Skip navigation

Monthly Archives: September 2014

Bauer 8 CFM Breathing Air Compressor getting an oil and filter change.

Bauer 8 CFM Breathing Air Compressor getting an oil and filter change.

One of the last items on my very long list from the purchase survey of Sea Eagle was to get the Bauer Breathing Air Compressor working. It has no hour meter and no maintenance records, so I wasn’t sure what it’s history had been. I remembered the previous owner saying it didn’t work due to some power issue, but he didn’t know why.

I cleaned up all the mildew from the compressor and storage box, then drained the old compressor oil out. It looked brand new, but I changed it anyway. It was the same story with the breathing air and intake filters, both looked brand, spanking new, but I replaced them anyway. I spent almost an entire day with a small wire brush and some rust converter (naval jelly) to clean up the rusty hose fittings, get the connectors and fill whips all clean and working, then I turned on the power and pushed the “on” button!

Filling the first Scuba Tank with the dive compressor on Sea Eagle.

Filling the first Scuba Tank with the dive compressor on Sea Eagle.


Surprise, surprise, the compressor was turning the right way, sounded good and was putting out high pressure air. I blew down all the lines, hooked up a high pressure tank (HP 100), and opened up all the valves. The compressor purred to life and filled my tank in no time! The sweet sound of success!

I used the tank this weekend to clean the bottom of the boat and am glad to report I survived, so we can cross both jobs off the list!

Bilge Pumps are important safety features on boats that can help to keep them from sinking. Sea Eagle has three bilge pumps and they all work very well, but I noticed water collecting in the high bilge well just forward of the engine (during a routine check). A quick taste test of the rather nasty looking bilge water confirmed that it was fresh water (condensation from the Air Conditioning) and further investigation revealed that the high bilge wasn’t draining into the low keel bilge.

Disassembled Ultraswitch float switch.  The float is on top of the white high level bilge pump.

Disassembled Ultraswitch float switch. The float is on top of the white high level bilge pump.

A quick check of the excellent Nordhavn Owner’s Manual confirmed my suspicion that there was an open drain line from the high to the low bilge and an inspection revealed that a wet oil absorbent pad was effectively blocking off the drain. I removed the now slimy pad and most of the water drained out, but there was still about an inch left. Hmmmmm? I made a couple of trips up to the pilothouse, turning the High Bilge Pump on for a minute, then returning to the engine room only to find the water level about the same. More Hmmmmmm?

I turned the pump on again, left it running and returned to the Engine Room to find that the High Bilge Pump was working great, but water was flowing OUT of the drain to the lower bilge! After a few seconds of OMG, we’re sinking… I checked the lower bilge and it was full of water too. DOH! Hence the post on the Bilge Sensors.

Fully assembled Ultraswitch float switch.  Testing by inverting.

Fully assembled Ultraswitch float switch. Test by inverting.

Nordhavn uses very high quality bilge sensors (Ultraswitch Senior float switches), which are pretty idiot proof, but they need to be tested and cleaned periodically. I removed the sensor (see photos), cleaned the crud off the float that was preventing free movement, reassembled the unit and it worked like a charm. I also took the opportunity to replace the pair of 9 volt batteries in the high water alarm panel that Jeff Merrill had told me about many moons ago.

Have you tested your bilge sensors and pumps recently? 😉

Kayaker's exploring Judd Creek on Vashon Island.

Kayaker’s exploring Judd Creek on Vashon Island.

The weather forecast was sunny and hot (90+), so we headed over to Quartermaster Harbor (located between Vashon and Maury Islands) for a quiet weekend. Dockton and the County Park, looked a little too busy, so we motored on around to inner Quartermaster Harbor and anchored off of the historic community of Burton on Vashon Island.

The harbor was tranquil and quiet with no other boats anchored anywhere near us. That’s my version of a perfect, quiet, weekend anchorage.

Old Floating Home on Judd Creek.

Old Floating Home on Judd Creek. Vashon Island.


We did drop the dingy in the water to do some exploring in Judd Creek at high tide. We found this very interesting old floating home that wasn’t floating any more. The submerged section of the lower floor is full of old bicycles. Who knows why?

Sea Eagle squeezes into a tight slip at Friday Harbor Marina.

Sea Eagle squeezes into a tight slip at Friday Harbor Marina.

Friday Harbor, located at Washington State’s San Juan Island is a good place to stop and provision while transiting the San Juan and Gulf Islands. All the boat’s in our flotilla converged on the Marina to celebrate Gail’s birthday and to re-stock our depleted wine and beer stores.

Transient moorage at Friday Harbor Marina is almost always a hassle, with hours spent tooling about the harbor waiting for your reserved space to open (when in fact it already is). This trip was no exception and we eventually squeezed into a super tight slip with only about twelve inches of space between Sea Eagle and the neighbor boat.

Popeye, the resident one-eyed seal at Friday Harbor.

Popeye, the resident one-eyed seal at Friday Harbor.

Getting a fender in between the boats meant deflating them just a bit so they would squeeze in….

Popeye (the resident one-eyed seal) came over to say hello and then the welcoming party showed up in their dingy to get the party started. As is usual in Friday Harbor, King’s Market was well stocked with all the items we needed to continue our trip and we had a great dinner at the Cask and Schooner. When morning rolled around, I was ready to head back out and get away from the very large crowds at Friday Harbor!

The welcoming committee.

The welcoming committee.