Welcome to the blog of the sailing yacht Sea Bunny.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

If it ain't broke - don't use it

Eileen Quinn's song title on one of her CD's (all cruisers should listen to them - they are so accurate of the cruising life) may be a recipé for ensuring nothing further goes wrong - but it does limit your options!

From this you may guess that things have been breaking on Sea Bunny!

While in Portsmouth, Dominica, we wanted to reactivate our diving skills. Apart from diving on the boat to clean the hull and fix things, we had not done any diving since Borneo in 2010, so we booked an refresher course in Cabrits National Park, Portsmouth.
This is where the broken bits started coming to light. Susan wanted to put her gear on and go in the water from Sea Bunny before going on the course. Her (BCD) had a major leak which prevented this. She dived with the dive centre's BCD. While we were down on the first dive the instructor observed that Richard had a leak from the high pressure line connecting the air tank to the pressure gauge. A sudden failure of this at depth would be "interesting" as the entire air tank, starting off at 200 bar pressure, would empty very rapidly and noisily. Finally Susan's dive computer was recording random depths but failing to operate  on a dive.
We did, however, update our skills and even saw a sea horse.
Later in Guadaloupe we did more diving at the recommended site of the Ilets à Goyaves (Ilets Pigeon). The first time we cobbled together one working set of equipment - R used the dive operator's regulator assembly and his own BCD. Susan used the operator's BCD but her own regulator and Richard's dive computer. R carried Susan's dive computer in his pocket to check it had a problem - it did . It seems weird to dive with only a pressure gauge but no depth information.

A priority when we hired a car for a couple of days was to update dive gear. The only equipment shop in Guadaloupe is at the marina at Pointe à Pitre. We acquired new hoses for Richard and a new BCD and dive computer for Susan, so we were all up to spec for our next dive at Pigeon Island.


In parallel with dive issues the genset had ceased to work, or even start. Symptoms were no compression and evidence of oil, fuel, soot and water around the base of the cylinder head. Aha! thought Richard; blown cylinder head gasket. No problem, we have a replacement, the necessary gaskets and o-rings and I've done this several times.We can go to the marina at Jolly Harbour, Antigua, lift the genset into the cockpit in calm conditions and replace the gasket and o-rings.

Unfortunately, this diagnosis ignored the fact that a broken cylinder head stud, which could not be moved, would give similar symptoms but be significantly more difficult to fix! Coming up to Easter we decided not to fix here as we have a dead line of crew joining us in Bermuda.
Old genset base - surprising it had lasted 16 years

Compounding this, on trying to lift the genset, one of the mounting bolts jammed and we lifted the glassed-in base with the genset. Probably best that the bonding failed in Jolly Harbour rather than half way across the Atlantic but it took 4-5 days to build and glass-in a new base and reinstall the now non-functioning genset.
New base being glassed in
Many yachts cross oceans without the luxury of a genset. We have a powerful alternator on the engine, solar power and wind generators.

Ready to lift the set onto its new base, which will be bolted to the new frame

Our Iridium GO satellite communications unit, which we use particularly for email and weather forecasts at sea, normally works well with an external antenna. On arrival at Jolly Harbour it had ceased to do so - failing to connect with the Iridium satellites. Checking resistances appeared to reveal an intermittent fault with the very thin connector between the external antenna cable and the unit itself. We ordered a replacement shipped out from Miami thinking this would fix it.
It hasn't, so we may have to rely on whatever signal we can get with the GO on deck. As it sometimes gets a signal there is just a possibility that the numerous masts etc in Jolly Harbour Marina are preventing a good signal.


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