Gordon Miller of Hong Kong, asks:

Hi. Well-done on the trip so far. A couple of questions on engine room inspections underway. I know you do an hourly check - but what exactly do you check? Is it a quick glance or do you have a specific routine? Given that just after you close the access door, something could go wrong/leak etc. What do you think of a TV system? I looked at a 12volt 6-inch flat colour screen system with 2 x 70 degree cameras for less than US$150 the other day - any good? Your views would be welcome.

Dave Harlow responds:

Good to hear from you, Gordon (owner of N46#60, "Tiger Balm"). We were in the routine of doing an engine room inspection every hour. This entailed getting an overall look at everything and then really focusing on select items. Everyone has their items that they like to check on. I was mainly concerned with the following:

1) Fuel filters for high vacuum or sediment that would indicate contaminated fuel.
2) Making sure the main shaft was cool but not dripping too much from the stuffing box.
3) Looking into the bilge for oil or fuel or excess water.
4) Anything that felt to be hotter than normal.
5) Broken belts, wire or plumbing chafes, engine and exhaust mounts.

You could check on these items as well as looking at a dozen more in two or three minutes.

As the trip continued on, we would sometimes on the night watch just look in through the port window on the ER door and look around so as not to wake anyone who was sleeping. This port hole is really handy as you could just look into the ER at any time you happen to walk by whether it be on the hour or not.

We had a routine of doing a very thorough noon checklist. This list consisted of about 25 items from rudder shaft bolts to the temperature of the house batteries. This list was completed every day at noon and gave us a really good comfort level each day.

As for the video camera, I have been on several boats with this system and I think it works out great. You don't have to leave it on all the time but with a touch of a button you can look in and get a feel if anything major is going bad on you. This is not a substitute for getting in and smelling, feeling and listening for things but it is a really good tool, especially late at night. This is also a reassuring tool for those left at the helm while you run down for a look into the ER.



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