Monday, April 21, 2008

Tamsyn's version of the weekend

Had a relaxed drive down to the boat on Friday afternoon - fixed the new engine cover on (without its sound insulation for now) after doing some last minute adjustments with a rasp file. Will need to revarnish the top edge but the basic replacement is essentially complete. Next step is to work out how to add extension flaps so when it is raised as a cockpit table, the table actually reaches the seats. Will also need to work out whether it's worth trying to refit sound insulation on the remaining parts next to the engine that don't actually need to slide (supports for the extensions) or whether some form of seal round the edge of the engine hatch would do.

Took down the foresail to take photos and measurements for a replacement only to find the previous owner had put it up wrong! So we set it up properly and it looks a lot better now, though still somewhat tatty. Can't wait to see the new one in a few weeks time....

Went out for dinner at Shamrock Quay and discovered that not only does the bar let dogs in, they get treated like royalty! I had taken Pippin's travel bowl which folds up small to fit in my pocket but when I filled it with water from the sink in the loos, one of the staff came to our table with a proper dog bowl filled with water from the kitchen. When I emptied her travel bowl to put the meat and vegetable scraps from our dinner plates into it, another member of staff came and offered to transfer the food to a foil dish for her! So pampered pooch thinks we should go back.... We would have stayed longer but the guys who were engaged to perform live music seemed to think it was ok to put trashy taped music on at high volume while they finished setting up and had their first drink. If it had been demo tapes of their music at a reasonable volume, we might have been tempted to hang around, but having the latest pop music hits screaming at you so loudly you can't hear yourself think, never mind hold a conversation, while you try to relax at the start of your weekend is not our idea of fun. So we headed back to the boat relatively early and chilled out in peace and quiet.

Saturday started off with the ominous sound of rain, though it was only light. It was also cold and windy as Pippin and I discovered when we went for our morning walk. She decided to bring a huge log back from the local nature reserve and was most disgruntled when we refused to let her bring it onboard. The forecast for the rest of the day was F5 with occasional F6 and more rain but the outlook was better so we decided to head out for a bit of sailing then have dinner at the Folly Inn, with an easy trip back on Sunday. So much for well laid plans.

Mark got into the dinghy to ensure the silette leg was well greased and moving freely as we were having a few problems locking it in the down position and we soon had it working smoothly. Whilst he went to wash all the grease off himself, I brought the dinghy back on board and secured it. We did all our usual engine checks, warmed up the engine, checked water output, sorted our lines & fenders etc and planned how best to leave the pontoon.

Whilst sorting lines, I had the strong feeling that I should prepare a line ready for re-mooring "just in case", as well as slipping a line for leaving. I have learned from hard experience never to ignore such 'intuition' so I readied another line and we were set to go.

All went as planned until we got about 50 yards from the pontoon and Mark attempted to turn Talia around to face down river. At that point, an alarm started screaming so loudly in the cockpit I could hear it on the foredeck and when I asked if everything was ok, the response was "Get back here, NOW!"

It was the engine overheat alarm and when I looked over the back, there was no water coming out of the exhaust. Since we were only 50 yards from the pontoon, the best bet seemed to be to get back over there and tie up again quickly so we could turn the engine off. Since the bow line was already prepared (thanks intuition!), it only took a few seconds to prepare a stern line and we were safely secured less than 5 minutes after the alarm went off.

After checking the water intake (me in the dinghy with a desk brush!), the seacock and inlet pipe (lots of water to be mopped but gave us the opportunity to put a second jubilee clip on the hose) and the water strainer, it was time to get brave and dismantle the engine. Mark has covered the details but I was petrified I would wreck something that would cost a fortune to fix. In the end though, it was our only choice to try and gain some experience of sorting out basic problems ourselves which will be essential when we eventually set off round the world. So I started undoing nuts, taking lots of photos and scribbling nervous notes about every step I took.....

Ironically, the most difficult part turned out to be sourcing new parts. I was able to put everything back together again relatively easily, tightening up the belts as I did so (they had seemed a bit loose before I started) and after a heart-stopping 30 second trial when no water came out of the exhaust, the pump started working again on the second attempt after I'd primed it with lots of water. I have discovered lots of important facts like: our engine takes about 50 seconds to warm up (as opposed to the 30 seconds declared in the manual); despite what other people tell you NEVER use petroleum based lubricants on impellers (ditch the Vaseline!); it can be more scary tied up on a pontoon than it can in a rough sea in a F8 gale !!

I am still ecstatic that I managed to fix the problem myself and I'm hoping that the oil change will not be too difficult either.