Monday, October 28, 2013

Back in

Sailing in the sand

Sapphire finally went back in the water on Friday afternoon. She had a nice new coat of paint and earlier in the day her name had been stuck on, and she looked very smart. The Radios all worked, the SailMail prescription was renewed and SailMail tested with a GRIB file download of the weather, the new wind instruments I ordered from Australia had arrived and been reattached to the masthead and were working, I had freed up the almost frozen throttle/gear change cable, replaced the batteries, replaced the wrecked sheet winch, had the sail repaired, the dodger cover completely restitched, reattached the Hydrovane with larger bolts and backing plates – the third time !– and all I had left to do was see if the motor would start. And it did – straight away!

I felt the boat sway a little in the water as the travel Lift slings were lowered away and she settled - I felt so relieved at being back on the water. In a few days we would be heading out of the marina at long last, more than a year since arriving…wonderful!

Just before engaging the engine, as always I peered over the stern to look for the exhaust discharging all the rusty water that had been in the motor all that time – and craned over even more when I saw nothing other than a little smoke… “odd” I thought and waited a little longer for something to appear  ….still nothing!

I turned off the motor and went to check the through-hull water intake valve hadn’t been turned off – it hadn’t. But water definitely wasn’t getting through - maybe a bird or wasps or something had made a nest in the intake and blocked it? I shouted up to “Mo” the crane driver  - I would need a tow to my appointed jetty, and then I would sort out the water problem.

So my first journey for the sailing season was a tow by a guy in a tinnie to the other side of the circular marina where I was squeezed in between “Captain Georges” a 45 foot owner-built aluminium monohull from France and “Moonshadow” a beautiful shiny blue 56 footer from London. After tying up with two lines fore and aft I went below to sort out the water problem.

What I soon discovered was that the bearing in the water pump was seized, so I took the  whole pump off the front of the engine and eventually got it turning again. The bearing felt rough and stiff and I guessed would have to be replaced sooner than later, but after  a while I had it turning quite freely, I reassembled the pump and turned the motor on again. And this time? Still no water!

I pulled it all apart again: no it was all ok – but then I looked into the hole that the impellor shaft slots into on the front of the engine – the “slot” looking back at me was broken – there was nothing for the pump shaft to engage into – it had tried to turn against the seized pump and broken itself when the pump refused to budge. And it looked to me that to get at that broken bit you would have to pull half the motor apart! That was Friday afternoon, late, and I had the whole weekend to imagine various ways in which even though it looked impossible to fix simply, there would be a way : maybe a sleeve could be fitted over the broken bit, or maybe a stud could be drilled into it and a new piece fitted over the top like a crown on a broken tooth. There would probably be a special tool that can fit in and pull it out without dismantling the whole engine; even if they did have to dismantle the engine it wouldn’t take long; there would be a simple alternative pump you could use instead; I tidied up the front of the motor to make it easier for them on Monday.

And this morning was Monday. The mechanic came and within 5 seconds he was shaking his head. The motor has to come out! Apparently the bit we are looking in at is the end of a cam shaft that operates all sorts of other timing things  back there inside the motor – if you could pull it out, all these other bits would drop out of position and it would be impossible to put it back….there was no other solution. And the parts might be hard to find….

So I closed the boat up and went for a drive and a coffee. My sailing season was over before it had even started. Bugger!
The Third Installation of the Hydrovane, and new sign writing


  1. Hi David, You really sound like and "seasoned" boat owner now !.... It doesn't seem that long ago your stuffing box was leaking and there was a slight panic in your missives! Ha! Well done, and keep up the stellar work you do for mankind..... CaptJack

  2. Hi David, know exactly how you feel. We have had a seized water pump a couple of times now, just by letting the boat sit for more than a few weeks. Annoying, expensive and delaying....As a consequence we always watch the engine when we first start it to see if the water pump belt is moving. Sorry to hear of your best laid plans going awry...cruising = boat maintenance in exotic locations!...Louise & Ivan