Monday, October 8, 2012

Gross Understatements, Tacking Lessons and Glue

Shiny valve, pictured here cause its the closest thing to jewelry I'll be getting for a looong time

And so we move on to the plumbing refit. Since Mark has pretty much decided that anything involving hoses falls under the plumbing heading, we aren't just redoing lines to the holding tanks. Captain Perfecto has declared the entire system to be 'crap' due to the previous installation of hoses running every which way with no thought to judicious use of space, ease of access and conscientious routing. So while we will be eventually redoing the head intake, the lines to the holding tank, the entire fresh water system, the shower plumbing, the fresh and salt water lines from the sinks, the cooling water for the engine we are currently dealing with the fuel system.

Step one with Mark is always to look at the defects of a system. He can't help it, its the engineer in him. After carefully considering the current fuel system, he came up with a list of defects that I like to call 'Why This System is Crap'. Actually, he used the word 'mess' not crap but since after all these years together I still hear his Scottish accent and think "If its not Scottish its crap!" I, who am writing this will title his lists whatever I like. Here is his litany of complaints with our current fuel system-
  • Existing system is a mess
  • 8 separate hoses connected to the diesel fuel tanks- 4 hoses for the forward tank, 4 hoses for the aft tank/ engine supply and return and generator supply and return
  • 4 poorly marked selector valves at the fuel tanks- engine supply forward and aft, engine return forward and aft, generator supply forward and aft, generator return forward and aft
  • Separate diesel fuel filters for the engine and generator of different types requiring different fuel filters
  • Each filter has a priming bulb that due to their geriatric state are no longer squeezable
  • Fuel lines are poorly routed through the engine compartment
Mark sat down and after a few hours of creative thinking he came up with a plan. The new not crap system would be comprised of the following-
  • A single 6 port fuel tank selector valve
  • An electric fuel pump for priming and fuel polishing
  • Parallel redundant fuel filters using Racor 500 FG (which will allow us to change the filter while the engine is running
  • Selector valves for fuel filter selection and fuel polishing combinations
  • Fuel supply and return manifolds to serve both engine and generators and simplify hose requirements

The plus side? We will soon have a fuel system that will not only do its intended job better but will be much easier to service. So much easier that even I, a simple minded soul should be able to manage basic routine maintenance. The down side? As Mark poured over parts catalogs obtain the necessary components of his far superior system, he let out an audible gasp as the parts list climbed upwards of $500 and we hadn't even finished. "I think I might be over thinking this' he said. No. Really? Greatest bit of understatement ever.

While Mark is probably over thinking this, I know that if I don't just cheerfully go along with his Rube Goldberg fuel system it will bug him every time we have to change a filter or polish fuel. (in actuality, his system DOES make perfect sense but I can't admit that without giving him some guff first) Given that, we will indeed have the most spectacularly engineered fuel system possible on our boat. There are other niceties on the refit list that can wait if need be. So long as Mark takes to heart my constant mantra "This boat is leaving in November 2013" if it means I have to deal with an ugly galley in order to enjoy a spectacular fuel system, so be it. Fuel system is just a wee bit more important than a pretty galley anyway.

As we sat at breakfast with our sleep heavy eyes, we took a break to get in some sailing lessons. With empty juice glasses filling in for winches and bits of discarded paper from Kitty's artistic endeavors serving as a Genoa, Mark and Maura worked on tacking techniques. Maura had pointed out that this was her first year as real crew and she needed a bit more explanation as to what was expected of her in order to lend a hand with sailing the boat. Starboard tack, port tack, which side is windward, etc. etc. By jove I think she's got it.

 While Maura and Mark worked on their tacking simulations, Kitty hummed as she played with her most favorite toys in all the world- colored paper, scissors and a glue stick. She entertained herself for a full hour and half with only an occasional assist from me. I know some people swear by an iPad to keep little ones entertained but I can't imagine Kitty ever being as thrilled with anything from Apple as she was by having her very own glue stick and the freedom to use it.



  1. Mighty fine looking fuel system! I know exactly how you feel. If you don't let him design it to his standard you will hear about it when the old one fails in some kind of way. At least now if it fails it will be on his own accord.

    Our rigging project is kinda like that. While I love the idea of having more comfy custom cushions, the SS bowsprit and all of it's leak fixing glory is way more important.

    I have to say I doubt if I had children they would use an IPAD for playtime. You are so "old school" with your child rearing and I love it.

    Another thing I notice is that Maura is getting older and capable. How nice it will be for you to start experiencing the real help of your child on the boat. It will teach her so much. Hears to hoping you make your date in November 2013. If you don't however you can always leave with us around Jan 2015, one year later.

    1. Amen to your first point as to us waiting to leave until 2015- much as I'd love to potter around the world with you or Tate I have to give a resounding HELL NO!!! We were already supposed to have left in 2011....

  2. We will encourage you to 'shoo' off the dock in 2013. I feel your pain.
    Also many kudos to you for the glue sticks and paper. Seems so obvious doesn't it? But that is much, much better for brain development, creating a brain that can focus on things that don't bleep and blip every second and doesn't have a high need for stimulation all the time. I spent many years trying to teach these things to new parents who refused to learn them because TV was so much easier for them. Deep sigh. I thought that stuff had gone the way of the dinosaur. You give me hope for the future. And also, what would she do on a boat when the batteries ran out if she had no experience creating for herself without digital input? What a world.
    That fuel system is a treat to read about. And to let others handle. :)
    Say, I forgot Mark is Scottish. Our Claire is planning to travel to Scotland in the early spring. Yes, she loves dark and rainy. Perhaps we could communicate privately about some ideas of where to go/stay? Claire is our 27 year old daughter who has visions of travel in her future, even if not by boat. She went to Ireland last year, has lived in France twice, and secretly, in her heart of hearts, knows she is French.

    1. Absolutely! Shoot me an email at ceol_mor at yahoo and we can come up with a whole slew of places for her to visit based on her interests. I can also put her in touch with my sister in law who LOVES to show off her hometown of Edinburgh and her very cool and laid back husband.

  3. I'd like to point out that it is important to skip the "t"s and roll the "r"s when you say "If its not Scottish its crap!".

  4. Your children are gorgeous. I need to get Cora started with some safety scissors. I bought some but haven't had time to sit down with her yet (surprise, surprise). I'd frame that one of Mark and Maura doing tacking lessons at breakfast. It's just so freaking cool.

  5. I agree with Charlotte: your kids are beautiful, and that juice-glass and scrap paper winch simulator is wonderful! I love that she wants to be hands-on crew. And as for the new, more efficient, better designed fuel/sanitation/fresh water systems, please keep posting your images and progress, because some of us have the same wishes - without the engineer brain, and seeing the visuals is incredibly helpful, and inspiring. :)

    1. well if you really do find it helpful I'll try to post the actual diagrams of the new systems. I'll tag them under Captain Perfecto so you can find them easily. Progress might be a little slow as Mark was just asked to design something to contain potential oil spills in Alaska or something. As important as my boat plumbing is, somehow I think the safety of otters is more important. At least that is what I try to tell myself as we get less and less time just now to finish our own projects.

  6. Tightwad alert!

    When Dani and I were looking for fuel filters, I too was attracted to the Racor FG500 series filters but I was NOT attracted to the price tag that came with them. Eventually I found a company called Griffin Filters that had an office over in Texas. I called them up and they were very helpful. Bought a parallel setup with manifold and built on vacuum gauge for a faction of the cost of the Racor setup. Also they use the exact same filters as the FG series.

  7. Will check them out Tate thanks for the heads up!