Things have been a little hectic around the home front the last couple of months. My oldest son got engaged a while ago and they decided to get married this October. So this has given my better half one more thing to think about. After visiting my son and future daughter in-law in Maryland we drove home via northern New Jersey and picked up my older sister. She works in health care and has not been anywhere but home and work for the last year and a half. She stayed with us and with great weather we took her out on the boat two days in a row.
On the first day we decided to cruise around the bay some and then have an early dinner at a restaurant on the water. It was a nice and easy approach into the slip with a floating dock where an employee met us as we pulled into the slip. My son handed the stern line to that employee who instead of moving to the back end of the slip moved forward and pulled the line tight. This had the effect of pulling the
starboard side into the floating dock. I thought I heard a slightly different noise over the rumble of the diesel engines but was more concerned with getting the boat secured. After I got off and employed a bow and two spring lines I was satisfied with how the boat was tied up and started to get my passengers off for dinner. That’s when I noticed that the water tank vent on the starboard side was sheared off the hull! The employee was nowhere to be seen, and to say I did not enjoy the meal was an understatement. After we left and got home, I went online and started searching for a new matching vent. I searched for an hour or so but could only find the vent, but not the plastic shield that went around it at the top. I did find a story by another boater looking for the exact piece and he could not find it either, and the story was dated about ten years earlier! Sooo, I ordered the new vent.
The next day, I tried to be more pleasant! We headed out with a nice lunch packed for the four of us and ran over to Robins Island. It really was a beautiful day, a slight west wind and a flat calm cove to swim in. If we stayed still at the stern of the boat, we would be surrounded by schools of spearing. A little further from the boat we could see the spearing jumping as they were chased by larger fish. I am thinking snappers were at work there. Only my younger son and I swam, but we stayed in for a couple of hours before getting out and enjoying our lunch. We headed back to the dock as the sun was setting, another beautiful day out on the water.
A few days after taking my sister home the new vents arrived. I ordered four of them thinking if it happened again I would have the same type to replace a broken one with, so in reality I will never need them since I am prepared! My wife and I went out to the marina to install the new vent. I needed another set of hands there to hold the vent body inside the hull while I worked of getting the broken piece out. Since it was broken off flush I was limited in how I could get it out. Thinking ahead I had brought a large flat tip screwdriver with me that just fit inside what was left of the external vent body. It was comparable to a small pipe nipple. By tapping the screwdriver blade into the plastic pipe I was able to simply screw out the broken piece. In the future if it happens again, an easy out would be even better. But I did not have that size. After putting sealant on it and with Kathy holding the vent body inside the hull it was very easy to re-install the new vent. Using a little cleaner wax on the smudges on the hull from the dock I had her looking almost as good as new. I still can’t find that plastic shield!
Whenever I have time I like to get in the engine room and check things out, maybe wipe down the engines and clean the bilges. A clean engine room really helps to spot any problems that may arise. The last time I was down there I came out with a nice slice in my knee. Hose clamp got me! I have had some small cuts before, mostly on my hands but this one left me dripping blood in the bilge and on the deck. After removing an oily paper towel from my pocket to staunch the blood flowing freely from my knee, I went home and once again started searching the Internet for a solution. In no time I had the answer, and in two days I was back out installing them. The answer is a simple piece of gear, hose clamp end covers. So far I have installed 24 of them all around the engine room. If you like to work on your own engines, I suggest you buy a few packs and cover the little knife blades up!
All in all the boat is running very well. I noticed that since I have put on the new turbocharger on the port engine, my fuel burn has dropped down to where it was before I started having problems. I also noticed that the starboard engine uses more fuel than the port engine now. I keep a logbook and record all maintenance and fuel usage vs. hours. The port engine is burning 3.11 GPH now, while the starboard engine is now burning 3.58 GPH. That starboard turbo charger is now coming up on twenty-two years old. I have never had a problem with it but over time the exhaust housing does corrode. When that happens clearances open up between the turbine blades and the housing. That means less boost pressure and using more fuel to operate. If you wait too long (like I did with the port engine) it takes longer to get up on plane and you leave a plume of black smoke as you try to accelerate.
If you add those fuel burn figures together, you can see my average fuel burn is less than seven gallons per hour! That is not a mistake. Over the years my logbook shows an average fuel burn always under seven gallons per hour when the turbo chargers are healthy. When the port one started to get really bad the burn went up to seven and a half gallons per hour. These little four cylinder diesels are thrifty! This fall I am going to order a new turbo charger for the starboard engine and I will install it in the spring after I paint it at home this winter.
But for now we still have a month or two to get out there, and I want to make every minute of it count. See you out there!