It’s not all fun and games

No sooner after we uploaded our last posting regarding our plan did the plan change.  That’s why we write them in the sand to begin with, right?

So what is the new plan?

When I started writing this, I was on my way to the boat to perform a handful of maintenance items.  After I get these tasks behind us, Dan, his friend Jason, Anna Marie, and I will head down in late June to move the boat south.  We believe the destination will be Trinidad, but I’m not ready to jinx it just yet.

For those of you who don’t mind being bored by the details, the first project was to replace the air filters.  The original filters were constructed of a metal frame with foam media.  These are no longer available, so I removed the deteriorating foam, added velcro to the perimeter, and affixed a piece of polyester filter media I cut from some stock I had.

Original filter with deteriorated foam (and some ugly dust)

Foamless frame and one side worth of velcro

Completed filter with the polyester media velcroed to the frame

This was the first of three.  I believe my cuts of the polyester filter media became more square with each iteration.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

From here I moved on to the hot water heater.  The unit functions just fine when heating the domestic water from the heat of the main engine cooling system, but was not working when using electricity (either from shore power or the generator) to heat the water.  Research on the Amel Owners Forum pointed to the probable cause being the heating element.

I ordered a new element and a gasket for the assembly before coming down.  I began with photographing the wiring, draining the water, and then removing the old assembly.  Of course the nuts that hold on the old assembly were rusted on pretty good and wouldn’t budge, even after soaking them in penetrating oil overnight.  In anticipation of having no success, I put one of the drill batteries in the charger before hitting the hay.

The next morning the nuts refused to budge.

It’s drilling time!

The right hand one came out relatively easily. The left hand one gave me a little more of a struggle, but I eventually got it.  Because I’m anal, I had to clean up all that rust and gunk you see on the face of the flange assembly. That will come back to haunt me later…

All clean!

I proceeded to install the new element, but reassembly couldn’t be completed just yet.  The bracket that holds the assembly in place, was found broken when I disassembled everything.  The only thing keeping everything together was the water pressure on the other side of the flange assembly and years of gunk.

Broken bracket and a Jerry-rigged support

This portion of the process required a good deal of drilling.  Because I had used most of the battery power drilling out the old element, it proceeded something like this: Drill for 3 minutes using the last bit of charge in battery one, charge battery two for 20 minutes (one charger), put battery one on the charger while using battery two for 3 minutes, try to be productive doing something else while waiting for battery one to have enough juice to drill again, swap batteries, drill, repeat; swap batteries, drill, repeat…

After getting the drilling done, I was able to reassemble the broken bracket with the Jerry-rigged support and some JB Weld.

Re-assembled bracket

After allowing the JB Weld to cure, I had one more hole to drill, and was then ready to reassemble.
I bolted everything into place, turned on the water, and noticed a small leak coming from the left hand side of the element where it mounts to the flange.  Slight tightening failed to stop it, so I drained the tank, disassembled everything, and added some Form-A-Gasket #2 to both sides of the flange.

After giving the sealant about 24 hours to cure, I reassembled everything, turned on the water and found the sealant worked!  However (there is always a however), there were some small beads of water forming on the face of the flange where I had removed all that gunk and corrosion.  It was time to reach for some more B Weld!

Almost as ugly as before!

After allowing a sufficient time for curing, I reassembled everything, turned on the water, and there were no more leaks.  I rewired everything, turned on the power, and guess what?


Near as I can figure, the thermostats must be bad as well.  I could replace those and the flange, but because the unit is almost twelve years old, I think the wiser move will be to just replace the entire unit.  So, over a three or four day effort, encompassing about 20 man hours, I managed to learn how to make a hot water unit leak cold water, and then stop it from leaking cold water!

Feeling frustrated, I moved on to oil and transmission fluid changes.  I managed to accomplish these tasks without generating any leaking oil!  Maybe I’m learning something…

With some help from the local marine electronics company – Regis Electronics – I was able to remove the SSB and VHF radios so they could be sent back to their respective manufacturers’ service centers for MMSI reprogramming.  Originally, I was planning on doing the same thing with the AIS transponder, but that company never responded to my email requests.  So, I thought we were going to have to buy a new one.  I got lucky with this one, as an attempt at re-programming worked.  The manual stated you could only program the unit once, but it accepted my input.  I’m not sure if the original owners failed to complete the process correctly the first time, or if there is a glitch in the system, but I’m not looking at the proverbial gift horse in the mouth.  Not having to buy a new one saved us about seven hundred bucks.  So even though we have to purchase a new hot water heater, we are almost back to even.

During the rest of the trip, I focused on trying to get our two chart plotters to talk to each other, and nailing down an intermittent problem with the wind anemometer failing to display the correct wind speed.  I didn’t have any luck with either, although I think I am closer to a solution.

I did get to work on the positioning of the boat name draft, and I did get to enjoy some beautiful sunsets.

I think this will fit

View from the RK



One response to “It’s not all fun and games”

  1. Paul

    So glad I logged in. You remind me so much of my Dad and brother. Always able to tackle mechanical problems and most any repair. Despite all the set backs I still envy you and the beauty you awake to every day. Happy sailing. Your cousin Nancy

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