Friday, February 21, 2014

"An Engine, An Engine, My Kingdom For An Engine!"

Well, actually it was William Shakespeares' Richard III in the play of the same name who, when unhorsed on the field at the climax of the battle, cries out, "A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse!" We didn't end up in  the same desperate plight as poor old King Richard but we could have been I guess, if time, tide, luck and chance had been against us. But we did have our own tricky time. 
The crew deals to our first fish. Every time we have caught a Kingfish from Mariner it has always been on the first day of a trip and it has always been off Bream Head, the first headland of our journeys north. This one was caught by David (right). Gerry (left) a keen naturalist was able to give us a running commentary on every bit of bird life we sighted - (Prions, Stormy Petrels, Fluttering Petrels, Skuas, Shags, Gannets, Blue Penguins and various Gulls).
Fair weather saw the spinnaker being flown. A downhill ride with a spinnaker drawing hard and fast is always a joy in moderate conditions - in fresh breezes one gets the taste of what it might have felt like to be a kamikaze pilot.
We caught over eight Schnapper off Limestone Island on our return journey. We had to throw half of them back as they were undersize. This one was a couple of centimeters over the legal minimum size.
The first set of tight situations we found ourselves in were when entering Tutukaka harbour on the Northern coast. The entrance is narrow and the wind was flukey when tacking in. We then had some fun tacking amongst the anchored yachts looking for an anchorage. I wanted to go in nice and close to the land. This meant weaving in and out between yachts and being given some anxious looks by some of the owners. We anchored in about two fathoms and had a quiet night out of the harbour traffic and swell.
The second tight situation was returning to the mooring up stream of the new Whangarei lifting bridge. The first stage had us anchored for the night off Limestone Island. Gerry who had abandoned all hope of sleeping in his bunk the night before and had retired onto the floor of the boat was very keen to spend the night on Limestone Island in a 'normal' bed. He knew the  ranger (Gerry is on the Limestone Island Trust Board) and was sure of being able to persuade the ranger to give us a tow up river, which he did. Gerry complained that his berth was too short and that it felt like he was being tipped out onto the floor all the time. We replied with, "Gerry, you are English and we rest our case." We could have said, "Gerry you an anal retentive whinging Pommy bastard, not happy with just colonizing the world with your redundant stiff upper lipped world view, you also complain like the Princess and the Pea about having a kip in quite adequate sleeping arrangements, so take your feather duvet, unmanly powder puff pillow pretensions and fuck off ashore to unchallenging luxury".
But we didn't say that, for we on Mariner like to take an encouraging Whanau approach to things.
Dave the ranger towed us as far as the bridge, but no further, as he had visitors coming to Limestone Island. We were very grateful for the tow as it is nearly impossible to sail around the last very narrow bend in the river. He left us waiting on the bridge pontoon pondering our situation.
We didn't have to ponder very long because within ten minutes another yacht turned up wanting to go through the lifting bridge to the Whangarei town basin. The yachts owner kindly towed us up channel, past the bridge where close to our mooring piles we cast off the tow line and coasted up to the mooring.
As we coasted in we watched with amusement at the manner in which the owner of this overseas yacht was cleaning his dinghy. He had flipped his inflatable upside down and was vigorously scrubbing the bottom with a brush.
It was a short but eventful trip. All I have to do now is fix the engine so we can go on another sortee up the coast or out to Great Barrier Island (My goal for the next trip as I haven't been there in years) - but I am faced with some very major work which may entail replacing the old engine - time consuming and expensive. In the mean time I have thrown myself into doing a good job of work in the classroom at my school and are ignoring the compelling voice of Richard III.


Ben said...

I assumed that you needed some towing, but not with a longboat I see!.
This bridge does not leave you with much place to maneuver.
Is it the engine as a whole or is it only the cooling system that needs reworking? Can’t imagine that suddenly an engine is no good anymore. (You know I am an technological optimist).
Is there any chance of a next trip soon?.
Here we see the first signs of spring. The first Godwits came over from Africa. So it must be the end of the summer in NZ.

Alden Smith said...

Yes we did need towing all right. You are right about there not being an abundance of room but there is actually more width than the photograph shows, the perspective of the photo makes the width seem narrower than it really is.

There are a number of problems with the engine. First, cooling water is not circulating. I think that this may be because of corrosion in the water jacket around the cylinder head, or the water pump impeller is broken. Further investigation when I get the time should shine some light on whats going on.

The second problem is that the engine leaks oil around the sump plate gasket, this leaks into a drip tray but always seems to end up in the bilge making everything oily.

The third problem is surface corrosion on many parts of the motor due a burst water hose which sprayed salt water everywhere.

Also the main head gasket may be either blown or on its way out. I am going to have to remove the engine and take a good look at it. I will either repair it or look at putting in a bigger (20hp) new or good second hand motor.

I know you are a "technological optimist" - most Dutchmen and women are - if you weren't then you wouldn't trust technology to keep over one third of your country that is below sea level dry!

Not sure about the date of another trip - I will be taking the motor out as soon as I get a window of opportunity (weekends maybe or the next set of school holidays).

Here the nights come earlier even at the end of February - but the weather is still good with much sunny weather.

I am doing well physically but would like a smaller boat. Something without such huge jibs which can be a big ask winching in for a man with a recently severed sternum.

Sorry this reply is so late : > )