Before much fixing though, we needed to go fetch our car from the Severn Yachting Center. We also had a crew member that needed to see a doctor. Our eldest dog has been battling a condition where one of her ears has sores that don't want to heal (it is called ear margin vasculitis), and a specialist we have been seeing is in Richmond, Virginia. We decided to combine the trip to get our car with an appointment with this veterinarian. Our plan was to leave the day or so after we arrived, but a winter storm hit southern Virginia (as well as northern VA, MD, DC, and other nearby areas). So we pushed it off a few days while I investigated my house battery bank issue.
On Sunday, we started making our way to Richmond. We went to visit a friend of my wife in Chapel Hill and stayed with them that night. The next day we continued our trek to Richmond. Unfortunately, as we were driving, we got a call from the vet. I guess Richmond was having a hard time dealing with the 10 inches or so of snow and still hadn't cleared the streets after a few days. As a result, the vet was closed and had to cancel the appointment. We continued on to pick up the car and return both to Southport. We arrived at the marina, said our goodbyes to some friends we made there, and headed back to the boat.
|Some of the snow we escaped.|
After getting back, the next task was to see if I could locate a small coolant leak in the starboard engine. I pump the coolant sitting in the bilge into a container to throw away and then look over the engine trying to find the leak. I find one hose that wasn't clamped all that well and fix that. Didn't see any other signs of a leak so we clean the engine and bilge, top off the coolant, and test run the engines. While looking over everything, I start seeing a drip. Not from the engine or the coolant tanks, but coming from the hose that leads to the overflow tank. No idea why it wasn't dripping when cold, but it didn't start until everything was warm. So I drain the overflow tank, pull the hose and check for a leak in the tank. I didn't find anything so I cut about a half inch off the end of the hose and reconnect it all. Refill and retest, and everything seems fine now.
While I was in the engine room, I also looked over the alternator. The tachometer was intermittent at times during the trip, so I checked the connections. I cleaned the connectors and used a little dielectric grease to help prevent further corrosion, then secured the wires better. During the test the tach seemed to behave better, so hopefully that is also fixed. I also took a little time to wire brush and paint the engine and generator as they were showing a little wear and chipping to their corrosion-inhibiting layers of paint.
One of the comments I received from my post on the battery house bank suggested that we might be able to recover the batteries if they weren't too damaged. I debated this for a while and looked online for information and finally decided to give it a try. Worst case I figured was that we would still have batteries that needed to be replaced, and best case is we might get a little more life from the batteries. If all it cost us was a dollar or two of distilled water, seemed like it would be worth the risk. I tried popping one of the dust covers off the battery and find that underneath was a plug that leads to the battery cell. The plug contains the valve and is sealed with an o-ring so all I had to do was unscrew it. We added a little distilled water to the cells to see if that would help. Unfortunately, adding a little water only uncovered the fact that the case was apparently cracked somewhere out of view and the water leaked out of one of the cells creating a bit of a mess. Guess we will need to replace the batteries before we continue our trip. I'm pretty sure we will go with golf cart batteries, but still debating the pros and cons of AGM versus wet cell versions (as well as trying to figure out how we can source them here).
So, that is where we stand. Some things we think are fixed, more to go. At least the weather has improved a bit and is warmer than where we were in Virginia.