Position: 37 50.53 S 144 55.09 E
We’re still here in Port Phillip. Last Saturday morning we were at anchor off St Kilda and were planning on moving back alongside the Royal Yacht Club of Victoria so as to be able to spend another evening with Mark and family; however, when I went to start the BRM it went click instead of brrmmm. I spent a bit of time investigating what might have been wrong but without any success. The wind was forecast to shift into the NW and increase to about30 knots. I did not want to end up getting stuck at anchor off St Kilda without a motor so Kate and I decided to sail alongside the north-east wall of the RYCV while conditions were still relatively light. At 1100 we were aweigh and about an hour later we slid gently alongside the outer wall of the RYCV marina … well, not quite. All was going quite well, Kate had dropped the mainsail and Sylph was coming in towards the wooden wall. I was paralleling the wall to wash off some speed when I heard a creak and Sylph jerked to a halt. I had not hauled the boom in quite enough and the mainsheet had caught on one of the palings that stuck up a little from the wall. A little bad luck really, but we were safely alongside and no damage had ensued, at least none that has revealed itself thus far.
From there the club manager organised to tow us to a more secure berth as the strong northerlies that were already starting to pick up were pushing us hard onto the wooden palings which were not in the best of shape. We were later very grateful that Michael had insisted on our move because later, when the wind picked up, we would have been smashing against the rickety wooden slats and no doubt doing a lot of damage to both the marina and old Sylph.
After another pleasant evening with Mark, Mon, Issy and Archer, Sunday morning it was time to further trouble shoot the problem with the starter motor. I investigated the most likely candidates – bad connections and flat batteries – but with no success so, reluctantly I pulled the starter motor out. This took quite some time and required me to lie across the motor and reach down one side and feel for the nut that lay between the starter motor and the engine body. It took me a while but eventually I managed it. Once out I tested both the motor and the solenoid and was pleased to see that they both worked. So back in with the motor and back to fault finding connections and batteries. I tried all sort of things, using alternate batteries, bypassing cables and isolating switches, and using jumper leads but to no avail. We sought further advice from an ex-Navy electrician we had met the previous weekend on board the museum ship, the HMAS CASTLEMAINE. He wasn’t there but another old salt suggested that it might be an earth leakage.
So, come Monday morning I once more pulled the starter motor out and caught a bus to a nearby auto-electrician. They kindly bench tested it for me while I waited at no charge and pronounced it healthy. I was pleased but puzzled as to what the problem might be. Back on board, Kate and I were discussing our recent BRM problems and how the engine had only done about 650 hours. Just for the record I turned the start key to check the engine hours and was amused to see it registering precisely 666.6 hours. “Ah ha!” we both said, that is the problem.
I reinstalled the starter motor once again, rechecked the leads to the batteries once more and once more turned the key. This time the engine sprang into life. Not that I am at all superstitious but just to be on the safe side I kept the engine running until the hour meter clicked over to 666.7.
We have spent the last few days at anchor off St Kilda and in Hobsons Bay, sailing between the two, dependent on wind conditions. I had been hoping to have left Port Phillip by now but we have been waiting for a part to be delivered for the oven and it has taken longer than expected. Hopefully it will be delivered to Mark’s place tomorrow, so it looks like at least one more BBQ.
All is well.