It always takes time to settle in to a long voyage, especially if you’re out of the habit. There’s often a threshold moment, an unexpected problem, an issue to solve, a thing to get over before you’re back into the routine, before you’re truly voyaging again.
It can be the sleeplessness, ears reacting to new sounds as systems switch on and off, as the old girl works her way through the day. But by now the sounds Kialoa make are fairly second nature.
It can be weather – getting through a nasty first few days like leaving the UK and crossing the Bay of Biscay.
It can be bolshie boat systems like the grey water macerator on leaving Canary Islands.
We hadn’t encountered anything like that to begin with. Benign weather: too little wind, but what there was at least helpful, great food, easy seaway, sunny days, nice watch roll, 3 on, 6 off. What’s not to like?
Still there was that uneasy sense that it wasn’t right. Where was the “thing”?
And there it was. An oily smell – oil in the main engine bilge. Oh heck, what’s that from? Mop it up, look for the source. Drips coming off the underside of the main engine. And increasing. The oil was clean looking – so not the main engine (which is normally black). Clean oil, where would that be from? Check the transmission oil. It was low, below the “low” marker on the dipstick. Possible transmission oil leak. Nothing obvious, but still that persistent drip while the engine was running. Nothing for it but to shut the engine down even though there was only 3-6 kts of breeze. Very slow progress. We refilled the gearbox, and ran the engine, just to see. No good, still leaking. So, sail only to Hawaii as we’re unlikely to get a fix in Apia. We carry on, no engine. Not insurmountable, but a pain.
Next offwatch I had the chance to “sleep on it” – no sleep involved, just the brain turning over and over, chewing on the inconsistencies of the information: drip from the main engine, low oil in the gearbox, how does the oil get from the gearbox to the bottom of the main engine sump? It can’t.
Nothing for it, can’t sleep, get up, go over it all again, run the engine and OBSERVE. And there it was. Fourth injector on the engine leaking diesel, dripping down into the bilge where it had been picked up by the oil absorbing pads in the bilge, making it look like “clean” oil. Two separate problems. Low oil in gearbox because I hadn’t checked it for a while, and the drip. Three attempts to reseat the diesel feed pipe to stop the leak and success.
The “thing” is done, the voyage truly begins.
A beautiful sunset, a minute silence as the sun goes down, we pay our respects. Lest we forget,