Cruising = Working on your boat in exotic ports. Or as I like to say paying the price for enjoying work-free cruising to the cruising gods with personal labor and shiny varnish.
The parts that didn’t get stripped to bare wood only have two more coats. The pieces with new varnish still have about 6-8 coats to go. Ain’t nothing, but a thang. And the two rebuilt hatches got their first two coats of varnish as well. I know there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Where is Jilly during all this? Not around any varnish…she sheds. Picking hair out of wet varnish is bad enough, but sanding hair out of dried varnish…….Priceless!
Now it’s time sto sit back and enjoy a few days off to enjoy Christmas. Then it’s back to work.
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!
The tales from the grim reaper aren’t that bad. Yes for the last nine days Dazzler and her crew have had patches of weather and a few daily fixes. But in the big picture her crew has learned many things to better understand the whole sailing thing. Everyone has their favorite point of sail and we have ours as well. Our least favorite is having your ear pinned down trying to go as close to weather and as fast as possible. There has to be a level of comfort or the human body gets fatigued. Let’s face it, with a crew of two comfort is a big factor. We generally hove to to make the hot evening meal and that feels as if we are at anchor. Nice break from all the motion of the ocean and subliminal core exercises that Dr. Oz never told us about.
Dazzler and her crew have enjoyed watching her stretch out her legs and lean into the wind. For the last few days we have experienced a good point of sail with 15-20 knots of wind from the east with our coarse of 185°-194° true. The apparent wind angle has been about 70° apparent. Not a bad point of sail but when we add the 1.5-2.5 meter swells running out of the southeast the sea pushes back a bit. Since yesterday afternoon the wind has been coming straight out of the east and Dazzler has hit her glory. We have experience winds from 120°-90° true and she seems to be very happy. For a small heavy vessel she doesn’t give way too easily to the constant bullying of the sea so she holds line very well.
One of the things that I’ve been working on for the last several years is learning to fine tune Dazzler’s sail plan and balance. Constantly adjusting the different sails and noticing how they affect the relationship with regards to how hard the autopilot is working. Currently her sail plan for the above mentioned wind and swell pattern is a double reefed main, fully deployed staysail and the jib let out to the shape of a high clew yankee (About an 80% sail). As she leans into the wind we have been enjoying 6.0-7.0 knots per hour. I must say it’s quite nice compared to those close hauled bone jarring wave crashing times at the helm. She runs smoothly at this wind angle and obtains great speed as we are starting to make up a little time on our passage.
As luck would have it, we are expecting a low pressure front to move across north island New Zealand on 9 November and our scheduled date of arrival is 8 November. So, making up as many miles along the way to ensure we arrive on the eighth of November is important. And who knows what challenging circumstances may rise up to our delight. By the way Neptune that wasn’t a challenge. LOL
The weather is decidedly colder here at 26° south than in Fiji. Granted Fiji had its share of cloudy cool days as well. But Fiji is coming into its cyclone season and summer months now. So is New Zealand for that matter. We were told how warm it was last season by the local Kiwis, but to us 69° and 72° was butt ass cold. Kiwis are walking around in shorts and barefoot and we are all bundled up like we’re going on an arctic adventure with Sir Edmund Hillary. I guess the term of winter or summer is all relative to the thickness or lack of thickness of your blood.
Dazzler is 32 years young and still has a great spirit for bluewater sailing. I try to stay on top of all the preventative maintenance, but issues such as a water lift muffler are something I’ve never experienced or even heard of before. Perhaps they have a service life. Perhaps there is a way to check their condition. Without internet, I can’t search that issue. Rest assured when we get to NZ we will look that up along with where to get a good quality replacement.
Yes that list of projects for New Zealand is growing every day. Six months of sipping drinks with little umbrellas has its price. It’s called Maintenance! Nothing is free in water world! Cruising anywhere and living your dream is not free. Not necessarily money, but your time and labor as well. You could do as some do and have the attitude of deferring maintenance or you can stay on top of it by fixing things when they present themselves. I myself like to even outsmart those pesky things and fix them before they become an issue. In some case those simple projects grow because you find other issues when you’re fixing the first one. For example changing Dazzler’s oil before we left Fiji and finding a nut from one of the shaft flange bolts under the engine. At least we dodged that bullet.
So you see, while I’m sitting here on the morning watch screaming in a southerly direction towards John’s Corner at 7 knots, I am enjoying the relationship we all share. You know the one between Dazzler, crew, the sea, the wind and paradise! You may not think 7 knots is that fast, but for those armchair sailers or those custom to the yacht club bar stool it’s faster than the 405 in West Los Angeles at rush hour but a hell of a lot more fun.
Until next time catch us if you can. Cheers! Captain Dan