With the water tanks a mess, we can still host guests and sail around in the Piankatank River. Outside party time, we do have some new water problems to solve.
We set up some gallon jugs of dock water in each head and five gallons of grocery store water in the galley. Fine for a day sail.
Our guests brought beer, wine, and water also. It was a perfect sailing day. A great escape from work and water tank woes.
We did a lot of B&F (Back and Forth.) We didn't want to go far. We just want to sail around for a while. Eat some dinner. Camp out on Red Ranger.
Since it was a long weekend, CA and I anchored out Sunday night in Fishing Bay.
Yes. Fishing Bay.
It's barely five miles away.
But it's a long five miles from a day job and a small downtown apartment.
It was good to sleep on the hook.
Returning to Jackson Creek
The tides were high at 04:46 and low at 11:36. "So what?" you may ask.
That means that we can only slip into Jackson Creek right around dawn or well after noon (closer to 14:30 to be sure there's enough water.)
We haven't had a dawn departure in almost a year. It felt great to get up super early, make a pot of coffee, pull up the anchor and get started in the first light of the day. Just like cruising again.
There's nothing so fine as squinting into the rising sun.
In spite of an early arrival, we bumped a few times coming in to the creek. With the tide falling, that was scary. But we did manage to get through the shallows and back to D dock.
After arriving at 09:00, we were left with a full day in which to tackle the next part of the water tank job. We used our wash down pump to drain the starboard tank of all the pickle-fresh vinegar water. CA scrubbed and rinsed the tank one last time, and we filled it with clean dock water.
After the vinegar (4.5 gallons white vinegar to 90 gallons of fresh water) treatment, it seemed really clean. It certainly smelled pickle-fresh. It looked good.
The new problem was that our freshwater pump would not come to pressure. We tried to purge the air from all three spigots, but there was always another bubble. We spent a remarkable amount of time listening to bubbles working their way along the pipes, wondering if that was the last bubble.
CA went back to watch the pump. She saw a stream of bubbles cascading down one stretch of hose on the outlet side of the pump. That meant that the pump was sucking air from somewhere. We checked the plumbing between tank and pump, less than six feet of polybutylene. We were pretty sure that this can't easily have a crack that admitted air because it would leak as as soon as we turned the pump off. It was dusty dry.
The pump was an ancient Jabsco 36800 belt-driven diaphragm pump.
These are famously reliable. They're expensive ($700 new.) They're rumored to be worth every penny. We know that the main diaphragm can fail; the two white check valves can clog or fail; there's a 40 PSI pressure switch that can also fail.
How do we know all these parts can fail?
We have three spares for this pump. Each has a part missing. Check valves gone from one. Diaphragm gone from another. Pressure switch gone from two of them. This collection of spares came with the boat. Since none of them work individually, they're not really worth $700 each, are they?
Between the four, we may have one good working pump. With three spare electric motors and belts. And we may still need to buy another diaphragm.
In this case, it appeared that the housing itself had started to leak. We had already (twice) screwed in new check valves with plenty of caulk. We'd also had to replace the exposed belt. The hard freeze this winter may have cracked some part of the pump.
We could — I suppose — fiddle around trying to get a single working pump built from this plethora of parts.
We replaced it with a smaller, lighter-weight Par Max 31395 pump that offers an actual 50 PSI at 3 GPM instead of a potential 40 PSI at 4 GPM. Lower GPM is better for us because we use less water. It does mean that the pump runs a little more often. Actual PSI is better than potential PSI because it doesn't suck air and the water system pressurizes and the pump stops running.
After bleeding the air from three spigots and the filter, the pump came to pressure and stopped running. An expensive way to be sure it wasn't a crack in a pipe somewhere.
It's a new pump. No leaks. No silicone goo to fix leaks in the check valves. No exposed belt. Each big, expensive pump lasted about 8 years. Call it $87/year. If this new pump lasts two years, we're ahead of the game.
Time to plan next weekend's outing.
After that, we're going to Cape Charles the weekend after that. With clean, working water in the starboard tank.
Port tank? Maybe mid-June? We have partying to do, first.