A Season at the Dock ……Part 2

As we left things in the last post…..we were still at the Florida dock making repairs to the boat.  We were hoping to have the month of June to spend in the Bahamas and time was ticking down.

One of the issues we had as we were leaving the Bahamas last June, was that our refrigerator stopped cooling.  Thankfully, I had refrigeration gauges (thank you John Nihiser!!!) and a leak detector on board.  We found the source of the issue which was a leak in the copper tubing that leads from the compressor to the evaporator plate near the plate.  Our fridge box is heavily insulated, so we were able to put five blocks of ice in it and keep it at 40 degrees until we returned to Florida the following week. Quick tip…. If you want to save a lot of money on refrigeration diagnosis and repair in the long run, I strongly suggest getting the gauges and leak detector, learn how to use them and how to charge your system.


Below is a simple diagram of how refrigeration systems are laid out.  Our system runs on R-134a gas which is a commonly available coolant used in automotive air conditioning.  The compressor pressurizes the R-134a, and it becomes a liquid under this pressure and is pumped to the evaporator plate (which is the grey three sided lining inside the blue box).  Once the liquid reaches a place it can expand, in this case, inside the plate it “boils” converting back to a gas.  The boiling process allows the gas to rapidly absorb heat, in some cases lowering the temperature of the plate to around one degree Fahrenheit. The gas is then recirculated to the keel cooler ( the gold line and plate on the outside of the hull) and then back to the compressor where the process begins again.

Our system had a leak in the line at the evaporator plate.  These plates come with the tubing factory installed, so the plate and line had to be replaced as one piece.  The plates and tubing are about $495.  Fortunately, I was able to remove the old unit and replace it without professional assistance.  I did hire a local refrigeration tech to install a filter dryer and solder the lines where that filter was installed. That only cost about $80.

Next on the list was the issue with our alternator.  The alternator had begun to generate a lot of dust over the last few years.  It had also been performing oddly during our last month in the Bahamas. I had replaced the belts but it seemed that the dust situation never got any better.  I began to suspect it was an alignment issue between the alternator pulley and the main engine pulley.  It turned out that I was right and our alternator was severely out of line with the main engine pulley.

First, I pulled the alternator and took it to a local shop for a complete rebuild.  That ran about $180.  Once it was back, I bought some chromed alternator spacers that could be cut to length from Autozone and began the reinstallation process.  The alternator was set about 1.5″ too far back and it took a few trial fittings to get it right, along with replacing the mounting bolt.

The new alternator foot spacer….on the bottom of the alternator mount …..


The new alternator head spacer…..at the top mount with a longer mounting bolt.

While I had all the belts off I also realigned the high pressure pump for our watermaker so it was ready for test and usage in the Bahamas.

Last on our list was an issue with our wind instruments.  They were failing to display the wind speed and direction on the screen where a combination of data is usually available (water depth, windspeed, wind direction, and speed through the water) I was concerned that our sensors at the masthead had been damaged by the Ospreys that love to sit up there every chance they get.  On the day I was certain I would have to go up the mast, I decided to experiment with the display for a little while first.  To my relief and surprise, there were just some display settings that had somehow become changed and once adjusted the unit began working again…..that only took two hours of experimentation.

The I-70 display…..

I also changed our oil and filter and since I usually spill a few drops on the engine block I made this apron for the filler opening…..


Next time….we make it back to the Bahamas …..

An interesting new product we discovered….”Sugru”

On our boat we have a lot of essential electronic equipment.  Some of these devices have remote handsets you can use to control and/or monitor the device like the Autopilot, VHF radio or windlass.  These handsets have coiled, rubber coated cables that run from the control head to the plug.

Recently, our autopilot control head cable began to deteriorate.  This was pretty concerning since our autopilot was manufactured by a European company called “Cetrek” and they have been out of business for a few years.  Since a new autopilot would be around $1500 for just the equipment, we were tying to come up with a way to repair this, and future, cables.

I found a product online called “Sugru” and it is described as a “moldable glue”.  It is billed as being waterproof (including salt water), UV resistant, flexible, electrically insulating, heat/cold resistant and shock / vibration resistant.  This was readily available on Amazon so I ordered a multi pack.  It comes in various colors but for our purposes black matches our cords.


I applied the first section as a test and in 24 hours it was fully cured and seemed to live up to it’s sales pitch.  I plan to cover the rest of the deteriorating cord and we will post an update in a few months when we can fully evaluate the wear it stands up to during our travels. I also suspect that Sugru will be a good replacement for caulking around spaces like those around our chainplate through hull openings on the deck combing which need to be recaulked every few years or they leak.  This may be a permanent fix for that issue!!!  It was a great improvement over the electrical tape wrapping I was trying to use on the cord. It was easy to use and not messy at all.

The new Sugru wrapping …..

The old, ugly, sticky tape wrapping ……

You can get some Sugru for yourself right here using this link !!!



10 things

Someone (Jan) suggested writing a list of ten things our friends wouldn’t think were true about living on a sailboat……it was a little difficult because our blog followers cover the spectrum of experience when it comes to sailboats …..but here’s my attempt……

1. The Sailing part is easier than you think (except for raising the mainsail…that sucks)

2. Maintenance is a harder and bigger part than you might think

3. Our boat can store six months of food (plus) and you wouldn’t know it because it doesn’t look cluttered

4. Fresh water can be considered a luxury

5. When anchored out, shore access is easier/more frequent than people think and anchoring out is WAY better than being in a marina.

6. Also, when anchored, If the weather is bad we spend 2-3 days (or more) at a time on the boat…we play a lot of Yahtzee and Farkle (thanks Barb and Doug for that introduction !)

7. You can read 30+ books during six months in the Bahamas during your down time

8. Less than 500 square feet (maybe closer to 400) can be a comfortable living space for two adults plus occasional guests and they won’t kill each other.

9. Official showering is really only necessary once a week or so…..we spend a lot of time in the water and you have to rinse off on the swim platform anyway (Kim’s personal record is ten days before you knew it)

10. The weather runs your life….good, bad or ugly, you check it twice a day at a minimum and it decides when you go, when you stay, and other precautions/preparations you take.

that’s it for this month……hope this one wasn’t too boring…..Jan let me know what you thought……


I’m adding this line because a certain someone gives me grief about never mentioning him…..Gary Lee Peace …..there ….done…ya’ happy now? Hahaha


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The Top Visitor for April….and a prize !!!



During a recent update to our analytical software for our blog we discovered that a listed feature began to function in a more useful manner.  In the home page for our “dashboard” where it lists all the plugins and behind the scenes software that make the blog run, there was always a field that said “Top Visitors”.  There usually wasn’t any data in that field or it was simply an IP address.  Apparently, the creators of that function have improved it and now it lists the subscribers by name, assuming you are a subscriber when you visit.  In recognition of this development we have decided to give a prize away to the #1 visitor for April…….and that person is……(drumroll please)..

BARRY BRIERLEY!!!!! Congratulations Barry and thank you for your continued support of our blog !!!!….

Barry, send me a PM on Facebook and I can give you some choices for your prize….they do sell Cuban cigars here and there is a brand of Cuban rum available also, I think that’s called Havana Club !!!

Here’s Barry…I’m sure he’s reading our blog on his phone right there !!! And maybe recruiting his couch mates to subscribe too !!!


Here’s the view of the analytical page that generates the stats….better luck next month Jan, Dave, Kevin, Emerson and K Flick !!!

Kim and her friend the Manatee

These videos take a while to upload and are somewhat tempermental…..I’ll try and load the others….the longer the video the harder they are to upload…..grrrrrr

Just a girl and her Manatee….

Here’s a link to the video…..



Kim was convinced the manatee was about to give birth due to extra girth and slow movement…..they don’t call them sea cows for nothing…..no manatee baby sightings yet

A new Amazon feature ….

It’s no wonder that Amazon has become the powerhouse it is today.  They have the best marketing programs of any online system we have looked into for our blog and they are always looking for ways to make it better and easier for people who operate a blog. Unlike that other company (rhymes with Oogle) we use (which ironically, one of their ads will appear somewhere in this post also) ….Amazon actually encourages people to use the links they provide us…

This month they are offering us a bonus for anyone who uses this link ……

and signs up for a thirty day trial of Amazon music…..we have used it and it is amazing how many songs are available…..we spent an afternoon trying to stump it and couldn’t do it……so, enjoy a month of free unlimited music on us !!!

New fender covers……(I know many of you are asking yourselves ‘what’s that?’)

Here on Kitty Hawk we have 8 boat fenders that we use to protect our topsides (the part of the boat between the waterline and the deck) when docked or tied up (rafting up) with any other vessel.  We have four shiny, new, white fenders that are 10″x26″ and four old cruddy looking fenders that need to be covered. Kim found a brilliant idea for how to make them all match….which is key to safety at sea….if all your gear isn’t color coordinated you’re in big trouble….

Kim ordered four pairs of XXXXL sweatpants and cut the legs off. She then inserted the fenders into the legs and sewed a gather into the open end.  They turned out amazingly.

New fender covers with marine vinyl abrasion guards
New fender covers with marine vinyl abrasion guards

She then used grey marine grade vinyl to make a protective sleeve for each fender to prevent the material from being snagged on concrete or wooden docks. Those attach with Velcro so they can be adjusted up or down as needed. I’m trying to talk her into selling them for $25 a piece. The commercial ones sell for $40 and don’t have the abrasion guard…..!!

And we have a winner ……that person is…..



As promised, we downloaded a random number generator (1 to 105, we added a few since I announced the contest) this morning and the big winner …….

DRUMROLL PLEASE……🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🍾🍾🍾🍾🍾🍾🍾🍾🍾🍾🍾🍾🍾🍾🍾🍾🍾🍾🍾🍾🍾🍾🍾🍾🍾🍾🍾🍾🍾🍾🍾🍾🍾🍾🍾🍾🍾🍾🍾🍾🍾🍾🍾🍾🍾🍾🍾🍾🍾🍾🍾🍾




………..is Jan (aka subscriber #88)

The prize is a Conch Republic Conch Horn…..you can hear them being blown all over the Keys every evening at sunset….it’s the unofficial happy hour call…..


You have to have a shell that hasn’t been “hammered” to get the conch out first.  Then the tip is ground down to make the mouth piece….and viola….conch horn…..!

Congratulations Jan !!!!

Trouble shooting the fuel system…..or….I got slimed….

Ok, well, maybe not slimed like Bill Murray in Ghostbusters but definitely mostly clogged with globs of tank sealant.

I think I mentioned that we were having an issue without port side fuel tank not feeding any diesel to our system. Well, after some troubleshooting and consulting with the prior owner we discovered that some sealant had made its way into the fuel tanks when the access panels were reinstalled years back.  One glob had shown up in the fuel shut off valve previously…..so guess where I found this one? You got it….fuel shut off valve.  I had begun troubleshooting the fuel lines and that was my next stop anyway but it always helps to get a little advice.  I had already pulled the Racor fuel filters since I could see some globs of something in those. Our port side filter wasn’t draining from the petcock at the bottom of the fuel bowl so that means they needed a rebuild.  Racor filters are amazing pieces of engineering in a pretty simple package.  It only takes about 20 minutes rebuild one after you remove it or get the fuel bowl off while it is still attached to the bulkhead.  That can be tricky depending on where yours are installed.  The bolts that hold the collar on the fuel bowl are 1/4″….although on our older unit they are hex bolts…..not overly convenient…..


This is the nice, clean, rebuilt Racor filter….with a newly installed vacuum gauge…when the pressure goes up you know the filter is getting clogged so you can switch to your other filter……normal pressure is about 6 to 10PSI according to Racor…..it’s an older one but not much has changed……the diesel flows in from the right, down to the turbine which spins off the water and debris in the lower bowl, then the fuel goes back up through a ten micron filter and then comes out the left side.  We have another vacuum gauge for the system but I think it’s also clogged with sealant so that gets a cleaning later.  I like the idea of having the gauges on the individual filters better, I think.

Below are the piles of what appears to be the Permatex style sealant that also appears around the fuel tank access panels on the tanks.  Apparently, some of this got squeezed out of that joint and into the diesel tanks when they were last sealed and has been getting slowly picked up out of the tanks over the last couple of years…..eek….I plan to add a pair of temporary, clear, 250 micron filters to be sure we can keep these out of the Racors until we feel that there are no more or we resort to a fuel polishing system.











That’s is all for now…..it’s happy hour…..next time…I’ll be “bringing in the (steering) sheaves”….