole, hand the bucket to Tracy who poured it into a bigger bucket and then head back down into the yuck. All in all, about 2.5 gallons and too many paper towels to count before it was all done but done it was.
By now, I was a sweat soaked mess of a person with my shirt not only filthy, but literally soaked with sweat and dirt. The head bands I wear to absorb the perspiration off my head--I was on my second one since the first was already soaked beyond absorption. Once we were done with that job, I headed off for the showers with lots of soap and a stiff brush to get all the yuck off my hands and arms.
While I had gone from the top of our boat to the bottom of our boat all in one day, we accomplished three very important tasks in one day. I'll take that any time.
05/04/2012, Vuda Point Marina, Fiji
Well the heater is finally in and working fine. We had a few more problems--bad fittings, leaking hose(needed replacement), wrong fittings(needed new ones) just to name a few things that went wrong that we fixed. Add in the coolant tank got an air bubble in it and wouldn't allow more coolant to be added and it's been just a thrill getting this heating installed, but get it installed, we did. Now we can heat water with electricity as well as get hot water when the engine is running. Both a plus for the two of us on Zephyr.
Next, we will be putting the floor back in the main salon since we had to rip up the teak.holly sole to get to the heater. Tracy dry fitted it this afternoon and it will go back in just fine.
Tomorrow, I'll have my upper body upside down in the bilge cleaning out the last of our oil mess so we won't have to worry about pumping it out into the water around the boat. That's frowned upon out here.
We also go the generator started today after two month of nut being used and flushed the outboard of sand and stuff by getting it started as well. All in all, a good day for projects.
We're on the schedule to be hauled out on Monday to have the bottom scrapped and repainted. WIth luck, we'll be back in the water by Friday. Guess we will see.
04/29/2012, Vuda Point Marina, Fiji
I know, you've heard it before in the last two posts. "We're almost there". And we are almost there.
To bring you up to date, my illness descended into a full blown case of a sinus infection which came with an unpleasant fever just for fun. After having a fever and really bad coughs since Friday night, as I took a shower this morning(first one since Friday-yuck), Tracy was in the marina office finding a doctor to take me to. I don't think I've ever had a fever sit around for three days and it was even starting to worry me. I've had pneumonia several times in my life and the coughs I was having brought back some bad memories. So, fresh out of the shower, off we went in a taxi to the doctors office. I was seen quite quickly. From what it appeared to me, ahead of other patients that were already in the office. He checked my pulse(fine), blood pressure(fine amazingly) and listened to my chest(also fine). He listened to me outline my symptoms and came to the diagnosis that I had a sinus infection and needed some antibiotics to kill it off. He handed me a prescription and off we went to the pharmacy. The bill for the visit--$25.00Fijian($13.75US). The prescription for the antibiotic was $20.00Fijian($11.00US). For that kind of money, you don't even get in a doctors office in the US. So hear I sit, antibiotics coursing through my body hopefully doing what they are supposed to be doing. I guess I will know in 24 hours.
So, back to the water heater. Well, the small drip that started when we first installed it has continued and Tracy wanted it stopped. Easy to understand. We both want this job over and done with and poor Zephyr put back in shape. So, with me sitting on the sidelines giving instructions, in she went, screwdriver and wrench in hand. Her daddy taught here well. I pointed here and there for what to undo and redo and she was on it. I prepped the new fittings(brass to go on brass) with LOTS of teflon tape and even added some more of the Plumbers Putty for good measure smeared in the threads just for fun. On went the new fasteners and hoses and clamps and she was done. We mopped up what water had poured out of the tank and then crossed our fingers and hit the switch to turn on the water pump. One small leak that was stopped with the tightening of one of the hose clamps and we were done. We put a towel under it and sat back for 10 minutes and it was still dry so that part of the job is now done. We have pressure and we have lots of hot water. A big difference we have noticed is that the floor boards above the heater no longer feel warm to our feet as we walk over them. The old insulation was shot probably when it got so wet from all the leaking it had been doing.
When we were in town last Friday, we picked up the rest of the fittings we need to connect the heater to the engine so when the engine runs, it heats the water in the heater. Tomorrow(health willing) we will tackle that part of the job.
04/27/2012, Vuda Point Marina, Fiji
We're almost there. We're about 90% finished with the installation of the new water heater. Well, that's the installation, not putting back the floor above it. That's another task once it's in and no leaks can be seen. One other thing we did was change out several of the hoses that carry "fresh" water around the boat. When we took them off, there was a slimy orange coating inside the hose. They had to go. We got a length of hose from Aeolus to help as we had little for the project. With their help, we got new hose installed. We hooked up the cold water in(with a "T" fitting) and the hot water out with a 90 degree fitting. I applied lots of teflon tape and tightened them up as far as I could. We connected the freshwater pump to the water lines and we were set to go. We opened the faucets around the boat so the water would go into the hot water tank as well as through the lines to come out the cold water faucets. All went fine with lots of air coming out of the hot water faucets and water out of the cold(no tank needed filling for it to run). We watched the air as it went up the water lines to the faucet from the tank(benefit of having the floor off). Once water came, we turned off the faucet and the water pump shut itself off when it reached it set pressure. We had water back in the boat. Now to back up a bit, once we had all the fittings attached, we needed to fill the water tanks as we had pretty much emptied them. I hooked up the hose to the faucet on shore and connected the other end to our two filters(can't be to careful what you put in your tanks). I turned on the water and it started gushing out of the filters and into the tanks. Suddenly, it stopped after about two minutes. The marina had chosen that particular time to shut off the water in the marina!! As it turns out, one of the other boaters had jumped off their boat and collided with the hose bib on the short dock that comes out from the concrete wharf and snapped off the bib. Water was going everywhere. The marina folks started their repairs and got them done about 30 minutes later. It took a while but we got the tanks all filled.
A couple of minutes later after the tanks were filled and the system pressurized, we inspected the fittings. We found the one on the top of the tank that is for hot water was dripping. Not good as that was why we had ripped out the old heater. This morning, I depressurized the system and stripped off the old(really new)connectors. Apart they came and I put more teflon tape around all the screws on the fitting and added a bead of Plumbers Putty(really old school stuff) and screwed the fittings back together. Success, no more leaks. Then we noticed that the bottom "T" that carries cold water to the heater and continues to the rest of the system was also leaking. Every joint I'd made was leaking. How's that for a "professional"? Since we needed to get to town to get replacement fitting and some new hose, we just left it alone and headed in on the bus.
While in town, we exchanged some hose for the engine water that heats the water(too long a story for here) and got some new brass fittings as there is one pipe off the heater that is brass and you should never mount dissimilar metals together. It sets off some kind of reaction that corrupts both metals.
When I woke up this morning, I was feeling a bit off my game. As the day passed, my fever started to climb(about 102 now) and the muscles in my body told me I was ill. Boy, what great timing! Right in the middle one of the biggest projects we have done on Zephyr and I catch a cold. So once home, I started in on meds to try and bring the fever down and make the muscles stop hurting. Guess we will see how that goes. Hopefully, I'll be well enough to swap out the fitting on the heater tomorrow before my body heads south again. I"ll let you know.
One other thing we did was cut off the plug that was supplied with the heater and hard wire it to the old wires that ran the old heater. With the switch on, the water is getting nice and hot. We'll see how hot it is in a few hours. Then I'll have to turn if off so I can swap out the fittings as when the hose is removed, all the water inside will come pouring out of the heater and down into the bilge to be sucked out by one of our pumps. Gee, sure is fun fixing boats in exotic locations. Sure glad we got the air conditioner early in our stay. At least the inside of the boat is comfortable.
Stay tuned, the saga continues.
04/25/2012, Vuda Point Marina, Fiji
Well, we're getting closer. We pushed the new water heater into its place to see how much of the support beams needed to be cut away. We marked them and pulled out the heater and went in with the jigsaw and started cutting. Once we were done with that tool, we used a chisel to cut away a bit more just to be sure. In went the heater and it fit perfectly!!! When we put in the floor brace that runs from starboard to port across the opening, well, that didn't fit. With the heater being about 1/2" higher than the last one, we needed to chisel away some of it also. Out came the FeinTool MultiMaster and I cut diagonal slots in the wood brace and then used the chisel to smooth out the cut. It took at least 4 times before we had cut enough of the board out so it would fit above the tank. Now the next challenge came up. The copper diesel fuel lines no longer fit across the tank. We contacted one of the local companies that works here at the yard and the manager came over and plotted out what needed to be done and should be back tomorrow with men to make new copper lines.
While the water heater was out, we started tackling another project that we have put off for years. Not because we wanted to but because there was no choice. There is a foot pump in the galley that pumps fresh water into the sinks. It's been leaking for years every time it was used. We finally shut it off at the manifold. Well, this pump is located right behind the water heater. There was no way to get at it to change it out. Now, with the water heater out, in we went. Out came the bracket with the pump. I drilled some new holes in the bracket since the pump we were putting in was different from what came out(gee what a surprise). With the new holes drilled, we installed the pump and called it a day. It was already 1630 and we (or at least me) were tired after a long day of bending into strange positions to get to fittings down in the bilge.
Tomorrow, in goes the water heater. Then the pumps and--well the list goes on and on and on. Once everything is back in, then we get to redo the floor. AH---the joys of boating. It really is working on boats in exotic locations.
04/24/2012, Vuda Point Marina, Fiji
With the water heater now on board, it was time to tackle what we(or at least I) had been putting off for the last couple of years. Ripping up the floor and taking out the old one. Not a fun task but one that was long over due.
In the last year of so, the heater had developed a slow water leak. Not a good thing on a boat that has a finite amount of water on board. If the leak from the heater had gotten out of control, the water pump(always switched on) would have started pumping water and wouldn't have stopped till the tanks were empty. All that water would have poured out of the heater and flooded the bilge. The automatic bilge pump would have come on and out the water would go--gallon after gallon over board till all of it would be gone. Not a problem if we are attached to the marina, but once we leave here, we would have a bit of a problem. So, we started in last Sunday.
First the floor of the main salon had to be taken up. Now the people that built Zephyr did a great job. At least until it came to placing the water heater in an easily accessible location. Heaven forbid it be an easy out and in. We pulled up what ever boards we could and then had to chisel out the bungs(small disks of teak that cover screws) and then pry the holly/teak panel off the plywood base. Out came the bungs but we found that the holly/teak sole had been glued down. Out came the paint scraper to be used as a wedge to separate the holly/teak from the plywood. Everything had to be done slowly to minimize the damage to the beautiful floor panels. A couple of hours later, it was all off and the screws that held the plywood taken out. We found that the pilasters for the stairs were just left loose so they could be easily moved around a bit and didn't require detachment from the plywood. Out came the plywood and that part of the job was done.
I headed into Lautoka on Monday to pick up the fittings we were going to need to attach all the hoses to the new heater. One thing I've learned--Don't start a project until you have all the parts you need to complete it. If you're in the US, well that's a different matter. Out here in Fiji--you bet. Get everything you need--BEFORE you rip out anything!!
Today, we headed back into the bilge to get this baby out. Wires to the three pumps that were next to the heater were labeled and cut. As each hose was taken off a pump, it was tagged. As I was trying to get one of the hoses off the water heater, I put my foot down on the wooden panel that all the pumps were located on. Suddenly, it gave way sending it down into the base of the bilge along with my foot. Turns out that the wooden supports for the panel were simply nailed(very small nails) into the sides of the cavern. One good thing with that happening was that we could fit a 5 gallon bucket into the space to capture the 4 gallons of antifreeze that was about to pour out of two of the water lines that go into and out of the water heater. I'd already undone and allowed to drain the 10 gallons of water out of the heater when I pulled those hoses off. We ran the bilge pump every now and then to make sure what went in came back out and over board.
Once all this was done, we detached two of the copper diesel lines to make getting the heater out possible. Amazingly, we found all the brackets that were to keep the heater attached to the floor had rotted away and were just a pile of rusted metal. The heater was already loose. We slid it to the center of the boat and pulled it out dropping chunks of rusted metal all over the place. As you can see from the photo, the base of the heater was long since gone. It had given Zephyr 30 years of service but it was time for a change. Don't think too many boats can say that their water heater lasted that long.
Once I redid the supports for the panel that holds the pumps, I slow slid the new heater into place having to take off another diesel line. Guess what---it doesn't fit. It's too tall!!! The back end of the heater hits once of the support beams for the rest of the flooring in the main salon. Well shucks and darns!!! Foiled again!!!
So here's the plan for tomorrow. I'm going in with a jig saw(doesn't everyone carry one on their boat?) and carve out a notch on the support beam so the heater will fit. Not a big job but it's the only way this baby is going to fit. We also found that with this new taller heater, one of the diesel lines that I had undone, can't be reattached to it's fitting. I'll be placing a call to a refrigerator man tomorrow so he can come out and cut us a new line. Roll with the punches. We may have been down for a while but far from out. Where there is a problem, there is normally a solution. Sure wish I always thought that way. Sure would make my life a lot easier.
So here we sit. No water--both hot and cold but with the certainty that in a day or five, the new one will be in. Stay tuned for more of how to install a big water heater in a small space. Oh, the excitement!!!!