Sunday, March 24, 2013

Fueling Around

Our fuel system totally torn apart.....
What a diverse and challenging passage of 68 nm from Current Cut in Eleuthera to Buckaroon Bay off Abaco! First off, we had NO PLANS to make this run now. We had planned to move 1 hour up to Spanish Wells, and spend 3-5 days exploring and discovering that great area and enjoying the company of IPs Flatlander, True North, Charbonneau and others. BUT....the weather demanded us to move on north, taking the 20-25 knots of south winds. We are excited to stage up in Abaco for our good friends Wendy and Craig who will arrive April 2. Our concern of going to Spanish Wells was that all next week, it will be blowing NORTH and, even after that passes, the sea state will be 6-9 feet, making getting into the Abacos very difficult through the cuts. So, at 0600 we decided to GO FOR IT. This required us to quickly remove the dinghy motor (in the dark), the dinghy fuel tank, lift and strap the dinghy down, enter some waypoints and raise the anchor and get underway. It was a rapid "Chinese fire drill" but we have done this before, so we knew exactly what to do. Unfortunately, our text message to Flatlander did not arrive, so they did not know our change in plans.

Radeen sailed on the downind 135% while I worked the fuel repair
Once under sail, we were able to set a full 135% jib on a starboard whisker pole. We could have set a main for a full wing on wing, but with a forecast for serious SQUALLS, we decided that the main was just too much to deal with on this leg. So, we ran the motor at 1500 rpms, hoping for higher winds, and sailed the beautiful jib on the pole. I must say, a whisker pole is a great set up for dead down wind. We were easily making 7 knots and the passage looked quick.....until......THE MOTOR STALLED OUT!


WHAT....no motor....yup, it simply stalled. This is always a FUEL problem, so naturally we thought we calculated the fuel burn wrong from Georgetown, so I poured in two five gallon jugs of spare fuel. This was not fun as we were rolling gunwale to gunwale. It was a trick keeping me and the fuel jugs onboard. After adding fuel, we started up, and sure enough it ran....for 1 minute and then stalled. OH NO.....no motor. OK, it has to be the fuel pick up tube. I pulled it and checked it,, no problem. Nope. Next I changed the Racor primary fuel filter, and now we had a NEW problem....I could NOT refill the Racor using the electric fuel pump. The RACOR WOULD NOT FILL......OH no....NOW WHAT? Ok, this means we must have a fuel pick up issue, or a fuel tank vent problem or a broken fuel pump. So, I kept tearing down the system and all fittings.

THERE IT IS....the plug of crud at fitting #2 from the tank.
I really should have found this sooner, but it took me 3 hrs
Stupidly, I did not start at the tank and go upstream. I kept thinking: The Fuel pump died, the Racor was plugged, the de-bug magnetic filter was clogged, and I kept tearing down these systems. I even tore down our dinghy fuel line, and used the hand bulb pump which I installed into the diesel fuel system in place of the electric fuel pump. With this, I thought I could easily fill the Racor by pumping the bulb and sucking fuel from the tank to the Racor. NOPE.....this did not pump fuel either.....so....I kept moving this bulb hand pump upstream toward the tank. Of course, when I got to the second fitting from the tank, I FOUND THE PLUG of crud in this fitting! I was so happy to find it, and so frustrated that I DID NOT START THERE!

Plenty of water depth....13,000+ feet deep....no worries mon!
Radeen did a great job running the boat downwind in what developed into 4-5+ foot rollers and 20-25+ knot winds. She sailed while I worked on the engine for 3 hours. Lucky for us, we were in deep water, 13,000 feet, so no worries of hitting anything. We also had about 5 hours to go until the entrance. The winds were such that we could have sailed into the cut, not a good idea, but that was our only plan if I could not get the motor running. The bottom line is.....you really need to know your yacht systems so that when a break down happens, you can at least take a shot at fixing it.
There's no one to call out here!


This is where we broke down, about 40 miles out of Abaco

The sea state NEVER looks a large in photos.
This is 3-4 foot following seas. Notice the foam, that is 7 knots of speed

Radeen, ocean sailor girl, clipped on with her harness

Happy Hayden AFTER the fuel line repairs

Then, to top it off, as we turned the last mile into the anchorage
SALT SPRAY ALL OVER THE BOAT.....errrrrrr.....give me a break!

We had sailed downwind and dry all day, no salt, until we had to turn into it for our anchorage
....and so it is, another adventure.....another story.....another day of Island Spirit sailing. Life is Good, especially on a boat with a WORKING fuel system. :-)

2 comments:

ussv Angel Louise said...

ONE OF THE BEST ADVENTURE STORIES I HAVE READ...

This piece really put us on your boat with you. Since we have the same engine as you, I relate to the issues. When you have that initial scare that something is wrong and then solve it, the feeling is one of the best in the world! And you did it all on high seas under way! KUDOS! Ed and Sue on ANGEL LOUISE

Greg Kerlin said...

Its always going to be the last place that you look.

It is a great feeling when you solve a problem, and each solution builds your confidence in your and your boat.

Glad you are getting closer to the Beauzone... so are we.

Your girlfriend Gracie is laying on the couch right now all curled up on a ball snoring...