Sunday, September 16, 2012


I really don't write much about boat maintenance on the blog.  I figure that if I let myself start I might not be able to stop, as working on the boat is the background and foreground of this life afloat, the alpha and the omega of it.  We had a full list of jobs to complete on the boat the day we bought her, and we'll have a full list the day this voyage finally ends.  

But I'll make an exception here, as this little foray after our months-long confinement at the dock has been a moveable feast of marine engineering, a veritable cornucopia of deferred maintenance outcomes.

The leaking fluids from the engine (fuel and coolant) that I convinced myself were not that big a problem when running at the dock have reclaimed their rightful place at the forefront of that part of my brain that is given over to boat concerns.

We have suffered through the Mysterious Advent of water in the bilge, and the genset that Would Not Fire.

And then, when a fit of get-after-it spirit took a hold of me and I changed the fuel filters, Alisa and I tackled one of the few two-person engineering tasks on board Galactic - bleeding the fuel lines.

She in the cockpit, me in the engine room, taps of wrenches on steel our only means of communication, we set out on the long dry voyage of cranking over the engine while fuel spewed and air bubbled from a cracked injector nut.

Then, a whiff of smoke and the crackling sound of electrical destruction told us we had cranked the engine too far.  Turning the key produced absolutely nothing.  The starter motor had cranked its last.

So, in retrospect, it would have maybe been a better idea to change the fuel filters back at the dock, where a failed starter motor wouldn't have been that big a deal.

But, then, a timely comment from our friend Rob on Triddar about the solenoid on the starter being a potential source of the problem led to a bit of informed investigation, and, long story short, it turned out that the starter and its solenoid were both blameless.

Boat geeks who really enjoy this sort of thing will get a kick out of this - it turns out the positive post of the starting battery had melted completely through while we were cranking the engine - see the pic above.  I've never heard of such a thing before.  I guess that cheap Chinese boat batteries just aren't the same these days...


  1. Wow! This is something I would not have thought was possible. Too much resistance right there? Having to do with the alloy? Or was that bridge much too thin? Yikes. It is always something. Best wishes, Michael

  2. yep, it is an odd one - almost makes me feel proud to hit such an unheard-of, and dramatic, boat glitch. I figure no battery should be able to hurt itself with its own current, so it most likely was a flaw in the post alloy...

  3. or a loose connection to the battery!