Live Free 2 Sail Fast

Engine Frustrations

Blogist Note:  If my frustrations shine through in my writing…I was frustrated at the time I wrote this.  The writing may seem a bit disjointed but I’m not going to change much cause I want the tone to come through.  I was sitting in a blowing anchorage with torrential downpours of rain hitting us as I wrote this…hiding from Raymond.  The things mentioned in this post are a really big deal when you’re 40 miles off the coast of Baja in the dark and two days away from San Diego with no support available.  This is my website so I can write what we’re experiencing from our own point of view but it’s not whining.  We’re sitting on a dock right now somewhere in Baja for a reason….getting all this fixed with the resources available. 

Originally written in Man O’ War Cove, Mag Bay, BC Mexico and Edited Somewhere Outside La Paz, BC Mexico:

I’m sitting in another wind and rain squall waiting out Tropical Storm Raymond in Mag Bay, BC Mexico; thinking through various frustrations that have affected the family and the boat while we’ve made our way down the coast from San Diego.  The white medical tape throughout the boat tells (some of) the tale for me…as those are the various cabinets and doors that fall open under way and spill contents all over the boat.  A wrecked and destroyed Asymetric Spinnaker tells another tale.  The fact that the boat has neither of it’s primary bilge pumps or engine temperature sensors working and numerous oil and salt water leaks from the engine tells me yet another story that I’m going to discuss throughout this blog post.

My wife says the blame game isn’t productive for anyone… but we both know the facts:  the loss of boat time (shakedown) in Aug, Sept and Oct and the lack of directed efforts to fix our engine directly contributed to things wrong on the boat today.  Of course WE will get these things fixed in La Paz, but the fact remains that all of these things were covered by simple verbal sentences in the salon of our boat in the 2nd week of August.  Directly to us:  “1. Rebuilding the engine would be cheaper and faster than dropping a new engine in the boat,  2. The engine would be out of the boat for four (4) weeks (it was out for 11 weeks),  3. The owner of the mechanical company guaranted his work- can’t wait to see if a mechanic or any parts fly into La Paz to fix the bilge pumps, engine temperature sensors, RPM gauge or numerous oil and salt water leaks in engine.  2 Days out of San Diego on the way down Baja I discovered the boat had no working bilge pumps (they’re under the engine and hard to get to) as the wiring had been cut to move them to get the engine out…but those pumps (wiring) were never reconnected when the engine was put back in.  Meaning…I have no working bilge pumps under my engine  right now.  

Our frustrations mounted as the promised four weeks (with the engine out of the boat) came and went and there was little verbal follow-up, except when they wanted “progress payments”.  Insurance covered the diagnosis of the engine problem only.  The rest of the rebuild cost was on us.  Lesson learned…we should have gotten a 2nd opinion on the engine rebuild,  we should have had a longer discussion about rebuild vice new engine with the mechanical firm.

We think this loss of “shakedown” time has proven critical for some of our sailing technical skills that we had planned to work on during that time and some of our energy management needs that we could have corrected while still in the US.  Instead, we will fix these things in La Paz but they’re proving to be very critical while stuck here in Mag Bay for 5 days waiting out Raymond.

We sailed out of San Diego Bay on Nov 4th with the Ha-Ha…but had a mechanic on the boat on Saturday the 2nd who was supposed to fix the engine temperature gauges and sensors and assured us that they were fixed!!   The point is that this was two days before we wanted to leave for Mexico and things were not fixed…we had a mechanic on the boat when our crew arrived…great impression we made.

-For those boat owners considering major mechanical work in San Diego…I’d simply say shop around.  Find a firm who’s hungry, wants your business and will COMMUNICATE with you; vice you having to chase them down.

Reporting from 9 days later in the trip:  Just outside of Frailes the engine started lugging and I noticed our temperature was going up as I lasered the engine (none of our temperature sensors are working).  After taking a close look, I noticed that one of our alternators had fallen off and was simply hanging in place with one small bolt (with NO NUT on it).  The upper bolt holding the alternator in place was completely gone.  Luckily, I found a bolt and nut that fit and was able to reattach that alternator.  Careful inspection of the second alternator revealed that when it was put on…the mechanics had simply put the bolt on….with all the nuts on one side of the bolt.  So the bolt was just sitting there…no nut on one side.  I found one that fit and was able to get that alternator secured before it fell off.  Luckily, this took care of the overheat issue but after this our RPM gauge went dead.  Here’s pictures of some of the work I did underway that day:

Here’s the alternator that fell off. They did a really pretty job of painting the engine, but that’s not the original bolt or nut cause they’re at the bottom of my bilge. See, the mechanics didn’t use locking nuts. That’s the bolt and nut that I scrounged from my kit when I reattached the alternator after figuring out what was going on. The second bolt was hanging with no nut on it either.

 

Thank God I checked this second alternator after I worked on the other one, as this one has this bolt that I quickly photographed than fixed. See the bolt with ALL the nuts on one side, just sitting there- That’s my frustration…I think this picture speaks louder than anything I could write.

We’re out here learning valuable and sometimes hard lessons that we don’t shy away from passing on to you.  My hope is that these learning experiences will shine through no matter what you take from my frustrations.


Wanna support us, the dog and our trip?  All you have to do is follow our website or buy some great sunscreen and perhaps take a look at our Patreon site (I’d love a few beers).

 

 

One comment on “Engine Frustrations”

  • We can sympathize with your experience. A mechanic left our engine misaligned causing additional cost and time coming down the California coast.

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