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Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Best Laid Plans....

We were due to head down to Vancouver today, stopping at a nice island called Jeddidiah overnight. In Vancouver we planned to meet up with Owen and Amanda, great friends from the UK and take them for five or so days sailing.

The sailing gods had other plans. In fact, today it was the turn of the evil god of diesel engines. Up till now he has, thankfully, left us well alone and we've offered tributes of fresh oil and filters at regular intervals. But the gods are capricious, so when the engine was slow to start this morning, I looked at the fuel supply system before we pulled up the anchor.

There was an ominous whiff of diesel and a slow drip drip drip around the injector pump. This is a complicated bit of kit that takes fuel from the final filter, jacks it up to high pressure and squirts it into the cylinders. I pulled out the manuals and poked about a bit but it quickly became apparent that we needed a professional opinion. One of the skills I have been developing over the years, and it's a costly training course, is when to stop meddling and call in someone who really does know what they are doing. With tolerances to a thousanth of an inch, injector pumps clearly fall into that category.

So we now know that the leaky bits can probably be repaired without removing the pump from the engine, but it's a careful job because there's lots of tiny parts to lose. That would get us going again but the pump is probably in need of removal and overhaul, a fairly lengthy and costly job. Given that we have just a few weeks left of active cruising before we have to get stuck into proper life ashore, we'll probably try to do the quicker fix then prepare to overhaul or replace the entire engine during the winter.

For the four years we've had the boat, we knew the day would come when we have to make the 'good money after bad' decision about the engine. It can certainly be rebuilt, but it's likely that the cumulative wear over its twenty year life is high enough to make it a close call between rebuild or replace. Both need this engine to be lifted out of the boat, a complex procedure in itself. We've got some more time to think about it, it would have been nice to have got through the next six weeks before this happened but hey, such is life.

So we'll now limp down to our berth in Nanaimo, where we can stay comfortably and be within easy reach of mechanics and other good boat stuff, as well as plenty for us to do when not aboard. We can run the engine enough to get in and out of harbours and anchorages, and it's only sixty miles south. Unfortunately, the wind doesn't blow much round here in the summer so it will probably be a slow sail but the upside is that we can stop almost anywhere when the weather is this calm. We'll leave early in the morning.

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