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it works, it doesn’t work

Posted by on September 13, 2012

It works, it doesn’t work, it works . . . The systems on our boat can be just like pulling petals from a flower and doing the loves me, loves me not.  I guess you could say, we have that type of love/love not relationship with our boat systems!

The generator and the refrigerator have been our biggest troubles.  After spending 2 weeks in Plymouth getting our electrical sorted out and the generator repaired, the generator worked for approximately an hour and a half before it started blowing fuses again.  An extremely frustrating thought after having paid an experienced professional to give us a hand!  Troubleshooting the generator again, brought Wil to following his nose.  He noticed a hint of an electrical burn smell coming from the preheat solenoid.  My nose concurred with his discovery.  However, having arrived in a remote part of Maine with lack of phone service and internet, we had to put the generator repair on hold.  All ordering of parts would have to wait until we returned to civilization.  In the meantime, we relied solely on our solar panels for recharging the batteries.  Anytime we had a rainy day or two, we powered down and lived on bare minimum energy consumption.  We were quite impressed with just how little we needed to go about our daily living.

Once we returned to Cape Cod, Wil ordered a new preheat solenoid for the generator and it arrived within 24 hours.  Within a day, Wil had the new solenoid in place and the generator running.  It was like music to our ears!  Now, our fingers are crossed that it will continue to run for more than an hour and a half.

fridge turned into junk food storage

Since we started cruising, we have been without our refrigerator.  We have been using the freezer at refrigerator temperature, so we have refrigeration, but no freezer capabilities.  After contacting Frigoboat, they put us in touch with a refrigeration service person in Portland who could check our system.  Hence, the reason for our brief Portland stop.  The refrigeration was undercharged to the point of being empty.  The serviceman added refrigerant (didn’t check for leaks), and ran the system until it seemed to be on its way to properly cooling.  We also received the new temperature control board to install at our convenience.  As soon as we left Portland, we got busy with cruising and enjoying Maine’s beauty, so we didn’t install the new control board until we were in Camden.  We had gone that long without use of the refrigerator, another week or two wasn’t going to make a difference.

We felt like celebrating when we could finally move all of our refrigerated foods over to the actual refrigerator.  Life would be so much easier!  We wouldn’t have to dig into the freezer for our everyday foods and beverages, and we would finally have use of a freezer.  Unfortunately, the luxury of a refrigerator was enjoyed for just over 24 hours.  After a late evening of drinks on a neighboring boat, we returned to discover that the refrigerator temperature had climbed to 46 degrees F.  All relaxation and good spirits went out the galley hatch when we ended up transferring food back to the freezer that night!

So, the generator works (thanks to Wil), and the fridge does not work (a manufacturer issue).  The moral of this story is that not all marine service personnel are created equal, and an attentive boat owner usually knows as much as (or more than) the experienced, paid professional.

How do we stand with other onboard systems?

The autopilot is currently working . . . sort of.  We installed the new rudder reference unit.  For the most part, the autopilot works, but then it will suddenly alarm drive stop.  There is still some tweaking to do with the settings, and then the autopilot should be good.

The port engine alternator went haywire.  We discovered that it was cranking out 16.6 volts and had cooked the wet cell starting battery.  Needless to say, we had to buy a new battery.  Fortunately, we had a spare alternator onboard.  The newly installed alternator is working properly and putting out just over 14 volts.

Our variable speed water pump works . . . sometimes.  When our water tanks are full, the water pump works.  When the water tanks get down to any level below half, the water pump will run continually in low speed before turning itself off.  We’ll be doing dishes, getting a drink of water, brushing our teeth, or taking a shower when the pump turns off.  The person in the middle of their task has to yell “water switch!”, and anyone who’s available will turn the main switch off and then back on in order to get the water running again.  We have searched for water leaks or air suction in the system, but cannot find anything.  We believe the problem is in the long distance from the starboard water tank to the pump.  The water has to be pulled from forward in the starboard hull, aft to the starboard engine room, over the bridgedeck, and to the port engine room where the pump is located.  When we pull water from the port water tank only, the problem seems to stop.  We are not sure how to handle our water system yet, so in the meantime, we continue to the holler for water.

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