St Pierre, Martinique
Phil May and Andrea Twigg
Mon 1 Jun 2015 22:49
We said goodbye to True Colors in Les Saintes and moved on quickly to Martinique, where there should be the facilities to get our engines repaired. Our first stop was St Pierre, where we found a friendly garage that was willing to take some bad diesel off our hands.
Using a thin tube strapped to a stick we pumped out fuel samples from various depths in the tanks. The fuel at the top of the tanks looked better, and we were loth to discard all of the 400 litres that was in the tanks, so we pumped out the bottom 120 litres (where the water concentration was the highest) and topped up with 120 litres of fresh diesel. The fuel looked a bit better after this, but still not crystal clear.
After refreshing the fuel the port engine would start with a struggle, but the starboard engine would still not start unaided. Using the m-prop valve technique, I forced it to run for 10 minutes in order to flush any old diesel from the fuel lines. There were traces of white smoke in the exhaust, a sign of too little fuel getting to some of the cylinders. This problem was not going to be solved without engine repairs.
Up to this point the generator had valiantly continued to run on whatever fuel it was getting from the tanks, but in St Pierre it also started to play up, stalling if we applied a load of more than about half of its rated capacity.
It was time to get some assistance with the problems. Fortunately just down the coast, in the town of Case Pilote, is Inboard Diesel Services who are the main Volvo Penta dealer for Martinique.
Meanwhile, Andrea had discovered the beach in St Pierre was loaded with sea-glass and was happily trucking bag-loads back to Anastasia. In the end she had to ration herself to only the unusual colours/shapes. I couldn’t really complain about the weight this time, given she didn’t complain that I was periodically asking her to immerse herself in diesel.