Going in Reverse

March 18, 2019

Italy really is a beautiful country, but I didn’t want to be here this long.   The updates to the blog aren’t coming fast and furious because there is so much to do and with Jinhee on board, I would like to spend at least some time exploring and having fun.

My story has become so much more entertaining over the past two weeks, and I do hope that I can laugh about all of this one day.   For now, Jinhee and I are running as fast as we can (aka slow, so as not to melt the wiring in our exhaust stack) to get the boat back to Bari before the weather window closes and Jinhee has to fly home again.   Meanwhile I will be staying here for a while to baby-sit the replacement of the muffler and any other repairs to the exhaust/stack.

As mentioned during my last post, the top of the muffler was very corroded and so I was scrambling in Cagliari, IT to find someone to help either repair or mitigate the effects of a damaged muffler until I could get it repaired.  But that isn’t the full story.

While crossing the Ionian Sea in February, the boat had a low oil pressure warning.  It was curious because everything had just been checked, parts replaced and verified.   There were no signs of an engine leak, so what could the problem be?   At the time, in very heavy seas, I shut down the main engine, started up the wing engine (a much smaller back-up engine if you are not familiar with the boat), and checked for leaks, added some more oil to be sure and restarted.   My oil pressure was never perfect from then on, but I was able to move the boat without too much worry.

In Cagliari, I changed the oil in preparation for the long journey ahead, and when I restarted the engine, my oil pressure was well below dangerous levels.   After some discussion I had the company that did the earlier work arrange to send someone to my boat.   It was all working before, and a number of experts (Thank you Bob Senter, James Knight and Alex Graham) suggested that it was either fuel in my oil (nope) or a stuck/broken pressure release valve (have to take the engine apart to figure that one out).

After some discussions with ADE Marine in Piraeus, they agreed to send Thomas out to check/replace the pressure release valve.   That meant taking the front of the engine off and is not something I could do myself, without special tools and some training.

At first it was going to be Tuesday, then Friday, but Thomas showed up on Thursday (so much comedy missed . . . they almost flew him to an airport 3 hours away by car instead of the one 13 minutes away by car).    Thomas is a very capable engineer who works on this model engine regularly so I was happy to have his assistance.

Thursday we took the engine apart and found out the problem as soon as we dropped the oil pan (to check the shaft and bearings from below).   The mechanic who did the original work had left a rag in my oil pan.   Holy crap!   With all the experts working on diagnostics, trying to get a handle on the copious information I collected, no one could understand the problem and the variation in the symptoms.   Put that in your collective conscience . . . do not leave rags in your oil pan.   It’s bad.

Late Friday (March 15th) we had the engine back together and we were prepared to leave Cagliari . . . except for the weather had turned to awful.   On Saturday afternoon, we finally left and I am typing this as we near the Messina strait.   Our hopes of stopping in Sicily have been dashed due to delays, weather and travel considerations.   Jinhee needs to be in Rome on Saturday morning and the weather window for the boat will close on Wednesday night and we don’t know how long we will have to hole up somewhere.

So we are 50 hours into the journey, have travelled 250nm and are about to go through the strait the wrong way, back to Bari and then Croatia.

In Bari, a new muffler should arrive next Monday and I will have professional help from the Nordhavn dealer to install the muffler.   After the discussions with the Italian engineer at the dock in Cagliari, I am going with experienced help.   I will be the apprentice during the operation so I can see how the work is done.

If you are not familiar with the Ionian Sea/Adriatic Sea, then you may not realize that Bari is about 65 nm (nautical miles) from where I fuelled up in Albania, just over a month ago.  I am clearly going backwards, but instead of being upset, I am going to enjoy the time in the Med, with Croatia being the focus for at least April through August.

I know none of the people who worked on my boat will be reading this, but I would like to give a little shout out and a thank you to the people who have assisted me in Cagliari.  Despite the lack of meaningful resources to be found for my very specialized problems, the people were, once again, fantastic.

The boat was moored at Marina di Sant’Elmo (Saint Elmo’s fire anyone?? probably not related at all, but it brings the movie to mind) and the folks there were very helpful, the prices were excellent and while there, the area endured three very significant wind storms and the boat was well sheltered on high quality docks.   Marina di Sant’Elmo

SoleMar found oil and filters for my oil change (it took forever, but still they found the right stuff for me).  As well, bits and pieces needed to reduce the risk of running on my damaged muffler.  (Solemar’s Website)

The folks at NauticaStore also helped me with a wide variety of bits and pieces and were happy to redirect me to places where I could find things that they didn’t carry.  (NauticaStore’s website)

If you ever find yourself in Cagliari, these people can help you . . . just give them time.

That’s it for now.  When you read this, it will be an older posting.

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