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Want A Lift?

Okay boys and girls today’s lesson is about Water Lift Silencers. What in the world is that? Well, I’ll tell you Shouty. It’s that round thing under the deck behind your engine that helps the exhaust push the water out the exhaust port usually somewhere near the aft your your boat. It can easily be located when your engine is on and the water and gases are spewing out into your wake.

There are all kinds of lift silencers but this one is mine. Dazzler is fitted with a very old fiberglass style with both the exhaust in and out ports on its top. It is a cylindrical sealed can with an approximate 1.5” flange on its bottom for fastening it to a platform.

So what’s all the trouble with these things? Do they have a life expectancy? Can they go bad? If so, what causes them to go bad? I sum up these questions with our experiences over the last several days.

First, I’m not sure if this is the original lift silencer on Dazzler or not. I suspect so though. I have owned her since 2003, and she is now 32 years young. I knew where it was located, but honestly didn’t know much about how it worked or what to look for in the way of issues. One of the two previous owners had it installed or installed it themselves. When it was installed, the angle of the elbow that connects to the back of the engine apparently was modified from a 90° elbow to an approximate 30° down angle. During the modification process, as determined by the crack I found, a regular 90° elbow was cut to accommodate the needed angle and a putty similar to the Minute Mend that I used to make our emergency repairs was used to complete the modification. Perhaps the instant epoxy has a use life also. Years of vibration and almost 6000 hours on the engine had finally hit that magic age of disintegration. LOL How do I know these things?

Well, two days ago the engine stopped spraying water again. No big deal as we’re just putting up the sails again. We sailed through the rest of the night and into the next afternoon before I had to tackle the new water leak situation again. It seems that I missed this crack because I couldn’t see it during the second fix. Hence I pulled the entire silencer out of the engine compartment to better diagnose and attempt to fix ANY and ALL cracks this time.

I guess third time is a charm. After grinding the areas around the several additional cracks I found, I filled up the canister with water to see if it had any other leaks. It’s flat bottom is also fiberglass and is joined to the flange of the bottom of the canister. When it was installed. The installer drilled through the flange and into the mounting deck. This held it firmly in place but it also put eight screw holes into the flange that apparently should have been avoided as all eight holes leaked water. I’ll tell you how I tried to fix this issue later. While the minty flavored dog poo was setting up From the new application, I refitted the silencer to its mounting deck. I used some wazoo pipe thread sealer I found in Papeete on the screws before I inserted them and fastened the silencer down. Yes, I magically found all eight same screw holes without too much difficulty. Not bad for upside down blind left handed screwing. Actually, I used a Sharpie marker and marked one of the holes and as for the rest the silencer just kind of fit in place. Both hoses were connected as designed. We waited an extra 10 minutes for it to set before I fired up the beast. You’d have thought I was waiting for Santa to come down the mast or something. I was impatient so I found putting away tools occupied me for several minutes while I waited. We fired up the beast and tada! No leaks from the hose connection. Yay! The bottom of the canister was a different story.

As it turns out, one of my Diesel engine repair manuals by Nigel Calder talks a little about the water lift silencer. Apparently a back pressure 1.5 PSI is present to help force the water out to the back of your vessel. That’s good because I’m not sure I could seal it up for any more than that. Additionally, Mr. Calder recommends breaking lose your exhaust connections and inspecting the inside of hoses for excess soot, oil or anything else at least once a year. Catch it before the surprise of not working properly when you least expect it. It will be on my annual inspection to do list from now on.

To answer the question of what the life expectancy is would be like answering the riddles of the universe in one word. They may, but I would recommend routine checks while servicing your engine. You know hands on eyes on while it’s running if possible. I have to admit that this was not something on my radar of things to check. To make sure it doesn’t develop a crack like ours did for whatever reason, defect, installation or old age, I’ll be checking our new one during regular engine services in the future. I only look upon our repair as an emergency repair and yes, we will be getting a new one in New Zealand.

I write this for all my boating friends out there that at the very least ask their own questions. I wonder if mine might be leaking? Do I have one of those? Is it in good working order?

If this helps just one other person to avoid potential exhaust water lift silencer issues then right on!

Now it’s back to sailing in a cold, cloudy environment. We are less than 200 nautical miles from Marsden Cove Marina where we will check into Country with Customs, Immigration and Bio-Security. We have about 14 knots of wind out of the North on our port quarter, the seas are relatively flat and we’re making 7 knots. Hang on Grape Ape! He likes to be part of everything. What are you gonna do? Teenagers!


Captain Dan

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Miracles Happen

If you’ve been following along our journey you know that several days ago our water maker sprung not one or two, but three leaks! We’ve been limping it along while we tried to figure out where we could get a replacement cylinder. Dan was able to repair leaks one and two but the threads in one of the Clark pump cylinders had a small fissure in it which meant we’d need a new one. Finding parts like this in a place like Fiji was surely going to be an issue and we were prepared to order one from the states and have it shipped here.

The morning after the leak was discovered Dan went to shore in Denarau and stopped by Baobab Marine to discuss the best way to get one of these cylinders. They carry Spectra parts but didn’t have the cylinder we needed. They told him it would take a couple of weeks to get one in. Okay, that’s not a horrible thing as we could continue to limp along with it but he was pretty certain we could get it sooner if we had it shipped to someone in the states and had them ship it to us. It would have gone to our “go to” person, Dan’s sister, Tina. She’s a gem and always there to help with stuff like this.

Dan came back to the boat and because it was the weekend and Daily Watermakers in San Diego was already closed so we had to wait until Tuesday to call them and place the order. We’re a day ahead of the them.

Tuesday came and Dan got on the phone right away to see what we could do. They know him well at the Spectra store and after hearing Dan’s diagnosis they were certain he was correct. They also had some potential good news which is that there is a store in Lautoka that may have a cylinder in stock. Lautoka is not far from Denarau so we were excited at the prospect of being able to get one locally. Dan place a called to Oceania Water Group. Miracle of miracles happened as they told us they not only have one, but two in stock! The look of relief on Dan’s face was fantastic. 

The next morning we took the boat up to Vuda Marina and anchored outside the marina. We went to shore and took a taxi into Lautoka to find Oceania where they indeed, had the cylinder we needed. The people there were amazing and incredibly helpful. They carry all sorts of water maker parts and filters. We will certainly keep them in mind if we ever have an issue again and we are in the area.

So, what was the final cost? Well, ironically we found that we paid less for it here in Fiji than we would have if we’d have had bought it in the states and had it shipped to us. We figure we actually paid about $50 USD less. BONUS!!!

Total time from the first leak to completion of the project…5 days!

Total Cost: $300 USD (This includes our taxi ride into Lautoka!)

After picking up a few other provisions in town we were dropped back off at the marina where we had a beer to celebrate before returning to Dazzler. Within two hours Dan had the new cylinder installed and there wasn’t a drop of water to be found.

The most important part of it all is we are making water. Dan took me to shore where we celebrated with a yummy dinner of Mongolian Beef at the Boatshed Restaurant overlooking the water. The sunset was beautiful, the food spectacular and the beer ice cold! Yes, all is right in the world of Dazzler again!

Until Next Time…

Jilly & Dan

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Thinking Outside Of The Box

While cruising México during the last seven years, I have learned a few tricks that may save the new World Cruiser a few steps, bus or taxi ride. México like most third world countries is developing around us. It has many conveniences, but the handy Starbucks on every corner or a marine supply store in every city. West Marine, Fisheries Supply and others are an Internet click away, but getting our precious purchases into México and onto our vessels has many drawbacks. There is a time for those consumer marine stores products and that is usually when we travel back home or we know someone who can Mule or Burro items into México for us.

During my years of cruising México, I have learned that applying the conventional 18600876_10206827277199088_1816111679_nthought process for finding a stainless steel fastener, special fitting or other marine specialty item is lost. Yes, there are a few Ferreterías scattered throughout México and yes most of the old salts know where they are located. One in particular looks so much like a West Maine inside it is scary. Sometimes putting a patch on something to get by is an option until you can get to one of these stores. Sometimes a patch isn’t going to work.

Consider your options. If you have a hydraulic issue you won’t easily find a B & G hydraulic ram for sale much less the parts you need to effect a repair yourself. But, hydraulics are used all over México and there is usually a hydraulic shop that you could have a pump rebuilt or purchase parts necessary to do the repair yourself. The same thing goes for bearings and shaft seals. Just because there isn’t a ProFurl outlet near by, doesn’t mean that a tienda that sells seals and bearings isn’t available. I have seen hydraulic hoses and hose fittings at a welding shop that also work on farm equipment.

While on an outing looking for a fastener or other specialized part, it is not unreasonable to visit four, five or even more tiendas until you find what you are looking for. While in those tiendas along the way, take your time and look through them. You never know what you might find.

If you are like me, I have a list of projects that is constantly growing and ever present. This is the list of things that I like to call, “Good to do when I get a ‘Round Tuit!’” So when looking through the tiendas along the way with this floating list in my brain, something on a shelf, peg boar or bin will silently shout out making me stop and contemplate the possibilities of completing one of those less critical items on the list. I was looking for some carbon brushes for a DC water pump in Santa Rosalía. I found them in a hardware store that sold lighting and plumbing fixtures. Go figure! What you seek is not always where you think it should be and thus thinking outside the box results in a victory if only for one item on your list.

Costco Shopping Mentality. Most folks know what IMG_3966shopping in a large warehouse store is like. You know the large quantities of items stores with the 40 pound package of raisins, the 55 gallon drum of laundry detergent, etc…? Well, I can tell you that I have more than once, while shopping there, seen one of those shiny items on the self and thought I would like to have it, but I wasn’t prepared to by it at the moment. You know that item guys, the thing on the shelf that is illuminated with a blinding light from the heavens above with six arrows pointing to the item? I usually convince myself that I’ll be back to Costco next week to get it after I measure and figure where it will get install or stored. Almost every time I’ve gone back to get that item it has been sold out. I tell myself that I was stupid and that I know better. Folks, if you see an item in México that you remotely think is something you need, BUY IT! Because when you return the Costco Penalty of “Not Available” will grace you with its presence. There won’t be anymore lights from heaven on that shelf until maybe your next visit.

I thoroughly enjoy the adventure part of looking for an item as it gets you off the boat, interacting with the people in the community and adventure is part of the cruising culture.

So, here is how you find what you need. There is a wealth of information rattling around the heads of those that have been cruising México for multiple years. Most are willing to share the knowledge they have obtained from their adventures. If you can tap into this dusty well of information your adventures will take less time for actually finding what you are looking for. Browsing through tiendas along the way can broaden your knowledge base of what is available along the way and perhaps make your next adventure easier.

Just a few tips from off the decks of Dazzler.


Captain Dan
SV Dazzler