Yesterday morning, Kevin, a well respected marine diesel mechanic in our area, visited Beatitude to assess and repair our starboard engine. We really must have that engine working well before we leave the area in three and a half weeks.
As you may remember, this engine has been acting up our last few times out. It will start okay, but starts to struggle and eventually dies after we’ve been out for a little less than an hour. Then, it won’t start unless I fire up the engine with increased throttle. It is important for this engine to be operable because our windlass will not operate unless the starboard engine is running. It is also very difficult to maneuver a catamaran in tight quarters with only one engine. Beatitude does not like to turn to port with only the port engine running.
I (correctly assumed) this was a fuel problem. I initially thought I needed to replace the fuel filter. For reasons unclear to me, each engine had a different type of fuel filter. So, I thought this was a good time to replace the entire starboard filter with a Racor fuel filter/water separator to match the port engine. This went off fairly well (except for some aggravation finding the right fittings). However, after replacing the filter, the problem with the engine remained.
I noticed that the filter seemed to be sucking air on the fuel uptake side. This I (incorrectly) assumed to be due to faulty installation on my part. Subsequently, I removed and reinstalled that filter three times, but each time it still had an air leak. Finally, I called Kevin. After a few minutes, he had (we are pretty certain) found the problem.
My installation of the filter was fine. The air leak was coming from a crack in the plastic fuel uptake tube which sits in the starboard fuel tank. It is now obvious that the initial problem was that the old filter was also sucking in air from the tank (this was not clear at the time because, unlike the Racor, with the Yanmar filter you couldn’t see through the old housing). My replacing the filter, while something that I wanted to do anyway, didn’t address the reason the engine was failing to begin with.
Now, all we need to do is find a replacement part. This is not so easy since the boat was made in France, and the parts are often difficult to come by. If not, Kevin will hopefully be able to fabricate a solution. We hope to have this completed by next Wednesday, when we plan to take Beatitude out for the very last time before we leave the area for good. That will be the occasion for a final test drive to make sure all essential systems are workable.
Last evening we met our friends, Jay and Karen, at The Waterfront Restaurant on Anna Maria Island to discuss our future cruising plans. The food and company was wonderful. It looks as if we may be able to spend some time together out on the hook during our first few months away. They will have some cruising time that coincides with our cruising schedule. I certainly hope that works out.
Cindy and I left a little early for our dinner engagement and enjoyed a walk along the beautiful beach at Bean Point, the northernmost tip of Anna Maria.