Well, maybe not the worst of times.

The stress factor probably neared ten as we went to the boat on Thursday night.  I planned so smartly to prime the fuel system in anticipation of the launch on Friday.  We made it to the boat and I began the procedure.  We also caught our first glances of Sundowner with her new black paint bottom.

First I put some fuel into the starboard tank.  It leaked out of the bottom of the site gauge valve.  Apparently the board prevented the little guy from unscrewing enough to close properly.  It was a mad dash to close the site gauge and then we had to use the sawzall in the darkness to make an ugly rough cut to be able to fix the problem.  Diesel leak #1.

After that I moved onto filling the filters with diesel.  Of course this doesn’t go as planned either as the valves on the bottom of them are closed when unscrewed as are the sight gauge valves, which I didn’t realize.  This led to more diesel going down the engine room wall.  Diesel leak #2.  I was embarrassed and stinky by now.  But we cleaned up and trudged on.

The next step was to unscrew the bleed screw on the motor and use the hand lift pump to suck fuel through the system.  After 15 minutes of pumping and nothing happening we were not amused.  In a fit of horrible stupidity I actually siphoned the diesel from the tank to the valves to get it started.  Note:  Diesel doesn’t taste good.  Spitting it all over the wall was diesel leak #3.

Now more pumping.  And still nothing.  I was a ball of sweat and fuel and anger.  We went home to lick our wounds and return tomorrow.  I remember Bud had told me that the engine can be fired off the fuel in the fuel filter from the factory and that it will have the pull while running to prime the system.  (It is self priming and bleeding.)  So God help us, lets hope it works.

Friday morning we arrived at the boat and commenced chores to get everything ready to go into the water which mainly consisted of cleaning up and securing everything around the boat.   We had also stopped by Autozone on the way over and picked up oil and coolant.  The manual for our engine clearly states that the motor uses 7.5 liters of both.  Now I knew that sounded like a bit much, but hey, its diesel.  Also tried to pick up a diesel lift pump just in case but they didn’t have any.

I merrily dump 2 gallons of oil into the motor and then proceed to dump coolant in.  Only problem is that the coolant starts to overflow at around 1.2 gallons.  Hmm…  Perhaps the manual was wrong.  I check the oil level.  Yep, way too high.  So we used our new oil change pump to pump out almost a full gallon of oil before we can proceed.  Ugh.

Finally the fluid levels look okay.  I get off the boat and help the yard guy install the propeller.

The boat is put in slings and the sling guy asks if we’re paid up.  We go inside to settle the bill and when we arrive Sundowner is dangling over the water.

The boat goes into the water for the first time in months.  I run and jump onboard in a mad dash to find leaks.  A few of the seacocks need the compression screws tightened.  I tighten them but then we spot it…. The dreaded stuffing box is pouring water.  I jump down into the engine room and get my wrenches on it.

I knew Bud had tightened it by hand but whatever that was was not even remotely tight enough to stop the leaking.  I had to work on it in tight conditions, even pushing the exhaust aside for about 15 minutes to really get everything stopped.  I was tired, wet with sweat and wound up like a top at this point.  But it was time…

Everything else was done.   There was nothing left but for us to do now.  It was time.

Thoughts of explosions raced through my head.  Impellers falling apart.  Cylinders exploding due to water in the fuel.  Failure to prime.  Failed fuel pumps, broken injectors.  The exhaust system falling apart.  It was all about to happen in my mind.  I could see the obituary.  “Man blows self up trying to start motor.”

Nothing left to do but to turn the key.

It took a few tries.  Sure enough it cranked off the fuel in the filter but that wasn’t enough and it died.  I had to try again and then a third time at higher RPM to get it to crank, and die.  Finally I tried the bleed procedure yet again and this time the little hand pump had purchase and did actually spit fuel out the bleed screw.  Finally the engine was cranked and ran all by itself for over a half hour.

Water out the exhaust, check.  Goes into gear, check.  I parked Sundowner back on the dock.  Re tightened everything, checked alignment again, and finally rechecked the fluids.  Its all gravy.

After that it was a mad dash to make it to Southshore harbor to reserve a slip before they closed.  We walked the piers.  I was tired and dirty and the exposure left me sunburned.  But even so we returned to Sundowner.  I had to crank her at least one more time to be happy.

We spent the rest of day cleaning.  Well basically Dani did.  She cleaned everything from the V-berth to the nav table and it really looks great.  We finally stowed all the tools and all the stuff that belongs on the boat was brought back to the boat.  And all the stuff that doesn’t belong on the boat was brought home.

As we left.

What a day.  Stress, Satisfaction, Everything.