Warning: This post contains entirely too much boat work talk. Here is the e-mail conversation Ali and I just had (that’s right, e-mail conversation, because we don’t know how to text or IM or whatever the hell it is):
Ali: No blog posts. Have you been taking pictures?
Me: Haven’t taken many pics. Boat stuff is so boring to me, and pictures of it even more so.
Ali: People like boat work posts and pics! Just because you are in a funk doesn’t mean you should blog like it is your job.
Me: If I blog about boat work then I am blogging like it is a job!
And so, here it is, a boat work blog post. Because it’s my job.
All right, so Ali and the kids are gone, which means a number of things:
- I can leave my tools right out in the open and nobody touches them.
- I can leave the engine compartment wide open and nobody will fall in it.
- I can leave my dirty clothes in a heap.
- I can start and finish a project without a ninety-minute time limit.
- I can survive on liquids only.
Looking at that list I’m not so sure that life on a boat without Ali and the kids is so great. None of that is probably making any men out there envious.
All right, so what have I been working on?
I jumped into the engine compartment and got to work in there. First a simple oil change. I can’t stress enough how easy it is to change the oil on this boat. If I think about it I’d say the fact that I can slip a big bucket underneath the engine is my favorite feature on the entire boat.
This time I even changed the oil filter. I really should do that more often. It’s not that difficult. It’s just that they locate the stupid thing upside down and with a bunch of hoses around it so that it is impossible to put a bag underneath it to catch the spilled oil. Though with all the oil drained it really doesn’t spill much, and at like eight bucks for a filter it’s pretty silly not to change it.
After the engine I decided to change the oil in the fuel injection pump. I’ve done this before, but not nearly on the 50 hour schedule the manual calls for. Anyway, since I replaced our water pump with a new one the access to the fuel injection pump drain hole became very tight. To the point that I could only get a wrench and a finger in there. I just had to put a bucket on the floor underneath and hope it would catch most of the drainage.
So that went okay. The oil was mostly diesel, but that’s actually how these things work apparently. After it drained out I grabbed the bolt and started feeling around underneath for the hole. I found it and started to screw it in but something felt different. I got out a mirror and flashlight and took a closer look underneath and discovered that there were two bolt holes—one of which was missing it’s bolt and one of which I was holding the bolt to. Some googling gave me no answers, and from what I could see in the manual diagram there is only one. So I have no idea. I’ll call the American Diesel guys on Monday to ask. I left that oil-free for now.
Next I checked the coolant and found it pretty low, which is a little disturbing because I just checked it in Santa Rosalia and topped off a low tank there as well. Could be a cracked cylinder head or block, or a leaky had gasket, or what, I don’t know? None of that sounds all that great.
Then I decided to pop the cover on the raw water intake filter. Inside is a metal strainer/filter thing which when pulled out promptly fell apart in my hands. Need to order a new one of those now. Then when I tried to close the cover again I found that it wouldn’t seal. The gasket was hard as a rock. Add that to the list too.
All right, so now that I’ve incapacitated my engine I can move on to other things.
Bilge pumps. There’s something I’ve never had to fix before. Well except for EVERY SINGLE TIME I’m going to leave the boat. Someone really has to come up with a bilge pump that works. Even back in the catamaran days our pumps would never work. On this boat they always work, but never want to shut off. I fix them and a month later the float thing is sticking again. When we’re on the boat it’s easy enough to just flick the switch and shut them off manually when this happens, but off the boat I don’t want them running for weeks on end. Anyway, I cleaned them up, got them working good again, and will hope for the best. The sound of a bilge pump running is always the first thing I listen for when returning to the boat.
Cockpit lockers. I emptied them and cleaned them. Then I rearranged the rear locker where our two propane tanks reside. They’ve got nice glassed-in bases to hold them, but the problem with that is they take up the entire locker space that way. If I lay them down up against the side I’ve got a ton of empty storage space, and we can always use more cockpit locker space for kids’ toys. I’ve still got to put a couple of eye bolts in so I can securely tie them down. [Update: One hundred people e-mailed and told me if I lay the tank on it’s side I will get liquid propane instead of gas in the line to the stove—I will blow up and die. So yeah, thanks.
When the lockers were empty I decided to remove the last two winches that still need to be cleaned. I know, three years and I’ve still got two winches that have never been serviced. Now I remember why. I took the first one apart and found nothing but grease that had turned into some sort of solid paste. This stuff is brutal. The last time I did this I bathed the winches in gasoline and scrubbed away with a wire brush to slowly remove the grease. Eventually I realized how stupid I was to be doing that—I mean I do have an aversion to gas explosions in my face—so this time I tried carburetor cleaner. It worked, sort of, but still not a great solution. I shelved that project when I realized it would take me ten hours per winch.
What else? What else? I changed the toilet hoses. Fun. I washed the boat, the lines, the stainless, and anything else I could find to clean. I removed and resealed another one of those skylight things we have on the deck. Those things are forever a pain in my ass. This time I drilled the screw holes out bigger, scraped out any loose wood, epoxied everything, then drilled new screw holes, and very carefully caulked it all back up again. It seems to have worked on the last one I did this way, so hopefully this will be the last of the leaks for this one as well.
Oh, here’s one. For a while our water tanks have been making big banging sounds whenever we fill them or when we’re showering. I knew what the problem was but didn’t get around to remedying it until now. The problem was the breather hose had water in it. I didn’t track the line (I should now that I think about it), but I assume there is a low spot in it and somehow water got in there, essentially blocking off the hose. When a water tank is being drained it needs to be able to suck air in to keep it from vacuuming itself. If that makes any sense. Anyway, that’s done and I haven’t heard a single boom since.
There’s more little projects, but this has gone on long enough already.
Here’s a cruiser tip for you. Today I went to the Banjercito office in Guaymas. I brought along my boat’s TIP (Temporary Import Permit) which also has a form where you list everything that is on your boat. Engines, electronic equipment, tools, dinghy, etc.. I went in today because I plan on buying a bunch of expensive stuff in the States this month and then hauling it back down here. That may or may not cause a problem at the border depending on whether I get the green or the red light. If I get the red light and I haven’t declared all this expensive stuff I could be in trouble.
But no longer, because today I went into that office, spoke with an extremely friendly, possibly flirtatious, rotund woman (I only throw the adjective rotund in there because if ever someone embraced being a big woman it was this lady), who took my list and my passport, disappeared for a minute, and returned with a brand new form with an official stamp and signature on it, but completely blank for me to fill out before I return to Mexico. Basically I can now go to the States, buy anything I want, write it on that list, and bring it into the country duty free. And legal! I never do anything the legal way, and I’m so excited by the prospect.
Tonight I walked up to OXXO to pick up a few things. I walked out with an ice-cold Tecate Light (because it was the only thing in the cooler and all I really wanted was something cold). I cracked it open out on the sidewalk and as I lifted it to my mouth I caught a whiff of it and was instantly transported back to my seventeen-year-old self. It smelled and tasted exactly like a Busch Light Draft on a Friday night at Afton Park as me and my buddies waited for the girls to show up. For a split-second I was transported right there into that parking lot and had to smile at the memory. My friends and I had a lot of good times there.
I feel like I’ve been having a lot of these moments lately. Flashbacks. Reminiscences. Whatever they’re called. I like them—enjoy them the same way I do a good dream. They remind me in a unique way of what an enjoyable life I’ve lived.