Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Joys of Engine Trouble

We're back here again, are we?
It was bound to happen, right?  I mean - we couldn't possibly get all the way to the ocean without any engine trouble, could we?

I think not.

So we'll just consider this little debacle we find ourselves in a "right of passage".

Because, alas, we are down a transmission.  Yep.  You read that correctly, our transmission is shot.  Ugh.  For those of you who aren't mechanically inclined, the transmission is essential for the engine to work.  That's all you need to know.

This morning, we awoke - chilled and chipper and ready to take on the day (and take down our mast) in preparation for the Erie Canal.  After last nights episode, we treated ourselves to a little sleep-in, and then roused ourselves at 9am to make the 10 mile jaunt to the marina where we were scheduled to de-mast our boat.

The Universe had other plans.

I pulled out of the slip and we began to motor out of the marina.  I gave the engine a little juice and we sped up a hair.  And then we heard it.  A random, jarring and VERY distinct clunk clunk...clunk clunk...."What the heck is that!?" I ask Scott.  "Throttle back" he says.  I do, and the sound goes away.  "Throttle up again" he says.  I do.  Clunk clunk...clunk clunk...clunk clunk.  So we throttle back again into idle.  We do this several times, every time with the same result.

Houston, we have a problem.

We decided to limp back to the marina and assess the problem from the safety of a slip.  As we pulled in, I distinctly remember thinking, "I'll bet we meet an engine mechanic on the dock".  A weird thought, for sure, considering there were about 5 other boats at this marina, which had well over 200 slips.

We pull in, and sure enough, a guy pops his head out of a sailboat across from us as we are docking. "Hallo!" he says in a German accent.  "How are you?"

"Oh, okay.  We'd be better if we didn't have any engine problems" I replied.

"Really?" he asks "Well, I happen to be an antique diesel mechanic." No kidding.

Our engine is by no means antique, but the words "diesel mechanic" were music to my ears.
Our new friend and fellow cruiser, Stefan

His name is Stefan, and he is from Nuremberg, Germany.  He's actually making a similar trip to ours with his fiance, so we'll probably see him along the way.  Lovely man.  Anyway...

Stefan tinkered around in the engine room with Scott, myself, and our friend, Bill Flemming (more on him later!) and after about 2 hours - we determined we were at a loss.  We called a Yanmar diesel dealer here in Buffalo.  Bill drove us to their yard, we told them our tale of woe, and they said they'd send a guy over later in the afternoon.

Andy arrived a few hours later and after about 20 minutes, he said, "Well, this is too bad.  Looks like you're going to need a new transmission.  This happens time to time, but not a lot.  I've seen three like this before".

Again, ugh.

Basically, we are stuck here for a few days (at least) while we go through the motions of getting a new transmission under warranty.

Before he left, Andy looked around and then popped his head back into our boat, "You should really think about moving your boat" he warned, "it's going to get nasty tomorrow and this harbor sucks when it's out of the North, plus - this harbor closes tomorrow."  Well, we know how that goes, don't we?

So, Scott and I get ready to move the boat, but it's not so easy because we have 20 knots of wind blowing us INTO the dock and we have to head back INTO the 20 knot winds to get to the other marina, and we can only get about 2 knots (max) of boat speed out of our poor little engine.  Will that be enough to power through the wind and waves we all wonder?  What's up nerves!  Haven't seen you in 12 hours!  Welcome back!

Scott puts the boat in gear (reverse works just fine, go figure) and we slowly pull out and head the boat into the wind.  She moves, ever so slowly, chugging along.  Scott, with great foresight tells me to ready all the jib lines in case the engine dies and we have to sail.  Thank heavens for heavy boats!  We limped all the way to this marina, where we are right now...and where we most likely will be for the next 3-5 days.

We're checking out what movies are playing in town and maybe we'll just treat ourselves to a nice dinner tonight.

We'll keep you posted!  For now, we are safe and sound and thankfully NOT banging around.

What in the heck has the Ocean got in store for us?!


Team Giddyup said...

Oh duuude. Bummer.

Erick said...

Would you mind posting some detail on what happened to the transmission? As a Yanmar owner, I'd like to know what went down so I can learn from your experience!

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