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Date: 10 June 2015. Self-induced Work (engine won't start)
Guest author Captain Dave Frye on M/V Fryedaze.

This piece is for The Writer's Block. It's written by an online friend from TrawlerForum. Dave and his wife Betsy are doing The Loop. Their first day did not quite go as planned. Dave shares with us the how, why and, wherefores of what went wrong, and right, on Day One.

Sooooo, here is my tale of the trials of boating. I get up at six excited for the first day of the Great Loop. Port engine starts, Starboard doesn’t. It turns one quarter of a turn and the starter chatters.


America's Great Loop Cruisers' Association

Many boaters join the America's Great Loop Cruisers' Association aka AGLCA [http://greatloop.org] and if you too dream of "doing the Loop" you might consider the same.

On the VHF often I'll hear Loopers chatting on channel 69, making plans and setting way points, estimating times of arrival and more. It's a good resource.


An experienced cruiser once said "The circumnavigation of Eastern North America by water is known as The Great Loop. The trip varies from 5,000 miles to 7,500 miles depending on the options used.

So let's say 6500 miles at 6.5 knots...that's 1000 hrs....at 4-5 hrs per day that's 200-250 days....with a minimum of a day layover every 2 weeks for weather, maintenance or fun.... I would say easily 250-300 days and that's not a fun trip for me because I would only be cruising about 1/2 the days. (though some days are more than 4-5 hrs as you would press on for a better stop if one at all)"

First thing I suspect is the batteries, even though they are at 12.8 volts DC.

I pull all connections to the Starboard engine to ensure clean and good connections. Test start ‘NO JOY’.

I put jumpers to the other engine NO JOY.

I pull all cables and swap batteries for each engine.

Port starts right up, Starboard didn’t.

Took hydrometer readings. All cells greater than 1.285.


Phase two: I start snooping around the starter (its outboard and a bear to see). I find the lead from the starter positive to the alternator positive output melted. The cause will come later. I replace the positive lead from the alt to the starter and…NO JOY and its get hot quick. Looks like a starter problem.

Well we are starting the loop today and have no car. In come Robbie, Joann and Donny to help out. Robbie and Donny provide all kinds of great advice from their previous experience with farm equipment and previous jobs.

They talk me into pulling the starter so I did. Robbie suggests we taking it over to the Wenger Amish motor shop and check it out, best idea of the day (you why see later).

Meanwhile I want my truck because I figure we are going to be here for a few days. Joann takes me home and on the way back I order a new starter from Drum Point Marine and it will be here tomorrow between 1000-1300.

I get back and Robbie calls Wenger to see if they could fit us in. They can so we hit the road for Saint Mary’s Amish country. The fella at Wenger tests the motor and its fine. We start asking questions and he gave us a wealth of ideas.

Sooooo, back to the boat.


Phase three: I wire brush all the contact point for the starter to the block and all the terminals, even though they were pretty good. As I was putting the last positive lead though some piping I bumped the block, IT DIDN’T SPARK!

It should have been a direct short.

Robbie suggests taking some readings. They all come up empty, almost zero. As I am scratching my head I look forward and shazam!! The Main Engine battery cutoff switch is in off.

It’s a big plastic key switch that looks like and oversized clock key. I must have bumped it while loading stores. NOW IT ALL MAKES SENSE.

The wire that fried to the alternator did so because that little 10 gauge wire was trying to back feed and start the engine.

Put the key in on and the engine fires right up. NOTHIN BUT JOY!!!.

I am not sure what the moral of the story is. The ordeal took solid non-stop work from 0800-1600.

Oh well I know how to pull the starter now. Looks like the LOOP starts tomorrow.

The End.

© Dave & Betsy Frye on M/V Fryedaze

Captains Dave and Betsy Frye are traveling in a Monk42 built in 1989 by Overseas Ltd.  

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