Monday, 21 April 2014

Antigua and a broken boat again

Antigua and a broken boat again

We arrived back in Antigua from the OCC rally in Dominica on Sunday afternoon. Our first port of call after checking in on Monday morning was the Volvo mechanic. He was too busy to look at it on the Monday but suggested we come to the work dock on Tuesday morning. Tuesday 25th of March is the skipper’s birthday so we motored in from the anchorage to the work dock to have the problem diagnosed.

Danny is the first to take a look, he thinks the tick over is too low but this doesn’t explain the leaking stern gland when we are motoring. Danny returns with Derry, a man with a big crowbar who levers the engine up and spots a cracked front rubber engine mount. Problem diagnosed, so it is off to see where to get them and when they will arrive.

The good news is that they can be couriered in from Miami in a couple of days, bad news is they cost an ‘arm and a leg’. Other bad news is Friday will be the earliest they can start work on it.

Ah well could be worse, the marina and anchorage is filling up with our friends from the OCC rally and when we get back to the anchorage ‘Vivace’ are anchored behind us, looks like an impromptu birthday party at the 2 for one pizza place tonight! Things can’t be all bad.

Friday arrives and our mounts haven’t arrived, UPS advises delivery in the afternoon, nothing will happen today so now it will be Monday at the earliest before work starts.

Monday dawns and we eventually pin down the guys, yes the mounts are in and yes they can start today. We motor onto the work dock anticipating probably a ½ day job, the weather looks settled for the week and we are hoping to go to Barbuda as soon as the repairs are done.

Not so fast! Remember, this is a boat and things always take longer than anticipated.  The prop shaft is disconnected from the gearbox and the back of the engine is jacked up. Within the hour we have replaced the rear mounts, now for the front mounts. We jack up the front of the engine. The studs that are welded to the plates that are bolted to the engine bearers rise up with the engine! Both studs have sheared off! No wonder the engine is moving about. It is not just the engine mounts that need replacing and repair, the studs will have to be re-welded back on to the plates.

In order to get to the starboard front mount we had to take off the water pump.  Then we discovered that the heat exchanger was leaking from underneath and had rotted the bracket holding it to the engine. Before we can re assemble we will need a new bracket fabricated and the heat exchanger cleaned up and overhauled.

For those of you not familiar with boat engines, unlike a car that has a radiator to cool the coolant we have a heat exchanger where sea water is pumped through a cylinder where the coolant pipes run through to cool the engine. This requires a seawater pump in addition to the circulating pump (water pump) you have on a car. After cooling the circulating fresh water, the sea water is injected into the exhaust outlet to cool the exhaust gases and out it goes through the exhaust pipe at the back of the boat.

Ok so we have to work on the heat exchanger, fortunately apart from the bracket (new one) and some new gaskets it is cleaned up and repainted so all as good as new. Unfortunately, the water leak had dripped onto the starter motor, so this will have to be cleaned up too. Fortunately,there is a spare available in the machine shop and this unit will be fitted as a replacement for the water damaged one. The only good news is that if you have a broken engine being broken outside a machine shop is probably the best place to be.

The work dock is hot and dusty during the day with many flies, at night there is little wind and lots of mosquitos. Not the best berth in the marina!

Rescuing the Boatyard dinghy!

By Friday we have it all back together. However, the engine was slow to start. Crawling over the engine a leak on the fuel lift pump was diagnosed, so we ordered a replacement, and also found a leak on the back of the sea water pump so another new pump was ordered. These parts will not be here until Tuesday at the earliest (Wednesday?)

Guess what? We still have a leaky stern gland, it appears we have damaged the seal while motoring with an out of alignment engine. A new seal unit has been ordered and should be here in a few days, hopefully when all this has been done we will be good to travel the high seas again.

So the weekend comes and goes, parts are ordered at great expense and we wait. The old fuel pump has completely disintegrated and doesn’t pump at all! It is only passing fuel by gravity from the tank, it is a miracle with all we have found that the engine worked at all.

Sunsrt on the work dock
On the plus side we have met most of the guys from the boatyard who all come over for a chat at various times during the day, we hear all about their lives and a lot about life in Antigua especially the politics (there is a general election soon!), so we are having an interesting time.

We have to mention a great piece of kit we purchased with the outboard but only just fitted the other day, it is called a Doel Fin. It attaches to the cavitation plate by 4 bolts and is a very effective hydrofoil, creating lift and getting the dinghy ‘on the plane’ much easier. The dinghy is more stable and less skittish at speed, fantastic! It really does what it says on the box.

We have been in the boatyard a week, the original problem still exists, the engine has been overhauled, we are fully versed in local politics, the best way to fish for lobsters and the state of West Indies cricket!

The only thing that made the stay on the work dock bearable was all the company. For a few nights we had neighbours on the other side of the dock who had circumnavigated and had been at sea for 19 years, so they had many good stories to tell. Between guests for dinner and invitations to others, sundowners at West Point and taking the dinghy out to a little beach at the anchorage for swims we made the best of it.

Thursday looks to be the day the new stern gland will arrive. We still cannot go anywhere as the prop shaft has now been disconnected! Slowly our parts arrive and the engineer arrives on Friday to fit them.

Things are never straightforward! The new fuel pump needs a modified fuel line and when we fire up the engine we have a fuel starvation problem! Only discovered after we had left the dock and the engine stalled in the harbour! A nerve wracking time while we got back onto the dock and the fuel system was stripped down, new filters installed and off we went again. By now it is late Saturday, our plans to get water and leave Sunday for Barbuda have been thwarted.

Sunday morning we get water and decide it is now too late to go to Barbuda today so the plan is a gentle sail to Deep bay and go early Monday morning. Outside the harbour the engine stalls while we are hoisting the sails, we decide to continue to Deep bay as it is only 6 miles away and we need a change of scenery, 10 days on the work dock has driven us stir crazy.

Monday we are off early at 0630, Barbuda here we come! Not so fast! With little wind we are motoring and the engine stalls several times as we leave Deep Bay. With heavy hearts we turn round and sail slowly back to Jolly harbour. Back on the work dock a feeling of déjà vu! Danny arrives and removed the fuel pump, what else can it be? An old pump has been found and we will fit this to see if it is the new pump that is faulty. The new pump is pumping strongly on the workbench so we cannot believe is the problem. Danny refits the pump only to discover that the modified outlet pipe won’t reach?

I think we have found the problem, the boss comes to look, it appears the mechanic has connected the inlet and outlet hoses the wrong way round! Instead of sucking fuel from the tank and pumping it into the secondary filter we are sucking it from the filter and trying to pump it back to the tank! The filter is being fed from the tank by gravity! The hoses are swapped and the system bled of air. The engine starts and we are off, unfortunately not for Barbuda as it is now lunchtime and a late afternoon arrival is not recommended due to the many coral heads around Barbuda. Deep Bay here we come! Again!

Deep Bay Still beautiful!

We arrive in Deep Bay without drama, the engine doesn’t stall although it is a little slow to start from cold, maybe we are sucking in air through one of the fuel unions and the system is not holding its prime? It has been suggested that we paint around all the fuel unions to eliminate the possibility of sucking air in. Next project! For now we seem to be fixed. Barbuda here we come before the weather gods deliver a strong blow and swells which will render Barbuda ‘no go’ (planned for the coming Easter weekend!)

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like you had a LEAKY time in Antigua. Well that's "part of a Yachty's rich tapestry" or some similar quotation with ?>**&* Expletives!!
    All in all it is apparent you are having an exciting time. You can probably now
    set yourselves up as Marine Engine Cooling consultants.
    Regards and hope the Easter Bunny called on you.
    Vic XXXX