Boats break…perhaps that’s why BOAT stands for “break out another thousand.” We discovered that our Sherwood raw water pump for our main engine was leaking during a routine engine check while on route to Charleston from Moorehead City. No problem – just find it on Amazon and get another one…then rebuild the old one and stow it as a spare. Whoa…wait a minute. That pump goes for nearly $1000.00! Ouch!
Ok – new plan…find a repair/rebuild kit and rebuild the one we have. Well, the repair kit was almost $300.00 and it didn’t include the shaft…another $250.00! OK…bite the bullet and buy the major repair kit and rebuild it ourselves. Oops! Special tools needed to remove snap rings; press out complicated seals…match new O- rings…Man!…this is hard stuff!
Good news is it’s done and we are now bone dry (no leak) at half the cost of a new pump. We had to remove the unit and enlist the help of the local marine service guy who had the tools to remove and re-press the seals at a cost of $180.00 in labor. We will try to find a used spare and rebuild it as well (kind of a 2 for the price of 1) to stow in the boat for emergencies since a raw water pump is something we can’t do without if it breaks.
The lesson learned in all of this is “preventive maintenance and checks.” If we weren’t doing our during operations checks – we could have had a catastrophic failure when timing might have been really bad like a rough sea or being so far out that our engine could have overheated and damaged something else. Great damage is possible when small parts malfunction as we recently read about cruisers who had the same kind of leak but the salt water dropped on their serpentine belt and atomized as a spray which was ingested by the engine intake and the engine seized up! A BIG ouch in the wallet for a new engine!
Apparently, the pump had been leaking for quite some time as there was a salt trail (crystals) running down the engine block indicating seawater had run and dried over time. We learned that these Sherwood pumps often do this when the shaft seal wears out so we will be looking for an alternative pump in our search for a spare. We are lucky ours is at the side and bottom of our engine so no splash up on the belts.
We will keep on doing what we are doing in terms of checking our systems:
1. Put your eyes on everything mechanical and have a routine schedule to do so.
2. Look at it before, during and after running/operating.
3. Follow the manufacturers maintenance schedule and use a calendar to remind you to do so…Oil and fluid changes, pressure and seal checks, wear and tear indicators.
4. Keep spares aboard for quick change-outs and repair the failed item when at the dock.
Keeping an old boat in tip-top shape is a full time job…especially if you are a cruiser on the move. We sail as much as we can to save the engine hours but the rigging also gets its fair share of wear and tear – all of that stuff has to be inspected too! More to add to the preventive maintenance checks and services list.
We are relishing our stay in a marina that is protected from winds and current. King tides are expected this week due to moon phase so it’s a good thing we don’t have to negotiate the skinny water entrance to get out for another travel leg. We will remain at Palm Cove Marina in Jacksonville, FL for the next 5 weeks while we visit inland.