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Barry's Blog # 68 - Small spaces, loose nuts and bugs

The A B Sea 'to do' list

I checked the A B Sea 'to do' list the other day and although I'd prefer to have more things crossed off, I still think we're doing pretty good at whittling away at it. I think there's going to a flurry of activity as we get closer to our departure from Kaş harbour in Turkey. Things usually work out that way.

One of the high priority jobs was to tame the 'passerelle of doom'. From the lip of the harbour quay to the water level it's 120cm. From the water level to the base of our passerelle it's 50cm. From the back of our boat to the harbour wall it's 170cm. That means that our passerelle is sloped on a 24 degree angle. Not too steep you might think, but it's also made from aluminium so when it rains, and it's been raining a lot here in Kaş this winter, it gets dangerously slippy. Still not too difficult you might be thinking. Oh there's more.

The base of the passerelle has a short round metal tube that slips into a stainless steel hole fitting that's fixed into the swim platform by 3 long bolts which in turn are secured by 3 small nuts. The only access to tighten these nuts is via a very small crawl space at the stern between the hull and the swim platform. And that limited access is probably the reason why, in the 24 years of life that this vessel has enjoyed, neither of the previous 2 owners had ever bothered to tighten the nuts. As a consequence the range of movement at the base of the passerelle is massive as you'll see in this Saturday's YouTube video episode 058.

Hence the very apt moniker of the 'passerelle of doom'. This day was the day it was going to be tamed.

As always on a boat if you want to do anything there's usually a ton of gear that has to be moved and this job was no exception. The locker we needed to take apart contained 4 aluminium scuba tanks, 36 kilos of dive weights, the swim ladder for our dinghy, the cockpit privacy shades and our emergency tiller. Once all of that was taken out we then had to remove the wooden panels that form the inside of the locker. Finally we had access to the area we needed to get at and it was a disappointing sight.

The starboard access proved to be very difficult, but by blindly reaching at arm's length I was able to get a ring spanner onto two of the three nuts while Aannsha tightened them up by turning the bolts from above. The port side by comparison was easy and as that is the side we attach the passerelle to I was able to completely remove the nuts, clean the thread of the bolts and apply loctite solution when rethreading the nuts. I am confident that the port side is solid as a rock and the passerelle has now been renamed the 'passerelle of delight'.

Who's steering this boat?

A few weeks back when we had to leave the harbour and go spend 3 nights in Kaş marina we discovered that our Autohelm ST7000 had gone on the blink. The LCD display was sometimes not showing anything at all. Other times it would just be a partial display. The unit was also randomly beeping wildly with no way to shut it off and on one special occasion it decided to activate the autopilot which essentially took any steerage away from my control. That was a bit concerning because we were just entering the harbour at the time. I sent Aannsha quickly below to switch it off at the main panel which instantly gave me control of the steering again.

We waited until we knew there wasn't going to be any rain and then began the task of removing the faulty unit so that I could open it up in the hopes of finding a loose connection. But before that could happen another locker had to have its contents removed and strewn around the cockpit. This time it was the starboard cockpit locker where most of our mooring lines are kept along with cleaning equipment, emergency flares and our 4 person life raft. With everything extracted and just one of the internal panels removed I was very happy to see quick and easy access to the back end of the helm instruments and it was a question of simply removing two small bolts and disconnecting 2 quick release cables to be able to remove the Autohelm.

I'd previously downloaded an exploded diagram from the manufacturer which showed me how to take the unit apart and put it back together again and soon I was looking at the wiring and electronics of what appears to be a very simple bit of kit. Sadly all the cables, connections and solder points looked very good and after not being able to find the smoking gun I reassembled the unit and reinstalled it at the helm position. We switched it on and it didn't work. You'll be able to see the disappointment in my face when you watch this week's YouTube video. There is currently something in motion to get a replacement, but I'll talk more about that in a future blog when I have confirmation of certain things.

Diesel Bug!

Yep it's a bug that lives in diesel. Well to be more accurate 'diesel bug' is a commonly accepted term for a number of contaminants that include microbial bacteria, fungi and algae that live at the point of blend between water and diesel.

But how does the water get into your diesel fuel? That's a very good question. Any fuel tank with an air pocket will produce condensation when the temperature falls far enough. The cold air causes condensation on the inside of the tank, forming dense water that eventually sinks to the bottom of the fuel tank. In that water are the microbes and they live off the oxygen in the water, chow down on the diesel and then reproduce at a very fast rate.

On board A B Sea we don't actually have diesel bug contamination because we always keep our tank topped up with clean fuel, but we add the anti-bug juice just in case. Here are some tips, taken from the Interwebs, to help keep the bugs at bay.

To help prevent diesel bug forming you can maintain the fuel system by regularly draining water from the fuel and water separator. Keep the fuel tank as full as possible and try to only refuel at busy refuelling stations as they’ll generally have a higher turnover rate of diesel meaning less chance of moisture contaminating the fuel.

There are many additives readily available that you can add to the fuel tank which keep things under control. And our final job for the day was to add the one we purchased here in Turkey to our fuel tank. It's quick and easy, you just add 25ml for every 25 litres of fuel and that's it, job done until next time.

Next week we actually get out sailing and there's a tour of a brand new Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 44 DS. I think you'll like it.

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