May 22, 2014-Mechanical Opportunities Change our Plans
wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Today I got up early to work on the engine. I was looking forward to it just like I was yesterday morning when I got up early to rebuild the backstay cylinder which blew out the day before. I hate to go to bed with a broken boat but evenings are no times to start big repair projects. Working after dark on deck doesn’t usually bode well however the fix went OK in the early daylight yesterday and I felt good about it all day.
Today I had another opportunity. While motoring out of Ballena Bay yesterday afternoon with our newly repaired backstay the oil pressure alarm started chirping. New Problem! Low oil pressure! Killed the engine, checked the oil. Low! Added oil. Restarted. Looked OK…for an hour. Then the oil pressure dropped again. We’re losing oil. It’s not in the bilge, and there is no smoke, so we surmised it was the oil cooler.
When it happened we were 10 miles out of port with 110 miles to go the next port and that is not a city or anything, just another bay in Costa Rica. Couldn't run the engine, the wind was light and we knew it would get lighter overnight. What to do? No other choice, set sail, turn back. We did. The wind was light but at least there was wind. We needed to get back to the anchorage. We turned downwind.
It was 3:00 PM. We figured we had two hours of breeze. Up went the kite. This time it was for real; we needed it.
Set on starboard and heated it up a bit to keep going in the light stuff. Watched the headings in the shifting wind and jibed when we could just lay the harbor entrance. Reached in on port just off the rocks and then hardened up. When we couldn't sail any higher, dropped the chute and sailed in the rest of the way under main. Judy did all the physical stuff while I conned the boat. She is good. In the last wisps of the dying breeze, we came head to wind and dropped the hook when we coasted to a stop. We used the main to back down to set the anchor.
Miller time; job well done.
Today however, it didn't go as well as with the backstay yesterday. I took off the oil cooler and bypassed it but all I verified is that it is not the source of the loss of engine oil. I guess it was an opportunity. Now what? We now think it is an exhaust valve seal.
Time for a mechanic.
We hitched a ride to the nearest town and bought 4 gallons of oil. With that and a little wind we probably can get to Puntarenas and maybe a mechanic.
That wasn't the plan, but that's what we need to do, so we'll do it.
Click here for more shots of us sailing back to Ballena.
Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Costa Rica