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Diesel Tank Delight

Let’s back up … Our successful summer season in Provincetown was over and we were on a two day sail south to Virginia. High-five! We had made a weighty decision to haul out for winter mostly for the captain to take a breather from four years of an aggressive sailing and boat upgrade / maintenance program. One such maintenance issue over the summer was the periodic odor of diesel fuel. When you live it, you can easily become immune to it, until someone gets a whiff of your clothes and lightly asks if your new cologne is “ode de deiselle.” Full of repeated embarrassments, the problem needed to be solved! It was thought that the smell was coming from a couple small drips on the fuel injectors that was deemed repaired by the end of the season.

All was well until we began sailing north into the Chesapeake Bay. The change in angle put us on a hard starboard tack, meaning the boat was leaning over heavily to its port side. It wasn’t too long before we got a strong smell of diesel coming up into the cockpit. In hindsight, the diesel that had been noticed leaking was previously pooling on the port side and had been more apparent with this angle. After ruling out many more mild conclusions, it was determined that the main tank was leaking. It was 36 years old, had circumnavigated the globe, enjoyed many Caribbean and New England adventures, and just like that, decided to tell us it was time to give in.

The extra-great thing about this tank is that it’s probably the most difficult to access system of any on-board. It is completely carpentered in underneath the beautifully finished teak and ash cabin sole as well as the entrance structure into the cabin itself. Ouch. Give up? Sell the boat? Nope. Take a breath, see what it’s going to entail and if it can be ready for our May launch date.

With the sheer hope of it not being this tank, one option was to set up diesel lines to our other tanks to perform like the main one did at the switch of a couple levers. We costed out both the full monty and the less invasive possibilities with our Deltaville boat yard. After going through all the nitty gritty details and trying not to think too much about the price tag, we decided to green-light tearing apart that beautiful sole and do the big job. At least it would be piece of mind that it’s done and it was going to be the yard doing the damage to Moment and not us.

Each time a repair is done, we like to do some kind of upgrade so Moment continues to stay with the times and it ultimately feels better than just fixing something like it was previously supposed to operate. In this case, we are making the fuel lines and manifold more efficient, adding returns to one of our external tanks for flexibility, giving a fresh coat of paint to the main bilge, and best of all, electronic fuel gauges on two of our three tanks. We used to have four tanks, but realized one was unusable and now sits below the boat in the trash pile.

As it stands, we are two weeks from launch and the super duper custom resin coated aluminum tank is in place and the new fuel lines are run and awaiting final hook ups and then the replacement cabin floor is scheduled to go in this week. Will we make our launch date? Stay tuned!