Perky, the Little Engine that Could

This is the story of Perky, a Perkins 4-108 diesel engine who lives inside a Happy Sailing Vessel named Adventure.

When Adventure was a few years younger, Perky came to live in Adventure because a previous owner of the Vessel wanted a better engine than was in the boat.

Perky was newly rebuilt according to the previous owner. Perky appears to have about 900 operating hours since his rebuild, truthfully not even really “broken in”.

A year ago, Perky got sick and ran away. Not from home, but because he had too much oil, which was really oil plus diesel. Eventually, the sump filled and caused Perky to run away – a bad condition for a diesel engine, and the only way to shut this condition down is to remove air from his air intake.

A mechanic came in to make Perky well, charged us a lot of money to make it work right. Pulled injectors, pulled lift pump, stated lift pump was the problem, and supposedly rebuilt that pump.

A year later, and less than 20 more hours on the engine, Perky ran away again – because the Captain forgot to check the oil level before starting the engine a couple of weeks ago, and didn’t realize the oil levels had grown way over where they should have been.

So – after shutting Perky down, the Captain changed the oil. And removed the lift pump and checked it. It had NOT been “repaired” nor, even “rebuilt” or “replaced”. It was the original pump and parts inside. The Captain found out from Perkins they don’t even make rebuild kits any more.

It wasn’t leaking, but the Captain decided to change it anyway, as a new lift pump was only 25 bucks.

The oil, unfortunately, continued to grow.

So, now the Captain pulled the injectors from Perky and took them to a reputable place to test them. The test went well, but one of the injectors, number 2, failed. Without any significant pressure at all, it shot fuel out like a garden hose. Stuck open, or leaky, or whatever.

Injector #2 was rebuilt by the nice people at Diesel Parts of Carolina, brought back a few days ago and reinstalled with the other injectors.

The oil was removed, oil filter removed and changed, new oil added to the engine.

Yesterday, Perky fired right up…. with a little help from the Captain bleeding the air out of the fuel lines of course. The engine ran nicely.

The oil levels were checked every 15 minutes for about two hours with no noticeable change in levels.

This morning, after the engine had cooled over night, the oil levels were again checked.

And they seemed a tad higher than they were after the initial oil change. But not much.

And certainly not as much as the level had risen after the lift pump change.

So, Perky seems happy, but the Captain is still not quite happy.

Tomorrow we will run Perky once more for a couple of hours, bring him up to temperature, and check the levels again. IF the oil levels continue to increase, then we have no choice but to pull the injectors again and do a compression check, and if that is going, pull the Fuel Injection Pump and have it serviced.

We hope the problem is corrected. But, the Captain won’t be happy until we know for sure.

Tune in soon for the conclusion of “Perky, the Little Engine that Could”!

Engine run up today

Treating this entry rather like a log book today.

Started engine at 0950 local time here in Southport, NC. I did this after diagramming the fuel tanks, the fuel return lines and marking the tanks again (the old markings are fading). I also cleaned the tank tops of dirt and dust, cleaned the floor panels before replacing them, along with all the interior of the mounting for the panels.

I double checked oil levels today, they are normal.

I made sure the return line is opened to the #1, Aft tank, as that’s where I’m pulling diesel from.

Transmission levels fine.

Coolant fine.

Engine started hard (it’s very cold today, was in the mid 30s this morning. It’s 46 now.

Engine did start though, without any problems, other than taking three cranks.

Checked raw water flow. Good.

I brought engine up to running temperature, 160* F and that took 24 minutes.

Pressure was high (almost 80 psi) at start, but as temp increased the oil pressure dropped to normal.

Brought engine up to 1200 rpm for 10 minutes.

Put at idle speed (about 980) and put in forward gear.

Brought engine up to 1100 rpm in gear at dock.

Pulling against docks now strongly, remained engaged.

Has been running 25 minutes in gear with no issues. (1035)

Oil pressure: 40

Engine Temp: 160

Charge: 14.5

Engine running smoothly at this time. Listening for timing or engine speed changes. Seems steady. (1040)

(Listening to Margaritaville Radio, because I’m sick of the cold)

Ok… 1055, engine shutdown.

Temp, oil pressure, voltages all the same as above. Engine didn’t vary it’s tone or speed from 1100 rpm. All systems “nominal”.

Going to wait a bit to let oil settle, and take a reading. Then will read it cold later today again.

Edit: Checked it as it is cooling, and oil level seems higher than it was. Will let it get totally cool before testing again. Also did an oil blotter test; this is where you place a drop of the oil from the dip stick onto a piece of paper and let it absorb into the paper.

In chemistry, this is called Chromatography. They have gas chromatographs, but I don’t have one of those. I’ve got paper. So I did a cold and warm drop test on the paper and marked it. I will do one more drop test when the oil is cool again. So FAR, it shows it pretty clear of any contaminates other than soot.

My Life as a “Captain”

Sea Captain is a rough, tough name.  Because, Sea Captains are rough and tough.  I suppose, I’m rough sometimes, and usually pretty tough.  But, I’m no “Sea Captain”.  I’ve lived aboard Adventure for over four years.  To be honest, I’m not really even a “Captain” or licensed ship’s master (though that might change in the coming months).  I am the “Master of this Ship” though.  We (the ship and I) have an agreement now.  I maintain her, and she’s stopping hitting me in the head, tripping me and doing bad things.  She still throws things around sometimes in little tantrums though.

I’m actually “certified” through the America Sailing Association on several levels; things that most people, with a little common sense, can do, study and get “certified”.  Almost anyone can take classes and pass the tests, and a lot of people do so, sometimes without common sense.  Some people never bother.  They have money, they buy a boat, pretend to be a “Captain” and wake smaller vessels, marinas, fuel docks, can’t figure out which way to go when coming head on, make bad decisions sometimes endangering others and so on.  Perhaps those are the folks that spend their money on someone else to do the varnishing?  I don’t know….

But, people around the marina, the Coast Guard, the marina patrol all call me “Cap” or “Captain”.  JoAnne calls me “Captain” occasionally, though rarely.

Being a Sea Captain is a rough, tough thing.  Not for any reasons you might imagine though.  When I started this blog, oh so many years ago, it was to document things we did, places we’ve visited and one thing I promised myself and my readers was to keep it “Real” — tell it like it is.  Because there are so many wonderful blogs and video blogs out there that tell it like it ain’t.

Not that they LIE.  But, they don’t tell the WHOLE truth all the time.  Don’t get me wrong, they show the great parts of living aboard a boat, the awesome places they visit, the beauty of the world, the cool people, and great friends they make.  These are all good things.

Leaving out the bad days, nights of anchor dragging, stormy seas, crappy boat performance, the jerks you meet out there (along with all the great people) is a kind of “lie by omission” to me.  Perhaps in our blog due to our actual LACK of travel sometimes, it gets boring or repetitive.  I get that. But, it is what it is.  Being a boat “Captain” isn’t an easy job even when you’re actually being a captain and sailing the boat.  On the other hand, it’s great fun.

Adventure is a wonderful, beautifully designed, boat made from fiberglass and she contains a massive amount of wood both above and below.  A lot of teak. She was designed, we believe, by William Garden, built in a Taiwanese shipyard in Taipei, Taiwan.

Her full keel is a dead weight displacement at 19,000 lbs.  Her total weight/displacement puts her as a 16 ton ship.  Her rig is that of a ketch, two masts, main and mizzen.  She has four sails, a working jib, a 150% Genoa, main and mizzen sail, all of them are roller furled sails (main and mizzen in-mast).

She has three solid anchors.  Two CQRs, one at 60lbs and one at 45lbs, 150′ nylon rode and 280′ of 3/8th BB chain on the 45 pounder.  The smallest anchor is a 19 lb danforth used as a kedging or stern anchor (rarely used).  No, I won’t get into the “anchor argument”.  It is what it is, and we have what we have, and I’m not switching anchors because some know-it-alls on the Internet, sitting at their arm chairs tell me “CQRs Suck”.  Mostly, they don’t suck, mostly every anchor ever invented has pros and cons.  At least it’s not a giant rock with a hole cut in it to tie a line too like the Greeks used, right?

Adventure is a well found Pirate Ship that any wannabe Pirate would be both proud to sail or live upon.  She handles well, even in crappy weather and big seas.  It’s just that the Captain of this boat is more difficult to handle… the seas that is. I’m still looking for a place to mount the cannons though.  No cannon deck….

I can sail her, alone if need be and JoAnne can sail her too, but has problems with the sheets sometimes.  I think that is more a perception thing than a physical thing.  This boat is significantly larger than most of the boats we’ve sailed (Except a 42′ Jeanneau called “Wombat” in the BVIs a few years ago) so it can be daunting to stand on the deck or cockpit moving at 7 knots under all sail with a short handed crew of two.

I’ve gotten sea sick at least twice.  The First Mate, JoAnne, she’s a tough cookie too.  Fought and beat back Cancer twice.  Broke her back once.  Has given birth to six children.  Broke a leg once.  Multiple stomach surgeries.  Has put up with my shit for 42+ years now, so she’s a very tough First Mate, and I love her dearly.  But, she too, gets sea sick.

So much of my “being a Captain” of a boat is spent cleaning, sanding, varnishing, repairing things, building new things from parts, varnishing, installing systems (new water maker!) and did I mention “varnishing”?  Also trying to make things easier for us.

Of late, I’ve spent a couple of weeks working on sanding and varnishing.  That’s a tough job in the heat and humidity of North Carolina.  Installing the water maker wasn’t a piece of cake either.  I had to remove a large, 30 gallon water tank and replace that with the water maker system.  I think it was a good trade off though, since we rarely used that tank.  It was our reserve water, really, and we rarely did more than flush that tank out every couple of months to add new water.

On the bright side, we can now make water using a generator.

Installing things is a “Captain” thing to do, otherwise, you pay someone else to do it.  That’s not fun….  If a Captain has a crew who is capable of doing a particular job, the Captain will delegate the authority to accomplish the task.  The First Mate can’t do most mechanical things well, if at all.  She just doesn’t really see mechanical things in a way that she can fix or repair them.  But, she’s a wonderful cook – and I will even call her a “Chef” though she refuses to accept that title (without professional training).  Sometimes, amateurs are better than professionals anyway, and no matter what she thinks, she a Chef in MY mind.  She’s also the “Provisioner” and pretty much in charge of the inside of the ship, except the engine. And other mechanical things.  And anything broken.  HA!

She can do a little electrical stuff, because she’s an Amateur Radio Operator, but I prefer to do that stuff because, it’s what I did for my whole life.

Thus, I do the mechanical work, electrical work, plumbing when required, I paint, I sand, I varnish, I do sewing, of sails and canvas, I do marlingspike work (ropes, lines, replacing old lines with new).  I do dock work, deck work, I remove fittings, I replace fittings, I fix fittings… Soon, I shall even become the boat diver and clean the bottom of the boat myself. (That’s another thing that bugs me…. as the wild life here grows quickly, and the local guy doesn’t have a lot of competition so charges a lot for a single boat cleaning job).

Again, the cost of maintaining a boat is significantly more than a house.  Of course, you sometimes spend a lot of money on new windows, doors, appliances, and so on in a house, but you don’t have the salt air tearing it all apart internally most of the time like a boat.  Your house, unless you live in California or Japan, doesn’t move at all.  Ours moves constantly, so wear and tear on everything from dock lines to antichaffing stuff.

Our “window replacement” was the bimini and dodger as of two days ago.  It wasn’t a cheap thing, but it’s pretty.  It isn’t glass, but Esenglas.  Not shingles for a roof, but a canvas covering.  The cost was about the same as I would have ended up paying for a new garage door or several windows in a house.

But, it is nice. The solar panels are better mounted, we have new grab rails and I’m happy with it.  But I didn’t do it.  Perhaps the next time, I can do it myself.

Over the four plus years aboard Adventure, we spent two of them cruising and taking off for Colorado for cancer treatments and two compression fractures in JoAnne’s back.  So, over the course of time, we spent about 9 months off the and the rest on it.  A full year of that was cruising around the Chesapeake Bay, and down from New York to here in North Carolina.

We don’t have as much distance under the keel as some do.  We haven’t visited all the cool places some have.  Times though, are a changin’, so it is said.  I’m going to order my surface air supply systems and a few things like a regulator in a few days.  The Varnishing is nearly complete (for now, more will take place under way).  Water maker installed.  JoAnne is making lists of things for provisions.  We’ve considered staying a couple extra weeks (based on weather, and the Steed Bonnet race) and that’s up in the air at the moment as well.

Truthfully, there’s nothing now, not even hurricanes harrying the area to prevent us from setting sail in a day or two other than extra food.  This weekend I’ll go through my lockers one last time, hit the storage unit, repair a tire on our car, remove crap from the dock box and do final tests, and a short day sail to check on things.  Jay Beard has volunteered to go along for the shake down.

In the next two weeks, we have parts coming in, and strapping down of things to accomplish, grocery stores to visit, rum to replenish and perhaps… a day or two off to rest up before the departure.

As you can see, the “Life of a Captain” isn’t all “Partying”.  It’s more like being a Slave to a ship that rarely moves from the docks, but demands a significant amount of attention each and every day.

Move, though, we will.  To the South.  Somewhere.  Anywhere.  Out there.  That a-way.

Then I can be a Tough and Rough Sea Captain again.

Maybe.

If I don’t get sea sick.

I’ve got to head this boat south pretty soon
New album’s old and I’m fresh out of tunes
But I know that I’ll get ’em, I know that they’ll come
Through the people and places and Caldwood’s Rum

  (Manana, by Jimmy Buffett)

Note:  Most of blog entries on the windsoftime.us site (also see this link if for some reason the domain is down https://thewindsoftime.wordpress.com) are pretty boring, talking about the things I do on the boat, to the boat and in the boat.  But, Adventure is a ship, worthy of so much more than sitting idle at the docks like she does.  Soon, we will make her Happy Again.

Sabatical. Retired.

I am on sabbatical now.

Ok, not really.

I retired from the military in 2002.  I quit my job at the Missile Defense Agency in 2015.  I took a job with the marina in March 2017, and stopped working on September 16th until next April when I will return to the marina.

So, I suppose I can legitimately call it a sabbatical.

My friend,  Jay calls his boat Knot Working, so could just say “Not Working” but Sabatical sounds cooler.

We’re doing our last road trip before the cruise south.  Long trip, seeing family,  friend, brew pubs, eating good food, having fun.

Back at the boat, I’ll be spending several days putting all the running rigging back together,  sails back up, filling tanks, removing extraneous gear we won’t require, and storing things we won’t need on the boat.

JoAnne will be working on provisions for the trip, probably three months of standard canned foods and things that last awhile as well as flour, sugar and things we use for baking.

I haven’t written for a time due to hurricane prep, as Irma and Maria were headed our way, so this is just a quick, short entry to remind the worls we’re alive.

 

More to follow in a few days.

 

Minor Blog Changes

I made some minor blog changes to get our friends a bit better connected.

On Facebook, we have a FB Page for the s/v Adventure.  I have now linked this blog with that page, so that when a post (such as this one) gets posted up to the blog, it will also be linked through Facebook.

Facebook is, in my opinion pretty stupid these days, but I use it because I have several hundred friends who whom I like to touch base occasionally, and unfortunately, it’s really the only social media thing that works well right now.  And that all our friends happen to be on (or most).

I run several blogs actually, and FB is connected to each of those as well, through various means.

For our family and close friends, it IS the easiest way to stay in touch, and many don’t follow the blog directly, but can see the messages I post on the blog through FB.  So, it works.

I will be inviting all my friends to the page over on FB, and all they have to do is “Like” it to see the messages pop up (supposedly).

I also am now running the “Sailing & Cruising: Preppers” group on Facebook as well.  It is linked to a blog too.  So, if anyone following this blog is interested, here’s the link for that blog, and you can go to the group site on FB and join.

https://sailingcruisingpreppers.wordpress.com/

Blog Entry for April 2017

First, my apologies to everyone who has been so diligent in reading the blog entries and not seeing one since January or so.

Second, not making excuses, but I’ve been pretty busy and I’m going to remedy the situation right now.

I’ve been pretty busy working a part time job in the marina, as well as on the boat.

On the boat, I have been working on varnish and fiberglass, some major (attempts) at cleaning and a few minor things like doing repairs as I need to.  I’ve gotten to MOST of the teak and have three coats of varnish on them.  I’ll be adding another when I have a few days to work on it, when it’s not scalding hot, or raining and blowing hard.

I did some glass repair work on the side of the cockpit the other day.  I’m not sure about this damage I discovered – hidden under a “fake boot stripe” (I’ll get back to that in a moment).  Along the top deck, where the house part rises from the deck, there’s a wall built around the cockpit.  The coaming with a kind of removable door/wall in the cockpit has a straight crack along the length.  It appears to me that something hit the boat and did some damage in the past, though I’m at a loss where the hit could have occurred unless the boat was dropped or smacked against something like a lift.

When we bought the boat in New York, a surveyor didn’t notice or mention any problems and I don’t recall them.  Before we left Colorado in July of 2015 to collect the boat, we had a bottom paint job done by the marina.

Worst of the worst of the places we’ve been at, this marina.  I called them and asked specifically about the paint, the type, how it was applied, and asked about them touching up the waterline and boot stripe.  I paid for paint, their time and an extra $300 bucks for the rest of the work to be accomplished (this included zincs etc).

When we arrived, only two zincs were installed.  The paint was haphazardly sprayed on, and intake grids were blocked by paint runs throughout the holes.  I couldn’t find an indication where the “boot stripe” was painted/cleaned up.

It wasn’t until I made the painter come look at the boat and clean up the mess they made that they showed me the “boot stripe”.  A maroon strip of “tape” had been placed on the boat on the cabin top, along both sides.

So, when I was doing my work the other day and removed this stupid “tape” (and tape it was, a colored, stick-backed maroon-colored tape) I discovered this crack running the length of the starboard side of the cockpit and just forward of the cockpit in the coaming.

The crack was very “clean” like a break, but it wasn’t perfectly straight like a razor, but kind of jaggedy.

I ended up not being able to determine the cause, why it was there or even if they had attempted a repair (as it appeared to have some silicone material in it).  I used my dremmel tool to remove the gunk, take it to the inner wood core, clean it up and have reglassed that part of the boat.  I still need to sand and eventually paint this part of the boat.

As to varnish, I spent a few days cleaning, sanding, wiping, sanding, wiping, cleaning and then varnishing the cap rail, taffrail  most of the wood around the boat.  I have NOT finished (and have barely started) on the platform.  I have completed three coats and will probably do two more, though I’m not sure yet.  In any case it looks wonderful.

The topsides, near the waterline had a horrible, brown stain.  I guess the stain has a name.  It’s called the “ICW Mustache”, some people call it other names, which are not repeatable here.  I had a few names for it, I won’t repeat either.

Anyway, we found that by using a small amount of toilet bowl cleaner with some water in a spray bottle worked wonderfully to remove the stains.  I spritzed it on, went over with a soft bristled brush and it was gone in seconds.

I’m in the slow, laborious process of waxing the hull now, a little at a time to prevent this from happening in the future.  I’m not going to haul the boat this year and likely not next eitgher, so I’m working from the dink on and off.  A little here, a little there.  When I get tired of one job, I go do another.  And so on.

Being inside the marina as opposed to sitting on the transient dock is much better, and thankfully, cheaper too.

At this point we will likely remain here through October and depart sometime in November for the Bahamas (destinations to be determined) and stay from 3-5 months, depending on our ability to remain there.

Working at the marina has been a mix of very simple to very difficult tasks.  I’ve done everything from repair the ramp for the golf cart we use to collect and move trash to the dumpsters (about a quarter mile away) to changing flats on the cart, bringing in boats, pumping fuel (diesel, gas) to selling ice, oil and collecting money, making change, putting up and taking down flags, handling the radios, coordinating slip assignments and boat moves during the dredging.  Dredging was a royal pain in the rump too.  Everyone hated it.  Even the dredgers appeared to hate it.  The poor manager here was inundated with constant complaints about noise to hating to have to move their boat for the dredgers to get their work done.

The dredge kept breaking.  Things kept floating away.  You name it.  Thankfully, the dredging is finished.  We’re slowly getting boats back into their proper slips, a few here, a few there.

The manager has called me in for extra hours several times to assist with various things.  So, a few extra bucks is ok.  I’ll feel more comfortable when the retirement pay kicks in from the military in a few months though.

Midges.  AKA No-See-Ums.  They are demons from hell.  I hate them, and I will kill them all before I die.  I’m apparently having allergic reactions to them.  I get welts on my skin when they bite me, and they LOVE my blood type I suppose.  If there were ever a true vampire, midges would be the creature.  I am reasonably certain that the vampire mythology was built around these tiny insects.  They run away in bright sun normally, come out when there is dampness in the air, and buzz around incessantly in your face, your ears, up your nose and somehow find places to bite you that is completely covered with clothing.

Deet does NOT help.  So far, I’ve tried a dozen things.  Today I used, Picaridin, a type of “Off” type stuff, which actually worked for about 5 hours today.  The rest of it doesn’t seem to work.  Home remedies, lemoneucalyptus whatever that is, somewhat worked.  I’ve not yet been bitten by a mosquito, however, another of the creatures on this planet I’ve been trying to destroy my whole life because my body has begun to absorb deet to the point I feel I need it….. ok, maybe not true.

We went to Michigan in late January to go see my brother in the hospital.  He is doing significantly better now, even though he doesn’t remember us being there.

We went for a day sail with our friend Jay aboard “Knot Working”, a 37 Beneteau.  Beautiful boat, turns on a dime (ok, maybe a half dollar, and certainly in less than a full boat length I think – whereas we turn on two or MORE boat lengths given the conditions).

At some point soon, we hope to get out of the marina for a day or two, do a sail or two on our boat.

Finally, we’re going to try brewing beer in the next few days.  Will be the first time for us to do that since we moved aboard.  We will see how that goes.