Contortionist

That’s what you have to be to work in the engine compartment of Leela. And I assume most other sailboats under 40′ as well. We are back from winter holidays, we visited my dad, Nadya and Tamara at Casa Lavia in Akumal, Mexico. It felt good to be away from work, in the sun, doing active things. If all goes to plan we have 5 months to do a WHOLE lot of work on the boat. The plan is to put the boat in the water on my 37th birthday, May 30th, and leave for a 3-month summer cruise on June 1st.

The list of projects includes engine maintenance, a thorough clean of the nastiest boat bilge on planet earth, re-tabbing bulkheads, waterproofing every darn piece of deck hardware (I think every single one of them leaks), “fixing” our leaky teak deck (not sure what that means yet), and a host of other miscellaneous and time consuming projects.

We decided to start with the engine compartment since we want to clear and clean this area in anticipation of the BIG bilge clean. Once the bilge is cleaned we hope to get rid of the putrid smell caused by 30+ years of accumulated diesel, oil, grease, cooler ice meltwater, chain rode water, shower water, etc.. It’s like a primordial soup in there. I figure we are doing humanity a service in cleaning it before new unknown life forms start crawling out of our bilge

This weekend was spent crawling, bending, contorting and every other ‘ing’ word to get access to the engine compartment. We were productive. The mixing elbow was removed. A mixing elbow attaches to the engine exhaust manifold and mixes the exhaust fumes with the discharge from the seawater cooling system. Turns out you can’t use stainless steel as diesel engine exhaust mixed with sea water attacks it. The engine surveyor had pointed out we had an exhaust leak in the boat caused by a hole through the mixing elbow wall. A proper fix would entail $600 on a new bronze mixing elbow. Uh, no thanks, we’ll bring it to our welder friend to see what kind of magic he can do. Hopefully, this will help reduce the diesel smell in the boat when under motor.

The mixing elbow, unwrapping fiberglass wrap

Mixing elbow, unwrapping fiberglass wrap

This is what diesel exhaust does to stainless steel. Corrosion right through.

This is what diesel exhaust does to stainless steel. Corrosion right through.

We also drained the Coolant, checked the diesel fill tank cap for leaks (no leaks) and removed the prop shaft. For both of us, this was an exponential rise in engine knowledge. Nothing like getting your hands dirty to start understanding how it all works. And mega thanks to Joe Hoppis in Bellingham for hosting us in style!

Trying to work in there is akin to Yoga

Trying to work in there is akin to Yoga

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Checking fuel fill cap for leaks

Checking fuel fill cap for leaks

Removing prop shaft

Removing prop shaft

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