After changing the water pump, I had a water hammer happening in my hydronic heater.
I worked with a plumber and called a few smart boat people, but I could not find the cause. Everyone I talked to suspected a check valve somewhere in the plumbing, or an errant solenoid. The problem is, any of those devices would have been present with the old pump. Ultimately, I suspected some kind of incompatibility between the Marco pump sensor and the flow control valve in the hydronic unit, but multiple people told me that was unlikely. So, we lived with the knock for months and I kind of avoided boat maintenance for a while. Back to this in a moment.
Meanwhile, my old domestic hot water heater had been leaking coolant, so I tried to put in some ball valves to protect the drinking water while I troubleshot. But, I was surprised to find that PEX-A is nowhere as easy to work with as the YouTube videos suggest. My installation leaked like crazy. I was relieved to hear that a friend had the same issue and blamed it on the manual pex tool. A good craftsman never blames his tools, but an amateur plumber does. Regardless, I gave up and just took the heater completely out of the fresh water system.
Now my question was whether to even replace the hot water heater. We have the hydronic for hot water and having two sources only adds complexity. But, Torrid makes a really nice unit and I found someone who gave me a great price on one. Plus, I like being able to always have hot water at the dock without burning diesel – and capturing the engine heat. Plus, the chinook hasn’t proven particularly reliable. So, Dave Rasmussen came down for the day and installed the MVS15IX, and it’s pretty.
Bonus: The water hammer stopped. This is a bit of a mystery, because it only happened when the old hot water heater was off (turning off the solenoid takes it completely out of the loop). We used the same solenoid on the new heater, so that’s unchanged. The only thing I can think of is the solenoid on the hydronic unit may have been stuck partially open (we whacked on it a bit to see what would happen). There is a relay that closes the hydronic valve whenever the domestic hot water heater is on, so we XOR the hot water.
The bug went away on its own. I hate that.
We mounted the Starlink dish on the brow so I no longer need to run the cable through my cabin window. The hard top has solar panels on it, which, along with the radar and antennas, just don’t leave that much room. Plus, I talked to another NP owner who put theirs up top and the cable run was a fiasco. There’s plenty of open space on the brow, and the cable run was simple. Plus, with access to the under-side we could through-bolt it. I learned that most of the topsides are partially hollow, using a honeycomb core. This makes it light, but means that regular screws won’t hold as well. You also need to be gentle with through-bolts, as it will not take much to crush.
So, now we’re like the Millennium Falcon. I expect we’ll have satellite occlusion issues with some orientations, but that’s true anywhere you mount it. I used a nice stainless steel mount from Seaview with a Blue Sea cable clam. Punch it, Chewy.
I’m half giving up on the ELCI breaker. Short of testing every wire with a megger or replacing the Magnum, I’m out of ideas. Meanwhile, I installed a monitor so I can at least know when it fails. After some research, I settled on the Siren Marine system. It seemed the most user-friendly and least likely to go out of business next year. I got the 120V power relay, so we could monitor the shore power AC directly, but it was getting late in the day, and that would have required some funky wiring. So, we used the AC plug monitor. This works, but not if I have the Inverter on. I don’t usually leave it on when I am away, so it’s not a big deal. If it is on, I can still monitor my battery voltage and alarm if it gets too low. So far, pleased with the system. Would like to hook up the bilge pumps next.
Thanks, again, to Dave for coming all the way down from Blaine for a productive maintenance day.
Other Maintenance Stuff
The salt under my generator is from a failing sea water pump, which is obvious when you say it that way. I am halfway through a replacement as I write this. I also got a rebuild kit, so I can rebuild the old one and keep it as a spare. More on that job in another post.
I think I know the cause of the gelcoat discoloration. I found a square patch that definitely looks like a repair on the port bow. I suspect what happened is they pulled it out of the mold in the yard and then did a bunch of detail work and patching – and whoever did mixed the gelcoat incorrectly. North Pacific has agreed to look into it, but I need to get the boat over to Seattle on a nice day.
Also, the guy from InFocus who detailed it caused all kinds of burns and other issues in the gelcoat. Those should buff out but what an expensive mistake. Not only did the guy run off after getting paid without finishing the job, he damaged the hull. Caveat emptor.
Mental Health Break
I didn’t document it, but we took our big summer trip to the San Juans back in August. Unfortunately, I got Covid, so we spent the trip in marinas and I was largely confined to the boat. I didn’t take many pictures, but we did get these at the alpaca farm. They remind me so much of awkward adolescent yearbook photos.