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

The Westerbeke Saga Continues

30 October 2008 | Vuda Point Marina
So we were looking good for our planned Sunday departure. "Were" is the operative word. We got up this morning ready to knock all of the final todos off of our list before we made our final run out of the cyclone zone.

The guys from Baobob Marine came by at 8AM to do a 1,000 hour service on the Westerbeke Genset and the Port Yanmar. The Starboard Yanmar had its 1,000 hour in Panama, a 1,100 hour small service in Raiatea and I'm going to do a 1,250 hour medium service on it while the pro works on the other stuff.

Hideko and Margaret took off after breakfast to do Malaria research, get dentist appointments set up, check us in to the Latoka jurisdiction (we were still under Savusavu surveillance until today) among other items. I stayed at the boat to help out with the service and deal with the inevitable issues. Well the issues were several.

Our port engine has only 997 hours on it. This is because we bias usage to starboard for a few reasons. One, the tanks are usually separated and the genset runs off of the port tanks, making the starboard aux the preferred fuel consumer. Two, if these engines have a time bomb built into them, I'd like them not to blow up at the same time. Three, the port engine was missing its prop for a couple months. Four, the starboard engine makes hot water.

We had run the port quite a bit between here and Maupiti. Mostly due to the SPCZ band soaking up the wind at regular intervals. I had started to notice the engine revving a bit higher than expected and then dropping rapidly in tone with an accompanied increase in acceleration. This concerned me. I was thinking that perhaps the Propspeed we put on in Raiatea was a little sticky and the prop wasn't opening until some revs were applied (this turned out to be the case).

When we opened up the engine room today there was a bit of oil in the bilge and some water. When we checked the oil in the SD50 it looked a little foamy and green. There are various ways water can get in this area (the lazarette is not water tight) and various services that could have put some oil under a motor that subsequently ran into this area. I try to keep everything clean so that things are black and white but there are always things to clean up in an engine room.

I recalled having similar concerns back in Bonaire. After our Grenada haul out I was worried that there might be water in the sail drive oil. Another sailer and I decided it was alright.

I changed the sail drive oil out in Raiatea when we hauled there and it seemed like things were ok, I didn't notice a big problem with the sail drive oil. It may have been due to the lack of running the drive though, seeing as how there was no prop on the port engine for most of the pacific crossing. We had used the port engine for a lot of hours in the windless crossing from Tonga to Fiji.

We changed the oil out as a precaution (the SD 50s are the first Yanmar saildrives that allow you to change the oil out while it is in the water). The old oil looked new upon inspection. The only way water can get into the gear oil is through the shaft seal, which looks fine, or through one of three O rings that seat between the drive leg and the mounting plate on the back of the bell housing. We tightened the saildrive housing down a bit and I will tighten the underwater bolts when we get to clean water if I can. We will watch the oil and the area around the saildrive closely to make sure things are ok. We use the Yanmar recommended Quicksilver (now Mercury High Performance+) gear oil which is designed for drive legs and advertised to protect parts even if small amounts of sea water are mixed in.

There is no good place to haul a boat of our width in Fiji. To inspect the leakage in the sail drive further we need to get the drive leg out of the water and drop it down. The saildrive gasket alarm is not complaining so we will wait until we can verify that there is a problem to take further action. Our next annual will probably be in September, Thailand or Singapore.

Unfortunately this was only the beginning. After pulling the belt cover on the genset we noticed a lot of water solids crusted down from the weep port on the fresh water pump. Not good. There shouldn't be a lot of water leaking from the fresh water pump and there certainly shouldn't be salt water residue. So we pulled the fresh water pump.

Next we got ready to pull the heat exchanger to test it. After disconnecting the fresh water hoses we waited for the fresh water to drain out. Water kept coming out of the heat exchanger though. It kept coming right up until I shut off the seacock that feeds the raw (salt) water side. Not good. The fresh water is supposed to stay on the engine side and the salt water is supposed to stay on the ocean side. This was a case of free mingling and the hole was not small.

The Baobob shop is well equipped. They have a new facility with a great set of tools and machines. They do stainless, woodwork, and of course mechanical. I also have come to really like the crew there (I wish I didn't know them so well!). Unfortunately the Westerbeke way is to build things that can not be repaired. The heat exchanger does not have a core that can be removed, it is all one piece. The fresh water pump shaft is corroded enough by the salt water that it too will need to be replaced.

Westerbeke is also fairly behind the game in parts distribution. New Zealand reports two weeks as the fastest possible delivery of a new Heat Exchanger and Fresh Water Pump. Los Angeles was a little faster. So we are laying the genset up until we get settled in the Solomons in a couple weeks. We'll have the parts shipped there and do without the luxury AC items in the mean time.

We are now set to clear out Monday...

After a lot of provisioning at the nice Latoka fresh market, Margaret and Hideko returned with directions to a Japanese Teppan restaurant. Just what the doctor ordered. We drove into Nadi and had a great dinner at Daikoku
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