Engine room blues

Thu 29 May 2014 17:25
Thursday, 29th May, 2014
Position 30:26.25N 64:39.6W 100 miles to St Georges, Bermuda
Doing my usual tricky bits to get into St Georges in daylight tomorrow, and to avoid the quite difficult reefs around Bermuda during the night. Looks OK just now, although uncomfortable beating into quite a chop with a tad more wind than this particular crusty old salt likes to see. The days are noticeably longer up here, and it is also appreciably cooler, much more to my taste. Later today may be able to ease the sheets a bit, which will be more comfortable. There is an articicial cut through the reef off St Georges, for which a reliable engine is required. So checked it early this morning, and lo and behold, no water running through the cooling system: a bete noir so far as me and my Yanmar diesel engine are concerned. I had hoped that perhaps the inlet strainer was blocked with sargasso weed: this is the easy thing to check and fix, but no, something further down the pipework was wrong.
Unlike 'Switzerland' there is no engine 'room' on my boat, nor is there very much room around the engine in which to work. I was fortunate then to find the problem early on: a completely loose fan belt: did I forget to properly tighten the nut when I last serviced the engine? Anyway seems OK now, and cheerful wet farts from the exhaust pipe rather than the all too familiar drumming sound that you get when the silencer contains nothing but overheating exhaust gases.
Looking forward to Bermuda, about which I have only rudimentary knowledge, and no 'Lonely Planet' guide. As my pilot book warned it has been a very slow second half to this leg, but at least, until today, it has been quite comfortable on board, and I've used the engine on only two occasions, just for a few hours, to push us from one wind system to the next. The next bit, the North Atlantic crossing, feels a bit of a wall to climb with variable sailing conditions plus the odd gale thrown in. Also it will be cold at times: foulies and thermal Long Johns required! Ah well, my choice, and a break from sailing first.