Two Week Special

Blue Sky's Voyage
George & Michael
Sun 21 Feb 2010 18:31

Hello Friends                    "2:21N 107:25W"

After two weeks at sea, we bring you a Special Blog to celebrate our opinion of certain marine electricians. It does get a bit technical, but email us if you need more info.

At the outset we should say that the opinions refer in particular to the Truly Dreadful "electricians"* at Sea Ventures of Lymington / Hythe and also possibly to someone working at Jeanneau in the Summer of 2004 when Blue Sky was built. (* we use the term exceedingly loosely)

The glorious exception to the bad electrician rule, in our experience, is the excellent Waypoint of Plymouth who are both helpful and competent and carry the coveted "Blue Sky Recommended" seal of approval! Oh, and Cap Green in English Harbour is pretty good too.

With all the rain yesterday, a fair bit of water found its way into the bilge and that combined with a bit of waste as the watermaker is warmed up and flushed, keeps the bilge fresh and gives the bilge pump a little regular exercise.

We were curious that yesterday afternoon, the water level seemed a little higher than usual, though we had been well heeled on starboard tack for some time and with our rather flat-bottomed modern hull shape, water collects on either side until the heel reduces or you tack.

But then in early evening whilst Simon was having a read before bedtime, he came up and said he could smell burning. A rapid investigation pointed to an exceedingly hot bilge pump which was drawing current but not pumping.

The bilge pump was trashed, but of course Blue Sky carries lots of spares and a replacement was fitted within 20 minutes.

What we did notice was that the electrical connections for the original pump were not correct.

In common with most of the boat, there are 2 female spade connectors, neatly marked with the Jeanneau reference number, awaiting the male spades of the device to be connected. But on Blue Sky, whoever fitted the bilge pump didn’t have the correct spade crimps to hand - the positive connection was made poorly with a red crimp (the smallest and too small for the cable size) and the negative connection was just the bare wire stuffed into the female spade of the boat’s wiring. We know that there never was a proper spade on the negative connection, because there was nothing left in the Jeanneau female spade and the negative only was cable tied to the water hose. Whoever botched the installation knew what they’d done and they added a cable tie to hold it together a bit longer.

The consequence is that for the sake of a single spade crimp - cost a few cents - the connection was poor and caused resistance and reduced the voltage available to the pump. Thus the motor tries to draw more amps and then overheats and burns out. Since the pump is a relatively high current device - best part of 10 amps - it must have a good electrical connection. Whoever fitted this must have known, but could not be bothered to go to the store to get the right crimp. Was it lunchtime, end of shift or just a tea break? We may never know.

But for our quick diagnosis, the pump could have caught fire in mid Pacific - it was far too hot to touch when we isolated it.

So we’d quite like to know who fitted the bilge pump on Blue Sky, hull number 129. Jeanneau has ISO quality assurance so they must have a record of who did what work on the boat. As for Sea Ventures (our preferred culprits) they couldn’t quality assure a visit to the bathroom.

Keel hauling would not be sufficient. This is the sort of crime that ‘flogging around the fleet’ was invented for to serve as a warning to others. Sadly we may never know the identity of the criminal who botched the bilge pump connections. At least we know that the new pump is properly fitted now.

Anyway, despite the efforts of the Forces of Darkness to have done for us, we continue on our merry way and we’re still working south for another 60 miles or so until we get cleaner trade winds to complete our journey to the Marquesas which now bear about 250 degrees from our current position.

The sea state is much improved and Alex even got up for a look in the night to see why it was so flat. Assuming the fair weather holds, we plan to celebrate the first two weeks with steak for dinner and a bottle of good Argentinian red.

One of these days we'll even find something to photograph for you.

Best Wishes

George, Michael, Alex and Simon