Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Sometimes you wished you'd stayed in bed

It was one of those mornings. I'd been sleeping fitfully, frequently waking up listening to the creaking and crashing around me. Finally I'd had enough and got up determined to trace the source of the loudest insomnia inducing crashing which seemed to be coming from the engine. Opening up the engine compartment revealed a flood of bilge water. OK, so first trace the problem; it turned out to be a dripping stern gland. Next empty the bilge; after a minute pumping, the electric bilge pump blocked. No problem; change to the manual bilge pump. After 10 minutes exercise working the pump, I was wide awake and all thought of trying to catch up on sleep had vanished for the morning. Finally the bilge water was down sufficiently to not cause alarm, not empty, but it would do for a while. Next I set about trying to sort out the stern gland. I suspect that the new engine mounts have "settled", causing the engine to move out of alignment and the stern gland to develop the leak. However realigning the engine is a job for a quiet anchorage, not a rolling boat on passage. Instead I choose to tighten up the gland which should temporarily solve the problem. The long protruding bolts meant that the job required a long socket which I know I only have in a couple of select sizes. Amazingly one of the few long sockets fitted the stern glad nuts so I was all set to start work. Rather quickly I dropped the socket into the not quite empty bilge. Fortunately this isn't the first time tools have vanished into the bilge and I've acquired a magnet for just such occasions.

By this time Charlotta had decided we should take the reefs out of the mainsail as our speed was dropping away. Afer a quick degrease I was on deck lending a hand to shake out the reefs, then returned to the bilge and fishing with the magnet - only to find the socket appeared to have rolled away in the meantime. Eventually the magnet engaged with something metallic and wonders of wonders the socket emerged. Finally with the stern gland tightened, and half a turn of grease added, the water stopped. Now, I set about unblocking the bilge hose, and pumping out the remaining water with the electric pump. Finally I mopped up the water that made its way into the engine tray and created a sludgy mess by mixing with some oil. Finally breakfast and I'd completely forgotten what I'd original got out of bed to do!

While I was "just in time" maintaining the boat, up on deck the self-steering was competently continuing to steer us towards Australia. I emerged blinking mole-like into the the midday sun and discovered that we'd been blessed with another good trade-wind sailing day; a little more wind would be preferable but it's a comfortable ride and we're making reasonable progress.

Today was the perfect day for papaya crumble making. However our bananas are in most need of consumption so we postponed the crumble and Charlotta used up the remaining bananas in some bread. According to the recipe book it's best on the third day - think it will be lucky to make it past the first day.

Lentils and aubergine for lunch and it looked like we'd be reaching for the can-opener for supper, when the fishing line took-off; a small "two day" yellow fin tuna. Time from landing to eating 25 minutes - we're working to reduce that time, but it takes 20 minutes to boil the rice to accompany the steaks. Almost worth sleep deprivation for.

We've made contact with Mata'irea, who are a day behind us, but catching up fast, and are heading for the same break in the Great Barrier Reef. It's reassuring that others are trying the same entrance we've chosen, as we've yet to hear of another boat using it. Then again, they "knocked off some bottom paint" on the coral entering Peterson Bay in Santo, so rather than "great minds think alike", "fools seldom differ" might be more appropriate. We'll see how they are progressing this evening when we talk on the radio, might have to get the cuising chute out to defend Kika's honour.

Position @ 19:00 (GMT +11): S12deg 55.8' E155deg 55.4'
Distance to Raine Island Entrance: 700
Daily run: 124.8

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