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Date: 28 August 2014. Diagnosing a Blown Bearing.


After twice being dragged into Steinhatchee at the end of a TowBoatUS line I can assure you that departure was looking better and better. But first, I needed to determine why the latest breakdown occurred and how to remedy the situation.  In that regard, I was blessed.

The original mechanics helped with advice. That was both appreciated and useful. Steve, who worked on my girl and Jerry from Just Right Marine were able to offer troubleshooting suggestions as I began the process of tracking down all the post-event "Why Did This Happen?" scenarios. Hindsight is always 20/20.

And too, I have a network of friends.  Remember back in the
Lonely No More article my friend Irene had some suggestions for staying in touch? Well, that is a great idea -- one I advocate strongly to all, not just soloists such as myself.

You see, if the only time I called you was because I wanted something, soon enough you would avoid taking my calls. That is why it is important to call and say hello often.  Keeping in touch means I am more likely to know what is happening in your life -- and it is a way of not being so alone out here too.

Anyway, I was also very fortunate in that a couple of fellows (website readers) actually called to offer phone assistance. We went through the entire post engine install run-up, through to the failure while I puttering along offshore. What a blessing that was!


Blown Bearing Diagnosis

The three hours spent on the phone with Captain Will made a huge impact on my knowledge of this Volvo engine and cannot be underestimated. I'm only sorry that I will not be keeping the BOB engine.  I did so want to but alas... (more on that upcoming)

Captain Will is on a Pilgrim40 named Beachcomber. He was the fellow who gave me the diagnostic tool for determining that the bearing was blown. This is how we did it.


In lay-woman's terms, here goes:

  1. Remove the oil filter

  2. Cut open the filter housing

  3. Expand out the paper part

  4. Next, look for metal shavings

At the bottom of my filter I could see small pieces of what looks like flecks of gold. That's the carcass of bearings -- and it is a badd sign.


Well, I went online and replacing the bearings looked straight forward. First pull the crankshaft then put everything back together and voila: instant repair.  It looked inexpensive too.

What I did not know/realize is that the engine would have to come out. This job has to be done with the engine upside down. Who dreams up stuff like that?!?


So it became apparent that I needed to get back to friends and be with people I trust. I found a boat transport company online and was told to be at the local ramp for an 11 p.m. pick-up.  It was a bargain price as I was going to be part of a dead-head* back and the price was great at $2.50 a mile.  That met my budget requirements.

*Dead-head is a term used when a company truck is heading back to home base without a load. The trip would be uncompensated, thus the price goes down if you are heading the right way. And I was.

Seaweed is at anchor behind TJ the successful fisherman at Ellison's Fishery just prior to my departure.

Thus, I needed to get Seaweed to the launch ramp in Steinhatchee that night. I didn't want to call TowBoatUS -- this was not an emergency and I felt certain I could find a local to drag Seaweed over to the ramp. After all, I could see where I needed to be. Were the current cooperative I probably could have towed her over there with just Algae.

Fortunately for me I met a couple of fellows who were from Bradenton Yacht Club and vacationing in Steinhatchee.  Steve and Brooks, along with First Mate Paxton have a pontoon boat and were willing to side-tow me over to the ramp. How nice that was!

College men and their hand signals. Trusting someone to tell me which fraternity this is ASAP. I am curious.

The trip to the boat ramp was the first time Brooks (on right) had side-towed another boat, and Seaweed has a bit of heft plus windage too. Even in the current, he did a great job.

What put my mind most at rest though was the First Mate, Paxton, who took charge of Skipper so I could concentrate on getting Seaweed secured.

Here's Paxton and Skipper aboard the pontoon boat:

My Skipper loves to be held and seemed to have a great time on the pontoon boat. I know that was because she felt so safe with Paxton. Thanks for helping out that night Paxton. You were a terrific First Mate / Captain-in-Training.

And thanks to your dad and his pal for helping get Seaweed where she needed to be that night. Bradenton Yacht Club has some right nice folks and it was a pleasure to meet you all. I hope your time in Steinhatchee was fun.

Have you ever been helped out on the water by a fellow boater?
And, have you ever been able to help some out here? What did you do?

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