Engine Gremlins

P1010650I’m tied against the pontoon in Napier with 20kn of wind (30 odd outside the harbour) giving a 15 degree list on Sirens’ Song. I love being tucked up cosy on windy days, reading a book and getting my laundry done.

P1010638The week started out with so much promise (finally heading for Cook Straight), but has ended on a bit of a downer due to gremlins in my engine…

Before rounding East Cape (imaginatively named because it is the easternmost point of NZ), I had found some coolant liquid in my drip tray below the engine. It was one of the reasons I delayed rounding the cape until favourable tides and winds. I thought I had sorted it by cutting off the end of a slightly delaminated hose and re attaching it, but NO.

Next thing, the engine note changed so I did a thorough inspection and found a loose bolt on the engine mount. I felt around underneath and decided that shims had deteriorated so jacked the engine up with my bench clamp (on its side and mounted on a soon to be ruined nice piece of teak). I then fashioned 6 half shims out of aluminium labels and inserted them under the engine block and tightened it all down. The engine was still making a racket (obviously not aligned) so I jacked it up again, removed the shims and tightened down the engine mount bolt – this seemed to work. The nearest port was Gisborne (about 100 miles away) so I pulled in there for repairs.

My heat exchanger was holed (that was the real source of the leak) so I decided to braise that, re-weld the engine mount for the exchanger and sort out the engine alignment. The guys at Harbour Marine in Gisborne sorted this all out for me quick sharp for a very reasonable fee.

I got on my way again, on a tight weather forecast for getting to Wellington before 35 knot winds arrived. The trip should have taken 2-3 days. After a 6.30 am start with light winds and motoring all day, I turned off the engine for some peace over dinner. I am in the habit of usually doing an engine check every time I start the engine – I start at the top and work my way down:

Glass fuel filter bowl – clear; Oil engine cap – clean; Injector heads – dry and tight; Belt – tight and no dust; water pump – no leaks; coolant drain – no drips; salt water filter – clean no drips; stern tube – clean, occasional drip…what’s that….my newly welded exchanger bracket had sheared in two – there was a sharp edge rubbing on the gearbox and the exchanger was kinking a pipe it was sagging so much…


This was bad news, more delays. I turned around and sailed into the wind and back on myself towards Napier whilst doing a supportive repair. Eta was 2am so I called ahead and booked a berth at the council pier.

With a tired and fuzzy head at 2.30am I tied bow to the wall with lines out to two piles. I sat and had a glass of wine feeling a little beat but having enjoyed the pilotage and night sail through to the harbour. I LOVE coming into somewhere completely new, and I LOVE doing it at night, so I was strangely happy but pissed off at the same time.

Napier has turned out to be a fabulous place with the guy refusing money after welding my bracket – I’ll buy him beers tonight. I have moved over to the yacht club pontoon where the staff are so so friendly. There’s laundry and a bar and there are great little pub/restaurants just round the corner.

Next step is to leave on Sunday I think (weather gods willing). Keep an eye on the tracker on this site to see where I end up as I might be out of signal for a while.


One thought on “Engine Gremlins

  1. Just accessed the website Jas. Nice to be able to be in contact, Hope its all going well now. You must have quite a knowledge of both your boat and the sea and wind now though of course its always different. Think you are in the best place.

    We just had 150 mph winds and snow and sleet.

    love mum


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