Day 7 – Fiji to NZ – Port Engine is Toast

We are only 40 miles from North Cape and we have 6 hours until sunset. We are averaging 8-9 knots. We have sailed 192 miles in the past 22 hours, a new Quixotic record. We are surfing down breaking waves making like a bat-out-of-hell for Opua. The waves are breaking onto our swim steps and the wave heights keep climbing… We are running from the seas with 25 knots on our port quarter.

Now for some bad news: We lost port engine this morning. We thought we were being prudent by shutting it down after three days of running it non-stop – turns out that was a huge mistake. We wanted to check the oil level and also dump the coolant back in. We let it cool down for an hour and then topped off the oil and coolant. When we tried to start it it wouldn’t fire. I checked the most obvious things first like the stop lever control and the fuel. I thought the main racor may be getting plugged up so we changed that to no effect. I then went through the process of bleeding the system and had fuel at the injection pump but not at the injectors when cranking (I had them cracked open). We were having issues with the governor hunting lately and I think there is an issue in the fuel control rack and possibly also with the stop lever. This is preventing fuel from being delivered to the injectors. Well in our haste I broke open yet another knuckle and shortly after that I went on tilt and then it was curtains for the port engine. While we were cranking it to get the fuel to bleed out at the injectors we totally forgot about backflow from the raw water system and when we saw sea water dribbling out of the air intake we knew it was game over for that engine. A stupid mistake on our part. The engine now has sea water in it for the second time this year….it was the one underwater in the cyclone. I flipped the decomps and turned the engine over by hand to get the water out of the cylinders. I still can’t get fuel to the injectors no matter what I do. The other strange thing is there is no signal from the oil pressure sensor when I turn the key, but the oil level is fine…?  So we closed off the seawater intake and turned off power. That engine is dead and will need a full rebuild when in port.

We put the spinnaker up so we can maintain speed while working on the engines. But we knew it was time to douse the kite when we went surfing down a wave at 12.6 knots!!  It was insane watching the foam spraying behind the boat as she wanted to round up. I was scared she could turn beam-to, the wind would catch the kite and we’d flip so we quickly doused the chute – not easy feat in 18-20 knots true wind. Our blazing speed has us only 40 miles from North Cape. We have tried our hardest to get behind NZ before the blow. It’s going to be close. I think we’ll be in the lee by 5-6pm and that is the exact time the GRIBS are calling for the heavy rain/wind/seas to hit us. Now that we only have one engine we have to be strategic about our approach angles and lee shores.

We will be rigging up a bridle and warp to trail off the stern if we start surfing too much tonight. We are hoping it doesn’t come to that but you can never be too prepared. The sky is looking ominous to the SW of our position. Tonight will be a battle for sure.

Getting into Opua tomorrow should be quite exciting with one engine and wind on the nose. If our one remaining engine keeps cranking until we reach the customs dock I am going to buy it anything it wants. I may even treat it to a rebuild with it’s brother.

Nobody said it would be easy right? Wish us some luck with the weather tonight. Hopefully the next update will be from the Bay of Islands.

Lewis & Alyssa

South Pacific Ocean
11/11
0000 UTC
33 44 S, 172 48 E
143 T
8.5 KTS SOG

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