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Barry's Blog #150 - The unsatisfactory conclusion

Updated: Oct 3, 2020

The fizzing anode situation is by far the most frustrating issue that I've had to deal with on board A B Sea.

Many of our viewers offered suggestions as to how to figure out why it was happening and plenty of them certainly have more knowledge than I do on the subject. Most people were of the opinion that a positive wire had somehow made contact with the engine block (which is by default negative) and although it was leaking electrical current it was not enough to trip a circuit breaker or create a short that would start to burn.

To test this idea I switched off everything at the electrical panel at the nav station and I even went as far as disconnecting the battery banks. The anode continued to fizz. So did that rule out that it was an electrical short? Maybe.

Another suggestion was to disconnect the prop shaft from the gearbox, disconnect the batteries and one by one reconnect the batteries, checking each time for voltage at the prop shaft. This test gave a constant result of 0.03 volts and because we were doing it in a marina, where stray current from other vessels is a possibility, we concluded that the 0.03 volts was just background marina current. While I was checking around the engine for loose wires or bad connections I discovered a braided earthing strap neatly tied up with a black cable tie and tucked away near the engine exhaust hose. The other, much shorter, end was still bolted to the engine block. It appeared that at some point in time that leaking engine coolant had caused the strap to corrode and rather than replace it, the previous owner had just tucked it neatly out of sight. I proceeded to replace it, after all it was there for a reason.

When the two fizzing anodes, which we'd bought in Spain, came to the end of their short life, they were replaced with an anode that we'd bought at the Greek island of Samos. When it was attached to the prop shaft it didn't immediately begin to fizz as the previous two anodes had. It was definitely a hand on chin Hmmmm moment.

The issue appeared to be fixed, but how did it get fixed? Was it something I did while disconnecting and reconnecting the batteries? Had I somehow managed to jiggle the right wire or cable as I was rummaging around the engine compartment? Had reconnecting the earthing strap simply diverted the stray current so that it was now flowing out to the P-bracket? Or where the two anodes bought in Spain actually fresh water magnesium anodes? If they were then they would certainly fizz like crazy in salt water. There's a guy called Andy who is out sailing at the moment but when he returns to Kaş marina I've been assured that he's the go to guy for boat electrics issues. I'll definitely be buying him a beer or two.

Sabre rattling

Friends from various parts of the world have been a little concerned for our well being whilst being in Turkey and particularly being in Kaş. It seems the world's media is selling more fear to the general public by totally blowing out of proportion the tiff between Turkey and Greece because Turkey sent a research ship to look for potential undersea oil and gas deposits in disputed waters in the eastern Mediterranean.

We have seen a handful of Turkish military helicopters flying low in and around the area between Kaş and the Greek island of Meis, but that only lasted for an hour or so. There is a Turkish naval vessel tied up at the end breakwater of the marina. But one report I read on the Interwebs sensationalised it by saying "A large Turkish warship has now been stationed at Kaş marina amid rising tensions between Turkey and Greece." There are a couple of things that are misleading in that statement. Firstly it is certainly not large or what I consider a warship and the place where it is tied up is where it always ties up because it was there when we were in Kaş back in 2018 / 2019.

Life carries on as normal and there is certainly no tension. The biggest problem as far as we're concerned was the noise from the low flying helicopters disturbing the peace and quiet.

Our plans

A meeting between the Admiral and the Captain was convened at one of the marina restaurants. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss our plans for the end of this season and the beginning of next season.

Now that A B Sea is ship shape we can move forward with our idea to bring patrons on board for short stays and we'll also be heading further east to check out the Setur marinas at Finike and Antalya plus the many anchorages along that portion of coastline.

If you want to find out more details about staying with us then do check out the patron tiers that offer that reward at our Patreon site.

Battery charging issues

With the fizzing anode situation now (hopefully) behind us it meant that I could focus on the niggling battery charging issues.

The Victron ArgoFET battery isolator that I'd installed to replace the aging diode battery isolator would address the charging of the 3 battery banks when the engine was running and the alternator was pumping out power. But when we were on shore power only the starter and house batteries would be getting a charge. My mate Mike suggested a very simple solution. A dedicated mains powered 12 volt / 15amp charger just for the bow thruster battery.

Again I went with a Victron product that ticked all of the boxes and then some. Of the many features the best one was that the charger could be monitored remotely via Bluetooth to my phone.

This boat job, although time consuming and sweaty, was actually quite easy. Installing the charger in the forward locker and connecting to the battery was straightforward. Then when I was considering my options for running 12 metres (39 feet) of 3-core 220 volt cable back through the boat to the electrical panel at the nav station I saw a small bit of white string hanging down under a ledge in the locker. Feeling with my fingers I discovered that the string fed into a plastic conduit which led back in the direction I wanted to go. Perfect.

Tying a length of blue mousing line to the end of the white mousing line and securing the 220 volt cable to it we managed easily to get the cable run back to the electrical panel where I connected it to the battery charger circuit breaker. Now I'm very confident that the bow thruster battery will have a long and happy life.

The next thing to look into is the ageing shore power battery charger that keeps the starter and house batteries topped off because there's an issue there that is making me go Hmmmm. But I'll tell you all about that in a future blog. Until then stay safe out there.

To watch the video that accompanies this blog click here.


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