Leg 2: Diesel Dilema

This leg was from Morro Bay, California to...well we didn't have much choice...Monterey. That's OK, because Monterey is a great place. We originally planned, as in the previous leg, to make San Francisco Bay. It wasn't to be!!!

The crew: Brave Miguel...back for a second helping, Tony the Tiger...just for fun (fooled him good), and Steady Steve...cause he's a sailor, and me...the skipper!

Now if you remember from the first leg, we lost the mainsail. In Morro Bay, it had to be chopped out of the main mast (it's a main roller furling system) with a utility knife as it was jammed in their pretty tight. Well, I ordered the new sail which never quite made it by departure time. (It was stuck in Alaska at customs...computers down...on it's way from Hong Kong!!!) That minor detail did not daunt us, for we had a backup plan in place. We rigged the storm tri-sail to the mast, complimented by the staysail and a yankee jib. We got a few strange looks as we sailed out of Morro Bay...wonder why??? Turns out we didn't need any sails...NO WIND...shit!

Not to bother...we have an engine ya know! A big one! A Perkins 130...VROOM! VROOM! SWOOSH! So here we are trundelling up the coast for what seemed like a long time.

I have two diesel tanks, each 75 US Gallons. One goes dry, the other one's full. There's a manual procedure for switching tanks over, after the engine has suffered fuel starvation. The fuel pump basically starts sucking air. This sucks!!! One (I) must start ridding the fuel system of air, affectionately known as "BLEEDING THE SYSTEM". Here's the procedure:

  1. Remove floorboards (no, not all of them, the ones beneath which the fuel tanks and valves are located)
  2. Check fuel levels in both tanks, using wooden dowels. This will confirm indeed whether this is really the problem.
  3. Switch over fuel and fuel return valves. These are clearly identified. If you can't figure it out, you shouldn't be leading this job...get a replacement...and also remember that the boat is drifting, remember...NO WIND...and now... NO ENGINE! Take approproiate actions to deal with this.
  4. Move your butts (you need 2 for this job...unless you are creative...and double-jointed) to the engine area, one on one side of engine, the other on the opposite side. (oh yeah!...bring the right tools)
  5. Loosen stage 2 filter bleeder valve (One shouldn't strip the threads on this...I did)
  6. Loosen fuel pump bleeder valves (2 of 'em). That takes care of one side of the engine.
  7. Pump the manual fuel pump which will cause air, and fuel to "BLEED" from the bleeder valves. Pump hard, and pump to the extremity of the pump cycle...and be prepared to switch hands, because it gets tiring.
  8. When only fuel comes out of the bleeder valves, keep pumping because there is more air to come...do an extra 2 to 3 minutes more.
  9. At this time close the bleeder valves (hard to do when you've (I've) stripped the first bleeder valve).
  10. "Brainstorm" the stripped valve problem, implement the best suggestion.
  11. In our case, teflon plumbing tape wrapped very tightly around stripped bolt...followed by a little prair in each of the dominations on board...I went and used the head.
  12. Crank the engine over in 15 second bursts, wait repeat.
  13. Engine started after 3 bursts!!!
  14. Engage and carry on.

Of course if you switched the tanks before the engine croaked, you would probably skip a couple of beats and continue along. I haven't experienced this yet, but I am experienced on the above procedure. However, I'm having tank tenders installed to easily monitior the state of all my tanks. Very nice!!! Installation is proceeding as of the time of this writing.

OK, so back on track, pointed to our intended destination...for about an hour...in the vicinity of Carmel...about 10-15 miles southwest.

Engine starts vibrating more than usual,

Excessive smoke coming out of exhaust...then smooth running engine...kinda peeeerrrrrring...the result of removing load from engine, as in going into neutral...except you're in gear. HHHMMM!!!

The so called "LOAD" happens to be the shaft and propeller. GEE! Now we're F@$!ed!!!

Remember...NO WIND...and now... NO PROPELLER! Take approproiate actions to deal with this.

Now seasickness usually set in when boat is bopping up and down with the ~~~~~swells for an extended...in our case, 22 hours...period of time! I, of course, am immune to this (so far) while the rest of my crew suffered various degrees of nausea. I rebuilt the forward head with occasional disgusted stares from the crew in the cockpit.


Lets give it til 2pm...2pm comes and goes...winds gotta start blowing at about that time...let's wait till 3pm...HHHMMM!!!...3:30 then...YYYYEEEESSSS!!!

Sailed into Monterey, anchored, half of crew escaped to shore, 2 left. Anchors holding...dinner!

Tow and haul-out next morning!

Weekanahalf later...new sail arrives (remember!)...$3.2K...engine and prop remarried...engine realligned and tuned up...$2.4K

End of diesel dilemma!!!