Oh, the joy…

Friday 22/9

The day things actually start going according to plan is the day I will get seriously worried! We should be out in the Atlantic today, not sitting in some shitty marina kicking our heels and whatever else happens to be in range. It all started going pear shaped at around 8:30 on Saturday evening. There I was sitting minding my own business thinking illicit thoughts when the peace was rather rudely shattered by the high piercing squeal of the overheat alarm on the port engine.

I promptly shut it down and five minutes later Avi was back up in the cockpit spouting an impressive collection of the less salubrious nautical phrases – more than a few implying some unlikely sexual inclinations of the belt that drives the water pump, which was apparently ‘looser than a goose in a hail storm…’ (Don’t worry, I am also trying to work that one out). We managed to quick fix it with a bit of old fashioned Heath and Robinson engineering and within an hour we were on our way again.

In the time that Avi was down below sorting that lot out I decided to run the starboard motor to keep us moving as the breeze was actually more of a rumour. Bugger me if ten minutes later that bloody alarm doesn’t do the same thing. Fuck! Once we had the port motor running again Avi stuck his head down the other side fully expecting to see the same loose belt scenario, but everything looked to be in order – this was a different beast we were dealing with. As there was nothing I could really do out there we left it at that and continued running on the port motor.

At 05:30 on Sunday morning the port engine’s alarm squealed again. The belt had been stretched so far it was no longer driving the raw water pump again. Now we had no choice but to change the belt, which in the case of Yanmar motors is not quite as straightforward as it could be, particularly when the engines have been fitted with an extra high power alternator. Both sets of alternator belts need to be removed to change the water pump belt which is fitted to the innermost pulley groove.

We discovered some time back that accessing and adjusting the water pump is a diabolically difficult thing to do, and we only started to get a handle on the procedure after taking an angle grinder to a certain spanner and cutting enough off the one end that one could actually get the other end onto the damn nut. About two hours and an impressive array of skinned knuckles later we were up and running again.

By this time we knew we had no option other than to put in somewhere and sort this shit out. The little port of Almerimar appeared to be the best bet as it has a recognized boat repair facility and I assumed (wrongly as it turned out) that they would carry any spare parts we would need. Around 5:30 that afternoon we pulled in, got ourselves registered with the marina and went to get some much needed sleep as the night before had been a bit short on that commodity.

On Monday I stripped the cooling system on the starboard motor and it did not take long to find the problem. The inlet port on the heat exchanger was complete blocked with all sorts of crap, from live juvenile mussels, bits of grass and other shell and a complete vane from a water pump impeller that obviously failed sometime in the past and had never been chased down – which was not all that surprising as you have to damn near disassemble most of the motor just to get to the bloody heat exchanger.

Once I had it open I pulled the core out and found that just one of the flow tubes out of thirty eight was blocked, which pointed the finger squarely at the inlet port as the problem. There are four O rings that seal the ends of the heat exchanger and they get so compressed that you cannot reuse them. I was aware of this from past experience and it was these O rings I knew we would have to replace. I was pretty relaxed about it as there are two chandlery shops here in the village as well as a recognised boatyard, so I sent the lads off to go and find them… and that’s when we ran into a problem. No one in town stocks O rings… I will leave the ensuing language to your own imagination.

We were directed to a motor spares place of sorts in the next town about a half hours drive away – if you have a car which we obviously don’t. That little obstacle was overcome by Avi mentioning our parlous state of affairs to an English youngster who works in his dad’s pub/restaurant situated about 15 meters from the boat. Young Ryan has been living in Spain for the past 14 years and like a lot of expat kids has become absolutely fluent in the local language. He very generously volunteered to drive us through to Almeria to go and see what we could find.

Turns out they did not have them in stock either but said they could order them in, so we placed the order and now we wait. I have mentioned before that time has a different meaning in Spain to anywhere else in the world and the word manana is the go to word for “I don’t have a bloody clue as to how long they will take to get here…”So now we wait for a phone call from the supplier to let us know when the parts have arrived.

In the interim we have used the time to dig out the spare sails we have and to make sure they will work as required. The screacher/code zero seems to be a bit on the small side to me but is has a nice cut to it and I think it will work well in light winds. The storm jib is a tiny handkerchief of a sail and from the look of it has never been raised before – the fact that we had to rig a halyard to raise it just confirms that impression. We brought along a new furling genoa with us but I will run as far as I can on the old one before it tenders its resignation.

All told I think – apart from the overheating issue which I think we have resolved – we are in pretty good shape and I am now beginning to look forward to some trade wind sailing. Gibraltar is around 130nm miles from here – essentially a day’s sail. So, if we can get away by the weekend we could be in Gibraltar 24 hours later, The weather for the weekend is very favourable so I am hoping for an easier exit from the Med than I had the last time… wind against tide made it a bit of a washing machine until we closed with the Moroccan coast – and there we had to contend with all sorts of unlit fishing vessels who wait until you are just about on top of them before some twat starts flicking a lighter to show their presence.

I have tried to insert photos into this post but there is a size limit it will accept and for some reason the photo edit on this tablet does not have a resize function.

I will try to get one more post in from Gibraltar, if I do not then all being equal the next one will be from the Cape Verdes.

Until then Y’all stay well and keep safe.

***Breaking news!!! Ryan has just let us know that the parts have arrived and he has taken the lads to go and collect them. There is a good chance we will be able to leave late this afternoon.

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