After our short break in Malolo Lailai (aka ‘Musket Cove’) our friends from the Time Lord had to leave. They wanted to haul out at Vuda Marina to check the hull for defects. We stayed for one more night but were too bored without the lovely norwegian family and decided to follow. First we made a little stop in front of Denarau where we dropped the anchor in 3m water in front of the Hilton Hotel. Next day we drove via Nadi to the Airport where I finally could get DHL to pick up my passport in Australia and deliver it to Fiji. Next day we left already to sail towards the Vuda Marina just a few miles to the north.
So finally we found ourselves in a marina – for the first time in … two years ! And man is that crowded here !! No space to breathe ! But as there also were ‘the french’ from the SV Elhaz in the marina and all the kids had so much fun together, we decided to stay for a few days. But on the hard: there is more room between the boats :-) and of course because we wanted to paint fresh antifouling. So we ended up in the travel lift and found ourselves again right next to the SV Time Lord.
Our poor friends found they had a lot to do on their boat: Huge parts of the hull had to be cut out. The previous owners never took care of the rust and so it developed to a point where the only solution is to just cut out and weld new pieces in. But a few weeks of grinding, welding and a sand blast later and the ship should be in good shape again.
In the mean time we cleaned our hull, grinded the old antifouling away, put two new layers of primer and new antifouling. I used a pressure washer to remove all that loose paint our previous owner put on deck, then took care of some rust and finally put three coats of primer on top. But sadly my immigration permit expires on the 7th of May (yes, today) and so we have to leave Fiji…. More infos to follow in a few days.
Good News Everyone ! This might be the last blog entry about engine cooling for at least a few weeks ! I know: you’re gonna miss the frequent posts on this really exciting subject. – I too will miss the excursions into the depths of the engine room every morning but it seems that new developments will shift my energy into different areas…
After I did a lot of testing, the final changes I made was to replace two more hoses, clean and polish the old waterpump, getting two new impellers (also for the bilgepumpe !) and finally connecting both pumps in parallel to increase the waterflow through the engine. And it seems to work as during the last test-trip from Savusavu to the Resort, the engine DID NOT overheat ! Ok. I was only putting along with 1500 revs but still. Also one has to take the water temperature into account and that settled at amazing 31˚C (!!) during the last weeks ! With that temperature, all watercooled gadgets will run into slight problems. I borrowed a nice infrared-thermometer from Dieter and now I could verify that the engine indeed doesn’t overheat: After running for one hour, the cylinderhead measured 62˚C and the water coming from the exhaust 52˚C. All good.
And as usual: when one thing is repaired, the next one will break. Our next patient is just beside the engine in the bilge: the watermaker suddenly wouldn’t build up any pressure. I suspected a seized valve which I took out and restored. Then the pre-pumpe wouldn’t start anymore so now I have to figure out how to get all the air out of the system. Well, well… next project.
In the mean time the rainy season went into action and the first cyclone ‘Ian’ (upgraded to category 5) missed Fiji and went over Tonga. Right now the storm is heading south where it will disappear over colder waters. The next one is just about to form in between Vanuatu and New Caledonia while here in Fiji the weather slowly returns to ‘normal’.
News on the engine front: After flushing the engine approx. ten times with 5% H2SO4, the cylinder head now looks like new. Also the sacrificial anodes are 50% gone. Heh. But the problem remains: when running the engine in idle mode the temperature is fine; when the engine has to move the boat, it will overheat after only three minutes. Ten minutes later we can already see a little steam coming from the exhaust.
Yesterday I again checked the impeller and replaced it (just in case) but that didn’t do anything. I also cleaned the seawater inlet and filters which means EVERY part of the cooling system now was checked.
My last hope is the following: I don’t think there’s enough water coming out of the exhaust. Maybe the whole system is flawed from the beginning and we just need a water pump with a higher throughput ? The manual says, it should pump 800l/h at 1400rpm which I will measure later. Any other ideas ? Anyone ?!?
There’s not too much to do here in Savusavu. We knew that already before we came here and that’s ok. Gui is organizing the trip to Argentina. We all will travel there and we need plane tickets and visas for Australia (a pain in the a.. !!) In Argentina Gui will work on the upcoming collections for Coquito and the Kids will have fun with the grandparents.
So what’s the captain doing ? Fixing things – of course ! I can’t sit still for too long and there’s enough work on the Suvarov. Our engine still tends to overheat so again I took apart the whole cooling system. All the tipps of the boat neighbors and of Leon (the local machanic-guru) are implemented. The whole system is checked from inlet, impeller, all hoses, mixing elbow, water collector to exhaust. But the problem is IN the engine which is no surprise since the above mentioned parts were checked before we left Polynesia.
During that check I was quite confused that I didn’t find a thermostat. Now – with the proper manual I could verify: It’s indeed missing ! Luckily somewhere with the boat tools I found a box containing four used thermostats who after checking were all verified to work correctly. They just needed some cleaning.
The next surprise was the air filter – I wanted to clean it but – there is no filter in there ! Well. That safes me a little work. ;-) Next step: replacing the sacrificial anodes. That’s convenient because while doing that I can have a look inside the cylinder head and see wherther there’s any calcium builup. Next surprise: instead of a gasket someone used household silicone ! – On the front of the cylinder head !! The backward plate had no gasket at all. :-) Luckily we have gasket paper on bord and Gui made nice new ones for me.
Inside the cylinder head it looked a lot like a flowstone cave. Lots of stalagtites and stalagmites – and even some crystals ! What a beauty !! Well – and why the cooling of the engine isn’t really working well is clear now. After consulting the almighty internet I find out that it’s best to use 10-15% acetic acid to remove that calcium buildup. Unfortunately the only related liquid available in Savusavu is white vinegar. So I decide to take a little risk and use 5% sulfuric acid to remove the crud. I fill the (warm) engine with four liters of acid and let it sit until it stops hissing and bubbling. From the connection on the top of the engine we can see the CO2 escape. A nice chemical experiment for our schoolkids. The acid cleaning will continue for the next days. We’ll see whether it works…
While I was at it I also changed the oil, de-rusted and painted some parts, replaced hose clamps and hoses, etc. A nice little service for our engine. As you might be curious it’s a Yanmar 3QM30H with saltwater cooling. And as I had to search forever to find it, I safe others the work and put a link to the service manual !
After our last sailing voyage we spent five days getting all the saltwater out of our boat and everything washed again. As we don’t like to repeat this experience, the newly found leaks were on the top of my ToDo list. And as the beach is too beautiful and the coral too colorful I look the other way grab screwdriver, hammer and chisel and start attacking the rust !
My starting point is the little vent in the kitchen. Sometime ago there was also an electric ventilator installed but corrosion has eaten it away probably years ago. The Vetus vent itself, I replaced back in Moorea as the old one didn’t even close properly. But somehow water still found it’s way in – so I remove it completely and discover some realy nasty stuff: The leak probably existed for many years and not much is left of the 4mm of steel that our deck is made of. So I start the old game: first hammering the loose material away, then brush the metal until it looks somewhat stable. After cleaning it, I soak everything with phosphoric acid. Half an hour later the acid has done it’s magic and converted all the rust to black ferric phosphate. Now I clean again with freshwater and let it dry. The epoxy primer appears on stage and gives the ugly spot a nice, watertight cover. During the next days, I will paint additional layers of white polyurethan paint. Time will tell how that combination works out….
But as I’m already at it, I crawl around on deck and open more and more rust spots. Some are easy, others quite nasty. The always leaking bathroom window was missing a fitting underneath the handle and the window itself wasn’t glued to the deck with Sikaflex or 3M-50200 but instead sat on a 1cm layer of filler (the one that is used for fixing bumps in cars *rrr*). In general I usually uncover two or three generations of household silicone which if at all is only to be used inside the ship. – Well it’s an amateur construction, one can tell.
Like this I work for five days on my knees with chisel and power drill in my hands.
We discovered that the hatch on the foredeck also leaks water *underneath* the frame and onto our children’s beds. So I take the whole hatch off and again ramove three layers of silicone and cheap one-component paint. I polish the aluminium frame and after painting everything in the above mentioned manner, I glue it back in with Sikaflex. Also I turn the whole hatch a 180˚ so it now opens to the front. That will let a lot more air into the cabin and make our life more enjoyable in those hot regions we’re cruising in.
My last item on the todo list ist the tiller, which I dismount to put in nice, water resistant marine grease and again glue everything together again. Now all the leaks have been worked on - if they really hold up against the waves only our next trip can tell…
The roller furler is up and furls again. The new setup needed some special adaptation but now it’s all rock solid and mounted a lot better than before. At night, about an hour after sunset, the wind finally decreased to let us hoist up the Genoa and finally test the whole thing.
We of course used the winches to get the forestay in place and that was when we realized the winches also need some service. So I took apart and serviced the windlass and both Genoa winches. And as I could see from the hard grease and dirt inside it was quite necessary ! Well that’s for our preparations. Now that the boat is ready, of course we got another delay. This time it’s the laundry. HAhaha. We used the last opportunity to do two loads and hang them in the garden of our friend, J.C. to pick them up dry and nice in the morning. BUT during the night it started raining ! The first real rain in at least two months. Why now ? Why in exactly that night ??? Moorea just won’t let us go….
It seems we’re back in our old modus: One little boat project every day.
Today, I took the third solar panel off the starboard handrail and put it together with the two on the arch in the back. That position is better as the side-panel always was in the shadow with the current wind direction. So I took the panels off, remounted them and hooked everything up to our old solar charger from the Rancho. That is now maxed out at 20 Ampere during mid-day. We still could use one or two more solar panels but for now it’s good. Not much else going on that would be worth mentioning.
Finally I got the engine fixed ! Since we got the Suvarov, the engine had problems with the cooling and started to overheat after a few minutes of regular use. On the first try, a few weeks ago I took apart the water intake and cleaned all the filters. The second time, I took apart the waterpump and got rid of a little leak there. But on our last trip we still had problems with the engine, the ‘water’ lamp coming on after a few minutes and we could see white water vapor coming from the exhaust. Today I took off the rest of the hoses around the engine, cleaned them, drained the whole system of all fluids and dismounted the exhaust with all it’s cooling parts. I couldn’t really find anything that was cloaking the cooling but still – it seems it has worked. After today’s repair I started the engine and let it run for an hour without problems.
That’s one big, bold lettered item off the todo list ! And I’m even more happy about it – since I’m alone here with the kids and usually don’t get too much done these days. The kids – well, they found friends on our neighbor boat ‘living’ and try to spend every waking minute with the two boys.
All well in the South Pacific
Wow – a week passed without a new blog entry ! That’s ususally a sign that either we’re really enjoying ourselves or we’re quite busy. This time I guess it was a mixture of both.
First we had new friends arrive: The SY Tamora went on a mooring right next to us. For a welcome we did some barbequeue (Carrefour for the win !) Next day, we started the pizza oven on board and it finally was time for the famous Rancho Relaxo all-you-can-eat pizza !
Sundays the girls did an excursion to the horse party in Papeete while the boys made a big mess in the ship and repaired the watermaker. Luckily the membrane is not cloaked. The problem was a high pressure valve that got stuck. But with the help of Mr. H2O (Hr. Braeuer) and the really excellent instruction manual, we got it working again. We also cleaned all the filters and now it’s working great again.
In the meantime Gui and Viola enjoyed the visitor’s day in the hippodrome of Papeete where Viola found horses of all sizes to cuddle with and ride on. Looks like they had a lot of fun there.
We also did a big walk through all of Papeete in the heat of the midday and visited tht chandleries and tool stores. Unfortunately we didn’t find what we were looking for. On the same day the long overdue SY Papillon arrived with her new and improved besan mast (pic will follow). And on tuesday/wednesday Zac and me did a big mountain tour up Mont Aorai which I will describe in another blog post.
Everybody is busy. Bruno building LEGO, Viola painting with waterolors and Guenther and me replacing an porthole that started leaking.
And since I already had dirty hands, I grabbed the brush and paint and went over the deck to remove some rust. Soon we’ll have to get a few other items off the todo list (the steering chain and cable need a little attention, a winch on the mast is broken and some more painting).
Guenther arrives on a sunday. Big mistake ! By tradition the sunday is a workday on bord the Rancho Relaxo of the Seas. And on Guenther’s first trip with us it was Whitsunday when we disassembled our Yamaha outboard. And now, two and a half years later it still runs smooth and starts quick.
Yesterday the engine of the Rancho Relaxo was on the ToDo list. It’s an old Mercedes-Benz of type OM636. This engine was very universally used in cars, trucks, waterpumps and of course in yachts. And ours was in great need of new filters which we replaced and of course cleaned all parts. While doing that we flooded the bilge with diesel (by intention – I swear !) well, well….
After that we flooded the forepeak with a dilution of rust and saltwater. From the chainbox to midships everything was covered with that liquid. It’s something most of the steel boat owners forget: You have to flush the inside of your ship with saltwater from time to time. – To build up resistance !! Hehehehe. Since last time we did that was on the Isle of Wight, it was really time to repeat this exercise.
Heh, of course it was a design error in the water outtake of our anchor chain box. All the water we collecte on our trip to St. Vincent emptied itself to the inside of our ship. A colossal mess !! We had to empty the whole foreship and wash everything with freshwater. Arrrr ! This are the rare moments when I whish we had a fibreglass ship….. But now everything is clean and dry again and we still didn’t find much rust on the inside of our ship.
That’s nor unusual – or is it ? I started wondering… When was the last time I took a proper shower. – I mean: to stand in a room where fresh, warm water comes from the ceiling or wall. Was it in Barbados ? No. Cabo Verde ? No. The Canaries ? Ah ! Yes. It was in Las Palmas and it was on the 26.11.2011. It wasn’t really warm but who needs that ? Ususally I swim around the boat in the morning and pour a little freshwater over my head. That’s the cruiser’s bath. Heh.
We’ve left Berlin seven months ago and sailed 6500 miles since that. One could say, we ‘arrived’ aboard, settled in. Yes. A washing machine is a unthinkable luxury, we use about eight liters of freshwater to shower the whole family. We bake fresh bread on a daily basis and the dinghy 100% replaced the bicicle. Our kids use the VHF to chate with their friends and make afternoon arrangements – everything completely normal.
What’s the best about our current lifestyle ? Dunno. Maybe it’s the starry nights. Or that nobody was sick in the last six months. Or living outdoors and with the nature ? Maybe it’s to encounter new countries and people. That’s probably it, yes.
Now I’m finished with breakfast and we’ll do a little work. I’ll disassemble the pressure cooker and afterwards we’ll sharpen our new machete. Yay !!
A little boring for non-sailors. But we had to upload a video showing our most hardworking crewmember: Wendy, our Windpilot. She keeps the Rancho Relaxo of the Seas on course, while the laziest crew of the world is lying in the shadow. Well – that’s for you, Wendy:
The power is back !! Yeyeye !!! Electrical light – without cranking the dynamo-lantern constantly. No fumes of our petroleum-lantern… No. Nice, warm LED-light from the ceiling on the push of a button. Great !
Today I talked with the guys from the shop here and although they don’t have a concrete idea why our batteries died, they still told me that I’m not alone. In fact only a few weeks ago a norwegian yacht passed through and had all six (!!) of their five month old AGM batteries replaced ! So we too now have old school lead-acid batteries. Today I spent a lot of money and got four mainenance-free Vaetus marine batteries with 108 Ah each. Replacing the batteries took the whole day because of our fantastic ‘battery-cistern’. Now my back hurts but there’s again power running through the veins of the Rancho Relaxo !
Many thanks to our readers for all the helpful tips and advices that came in via comment function, facebook and email !! But still, we don’t know why the batteries died…. Today I wrote an Email to the manufacturer. We’ll see if they answer – actually it should be covered by the guarantee…. But who knows…
Did I mention that Bruno with his five years is already a good dinghy captain ? He loves to drive us to the harbour – although even more so when we are only two (because it’s faster !) Hehehe. Also in the pics: Bruno and Viola are amazed by an shop window with slide and snow made from styropor (and both hold an ice cream in theyr hand).
Thanks to the answers of our readers, today I’ve done more tests on our batteries. I’ve tested all batteries while disconnected from the ship’s circuitry U1 is without load. U2 is with a 40watts load, measured after 30 seconds. Here come the facts:
Battery | U1 | U2 |
Main 1 | 12.62V | 9.19V |
Main 2 | 12.72V | 9.62V |
Main 3 | 12.71V | 10.70V |
Main 4 | 12.52V | 11.39V |
Start | 12.30V | 11.79V |
The main batteries are of the type: Effecta BTL-100 (specifications). These are 12V, 100Ah AGM batteries. The label says: cycle use: 14.4V-15V standby user: 13.6V-13.8V
The starter battery is a Vetus ‘marine’ battery of type lead-acid.
Our chargers were set as follows:
Windgenerator: off at 14.34V
Shore power: off at 14.40V (setting: ‘AGM’)
Solar charger: off at 14.30V, standby: 13.8V (setting: ‘GEL’)
Alternator: off at 13.80V, secondary regulation: 13.90V
For me this means that the chargers were set correctly and even a little too conservative. As the batteries say cycle, max. 15V – I could’ve set the solar charger to ‘AGM’ with a peak voltage of 14.70V. Hmmm. Any more input before I run off in search for new batteries tomorrow ?
I’ve got 56 minutes left, then my laptop will shut down. And I cannot recharge it, because the ship’s batteries are DEAD. Dead ? You say. – Well, yes – it seems so. Today I disconnected every single of our 6 months old AGM batteries and measured the voltage. It was between 12.8 and 12.7 Volt. That’s not much but it doesn’t mean they’re dead yet. The thing is: If we charge them, the voltage goes up and down as if there’s no battery connected: If the sun shines, we’ve got 13.5 volts, if there are clouds, we’ve got 12.6. If I try to connect something power-hungry the voltage goes down from 12.6 or whatever it is to 10.5 volts in a few seconds. This doesn’t look too good.
What I cannot understand: How can those 4x 100Ah AGM batteries that are just six months old already be dead ? We were connected to shore-power many times and the batteries have never been ‘used’ much. – Our battery monitor NEVER showed a charge less than 60% – and this maybe one or two times. I really don’t get it. If any reader of this blog has an idea how I could check the batteries or do anything about this situation – all input is very welcome !!
Today the kids left their home and stayed with the grandparents in the hotel. They’ll spend the afternoon at the pool, eat together and watch The Simpsons on TV. – And the parents of those wonderful children spend the afternoon…. installing a new fridge !!!
Heh. Well we could have used the time in a better way. But this really was an important item on our todo list. The ancient ‘Combicool’ wouldn’t run on 12V anymore so we were running it via our inverter. That increased the power input again – and the fact that it was running 24hrs/day and the beer still wouldn’t get cold was just enough to get me started. The old unit was quickly deinstalled but getting the new cooler unit inside the fridge took me nearly 3 hours. I could only get in there with my head and one arm but had to drill holes, cut screw threads, mount the evaporator, etc…
But not too much later everything was connected and the new fridge was surring and cooling our precious liquids and refreshments. This will also cut down our power consumption by more than 50% since the fridge was actually using most of the power.
Oh – and I nearly forgot: No, we’re not in La Gomera. After a quick check of the rigging, we WERE sailing out of San Miguel but unfortunately part of the crew was not really feeling well and so we put into the next harbour that was the Marina del Sur. The good thing about that: This place is way nicer than the marina San Miguel and we’ve finally met the SY Nubia !
We already knew that the Northsea is not like the Mediterranean. But hey – WHERE’S THE SUMMER ?!?!?
If we would be here on our one-week charter trip I would be quite disapointed. But luckily we have a little more time and also the hope that somewhere more southerly we’ll find the sun. Up until now this feels rather like autumn…
But there’s of course something good about our situatuon: First: we’ve washed all our clothes and second: our brand new wind generator ROCKS !!! Yes – we’re not using shore power but rather the strong wind to power our laptops, WLAN, fridge, etc. Our batteries are always full and no neighbour has complained about noise (yet). But the Silentwind is really – well – silent and can be heard only up to about 4Bft. Above that the wind singing in the rigging of the sailboats is louder than our generator.
And not that I’m connected to the Internet – I’ll use some more minutes to post pics from yesterday when I was moving aboard. Today the look is already completely different as I’ve managed to store pretty much everything.
And here two last pics from my battery-tank. Yesterday, Andreas arrived and put the cables in place. Now we’re connected with 400Ah of AGM batteries. Yay !!