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Barry's Blog #106 - The beginning of the end

Before we pull up the anchor and head off to our next destination there are certain things that we always do and one of those things is to check the engine. It is something we were taught when we did our RYA courses in Gibraltar.

Generally things don't change and I will admit that there have been a couple of times when the thought crossed my mind to not do the check. The argument being that the engine was okay yesterday, why should it be any different today. Then of course the little inner voice joins the conversation and says "Yeah but what if something has changed and you don't check and then it all goes pear shaped at the wrong moment?" So I agree with the little voice and I do the engine check. About two months ago during an engine check I was looking to see if the raw water (salt water) intake filter was clear of gunk and I noticed that the clear Perspex lid had a very thin layer of black dust covering it. I thought that maybe the alternator belt was the source of the dust but when I checked, it looked to be in good order. Hmmm okay, I'll just file that in the back of my mind and see if it goes away or gets worse. It got worse. So what's the problem?

Without going into super detail and getting all technical here's roughly how our diesel engine is cooled. Salt water is sucked in through a hole at the bottom of the hull, the salt water is flushed through a heat exchange unit and inside that unit are little pipes which contain fresh water that runs around the engine to keep it cool. So the cold seawater cools the hot freshwater inside the heat exchanger. The now hot sea water is expelled back to the sea via the engine exhaust. The place where the hot sea water and the super hot engine exhaust gases meet before being spat overboard is called the exhaust elbow. The environment where the two meet inside the elbow is very nasty and there are two main things that can go wrong in there.

The first is that over time the gas and water openings get all clogged up just like a human artery and the flow of the gases and hot water becomes restricted, this can lead to engine overheating. The second is that the toxic environment can corrode the metal of the exhaust elbow from the inside out.

The second issue is what happened to us and the corroded hole was spewing diesel exhaust soot into the engine bay. It's a bugger to clean and as I write this blog the cleanup operation is still an ongoing process. However my main concern was the engine air intake, because with the soot and noxious exhaust gases spewing into the engine compartment the engine was breathing in its own waste.

So just fix it

The law in Greece is that if you have engine failure and need to be towed into a marina for repairs then your vessel cannot leave and sail away until the repairs have been fully inspected by a marine surveyor. That is an all round expensive proposition, so I didn't want to take the chance of removing the exhaust elbow while at anchor and finding out that I couldn't replace it and therefore have a non-operational engine.

By the time the soot blowing exhaust elbow got to the stage of being really bad we were just a week away from our haul out destination. We'd just have to baby A B Sea the final few hops, sailing whenever the wind allowed and treating the engine as gently as possible. To be honest I was seriously concerned about the whole situation and the tension was knotting my stomach for many weeks.

So where are you now?

We are anchored in Russian Bay at the Greek island of Poros. When we were on our way to Turkey from Spain in late 2018 we spent one night tied to the town quay at Poros and both Aannsha and I agreed that we'd visit again if we were ever in the area so that we could have a proper look around.

It's a very attractive town with a very long quayside which curves around and follows a narrow channel which allows vessels passage out to the south east. The main income sources are agriculture, fishing and yacht charters and a lot of short stay sailors who are either coming from or going to the Corinth canal which is located 35 nautical miles to the north.

After wandering around and exploring the alleyways we stopped for a beer and a wine at a quayside taverna and hooked into the free Wi-Fi for a short conversation with our son Luke in Australia before heading back to A B Sea.

What are your plans for winter?

We actually began planning our 2019/20 winter stopping point while we were wintering in Kas harbour in 2018/19. The reason why we began planning that far ahead was because we could check what the wind and weather were doing in the few places we thought we might be interested in overwintering.

Some cruisers like to stop in a marina or harbour where other cruisers are also spending the winter so that they can enjoy the social life that naturally evolves. Admittedly this was one of the many things we enjoyed last winter in Turkey but this year we knew that we needed to haul A B Sea out of the water to thoroughly clean the hull and apply a fresh coat of antifoul paint.

Doing this in a marina is very expensive and a lot of them won't let you do your own work or let you live on board while the boat is on the hard. While we were anchored at Milos our neighbour was a chap called Gerd and over a couple of sundowners he told us about a small boat yard in the northern part of the Evia channel in Greece. The facilities, the price and the fact that you could live aboard and do all your own work were all very attractive to us. We sent a few emails back and forth with the yard owner, Xaris, and set up a rough arrival date at the end of October when our pre-paid Greek cruising tax ran out.

Poros was our last anchorage before we began heading in the direction of Limni where the boat yard was located just 2 kilometres (1.2 miles) north of the town.

Shameless self promotion

In real time, Christmas is just around the corner and we'd like to share a couple of gift ideas that also give you the opportunity to help support our journey.

The first is to buy someone (or yourself) a gift from Aannsha's 'Mermaids Treasures'. She hand crafts all of the jewellery using sterling silver wire and beach finds and each piece comes with a handwritten note explaining where the items that make up the piece were found. We can ship worldwide.

Click here to go straight to the 'Mermaids Treasures' web page.

The other way is to purchase the book 'Dream On' in which our story is included with several other sailors' stories that all have the common theme of how and why they decided to drop out from the rat race and live full time on board their yachts.

It's a cracking read and the stories are very diverse. The intro on the cover of the book reads like this: Ten sailors, five continents, one harbour. They meet by chance in Turkey and tell of their own personal stories of their escape from the rat race.

The book is available in printed or electronic form and if you visit Amazon and search for the author's name BRAMBUSCH you can then choose which format you'd prefer, it's available in German or English language.

Burning questions answered

And finally in this week's blog we'd like you to help us out in making this year's upcoming end of season Q & A video super awesome by sending us your questions. If there's something that you'd like answered, simply shoot us an email to this address and we'll make sure we include your question in the video.

Thanks for reading this far. Next week I'll tell you more about the beginning of the end.

To watch the video that accompanies this blog click here.

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