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Category Archives: Repairs

Maintenance and Repair Items

Bilge Pumps are important safety features on boats that can help to keep them from sinking. Sea Eagle has three bilge pumps and they all work very well, but I noticed water collecting in the high bilge well just forward of the engine (during a routine check). A quick taste test of the rather nasty looking bilge water confirmed that it was fresh water (condensation from the Air Conditioning) and further investigation revealed that the high bilge wasn’t draining into the low keel bilge.

Disassembled Ultraswitch float switch.  The float is on top of the white high level bilge pump.

Disassembled Ultraswitch float switch. The float is on top of the white high level bilge pump.

A quick check of the excellent Nordhavn Owner’s Manual confirmed my suspicion that there was an open drain line from the high to the low bilge and an inspection revealed that a wet oil absorbent pad was effectively blocking off the drain. I removed the now slimy pad and most of the water drained out, but there was still about an inch left. Hmmmmm? I made a couple of trips up to the pilothouse, turning the High Bilge Pump on for a minute, then returning to the engine room only to find the water level about the same. More Hmmmmmm?

I turned the pump on again, left it running and returned to the Engine Room to find that the High Bilge Pump was working great, but water was flowing OUT of the drain to the lower bilge! After a few seconds of OMG, we’re sinking… I checked the lower bilge and it was full of water too. DOH! Hence the post on the Bilge Sensors.

Fully assembled Ultraswitch float switch.  Testing by inverting.

Fully assembled Ultraswitch float switch. Test by inverting.

Nordhavn uses very high quality bilge sensors (Ultraswitch Senior float switches), which are pretty idiot proof, but they need to be tested and cleaned periodically. I removed the sensor (see photos), cleaned the crud off the float that was preventing free movement, reassembled the unit and it worked like a charm. I also took the opportunity to replace the pair of 9 volt batteries in the high water alarm panel that Jeff Merrill had told me about many moons ago.

Have you tested your bilge sensors and pumps recently? 😉

Nordhavn 47 Anchor Roller.  That's all there is to it.

Nordhavn 47 Anchor Roller. That’s all there is to it.

During our sunrise departure from Hunter Bay (Lopez Island) I had noticed the anchor roller was squealing and making a gawd-awful noise. I’m sure it made our boat neighbors in that quiet anchorage wonder what the heck was happening at Oh-dark-hundred in the morning. Sorry folks!

The anchor roller hangs out over the water as part of the anchor pulpit, so there is reasonable access from the top, but if you drop something, it is going straight to the bottom! I tied a spare mooring line to the crown of the anchor and lowered it until the weight was on the line, then picked up the now-slack chain and transferred it to the port anchor roller.

Nordhavn 47 Anchor Pulpit with the roller removed.

Nordhavn 47 Anchor Pulpit with the roller removed.

The cotter pin and nut came off the anchor roller bolt very easily and then the bolt slid out and I was able to pull the brass roller up with minimal effort. I was surprised to find that there were no bearings and the pin was completely dry (no grease), which explained the squealing.

I polished and cleaned the bolt/pin and the center of roller, greased everything up good and then reassembled the roller in the pulpit. Once the chain and anchor were transferred back to the starboard anchor roller, no more squealing and I’m happy to report that it’s an easy job.

The water damaged Mathers Control Head being removed.

The water damaged Mathers Control Head being removed.

The Mathers Control Head (P/N 453-3R) on the flybridge had been giving me trouble for a while. Apparently it doesn’t like our wet, rainy, Pacific Northwest Weather! Frequently, while docking, it would keep the boat in gear when moved to neutral, or sometimes even shift to reverse when it was supposed to be in neutral. Once even racing the engine while reversing all by itself! 😉

I decided that was enough excitement for this summer and replaced the control head with a spare that I had ordered last year. It’s a pretty simple swap and the new control head seems to be working like a champ.

The new Mathers Control Head installed and ready for another ten years of service.

The new Mathers Control Head installed and ready for another ten years of service.

Another long standing item on my Fix-It list was the 12-volt DC Carbon Monoxide detector in the master stateroom. During our purchase survey, Matt had pointed out that the sensors are only good for five years and needed to be replaced. I had installed an additional Carbon Monoxide detector in the Saloon, based on the surveyor’s recommendation.

The old carbon monoxide detector being removed.

The old carbon monoxide detector being removed.


Active Captain had a great discount on CO detectors at Defender, so I purchased a new unit and installed it in place of the old dinosaur in the stateroom. The sensor install itself was pretty easy with good access, but getting the 12 volt DC power hooked up was not fun.

I had to pull out all of my heavy spare parts (starters, alternators, pumps, etc.), then crawl into the locker next to one of the diesel furnaces to get it hooked up. I took the opportunity to inventory my heavy spares, which was a good exercise. It turns out I have two spare drinking water pumps. Who knew? 🙂

The new carbon monoxide unit installed and keeping us safe.

The new carbon monoxide unit installed and keeping us safe.

Water Filters and UV Purifier.

Water Filters and UV Purifier.

Spring is in full bloom and the warm weather has boaters out cleaning the winter gunk off their boats. Sea Eagle is no exception, and has been thoroughly washed and waxed this week. I also caught up on some annual maintenance chores, including replacing the water filters and the Ultra Violet lamp on the purifier.

I ran down to the Fuel Dock and took on 600 gallons of fuel ($2200), which should last me the entire year. The fuel tanks are now chock-a-block full (including the Standadyne Fuel additives).

New LED fixture in the back of the Engine Room.

New LED fixture in the back of the Engine Room.


I had also noticed the back of the engine room was very dark when I replaced the Hot Water Heater last month, so installed a bright new LED fixture in place of the old 24 volt dome light. It made a huge difference and makes it MUCH easier to see into my tool box and to work on both the Generator and Wing Engine. It was so bright in fact that I changed all the fluids and filters out on both engines.

The two old, leaking hot water heaters that needed to be removed.

The two old, leaking hot water heaters that needed to be removed.

Easter Weekend, I decided to tackle a large project that I had been putting off for nearly a month – replacing the hot water heater in the engine room. This had been in the back of my mind since the day I took Sea Eagle down to Olympia for bottom paint. I had arrived on the boat, only to find the floor of the engine room covered with engine coolant. Oops! That could only mean one of two things, either a leaky keel cooler (very bad) or the heat coil in the hot water heater was leaking. When I isolated the hot water heater, the overflowing coolant stopped, so I knew that was the problem.

I special ordered the replacement unit during Defenders annual sale and then looked around the engine room trying to figure out the best way to tackle the project. There were two hot water heaters in the engine room. A small, square Isotherm unit that worked off the Generator (decommissioned last year due to leakage) and the 20 gallon Raritan unit tucked way back in the corner behind the wing engine.

Victory is mine!  Both of the old hot water heaters were successfully extracted from the engine room!

Victory is mine! Both of the old hot water heaters were successfully extracted from the engine room!

The first task was to remove the Isotherm Unit, which proved a little tricky as the outside mounting bolts were very difficult to access. Perseverance paid off and once the coolant hoses were plugged and the spilled coolant was cleaned up, it was time to tackle the big unit.

The large heater had been in place for ten years, so many of the fittings were corroded and took a lot of persuasion to remove. Eventually, large pipe wrenches were able to persuade even the most stubborn fittings and I was able to just squeeze the old heater out by going over the top of the wing engine at an angle.

The new 20 gallon, 240 volt hot water heater, installed and working!

The new 20 gallon, 240 volt hot water heater, installed and working!

I hauled the new unit in, using the same serpentine and angled path, then made a quick trip to West Marine for some new fittings to replace the corroded hose adapters going to the main engine coolant. The heater was wired and plumbed up and filled with water. Of course there is always one leak (the pressure relief valve which I had torqued the piss out of), but bigger wrenches convinced even that to stop.

I turned the unit on and soon had toasty warm water again to wash my hands after cleaning up the giant mess that I had made! Hopefully, I’ll get another ten years out of the new unit before I have to tear it apart again! I’m thinking I’ll check the aluminum anode in the heater annually, just to be sure!

Ever wonder how the heck you get a large hot water heater out of the engine room?  Through the floor of the Saloon.

Ever wonder how the heck you get a large hot water heater out of the engine room? Through the floor of the Saloon.

Fixing the d*mn toilet on a Nordhavn 47

Fixing the d*mn toilet on a Nordhavn 47

Yep, it’s a sh*tty job, but someone has to do it and the time has come to tackle the forward head on Sea Eagle. It has been problematic for the entire year that I have owned the boat, often backing up (and making a mess) if anything even resembling a solid object was flushed (like a small piece of TP). Grrrr!

This is definitely NOT my favorite job on the boat. Whoever installed the toilet last used LOTS of adhesive sealant that broke several utility knife blades. It was VERY tough stuff, so it took me three hours to get that d*mn toilet out!!!

Fortunately, it’s out, cleaned up, a new joker valve installed and appears to be working like a champ. We shall see!

Ever wonder what's inside your toilet?

Ever wonder what’s inside your toilet?

Launching Nordhavn 47 Sea Eagle

Launching Nordhavn 47 Sea Eagle

After a week of sitting on the hard, with a freshly painted bottom, new zincs, fresh coolant, a clean and shiny waterline, it was time to drop Sea Eagle back in the water. Unfortunately, Mother Nature seemed determine to foil out plans. The wind was howling 25-30 knots, but was predicted to fall.

We slung up the boat (it looks weird to see your Nordhavn Four Wheeling along the pavement), and dropped her in when it appeared there was a lull. However, as soon as she was out of the slings, the wind started shrieking and it tall all hands to get the boat back under control and safely to the loading dock. GULP!

Buffed and painted propellers.

Buffed and painted propellers.

I jumped in, fired up and pulled out as soon as it was safe to do so. The boat was listing due to the shrieking winds, which made pulling into the guest dock at Swantown kind of entertaining, but we managed. There was no yelling, no bumping and no bruised egos. All I have to say is Thank Gawd for thrusters!! 😉

Now, where did I put that checkbook…

Sea Eagle goes four wheeling in the yard at Swantown Boatworks.

Sea Eagle goes four wheeling in the yard at Swantown Boatworks.

Haul Out at SwanTown Marina in Olympia, WA.

Haul Out at SwanTown Marina in Olympia, WA.

Spring is almost here and it is time for Sea Eagle’s annual haul-out. Getting the boat lined up and into the lift on a blustery day was “entertaining”, but I made it work. Having a bow and stern thruster is a little bit like cheating. 😉

It has been two years since the hull was painted and 4 months since I dove the bottom and cleaned her. As you can see from the photos, the paint is in great shape (Petitt Trinidad Black). There are bare spots along the keel where the previous owner bumped the bottom (shallow slip), so I am putting on two fresh coats of pain.

The Keel Coolers look good, and need new zincs and so do the props. See the photos below.

Keel Cooler for the main engine.  Zinc anodes need to be replaced.

Keel Cooler for the main engine. Zinc anodes need to be replaced.

Propellers on Sea Eagle are in good shape after two years.  Both are missing zinc anodes.

Propellers on Sea Eagle are in good shape after two years. Both are missing zinc anodes.

New MarineAir A/C unit installed in the Stbd side of the Saloon.

New MarineAir A/C unit installed in the Stbd side of the Saloon.

The main air conditioning unit in the Saloon has been non-functional since the boat was purchased. Since it has been so darn cold this winter, I thought it would be nice to get the unit fixed so that I could use it for heat.

Unfortunately, it turns out that the old unit was non-repairable. So I decided to bite the bullet and put in a new MarineAir Air Conditioning Unit. It works with the old controller and the old sea water manifold system, and only required some minor re-programming to get it functional. Now the Saloon can be heated up quickly on cold winter mornings.

The new Samsung 46" HDTV in the Saloon

The new Samsung 46″ HDTV in the Saloon

While I was working in the Saloon, I decided I was tired of the old 36″ TV that did not support HDMI. I went over to Costco and picked up a new 46″ Samsung HDTV. It has lots of HDMI ports and fits the front of the Galley Counter perfectly. It works great and now I have the DVR, Blue Ray, Apple TV and Xbox all hooked up and running.

I also ran some cat5 cable to the equipment closet and hooked the TV up to the router. Now I can stream High Definition movies without it dropping the wireless connection every ten minutes. Grrrrr!

We also took the boat out for the weekend and cruised over to Dockton. It was wet and gusty winds (~ 20 knots) that contained a little bit of snow, but it was nice to get out for even a short winter cruise.

A new Simrad AIS Tranceiver is installed on Sea Eagle

A new Simrad AIS Tranceiver is installed on Sea Eagle

Sea Eagle did manage to get out and enjoy the sunshine over Super Bowl weekend with an overnight trip to meet some friends. However, with the bitter cold winter weather (9° F this week), I have been working inside the boat far more than outside.

I installed a new AIS trasceiver (Simrad) and really enjoyed being able to to see the commercial vessels and having them see me while cruising through dense fog on Sunday morning. I noticed a crewboat heading to a break bulk carrier that actually altered his course based on the AIS information that I was broadcasting.

The Simrad unit is much nicer than the old no-name AIS receiver that came with the boat. The old unit was only set up to communicate via 4800 Baud (NMEA 0183), which meant targets never had names and would drop off the Nobeltec display for ten minutes at a time. The new unit is hooked up via a simple USB cable and is set for High Speed (NMEA 0183), so displays near real time data, including names, positions, speed vectors, turning, etc. It makes running in the fog much less stressful!

Other recent projects have included complete dis-assembly of the Racor Fuel Filters, cleaning the asphaltenes that precipitated on the water separator and re-assembly with new gaskets, o-rings and filters.

High-Speed Wireless Internet Access was also installed using the free Click! Network Cable that is available at the dock. It makes getting work done on the boat much easier when manuals are just a click away!