Well, an update on our sailing adventures is long overdue, and it’s been a different sort of adventure (the mechanical kind). We managed to rig up a jerry can as a fuel tank for the trip from the Hawkesbury to Newcastle, which would guarantee clean fuel but is not really a permanent solution. So on a fresh July day, we picked up two sailing buddies (Peter and Peter) from the Brooklyn jetty and set out at 7am. We almost turned back after re-checking the forecast and finding a strong wind warning had been issued, but decided to press on…
…and it turned out to be a good decision! Once we were out of Broken Bay’s wide mouth the sails caught enough wind for us to switch the engine off, and the westerly winds grew over the day. By the time we were approaching Newcastle it was gusting up to 30 knots, but being a Westerly meant the sea was flat. We ended up having a fantastic day of sailing and even spotted some whales breaching.
Upon settling back into our berth at Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club we turned our attention to the weakest links on the boat: the fuel tanks and engine. So we decided to take the plunge, and purchase new fuel tanks and a reconditioned engine. The old engine came out with much grunting and heaving. It was pulled up to an angle of about 45 degrees and then lifted by the boat yard crane out of the boat. This could happen while the boat was in the water which saved haul out costs.
With the engine out we then tried to remove the old, rusting, mild steel fuel tanks. An empty engine bay gave us a lot more room for this rather frustrating job. The starboard tank came out after a lot of scraping and heaving, but the port side tank was far more difficult. It would not fit through the opening available unless a seacock (through hull valve) blocking the way was partly disassembled. So I ended up cutting the steel tank in half and pulling out the tank in pieces.
We thought the scum in the tank must have been pretty bad, but the reality was much worse. The whole inside of the tank was covered with dried algae from the “diesel bug”, and there were piles of loose crud sitting on the bottom. No wonder we had so much trouble with blocked filters!
So the next few months went by working on a reconditioned engine, getting it ready to be dropped back into the boat. New fuel tanks were professionally made out of 10mm high-density polyethylene. The engine bay was cleaned, sanded and repainted and finally the the engine was dropped back in and reconnected.
This brings us to January, almost six months later, a lot longer than we anticipated! The engine is still not quite ready, the only thing left is some proper engine mounts and the engine alignment, but fingers crossed we should be back out there soon!