Boat Maintenance British Columbia

Stumbling Starts and Big Finishes | Ocean Falls to Bishop Bay

Wednesday, September 07, 2016S.V. CAMBRIA

It’s a little hard to believe that at the start of the week*, we were still tied to the dock in Ocean Falls saying our goodbyes to friends – both old and new – and now we’re happily sitting at anchor in Bishop Bay Hot Springs, 125 miles away. But we wouldn’t be us without a stumbling start. This time around, it was the raw water pump.

After turning the engine on to make sure all systems were go a couple of days before we were due to leave, David discovered the raw water pump was leaking . . . again. We had the same problem at the end of last season when a bearing wore out and went through a replacement less than 100 engine hours ago. Fortunately, we carry a spare aboard. Unfortunately, the spare is the one we were using and the original hadn’t been rebuilt. We did, however, have two spare bearings . . . all we needed was a gasket.

We have gasket-making material aboard, but this one is a little different: It’s made of paper. And being made of paper, it’s delicate. And being delicate, it tore when David was taking the pump apart. Fortunately, he made a template for it the last time around and only had to carefully cut it out, soak it in engine oil to provide a barrier to water and voilĂ , a brand new working gasket for the raw water pump. Pressing the bearing, however, wasn’t quite as simple. Here’s how David described the process in the ship’s log:

Dismantled the spare raw water pump as follows: Removed circlip; supported pump body, impeller end up; drifted out shaft with centre punch, only one bearing released from pump body retained on shaft (and not two as is supposed to occur!); examined rear bearing mounted on shaft, good; set shaft aside as spare parts; front bearing adjacent shaft seal a little noisy, had to be drifted out; removed shaft seal, cleaned out rusty deposits around shaft and lip; boiled pump body in pan of hot water; set new front bearing in pump body with 7/8” x 1/2” drive socket; re-installed shaft seal;  pulled new shaft from spares; cooled shaft (complete with inner bearing set) in chest freezer; pressed shaft into pump body; naptha spray – PB Catalyst – to recondition lip seal; reinstalled circlip.

Sunday he took the old pump off, installed the rebuilt one and ran the engine for five minutes at 2000 rmp to test it. There was no evidence of dripping or leaks; so Monday morning, we walked up to the lodge and said goodbye to Rob and Jax, walked back to the dock and got ready to go. David started the engine to let it warm up and went down below to check on the raw water pump before we left . . . it was leaking. So, he went through the same process with the old pump, which was now the spare, installed a new bearing, and we’re back in business. Why I didn’t take pictures of him running around the boat, boiling engine parts, banging out others, and dropping bits into the freezer is beyond me but it probably had something to do with me trying to stay out of his way. Whatever the reason, it was a sight to see and I regret not documenting it.

Tuesday, we were off . . . for real, this time. We moved 25 miles down to Shearwater, taking it slow. Dead slow. Four knots slow. Everything looked good; so Wednesday we made another short run, this time up to Oliver Cove Marine Park (Port Blackney) checking the raw water pump every 30 minutes and, again, taking it slow. So far, so good and it looks like there were two issues confounding the problem – the raw water pump he put on (the one that went out last season and he rebuilt), had a bad bearing (that he pressed out and replaced) but also has a bad seal (which he was unaware of and therefore didn’t replace). And that’s why it started to leak again after only five or ten minutes of the engine running. The spare raw water pump, which he also rebuilt, only had a bad bearing is now fine and working properly.

The good news is that we still have two spare bearings. The bad news is that we don’t have any spare seals and to have them shipped to Shearwater would cost hundreds of dollars. We don’t like the idea of being without a working spare raw water pump, especially when the one that’s currently installed started leaking after only 100 hours, and would be nervous until we either got back to Kingston safely or had replacement seals in hand. Fortunately, some of our friends are sailing south from Alaska and happened to make a quick trip to Seattle before they left. So, David ordered new seals and had them overnighted to Jim’s office where he received them on Wednesday, hours before flying back to Ketchikan.

As luck (and really good planning) would have it, we arrived in Bishop Bay Friday evening and by one o’clock Saturday afternoon, SV JouJou appeared around the headland and was rafted up to us a half an hour later . . . with spare raw water pump seals in hand. Now, if something goes wrong with it on our way south, we have everything we need to rebuild the new spare completely. In the meantime, though, we’ll be enjoying soaking in a natural hot spring and planning the next leg of our season . . . a run up British Columbia’s most beautiful fjord

* From the week of 14 August - 21 August

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  1. Welcome back to the internet, I've missed you! What a saga, but how satisfying when you can make it work with what you have and then have friends bring spares.

    1. Cheers, Lucy! I know . . . talk about a win-win. We got to see our friends and David's mind was put at ease which makes my life a heck of a lot easier!

  2. It's so nice to be reading about your (mis)adventures again. That is meant as a compliment for you blogging again. :-) Nobody wishes you the misadventures parts. One of the nicest things to get off your sailboat after many years is to not have to deal with boat issues anymore. :-) Here I was going to hope you would be able to sail everywhere as to not have to use the raw water pump as much. But, you have spare parts already. With this on hand, for about everything, the pressure is off a bit and cruising becomes more enjoyable again!

    1. Speaking of one of the nicest things about moving off the boat -- it was blowing 25+ knots in the anchorage yesterday and there were whitecaps everywhere. We held well, but all I could think is how tired I am of anchor watches. I won't miss them a bit!

    2. It sure is nice to finally sleep through the night again. It took a while to actually manage to do so from all those years of intermittent sleep, but we are there now... Glad the boat held well!

  3. That's a pretty amazing use of resources! Very glad you could get those spares for sure.

  4. Yay - you're back blogging! I've missed seeing your posts :-) That David is sure one very clever chappie to have onboard.