Calm seas! Light winds from aft and motors on. We have made 172 miles in the past 24 hours. We are currently 475 miles SSW of Lautoka, Fiji and 610 miles from our destination of Opua, NZ. We have sailed 530 miles since leaving Fiji 72 hours ago.
All is well onboard. We are mostly rested and have our sea legs back. I have the fishing lines out. We have both engines on and ticking over at about 1900 RPM consuming roughly 1/2 to 3/4 gallon per hour per engine. Both are maintaining temp around 154 degrees at the thermostat housing. One issue I’m having is with the port engine. Maybe one of you knows the issue?
The issue is that after long run times or heavy loading the coolant will overflow into the reservoir bottle and eventually will overflow. When I open the header tank/heat exchanger the coolant level is down to where I can’t see it and has been displaced by air. I then have to dump the contents of the overflow bottle back into the header/heat exchanger to bring the level back up. It’s all accounted for so there is no leak of coolant OUT of the system, but I think there is an air leak INTO the system. It’s especially apparent when the engine cools back down and it does not siphon the coolant from the overflow bottle back into the system. I have replaced almost all the gaskets, tightened the hose-clamps, replaced the fresh water pump, changed the radiator cap, but nothing has corrected the issue. When I open the radiator cap (after letting the engine cool) there is a small amount of pressure released so it seems to be air tight. Where could the air be coming from? I guess it could be a small pinhole leak in the head gasket introducing air but I am not losing even a drop of coolant and no smoke in the exhaust. I have also “pressure tested” the overflow hose and cap by blowing into it and it seems to hold pressure. I have no way (that I can think of) of conducting a vacuum test. Diesel mechanics out there – any idea? If you have suggestions please email me at the address I sent in the last blog update. Thanks!!
But for the time being, I have the port engine running at a hundred RPM less than starboard to take some load off of it and try to keep the engine cooler and prevent the coolant from overflowing into the bilge. So far after 24 hours run time it’s OK but has risen to the “Full” mark while starboard is at the “Half” mark with more load. Something I will have to sort out in NZ.
We made water successfully yesterday and topped off our 100 gallon water tank. Hot showers were had and the crew was much appreciative. The genset ran like a champ and my MacGyver water pump fix is still going strong.
The wind is now coming out of the west at 6 knots. This means the low pressure system crossing NZ is either right over north island or moving east. Once the system moves east it will be followed by a 1022 high pressure cell. This cell is the reason we left Fiji when we did. We are planning to ride this stable system all the way into NZ. Late tonight we will begin to feel wind out of the S (directly on our nose); then it will clock SSE and SE by tomorrow afternoon. We will sail close-hauled on a course of SW to our imaginary waypoint a days’ sail north of North Cape, NZ. We should be at our waypoint in two days(assuming no issues and our engines keep cranking – knock on wood). Once at this waypoint we are hoping the forecast holds and we get to enjoy a downwind sail into the Bay of Islands and arrive by Fridayafternoon, exactly one week after leaving Fiji, and importantly – before the next low arrives during the weekend.
Our fuel reserves are plentiful so no issues expected there. We wanted to carry extra fuel as cheap insurance so we went a little overboard on jerry jugs and are carrying about 175 gallons (75 gallons in jugs). At this point it looks like we will burn about half that to get through the high before we have wind from aft to sail again. But we have plenty to run the genset to keep those showers on tap!
That’s it for today’s update. I have to get back to watching my fishing lines and waiting for our first albacore tuna!
***Evening update: Wind and seas are back and the major issue is the wind direction. It’s blowing from due south, the exact direction we need to go. This will slow us down. We just tacked because when I woke up we were heading for Argentina….a long way away and not where we’re headed. So we flopped over and are now heading roughly SW at about 5 knots. Hopefully the wind continues clocking east or else our progress will really be slowed. Frustrating. To quote a line from the movie Master and Commander, Far Side of the World: “We can’t sail through the wind Buckley, but we’ll damn well sail around it!” Well that’s what we are doing tonight. Bashing our way SW around the wind. Onward and upward friends. Good night. ***
Lewis & Alyssa
On Passage – South Pacific Ocean
25 03 S, 174 20 E
7.0 KTS SOG