As we prepared for this trip by learning to sail, saving up, researching boats etc, there was one thing that i wanted to do but never quite got there. I wanted to complete a diesel engine course so I would be able to maintain the engines for basic issues. Unfortunately time ran out and did not coincide with course dates so one of my issues has been “what if the engines die and we don’t have any wind”.
Well my friends, yesterday it happened. While motoring from Vathi in Ithaca to Sami on Cephalonia (where they filmed Captain Corelli’s Mandolin). The wind was on about a knot and a half, Engines firing well then all of a sudden their was a change in the noise from the port engine and some rather large vibrations.
Well what followed what just a little stressful. I put the engines in neutral, opened that hatches and looked at the engine. Yep, just as I suspected, the engine was there where it was supposed to be. After a few tests, I was able to work out the vibration only started when we had high revs on the engine so the quick solution was to leave it in Neutral.
One of the beauties of buying a Cat is that there is redundancy in many areas. We still had our starboard engine to drive us forward albeit at a slower pace. Now however we had time to work out what we should do. Do we 1) keep going to Sami and try to Med Moor and seek a Diesel mechanic. (med mooring a cat with one engine is not so fun) or 2) do we go back to Lefkada where we know and know there is a mechanic. (but will still have the mooring problem.)
So after a quick phone a friend to fellow Australian Toby from S/V Alltogether to discuss prospects of finding mechanics on greek islands, a quick looks at the Navionics app on the Ipad to work out how long it would take to get back to Lefkada on one engine, the decision was made to keep going to Sami and hope for the best.
After a slow passage we made it to the port in Sami, Cam and Max preparing a pile of belongings to take in the life raft just in case the boat started to sink. Two attempts at Med mooring. 1 upset owner of a Moody 376 that we rested against during the first aborted med mooring attempt we were now tied up on the pier.
Time for a short solo walk to town and back to calm the nerves. Did you know that one of the favourite past time of yachties in port is to watch other yachties come in to port. When things go wrong the audience gets larger, we were now part of the show.
Anyhow, time for a happy ending. The boat that came in straight after us was another Australian boat. As you do, we ended up striking a conversation with David and Ann from S/V Austral after a quick discussion with David on the symptoms of the problem he mentioned the possibility of a plastic bag being wrapped around the propeller. Well looking down at the water their is an image under the end of the boat that doesn’t look like a reflection from the boat.
A quick strip down to my shorts, grab the snorkel and mask, into the water and low and behold, its not a plastic back but a very large sheet of black builders plastic wrapped around the propeller and sail drive. Now it has been removed i am sure that the engine will be fine but I will need to double check that when we leave. Just quietly, I am stoked not to have a big repair bill for the engine. (touch wood)