We all like surprises. Be these surprise dinner invitations, waterfalls, loaned charts or sunny days when you expect cloud. The best surprises of all are when they are completely unexpected and are something that you either really need or want or give you an inner feeling of wellbeing. These have been a plenty for us over the past weeks. One of the essentials on board a boat to keep the engine and heating running is diesel and what a surprise it was finding 20 litres of this precious nectar. The nasty part of the surprise was that instead of finding it where it could be used, we found it in our bilges and it was the same stuff that we'd seen only days before when we filled up in Dunstaffanage. Diesel in the bilge = bad, 20 litres of diesel in the bilge = very very bad. Where had it come from, how had it got there and how could we stop it? This was not a moment for smiles for miles on Ruffian.
Since leaving Colonsay, Ruffian, has had a few big motoring days. We've had the engine on more in the part 48 hours then we have in the last 4 weeks. We have however managed to take in secluded bays on Colonsay, where we visited the most remote and western brewery in Britain, we have also had a stop at Jura at the most remote Loch in the Inner Isles and have headed south to the tropical waters of Gigha where sand is a plenty as are the fish (we are still hopeful of landing one).
The 'sail', read motor, from Jura to Gigha was very memorable in quite a bizarre aspect. The tide runs at 5 knots at springs between the islands of Jura and Islay and we caught this at full flow. We happily made 8.8knots (imagine your house doing that) over the ground whilst we were only moving through the water at 3 with the engine happily ticking over. The sea was flat are we were serenely swept downtide until we reached Gigha.
On Gigha we made plans for a romantic beach barbeque and sunset. Firewood was gathered and the compact BBQ, a gift from Alison and Jason, was setup. Food was cooked and Gin and Tonic, a gift from Ben and Sam was supped. All in all, a truly tremendous evening. Thanks goto Ali, Jason, Ben and Sam. Things were about to take a turn for the worse when we got back to our fine ship.
Upon arrival back on Ruffian we were greeted by the pungent smell of diesel and it was pervasive. We opened the engine bay and what was once a sparklingly clean bilge, which we always take pride in, was now FULL of diesel. This had overflowed into the bilges forward and was threatening our food stocks. Disaster on many fronts.
We shut the fuel off and spent the next couple of hours dispensing the diesel out of the bilges into any container that was to hand (thankfully we'd finished the gin and tonic, so that was 2 more bottles). Bilges all clean we now had to work out where it was coming from. We had visions of failed injectors, cracked cylinder heads, or perished piping all of which we would not be able to fix. If this was the case we'd have to sail out of our tiny anchorage around heaps of pointy rocks and then the 30 miles upwind to civilisation for expert help. Our hearts sunk at this prospect. It was time to put on our mechanical heads and try to get to the bottom of the issue.
When we turned the fuel on again, the issue was obvious. Diesel was gushing from the primary fuel filter. The seal to the filter in all the motoring of the past couple of days had either worked its way loose or had perished for some reason. Filter and seal changed, engine bled and things 'seem' to be back to normal. We are however perplexed as to why this occurred in the first place. Any helpful advice or thoughts from any readers would be very much appreciated?
All mechanical issues now hopefully resolved, we can revert to plan A; to go and explore the beautiful island of Gigha and find the elusive tropical plants.
The petrol station on Colonsay was busy.
Iain sailing upwind. Now where were those hiking straps?
Upwind in breeze and sunshine from Colonsay to Jura.
Another perfect sunset. Looking towards Colonsay.
Iain playing with his alter ego Larry on Jura.
We missed a deer leaving the water by minutes.
That'll be lots of tide then.
At anchor in Gigha.
BBQ, Gin and Tonic. Perfect.
The last time we had the BBQ out was on Green Island, Antigua.
Yet another perfect sunset. This time looking over Jura.
Diesel diesel everywhere.
Nearly gone into all the bottles and nearly fixed (fingers crossed).