Thursday, April 17, 2014

Seems Like Bad News... But on the Other Hand...

 March 30, 2014

Lake Worth Inlet, Florida

Antigua did not allow much room for relaxation.  Full of boat repairs, lack of ready built materials or modern equipment hampered our efforts to contract repairs. Much of our time was spent in project management: finding materials, scheduling the various trades, monitoring work being done.  We considered ourselves to be very lucky to have found such experienced workmen and the cost of the job was no more than it would have been in North America. 

This "seems like bad news but on the other hand..." phenomenon followed us all the way to Ontario from Antigua.

The day after repairs were completed to Meredith we reluctantly made our farewells to Stephen and Nancy who travel on Fairwyn, a 52 year old wooden sailboat and made our departure.  Leaving Jolly Harbour we were met midway by a dinghy carrying Holly and Alan from the Australian boat "Summerwind".  Holly had made cranberry scones and they were still warm.  Needless to say the scones did not survive to the end of the exit channel.

Motorsailing in nonexistent winds our diesel ran only fitfully.  Somehow we had developed an air leak in the fuel system.  Diesels do not run with air in the fuel system so every couple of hours the engine would quit and I would have to bleed a hot diesel so we could get underway.  

On one such stoppage I also found a massive engine oil leak caused when an oil filter gasket tore and failed to seal against the engine.  Had the engine not quit due to the air leak we would have missed the oil leak.  The oil leak would have been fatal had it not been found in time.  Our Beta diesel has an oil pressure alarm and shutoff designed to save the diesel in such circumstances but I hate to rely on mechanical systems.

Searching for the air leak I dropped a one of a kind retaining bolt, the one that holds the top on the fuel filter, into the bilge.  The bilge which had just had all that engine oil spewed into it.  The part was brass so the magnetic pickup did not work.  The oil rendered the liquid in the bilge worse than opaque.

Connie and I spent eight frustrating hours working together to find the darn bolt in our deep almost inaccessible bilge.  The boat sailed itself during this period as we were both deep in the bilge, one in the lazarette and one over the diesel while we disassembled the drive shaft, removed the bilge pump and the hoses that reside in the bilge and scooped a year's worth of oily muck out of that deep, dark, uncooperative, murky bilge.  

The part was found and the air leak in the fuel system was also found.  We had been sailing at 2 knots for almost a full day out of Antigua except for a few hours when the diesel ran.  This put us close to the island of Eustatius and we put in to the mooring field at Orangestaadt for rest and relaxation.  Also for some more lubricating oil, as we had used all of ours due to the leak.

Eustatius was a a treat.  Orangestaadt was a lovely polite clean orderly town that stocked absolutely no lube oil for diesel engines, at least none that we could find.  Finally we asked local fishermen who very concernedly sold us a lot of diesel oil which had to be decanted from one of their fifty gallon drums. 

Eustatius is an island we would never have visited had it not been for the air and oil leaks.

What a lovely place.  

A night's sleep on the mooring ball and it was dinghy on deck and us away still heading for Florida at full speed.  Or so we thought.

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