The lesson learned from this week's video is that if something happens to equipment on a boat that is out of the ordinary, then troubleshoot it straight away. Otherwise you may find yourself in trouble later on when you need that equipment.
It all began after we'd spent many hours searching for the Goldilocks anchorage and eventually dropped the hook in Asin Koyu in Turkey's Muĝla province. One of the guides we check for anchorages is the *Turkish waters and Cyprus pilot guide
With the anchor set, Aannsha and I began our usual 'put the boat to bed' routine. For me that begins with noting our time of arrival, allowing the engine turbo to spin down and cool for a couple of minutes and then turning the engine off by pushing the 'stop' button at the helm.
The 'stop' button wanted to work, but it didn't fully work. By that I mean that the engine sounded like it was going to stop, but it kind of continued running in a stuttering manner. Releasing the 'stop' button caused the engine to continue running normally. Hmmmm.
Tired after a long day, I sighed, shrugged my shoulders and casually went below, opened the engine inspection panel in the starboard aft cabin and manually shut down the engine as we'd learned way back in episode #157. Job done. Or so I thought and I'll explain more later in this blog.
Always something to do
Asin Koyu is not a picture postcard anchorage but we decided to stop there for nearly a week so that we could wait out some weather, catch up on work and explore the ancient city ruins on the nearby peninsula. Turkey is filled with many interesting, ancient sites and here are *three books that you may find useful. Fodor's Essential Travel guide allows for easy planning with quick references to what's at each place as well as more detailed information written by locals.
We'd had a few overcast days and some rain showers bringing red Saharan dust which coated A B Sea in fine powder. The cleaning of the decks could wait, but the cleaning of the solar panels couldn't. We needed them working as efficiently as possible to keep our batteries at full charge. Fortunately there had been a heavy dew fall overnight and we took advantage of the fresh water to clean the panels as best as possible.
Top tip: If you're thinking of installing stainless steel davits, with solar panels on top, consider how you're going to climb up to access the panels for cleaning.
Fish farms require maintenance
We discovered that on day 2 of being at Asin Koyu that it is very much a working bay for large ship maintenance (across the bay) and the local fish farm industries (at the head of the bay).
Jim on our buddy boat Acheron was also anchored with us, but one morning he was rudely awakened by the sound of the tooting of a boat horn. When we looked outside we saw a big fish farm support vessel towing a very very long length of fish farm. It was being brought to the shore at the head of the bay for repairs and maintenance and Acheron was anchored directly in the path they needed to take to get it ashore. Jim had to up anchor and relocate to the other side of where A B Sea was anchored. We then watched and filmed as a combination of the support vessel, a half dozen men, a small tinnie and a large tractor on shore wrangled the fish farm into the shallow waters. It took them nearly 2 hours to get the job done.
Various sized support vessels brought various bits of fish farm to and from the maintenance area over the next few days and it was on Friday that I heard the deep rumblings of another big support vessel bringing in yet more sections of fish farm. It looked rather large and I decided that we'd better relocate A B Sea to the other side of where Acheron was anchored. Well away from their manoeuvring area.
The engine won't start
With Aannsha ready at the anchor I went to the helm and turned the engine ignition key. All I got was a metallic click from down below, then nothing. That wasn't good.
I went into troubleshooting mode and got out our *digital multimeter.
First I tested the voltage of the starter battery. All good at 14.35 volts. Plenty of power being fed from the solar panels.
Then I removed the helm engine display panel and checked for loose, disconnected or corroded wire connections. They all looked good.
We'd had a brand new solenoid and starter motor fitted just 4 moths previously (December 2020). Surely it couldn't be that. You can watch that in episode #155.
When troubleshooting you cannot assume anything, everything must be checked. So I tried to short circuit the starter motor to get it to run and got nothing except a few sparks and clicks. I removed the starter motor and solenoid and tested them in isolation, they appeared to be functioning normally.
Then we called Jim over to come on board and put his brain power into the mix. In a previous life Jim was an RAF aviation electronics tech. He suggested that although we had voltage that didn't necessarily translate to amps, if we had a bad connection somewhere between the starter battery and the starter motor that could be the issue.
We then spent the next hour disconnecting and cleaning each electrical connection before reconnecting them. The final connection I went to clean was the main negative connection to the engine block. As I placed the spanner on to the bolt head I felt that it wasn't tight. An aha moment.
I quickly tightened the bolt, asked Aannsha to try and start the engine and vroom, it fired up instantly. There was much whooping and "fuck yeah we did it" followed closely by huge relief. The heart of A B Sea was pumping again.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing and is a vital tool for learning.
If, instead of sighing and shrugging my shoulders after a long day trying to find an anchorage, I had instead attempted to restart the engine after manually shutting it down, I may have realised that we had not one problem but two as the engine would not stop or start.
And maybe my thought process would've gone like this; The engine 'stop' solenoid is not functioning. The engine 'start' solenoid is also not functioning. Each is a separate part with separate jobs and separate circuits. What do they have in common?
They both use the common main negative connection of the engine block.
Maybe if I'd checked that connection first then the issue could have been resolved in just a couple of minutes instead of a couple of hours.