FPB 64-3 Iron Lady On Passage Marquesas Towards Hawaii: Day 4

On their fourth day at sea, the crew of FPB 64-3 Iron Lady use the aft deck sink to determine if they have crossed the Equator. Mark Fritzer continues his testing and analysis, and reports the results:

We crossed the equator last night at 2150 hours. For a long time now I’ve wanted to be onboard when the GPS hit zeroes, and I finally got the opportunity. I can’t thank Pete enough. We marked the occasion by breaking the watch rules and having a celebratory beer. Since it was my watch, I was very much okay with that. In an attempt to quell the argument among intellectuals the world over, I filled the aft deck/ BBQ sink with water and pulled the plug just as we crossed the equator. I had to know, would it change direction, drop straight down or continue in the counter-clockwise direction?

We are currently at 0°51.18 N by 156° 3.23 W. Yesterday, the wind held steady between 14-16 knots out of the east while the seas continue to be on our starboard quarter. The sea and air temp are staying at a pretty consistent 81.3° and 83°F, respectively and the color of the water a deep, deep blue. Light rains cruise by most every evening, but quickly passes and the skies clear. Mr. Shabby continues to bring excitement. I don’t know who came up with this color combination, but it’s a winner. Two or three times a day the zip of line peeling off the reel is heard throughout the boat and we slow down to crank in another monster from the sea.

We had a couple of ‘boat gremlin’ things happen to us yesterday that are interesting. First, after several days of watching our battery voltage and charge currents, we’ve gotten used to seeing approximately the same numbers. This morning we noticed the engine start battery voltage had dropped from the normal float voltage of 13.2VDC down to 12.9VDC. Over the next hour it dropped another few tenths of a volt. That sent us looking at the charging system. After checking all the connections, we found a blade fuse had come out of its holder. When it was reinstalled, it was very tight, leaving us all to wonder how in the world that happened.

The next thing was the aft water tank came up bone dry. Since we had been making water every evening for several hours, the tanks were almost fully pressed. After searching around the boat and in the bilges for water, we found the priming valve for the crash pump had been opened and a full tank of water flushed overboard. It just goes to show that no matter how prudent and careful you are, things happen when you’re at sea and it pays to regularly check and monitor all of your systems. Fortunately, on Mark II FPB 64s the addition of a Maretron RIM100 has been added, which gives us varying degrees of indication when a pump or other system is not only running but has been running for a programmable length of time. It is quickly becoming apparent just how useful a complete Maretron system can be.

About 01:30 yesterday morning we lost a generator impeller. The owner tells me this one at least made it to 500 hours. He had one of the blue run-dry impellers from Globe installed in the hopes it would last longer than the impellers sold by Onan which, according to our owners, only seem to last about 250 hours. We’ve had Onan and an independent vendor look over the installation to make sure there isn’t back pressure or lack of water flow, and neither was able to find any problems with the plumbing. In fact the generator installation is far below maximum recommended height specification from Onan. However, our owners are reporting their impellers just don’t last and Onan doesn’t seem to be able to provide an answer.

I spent a fair amount of time climbing in, around and thru the bilges yesterday looking things over and seeing how well the systems are holding up under the intense use of cruising. It is a testament to the boats to see not only the longevity, but the craftsmanship evident even after over 16,000 sea miles. There are a few improvements and upgrades that have been implemented since this hull was launched, and some of them Pete will be adding when the boat gets settled for the season in Hawaii, but overall it is a well thought out vessel.

By the way, the answer to the water question? Within 10 seconds of the GPS hitting zeroes, I pulled the plug and wouldn’t you know, the water had shifted direction and went down the drain in a clockwise fashion, giving us all a good laugh.

Posted by Sarah.Dashew  (August 23, 2013)

2 Responses to “FPB 64-3 Iron Lady On Passage Marquesas Towards Hawaii: Day 4”

  1. Brian Rickard Says:

    I’ve been enjoying your updates, Mark. As is evidenced in several of them, you obviously are being thorough in making observations about various onboard systems. I wonder if this same thoroughness was exercised in the water-draining experiment? Did you conduct multiple tests over the days leading up to the crossing of the equator, and continue them beyond, with the seas from different relative bearings, etc?

    The Coriolis effect would be nil at the equator, and should grow very gradually the farther you are from it. I think the motion of the sink (vessel/sea) would have magnitudes more influence on the direction the water will spin while draining.

    But it is a great idea for fun experiment under circumstances most of us will rarely encounter, if ever!

  2. Brian Rickard Says:

    Here’s a fantastic web page discussing the Coriolis force, for those who want to really dig into it. (As fun as it is, I’m afraid the sink test is scientifically meaningless.) http://www.ems.psu.edu/~fraser/Bad/BadCoriolis.html