Swingin' on a Star

Ship's log for the circumnavigating Saint Francis 50 catamaran, "Swingin on a Star".

01 April 2010 | Palau
13 July 2009 | Palau
05 July 2009 | Yacht Harbor
03 July 2009 | Peleliu
02 July 2009 | Palau
01 July 2009 | Two Dog Beach
30 June 2009 | Mecharchar
29 June 2009 | Mecharchar
28 June 2009 | Ulong
27 June 2009 | Ngeruktabel
17 June 2009 | Ngeruktabel
16 June 2009 | Ngeruktabel
15 June 2009 | Ngeruktabel
14 June 2009 | Ngeruktabel
13 June 2009 | Ngerutable
25 May 2009 | Yacht Harbor
30 April 2009 | Malakal
29 April 2009 | Koror
28 April 2009 | Malakal
27 April 2009 | Malakal

250 Hour Service

21 February 2007 | Caicos Boatyard
As best I can tell the North American arm of Saint Francis overlooked the initial break in service and 250 hour service on all three diesels after sailing her up from South Africa. The stock oil and fuel filters painted gun metal grey to match the engines were the first clues. I also haven't been able to get specific fluid types for the engine oil, gear oil or coolant in the boat as delivered, which requires me to change them out completely. If you have 15W-40 in the engine it is probably ok to put some other 15W-40 in there, but I'd rather use the exact same stuff if possible. Gear oil wise, Quick Silver High Performance is the best stuff for a sail drive but you shouldn't mix it with 80 or 90 weight. You definitely don't want to mix dissimilar coolants, because that creates glue more or less. So we were on a track to kill several gallons of Rotella 15W-40, Quicksilver High Performance and Shell Dex-Cool Extended Life.

The ship yard is on the south side of Provo and is the only real marina on the south side. The cruising guides all refer to Cooper Jack and various other marinas destined to open in 2003 or 2004 or 2005, but none of them exist just yet and as far as I can tell they're not all that close to opening either. The whole south side of Provo is reef close in with the exception of Sapadillo Bay. Getting into the ship yard is dicey to say the least.

The yard is really more like a remote full service marina than a ship yard but they do have a medium sized lift and storage facilities, as well as a few workshops. I didn't get any work done in the Bahamas but from what I have seen this is the best place, infrastructure wise, this side of Florida. Nassau might be better but there's just something about Nassau that makes me not want to be stuck there. Here it's quiet at night, everyone is friendly and it is not crowded.

The typical diesel 250 hour service consists of an engine oil change, sail drive gear oil change, coolant change, fuel filter (Racor and engine) change, oil filter change, exhaust water mixer elbow inspection, raw water impeller inspection, belt tensioning and some other odds and ends. Times two Yanmars and a Westerbeke. It was my first time actually doing diesel maintenance so I wanted to get a certified mechanic to work on the job with me, not only so that I could learn the finer points, but also to ensure that we could finish up by Wednesday. Hideko and I wanted to make a Saturday crossing window to Luperon.

Donovan runs the Caicos Marine mechanic shop at the yard and he has lots of experience. He has several young guys working for him. The junior guys are good workers but you definitely want Donovan's know how supervising things closely along the way.

The SF50 really has great engine access with the entire coverings above the motors lifting out. You could see the dread on the mechanics face when the boss tells him he has to work on a sailboat diesel. They were all very surprised and happy when they saw how easy things were to get to.

Once we got the boat opened up the Paul, the mechanic, took the Starboard side and I took the Port. As the Paul would start something on the Starboard side, I would watch and then run over to the Port side and get the same process completed. I have a hand oil pump which works ok but the electrical pump the shop had was much faster, so some of the work got serialized.

Things didn't wrap up until around 8PM after two days of hard work. Most of it was running around looking for the right hose or fitting to make something happen rather than actually getting it done. I think I could do all three motors in a long day now with all of the right tools. My take away is that, while I have every standard tool you might need, there are a few critical things I should order. The most important is a hose connector for the saildrive pump out. Without this part (which we didn't have) it is a lot harder to make a seal on the pump out port and actually get all of the oil pumped out (it's 90 weight for heaven's sake).

We ran into only three real problems. First, the raw water sea cock in the port saildrive was seized. We couldn't close it to check the impeller. We had to kink the hose to keep from getting flooded as we opened the raw water pump. This is certainly going to have to get fixed. It should have been exercised at least at break in and at 250 but I'm thinking it has been open since installation. We bent the tee trying to close it. The other side was tough to close but finally relented.

The second issue was the Westerbeke raw water impeller. As you can see from the photo it had lost a few teeth. The old impeller is on the left and the new one is on the right. As you can see from the bubbled paint on the cover plate it looks like someone ran the pump with the sea cock closed causing it to overheat. My third concern was that the zinc in the Westerbeke was almost completely dissolved.

While I suspect that none of these items would have cropped up if service had been done at break in and the first 250, I will certainly be staying up on them going forward. It was a great experience to work through all of this once with smart experienced mechanics. I am also very happy to now know exactly what fluids are in the boat so that I can top things up without concern. I selected the high end of the factory recommendations for each class of fluid. Now I just need to restock all of my spares and fluids! If I hadn't had all of the parts and fluids on board things might have taken a whole lot longer to get done. I wouldn't want to wait on parts shipment here.
Vessel Name: Swingin on a Star
Vessel Make/Model: Saint Francis 50
Hailing Port: Las Vegas, NV
Crew: Randy & Hideko Abernethy
About: Randy, Hideko and Roq
Home Page: http://swinginonastar.com
Swingin on a Star's Photos - Swingin on a Star (Main)
Selected photos of Swingin' on a Star at anchor.
7 Photos
Created 18 September 2007
31 Photos
Created 15 September 2007
copyright 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 Randy & Hideko Abernethy, all rights reserved