Atlantic crossing day 5 : fixing boats in exotic places
Avg speed day 5: 5,5 kts
Wind : 15 to 32 kts
Waves : 1.5-3.5 meter
Temp : 27c during the day , 27c during the night, not wearing a shirt during the night Distance to Mindelo : 716 miles
Distance to go : 1084 miles
The morning of day 5 started good , still only one sail up but waves subsided and the sun was shining with light winds from the NNE. As we use a lot of power during the nights with our fridge , freezer , navigation equipment and autopilot I usually run the generator for an hour or so top get the batteries partly charged . I then let wind and solar do the rest of the charging during the day and run the generator again at night to make sure we sail into the night with a 100% charge on the batteries ( for those technically inclined , to me a fully charged battery bank means 14.4 volts and a charge current of <20 amps)
So this morning I went through the same routine , start the gen set, go down to put the (n)espresso machine on and make coffee while checking various systems . During the making of the 2nd or 3rd cup (yeah , I drink loads of the stuff) the gen set control panel started screaming followed by a shut down. !!!!
Wth ? , so i turn off all the buttons and switches to and from the generator and I open the compartment where the genset is located. When i opened the locker we saw a small puff of smoke .. now imagine smoke on the water , and this time not on the montreux lake shore with frank zappa and the mothers but in the middle of the ff’ing atlantic ocean !! I quickly got the fire extinguisher ready (one of which is conveniently located next to the genset) and take away the sound proofing to see if and what was burning / smoldering. Anddddd… nothing . I have rarely been so relieved by an anti-climax but i was glad that everything was ok at first glance. After this exiting interlude Joline went to bed as her watch just ended And I got the manual out for the generator amd started reading / troubleshooting , found that the genset starts screaming and shutting down when 1) oil pressure is low and/or 2) cooling circuit gets too hot.
I ‘quickly’ checked the engine oil , which only takes about 45 minutes and found that even though the oil was not to the max level it was nowhere near too low. So that meant cooling circuit.
If you ever own your own boat , remember this . Whenever something goes wrong with your own or someone else engine just say with a very stern and serious face ‘Its probably the impeller’ and you just correctly diagnosed 85% of all boat engine problems 😉
So I said to myself ‘its probably the impeller’ and quickly after that ‘have to wait until joline wakes up to start working on it’ , and in the 3 or so hours I have I start identifying the pump , the tools , read the manual a few more times etc etc
Long story short , replace impeller , which only took about 3 hours as everything takes much longer on a boat especially while its moving through the water being rocked back and forward by waves, and start the genset. Success ! No more overheating alarm and power is generated. And the smoke ? Most likely the exhaust mixing elbow that got very hot after it was no longer cooled by seawater .
Anyway , it keeps you off the street and something to do while sailing ! But please no more smoke from anything ok ? That stuff is just scary in the middle of an ocean.
Oh .. fruit supply is still ok’ish .. 3 apples left , about a dozen oranges and green bananas . Kids are doing great and its really warming up !