Unexpected Noise is Never Good

I am striving to post twice a week.  Sometimes it will be more and sometimes less, but at a minimum I like to have a post out by Saturday morning.  I didn’t make it this week, because I’ve been sick with the flu or something these past few days, having absolutely no energy to do anything.

It’s even one of the reasons we are still sitting in Arnhem today, Monday.

Dauntless in Arnhem
Dauntless in Arnhem

Nijmegen and Arnhem are special places for me.  My ex-wife Leonie is from Nijmegen and her sisters have lived in Arnhem the past 30 years, so it’s like coming home.

So in spite of my feeling not the best, it was great to have people over every evening for dinner, since Wednesday, to see the D, aka Dauntless.  Dauntless does appear to have gotten bigger in Europe, either that or all the docks and marinas are smaller.

So after entertaining the Vinks all weekend, I awoke this morning, with a goal to sit in my chair and do nothing.  Doing nothing is really hard for me.  That Corona ad, where the guy goes to the beach and sits with his beer watching the sunset, looks like torture to me.

So this morning, I figured, maybe I would sit in my chair in the salon and organize the two large bins I have of stuff that keeps growing, yet seems unclassifiable, so I can’t put it where it belongs.  Maybe I’ll just store it and let Leonie sort it when she and her husband Martin come out in August.

Dauntless in Nijmegen
Dauntless in Nijmegen

Speaking of Martin, Dauntless has three battery chargers.  A Heart Inverter/Charger, A Neumar True Charge and another one with a yellow case.

The Neumar is the only one that can take shore power here at 230 volts and charge the batteries.  Of course when I spent that week in Horta, we were hooked up to shore power and I tried to get it to work and for the life of me, it seemed dead.  Would not even work with the generator, the way it used to.  In the Azores, I was also delayed in fixing it in that I could not find that female plug that is ubiquitous in the US for computer power supplies.

I had removed the cover that says, so not remove under pain of death, and even checked the fuses and everything else I could find.  Neumar sent me the wiring diagram and offered to send another selector switch.  This while helpful, ended up misleading me.

Even after I came back from the US in the fall, I had a cable and plug, I had labeled it all, ground, neutral and load.  Blah, blah, blah.  NO luck.

But with the solar panels and not really needing much 12 v power form the batteries while at the dock, it got put to the back burner.

So finally yesterday, while I am burning our dinner on the bbq, Martin seemed fascinated with this Charger, so not to look a gift horse in the mouth, I got him the electrical meter and found a plug we could use for the 230 system.

Locking with Willie carrying 1,000 tons of sand
Locking with Willie carrying 1,000 tons of sand

He gets it all wired up again and plugs it in.  I said this is how far I got, but once plugged in, I never saw any power past the plug pins.  He plugs it in and within a minute it starts working!

Frankly, I was as flabbergasted as I was grateful.  One less thing to worry about.

B y the time I finished washing up, I was exhausted, so I got to bed early, feeling not so good, slept on and off until 09:30 and frankly did not feel that much better, thus the decision to do nothing.

So I’m looking at the Victron battery monitor and see a draw of 7 amps.  Other than a phone charger plugged into a cigarette lighter outlet, there is nothing else on.  I take the flashlight to check the charger, and sure enough, it is not working, but then I knew that, otherwise I would not have seen the negative 7 amps (yesterday when working it was putting 20 amps into the batteries).

The back of Willie
The back of Willie

I check the fuel levels to write in the log and then I hear it. A slight whine.  But I can’t place it. It’s not the fuel polisher, which is much nosier.

It seems to be coming from the rear section of the engine room, near the charger.

I open the salon deck panel and look down into the bilge and see a foot of water flowing rapidly, almost like a garden hose full open.

My initial panic, within seconds gives way to measured panic.  At least the bilge pump is just keeping up with it as in the little time I’ve been watching it, it has not gotten higher.  But this also explains why the batteries were down 220 amps this morning.  That poor little pump had been keeping us afloat all night.

Of course, this was one of the topics of conversation over the weekend.  I explained that while Waterford is a great place to leave the Krogen, once I’m gone for two weeks, I start getting antsy and must return within three weeks.  And I gave the example of a thru hull failure that lets a lot of water into the boat that the two pumps can keep up with only so long as there is battery power.  So even though I have friends in Waterford who keep an eye on Dauntless, they could go by every day and see nothing out of place, then all of a sudden, the batteries finally go flat and D sinks.

So all of this is going on in my mind in the first minute.

I see all this water rushing around, but where is it coming from?  I turn off the generator thru hull, because it’s right there and I figure I ran the generator for the first time since October last evening and this started last evening, so maybe they are related.

No change in flow.

Look under the engine, see nothing, but close the main engine thru hull. No change.

I look all over the engine room, the stuffing box had been my first guess, but just it’s steady drip, drip, drip.  I can’t figure out how the water is getting there. So I decide to take the chance and turn off the bilge pump and then I can see where it is coming from.

Turn it off, run over to the hatch look down and it’s the same amount of water, just sitting there sedately.  Not getting deeper; now just calm.

I turn on the pump, the whirlpool starts again, turn it off, it stops.

So, I don’t have a leak, this is the water that has come from the stuffing box in the last 12 hours (I do need to tighten it, I like a drip every minute, now it’s up to every second).

I pull the hose up to get the pump out and the hose comes up without the pump.  That explains that.

Two hours later, I’m sweating like a pig (it must be the flu, the boat is not even warm), but I put a new piece of hose on the pump with a new clamp.  The failure was caused by the old clamp disintegrating.

At 12:30 I am finally able to sit and do nothing.

So I end up spending the next three hours trying to get my wxx3 email with yahoo to work again. It just stopped working last week.

And an hour writing this, it’s 18:30, almost time for bed.’

Another day done just like that.

Oh by the way, remember I said that I initially had the charger problem in Horta last August?

It seems pretty obvious to be now that the reason the charger did not work was that the solar panels put out enough power, the charger would not be able to see the true state of batteries with the solar panels on.  Here in Arnhem yesterday, not only are we much further north, but it was also cloudy.

So I will sleep tonight knowing that I spent countless hours on that charger looking for complicated problems when the simple solution was right in front of me.  All I had to do was turn off the solar panels.