Fixing things in exotic places

Aleria at the dock in Portosin.

Here we were in the Rias Baixas and we had no exhaust and no refrigeration. Well, we proved yet again that cruising is all about fixing things (and doing laundry) in exotic places. Fortunately for us, the staff of the Real Club Nautico Portosin spoke great English and were incredibly helpful. They got the marinieros to tie us up to the transient dock, organized a mechanic and electrician, then translated between us to explain the problems.

The electrician rewired our electrics to the refrigeration unit and voila, we were in business. The mechanic knew what happened immediately as soon as he saw the soot. He returned later than day with the tools to remove the affected exhaust. He would have to order the part, then weld it together before reinstalling it.

Meanwhile, Alex and I spent four days cleaning. Luckily, we had a stash of spray cleaners on board. Alex cleaned below the floorboards, and I cleaned all the cushions. As the cushions sit atop the storage units which are not air tight, the soot worked its way through the cracks to the underside of the cushions. I removed the cushions and scrubbed them with a brush and cleaners on deck, then hosed them down and lay them in the sun to dry. We took over the entire dock day after day. Fortunately for us, the sun was hot all day long.

Well, the cushions haven't been so clean in years. And the bilge smells fresh. (I'm sorry I didn't take any photos of the process. But I was a bit preoccupied.) They had a good laundry at the marina and I was able to wash our clothing daily as we both got covered in soot each day.

The mechanic arrived on the fifth day to install the new exhaust and we were back in business, just in time to join 60 boats on the Irish Cruising Club Rias Baixas Rally.

As we cruised on from Portosin, the engine ran fine until 2000 rpm, when it would belch black smoke. We could get it up to about 2200 rpm but then it just wouldn't go any more. It's a ten year old Yanmar diesel. We were worried that the exhaust problem may have been symptomatic of something else. We sailed as much as we could but there were days when we had to motor between ports...slowly.

Aleria sailing between Rias. Photo by Ed Wheeler. 

Then began the journey of figuring out what was going on. I got on the internet and searched. As usual, Google came up with a plausible explanation on a Forum. The engine was being starved of air, so the fuel couldn't burn efficiently at higher revolutions. That's what caused the black soot. Alex immediately realized that the air filter must be clogged. It would have taken the sooty air in. So Alex got at the air filter and indeed it was clogged. He cleaned it with an old toothbrush, but the problem persisted.

It took mechanic number 2 in Vigo to diagnose that the intercooler was clogged. (We didn't even know there was such a thing.) Sure enough, he cleaned it and reinstalled it. No more black smoke, fully responsive throttle. In fact, the engine had never run so efficiently before. Now we, were ready to really relax and cruise.

Even the electrical panel had soot. 

Al least the spider webs were easy to spot - coated in black soot. 

All the lifejackets stowed in the locker were permanently discoloured.

Cleaning the air filter.
Old tooth brushes come in handy.

Need to dry this baby thoroughly before reinstalling. 
Intercooler before.
Intercooler after.


Popular posts from this blog

Top 30+ Sailing Movies

Top Ten Books about Sailing (non-fiction)

Top Ten+ Novels Based on Sailing (fiction)