Back Through Gate Two
07 August 2009 | Nanaimo, BC
WX: overcast, temp 65, wind S 5-10
Gate Two (or Five if you count them separately coming back) is Georgia Strait. It's really the last major natural obstacle to deal with on the way home. Weather-wise, it was a non-event. The Cosmic Forces, therefore, came up with a different way to smite us. An hour or so out of Nanaimo, Charlie scanned the instruments. Port engine tachometer reading; 0 rpm. Huh? But the engine is still running, isn't it? Next gauge: voltmeter. Zero volts. Huh? We blew up the alternator? Next gauge: engine temperature. Holy &%$#! Pegged on 240! That combination of symptoms spells just one thing: broken belt. Floorboards up, diagnosis confirmed: belt is now in several shredded pieces.
Now, one of the more notable examples of engineering genius on the Lehman diesel is the fact that the main fresh water cooling hose goes THROUGH the belt. In other words, to replace the belt, you have to undo the coolant line. Under normal conditions, the coolant in the line is somewhere in the neighborhood of 165 degrees. But, thanks to the broken belt and no coolant circulation for at least several minutes, THIS coolant was more like 240 degrees. Not to mention that every metal surface on the engine was just as hot.
Okay, so anticipating this very problem, we had "pre-loaded" a new belt so we wouldn't have to undo the coolant line. Great idea. What we forgot was that, prior to this cruise, we had a new alternator installed on this engine which required a longer belt. We neglected to change the "pre-loaded" spare belt. So, of course, the spare belt is now too short to reach to the alternator and the slot in the alternator's adjustment bracket isn't long enough to allow the alternator to slide back closer to the engine. Solution? Remove the bracket and drill a hole in it at about the tension point. This, remember, while wallowing around in a sloppy sea in the middle of Georgia Strait.
To make a long story just a bit shorter, the (blistering hot) bracket got removed and the hole got drilled, though it ended up not quite in the right position so the belt tension was pretty loose. But it was sufficient to turn the water pump, thus allowing the engine to be restarted. Surprisingly, while all this was going on, we were still rumbling along at a respectable 6.5 knots on just one engine. Equally surprising, "Robbie," our cantankerous autopilot, had no trouble compensating for the uneven thrust and steering us in a reasonably straight line.
So then we arrived in Nanaimo, which is just as crazy and overcrowded as everyplace else up here. Nanaimo Yacht Club and the docks at Newcastle Island were filled to overflowing and there didn't appear to be a lot of room to anchor off Newcastle, either. As a last resort, we called the Harbormaster for the big commercial basin, expecting him to get a good chuckle out of someone wanting overnight moorage. But the Cosmic Forces must have been busy smiting some other hapless fools, because we actually got a spot. It ain't too private, being right under the public walkway. But lots of people stop to talk to us!
We're taking a layday here before heading south through the Gulf Islands. We've already made moorage reservations for the next six nights. That's the only way to deal with the crowds. We're also going to take a layday at every stop, partly to relax and partly because we got back down here a little earlier than expected and have some time to burn. Internet access should be more reliable from now on so, hopefully, we can keep this tome updated.