Our morning started with a stop at a small engine shop in Bradenton. We had dropped off our Mercury dinghy outboard engine on Monday so it could get over-hauled and examined. Remember – nothing on our boat has been touched in at least a few years, maybe more. The mechanic said the carburetor was shot and needed to be rebuilt. OK – it’s just another thing, right?
Then, off to the boatyard. Roger, the yard’s head diesel mechanic was there, and talked to us about the hellish reality he found when he took the inspection plate off our starboard fuel tank. The rubber gasket had deteriorated over time and formed a gelatinous blob that was dripping into the fuel tank. When he tried to take the plate off, pieces of the gasket were falling into the diesel fuel, and that’s when he knew he simply had to drain the whole tank. He siphoned the fuel into a 50 gallon drum (the diesel looked like black swampy crap), and what was left behind in the tank was this thick layer of black jello-like gunk. He was trying to figure out how to clean our tank out – it cannot be removed without cutting up the interior of the cabin, and it cannot be easily cleaned (too deep and wide to reach completely with your arm, plus there’s a baffle inside with more jello gunk behind it that is impossible to get at). He had an old BBQ spatula that he was going to use, to try to reach inside and scrape as much of the gunk towards the opening as possible, and suck it up with a siphon hose. That’s some old school ingenuity at it’s best, I tell you. His plan is to clean it as much as possible, re-fill it with clean diesel, and put a new Butyl gasket on the inspection plate. He said that once we get the engine working again, and can get it sailed down to Port Charlotte, we will have stirred the new fuel in the tank up, and we will loosen more of the gunk inside that he couldn’t clean out. We will have to change fuel filters really often for a quite awhile, but it seems it’s the only way to move forward. BTW – he suspects the fuel tank probably got so crappy because an over-abundance of fuel additives were used, and then because the boat just sat for so long before the family sold it, the additives turned into this gel-like material and sank to the bottom of the tank. Nice.
We let Roger start working his magic, and headed to a park with Buster, to try to read and learn (about marine electronics, diesel engines, outboard engines, etc. etc. etc.). The police came by and let us know that dogs aren’t allowed in the park (even though he’s on a leash attached to the table, just lying there, not doing anything). Of course they’re not. Silly us. Florida dog laws at work.