I had some crazy fantasy that with a month and a half at the dock I’d be able to test everything out and avoid the hiccups after we left to head south. You’d think that after using something every day for a month you would uncover a problem and be able to fix it before it happened at anchor in some remote cove, or you’d see that some work needed to be done to avoid a problem in the future.  Silly me.

Within a day of leaving Jacksonville I had 2-3 projects added to my list, and our trip has been anything but boring so far.  A personal hero of mine named Captain Ron once said, “If it’s gonna happen, it’s gonna happen out there!”  There are other laws governing similar situations written by a guy named Murphy, but you get the idea.

It’s interesting that this engine had been just recently tested during the previous owner’s final delivery trip into Jacksonville, and also while out on our survey.  I even started it a few days before we left.  On her first day out she started and ran beautifully, but on the second day she wouldn’t start at all, wouldn’t even turn over.  With the help of our good friends at Tow BoatUS we made it to a dock in Jacksonville Beach on the ICW, and spent four days there having the starter diagnosed and replaced by a local marine services company.

The culprit

The culprit

We were pretty sure when we pulled in that the problem was the starter, but knowing that the removal of said component would be extremely difficult, we opted to pay the fee to have someone more resilient replace it.  These guys also had the resources to track down a new or rebuilt starter.  Thankfully a replacement part was found and expedited to us or this repair job could have taken much longer.

We were very excited to finally get moving down the Waterway, but our trip would prove to be short.  Just outside the Marina that same engine overheated with the temperature shooting up over 200 degrees, and as we limped back to the dock we found ourselves stuck in the mud at low tide.  Time to call Tow BoatUS once again to help us out of a jam.  That is one membership fee that has more than paid for itself.

This time though we were determined to solve the problem ourselves as true cruisers should, and working together we determined that the raw water (RW) pump was not providing our engine with enough cooling water to keep the temperature under control.  The previous owner in his lengthy but highly informative “Brilliant Manual” that he authored said that he considered the RW pump to be the weakest part of Brilliant’s Engine “system”, having replaced it on more than one occasion.  Consequently he kept onboard not only a spare pump, but the makings for a second spare.  Did I tell you already that this man is my new best friend?

While I have replaced numerous RW pump impellers on the boats I have either cruised or worked on, I have yet to replace an entire pump.  Fortunately for us (once again) on this engine the RW pump is located on the front of the engine, making it relatively easy to remove and replace this headache-causing item.  Maybe they knew something and put it within easy reach on purpose.  Not likely, but who knows.

Easy, right?

Easy, right?

So we sit at the dock for yet another night, and we’ll be getting underway in the morning.  Will we have more engine trouble?  No one knows, but we’ll deal with that and whatever else may happen along the way down the coast of Florida.  Repairs are a part of cruising.

Someone wisely described cruising as “repairs in exotic places”.  I wouldn’t call Jacksonville Beach “exotic”, but at least parts were easily available here.   You’re likely to hear of some more repairs on future Blogs; be forewarned.  Hopefully the locations will be more exotic.