09 July 2020 | Papeete, Tahiti
Interesting times.... We were punching into 20kts plus in 2m seas a few days ago to get to Tahiti from Moorea when the engine died. I swapped the Racors, nothing, I changed the primary filter, nothing. I checked the supply line - no fuel coming from a full tank.
Anyway we got the right sails up (not much) and managed to beat our way back upwind far enough to be able to sail in through the port entrance but there was no space inside the port to tack up to the marina or get to a safe anchorage so we had to declare an emergency and request assistance.
The authorities were awesome. JRCC put us in touch with Port Control who were very helpful and clear (this is a busy port entrance) and when we sailed in the harbourmistress was waiting for us in the harbour boat with her son in a bigger boat. He gave us a very professional side tow to the one remaining outer berth in the marina and gently tucked us into the fairly tight space better than if we had done it ourselves. No recriminations, no fees, just big smiles all round, delightful.
I have often bitched about people not being able to differentiate between doing the right thing and getting away with doing the wrong thing. This was definitely my 'getting away with it' event. Our diesel tank has no inspection ports and is really hard to access so it has not been cleaned since the boat was built. I knew it should be done but I had no idea how so I kept putting it off.
The 'getting away with it' part? For the past year we have been cruising some of the most remote locations on the planet. We have been thousands of miles from technical supplies and services, and from land come to think of it. Just the day before we were more than a hundred miles offshore in very iffy wind conditions. Given all that we managed to break down less than ten miles from the largest port and technical resource for a couple of thousand miles. AND we got the last outside berth in the marina AND we have found a great diesel mechanic (not my strong point). All in all we are feeling about as lucky as we could possibly be. We should find a horse race .....
Getting the tank out is going to be an absolute bear. It is directly under the helm station with only a couple of inches of clearance. The water heater and the exhaust system will have to come out and, hopefully, it will then fit through the starboard lazarette. We will have to cut a hole in the tank to create an inspection port and manufacture a cover plate but that should not be too hard, compared with getting it out and back in. The picture is taken through the hole it has to come out through.... Anyway, we are safely alongside and we have plenty of time.
1. If something is bothering you deal with it. It will be so much less pleasant if it chooses the time to bite.
2. We had forgotten how well Leela goes upwind if you make an effort to set her up properly. We need to be less quick with the engine.
3. If you can't be good be lucky.