|old pipe with clamp & glue|
OK, given the fact that we have currently guests we are a bit more relaxed and therefore lazy with writing blogs. Since I promised you to give you an update on our passage and the issues we had I will now take the time - of course while having a glass of Rum while Andi is preparing tonights dinner. Yes, having guests has some benefits, in particular if they are amazing chefs. But back to the story: When we prepared our longer journey from Puerto Rico to St. Maarten I checked the engine carefully in a remote anchorage, an usual task every 25 engine hours. And I was getting concerned when I discovered some dried salt in a hidden corner of the narrow engine compartment. A cooling water leak??
For the landlubbers among us: A boat engine is normally cooled with seawater, this is pumped from the sea and goes through a heat exchanger and then back into the sea. It's the same system as you know from your car, but due to the lack of air which runs through a normal car radiator under your car hood we pump sea water to get rid of the heat. And it pumps a lot of water. So if you have a leak in this system and you would not realize it on time it could be fatal. You overheat the precious engine until it's dead or worse you fill the boat with seawater not realizing it until you get wet feet. And before Rahel's Dad now gets more grey hairs: We have a lot of systems which should warn us before things get bad...but still it's a major issue.
So knowing I had saltwater where it didn't belong to I was searching for quite some time until I discovered a hidden drain valve that was leaking. Ha, easy task, just close it tight and things will go smooth again. WRONG! When I checked the valve I found some corrosion and even a small crack where the valve goes into the pipe. Guess it was once over tightened when Habibi was winterized from a previous specialist. I was confident I would just have to put a small hose clamp over the crack and then check it in St. Maarten. WRONG AGAIN! When I was fiddling with the clamp the whole thing broke just off. I had now a major hole in my cooling system! No way to use the engine with that.
For sure I did not have any particular spare pipe. And as I mentioned already we have been in a small anchorage far away from everything. Once again I had to made a fix with whatever Habibis spare stock was able to provide. First I was trying to place a piece of spare hose over the pipe. After one hour I gave up since the place was simply too tight to put two hose clamps in place. Finally I made a fix with some epoxy (cruisers most loved glue) and secured the whole patch with a single clamp. It worked out! After another hour drying it was not leaking one drop anymore. So after a 4 hour plus engine check and a few new bruises we were ready to go again. Of course I was checking the damn thing now every 30 minutes while underway....
Later I had the whole pipe and a new valve shipped from Miami to St. Maarten - one hour and 200 bucks later (for a piece of copper pipe and a small valve!) the thing is now hopefully better than new. Looking back I'm really happy I discovered the whole thing that early - if the valve broke while underway it could have been a little disaster...
|new pipe plus valve|