Digiboat's "Product Testing"
Simon Blundell
Thu 23 May 2013 02:23
16:49.50N 096:07.015E
21/5  1300
Ended up spending the extra, and apparently obligatory, extra day at anchor at the pilot station.
So at the 2100 call-in hour, on our second day, for the pilot boarding assignment for the next morning we stood by the radio for our turn and heard more than half the ships ordered to call back the following day, to our great relief when our turn came we were told to expect our pilot at 0630 the next morning.
This last night at anchor was by far the worst night of the trip. Continuous storms, strong currents and full trade winds with chop and swell meant full anchor watch for Luke and me. Not the typical anchor watch which is usually watching a movie, reading or lying on deck enjoying the night sky. We dragged continuously and the only way to counteract this was to keep an engine engaged in gear, and using the autopilot allowed us to balance the boat and hold station against the wind and current. But as we were still at anchor, we stood at the helm station ready to quickly disengage the pilot and engine incase the conditions changed, ie if the current suddenly turned then we could've driven over our anchor chain.
Although we were stationary it felt as if we were underway at quite a speed. Several times the bow went under a wave and washed over the foredeck.
So after essentially another sleepless night, Luke and I started pulling anchor at 0600 to motor the mile or so over to the pilot boarding launch. While pulling anchor the starboard engine died. Worse case means this is a full supply problem (definitely not out of fuel, but a blockage always likely with the dirty fuel we get in Asia), easier scenario is that the stbd engine had been starved because I'd only been running the port eng for the last few days and the existing fuel delivery system can draw fuel easier from the other engine than the tanks. So as we motor on one engine to the pilot vessel I'm hoping all I need do is bleed an engine.
But no. The worst possible happens - as we draw up to the pilot vessel the other engine dies. Handing the wheel over to Luke I disappear into the bilges and eng room to start the process of changing to a known clean tank, changing filters, cleaning the fuel pump, and finding and clearing the blockage in the delivery lines. Usually all this is half day job, but with the pilot about to board and the need to get up river on the flood tide, there allowed no luxury of time for this job. Luke was instructed to get the pilot onto our boat before admitting that we had no engines, then just keep him company and make out I was just changing a dirty fuel filter.
Fortunately, Luke kept him entertained (although at times I could hear the conversation was getting strained) while I just went through the processes as quickly as possible. After about 45 minutes, the boat had drifted a mile or two towards the shore, the pilot was starting to look doubtful, but it was time to bleed an engine and see if it would start and keep running. Successful bleed, so we could start motoring slowly on one engine to the river, needed to wait 10 min or so to ensure the fuel supply was continuous, then bled other engine and started no problem.
So tentatively wound up the revs and aimed for Yangon. After half hour or so I had confidence the fuel was OK so revved up more and with the flood tide pushing, we shot up the river at 10-11 kn.
An otherwise uneventful and fast and easy passage up-river to dock outside the lock in the middle of Yangon, at 1300.
A successful trip, with a lot of great sailing, no fish but a high standard from the galley, no casualties so all up - Success! (The Jolly Roger's whole demeaner and facial expressions have changed since sighting land).
No more blogs from EO now for many months as she enjoys her facelift.....