Tuesday, June 2, 2009

In Nassau and Engine Troubleshooting

Well, we made it to Nassau without further incident. When you arrive at Nassau Harbor you need to call the Harbor Control to ask for permission to enter the harbor, providing them with your vessel information, last port of call and your destination within the harbor. Not wanting the kids to know we were going to Atlantis until the last possible moment (have you been able to tell that we like to surprise people?), I turned off the radio by the helm, asked Kristen to keep the kids up top, and went below to call Harbor Control. We had to let the cat out of the bag once we arrived at the channel leading to the Atlantis Marina though, so we called the kids to the cockpit as I made the call - "Atlantis Marina, Atlantis Marina, Pelican requesting slip information." We got a bunch of hoots and hollers of happiness from Casey and Kaitlin as they realized we would be going to a place they've talked about for months now. We pulled into the slip at around 3pm, and Kristen and the kids immediately jumped off the boat to run and play in the waterpark. We stayed here last night and we'll be staying tonight again, so everyone should have plenty of time to have a ton of fun!

Today, while the rest of the family went to play, I stayed behind to deal with our engine issues. I contacted a local engine company that was recommended to me by Asolare and they sent an electrician right over. The first thing he asked me to do was turn on the engine, and of course, as always happens, it started right up. There was no slow cranking, no burning smell, no heat on the starter - just the purr of the engine. I don't know if that's a good or a bad thing, but our guess now is that we might have a bad cell in our starting battery, and while it shows good voltage after being charged, it doesn't shoot out enough juice during the start. I'm not 100% convinced though since the battery still shows good voltage AFTER the engine starts, and if it had a bad cell it should show a lot less voltage after it has been used. BUT - when we have a strong source of power, such as shore power, it starts right up, so the voltage isn't dropping. When we have the generator running, it doesn't start up quite as quickly, but it does start. When no external power source is connected to the start battery, it doesn't start. $191 to find this out (2 hour minimum charge) - always fun to use a marine company. I'm not feeling real comfortable with this, and we had to have done some damage to the starter since we filled the boat with smoke trying to start it the other day. It has to be related to a voltage drop though, so at least that's a little bit of diagnosis.

Anyway, we're here at Atlantis for a couple of days, and then we're going to move to the Nassau Harbor Club until we can cross over to Chub Cay (hehe - Chubby) and then on to Bimini and the US. Hurricane season "officially" started yesterday, so I'd like to get north when we can.

1 comment:

poppi said...

With this data, I would say a bad cell in the battery, but I don't have that much experience with the latest gell batteries. I do know that they can do a load test on them. This will tell you if one of the cells is bad, causing the voltage to drop excessively when under load. The low voltage causes excessive current to flow through the starter, and that is why it overheated. My experience has been that starters can smoke an awful lot, and still work afterwards. I smoked one on one of my tractors the other day so much, I thought the tractor had caught of fire. After I fixed the problem, the starter still worked fine. But, of course, sometimes if you really abuse them, they fail, and stop working. However, if they still work, they seem to keep working. They can always megger (do a resistance measurement) of the winding insulation resistance, and this will tell you if the unit was damaged. It's called megger because a megohm meter is used to measure the resistance.