Motor problems and a windy sail from SVG to Dominica

When we had taken our exit test in Bequia we did the last preparations to leave for Dominica. The sail would take more than 24hrs and the forecast promised quite strong winds. We left Bequia quite early in the morning. As it was a lot of wind we had quite little sail up but still manage to sail above 7 knots between the islands (in the lee of the islands we made less speed). We tried to sail as close hauled as was comfortable and thus followed the islands instead of sailing strait north (if you look at a map you can see that Dominica lays almost strait north of St Vincent. The reason for following the islands was that we heard that you can easily get pushed west by currents and by sailing as much east as you can you don’t have to tack, if the winds are coming a bit from the northeast.

Sailing along the coast of Dominica.

All in all, it was a good sail. Even though it was quite strong winds it felt very safe and controlled. It really gave us a good feeling for the Atlantic Crossing back to Europe. We arrived to Portsmouth at the northern tip of Dominica (we were not allowed to enter in Roseau due to Corona) just before lunchtime. When we were just outside Prince Ruperts Bay (were Portsmouths is ) we started the engine and heard some strange sounds and saw that there was white smoke coming out from the exhaust…

We had no idea what the issue was and didn’t dare to push the engine, so we took up the sails again and turned of the engine. We managed to anchor without turning on the engine (first time we ever done that) and prepared for some engine work during our quarantine days. The quarantine would be five days and then we would take another test, and we would be free to go ashore when we had received the result of the last test.

The following day we went ashore to take our first PCR-test and after that we started with the troubleshooting of the engine. We were really, really afraid that there would be something wrong inside the engine, and that we would have to order something to Dominica. The white smoke that came out from the exhaust gave us some clue that it could be water or diesel that hadn’t been burned.

After two days of troubleshooting we realized that the issue was the diesel injection pump. We removed and started taking it apart, and it didn’t take long until we found the issue. A screw to the injection timing advance system had gotten loose at some point and started getting worn down. Amazingly nothing else inside the injection pump had gotten damaged!

Trying to find the issue on the engine.
Taking the injection pump apart in hopes that we will find the issue.
The screw to the injection timing advance system that caused our problem.
Cleaning the injection pump.

Before we left Sweden we found another injection pump in the trash room back home, almost the same model as the one we have. We brought that injection pump with us, and could use the screw from that.

We took apart the pump completely, thoroughly cleaned the injection pump, reassemble it once more and put it back on the engine. And the main issue was solved! 🙂 It was not completely prefect though, we still had some follow-up issues with high rpm when running idle that started after mounting the pump back. After a couple of turns playing and trying different adjustments for the injection pump it finally behaved normal again. By this time we only had one more day in quarantine, so it was pretty good timing.

All in all, it was really good that the engine problem happened when it did. As we could solve it ourselves and didn’t have to order anything it was really good that we could work on this while we were in quarantine.

We took our final PCR test and got the results, which was negative and we were finally allowed to explore Dominica.

Stuck at Vejrø with a broken engine

While we waited for the engine parts we spent our days fixing other stuff on our boat and also explored the island we were stuck at. There where bikes that was free to use so we took advantage of that and took a tour around the island.

We used the bikes on the island and set out to explore.

The beach at Vejrø.

As we bought a bunch of food before our departure from Stockholm we had plenty of food to eat during our stay (no food store on the island, only able to buy small stuff). We also got a lot of help from the people working on the island, they lent us some tools we didn’t bring along and we got to use their workshop.

We also got a lot of work done, for example:

  • Installing autopilot
  • Finalizing bow thruster installation
  • Final solar panels installed
  • Outboard maintenance
  • Some adjustments on our furler
  • … and other smaller stuff

After a long wait we finally got our engine parts, first the circulation pump, which we shortly noticed was broken. There was a hole in the pump house towards the screw attachment… We couldn’t believe we where so unlucky. We think we can use this anyway, by sealing the screw attachment with silicon sealant and a copper washer. We had hoped that we at least could get some refund or reduction on the original price for the pump as it is pretty expensive, but right now the shop we bought the pump from want us to pay full price for this broken circulation pump…

The following day the pulley arrived and we where very nervous when we opened the package, we weren’t sure it was the correct one and as the pump turned out to be broken, we were afraid this could be to. Lucky for us, the pulley was the correct one and wasn’t broken.

The old and “new” second hand pulley.
The broken circulation pump and pulley in position.

We assembled the engine, started it and it worked! 🙂 So on Friday afternoon we quickly left Vejrø and set sail towards Kiel in Germany.

 

Engine problems at Vejrø

We spent one night in Gislövs läge before our departure out of Sweden, towards Denmark. On Monday morning,  September 7th, we left the marina. Strong westerly winds were approaching the night towards Tuesday so instead of going around Denmark towards Kiel we chose to go between the islands Falster and Sjælland to take cover from these winds. How we sailed and at which dates and some small notes can be found under Our route.

We set sail right after we left Gislövs läge and kept the sails up for some time until we reached a wind turbines park that was not on our charts (and our charts are only 1 year old), so we had to start the engine for a while so we wouldn’t sail through the park. Shortly after we passed by the cool cliffs at Møns Klint. Would loved a visit but this time we just had to enjoy them from the sea.

Passing by Møns Klint.

We arrived to the village Stubbekøbinge before sunset, ate dinner and watched some series. The following morning, Tuesday September 8th, we continued the inshore route through Denmark, under the bridges between Sjælland and Falster towards the island Vejrø. Once more we had to run on engine against waves, and finally we arrived to the island.

On the way towards Vejrø we thought there was too much vibrations in the propeller shaft so once we arrived we wanted to take a look at that. Once we opened up towards the engine we first noticed that we had a lot of sea grass in the sea water filter and it was only one week since we cleaned it last time.

We cleaned the filter and continued with what we meant to do; to take a look at the propeller shaft. We loosened the shaft from the gear box to check the alignment. The propeller shaft wanted to be a bit lower than the gear box so we lowered the back of the engine a bit in hope that this would solve the vibration problem.

We started the engine to check for any improvement and as we had everything open towards the engine we almost immediately noticed a strange sound from the engine and by a quick look we noticed that the pulley for the circulation pump was loose and banging on the engine. Not good!

The pulley is attached on the circulation pump shaft with a woodruff key and earlier we have had some issue with the pulley, as it got loose (but did not fall off the woodruff key) and had to be tighten. When we renovated the engine the winter 2018/19 we were also surprised that the pulley was loose when we took the engine apart but after inspection it looked good but apparently not.

Anyway, our initial hope was that the pulley just had gotten loose again but that it was not damaged. If that was the case we could get it back in position, tighten the pulley and at least get to the mainland. But that  is a tricky task as the heat exchanger is in the way, making it hard to reach and see what you’re doing.

Trying to get a look at the pulley to understand what could be wrong.
Trying to get the pulley back onto the woodruff key on the circulation pump shaft.

When we had tried enough, without any luck, we decided to remove the heat exchanger so that we could get a good look at the pulley. Removing the heat exchanger went pretty easy, but it was not so easy removing the pulley. But after a while, with the help of our impact driver, we got it removed.

Heat exchanger removed and after some effort pulley removed as well.

Now we could see what had happened and it was not exactly a happy finding. The track for the woodruff key on shaft for the circulation pump was broken as well as the key and the pulley. The hole for the shaft on the pulley looked like it had been worn out and was much bigger than the shaft.

The circulation pump shaft.
The broken woodruff key.

So, we quickly realized that this is not something that can be fixed and that we need to somehow get a new circulation pump and pulley. That turned out to be harder than we first thought.

The first issue was how to get the parts to the island we’re at, a private owned island with no public transport. But we talked to the people on the resort on the island and solved so we can ship it to the resort. The second issue was finding the parts. The circulation pump we found pretty fast at Indenor Retro, which we had ordered spare parts from before. But the pulley turned out to be harder and we spent a lot of time searching on internet and calling different people to find what we searched for. Finally we found one from Skoogs marin (or at least we hope it’s the right one, haven’t got it yet).

So now we are stuck at Vejrø until the parts arrive. In the meantime we try to fix other things on the boat that we didn’t have time to do before departure and explore the island and try to do some reflections and thoughts about what caused this to break.

As mentioned above the pulley was loose when we took the engine apart about 1,5 years ago, so maybe it was already worn. Maybe the hole towards the shaft was too big from the start and by time it has gotten bigger and finally the impact caused the woodruff key to break. We have pushed the engine a bit lately, due to the waves and wind, so maybe that’s the reason this happened now. When we did renovate the engine we thought about both buying a new circulation pump and also rebuilding the entire cooling system with a new heat exchanger. Instead we just renovated the circulation pump. Safe to say, today we regret that we didn’t rebuild it.

But nothing we can do about that now and here are some things we are happy about anyway:

  • That we can fix this ourselves. As we have renovated the engine completely ourselves we don’t need to hire a mechanic and we don’t need to get towed anywhere as we have packed the boat with a bunch of tools. We went by the motto “The older the boat, the bigger the toolbox”.
  • That the engine didn’t break while underway. It has been pretty strong winds lately and it wouldn’t be fun to get stuck near the coast in strong winds and waves with a failing engine…
  • There are good facilities on the island, really fresh toilets, showers and washing machine and it is a pretty island, a bit expensive but we could definitely be stuck at a worse place. We also get a lot of time to do other stuff on the boat, finish autopilot installation and  bow thruster installation for example.

And we hope:

  • That there is nothing wrong with the parts we ordered.
  • That it is just a question of putting the engine back together and that nothing else that is wrong with the engine. We usually check on the engine continually while running it (our passage to Vejrø was an exception, then we mostly checked on the shaft and did not open the hatch towards the engine). But as we pushed the engine a bit we checked the temperature and number of revolutions a lot and the temperature was as it should be. So hopefully it has been able to cool a bit even though it was broken, but that we will find out when we get the new parts and can start the engine once more.
  • That the vibrations in the shaft gets better with the small adjustment we did.
  • That we don’t have a similar issue in a while, now we want to enjoy sailing and explore new places!

Alternator charges with too high voltage

Sunday also meant boat work and it was time to move Anne-Mon from the winter location to our ship. During the summer we will have a spot in a marina further out in the archipelago, but that is pretty far away so it is perfect to have her next to the ship for a while.

Since we have connected the service batteries we also wanted to test the alternator on the engine. We haven’t done this before and during our engine renovation we didn’t do any work with the alternator, we had just hoped that it would work. We magnetized the alternator by applying 12V to the D+ pin with the engine running. That was the easiest way to make the alternator charge as we do not have all the electrical system i place. The alternator started to charge fine but as the battery voltage started to reach 14.6V we decided to stop the engine as it felt like the alternator charging regulator was broken.

We removed the charging regulator to test its function separately. We connected a 10W light bulb between the slip ring brushes (acting as field coil) and applied an adjustable voltage to the D+ pin. For a working charing regulator the light bulb will light up until you increase the voltage above the regulating voltage. For an alternator like this that voltage is approx. 14.4V. Our charging regulator regulated at 14.7V, which explains why it increased to 14.6V during our test run.

We decided that the charging regulator probably is not malfunction but rather set at a pretty high regulating voltage. In our case that might not actually be a problem as we have AGM and SMF batteries which can withstand 15.0V and 14.8V absorption voltage respectively.

We reassembled the alternator and did a new test run and as expected the alternator charged our batteries to 14.7V and then regulated the charging.

Moving the boat from its winter location. Beautiful sunny day, but some really cold winds.

Once we arrived to the ship we started to get rid of all the stuff we have inside the boat. We got a lot of things along with the boat, some useful and some trash. Some of the things are also our tools and equipment we have used while working in the boat. 

The navigation table. This is an old picture but it has looked pretty much the same since then. It’s just the things located here that has changed.
All things removed! The wood on the table is pretty dirty and will need some cleaning later.
The cabin in the stern. One of the beds goes in the same direction as the boat and the other one goes across the boat.  This is also an old picture but it has looked pretty much the same since then. It’s just the things located here that has changed.
Halfway through our cleaning.
Finally we can access this area more easily.
Trying out the bed in the stern. When opening the hatches to the bilge here the whole area gets a very distinct “old boat”-smell.
Definitely needs some cleaning and renovation here as well to make it a cosy area!
Time to sort all of the stuff. We threw away some, but kept a lot 🙂

As we have mentioned earlier we noticed that our batteries was too high, so that the insulation (with aluminum) on the hatch door touches the poles on the batteries. We want to keep as much of the insulation as possible, as the batteries are located next to the engine, so we started trying to removed the aluminum on the hatch door.

Trying to remove the aluminum on the insulation on the hatch door towards the batteries,
Now our batteries are safe 🙂

We have also had some leaking problem with the small porthole from the cockpit to the stern bed (The porthole can be seen on the picture above, when Thomas tried the stern bed). But that was not so surprising that it was leaking, as the old sealing inside was almost gone.

The old gasket inside the porthole.
We cut a new sealing from a rubber sheet we had laying around.

It was really hard to get the new sealing in position, but after some fighting…
…it was in position.
The porthole back in position. Hopefully we won’t have any more leakages here. We still have some leakages in the big “window” in the cockpit. Our future plan is either to remove this window completely or add a proper deck hatch here instead.

We had hoped that the weather would continue being warm and sunny, but the forecast shows around 10 degrees ( 50 Fahrenheit) and some rain for the next 10 days. This means that we won’t be able to continue with the plastic right now, so we will continue with the electrical system, cleaning and other things that come up.

Electrical installation for the engine

Weekend and Saturday meant working with the boat, and most of the day we worked with the electrical installation for the engine. Our goal with the electrical system overhaul right now is to get the electrics around the engine to work. The rest of the system will we go over thoroughly later on.

How it looked like before in the electrical cabin.
The electrical installation towards the engine in place and some things in the bottom of the cabin removed. Still pretty messy though…
A closer look at the electrical installation in the electrical cabin.
The electrical installation on the engine. The cables represent start engine, tachometer, oil pressure, temperature etc. We use tin plated wires and connecters here. 
The cables towards the batteries in position.
Connecting the cable to the starter, so that we can try to start it later.

We also worked a little bit with preparing the cockpit. Hopefully it will get warmer soon and we will be able to continue with the plastic repairs.

Picture taken just after we bought Anne-Mon. In the autumn we got rid of the plank close towards the door. It was mounted with a lot of marine sealant which we started removing.
The sealant that the plank was mounted with.

Almost removed. The rest is a pretty thin layer which we will be able to ground later.

Next up will be to continue with the electrical system and move the boat from its winter location. If you are interested in reading more about our electrical systems all posts related to that can be found under the tag Electrical System. All posts related to our renovation can be found under the category Renovation.

Now it is Monday and time to eat dinner and watch the latest Game of Thrones episode! We will add a new post tomorrow about the work we did yesterday, when we moved the boat, had some alternator issue and started to get rid of some stuff. 🙂