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The Adventures of LeeZe: Generators, High Winds, and Foam Parties

In a lengthy update, cruiser-blogger Lee Licata battles his ailing generator, gets left adrift in his own tender and experiences a dockside foam party. All in a days work.

August 31, 2013

Yesterday, after a near miss event getting underway from the Bodrum Municipal Marina, we anchored at Gumbet. The near miss? Well, I screwed up and got too close to the gulet's lazy lines while departing and got the tender caught in them, and then failed to properly prepare the tender to be towed so it ended up being towed backwards, filling with seawater at such an alarming rate that Zehra thought it might sink.

Our approach to Gumbet, which is less than 2nm from Bodrum, was in a wind that gusted to 40 knots off the port side. It was so strong that it caused LeeZe to heel some 5-10 degrees at one point. Found a place to anchor, drop the hook, and it doesn't take long for the wind to do its thing, which allows me to confirm the anchor is set.


While anchoring, a sailboat with a 3x5' American Flag shows up and Zehra says, "there is another "real" American here." Turns out they are a Newport, Rhode Island couple cruising the Med for the last 4 years. Most USA flagged vessels are out of Delaware, and they fly the small flags one might wave at a parade since those are readily available at most flag shops. But the cloth 3x5' USA flags are very hard to find outside the USA so when we see one, then tend to be Americans. The owners are Mel and Jackie off of SV Feisty.

It looks like it will be a rough couple of days. The weather is expected to be very windy from the NW, with gusts predicted to be up to 30 knots at times. Some say that today will be worse than yesterday. That gives me pause as on days like this, I sleep in the pilothouse with the door open, and when the wind blows hard, I hear, and feel it, and get up to make sure we are not drifting.

Due to the # of boats, I can not let out all the chain I want, so I am stuck with using about 60 meters in 9 meters of water with the snubber clipped to the anchor some 3-4 meters below the surface. But, somehow, that comes off the chain, requiring me to bring the anchor chain in a little and reset the hook. Looking at the hook, I think it is bent so I need to get it repaired soon. Seeing the it slipped off once, I lay a second snubber about 10 links behind the first one just in case the first one parts again. Never done that before and understand that makes anchor retrieval more complicated, but hopefully, it will not be needed.

Throughout the night, the wind blows from 5-30+ knots. Get up multiple times throughout the night and all seems fine. At about 0345, get up and visually, all seems fine but the navigation computer says we drifted some 152 meters from my anchor position. Based on what I see visually, that is not right and a check of the GPS satellites' signals shows them severely degraded. Have seen that before and when I next check at 0550, all is back to "normal."

The view of Gumbet from the water.

The view of Gumbet from the water.

Zehra, meanwhile, sleeps comfortably thru the night in the master cabin. I wish I did not worry so much. At about 0730 I go to sleep in the master cabin. Zehra will be up in less than an hour and if something goes arise, she will get me up. But nothing does and I awake at about 1130. Have a late breakfast and then check the weather.

Think yesterday was bad? Today, the forecast (NOAA GRIB) states 35-40 knots of gusting wind this afternoon with winds in the 20's all night. Great!

We clean the tender, and Zehra goes ashore for about 90 minutes. I still feel that I need to be on board just in case "Murphy" strikes. After delivering Zehra ashore, while on my way back, I introduce myself to SV Feisty. If the wind dies down, we will try to get together.

Zehra returns and reports that Gumbet caters to the British crowd. British food, sports, music, etc. Will try to get ashore tomorrow. Zehra also notes that the NW corner of Gumbet is calm as can be; no wind, no waves, nada. She also notes that she could not locate a place to land and tie the tender to come ashore.

September 1, 2013

Got up this morning and decided to try the other side of Gumbet as the winds do not appear to be dying down anytime soon. But before we can move we need to retrieve the anchor and to do that, we need to get this 25+ meter gulet out from over the anchor. So, I get their intention, tell them the problem, and they say they will help. About 30 minutes later, after breakfast, start the engine and begin retrieving the anchor. Call to the gulet. Nothing. Zehra sounds the horn. Nothing. Yell again, nothing. Slow retrieval and yell again….ahhhhh a head pops up from down below. Now two come up, and come to their starboard aft side. I continue to retrieve and they ask me where are my fenders? I say huh?? They want me to fender LeeZe. I ask them if they are fiberglass? The say yes! I say I am steel and to please remember that you all came in after me. They said they are on their mooring. I say OK and continue to retrieve. They get the hint real quick and go get two large fenders. The wind shifts (thank you Lord!) and they move away so I retrieve my anchor and half the grass that is down there on the harbor floor, and back slowly away. All is fine and we move probably less than a mile to the NW side of the harbor, where we hope the ride will be nicer.

This place is better than where we were. The wind is still blowing but as we are close to some hills, the wind cannot churn up the water. We are still moving around, but now without choppy seas. We went into town this afternoon. Had difficulty finding a place to land as most said no. Finally a cafe-bar said yes so we came ashore. Except for this placed being warmer, the Brits might not even realize they left their homeland. Anyway, while walking about, found a bar that had a foam party in progress and had to watch for a while.

The foam party, which we had to stay and observe.

The foam party, which we had to stay and observe.

We return the LeeZe about ½ hour before darkness and evaluate the day as an unqualified success. Tomorrow, we may return to Bodrum's Municipal Marina, or go on to Bitez, or just stay here. The weather is windy and choppy until at least the weekend, maybe longer. I think we have met the "Meltemi" and we are her captive.

September 2, 2013

While cleaning in prep for guests, the Turkish Coast Guard motors up and tells me that I am anchored in a "forbidden region." I politely challenge that because my Turkish charts do not show the area to be forbidden, nor are there any NTMs out there saying so. He explained that the Harbormaster has been trying for some time to get these areas charted but without luck. (What that probably means is that he can't sell the restrictions to the government.) He gives me a book that lists all the areas that have restrictions. He says that if I do not move, he will fine me. We negotiate a move at 1400 and he reluctantly agrees. I am almost tempted to take the fine and challenge it, because in the past, the powers that be in Ankara have clamped down on these little fiefdoms. Here he is closing off the whole west side of Gumbet. In addition, SV Feisty, who was anchored in a authorized area, was told to move because according to the "coastie" they are not. They ended up getting underway for Bodrum.

In my honest opinion, Gumbet is NOT a good place to anchor. The best area to anchor when the wind is from the North; to East is off limits. There are few places one can dingy ashore, and to get ashore from an authorized area is a heck of a long tender ride.

So, at 1345, we weigh anchor, call Bodrum marina to see if any space has opened (none has) so we move to the next cove, Bitez. Knowing the "forbidden region" I anchor some 100 meters outside of it. The N to NE wind on the approach exceeded 35 knots and we could see white caps in the bay.

We drop the hook in 10+ meters of water, lay out 75 meters of chain, and snub it. I have started to take a second line thru an anchor link and typing both ends off to the bollard on the forward deck just to act as a backup snubber in case the main snubber fails. (I have seen that line stretch so tight I thought it would snap. Will need to replace this winter.) The sun is out, the temp is about 26, the wind is between 15-30, and the waves are small and staccato.

September 3, 2013

We have been having generator problems off and on since taking possession of LeeZe. For the longish time, the generator would rapidly overheat. I got that looked at in Netsel and it turns out that the yard had hard piped the cooling water from the keel cooler and when that was taken apart, the glue that is used to seal the pipe joints had in fact migrated to the interior and in some places, was blocking probably 80+% of the flow.

I tested the generator before getting underway in May and it was OK, not the best, still getting hotter than I wanted. It would run for an hour plus before the water temp started to peg its gauge.

Just before our stop in Bodrum, I ran the generator and it ran fine for the hour plus. The next day, ran it and it shut down about 15 minutes later. Thought I had made a mistake and failed to fill its fuel tank (it has it's own). I restarted it and it ran very ragged. Voltage was all over the map and so was speed. Called the manufacturer and was told probably got air in the line when I ran it dry and I could either run it unladed for 30 minutes, or vent the air out. At this time, I also removed a clip that was choking off coolant flow that bypassed the head. The clip was put there at the urging of the manufacturer because he thought that by choking that flow, the generator would take longer to heat up. I thought that since I had addressed that issue, I could take it off. I did save it, just in case.

Zehra ashore with LeeZe anchored quietly behind her.

Zehra ashore with LeeZe anchored quietly behind her.

For whatever reason, while in Bodrum, I failed to test the generator. Like most marinas and harbors, if there is shore power available, and running your generator is not permitted. I knew that a 15-20 min test would not have told me anything, so, stupid me, I hoped that it was just an air-in-fuel issue and all would be well.

Now stay with me, I know this is wordy but stay with me. This is an epic nonfiction story unfolding!

Yesterday, I started the generator and vented the air. Thought I got most of it out and for the first 15-20 minutes, it ran ragged but then settled out and ran for an hour plus at 51% of full load. Strangely, the generator never got warm. (It might be that I had a fan blowing directly on it, and 2 parts of the 3-part sound enclosure were off for the maintenance work.) Declared victory. Ahhhhhhhh, Murphy was in the shadows and I did not see him. This morning, 0900, started the generator and it would not hold any appreciable load, voltage and speed was all over the map, and oil pressure was 25 psi when yesterday, it was 50.

Now I was dejected and somewhat depressed. Started the main engine and ran it for an hour to charge the batteries, but knew that was NOT the solution. Thought and thought and thought and decided to drain the fuel tank and change the fuel filter. Of course, that is neither easy nor mess-free. The tank had about 25 liters of fuel, so in 5 liter increments, I poured 20 into the forward fuel tank and removed the tank from its mount to help facilitate the draining of the last bit of fuel. Then, drained the last 4-5 liters and put that aside. Was constantly wiping up the diesel spills and leaks. I Looked inside the tank and saw nothing that would indicate dirt, microbes, algae, etc but while getting the tank out, had jostle the fuel around quite a bit. Reinstalled the tank, and noted that the generator fuel suction pipe was nearly touching the bottom of the tank. So, now, I started to question whether I ever did run out of fuel as the level indicator never dropped below ⅓.

Then opened up the manual to find where the fuel filter was and dug one out of stores. Turns out this is a bitch to find because the manufacturer had painted the engine white after assembly and test, so the filter blended in with the landscape. So, with some manual elbow grease, some prying of the painted hose clamps, etc etc, the fuel filter assembly comes out. Installing the new one goes a little easier and since this filter is not painted, I can see thru its plastic housing. Thought that might be useful in future fuel troubleshooting issues.

So far, I am 2.5 hours into this job, and am not confident that this will solve the problem. (I am so "not confident" that I ask Zehra to contact a friend and to get a number for a generator repairman.)

But I press on, filling the tank with clean fuel from the aft fuel tank (which I run the main engine off of), say a prayer or two, and start the engine. It struggles at first to get up to speed, so with my handy 12mm, I go and vent the air. This time, with a very strong flashlight, I can see the air-entrained fuel. I see so much of it that I start to doubt what I see. But the engine is running a little more smoothly and so I stop the venting. Oil pressure is back up at 50 and fuel is flowing briskly thru the new filter. I Looked at the old one, and blew air thru it's reverse flow direction and small black crap shows up in the towel. Go put a load on it and it seems to settle down. Over the course of 15 minutes, increase load to 51% and it runs fine for nearly 2 hours. I stop it because at that time, the battery was only asking for 37% of the generator's capacity so thought it was stupid to burn fuel at this point. And the generator again never got warm enough.

So, what do you think? Think I declared victory? Nope, nada, not a chance. When it behaves like this for the next 4 starts in the row, maybe. This could be another self-inflicted problem. (Probably is!)

And, what about that last 4 liters of old fuel that I removed? It is definitely not clean. While it is hard to describe what I am seeing, it is not as clear as the fuel I just put in.

As for Bitez, we went walking last night ashore, and saw a small town that caters to the mostly British tourists. We learn that between Nov and April, about 50% of the town goes into hibernation but that the town is somewhat busy year round. Zehra is considering wintering over here so, we would like some life in town, not like the winter we spent in Cesme, where the sidewalks were rolled up in mid-October and were not put out again until mid-April!

So, there is even more action coming today. Zehra's cousin is coming today with the Bitez's port manager to see if we can winter here. Her sister and husband are driving in from their summer place out east to stay a few days, and the wind continues to blow 20-30 knots.

Sooooooooo the adventure for today is NOT over. Zehra's sister and husband show up and the ride back in the tender is wet and wet. The winds are high and the waves are 1 meter high and confused. All are drenched. Then, Zehra and I return to shore to discuss possibly wintering here. In the end, not possible.

Adventure time!!!!!!! Zehra ties the tender to LeeZe and I hand the stuff off to her. Next thing I hear is Zehra yelling. Seems she did NOT tie me off but… I have no clue what she did. However, here I am in the tender, the motor key is on board LeeZe, and I am drifting away at an rapid pace in the 25 knot plus wind. There is no one around so off come the hat and the glasses as I elect try to swim with the tender in tow. That turns out to be much harder than I ever imagined and thank God, a tender from another boat hears my call for help, comes by, picks me up and returns me, and the tender to LeeZe.

From now on, the keys to the boat are staying with me until I leave the tender. Lesson learned. And from now on, Zehra is going to tug HARD on the tender's line after tying it off.

Zehra and Zerri goofing around while I grill.

Zehra and Zerri goofing around while I grill.

Later that night, I BBQ some kofte (small meat hamburger-like food, just spiced differently) and we four sit down for them, veggies, salad, and rice.

Just before going to sleep, I check the anchor and the snubber, and my back-up snubber. All seem like they should be, and I think, so far today, knock on wood, the anchor has been the only thing that is reliably doing its job.

Tomorrow is another day, and the only probably known fact is that the wind tomorrow is like today's.

September 4, 2013

Got up and ran the generator for about 90 minutes. At one point, rpm and voltage dropped again and I had to unload it. Otherwise ran fine. Found both fuel hose clamps loose and tighten them while the engine was running. There is also an air bubble in the fuel filter, but since the filter is at the high point of that part of the fuel system, am clueless on how to vent. Writing an email to the manufacturer to see if he has any suggestions. After the engine cools, I will stretch wrap both ends of the fuel hose.

After talking with the generator tech service, he said that the only thing he could think of is that air is still getting in. So, ran the generator again and tighten each and every hose clamp I could find. There are not many. On the fuel suction line, there are 4, 2 fuel discharge, and two cooling water lines. I looked closely in the clear fuel filter housing and could see no air bubbles. Did find some clamps not completely tight, but also not loose. This reminds me of the vacuum leak on the main engine fuel-water separator I suffered some weeks ago. Eventually had to apply sealant to every possible joint sand wrap most of them in stretch wrap to make the problem go away.

The wind here is still blowing and it does not look like it will die down till Friday.