Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Davit Problems

We arrived at Little Bay, Grand Guana Cay around noon last Thursday. We settled in and dropped our dinghy and then the fun began!  The cable retracted but then the davit quit working. There she sat hanging over the starboard side. Our first thought was, Thank God it happened after the dinghy was dropped!!  Weighing in at about 600 lbs, there’s no way we could have gotten her off the boat deck without the davit. And without a dinghy in Exumas, we’d be really limited - it's like not having a car when you live in the country.  

The davit is a small crane that picks up our dinghy, swings it over the side of the boat and lowers with via a cable into the water. It's moved around using a “controller” which looks a bit like a video game control. 

The offending controller

Buttons on top determine what action will happen (rotate left/right, lower/raise the cable) and then you press the trigger to make it happen. The problem was that nothing was happening when the trigger was depressed. 

Martin spent a couple hours trying to diagnose the problem. He checked voltages down at the main unit in laz, checked the electrical connections in the davit itself on the boat deck and checked to see if problem existed in the wiring between the controller and the high pressure unit

With that done and no success I looked through the archives of the Nordhavn Owners Group (NOG) on line. What an amazing resource!  I found the name and contact information for a Steelhead rep and Martin gave him a call. 

The rep told us that he thought it was the controller and that if anyone nearby had a similar davit, ES1000 or ES1500, we could use their controller to test if that was the problem.  On their way out of the harbor, Vector told us that a Fleming 55 had come in. So when we went in to town to get some provisions we stalked the Fleming and saw that they had an ES1000 Steelhead davit. So we hunted them down in town!  The couple, Joe and Holly from Scamper, were great and said they’d come by with their controller later in the afternoon.

Martin called the rep back to make sure arrangements were being made and that everything was in order to have them send a controller to Stanial Cay via Watermakers Air in Ft. Lauderdale. Watermakers routinely organizes importing spare parts for boats. His phone call timing was perfect - the middle of an engineering meeting so he ended up in a conference call with all the engineers from Steelhead. They said that the ES1000 controller would not, in fact, work with the ES1500 but suggested that Martin try a couple of different approaches.

I had also posted on the NOG to see if anyone was nearby with a similar davit and though no one was in the area, we got several suggestions from people. Based on these, Martin tried opening the controller to see if the spring and/or magnet had come dislodged (it had not) and he cleaned connections in main davit.

Still no joy. Joe & Holly came over in the afternoon and their controller didn’t work but we expected that after the second phone call.

Next on the list was to hot wire the variable solenoid to see if we could bypass the trigger function. Steelhead told Martin how to do this and we were assured that doing so wouldn’t mess up our warranty so he went ahead.

And voila – it’s working! We don’t have the variable speed control that the trigger gives the unit but we were able to lift the dinghy with no problem.


Our new controller should arrive next week and we’ll pick it up at Staniel Cay.

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