Friday, May 11, 2012

Returning to Our Summer Home

After a long winter the time has finally come to make our return to our summer home at Boater's Beach! The first trip out is always exciting and having a perfect sunny day with smooth seas certainly helped to make it a great day. There is such a neat feeling returning to a place that you haven't seen for 6 months, but have thought about all winter long. Today is also the first time we will try to launch and retrieve our Sea Eagle kayak from the boat. It also gives us a way to get to the beach without having to wade through the cold 58 degree water.

A deserted Boater's Beach
The kayak measures 14 feet long by 3 feet wide, so inflating and launching it from a 26ft boat can be a little cumbersome. For the first attempt we used the bow of our boat as the launch area for Lil Pickle.
Unrolling the kayak
Even angled on the bow the kayak overhangs both sides of the boat. Inflating the kayak takes just a few minutes, but I really wish there was a way to transport this without having to inflate and deflate it all the time.I guess that's a small price to pay for all the cool new places we can explore with it and the ability of getting to shore dry!
Dana testing her paddling technique
It really shocked both of us as to how quickly we were able to paddle to shore in a 15-20 knot headwind! I knew the kayak would glide through the water on a calm day, but this thing really impressed me today! The seats still leave a lot to be desired, so we will try to address that before our big trip this summer.
Leaving our mark
After a great day on the beach and a successful launch of Lil Pickle, it was time to return to the dock and celebrate. It must have been a long winter because I forgot how delicious Dana's dockside dinners are.
I've missed this!

This is going to be a great year! See you out there!!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Seapickle Launch 2012

Due to the recent purchase of our trailer this years launch would be different than previous years. We needed to setup the trailer bunks to fit the hull of our boat instead of the boat that the trailer was previously used for. We arranged to have the boat yard use one of their boat lifts to hoist Seapickle in the air so we could drive the trailer underneath it and adjust the bunks to fit her hull.
Taking Seapickle to the hoist
Sliding the yard trailer out so we can slide ours underneath
Luckily our good friend Greg was available to give us a hand with centering the keel over the center bunks and making the bunk adjustments. It was interesting to see how differently the bunk arrangement was for our hull versus the hull of the Sea Ray 260 this trailer was originally set up for.

Greg keeping an eye on it as it's lowered
Slowly lowering her down
We made the major adjustments prior to sliding the trailer under the boat and after fine tuning the bunk placements we began to torque down 3/4 inch bolts that held them in place.

We had to use a couple of jack stands in order to properly place the bunk in between two hull chines that the strap was skipping over. Once everything was tightened down and the straps removed it was time to tow Seapickle for the first time! The distance of the tow wasn't much to brag about considering the launch was less than a half mile away but maybe it's best to start small.
Heading to the boat ramp!

This wasn't my first time towing but definitely my first time towing a boat of this size. The last boat we towed was our Four Winns 190 Horizon, but luckily for us the weather turned a little sour and we were the only boat at the ramp!
Backing down the ramp
Dana approves of a job well done!
Fog bank rolling in.

 Not long after we moved the boat down the channel to our slip, one of the worst fog banks we have ever seen rolled down the channel off of Lake Michigan. With near zero visibility we decided to postpone our shake down cruise for another time and instead celebrated the day with a delicious perch dinner at Marquette Yacht Club! (If you've never been there - it's the best perch ever! They're only open Friday nights for dinner.  - Dana)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A Rough Start to the Season

Last fall I was finishing up my winterizing routine when the engine on Seapickle suddenly died out and would not restart. At the time I wasn't too concerned, figuring I just flooded the engine while fogging it. Well what seemed like no big deal in the fall has blossomed into a big problem this spring. With our launch date fast approaching we needed to figure out what was wrong and fast.

 A quick test revealed that the engine cranked over fine but had no spark or injector pulse. I decided that the crank sensor was most likely the culprit so I focused my attention there. The test meter showed the sensor receiving the required power and ground from the ECU, but without my oscilliscope handy I couldn't perform an accurate test on the sensor output. With my patience wearing thin and a parts store in an almost too convenient location I decided it was worth a shot replacing the sensor.
Let the fun begin
Of course the new crank sensor made no difference and I found myself right back at square one. Armed with every wire schematic and test procedure I could get my hands on, I spent my evenings for the next 2 weeks testing and tracing wire after wire, and sensor after sensor. I finally concluded based on my testing that the engine computer, or ECU had failed. I decided this early on in the testing that this was the failed part, but when I say Volvo Penta is very proud of this part it is an understatement, and they have priced it accordingly! With the new ECU on order I decided to open the covers on the failed ECU hoping to see conclusive evidence of failure.
Evidence of a failure!!
I was actually relieved to see the potting jelly blown apart where the inputs for the crank sensor enter the computer. We waited anxiously for UPS to deliver the new computer and as soon as it arrived we raced up to the boat with only the computer in hand and a 6 pack on ice to celebrate our newly repaired boat.

Crank,crank,crank....nothing!! I ended up drinking the 6 pack that night, but I promise you it was NOT in celebration. I probably owe poor Seapickle a formal apology for all the nasty things I said about her that night.

Well back to square one again but my testing still showed a problem in the crank sensor circuit. Since the ECU and crank sensor were new, the problem has to be in the harness, but it had already passed all the factory recommended tests. I decided to start inspecting the harness inch by inch, and as luck would have it I found my problem less that a foot away from my starting point.
Wires unwrapped and placed to show original routing
Pinched Wires

When tracing the harness I found the wires were pinched in between the knock sensor and the engine block. Once I removed the electrical tape I found two of the three sensor wires badly damaged and the sensor power supply to the sensor rubbing on the bare block. I can only assume this direct short to ground is what wiped out the old ECU. I repaired the wires, she fired right up,and the celebration that ensued was epic to say the least!!

C'mon summer!