15 December 2008

15-Dec-2008 Noon Position

Atlantic Crossing Day #8
North Atlantic Ocean

  • 125 nm last 24 hours (3 days in a row!)
  • 832 nm from Grand Canary
  • 56 nm to Cape Verde Islands
  • Winds NE 15-20 knots
  • Seas NE 6-8 feet
Ahhh, the sweet sound of a 38hp Volvo Penta.

After another extreme evening and one more large wave coming into the cockpit, the weather has finally taken a break. It is giving us perfect trade wind sailing conditions, right off the stern.

This morning was another flurry of activity as we needed to make sure we could get the engine started today. Otherwise we were looking at having to sail into the anchorage at Cape Verde. Yesterday I had let the engine dry out the last 24 hours and changed the oil/filter. And I left the exhaust open to air out. This morning I bolted everything back together and we both crossed our fingers. The engine just kept turning over and not starting. We would let it sit, then try again. No luck.

I was starting to get worried about the engine's starting battery getting low. The engine was turning over slower and slower. So thanks to a battery combination switch I installed when rewiring Sandpiper, I was able to connect all the boats batteries together. After about 10 more minutes with no luck things were looking grim. I was thinking I was going to have to pull out the injectors to dry out the cylinders. This is a very labor intensive job and not exactly something I want to do when the boat is rolling all over.

We gave it one last shot, then it began to want to start. With much great excitement it started to try to catch, then finally it started. A bit rough at first, then purring along like nothing ever happened. We let it run for about 10 minutes and then shit it down. I went back down in the engine room and changed the oil one more time and cleaned out the filter. After that she started right up to us dancing in the cockpit. We let it run for the next hour to let the engine oil warm up and to charge the starting battery back up. Everything is looking normal again.

We are keeping the exhaust hose disconnected until we need to start the engine in order to prevent this from happening again. Hopefully, in Cape Verde, we can find some cut-off valves in a hardware store to install on both the engine and generator exhausts.

I still haven't tackled the generator, but will try while we are anchored.

What a difference 24 hours makes. We are on a nice sail, the sun is out, dragging a fishing line and hoping to drop the anchor at 10pm tonight. The harbor well marked and we have detailed electronic charts to the anchorage. So we are feeling pretty confidant in doing a night approach. If things so not look right then we will slow down and wait for the moon to come up at 2230h to give us a little light.

Today is a huge contrast from the last week and we are looking forward to being at anchor for a good night's sleep. The beers are in the fridge chilling as I type.

One last note: Our sailmail connection is really slow and we are limited to 10 minutes a day. Please hold off emailing us till things get better as we are expecting emails about boat parts/weather and cannot get to them as our inbox is so full. Especially do not send anything other the personnel text emails only. No forwarded emails as they jam up the whole system!

More later from the calm anchorage in Cape Verde.
Tom and Amy

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