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JordanH 05-30-2011 12:05 AM

Littlest BFS
It was all looking great. Friday, the boat passed its mechanical inspection. Saturday morning, the boat passed the final sea trial and Saturday afternoon we completed the purchase. Due to deteriorating conditions on Lake Huron, 18 knots and increasing and thunder showers in the evening forecast, we decided to spend the night in the previous owner's marina.

Saturday evening forecasted a Sunday sail of 10 knot winds from the south-east, overcast and no rain until later in the day. Perfect for a morning delivery sail up to the new harbour - a mere 13NM dead north. Is it *ever* that easy??

We awoke on Sunday to calm conditions... The WX channel claimed 5 knots and increasing at our destination with a few fog patches along the way. Ok, fine, no biggie, we'd motor until we caught some wind and make use of what we could. The hazy/fog (not too bad) moved in right away but no problem; lights on, radar on, vhf on and then we power on... well, about 1/3 of the way before the oil pressure on the diesel bottomed out and the engine has to be shut down. $#*! (and a few other non-printables)

No problem, there's a bit of a wind and it's building from 1knot - we're a SAIL boat, right? - so we toss up the sails and catch a breeze for a little while... I think it hit about 7-9knots briefly and then drops right off to nothing. nada. glassy great lake. And that's a problem.

We finally figured out that if we let the oil cool long enough, we could then run the engine for a short time before the pressure would drop completely... about 5-10 minutes of run-time for every 15-20 of cooling. It was going to be a long day to finish off the trip in those short bursts! We edged our way to port, a little at a time, stopping to bob around in the zero wind, zero current conditions... it was a bit stressful as my wife (new sailor) and dog were my only crew and neither were too amused at being becalmed without an engine.

Finally, with the port in sight, we prepare to make our final run in... we can't get around the commercial port, into the river channel then up the channel to the marina in one go. We end up becalmed in the gaping mouth of the commercial port... great lake freighters starting their engines and preparing for departure - you have no idea how slow 15 minutes feels while cooling oil and wondering if you'll beat the clock before those freighters depart! Since we can't make it up the channel in one go, we decide to pop in at another marina and call ahead to explain the issue... they graciously grant us use of a slip right near the entrance... sure enough, just as we power into their basin, the engine gives up again and I coast from the mouth of the basin, into the slip on the first go. You have *NO* idea how hard it is to keep from jumping up and down and screaming "BOOOO_YEAH" when you dock, without power or sail in an unfarmiliar port on the FIRST try and bring it in so nicely you can hand a helping hand at the dock the spring line when he doesn't even need it. Just nod and smile as if I had it planned out. :-)

After an hour of cooling at the dock, we fire it up and move into the inner marina without issue... tie up and breathe a sigh of relief. The sky behind us turns black, the lightning cracks across the sky and thunder rolls. *PHEW* Got off the lake just in time! 8-hours of the slowest, littlest, 'big freakin' sail' ever.

I'm home safely now but I think it's time to have a little chat with the previous owner. Like the oil, maybe I should cool off before proceeding.

smackdaddy 05-30-2011 09:00 AM

78 Attachment(s)
Nicely done dude. I'd say that definitely deserves a Boo-Yah!

RobGallagher 05-30-2011 09:15 AM

Funny how things tend to work out in the end. Staying calm and thinking things through certainly helps.

JoeDiver 05-30-2011 09:43 AM

(High Five)

WanderingStar 05-30-2011 12:24 PM

Good story. Sounds like something maybe clogging your oil pickup.

JordanH 05-30-2011 01:05 PM

@Rob. Yes... staying calm helps. "Like a duck, stay calm on the surface and paddle like hell under water." Fortunately I have the ability to acknowledge my stress level objectively and then some ability to control how I deal with it. I don't have a lot of experience skippering my own vessels so I'm sure those more experienced would have been much less tense or stressed out than I was! A first time boat owner on a first sail on the new (to me) boat, dead in the water near freighter lanes with a storm approaching. Perhaps nothing for the old salts, but stressful for me. Accomplishing this has gone a long way to encouraging my wife about the importance of being self-reliant and reducing the panic reaction - "Yes dear, we will be ok because we can do this without outside assistance." Future problems will not seem so drastic.

Wandering star, here's a little background to the engine problems...
Going into this sale, I knew the previous owner had engine issues; He rebuilt the engine and, from what I can tell, did a good job of it. However, it clearly didn't fix the issue. The good news is that I had a little fore-knowledge of the problem so I didn't have to panic and call for a tow.

His original diagnosis was that the connecting rod bearing was worn and once the oil was warm, it would thin and escape causing a drastic drop in oil pressure. By revving the engine high enough, he could increase oil pressure enough to keep it running for a short while. He had the cam shaft measured and all was within spec so he replaced the con-rod bearing as well as piston rings and some other stuff... I'm not mechanically knowledgeable so I'll have to go look at the receipts again to see what all was replaced.
Clearly that diagnosis, or some portion of the rebuild, was incorrect.

The previous owner and I will need to have a little chat before I can get the engine to a mechanic as I believe our Sales Act may have an implied warranty and I don't want to break that by taking any action until speaking with the PO.

I checked the oil, it was clean & clear and once back in the pan it was showing correctly on the dipstick. I don't see any smoke in the exhaust. I'm not mechanically knowledgeable to have an opinion of the cause and will leave that determination to the mechanics who will eventually need to look at it.

Hopefully the PO and I will reach a gentleman's agreement to get this engine running in good condition.

Joe... (High five)!

hellosailor 05-30-2011 01:22 PM

Joe, you might also want to speak to whoever did that mechanical inspection that you say the engine passed. I'd be surprised if your sales contract covered any implied warranty but...50 states, 50 different takes on what's normal.

Maybe you'll get lucky and find out it just needs a new oil pump, or the heat was opening up something (gasket) and making the pump leak.

While you're cooling down, take the wife out for a good dinner and thank her for bearing with it. And of course, bring the doggie home a bag too. (G)

Cbarg 05-30-2011 01:24 PM

if it is an electric gauge i would check and or replace the sending unit before doing anything drastic

SVPrairieRose 05-30-2011 02:22 PM


Originally Posted by Cbarg (Post 735590)
if it is an electric gauge i would check and or replace the sending unit before doing anything drastic

Start cheap and clean, work from there.

JordanH 05-30-2011 02:54 PM

HelloSailor, I'm in Ontario which has the Ontario Sale of Goods Act which is legislation to protect buyer and seller in a transaction. I believe there are implied warranties in there about the condition of goods. I'm not a lawyer but know of its existence so I'll have to see if it's relevant. I'm hoping that won't be necessary as the seller is a stand-up guy so hopefully this will work out without involving the law.

Cbarg, It's an analogue gauge with an electric warning.

I'll have to defer to my mechanic(s) to tell me where to start. I know my one mechanic friend thought it might be better to stop throwing good money after bad and just drop in a new engine. The cost is likely less than $6,500 compared to $?,??? for tearing it apart and rebuilding a 27 year old engine.

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