The plan was simple. Capt. Rich was going to be off base Saturday. The Florida Sea Base seasonal staff had their assignments for the day. So I thought I would sleep in a little and then tend to some routine maintenance on Escape before going in to the office. I “slept in” until 05:30; so much for that. I compiled yesterday’s post and thought I would go back to bed. That lasted about 20 minutes. So I got up and decided to clean the raw water strainer for the air conditioner/heater. I opened the door to the engine room, turned on the light, and immediately noted that the bilge was full of standing water. Not good. It only took a minute to determine that the float switch for the bilge pump was not working. The pump has three modes; automatic (using the float switch), off, and on. I switched the pump “on” (essentially bypassing the float switch) and pumped the bilge dry. I then turned my attention back to the strainer but thought I smelled diesel. So I looked around and saw that the Racor® filter was leaking. (This filter helps separate water and debris from the diesel before it reaches the standard fuel filter.) I decided the diesel leak was the highest priority. Getting to the filter was the Racor® was the hardest part of that chore. The problem was resolved in about fifteen minutes. So again I turned my attention to the strainer. Another 20 minutes and it was disassembled, cleaned and reassembled. Now it was time to address the float switch.
I new I had a new float switch on board, but I couldn’t remember where. No worries. I keep a spreadsheet with a list of spare parts and where they are stowed. The file said it was in compartment #1 under the lower bunk in the v-berth. That was not great news. I had a LOT of stuff piled on top of the mattress. So I removed spare linens, pillows, boxes with assorted contents, a man-overboard device, a vacuum cleaner and everything else. Then I removed the mattress and gained access to the storage compartment. No float switch. So I put everything back and headed topside.
I checked on the staff and they were all working hard, doing exactly as assigned. I hit the road to go to West Marine in Marathon to purchase a float switch. About 90 minutes later I was back on the boat and an hour after that the float switch was operational and all was good. I then put the rest of yesterday’s chores on today’s do list.
Capt. Rich and Capt. Alan had an uneventful trip bringing the dive boat that is being delivered to Belize from Fort Lauderdale to the Florida Sea Base (for the second time). They said one of the driveshafts is still vibrating but it is better than before. The departure date to jump from here to Belize is uncertain. A vibrating driveshaft could wallow out the cutlass bearing or packing gland. These two devices keep the water from entering the boat here the propellor shaft goes through the hull. If the cutlass bearing or packing gland fails, water will rush into the boat. The hole will have to be packed with whatever is at hand. The engine on that side of the boat will have to be shut down. The speed over ground will be cut my more than half. That puts the crew on the water for twice as long with an increased chance for bad weather or running out of food or water. The bottom line is trying to deliver the boat from the Florida Sea Base to Belize with a vibrating shaft could be much more serious than just a shaky ride.
We are forecasted to have another gorgeous day today. I hope to get some work done topside on Escape. Wednesday morning is forecasted to be 59 with a high of 71 and then warming back up.
The BSA Health and Safety Committee concluded their session yesterday afternoon. Other than the small change to the BSA Scuba Policy on Asthma, I am not aware of any changes that were made that would affect the Florida Sea Base.
Wherever you are I hope you stay safe and warm today and if you have any money bet on the Super Bowl I hope your team wins. (I’m not a betting kind of guy.)
Aboard S/V Escape