Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Tragedy Strikes

Guess what?

There's an issue with the boat.

Here's how my day went with the boat.

This morning, I saw the marina webcam showing my boat at the yard dock. I gave a call to confirm they were ready for me to move it to my slip. This picture shows the boat in the lower left.

In the middle of the picture, by the buildings, is the fuel dock. After work, I drove the hour to the marina to move the boat. I got a couple new dock lines from the truck and took them to the boat. I started the engine, uncovered the tiller, untied the dock lines, then motored over to the fuel dock. I loaded up the fuel tank with 10.38 gal of diesel. I know I put in 5 gal before and there was still some fuel in the tank so I'm guessing the tank isn't as large as I thought. So it's probably 20gal.

Anyway, after I filled the fuel tank, I motored over to the slip. I just missed it and had to back up and try again but it worked out. It takes some time getting used to the tiller. While I was at the slip, I sorted the dock lines and making sure the boat wasn't too far forward causing the bowsprit to get in the way of the walking space on the dock. I routed the shore power cable to the bow and connected to the power box for charging but didn't get to turn the power on in the boat.

Here I got dock lines sorted.

Looks good among the other boats at the dock.

Now, where the bad part comes in. While I was looking things over, browsed at the bilge. It looked orange. I was reminded of a picture I saw on a Cruisers Forum post. While I thought of it, I wiped down the front of the tank, where a piece of wood (or something else) was epoxied into place. I noticed some weeping through and further down I noticed some drips. I couldn't see anywhere else where there was a leak like from the water. Looks like I got a fuel leak. I made sure the bilge pump was turned off at this point to make sure I wasn't inadvertently spilling fuel

This picture shows where it looked to me that the fuel was leaking into the bilge. After wiping it up, I saw very slowly it would get wet again to start dripping.

To show just how much of a pain it would be to replace the tank, this shows how it is mounted. From the opening panel, under the engine, toward the back of the boat. It would require removal of the engine, and possibly the floor to get to it.

So with that, I got things ready again and pulled out of the slip and motored back to the boat yard dock. Gary, the guy I mentioned earlier, said they would help in some way. Right now, I'm thinking I might as well put it back on the trailer and get ready for a lot more work. I'm thinking the refit I was planning to start in a couple years may have just been moved up in scheduling. I was thinking to work over the planned refit over a few years. I've been working on a list of projects so it'll take some time to go through it all. Other than the fuel tank, there's refinishing the mast, new chainplates, new chartplotter, and much more to keep me busy.

I did at least enjoy motoring around the marina, although it would have been nice to do more than a few minutes here and there only to pull it back out of the water soon. I'll send an email in the morning to Gary and see what he says. I'm hoping they will at least be able to drain the fuel tank for me.

Last view before I left this time. Sad, I know, but some things like this is needed. At least doing a refit, it will allow the boat to last much longer. We'll see how it goes.


  1. For anyone who reads this post/blog, an additional comment.

    I'm going to email Gary at the boat yard and discuss the options I have. Right now I'm looking at two.

    1. Boat gets put back on the trailer, see if he can drain the fuel tank so I can work on it as part of a refit over the next few years.

    2. See if he can drain the fuel tank, clean the bilge and, fit a day tank and still go sailing this year.

    This is currently my thoughts and I'm hoping number 2 is a possibility. I really did enjoy motoring around the marina and looking forward to sailing too.

    1. The drain the main and put in a five-gallon (or even one-gallon) daytank is a good idea. I would imagine this is an aluminum tank and has pinhole corrosion, the source of which could be stray current or simply age.

      You may wish to investigate the feasibility of coating the emptied, cleaned out tank (I can't see if you have an accessible inspection port) versus replacing it. I would consider going to Monel or plastic, and I would also consider splitting the tank into two 10 gallon tanks, and positioning them elsewhere where they can be accessed and, if necessary, removed without forfeiting your season.

    2. I've thought of a plastic tank but wasn't sure of how it would hold up. I think everyone tends to go with the aluminum for its rigid nature as it helps support the hull and the engine bed.

      I'll look for a daytank that I can sit at the bottom of the lazarette. There really isn't a whole lot of space to more or add additional tanks. If I can use just a daytank for now, that'll work until I can get to replacing the main tank.

  2. Go Sailing...you don't need a stinking engine!...My fuel tank has same issue, so I pulled it and carry a 3 gallon tank to boat with me(portable red one). Allows me to keep fuel fresh. 3 gallon tank last quite a while. Good luck

    1. I just ordered a 3gal with some other supplies hoping it will be up to the task. I put a rush order so I could get it Thursday or Friday and be able to work on it over the weekend.

  3. Go sailing with a small day tank. You might also check into this solution, when you repair: http://www.saileva.com/text/tank.html

    1. Oh wow! I haven't seen that site in a long time. I don't remember seeing that type of fuel tank mentioned anywhere. Interesting concept. Thanks!

  4. Ditto on the small 3 gallon tank. Depending on your use that may be all you'll ever need at one time. My engine's out, so I plan to bite the bullet and replace the tank.

    Regards, Matt

  5. You may be able to pit a flexible fuel bladder inside the existing tank (I've seen that done before). Would be a lot less work then removing the old one..

  6. Oh man, I spoke too soon. That sucks! We also had a leaky fuel tank that made the bilge an AWFUL place and also made the whole boat smell like diesel. I like your option 2 where you figure out how to sail this season and forget about the fuel tank until later. You need periods of use in the boat if you can get it. Goodluck!

    1. The bilge is narrow and deep. It'll be a pain to clean it up but I'll need to clean up soon so the bilge pump can be used again. Supplies will be here soon and will get to work this weekend. Hopefully it all works out.