Day 6 & 7, 23 & 24 August
Back on course, heading due north, the winds were directly behind me, at 180° at 15 kts (written 18015). Can’t ask for any better than that. I was fat, dumb and happy.
I experimented a bit. I wanted to see if different speeds affected the rolling. So between 1400 rpms, which produced about 5.1 knots and 1700 rpms which produced 6.7 knots, the boat rolled about 07° in one direction. So no real difference, I did notice that with a following sea, the paravanes were less effective than I was accustomed to. With those same waves on the beam, the roll would have been less than 04°
I also played with the autopilot a bit. I must give the ComNav Autopilot credit. I do not like the way the manual is written as I find it so dumbed down, it’s almost nonsensical, but the autopilot itself works well.
Now, the big caveat, is that with the confusing manual, it took me a year to get it to work well, but it f=does a good job and it really excels under severe conditions. I had no backup for the AP and in the future I will have to address this, as this trip could not be possible without it.
So I set the AP to “auto” mode, where it decides the settings based on how rough it thinks it is. This ends up working fine until it got really rough and then I had to change it to the most sensitive setting to get it to work well.
I was disgusted looking at my track and seeing that I was only 125 nm from my position on the 21st at 7:00 a.m., that’s two days and 3 hours ago, I was pissed. If I wanted to make progress like that, I’d have a sail boat! I could have put the boat at idle, kept the course NE and I would have save a whole bunch of fuel, time and aggravation.
I’ll spend the next 24 hours being irritated at every glance at my navigation program seeing this track that did nothing other than waste time, money, fuel. Thankfully, what I didn’t know was that by adding 36 hours to this passage, I was setting myself up for a ride of the ride of a life time.
I also added 2.5 qts of oil to the engine while it’s running. It uses almost 2 qts per 100 hours, so I just guestimate.
In the middle of the night, We get hit by a 36 kts gust of wind from the west. It made the boat roll 15° and woke me up. The rest of the morning, the winds stay westerly but die down to 10 to 15 knots. This was the end of the nice weather. The barometer, was 1015 mb and starting to fall.
I’d pretty much been running off the port tank since leaving Horta. This tank was not down to 40 gallons, so it was time to start using the new fuel. As I’ve said before, I try not to run any new fuel to the engine that has not been polished (cleaned and very finely filtered). This system works well had I got the fuel earlier and then spent a day polishing it while before leaving. This issue is, I can only polish from the tank that is feeding the engine.
So now on the 24th, I figured I better see what’s going on with the fuel again. I opened both feeds, so I could polish the starboard tank, but the engine would probably still take most of its fuel from the port tank. I closed the return to the starboard tank, so as fuel was polished (filtered) it was also transferred to the port tank. The idea here is that if I have crap in the starboard tank, it stays there, hopefully.
So all day, we polish and feed from both tanks, returning fuel is all going to the starboard tank. As I go do my evening check, I am shocked to see the FP is really full of crap. What does crap look like, large flakes of black/brown material the size of a dime and smaller, plus water. Now, I had run this FP about an hour after getting the fuel on the 18th. It had rapidly clogged the filter, but this has happened before and that’s why I have the FP. So, I had put in a new filter before polishing again.
We ran like this for two days. At the end of the first day, not only did I have a dirty FP filter, but the filter feeding the engine did not look good. This was the first time, I was really concerned because I do not like that this primary engine filter collected so much crap. (the engine also has two filters in line, called the secondary filters that are actually on the engine, just before the fuel injector pump).
So after 24 hours, I switched the feel to the other filter. The next day I changed all three filters while we were running. For some reason known only to the gods, as I primed the right side filter, it was fine, but when I sent to prime the left side filter, I didn’t know what I did, but within about 20 seconds I could hear the engine starving for fuel.
Damn, I spend 4 weeks not turning off the engine and now, even worse that stopping it on its own, I let it run out of fuel, which can introduce air into the fuel lines.
What a BOZO!
Luckily, Larry and Lena, another KK42 couple, had spoken to me last summer in a most effective manner, “stop dicking around and put an electric fuel pump on so you can prime your filters in seconds. You don’t want to be using the lift pump lever with a hot engine” Since I had just worn a hole in my hand using the lift pump lever for the three days I had been trying to get the engine started, I listened and did as told. It had already helped in countless ways, in fact, I had just used it to prime the right side filter.
A clue as to what happened. Another problem with running alone, now I must extradite myself and run up to pilot house and start engine. It starts and runs for 10 seconds. Then silence, punctuated by that loud low oil pressure buzzer. Another sound you never want to here, unless you just turned off the key.
OK, what now, I open the bleed screws on the engine filters. I haven’t had to do that in ages, in fact since the electric fuel pump addition, but just maybe…
Turn on electric fuel pump, and nothing. What the hell?
Look at my valve positions again and notice that everything is closed. Umm, turn on the main line and fuel sprays out of both bleed screws onto the hot engine. Luckily, it’s diesel, which allows you to do such stuff without turning into a Molotov cocktail.
Get my little rag, wipe down the top of the engine and the filters. Run up to the Pilot House and turn the key. It starts, but slowly, then I give it some throttle and it roars to life.
Back to the engine room, make sure everything is set to run, turn on FP again and off we go.
I had done all of this early in the afternoon, the winds were still only 10 knots, but by 21:00 they were southwesterly 25 gusting to 30, as the barometer took a rapid dive to 1010 mb, losing 4 mb in 6 hours.
I had no idea that these would be the best sea conditions I would see for the next 5 days.