Antigua to Norfolk VA - day 4

Stravaig'n the Blue
Thu 13 May 2021 22:05
End of day 4 position: 26:14.1 N  067:14.3 W
Position timestamp: Thursday 13 May 2021 11:00 UTC-4
Distance travelled last 24 hours / in total: 150 / 648 NM
Average speed since departure: 6.7 knots
Shortest distance to destination: 808 NM

It was going to be another “no news” day until I noticed that the Engine Hours display wasn’t incrementing.  In the absence of much wind the engine had been on since 5am and, ten hours later, the engine hours hadn’t changed.

Not a big problem on the face of it but I knew that the engine hours are counted by a notoriously unreliable piece of kit called the MDI (mechanical diesel interface) which also monitors the engine sensors and plays a part in starting and stopping the engine. If the MDI fails it is possible that the engine won’t stop when the STOP button is pressed and it’s a racing certainty that it won’t start when the START button is pressed.

Keen to understand how big a problem I had, but without thinking things through, I engaged neutral and pressed the STOP button. Luckily the engine didn’t stop. With light winds forecast until late afternoon on Friday we need the engine running until then. And we’ll need it again to dock when we get to Norfolk.

I have a couple of forum posts on MDI failures bookmarked - but without an internet connection they weren’t of immediate use. They have however gone out in an email request to a fellow skipper for information on how to work around the failed MDI until we get to Norfolk.

The warranty on the engine is two years or 600 engine hours, whichever occurs first. The two years are up at the end of June but the engine hours are 621.2 (and stuck there). The law of Sod strikes again. But I may try to claim anyway. There’s good reason to believe that the unreliability of the MDI is largely down to Volvo mounting this circuit board based piece of electronics on the engine where it is subject to extremely high temperatures and incessant mechanical vibration. It is unsurprising that they fail. And to minimise the risk of a repeat of this problem, the new one is going somewhere else.

Apart from the MDI, all is well.