I read of another boating fatality, this time off Pender island. What a tragic loss for friends and family.
As anyone who spends any time on these waters knows, it is anarchy out there. Things have quieted enormously over the last few years as the cost of fuel has risen, but not very long ago it could be quite risky manoeuvring in some narrow harbour entrances. It was not uncommon to have 20 or more boats approaching Ganges harbour in the summer, and many of them doing well over twenty or thirty knots.
As a sailor, I always viewed these vessels with a jaundiced eye. Speed rather than caution seemed to be the ethos of many of these skippers.
I’m not saying that was the case for this poor man from Pender. Accidents happen. Apparently, it was quite late in the evening (around 8PM) and he had swerved to avoid hitting a deadhead. A friend was following behind in another boat. When he swerved to avoid the deadhead the other boat smashed into him, killing him.
As a sailor, I’m used to some pretty tame speeds. A good breeze will have me loping along somewhere between 6 and 7 knots. Even at such a rate, I’m amazed at how fast untoward things can happen on the water; it only takes a second of inattention and things can get very dicey. I can’t even imagine what it is like when doing 30 knots.
Coming back from our last sail I had a whale watch boat – loaded down with passengers – buzz my stern by no more than maybe 5 metres. The skipper cheerily waved as he blasted by, doing well over 30 knots and throwing a huge wake. If I had a flare gun in my hand I would have shot a flare over his head. As it was all I could do was respond to his wave with a one-fingered salute.
Jaun de Fuca Strait is what, twenty miles wide? And in all that space he had to come within a hairsbreadth of my boat? And this is supposed to be a professional captain!
I can’t imagine what he was thinking, especially considering the precious cargo he was responsible for. By coming so close and at such a speed he was taking a totally unacceptable risk with all of us. And this has been my experience with a great number of skippers with powerful boats – a seeming belief in the infallibility of both their equipment and their skills.
In terms of this sad accident, I have to wonder about the speeds these two boats were running at given the conditions. It seems that if such abrupt manoeuvres were required to avoid an obstacle in the water, they were going too fast given the low light. Deadheads can be very hard to spot at the best of times. And obviously the following boat was too close in that he was unable to safely respond to his friend’s sudden change in direction across his bow.
If people in power boats would slow down, or at the very least give themselves and others a wide berth, accidents like this need not happen. Boat collisions should be avoidable. But as in the case of the whale watching boat the skipper decided to take it close, to take the risk that nothing untoward would happen. Most of the time they will be right. But when they are wrong, apologies will be insufficient.
I installed the Jabsco pump today – the original mounting nuts and bolts were ugly lumps of rust (who would use non stainless steel hardware on a marine engine?) and so i replaced those. Trimmed the ends of the raw water hose as they were looking ugly. tightened everything up and it runs much smoother. so far so good, although i expect it will start dripping soon. I’ll be damned if I’m gonna throw a $100.00 impeller in every year just to stop a little drip.
One thing that came up though, was that when i started the engine, the tach didn’t work. Damn, it just never ends. i pulled the instrument face and checked for tach signal. something like 1/2 a volt. not sure what it is supposed to be other than a pulsating signal, but i doubt that would be adequate.
Sigh. so i haul everything out of the port lazarette remove the engine cover and start fiddling with voltage measurements. I know that the tach signal is taken off the stator so with the engine off i checked for continuity.
Because the stator output is run through a diode (rectifier) bank, you must use the diode function on your digital multimeter. Strangely, everything checked okay. I checked the connector and the wire to the tach for breaks – it’s fine. Now I’m stumped.
I started the engine up and the tach runs for about 1/2 a second and then shuts down. I measure the signal and it rises to like 9 volts and then drops down to zero. Now this is stupid. I’m imagining a bad solder joint in the alternator is letting go under vibration and contemplate ripping the alternator out when I have one of my rare flashes of brilliance.
I run below and shut off AC power to the battery charger. After using the batteries to start the engine several times, of course it’s reading like 14.5 volts. Once the charger is shut off, the 12V system voltage slowly drops to normal. I run back to the cockpit and start the engine. Bang – the tach works fine!
What seems to be happening is the “smart” alternator regulator i have sees that elevated voltage and shuts down power to the alternator field windings. With no power going to the alternator field, there is no output and no tach signal. Once i removed that charging voltage supplied by the AC charger, everything worked as it should.
A lot of mucking about for nothing, but i understand her a little more so it’s worth it in the long run. I have a battery isolator here somewhere and I’ve toyed with running the output of the alternator through it. That way the regulator won’t be able to detect the voltage from the AC 12V charger. One day when I’m bored, i guess.
I got the pump armature back from the machine shop today. it occurred to me that the guy could have probably pressed off the bearing from the new blank armature and pressed it onto the old shaft, and done the same thing with the bronze bushing. that would have cut the cost by probably $60.00. Oh, well; it’s still half the cost of a new part and much less than 1/2 the cost of a new pump.
This is another source of problems with this particular model of pump -the brass sleeve on the impeller is what seals the pump chamber. The seal rubs against it at the area where the screwdriver is pointing. This impeller has at most 150 hrs on it, and you can see how worn it is. Jabsco (predictably) charges $97.00 for this impeller, which is more than twice what they charge for comparable impellers. I talked to the expert at the chandlery says it’s a design problem and these never last -they can start leaking after one season. Pain in the butt, but there are worse things I suppose. At least i no longer have to worry about the pump blowing apart now that the bearings are replaced.
Here’s all the parts. All the soft parts are in great shape. Total cost $168.00 to rebuild it, so I’m happy.