Friday, July 13, 2012

Day 40-Sitka

This morning I brought the boat around from Thomsen Harbor to Sealing Cove, where a nice gentleman from Hansens Marine met me and pulled the boat out of the water and to SeaPower Marine, the local Honda dealer.  I wasn’t experiencing any problems with the engine, but I did need to get regular service done on the lower unit, which is impossible to accomplish with the boat in the water.

I was pleasantly surprised with the minimal amount of growth on the bottom of the boat despite being in the water for more than five weeks without any anti-fouling paint.  I scrubbed most of the growth off quickly, then wandered around the area and a nearby park while waiting for the shop to finish their work.

When I returned the work was progressing well, but they had noticed a problem.  The thermostat on the head of the engine was leaking water, squirting the ECU (electronic control unit…the brain of the engine) and the wires leading to it.  They said this is a common problem on BF90D’s because Honda used a plastic thermostat cover that warps and then leaks.  Honda apparently switched over from a plastic to a metal thermostat cover, and issued a service bulletin to that effect, but I was never informed of it.

Unfortunately the local dealer didn’t have any thermostat covers in stock.  He called the Honda dealer in Juneau, and they didn’t have any either.  He said he could order one from Honda, but he said it might be weeks before it showed up.  That was the extent of the help I got from the local dealer in getting the part.  Meanwhile, the dealer said the boat shouldn’t be operated until the leak could be fixed.

As an interim solution, the dealer put a bunch of high temperature sealant around the warped, plastic cover and reinstalled it.  In tests it didn’t leak, so I had the boat put back in the water and tackled the task of getting a new part up to Sitka.

Unhappy with the prospect of waiting around in Sitka until the local dealer got around to getting the part for me, I started calling Honda dealers in Seattle to see if any had the part available.  None around Seattle did, but Tom-n-Jerry’s at Twin Bridges Marina in Mt. Vernon did.  Incidentally this is where I keep the boat.  I paid for the part over the phone, expecting to force my dad to drive three or four hour’s round-trip to pick it up in Mt. Vernon and drop it off at SeaTac for a flight up to Sitka.

In hopes of avoiding the long drive to get the parts, I called Twin Bridges to see if they could give the parts to any customer who was driving down to the Seattle area.  Randy answered the phone and said Bill Youngsman, the owner, was driving down to Seattle that evening and would be glad to bring the parts down.  Randy went over to Tom-n-Jerry’s, picked up the parts, and gave them to Bill.

When Bill got to Seattle my dad drove to his house, picked them up, then drove to SeaTac and dropped them off with Alaska Air Cargo.  Alaska Air offers a service called Goldstreak that places cargo shipments on the next available flight.  For my parts, that was one departing Wednesday morning.  Total cost: $40.

If you need to use Goldstreak, keep in mind that if you are not a “trusted shipper” (I think this is a TSA program), you’re limited to shipments of no more than one pound.  My parts were 0.9 pounds.  Whew!

I’ve got lots of thoughts on how Honda Marine and SeaPower marine could have handled this process better, but I’ll share those in a future post.

I was walking around the docks in the evening and caught up with Richard on New Moon for a bit.  He’s here waiting for a friend to arrive before heading back up towards Juneau.  While walking back to the dock I ran into Hans and Terri and their guests on a 58 foot West Bay SonShip named Mellow Moments.  I had met them at Glacier Bay and they invited me aboard.  We ended up chatting and drinking wine for several hours.  This kind of thing seems to never happen in the San Juans, but happens regularly up here.  And it was nice to put the minor engine trouble aside for a few minutes!

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