04 October 2009
There was a lot of rain and consequent flooding in Navegantes/Itajai last week. The port was closed for a while, so I was late in leaving. On my first attempt to leave, a few miles downstream the engine over-temperature alarm went off and, having no easy place to anchor, and not having tested the new anchor handling system yet, I pulled alongside a steel fishing boat and tied up so I could shut off the engine and see what was wrong. In my haste to get the boat tied up and the engine off before it stopped itself, it wasn't the gentlest docking, but that is what strong boats are for :).
I checked the raw water impeller and cleaned the strainer (filter for taking debris out of the seawater that is used to cool the engine), which wasn't really dirty. I was pleasantly surprised that this seemed to fix the problem, as I didn't actually fix anything, but upon starting the engine again, the cooling system was working properly. The fishing boat I had tied to had to leave, and was nice enough to wait ten minutes for me to check the impeller and strainer. So I left and the fishing boat left. I continued down the river towards the sea, wondering what had really gone wrong with the cooling system, and if the problem would recur. As I approached the entrance (exit) of the harbor, a stiff onshore wind had come up, and from a distance I could see a fair amount of white water (breaking seas) near the entrance. Without getting closer I couldn't tell whether the sea was breaking in the entrance channel, or just beside it, but, given that I wasn't convinced I didn't still have a cooling system problem that could possibly cause me to lose the engine at a really bad time, I decided to turn back.
I motored back up the river, heading for the boatyard I had come from. Before I got there, I was passing my friend Fernando's other fishing boat (he has two fishing boats, one of which I was tied beside in the boatyard, the other of which was at another boatyard further downriver), and he was aboard, saw me, and invited me to tie alongside his boat. Knowing there is someone to throw docklines to when tieing up is always nice when you are singlehanded, so I tied up there instead. Everyone in the boatyard or on the fishing boat seemed interested in my boat, so came aboard for a look around (very few yachts come to this area...it is all working boats). Fernando asked his engineer to look at my engine, and he pointed out that I had air in the cooling system (this happened for several reasons and had been building up for a long time) which likely caused my overheating problem and showed me how to bleed it.
Late the next day, after finishing a few jobs, I left Brazil for the second time :). The engine worked fine, I motored out of the entrance in much less wind, and started to head south. Now that I was in the waves, the anchor started banging around badly, and as soon as I was in deep water, I tied it up to keep it from moving. A nice tailwind had come up, and I began sailing nicely south, but needed to sleep, so sailed onto anchor after only a few miles. It was a rolly anchorage, as I wasn't being picky, just wanted to sleep and then continue in the morning. The new anchor held fine, which I would expect it to, as it wasn't a particularly difficult anchorage for an anchor of that size.
In the morning I noticed the hydraulic steering cylinder was moving around a lot and I realized the bolts were loose. I tightened some of them, but needed to get to a quiet anchorage to get them all done properly. I also wanted to work on padding where the anchor was held to keep it from banging around. Fortunately, there were lots of good places to anchor around, so I sailed to Florianopolis, anchored there and did the repairs.
After doing a lot of stuff to a boat, it is common to do sea trials, to confirm what is working and what needs more attention. One way of doing sea trials is to provision for a journey, head to sea knowing where alternatives (anchorages, shelter, etc) are, and test and repair as necessary.
The following day, in a flat calm, I motored off the anchor and out to sea, in my third attempt to leave Brazil. Sometimes, you just have to keep trying :).
The picture is of Ilha Santa Catarina, seen from amidships. You can see the new dinghy is mounted upside down on the deck.