Visiting Ecuador

Boat Chores For One And All (continued)

The setup David rigged up to filter diesel fuel that became contaminated with water. You can just make out the hose going into the boat via the speedo transducer hole (lower left side of hull).  

After the travelift moved Nine of Cups, "Canadian George" (the boatyard manager) put his boat where we used to be. His boat looked really nice, but it still needed a lot of work. Notice the navigation beacon in the corner of the boatyard. It is mostly used by big ships approaching the harbor, like the tankers in the distance.  

This is the mast for George's boat, wrapped in yellow plastic.  

Early one morning (before I got up), Marcie and David were refilling the water tanks. In a pre-coffee fog, Marcie accidentally put the water hose in the diesel tank. She realized it almost immediately, but a few gallons of water made it into the tank.

David managed to rig up, on the spur of the moment, a rather elaborate fuel polishing system (which removes water and dirt from the fuel). It consisted of two Raycor water separators (with fuel filters) connected in series, plus an electric fuel pump, all mounted on a piece of wood. There were a couple of hoses for intake and outlet and a long cord with a cigarette lighter plug on the end.

The idea was to pump all the contaminated fuel out of the fuel tank (which is below the floorboards of the saloon), run it through the fuel polisher to remove the water, then pump the clean fuel to a big barrel and set of jerry jugs outside the boat. Once all the boat's fuel had been pumped into the barrel, the empty fuel tank could be cleaned and the clean fuel pumped back into the tank. Initially, David was going to run a hose up the companionway and over the side, but since we were on-the-hard and the speed transducer was removed, there was a convenient hole in the hull which made it easy to run the hose outside to the barrel.

Although the operation sounds simple in principle, it turned out to be a messy and time-consuming job with the usual number of problems. For example, David wanted to power the electric fuel transfer pump using a small portable battery charger, but it turned out the charger didn't have enough power. So David had to remove one of the big storage batteries from the boat's electrical system, carry it topsides and down the transom ladder, and hook it up to the pump. Then, when he was trying to siphon the clean fuel back into the fuel tank, the squeeze-bulb device he was using to prime the siphon hose didn't work properly. He had to prime the system the old-fashioned way by sucking on the hose and got a mouthful of diesel fuel in the process. (I asked him what diesel tasted like and he said "not nearly as bad as gasoline".) There was a silver lining to this whole exercise—David was able to buy some water-contaminated diesel fuel from the marina at a third of the normal price, and since he already had the fuel polisher hooked up, it was a straightforward job to filter the fuel and pump it into our tank.

Some days, the boatyard staff also worked on Nine of Cups to finish up their jobs. They spent quite some time masking the boat with tape and paper so they could do some touch-up spray painting (they needed to fix a few boo-boos they made earlier when they repainted the decks). As an example of the usual problems, they had used up all the special spray paint on various miscellaneous projects. So at the last minute, they had to order more paint and get it air-freighted down from Miami (there are no local sources). The staff also spent time working on the liferaft installation on the coachroof and re-installing the propeller.

One day, the boatyard staff drove the Travelift over, hoisted Nine of Cups, and moved us to make room for "Canadian George's" boat ("Canadian George" is the boatyard manager, not to be confused with "French George" who is another cruiser). George's boat needs a lot of work, so now that his workers are almost done working on other cruisers' boats, they'll start working on George's boat. The staff seemed a little disorganized when moving the boat. They had maybe eight or ten people scurrying around but the Travelift driver got little direction and finally drove over to Nine of Cups on his own. Then there were too many people directing him, whistling and gesturing. He never did get properly centered on the boat, but things turned out OK. It seems they don't like to pick the boat up into the air. Instead they just take the weight off then knock the jackstands out and pry the boards out from under the keel—strange.

David says that boatyard protocol is different than in the states. Here, the captain is fully responsible for his boat and must bear all responsibility for the entire Travelift operation. The marina has no legal responsibility, even if they drop the boat or it falls off the jackstands. The captain is supposed to check everything and verify that everything, including things done by the staff, meets with his full approval before allowing the operation to proceed.

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