Monday, May 09, 2011

Some days you eat the bear ...

The new girlfriend is off running wild in Key West, so instead of spending the weekend sailing, I had some down time to get some work done. It was a beautiful weekend in Houston with temperatures breaking into the 90s for the first time this year. I'm guessing it was the last weekend that I'll be able to sleep without the air-conditioner running on the boat. I think summer has arrived.

Nice evening at the marina

I spent Saturday cleaning house, so I didn't make it to the marina until Saturday evening. It was great to see all the neighbors on F-dock, and I was treated to a steak on the Tina Marie before I played guitars with Chris and Ray late into the night. (I think we're getting better.)

The sun burning through the open hatch of the v-berth had me up by 8:30 Sunday morning. Shortly thereafter, Chuck from Kemah Canvas, showed up to evaluate the Starwind for a bimini. Between my backstays, the backstay adjuster, the low boom, and the main sheet, there's a lot of junk taking up space in my cockpit. I feel my envy growing every time I see a Hunter, Catalina or Beneteau with a nice open cockpit covered by a large, shady bimini. To get the same effect on my boat, I'd have to spend quite a bit of money to move the traveler over the companionway, raise the boom, and then have the main sail re-cut. I'm probably better off just buying a different boat.

Chuck did some measuring and calculations to see what he could create to custom fit the Starwind and provide some shade. Unfortunately, a custom bimini comes out about $1500. I think we're going to have to live with sunburn one more summer.

After meeting with Chuck, I stopped by McDonalds for some coffee since I disabled my percolator last weekend and I still haven't come up with a new perk dome -- but losing a perk dome was nothing compared to this weekend's folly.

After my McGriddle, I started my repair work. First, I sponged out the bilge to tackle the loose ground wire from the mast. The nut that held the ground to the keel bolt had disintegrated, and the stainless washers were only about half there. I cleaned up the wire and got it cinched back down in the keel. Success.
After that I took a look at the toilet, which had stopped pumping seawater when flushed. I cleaned up and reseated the valves, ran some fresh water through it, and it started flushing again. Success.

Then I turned my attention to the medicine cabinet, which has been a gaping hole in the wall of the head for the past two years. I used some little L-brackets to bolt the panels back in place. Success.

Rebuilding the medicine cabinet

By this time, it was getting close to 4 p.m., and I was thinking about calling it a day. I really SHOULD have called it a day. However, bolstered by all my little successes I thought, why not have a look at that engine temperature sender and do some trouble shooting?

I didn't have the correct wrench to fit the sender, so I ended up resorting to vice grips to twist it out of the block. That probably wasn't good for it since it's made of soft brass. Then, as I was screwing it back in, SNAP!

Broken temperature sender

I had wondered what sort of mechanism was inside of these senders, but this was not how I wanted to find out. Of course, I had no extraction tools with me. Even if I'd had something to get the old one out, I had no new sensor to replace it. In fact, I'm not quite sure where I'm going to get a new sensor. West Marine doesn't carry them. The auto parts stores are useless. The online boat outlets have some, but they all seem to have SAE threads, and I'm quite sure the Kubota is metric. I called the Kubota dealership when they opened this morning, and they said I'd just have to bring the sender in to see if they could match it, but the guy on the phone didn't sound too hopeful.

The sad part is that my parents are visiting this weekend and were hoping to go sailing. Unfortunately, when I took them out for the first time last fall, I had a loose coolant hose, and the engine promptly overheated, cutting our cruise very short. Then when they visited at Christmas, I had the heat exchanger off for repair because it had cracked and was leaking after the overheating incident. There seems to be a correlation between parents visiting and cooling problems.

On the upside, my repair list is getting shorter. It's down to this:
1) Fix temperature sender
2) Replace fuel gauge sender
3) Re-wire v-berth bilge pump
4) Fix steaming light and anchor light
5) Re-cover boat cushions

Is there a light at the end of the tunnel? Maybe.

It would be brighter if I'd stop breaking things.
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