Date: 28 March 2021.
Lightning Strike series Summary
(parts 1 and 2)
Date: 12 March 2021. Lightning
Strike and Errors Made (part 1)
It all started 28 December 2020, though at that time none of us were aware of how far the problems went. This is part one of the
lightning series. Today I detail how fortunate I am
to have a great neighbor, and the far reaching events that began
late last year. Mistakes were made by me. Here is what I learned.
I have one
of the best neighbors possible. His name is Cap'n Dave and he's been
a real blessing as far as the small boating community I share here
on the beach. The man pays attention to noises that are out of the
norm. Then he calls or texts so further investigation can be made.
enjoys boating in both
center console speed boats and larger
happened: On 28
December Cap'n Dave sent a text saying he heard an alarm coming from
one of the boats west of his home. I'm almost always up late writing
so I went looking to isolate which boat was alarming off. It turned
out to be a Prairie.
This is the
Prairie, when she was in slings at Salt Creek Boat Yard:
I told you about my experiences at that
yard in the
Salt Creek Boatyard
first thing I did upon entry was pull the batteries out of the CO
alarm in the main cabin of the Prairie trawler. I then opened up the
back door and windows. It had been storming so the breeze was brisk.
After airing out the boat I closed her up then returned home.
A bit later
that night Cap'n Dave said the alarm was again going off. This time
the CO alarm in the forward cabin was ringing. Again I aired out the
boat. About the only thing that will cause an alarm to go off on a
boat is a battery off-gassing. I assumed that was the case here so
made sure the battery charger was shut off. Then I returned home.
The smoke alarms aboard
the boat were silent.
The following day the boat
owner came down.
He verified that the
water levels in his 6-volt
battery bank were a-okay. All was well
addition to the 6-volt battery bank there existed one addition
battery. That one was a new 12-volt batt used to start the
Westerbeke generator onboard the vessel. It was purchased and installed
last year. I did it, and therefore we had no reason to believe a
battery would be the cause of the alarm.
battery charger off, no further alarms sounded. Tracking down the
source of the alarm the previous evening didn't stay a priority once we were
sure there was water in the old batteries. Both the boat owner and I
thought this might have been an odd one-off. It slipped from our
Ignoring an alarm.
Jesse, a *shipwright
of some renown hereabouts...
An individual who understands marine systems, and is able to
troubleshoot and repair same.
Via my friend Cheryl, Jesse agreed to spend some time here and
resolve the myriad of issues the boats nearby and my Seaweed are
experiencing. You met Cheryl and her husband Fred in the
Sojourners Saloon article
On Island Time
(Schucker 440 Motorsailor). They are great
Cheryl and Fred, in their dinghy:
on the neighbor's
vessel. She lacked
instruments at the lower helm.
Boat projects always
seem to take multiple trips to stores. Though I love
outings, I prefer to shop versus buy. Buying trips for me
are always stress-filled events. In addition to the
instruments, a trip to Home Depot was required for a chunk
of oak. That oak was used for the tachometer mounting box.
gauge is larger than the Oil, Engine Temp, and Voltage
meter trio. Jesse sketched, cut out and sanded the oak
piece for the tach. Then I did the finish work.
Ladies will understand how traumatic
the disorder boat projects can become. This boat, the one that Jesse
started on, has not been lived aboard yet so she's in major chaos.
When I am painting or staining over several days,
I do not clean my paint brush. Instead I put the bristles into a
sandwich bag and store it in the freezer between uses. Thus I
avoid the work of cleaning a cheap paint brush. In the few
minutes between removal from my freezer and use, the brush is
nearly defrosted. This saves work.
I do purchase
expensive brushes available.
Daddy bought good brushes and used them forever. He DRILLED HOLES
he could hang his brushes after cleaning. Decades later, I still
have his old paint brushes. Nowadays though I use them to sweep
dust and puppy fur off the floor.
Skipper is my joy. I love this dog:
She helps me keep my sanity
when my world tilts toward chaos.
Jesse consulted with the boat owner
placement of the tachometer gauge at the lower helm.
New instruments at the lower helm pleased the
In the meantime Jesse was
checking out the diesel Perkins. He said we would have to take the
new alternator to a shop for an additional wire/stud so
the tachometer gauge recently purchased would work. In the meantime we were running
the built in battery charger to bring the voltage up.
Regarding Alternators: If I
understood it correctly an alternator with the addition
of a single wire from the inside will work with a
tachometer to display engine RPM's. Now I'm definitely
NOT an expert, however I did find it interesting that I
wouldn't have to install a "fancy" alternator to get
Whilst down in the engine room, Jesse noticed the *separate 12-volt
battery was hot. With this discovery, the source of that CO alarm
was identified. The newest battery, the one I had not checked
because it was a recent purchase, was overheating and off-gassing.
battery: The main battery bank is comprised of four 6-volt batteries
forward of the engine. This batt, a single 12-volt Group 29 is the
start battery for the generator. Group 29 is the size of the
battery. The 29's weigh just approximately 65 pounds.
Knowing where a problem is centered is always a good thing. Issues
cannot be resolved until the root cause is located. Having Jesse has been a real blessing. I can't wait
until he gets to my Seaweed!!!
and Errors Made
Date: 25 March 2021.
Lightning Strike series Conclusion
The lightning that struck a neighboring Prairie did
not just take out one 12-volt battery. Details on that can be found in the
Lightning Strike and Errors Made
(part 1) article. Further problems were identified and solved in this,
the conclusion of the lightning series.
The lightning struck this
She's a gem, though she had been stored on
the hard for quite some
time before purchase.
The upper helm
on the Prairie no longer worked properly. Back in October everything
on the fly bridge was functioning well. Then, for no apparent reason,
the engine could not be started topside.
issue/problem is in my view an Emergency. If your engine stalls it
never happens at an opportune moment. Thus, restarting immediately
Because I had a few months back mapped out the wiring
on the bridge
of the Prairie,
naturally I did not think to
check it again. It was right then, so why do
Our friend Jesse is a shipwright and experienced in tracking down and resolving
issues aboard boats. He immediately recognized the problem when he
started disassembling the upper helm instrument panel.
Jesse noted the BURNT ARC
↑ along the side of the
ignition switch. He surmised that lightning struck the boat.
#2: When the upper helm stopped properly working I should have
examined the instrument connections and double-checked my previous
I had recently worked on the entire upper helm, arrogance bit me on
the transom. My job topside including tracing the wires, diagramming
same, installing the new (see above) ignition switch, and verifying
the instruments worked. They did, at least until lightning struck.
"problem" with lightning is the far reaching effects it can have.
Almost all of the terminal ends on the instrument panel at the upper
helm were burnt. Jesse replaced those.
Jesse also designed and cut out of oak a new
for the smaller lower helm instruments.
Jesse had diagnosed the problem at
the upper helm. We bought a new ignition switch which Jesse
installed. The new terminal ends resolved all other issues topside.
Next, we needed to concentrate on
the lower helm, specifically the tachometer. Jesse suggested Acme.
The solution to the tach issue was found
at Acme Auto
Marine Electric Company.
An additional wire
needed to be installed on the Perkins alternator. This connection
will allow a tachometer gauge to register the revolutions per minute aka RPM's of the engine. Harry
is a long-time
small business owner on Treasure Island. His expertise is well-known
in the area.
Harry is a gem. He owns
Acme on Treasure Island, FL
33706 (Phone: 727-367-8333)The company specializes in
starters (marine and auto) plus
alternators and more.
our visit Harry took apart the alternator so he could attach a wire.
Once separated from the case, he recognized a problem. Lightning
had damaged the alternator. The alternator guts were replaced right then and there
with items in stock.
The ALTERNATOR COILS
were burnt. Additionally
Harry replaced a couple more damaged parts.
We walked into Harry's
shop and less than an
hour later we were on our way. Thank you
And thanks too to Jesse ↑ who
knew just the place to go!
What to Learn
from my Mistakes
during the whole lightning fiasco:
That's it from the water. I thank you for reading.
Comments welcome and encouraged on the
Lightning Strike series Summary
(parts 1 and 2)
Categories: Boat Talk,
In the Bilges,
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The Writer's Block
It's my belief that other folks who
boat are some of the most interesting in the world. Inside every boater
is a story. Let yours out! I'd love to post short stories, vignettes, or
even longer articles that focus on some aspect of our life on or near
the water. Suggested topics include:
1. I Remember When...
2. My First Boat
3. Who inspired you to be a boater?
4. Fishing Trips or Tricks
5. Or another subject of your choosing
For the novice, here's how to write: Simply pretend
you're sending a letter to a friend. Tell about an event or a memory
from years ago that you still recall.
Life has changed so much on the
water since I was born aboard. Personally I'd love to hear your memories
of life when you were younger. Boats were smaller, narrower, and much
slower. Kids were kids and our families often shaped the adult we have
become. Here are my two aboard the tow boat my dad ran for a time:
Your pictures would be wonderful too. I posted one of
Boot Key Harbor taken in 2001 that has gotten quite a few downloads
and really, that's not so terribly long ago... Do you have any photos to
Do you want to help
Often an article for the website
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looking for some for up-coming pieces:
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or on the water
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