Air Conditioning Controller Saga

Since the purchase of the boat, in August 2010, there has been a recurring issue where upon return from sailing, the AC would not come on for anything from an hour to a day.  This would not occur if we simply took the boat out for a short motor around the bay.  In the middle of the summer in the Texas heat, this was not a desirable situation!

The last time it happened, we were in South Padre after just sailing down from Kemah, and all we wanted after 3 days offshore was some AC.  We had an AC contractor come down and look at the boat but they could see nothing wrong with the power going to the unit.  Just after they left, it came back on, as it always does… eventually.  This led us to believe that the issue had to be moisture-related and that after a period of time, it dried out, and the system started working.  As the power to the unit was OK, we looked at the keypad that was mounted inside the starboard cupboard above the settee.  The small enclosure it was fitted in also housed the plumbing for the deck fill for water, the pump out for the small holding tank under the settee and the breather pipes for both water tanks and the holding tank.

Sol Purpose

To see if it was simply condensation build-up we bought a bag of kitty litter and Debbie donated a pair of stockings to the cause.  We doubled up the stockings and stuffed them with the kitty litter.  We then  hung the stocking in the enclosure and refitted the keypad.

After our next sail, which had a lot of “weather”, we had the same issue and inspected the kitty litter.  The stockings were saturated beyond what could have come about from condensation alone.  After removing the enclosure and inspecting further it became obvious that there was a leak where the deck fill for the water attached.  This was surprising as this was factory installed.  After removing the deck fill it was obvious that the hole that had been drilled to accept the fitting was too large and only 2 of the three screws that held it in were attached to anything.  Some of the wood core of the deck had also become damp.

The old sealant was removed along with any damp core.  A piece of plastic was used to seal the hole from below.  A toilet roll tube was wrapped in the right amount of tape to have the same diameter as the deck fill hose attachment and placed where the deck fill would be fitted.  Both were coated in Vaseline and taped in position.  A mixture of West Systems G-Flex 650 epoxy with colloidal silica  was used to fill the gap.  After it setup the backing plastic and toilet roll tube were removed and the fill was sanded flush with the deck.

Sol Purpose

Sol PurposeNew screw holes were drilled and countersunk and the deck fill was refitted with butyl tape.

Sol Purpose

Just as a precaution we moved the keypad to the fwd bulkhead in the salon where there can be no problem with condensation.

Sol PurposeIt took 3 years to find and solve the AC issue, but at last we can return from a day or week on the water and have instant AC, the moment we plug back into shore power.  For this delicate Scotsman, that is a boon 😉

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