Up the creek without ...

Mon 30 Jan 2017 10:28

….an engine.

Things were going well. We’d checked the weather and a five day window was opening up - we could leave with the tide on Monday night. Then on Saturday we started the engine to charge the batteries. It had been overcast and wind less so the solar panels and wind turbine hadn’t kept up with our power usage; we thought we’d run the engine for an hour to top up the batteries. I looked over the stern where the cooling water was chugging out to see an rainbow slick forming. We had oil in the cooling water. 

All the usual ‘is it a head gasket blown or worn piston rings or something else super terrible?’ thoughts ran through our heads then Phil realised the engine cooling system is freshwater, there’s no way the oil could get to the coolant then to the salt water - it had to be the gearbox oil. Ok, we knew the problem, the solution was going to be harder. It’s difficult enough to get stuff sent into Indonesia through customs at the best of times but when we’re already checked out and stuck in a river by a little one horse town…

The grey buildings aren’t apartments - they’re swallow nesting sites, for bird’s nest soup!

Now, you may be saying “But you’re a sailing boat!” and indeed we are. However, there’s no wind here just now, and strong currents running in the river and a dogleg at the entrance to get over the bar without running aground, then we have over 500 miles of sailing into the wind - the wind direction is just the way we need to go, so if we want to do more than a couple of knots and get there before the weather window breaks we’ll need help from the engine. There’s also the Marina in Singapore to consider - I don’t fancy sailing Lochmarin into a strange berth with no engine to put in reverse to stop her - remember, boats don’t have brakes!

Adi and Anam.

Luckily we had our local contact: Adi. He was able to bring out a mechanic to whom we were able to explain the problem. He then hired a car and Phil and hewent off to the nearest town and managed to find a Chinese oil cooler that will do - it’ll get us to Singapore anyway. It didn’t have quite the right fittings but, having been sent from place to place to place and with the help of Phil's ingenuity, a solution was found. 

So we should be able to catch that tide tonight after all but it’s been a worrying few days. 

One small item of interest I thought I’d share with you before we go: on the day we arrived we were followed into the river by a huge thunderstorm with a torrential downpour. I though next day that we’d be able to start collecting rain water when it runs down the deck as the downpour would have cleaned off all the salt water. However, when we got up next day we found the deck simply littered with wings - about 1cm long. There were also little bugs running around, usually in trains of two, the second hard on the heels of the first. They seemed to be some kind of flying ant - you know the kind that grows wings to fly off and mate then drop the wings and start a new colony. These chaps had decided to use Lochmarin for an overnight bonk fest! I decided not to collect the rain water: wings and bugs in my tea doesn’t sound too inviting.