Day of The Engineer
06 September 2008
8th June will now been known as Phil's day. Over the last few days in our rolling flat calms we've had to motor for 10 - 24 hours at a time. On two occasions, the engine has overheated and we've had to refill the cooling system. On the last occasion, about 09:00 yesterday we tracked the problem to a corroded and leaking core plug. Not many people would know where to start with this as to replace the plug (which we didn't have anyway) means taking off the manifold, all the pipes, alternators and gubbins, putting in a new plug and reassembling. Given we'd no plug Phil considered the options which was... like an episode of Junk Yard wars. Step one, take one 25mm dia stainless engine compartment fire extinguisher cover, two a piece of Dino's rubber gasket, five 25 cent coins and a G clamp. Phil assembled a plug from the stainless cover, rubber and coins and then sawed the screw section off my trusty 30 year old G clamp and using that as a compression bar, jammed the cobbled core plug into place using the G clamp piece as a reverse bottle screw to force the necessary pressure. That took Phil 4 hours in the wallowing sea, lying on his back and, apart from being an ingenious solution officially makes him my hero for 2008.
Back under way, with the engine running fine, we still rocked and rolled eastwards with the highlight of the day being a passing Leatherback turtle. He gave us a wave and flapped off to his horizon. (Probably got a burd on a beach somewhere).
The trip so far has been highlighted by calms and the incessant rolling. Quite trying after 20 minutes. After a week it really gets on your nerves. However, the good news is it's helping Dougie sloshing the dirty clothes around in the bucket to make us all smell nice.
Just as we were preparing for the night, concerns I'd had about the Hydrovane steering gear all day crystallised as I could clearly see it had slipped down it's mounting by about 50mm. It had also pulled out about 20 mm on the bottom bracket. I ordered this unit because it had a good report, and indeed, it sailed us all night downwind in the 30 - 40 knots and big seas perfectly. However, after I bought it I read the fitting instructions which were so complex that I tried to cancel the order. Foolishly I let the sales guy talk me into staying with them and despite 2 fittings, first by "professional" riggers (well guys with T shirts that said Riggers on them) then Phil trying to salvage their bodge. As part of "Phil's Day" we then had the poor man hanging off the back of the boat in the middle of the Atlantic with spanners and hammers putting it back together. Seems OK now.
Back to engining along, Phil called me about 11pm to say we were motoring towards an electrical storm. Perfect end to a perfect 24 hours! It's a bit disconcerting to be the only lightning conductor in the middle of a lightning storm lighting up the skies all around and thunder booming all round. We tried to scan the storm on the radar and tried for an hour to find routes out of it but in the end, in a squall with driving rain we hove to and stood down below waiting for it to pass. Dougie slept through it all.
So starts another day, engine on a rolling east. We're going way too slow however, wind fills in tomorrow for next 3 -4 days from N and NW at 15 - 25 knots so that should get us hurtling along towards sanity.