April 28, 2009.
Without fail, every time we cross water that is more than a few thousand feet deep we find that we have a problem with our bilge pump. I don’t remember ever connecting the depth sounder to the bilge pump so I can’t figure out how the bilge pump knows when we’re in deep water. Crossing back from the Bahamas this year was no exception.
If you’ve been a faithful reader then you know that we use the egg timer every time we make a night time crossing. We’ve adopted a new tactic during daylight runs offshore. We set the timer to go off at one hour intervals. Every time the timer sounds I go below and check the engine room, the power panel, battery level and the bilge.
During one of the first routine checks I found that the float switch which should start the bilge pump was completely under water in the bilge. That’s why they call it a float switch. The little arm is supposed to float and cause the bilge pump to empty the bilge. But no. I manually ran the bilge pump and all was well but it was just something to keep an eye on. The alarm was then set to go off every 1/2 hour for the next 14 hours. I’m not talking about a lot of water. It’s just that any water being inside the boat is a little creepy.
In the event that the bilge pump ever failed we have back ups in place. I took the shower sump pump, added a tee and routed a separate hose down into the bilge. This way I can flip a valve, then turn on the shower sump and instead of draining the shower it would empty the bilge for us. Of course, during this little exercise I found that the shower sump no longer has the oomph necessary to pull the water 3 feet up from the bilge to prime itself. So now the bilge pump only works manually, the shower sump will only work on the shower and not the bilge, it was beginning to look like a conspiracy.
We also have a huge Whale Gusher type manual pump. The large manual pump will throw about a half gallon of water overboard every time I pull the handle. Fortunately that still worked as intended.
So now that we’re safely in Vero Beach and caught up on our sleep I figured it was time to see what the problem was.
Our bilge is a very deep, very dark, extremely scary place. Our bilge would give Stephen King the night sweats. But a mans got to do what a mans got to do, besides Christy was up at the marina doing our laundry.
I got rid of the extra hose from the shower sump in order to free up some room in the bilge. Then I pulled the float switch up from the nether regions and started to troubleshoot. It turned out to be an intermittent power connection to the float switch. The repair entailed just cutting out the bad connection and redoing it.
So once again when the little arm floats up the switch turns the bilge pump on and the water resumes it desired position on the outside of the hull.
After that I had to replace the vented loop in the generators raw water system. I’ve never heard of a vented loop actually failing before. I was just happy that I was able to figure out that it was indeed bad. That had the potential to be one of those no brainer things that you’d never expect.
Our fresh water pump that pressurizes the drinking water and shower has been getting weaker and weaker. I’ve got another one on board so that’s on the agenda for tomorrow. Hopefully I can just fix the one that’s in there but if not, I’ll just swap it for the new one. We’ll see.
It hasn’t been all chores since we’ve been here. We had a visit from Gary from the Packet Inn and have spent some time with the My Destiny’s at the Far Niente’s for dinner. We’ve also hit one of the Saturday afternoon cruiser’s get together’s up at the marina. We have plans to head down to Bluewater Books in Fort Lauderdale to see about getting some charts of Cuba in the event my bud Obama can pull this all together in time for next years season. :)
One final note. We did come back with as much food in the freezer as when we left. We wore out 2 courtesy flags of our host country and a small American flag as well. And finally, yes, some chocolate did survive the trip.