Oh you know, life wouldn’t be the least bit interesting if we weren’t greeted every so often with some kind of surprise boat project.
That is the life of a boat owner.
What makes life even more fun is when that surprise project turns out to be a pretty scary diesel fuel tank leak. Ugh. Fun times.
After making our way back to Marina Pescaderia in Puerto Real, we pulled into their fuel dock to refill our tanks before taking a slip for a few days while we provisioned and waited on the perfect weather window to make the leap from Puerto Rico to the Bahamas. Our 55-gallon fuel tank was completely full when we tied up to our slip and continued on with our usual boat life business. It wasn’t until the next morning that we began smelling the dreaded and slightly nauseating diesel smell…and suspected the worst.
Sadly, our fears were confirmed when we removed our boat’s floorboards to peak inside the bilge and saw yellowy-green diesel fluid staring right back at us!
When your boat is slowly leaking 55 gallons of diesel, it is NOT a good thing folks. :(((
The last thing we ever wanted to deal with on this trip was a fuel issue. But, hey that’s life I suppose and another notch in our boat owner belt.
Jereme immediately jumped into action and made a beeline to the marina for some recommendations on local companies that could pump out our fuel. We thought it would take a few hours (at a minimum) to get someone here to remove all of our diesel, but turns out one of the companies that is stationed out of the marina, Twin Electronics, had the necessary fuel pump equipment on premises. What are the odds of that? We are so lucky! Ten minutes later and we had the pump on the boat, a fuel barrel on the dock, our fuel tank open, and Jereme and the guys from Twin Electronics were pumping out all of our diesel.
^^This definitely wins as my favorite photo from the project. Jereme and the dude from Twin Electronics dealing with the pump, plus our buddy + dock neighbor friend Liam just chilling in the background. Lol.^^
With 400 lbs. of diesel off the boat, we now had the awesome job of removing our fuel tank, cleaning the bilge and any remaining diesel, and finding a welder to pressure test and repair our tank.
Jereme went to work removing all of the hoses, fittings, and the different parts and pieces connected to the tank, and we were able to gently weasel it out of the bilge with no issues at all. Luckily, our boat has a very accessible tank. We’ve heard horror stories of other boat designs (other Endeavours in particular) that require a total engine removal to access the fuel tank, or worse yet, having to literally cut a hole in the keel to remove the tank. Holy crap, can you imagine if we would’ve had to deal with that nonsense? Scary! (Thank goodness that was one of the key items we looked at when researching boats to buy way back when.)
With the tank out and sitting in our living room, we both got to work cleaning the outside of the tank with industrial grade degreaser, along with scrubbing the bilge. After an hour or two, we were pleased with our cleaning job and carried the empty fuel tank off the boat. We couldn’t spot any obvious holes in the tank, and knew all along that a professional was needed to test the tank and repair whatever necessary.
Once again, our Puerto Rican friends here at the marina came to our rescue. Our buddy Milton served as middle man for us and contacted the very best welder in the area. Fifteen minutes later, that welder was waiting in the marina parking lot to pick up our tank, take it back to his shop, pressure test the tank and diagnose any weak areas, and make all necessary repairs.
Our fixed tank was returned the very next afternoon! Talk about efficient. Sheesh!
Two of the seams on the long side of the tank were heavily re-welded. Jereme and I brought the tank back on the boat, slipped it back down into it’s cozy spot in the bilge, and Jer got to work reattaching all the necessary hoses. The next morning, Twin Electronics wheeled the fuel pump back out to our boat and we pumped in all of our diesel.
And guess what? We’re back up and running my friend. Just like that!
I still can’t even comprehend how this project went so insanely smooth. In Florida, I can only imagine that this sort of fuel leak issue would have taken weeks to rectify, and cost a ton more. We were petrified to think we might be sitting at the dock again for weeks on end repairing our tank. Fortunately, Puerto Rico is awesome (as we already knew) and everyone sprang into action to remedy our leaky situation, help us find the right people to fix the problem, and get us moving in less than three days total. Insane.
Luv ya PR!
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