Boy it sure takes a while to get back into the swing of things after the holiday season. I and we have been so busy cooking and spending time with family, spending time with our own kids, and me working from my sailboat in Kittery, ME it has been near impossible to find time for my own personal projects. For instance, it took me several days to upgrade the electricity on the Fernweh, but that’s another story for another time. Right now, I am forcing myself to sit down and regale you with the challenges and adventures that occurred after docking in Plymouth, and sailing away again the following weekend.
As I mentioned, we pulled into Plymouth. When we pulled in, there were a few people working in the yard shrink wrapping vessels on the hard. I spoke to one of them about having pulled into the service dock, and what was going on and what the symptoms were with the engine runs fine for a while, but then loses RPMs and finally shuts down. I told him about changing/inspecting the fuel filters and going through the other troubleshooting steps described in my previous post. He said he’s one of the mechanics anyway, and to just call Monday to have a work order made up, and that he’d be able to service it before next Friday. I called first thing on Monday and had the work order created with the need to be able to ship back out on Friday. They said they’d get right on it and let me know as soon as they knew what was going on.
To shorten a long story that could probably be a post all on its own, they didn’t look at the boat right away, but when they did I was asked if I put gasoline in the tank. I said, I haven’t put any fuel of any sort in the tank. It was topped off by the previous owner before he sold her to me. The guys asked me if I am sure I didn’t put gasoline in the tank, and I assured him that if I didn’t put any fuel in the tank, then it didn’t matter what kind he was asking about. Anyway it turns out the tank has gasoline in it. Now one, this posed a serious problem on the water, the engine could have been seriously damaged by running gasoline. I am pretty sure it was just a top-off of gasoline in there, but it was enough to cause problems. So this is what was happening. Diesel engines run at a different compression rate, and have a different ignition cycle than gasoline engines do. Gasoline will ignite a lower temperatures than diesel will, which means when it’s in the fuel mixture, the fuel can ignite too early in piston cycle. So, that’s why the engine would run perfectly and like a top when it was cold, but when the engine reached top operating temerature, the gasoline started to ignite too early which caused a slight loss of power which translates to losing RPMs, and when the engine was warm enough it would finally just cut out completely and couldn’t be restarted for another 2 hours, it needed time to cool so that the gasoline diesel mix wouldn’t pre-ignite.
So, on Thursday I call to make sure the boat was going to be ready, and the answer was it was going to take longer to polish the tank (the gasoline made all the diesel algae fall off the sides), and it wouldn’t be ready which of course wasn’t acceptable. I had them give me and hook up an auxiliary fuel tank and I would deal with the fixing the fuel system when I got to Maine. THe hooked it all up, called me and said it was ready and running like a top. The captain I hired for this leg of the trip and I arrived Friday morning, and we go to start the engine and it wouldn’t start. Ok…So although it Saturday, the marina manager happened to be in the catch up on some paperwork, and since I just paid a lot of money to get the engine running, I asked him if he could do something about it. He called the mechanic and asked him to come in, and he got it running. Since the auxiliary tank is below the engine, gravity pulled the fuel out of the fuel lines, so the system needed to be bled again. Sigh…
So, the engine is running, we have everything ready to go, we start breaking the ice behind the boat, back up 2 feet, break some more ice, and so on until we have worked out way our of the marina and into the open water where the ice hadn’t formed. Off we go…
The trip itself was relatively uneventful, but because of the delay in getting underway, we spent the last several hours piloting the boat in darkness. Crossing the Boston harbor we saywsome giant car carriers, and boy they move really fast for such a huge ship. We were dodging lobster pots all night long until we reached Pascataqua River, the river which runs between New Hampshire and Maine and is also known as the Portsmouth Harbor home of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, and Badger Island where we will be docking and where I will be staying for the rest of the winter.
When we arrive the current is running upriver about 4 knots. The memorial bridge is only about 200 feet down current from the face dock of the marine where you have to dock when there is a current and move your boat to your permanent slip when the tide slackens. So we motor up close to the bridge, and turn the boat toward the dock and into the current, and we drift sideways across the river toward the dock. Everything looks really smooth until we actually dock…When we hit the dock and my captain hops off to begin securing the lines, a neighbor comes out to help, and starts tying down lines, but something we hadn’t noticed is that the current runs out from under the dock…I.e. it’s pushing the boat away from the dock and it’s doing it very swiftly. We get the boat tied up, but the bow was pulled a good 8 feet away from the dock with the current trying to push it out farther. The current is running under the boat almost broadside, and its way to strong to the pull the boat in. The propeller and rudder are too far away from each other to gain an steering benefit while the stern lines are secured, so after struggling for about 30 minutes, I decide we’re going to release the springs, and lastly the bow line while the stern line is payed out just enough for the boat to dock on the other side. We release the bow and the boat swings out away from the dock until it’s against the dock after turning 180 degrees. We tied up, check everything is secured, and end our frustrating end to our journey. We finally get to bed about 0200, and let Elyse know we arrive safely and we’ll see her in the morning and we go to bed.
The next Tuesday after work the tide is just slack and I move it to my permanent slip and there she stays. In the last few weeks I have been working on projects to upgrade her a little at a time in the afternoons after work, but otherwise the Fernweh has been a great place to stay so close to work that I can walk to work in the morning. Not too shabby. Maybe I’ll lose a few pounds walking to work and back.