Thursday, March 15, 2012

Mechanical problems we’ve had so far…

We’ll pick up from leaving the country… As we crossed from Florida to Mexico our stabilizers broke.  Only one side, but we didn’t have the necessary plugs to only run the side working, so we had to turn them off during the day, and luckily they worked when needed.  The actuator was leaking oil, so we had to replace the actuator.  Luckily my brother flew that part in with him the week after we crossed.  But the company sent us the wrong actuator.  A friend of a friend flew in the correct part for us.  Then we found out we needed a bushing in order to put the actuator in.  An inexpensive part, we braved having Fed ex deliver it for us.  It made it to us, just a few days late. 

Before we left the states we had impellor of one generator on the raw water pump crack.  When we went to replace it, the parts wouldn’t fit, after trying to figure it out, we decided the water pump must have been replaced at some point.  We didn’t have a model number for it and didn’t know how to order the correct parts, so we purchased a new one and had my brother bring that with him too.  So we had to replace that when he arrived.  That replacement went well, but the other generator was having a different problem.

Another part flown in with the friend of the friend, was a repaired voltage meter.  Every once in awhile our voltage meter on the other generator would act up. So we had an old voltage meter repaired but it didn’t make it to my brother before he flew out to Mexico.   Just within the last week did the voltage meter start having problems again.  We were glad we had the replacement repaired so we could install it now.

While at El Cid marina in Puerto Morelos we had some power issues.  Our power cord was over heating and melting.  We weren’t sure if it was the power source from the Marina or if it was our power cord.  After the marina made some replacements on the power post and we still had a melting problem so decided to switch out our power connector to see if that would solve the problem.  David found a used spare on the boat and cleaned it up.  After replacing it we still continued to have the power cord heat up, so we are still not sure if we have a problem with the power cord.  After spending the night plugged in at the next marina-Puerto Aventuras, I unplugged the power cord expecting it to be hot, but it wasn’t.  So it is something we will have to watch as we head to other marina’s to see if it is our cord or the marina at El Cid.  Nonetheless I am as always amazed at David’s capabilities.  He just sat down on the dock and cut the end of the thick power cord and put on a new one like it was something he does everyday.

While in route to Belize, which took 4 days of traveling about 30 miles a day, our starboard engine failed.  The pressure meter for the fuel filter kept reading high.  With only the port engine running, I continued to drive the boat while David ventured into the sweltering engine room to change the fuel filter on the starboard engine to see if that would cure it.  It did lower the pressure, but only for a short while and within an hour the engine had failed again.  Driving with the one engine was fine, we were planning to anchor in an open bay, so we wouldn’t need the other engine to help manuever in a crowded marina.  We idled the engine as we entered our anchorage and set our anchor.  I was very grateful that it was the starboard engine with the issue.  The stabilizers run off the port engine, so if the port engine fails, so do the stabilizers, and the water had been rough that day, and the stabilizers were greatly appreciated.

Later that evening after the engine room had cooled some, David cleaned out some hoses that lead into the fuel filter and finally the pressure on the fuel filter completely dropped back to normal.  Our main tank of fuel is getting low, so we think some debris in the tank loosened and made its way into the hose somewhat clogging it. 

The next night we anchored again in another bay south.  After dinner David started the starboard generator to charge our batteries and run our household appliances like the dryer, water heater, and water maker.  After about 30 mins the generator died.  David went to see why and found it had overheated and was spraying out dirty water.  Not sure why, he let it cool a bit and tried to restart it, but the generator would not stay running once the preheat switch was released.  He is still not sure why it is not working.  He has been studying the manual trying to figure it out.  Luckily we have 2 generators, and the port one is still working good. 

As we had been traveling south I had noticed that our main fridge was not keeping temperature.  It seems like we have had a never ending stream of problems with this fridge.  It is a household side by side fridge.  It is quite big and nice, except all the issues we have had.  It is at least 10 years old, and we thought about replacing it, but are not sure how to get it out of the kitchen.  It was put in when the kitchen was being remodeled and put in place before the cabinets over the counter were put in.  Currently there is not space large enough to remove it whole, or put another in.  Thankfully it is a GE and GE has been great about repairing it.  Their fees have been reasonable (other brands wont work on a boat or charge much higher fees because we are on a boat) and their repairmen seem quite knowledgeable.  They track the repairs, and warranty the new parts put in.  We used the satellite phone to call their help line (since we are now in rural Mexico with no internet or cellphone service available) and they directed David to see if the dampener door was working correctly.  We have been able to get it to cool again, but it is not consistent.  We are still not sure what exactly is wrong with it, but it is working better than before.  I have switched to keeping the fruits and veggies in it, and the more perishable meats and cheeses in our 2nd small fridge.  We keep a couple of gallon jugs of water in the extra freezers just in case the fridge really fails.  So at night I put one of the frozen jugs in next to the milk, and occasionally during the day I put the milk in the freezer for a few hours to keep it from spoiling. 

As we left the 2nd bay to head south, nearer to Belize, we headed out the reef cut into breaking waves.  After an hour David remembered our back ladder and swim ramp had not been tied up.  We had bent the arms that hold it out at an angle from the boat.  We have now learned that if we are planning to leave the next day and put the dinghy away at night, we need to pull up the ladder too so we don’t forget the next day as we head out into rough seas.  David attempted to fix it after we anchored later that afternoon, but the sides of the arms are no longer level and do not rest evenly on the boat causing it to wiggle quite a bit climbing up and down the ladder.  We’ll need to find a shop to fix it at some point soon. 

It seems there is always something new, but the boat is 30 years old, so I guess things do break. It is definitely keeping David busy learning.   While not a mechanical problem, but a problem nonetheless, a few weeks ago we stopped at a restaurant after visiting Chichen Itza ruins.  We used our visa card to pay for dinner.  10 days later I finally decided it was time to check on my credit card accounts and found our card maxed out with fraud.  It started the night of stopping at that restaurant.  We had only used our card 3 other times in Mexico.  I was shocked and upset that my bank had not caught the fraud and stopped it from happening.  They are helping to have the charges removed, but it is sad that there are such dishonest people out there.  It has not ruined our time in Mexico, we have still enjoyed our time here and the people we have met.  I have learned I need to check my accounts a little more often, then I could have stopped the problem sooner.  Our new problem is how we are going to get our new cards so we can continue to use our accounts.  They have to replace all cards on the account including our debit cards. We have 2 weeks to continue using the debit cards,so in another week we won’t have any access to our money at all other than using our AMEX card, but they charge a foreign fee of 2% on all foreign charges, and so we haven’t been wanting to use that card. We don’t want to withdraw too much foreign currency either, if we don’t use it all than we won’t be able to switch it back to USD.  

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