5/3/16

Living aboard - Hello Spring! And a lesson on Boat Corrosion.

We are still here and still chugging right along.

We've finished most of our major projects and are just carrying on with our daily lives.  Work, boat maintenance, playing outside when it's nice and going to the gym regularly.

This week's boat maintenance included replacing the screen on the autopilot. It's been giving us some fits for a while, and finally pretty much blanked out.  So Mark ordered a replacement screen and decided to tackle the job himself.  It was either going to be an easy fix or a new autopilot.  Thus is the way of a liveaboard life...


Fortunately, when we got the back plate off and started digging around inside the electronics of the gizmo, it was clear that there was some corrosion on these little pin things that we presume are the compass of the unit.  Which would explain the random crazy turns the autopilot would throw at us out of the blue.  Mark got it cleaned up and coated with Noalox.  He got the screen installed - and viola!  We can now see the display.  We'll take her out soon (Hurry Up Spring!) and see if we need to re-calibrate her.  Fingers crossed that this project is complete!
sand gnat cockpit enclosure
Keeping those dang Sand Gnats out of Luna Sea!

I'm still chugging along on the enclosure for the cockpit.  It's made out of sand gnat proof screen and I'm really hoping to be 100% finished this week. As long as the weather holds and I don't cut anymore accidental holes in it... This weekend is supposed to be gorgeous, but with very little wind - so t's perfect sand gnat weather.

I think that is it in regards to extra projects.  We still have our weekly schedule of filling water tanks, cleaning water strainers, etc.  But that's just standard life on a boat.

Speaking of the Noalox (above) we had an electrician friend come out and test our boat for galvanic corrosion/electrolysis.  Luna Sea has been going through some prop zincs like crazy.  Mark changes them monthly - and we didn't realize this was excessive.  We'd just come to believe it was part of our routine that was going to be there forever.  But as soon as we realized it was not the norm, I started researching.  I even picked up a book on it when we were at Budget Marine in St. Thomas. (Yes.  That's the sort of riveting entertainment I chose for the flight home...)  I read most of it, and Mark read some of it.  But we are not electricians.  In comes our friend Marcus - to save the day.  Or at least he read the book on marine electricity and then tested our boat.  Good news is - our boat is not putting electricity into the water and causing the problem.  Bad news is - something/someone is.  It could be a boat (or boats) near us.  Or it could even be the electrical pedestal we plug into while we are at the dock.  Might be time (and perfect weather!) to unplug and do a month-long test...

So what's the big deal about corrosion/electrolysis?  Well, here's my non-electrician take on it:  Electricity is in water.  It mixes with the salt water and basically creates a battery.  There are metals on boats - particularly thru-hulls (those holes that purposely let water into your boat for the engine and the A/C,  and let water out of your boat from the sinks, showers, etc.)  If your boat is not properly grounded, the metals (thru hulls, props, etc) will be eaten away by the giant battery...  No bueno.  Yes that is very simplified, and I may have used incorrect terminology in there. But hopefully you get the idea.

Because of all of this, we are researched galvanic isolators.  We have two giant power cords that run from the boat to the dock.  One for the AC and one for the 110 power.  We decided to install one that connects to both cords.  This is supposed to protect our boat from other boats that do not do proper maintenance (if the boats around us don't change their zincs, then our zincs become the sacrificial zincs and take on all the corrosion...) or from a faulty electrical pedestal.  While we don't plan to spend much time at marinas when we sail away, it will be nice to know that we are protected wherever we land.  And it will also be nice if Mark doesn't have to get in 50f/10c degree water to change out a zinc every 3-4 weeks Dec - Feb...

Now it's time to whip up some vegan lasagna (sounds gross, right?)  And hopefully we can enjoy cocktails in the cockpit this weekend - while we share an evil laugh at the sand gnats trying to get in.

2 comments:

  1. Of course I didn't catch allllll of that but I get the idea. Sure hope your update did the trick. I can hardly wait to get to come see everything you and Mark have done....... sometime......did the screen work??? I've had zucchini (?) lasagna and it was delicious.

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    Replies
    1. The screen is FANTASTIC. Yeah, we need to get in the water and check our zinc to see if the upgrade worked. But it's COLD...

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