Sunday 23 June 2019

Arctic Smoke and the Jester Baltimore Challenge - Part 4 - The White Knight, The Engine (again) & the Jesters

In the morning around 1000, Bernie came aboard and we considered our plan for the day. It was Friday 14th and a BBQ had been arranged for 1900 that evening at the Tamar River Sailing Club. Bernie suggested we do battle with the engine for a few hours and then if it was still not going, take Mischief into Mayflower Marina for the night and a taxi to the sailing club. Sounded good to me. In practice I was the Assistant and Bernie the Chief Mechanic. He put a message out on the Jester Facebook group asking if anyone had any suggestions and got a message back from Geoff offering advice and help. He was on a mooring elsewhere on the river and would be heading over to Mayflower Marina later. It was too choppy for any dinghy trips. We had a lengthy chat on the phone and Geoff's suggestions were in keeping with Bernie's approach. We agreed to have another chat later once we had got through all the steps discussed. Bernie therefore set to with a methodical approach and diagnosed that there was still a lack of fuel getting to the injector. The replacement lift pump was suspected at first but there seemed to be enough coming out of that. Next up the fuel filter. Not a lot seemed to be coming out of it. So 'we' took it off and it did appear partially blocked. Bernie blew some crap out which improved matters but another would be required to make a proper job of it. I didn't have a spare – just about the only spare part I did not have. I had assumed the filter was new as the engine was sold as fully serviced, but it was clearly not. The pipes between the lift pump and the filter, between that and the high pressure pump and between that and the injector were also checked and possible partial blockages removed. At this stage the original lift pump was back on following the fun and games I had in Eastbourne. Everything was reassembled and the system bled. An improvement in fuel flow to and out of the injector was noticed but still the engine refused to go. Bernie had also noticed that the engine oil had emulsified. We hoped this was a consequence of fuel leaking into the crankcase from the old knackered lift pump but could not be sure. It would need to be changed anyway. By this time – approaching 1530 we had to head down to Mayflower in Jester so that we had enough time to get washed and to the Sailing Club for the BBQ.

That evening The Tamar River Sailing Club put on a most welcome BBQ and it was a chance to meet some of the other Jesters and for Bernie to meet up with Jester friends he had made a couple of years ago when he completed the Challenge in his even shorter (but more spacious) Mackwester, 'Chantilly'. I discussed the engine with a number of the others I the hope of stumbling across a trick that had escaped Bernie but despite lots of sensible suggestions nothing new emerged.
After the BBQ Bernie and I caught a bus back to the town followed by a pleasant walk to the Mayflower Marina where we spent the night on board Mischief. Earlier in the day we had transferred bags of Bernie's gear onto Arctic Smoke to make enough room for me to sleep in Mischief's forepeak and very cosy it was too.

On Saturday morning we did a little shopping including a long walk over to Queen Anne's Battery in order to buy a replacement fuel filter for the Bukh. On the way we had an excellent breakfast fry up in one of the local CafĂ©’s on Union Street. Then it was back to Mischief followed by a trip back up the Tamar to Cargreen and Arctic Smoke where battle with the engine recommenced once again. Engine oil changed, fuel filter replaced, fuel system bled. Nothing, not even a bloody cough, splutter or wheeze. Come 1600 it was time to head back down the river once again for the skipper's briefing and Dinner at the Tamar River Sailing Club. This time with time short the plan was to pick up a mooring off the sailing club and to dinghy ashore from there. So we transferred my inflatable dinghy (which was in slightly better nick than Bernie's) and outboard motor on to Mischief and set off. We got ashore just in time to have a very quick wash-up before the briefing started.

The briefing was conducted by Ewen in his wonderfully laid back, sardonic, self deprecating humorous manner under which one sensed a man of enormous sailing and combat experience who nevertheless took great interest in the welfare of this band of sailors assembled under the Jester banner. We had all signed up voluntarily for this baby Jester and the main theme behind it and all the other was personal responsibility and good seamanship each to his own abilities, capabilities and experience. Turning back in the face of a Force 4 on the nose or continuing into the teeth of a bitter gale were both equally valid decisions. The only outcome that mattered was that we all ended up somewhere safely. The 'rules' were simple, each skipper was responsible for him/herself and boat, no inspections, it was not a race, depart Plymouth from 1100 on Sunday, leave Bishop Rock off the Isles of Scilly to Starboard, round the Fastnet to Starboard (if that was sensible it the circumstances) and on into Baltimore, or put into anywhere that you wanted to. With that message ringing in our ears it was time for dinner put on by the Sailing Club. Food, drinks, making new friends and yarning followed in equal measure.

After the do, Bernie and I repaired back to Mischief around 2300 and headed back up to Cargreen once again.

The start was at 1100 the next morning but the weather was pretty grotty with strong headwinds from the SW and so Bernie and I agreed we would give that a miss and spend the day doing battle with engine once again and leave either the following morning or later on Sunday. I cooked a hearty breakfast and we (mostly Bernie) set too once again. The last line of attack was the Governor mechanism that linked the throttle mechanism to the high-pressure fuel pump. Bernie suspected that perhaps it was malfunctioning in some way preventing enough diesel from getting to the injector. This was a fiddly operation that required gaining almost impossible access to the back of the engine using a mirror and numerous contortions. After a few hours of fiddling and a lengthy phone call to Mark, the engineer who had helped me install the engine we were not much wiser. I had a workshop manual but it was very difficult to establish with the very limited access whether or not the governor mechanism was working properly or not. At the end of all the poking about Bernie got what he thought was a reasonable if not particularly strong spray of fuel from the injector. The result was the same though. Not the semblance of a cough other than a very feeble one with a good squirt of Easy Start in the air intake. Time to face the fact that if I was going to undertake the Jester it would be without an engine. I confirmed my decision to carry on and spent the next few hours getting the boat tidied up and doing a few odd jobs in preparation for departure from Cargreen at around 1900. The weather had moderated slightly but the wind was still strong. The forecast was – Force 5-6 from the South West for the rest of the day and into Monday with calms then due on Tuesday. We wanted to make as much progress as possible before being becalmed. I was particularly concerned not to drift into the shipping lanes off the Isles of Scilly and be unable to take avoiding action! I then cooked a hearty curry which we consumed before our planned departure from Cargreen at around 1900.

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