Day 187 – Genset Troubles

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Sat 18 Jun 2022 05:37
Noon Position: 35 00.0 S 121 51.5 E
Course: E Speed: 6.5 knots
Wind: NNW Force 6
Sea: moderate Swell: negligible
Weather: cloudy, mild,
Day’s Run: 143 nm

The front I had been worrying about over the last few days eventually came
through with the wind backing into the SW at 2025 last night. Up until then
the wind had been gusty and erratic. The wind is still gusty but stronger
and less erratic which makes life a little easier. We have had frequent
sail adjustments and I won’t bore you with the tedious details. Suffice to
say that the wind veered back into the NW a little after midnight which
required a second gybe and now we run before a port quartering breeze under
triple reefed main and 50% jib poled to port.
With mostly cloudy days and short hours of winter sun low in the sky and no
engine, I continue to struggle to keep the batteries charged. The small 1000
watt genset is our only means of charging the batteries other than the solar
panels, and requires fair weather so it can be run on deck without too much
risk of being swamped. As mentioned, the last time I ran it a few days ago,
it was running erratically. I have since drained some fuel out of the
carburettor which was indeed contaminated with water and dirt. After
removing the worst of the dirty fuel the genset ran much better but still
Late yesterday afternoon we had a calm patch so I thought it a good
opportunity to put some charge into the batteries before the weather got too
rough. Before running the genset though, given that it had been burning
dirty fuel, I thought it wouldn’t hurt to clean the spark plug. I removed it
which is fairly easy to do with the right socket, gave it a quick clean,
though it didn't really need it, and then went to replace it. But clumsy me
managed to drop the spark plug into the casing. Initially I thought no big
deal, I will just open the cover and retrieve it from the bottom of the
casing. But when I did so I realised that it was still inaccessible and that
I would have to pull the whole casing apart. Okay, I have done this before,
a pain but no big deal. I get the casing apart and by doing so the whole
insides of the genset fall apart, and then I find that the spark plug is
still inaccessible as it has actually fallen into the metal heat shield
surrounding the engine and that will need to be dismantled as well. I couldn’t
believe that anything could be designed so stupidly!
At this stage I should have stowed the thing and left it for another time
but I am a stubborn person and when I start something I like to finish it.
So on I go. I pull the metal casing apart and eventually recover the spark
plug. Now to put it back together again. With grimy bits and pieces of
genset spread all over the saloon sole, the weather deteriorating and
daylight rapidly fading, I was not a happy camper!
Eventually I got it back together again (the genset that is, not so much my
equanimity) though with a few parts left over, nothing important, just some
fittings from the casing which fits together like a 3D puzzle, and under the
conditions I was working in, the puzzle did not come together so well.
Anyway, it is running again, still on the rough side – clearly it wants some
fresh clean fuel which we do not have. But now the weather is also rough and
the cockpit too spray ridden so I have stowed the genset back in the heads
where it can’t irritate me too much.
I am glad to say that this morning I have gotten over my altercation with
the genset and am once again in a more equable mood. After all, the little
genset despite having been through a lot, has served me well over the
years. And now we have a fresh fair breeze behind us, and while the seas
and swell are moderately high now that we have cleared out from the coast,
they are relatively even and smooth compared with the saw-tooth waves of a
few days ago, so the motion is much more tolerable. And we are even getting
the odd patch of sunshine into the batteries.
Looking at the latest weather faxes, it seems we have a series of frontal
systems marching down upon us, one after the other, with another due later
tomorrow, but Tuesday and Wednesday look like they might be relatively
All is well.