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Barry's Blog #124 - Covid-19 and diesel bug

Grinning because we had a win

Here in Greece the measures to manage the Covid-19 virus are changing from day to day, when we recorded this week's video the government had just announced a ban on vessels entering Greek ports and harbours and moorings. As I write this blog the government have further announced a total lock down across Greece. People must stay at home and register with the local police if they are going out to shop for essentials.

Here at the boatyard we are all self distancing and self isolating. In the small village of Limni only essential businesses like the supermarket, butcher, baker and pharmacies remain open.

Family and friends have asked us how we are managing and without sounding glib, things are pretty much the same for us. We do boat jobs (weather permitting), film ourselves doing boat jobs, edit the segments together, publish the end result to YouTube, write our accompanying blogs, publish those to our website and manage our social media presence. Rinse and repeat each week.

Things will only become normal again once the virus escalation is under control, the movement restrictions have been removed and we're back in the water and heading for Turkey. How long that will be is of course the million dollar question.

Heed all advice

After seeking advice on the Interwebs from fellow Jeanneau owners we got stuck back into our attempt at removing the prop shaft. We'd been advised that we'd need to de-couple the flange from the gearbox as there was a locking nut on the end of the shaft inside the flange.

The de-coupling was easy enough but there was no locking nut to be found. Aannsha suggested that a single hex bolt sticking out of the side of the flange should be removed, sounding very confident in my reply I said "No, it's not that."

After much pushing, pulling and banging with heavy objects and assistance from Juliano the only thing left was to take out that hex bolt and hey presto once it was removed the prop shaft was easily detached from the boat. In this week's video you can hear Aannsha giving me a very polite 'I told you so.'

With the prop shaft out we could remove the stern gland and order in a replacement, it felt good to be moving forward.

1 job - 20 hours

When the exhaust mixing elbow rusted through from the inside and dumped copious amounts of oily diesel soot all over the engine and engine bay we knew we had a big clean up job on our hands.

But this week after 20 hours of knee hurting, back twisting contortions and more soot than the Sooty & Sweep TV show, we both came to the conclusion that we'd got the engine and engine bay as clean as we could. That's a huge weight off our shoulders.

I don't want to look

I could've saved myself a lot of anxious thoughts over this winter if I'd just topped off the diesel fuel tank when we first arrived at the boat yard and the weather was still warm. But I didn't and as the weather got colder a tipping point was reached where either A) condensation had formed on the inside walls of the fuel tank and there was no point in filling the tank with diesel because it would all need to be pumped out and run through filters to remove the water and any diesel bug or B) because we were not living on board and creating heat the ambient temperature inside the tank was the same as outside and no condensation had formed.

Today was the day I was going to find out. First let me explain what diesel bug is.

Any fuel tank with an air pocket can produce condensation on the inside of the tank walls, when the temperature falls far enough. That condensed water eventually sinks to the bottom of the fuel tank taking with it contaminants that include microbial bacteria, fungi and algae.

These little life forms live in the separation layer between the water and diesel where they live off the oxygen in the water and eat the diesel. The microbes have a very short life but before they die they multiply at a very fast rate and produce waste deposits which descend to the bottom of the fuel tank. One bacteria microbe can reproduce more than 7 million microbes in 24 hours.

The created sludge is eventually sucked out of the fuel tank and passes through the engine where it will eventually block things up and the engine will stop running, usually at the most inconvenient moment.

Removing the inspection hatch on the tank was fairly easy and using a scuba diving torch I was able to see the deepest part of the tank and to my relief it was pristine, I'd dodged a bullet.

With the tank sealed up again it was time to fill up the tank with diesel. The local fuel station will come with a mini tanker to the boat yard but only if the fill is for 100 litres (26 gallons) or more. As I didn't know how much we'd require I decided to do it the long way, filling up 20 litres (5 gallons) at a time using our jerry cans.

After five trips to the local fuel service station on the boatyard scooter and 125 Euros (AU$227) lighter in the wallet I'd put 100 litres (26 gallons) into the tank and it sounded like it was full.

With that done I added a biocide to the fuel mix which prevents any diesel bug nasties from surviving in the tank and so that A B Sea's engine can get a good clean internally some engine cleaning product was added too.

So that's one job that is 100% complete on the boat jobs list. We're hoping to get more jobs to the 100% mark in the coming days and I'll tell you about those in next week's blog.

To watch the video that accompanies this blog click here.

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