Feb. 20/2020: I mentioned earlier this problem I’ve been having with the Refleks drip-pot diesel heater on Lunacy. Having left the boat here in Brunswick, Georgia, last fall with the heater still non-operational I returned back in December for a few days to have another crack at fixing it. You’ll recall I replaced the regulator, but then could not get consistent fuel flow and thought a new filter might be called for. In December I replaced the filter, which looked perfectly clean once extracted, but still found no joy. Fuel would only flow to the regulator if I pumped the priming bulb in the fuel line every few minutes.
Now I am back again aboard the boat for a few days and have at last cracked the nut. See photo up top showing heater chimney triumphantly pumping carbon into the atmosphere.
Step 1 in my final assault on this problem was to break open the fuel line at every junction point between the tank and the regulator and blow air through each section to ensure there were no obstructions anywhere. I used the dinghy’s foot-pump for this and it worked very well. Afterwards I changed the inline Racor filter (again)
Step 2 was to install a small shut-off valve in the line between the regulator and the priming bulb. With the line disconnected at the regulator’s end of the valve this allowed me to pump the priming bulb with the line open so I could easily verify fuel was flowing steadily. Once good flow was established I closed the valve, reconnected the line, then reopened it. I forgot to photograph the moment when I finally got fuel flowing freely (I caught it in a small jug). This is the valve in place after I reconnected everything and stuffed it and the priming bulb (not visible) back inside their cupboard under the heater
The denoument. Fire in the hole, with fuel flowing properly to keep it going
Some things I’ve learned through all of this:
One: The white gunk that messed up the regulator in the first place was not the result of saltwater contamination, as I first theorized. Evidently it was just the diesel fuel degrading into a waxy paraffin-like semi-solid after sitting in the regulator for a really long time–in this case almost two years. Conclusion: the regulator should be drained if the heater won’t be used for a while. But I’ve never experienced anything like this before, and I have to wonder: why the heck did the fuel in the line and the filter not degrade in the same way??? Thank god they didn’t. That would have been an awful mess.
Two: I did not need to install a shut-off valve at the tank, as I thought I might. To make sure no fuel flowed through the line while changing the filter and otherwise messing with things all I had to do was disconnect the line at the tank’s feed connection (on the top, not the bottom of the tank). Insert one big dope-slap here.
Three: Once I verified all sections of the fuel line were clear it took a hell of a lot of pumping on the priming bulb to get fuel all the way through the line again.
Many thanks to Jean-François Eeman at Boréal for his helpful tips and suggestions.
MEANWHILE, the biggest news since my last visit here in December is that Georgia has implemented some really stupid anti-anchoring regulations. Effective January 1 of this year no one in this state is allowed to anchor anywhere within 1,000 feet (more than the length of three football fields!) of any structure on shore, including just pilings. The one exception is marina structures: you have to anchor at least 300 feet away from them.
If you want to follow all the outrage online check out the Save Georgia’s Anchorages page on Facebook. They now estimate that 61 percent of Georgia’s anchorages are verboten and are supporting a new law to hopefully negate this stupidity. Obviously the percentage of verboten anchoring space will only grow as more structures are created on shore.
Needless to say I’ve been asking boat people around here what they think about all this. The guys at the local West Marine (where I bought my little valve) hadn’t heard anything about it. The local guy on the trawler next to me in the marina, who had just returned from a mini-cruise down to Florida and back, figured at least for the time being he could just ignore it. The marina guys here also think it’s pretty stupid. They don’t see that it will drive cruisers into marinas. They expect it will only drive cruisers away from Georgia.
Me… I’m not sure what to do now. I was hoping to go for a serious Georgia creek-crawling cruise next time I come back here (in a nice toasty warm boat), but now I’m not so sure.
How the hell do you even comply with this law? I ain’t got no 1,000-foot tape measure on my boat. I don’t expect any law enforcement types will have one either.
Marina swan. Someone apparently was feeding this beast, and now it keeps coming back looking for more. They may look nice, but these are not friendly birds. They’re even nastier than geese, like super-nasty geese on steroids
Someone else’s maintenance chore. Crew up a rig two docks down
The other big local news is still M/V Golden Ray, that 656-foot car carrier that capsized in St. Simons Sound just outside of Brunswick last September. The local paper evidently has three reporters writing a steady stream of stories about the clean-up effort.
As of today the “Unified Command” in charge of the work began driving piles all around the turtled ship. A total of 80 piles will support a screen that will contain debris from the salvage operation. Once the screen is up an immense barge crane called the VB 10,000 will appear. This thing is 240 feet high, 314 feet wide, capable of lifting 6,800 tons, the largest of its kind ever built in the United States. It will saw the ship into eight pieces with a long sharp chain slung under the hulk and lift the pieces out one by one. The chain-sawing procedure, apparently, will be super noisy.
Golden Ray on her side when I passed by her in early November
The goal is to have the ship out of here before hurricanes start blowing again in the late summer.
There’s also an ongoing federal lawsuit filed by some folks trying to block the salvage effort, for whatever reason, but so far they have failed to get an injunction and work is going ahead as planned.