Do you believe in ghosts? Yes we all know and love Casper the friendly ghost but I mean real ghosts? Typically, I would say I am a non-believer, but recently we have had some very unusual things happen on Sugar Shack.
As you know, we have been in Whangarei, New Zealand working on renovating the boat. We have been upside down and backwards for so long that some times it is hard to remember what the boat looks like under normal circumstances. But, as we are coming to end of all the construction and begin to see a light at the end of the tunnel we start having totally bizarre things happen.
Our boat requires two keys to start (one for each engine). Do you remember when you had to actually inset a key into the ignition of your car and turn it to start the engine? Same thing on our boat. You have to insert the key and turn it to start the engine.
Now imagine Matt and I sitting on our settee (couch) inside the salon, nestled in our blankets, watching a movie around 8:30pm. We are just minding our own business and enjoying a quiet evening. It is pitch black outside and we did not hear anyone board our boat. When all of the sudden our starboard engine turns on and starts running!
We look at each other, spring up, turn on the lights and see nothing, nobody. So, Matt turns the engine off and we go back to watching our movie. Early the next morning (2am), it happens a 2nd time. What the heck? This time Matt takes the key out of the ignition. Teach you!
But, a few hours later it tries to turn on again. This time it does not catch or actually start the engine. Ok then. But, we counted our chickens before they hatched. The engine started a few hours later without the key in the ignition. This is super weird. Each time we were able to shut the engine off within seconds of it starting so we didn’t think much of it. The day went on with no other incidences, no false starts, and no ghost starts.
At around 6p we decided to run out to get a bite to eat. We were gone for 45 minutes and when we came back the engine was running. Oh $hity $hit $hit. We jump on board, turn the engine off and Matt crawls in the engine compartment with a torch. This time we were not so lucky. The power / electricity from the engine had no where to go and it burned up 2 of the 3 relays and a huge piece of wire. The relay is not supposed to fall apart in your had and the copper wire is not supposed to be exposed.
At this point, we do not know if the starter is still working and if our now bloated starter battery is recoverable. Seriously? Is it that the boat wants to leave so bad that she is starting her engine to go or is it she doesn’t want to leave and is creating problems that make us stay? Or is it just a ghost?
I am sure there is a perfectly logical explanation for all of this! Matt thinks it could be the relays so we order the parts and wait for them to arrive.
Once we install the relays we are able to test the starter. The engine does not turn over at all. We took the starter in to be tested and she is dead dead! The good news is that Auto Tech was able to order us a replacement for half the cost of a Volvo starter. We paid $705NZD and they got it here the next day. If this works we will buy a second one to keep onboard as a spare!
New and Old Starter
We had to install the relays to test the starter. Once we replaced the starter we could test the starting battery. As it turned out the relays and the starter were all dead. What a bad ghost!
But it turns out the starter battery bounced back to life. Unfortunately, we still have a problem with the engine self starting even after we replaced everything that burned up. Bummer
The Ghost Is Back
Fast forward a few days and Matt and I are asleep snuggly in our bed when our main electric winch starts to operate. You’ve got to be kidding. We only have one electric winch and we use it to raise/lower the main, raise the dinghy and hoist Matt up/down the mast. The ghost is back at work and now making the winch start automatically. This could be extremely dangerous as it operates our lines for our sails and the lines to raise and lower Matt when he goes up the mast. Thank goodness we did not (or typically do not) keep lines wrapped on the winch.
Again, a perfectly logical explanation for this, but I like to just call it my ghost.
Matt took the remote control apart and to his surprise it was full of water. Well that would short an electrical component out for sure! One mystery solved.
The timing is just really weird to have both the engine and the electric winch start on their own within a few days of each other!
Ghost or no Ghost?
As it turned out our old relays caused the mysterious starting of our starboard engine. When it started once while we were off the boat it caused a lot of damage causing us to replace 3 relays, and the starter.
The mysterious running of our main electric winch was the cause of trapped water in the remote control which was easily fixed once it dried out.
So, although we did not technically have a ghost onboard, I like to think we did. He was a mischievous little bugger!
Events from this blog post occurred toward the end of May. Our blog posts run 8-10 weeks behind live events. In our last blog post I share with you some of New Zealand’s quirks and oddities – did I make you giggle?