Friday, 28 July 2017

Ravensdale is now seaworthy – we hope!

Photo of replacing a perished fuel return hose

Replacing a perished fuel return hose

Almost nine months after we moved on board, Ravensdale is hopefully seaworthy.

All the problems flagged up by our diesel engine course have now been rectified.
And we are so glad we delayed taking her out to sea until after John Parlane, of Morecambe-based Bay Sea School, came to our boat in Maryport Marina, Cumbria, to do the RYA course with us.

While teaching us how her two 300hp Volvo Penta diesel engines work and how to maintain them, he spotted a number of things that needed correcting before she left the marina.

We also discovered we didn’t have the tools we needed to work on our engines as Phil’s tools were AF imperial and useless on a Dutch-built boat where all the nuts and bolts are metric.

We went out and bought new tools and immediately ordered the necessary engine parts.

Photo of one of Ravensdale's engines

One of Ravensdale's engines

These started to arrive on Wednesday and Phil has spent every day since in the engine room fitting the various parts and dealing with another problem, which occurred while he was working down there.

I did offer my services in the engine room, seeing as how I also have a certificate proving that I successfully completed the RYA Diesel Engine Course, but he said he was happy to do it, if I would hand him the relevant tools.

I can’t help thinking I got the best end of the deal and I certainly wasn’t complaining as I now know just how cramped and uncomfortable working down there can be.

Initially, we were going to wait until we had all the parts to get it all done in one go.

It was a good plan, but like all good plans it didn’t work :-(

In the meantime, Ravensdale’s hull and topside were given a thorough clean to remove the dirt that was beginning to build up since she has been back in the water.

Photo of cleaning Ravensdale's starboard side

Cleaning Ravensdale's starboard side

Photo of cracks in the perished fuel hose

Cracks in the perished fuel hose

And we made sure that everyone who has commented on the fact we have not taken her out to sea yet was aware that she does move – even if it was a case of using ropes to pull her over to the neighbouring pontoon to enable us to clean her starboard side J

New drive belts for the alternator and water pump on the starboard engine arrived on Tuesday and we collected a new fuel return hose for the same engine from Forth Engineering in Maryport on Wednesday morning.
We thought we now had everything we needed to get on with the task in hand.

Photo of the replacement return fuel hose and a spare

The replacement return fuel hose and a spare

As soon as we got back from Forth Engineering, Phil donned his coveralls and we lifted the floor of the saloon to provide access to the engines from above.

He quickly replaced the perished fuel return hose and removed the worn drive belts.

Then we discovered we had a problem.
The part numbers on the old drive belts, which come in pairs, were not the correct ones for our engines, so the supplier gave us the correct numbers, or so we thought, and we ordered the ones they recommended.

The water pump belts fitted perfectly. However, the alternator drive belts were much too long.

A quick call to the supplier revealed that there were two types of alternator fitted to these engines, with the ones requiring the longer belts being the more common of the two. They therefore assumed these would be the ones we needed, but it seems this was not the case.

The company immediately sent out the correct belts, which arrived yesterday, and the wrong belts have been returned.

Meanwhile, Phil fitted the water pump drive belts on Wednesday and tightened some loose connectors on the battery terminals, then had to give up until the replacement belts arrived.

Photo of removing the old water pump drive belts

Removing the old water pump drive belts

Soon after he had emerged from the engine room and we put the floor back, restoring a bit of normality to our sitting room, I tried to run some water to make a coffee. A small amount of water came out of the tap then it spluttered and stopped.

We tried running water a few more times without success, then Phil went back down into the engine room (via the opening under the steps to the aft cabin to save lifting the floor again) to see if he could find out what had gone wrong.

And he discovered that, while working on the starboard engine, he had knocked the pipe off the domestic water pump and it was pumping water out into the bilges instead of through the taps.

We turned the pump off and he tried to sort it, but the pipe to which it had been attached was split and was not long enough to cut back so would need replacing.

We spent another night without running water, making do with a jerry can full of water filled from the tap on the pontoon.

And, as if to add insult to injury, it started pouring with rain at the same time.
For some reason, whenever we're without running water on board, it starts falling out of the sky J

While trying to sort the water problem, Phil discovered that, within a four-foot length, there were three separate hoses connected together with copper tubing and associated jubilee clips for no apparent reason.

He decided they would be better replaced with one length of hose so, on Thursday morning, we headed off to Forth Engineering again to buy a suitable replacement and some new stainless steel jubilee clips to fix it in place.

On our return, we lifted the floor again so he could get into the engine room to carry out the work and restore our water supply.

Photo of changing the water pipe

Changing the water pipe

Photo of the new impellers and extraction tool

The new impellers and extraction tool

He also fitted new water pump impellers to both engines after discovering they had not been changed or checked when we had the engines services in December of last year. It was obvious that this was the case as the screws holding the covers in place had been painted over some time ago and had not been removed since.
Removing the old impellers, which are a series of vanes moulded around a hub, proved a difficult task as the removal tool we had bought did not fit the old impellers. Replacing them with the new ones was even more difficult.

But, after a bit of experimenting, Phil found a way of doing it much more easily.
He tightened a cable tie around the vanes before inserting the impeller into the housing, cutting them off when it was half way in. He was then able to push it in the rest of the way.

He also refilled the greaser for the stern glands, which keep the propeller shafts watertight.
Photo of refilling the stern gland greaser

Refilling the stern gland greaser

And we've started collecting up all the spares we need to carry in case we have a problem at sea.

So Ravensdale is now seaworthy, or at least we've done everything we can do to make her as seaworthy as possible.

All we need now is some good weather to coincide with the tides so the marina gate will be open at a time when we want to take her out into the Solway Firth.

We've also sorted through all Phil’s old tools and managed to find some that could go to make room for the new ones as space is finite when you live on a boat.

Photo of sorting through our old tools

Sorting through our old tools

Photo of grey mullet swimming around in the marina

Grey mullet swimming around in the marina

On the wildlife front, we've been watching the grey mullet swimming around in the marina, some of which are getting quite big now.

But they didn’t seem interested in the bread we threw into the water to try to attract them to the surface to have their photographs taken.

Photo of swans - but no cygnets

Swans - but no cygnets

And a pair of swans continues to pay regular visits to the marina, but without any cygnets.
We are not sure whether this is the same pair that brought three cygnets into the marina last month. Hopefully not as this would mean that they've lost their young.

Photo of Ravensdale looking clean and shiny in the sunshine

Ravensdale looking clean and shiny in the sunshine

Photo of a sunset over the marina

One of the many beautiful sunsets we have enjoyed lately