Regular Checks and Maintenance

Maintenance on a boat is an ongoing issue, we have touched on this subject before. I’d like to go into a little more detail, and then you will have a better insight on this topic.

(I’m going to have to remember to take pictures of the maintenance being done )

Regular, routine checks on different pieces of equipment are a necessary evil, especially on salt water. For example, salt water is used to cool the refrigeration unit, the air conditioning unit, and to flush our heads. That means that you are bringing salt water into the boat, and everyone knows that the best way to stay afloat is to keep the water on the outside. To manage the water used by the various pieces of equipment, boats utilize through hulls. These are holes in the hull of the boat, with a valve on the inside of the hull which can be opened or closed. In salt water especially, these valves should be opened and closed at a minimum on a monthly basis..what this means is the valves need to be cycled to keep them from seizing, or staying in one position.

There are eight thru hulls, and eight valves on Moorahme. Some are in difficult places to access, but they have to be cycled none the less. One of the basic requirements of being a maintenance person on a boat is to also be a somewhat qualified contortionist. Bleeding knuckles and obnoxious body positions are the soup du jour on valve cycling day. Thank goodness for muscle balms and Aleve, yes, the little blue pill that takes the stiffness out.

I had noticed that there was a small amount of seawater accumulating on occasion in the engine room bilge. Unusual in that it was not always there, rather intriguing. And so, the search was on to discover the source. Remember, a boat will remain afloat much longer if you keep the water on the outside. I grabbed by handy dandy LED flashlight and the search was on. Aha, a broken clamp on the dripless shaft coupling. What is a dripless shaft coupling you wonder? The propeller is driven by a shaft which leads back to the transmission and engine, much the same as a car. But, on a boat, this shaft goes out into the water…so there is a hole in the hull. A rubber bellows like apparatus is slid over the shaft, and tightened securely at the hull opening, and then further up the shaft to prevent water from flooding into the boat. The stainless steel clamps retain the rubber in place…and these clamps were old and needed to be changed. I immediately changed the broken one, and at our next anchorage changed the remaining three clamps, and managed to only lose a quarter pound of knuckle skin and about three pints of blood and two gallons of sweat. What fun! Yeehaw! Mission accomplished! Time to move on to our next destination..and once again, water in the engine bilge. What the heck, thought I had that eliminated. Apparently not. I rechecked the installation of the new clamps, and all appeared good. Hmmmm. Ok, time to make some water, and resume the search. I started the water maker, and shortly after while checking it’s operation, noticed that there was a small leak at the main block. Ok, shut it down, and get the tools to tighten things up here. Ten minutes later, and with Beth’s help, mission once again accomplished. Hooray!

We left for our next destination. I should mention that while travelling, I perform routine checks hourly on the boat. Checking the bilges for water, the battery voltage, whether or not the refrigeration is running, the engine temperature with a handheld laser thermometer, all kinds of routine checks. Well, during one of these routine checks…yup, water in the engine bilge. Gee whiz….where the heck is this coming from? Not a significant amount, but still, water in the boat. We arrived at our destination, and anchored for the night, with a determination to track down this issue once and for all.

Next morning, I pulled all of the access doors to the engine area out, and once again grabbed my handy dandy flashlight…and the search was on. Checking every clamp, every connection, the search intensifying as time went on. And then…hey..a drip. It’s coming from the generator casing. The generator on Moorahme is fully enclosed in a soundproof casing, and there was a drip coming from the casing. So, I removed the casing access doors, and using my very best contortionist skills, stuck my head into every opening that I could in search of the problem. Nothing! I then began the blind man’s search using the braille method…and soon discovered what I thought to be a loose clamp. How the heck could that get loose I thought, and when tightening it up, it fell right off. It had broken. Nothing holding this cooling water hose onto the fitting…and that could have been a disaster. A one inch unobstructed line flowing into the boat if it had come off the fitting would not have been good. So…brand new clamp in hand, I removed this issue. Most fittings on a boat have two clamps at each fitting requiring clamping. There is not sufficient fitting on this particular line for two hoses, so we will have to be happy with just one.

When we finally get to Grenada, I will be on a hose clamp inspection/replacing bonanza. These clamps are not cheap…but when you thing of the alternative…a sunken boat, they really don’t cost much at all.

So….that is my story on regular checks and regular maintenance….a very high priority task on a boat.

Keep your stick on the ice!

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