June 29

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June 29

We were up early and underway at 3:30 am hoping to catch a good wind to Prevaza the last several days were a problem due to winds kicking up the seas and the crossing seas can be a problem for Odelia. The trip down was uneventful and smooth, although a little chilly. We were in long pants, sweaters and socks. When the sun came up things cooled down for the first while but eventually we were back in shorts and t-shirts. We were anchoring in a little cove behind Prevaza when Bonnie spotted a sea turtle about 2-3 feet in diameter. It’s nice to see the turtles.

Rick and Tsipy had a friend from Israel visit the boat for a short time. He is heading back home after cruising with a friend for two months from Croatia to Greece. He found Albania to be a nice place and not very expensive. Maybe next time.

My GPS didn’t work for the trip from Corfu so I had to make an approximate route for the trip.

Rick and I went into town and had the requisite beer to pay for internet service ( life’s tough! ). Rick and Tsipy have a friend that is supposed to be flying into Athens and will meet up with us. Rick has sent him numerous emails saying were and has kept his sat telephone up do that he could call. But no emails, skype messages, or phone calls yet. We have no way to know if he has been getting our emails and intends to show up or has called his trip off. The closer we get to has arrival date the more frustrated Rick seems to get and I completely understand. I’d be fit to be tied too. Dealing with weather and a hundred other issues, and then throwing a sort of unexpected passenger in on top makes life interesting.

We are looking at bad weather for tomorrow (Sunday). Our weather forecast says that Sunday winds are kicking up and then laying back town for Monday so the current plans are for saying in Prevaza on Sunday getting up Monday morning and going to the Levkas Canal and staying in Levkas’ marina on Monday. Rick and Tsipy’s friend has until Monday night to find us as we are scheduled to leave on Tuesday morning with good winds. Bonnie and I are enjoying the extra chance to explore a little.

During dinner, the generator did an emergency shutdown and stopped very unexpectedly. Something had tripped to cause it to shutdown. We were just at the end of the meal so Rick and I took a look. We didn’t see anything obvious as to the source of the problem. We could hear the generator when it shut down and it sounded normal at the time, no surge and die like you would expect from a fuel problem. We could hear the exhaust and it sounded normal with lots of water flow, none of the hollow puff puff puff of a dry exhaust. I had checked the oil in the generator the day before but missed this morning because the generator starting was our alarm clock to get up at 3:00 am because the generator is needed to operate the windlass.
Further investigation found the oil fine, but the generator tripped as soon as we tried to restart it. It seemed warm but the Onan generator comes inside a sound isolating box which does cause the temp to be a bit higher as the sound isolation is also thermal insulation. We decided to work actively at the problem by having a drink on the back deck, letting the engine cool, and reading the generator manual’s troubleshooting section.

The engine has many sensors which can trigger an auto shutdown.

1. The engine oil pressure sensor will trip if the engine runs out of oil or the internal oil pump fails. From the engine maintenance course I took the internal oil pump rarely if ever fails as long as there is oil in the engine. There was oil in the engine so the internal oil pump was probably fine. So if this was a problem it was probably an oil pressure sensor failure. Running without an oil pressure sensor is asking for permanent damage so if that sensor was bad it was going to have the same effect as having a bad oil pump.

2. The electrical side of the generator has a number of over or under voltage, over hertz or under hertz protections on it so if the electrical side was bad there really wasn’t much we could do, and we probably wouldn’t want to run the generator if it was putting out random versions of electrical current. But considering the lights were on and we were running a light load, the cooking was done and we were running the battery chargers, we were not causing any overloading issues.

3. The engine coolant temperature sensor, measures the temperature of the coolant in the engine to make sure the engine doesn’t overheat. The coolant was still hot around 150F when we checked around but the sensor isn’t supposed to trip until over 200F so that wasn’t likely the cause, if there was sufficient coolant in the system and the pump was working. The belt on the front of the engine was still there so as long as the belt was turning the coolant was probably circulating.

4. The engine coolant level sensor, measures the level of coolant in the engine to make sure the engine doesn’t run out of coolant. The engine was cool enough for Rick to take the cap off and there was lots of coolant. I couldn’t see any in the overflow tank until Rick took the cap off and shined a light down the hole and the tank started to glow a nice green.

5. The engine exhaust temperature sensor, measures the temperature of the exhaust, like most marine engines the water to cool the engine comes from the water the boat is floating in. The outside water comes in by suction generated by an impeller pump driven by the engine. The impeller pushed the cooling water through a heat exchanger to cool the engine coolant and then the warmed outside water gets pumped into the mixing elbow which mixes the hot engine gasses with the warmed outside water which cools the engine exhaust system to reasonable levels and then pumps it overboard with the engine exhaust. If either the impeller give up or the water input is plugged that will cause a loss of flow of outside water which will cause the exhaust temperature to rise very quickly. The engine exhaust temperature sensor is really a raw water coolant lost sensor.

Rick hit the start button and I watched the output of the exhaust/raw water mixture and we had lots of water flow. We also checked the temp with a laser thermometer and it was not hot, but by this time it was probably cooled from our reading.

The engine coolant levels were find and the temperature was not hot for engines. It was a tad hot for us to be poking around with fingers but well within normal operating temps. The fault circuit immediately tripped as soon as the engine started. So one of the sensors was immediately tripping causing the engine to die immediately as soon as it was started. The trip shut down all of the electricy to the engine including the oil pressure sensor so we would get a flick of the needle on the oil pressure but an instant later the failsafes would kill the power to all of the sensors and shutdown the engine. We checked all of the obvious things, the belt driving the impeller pump and engine coolant pump was spinning. We had engine coolant, we had oil, it was down a bit but about 7/8s of the way up between the empty and the full mark, well within operating specs. We gave it a glug to bring it up some more but that didn’t do anything. With all of the temperatures within reasonable values, lots of raw water in the exhaust it was either a bad oil pump, or a bad sensor. Rick checked and we didn’t have a spare sensor for the oil pressure. It was way too risky to assume it was a bad oil sensor, if the sensor was good and the oil pump was bad, disconnecting the sensor to make the engine run would shortly write-off the generator.

All we could really do was check the rest of the sensors, we gradually checked each sensor one by one starting the engine to see if it would run after each check and when we finally got to the exhaust temp sensor one of the connectors was bad. We had to replace a bit of wire which sent Rick into the basement of the forward cabin to a locker (under the floor between the bilge and the floor, Odelia has a lot of storage space in it) with the wire in it We replaced the connector but still no joy. When we checked the generator with the exhaust temperature sensor disconnected the generator ran like a charm.

We were good to let the generator run and charge the batteries. The nice sound isolating box around the generator had been completely dismantled by the time we were done searching for and testing the sensors. The box was scattered around the engine room but we would reassemble it tomorrow.

The searching for wire in the basement lead to the discovery of another problem. Water in the bilge. Normally Odelia is a dry boat with very little water in the bilge. There wasn’t a lot of water but there was a “more than normal” amount which bears investigation. Tasting said it was fresh water not salt so that meant it came from the boat not from the ocean. Two water tanks, with lots of pumps and stuff to check. Rick took the inspection hole out of the forward sump and found the tank full of water, it was the source of the problem. The pump that Bonnie had heard days before was not pumping water out of the tank so the tank overflowed into the bilge. We turned on the pump from the 12 Volt panel and the pump emptied the tank, so the pump was not the problem. The switch to turn the pump on and off was the problem. Rick replaced the switch and it tested out fine. All I ended up doing was fetching tools while Rick did all of the nasty work. After cleaning the bilge, closing up the hatch between the basement and the bilge and repacking the basement of the galley where a lot of Tsipy’s dry stores are stored the job was done. Another day of cruising (see definition in a previous note) and the four of us were sitting on the aft deck having G and Ts and listening the flow of cooling water from the generator.

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