Engine troubles: final chapter?

NOVEMBER 10th, 2016

Yesterday we left Porto Santo for Madeira. We had decent wind and enjoyed playing with the sails. Faster, faster, hurrah! The wind was between ten and fifteen knots and we were doing between four and seven over ground. The sun was shining and life was easy. Then, all of a sudden, the wind died. With swell and less than three knots of wind, the reasonable course of action was starting the engine. We really didn't want to use it, but there was still about 20 nautical miles left or about four hours. 

We hadn't slept the night before. Mostly because of the disproportionate waves inside the harbor, partly because we were worried about the engine. The night before we discovered the keelson filled with water, coolant fluid and oil. We had been over the fittings, which all seemed fine, and the sail drive also looked fine. We twisted our brains, and remembered we have a small leak below the kitchen sink. The past two times we've filled the fresh water tank, it's taken forever to fill it all the way up. We settled ourselves on the idea that most of the water came from there. Tired and worried, we couldn't find any other explanation than the leak from the coolant system for the salt in the engine room. It seemed to come from the pipe after the heat exchanger, before going into the hose that leads back to the expansion tank. The salt had worn down the rubber in one of the rubber feet. 

Back at sea, with swell and in no wind, the rubber foot broke quickly. The engine was left bouncing back and forth. Our solution was to use a human foot to prop the engine up. The seasick captain did the first shift and the  sailor with the bad back the second. The tears were running from exhaust and worry. Mostly we were concerned about possible damage to the sail drive. Our visiting crew Vilde manned the helm like a professional, and was pleased "to finally experience some actual long distance sailing life, and not just be at vacation all the time." The leak in the coolant system turned out to come from the expansion tank. The gasket on the lid was broken. We were relieved to know that our friends at S/Y Stroller and S/Y Xora were in the vicinity, in case we needed help. 

When we fin ally got into the harbor at Madeira, we could barely sustain dinner before we fell asleep on our feet. This morning, after a proper nights sleep, our minds worked significantly better. It dawned on us that the leak from the fresh water coolant shouldn't be salt. A visit from the Portuguese speaking Volvo mechanic later, we are now waiting for an offer for a new heat exchanger and new rubber feet. However, we are dreaming of sailing to the canaries to change the whole engine there. It looks like a promising weather window will open up on Sunday. Maybe we'll suddenly be in Las Palmas on Tuesday evening?