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Barry's Blog #151 - That annoying beeping sound

Updated: Oct 10, 2020

We've always freely admitted that we are travellers before we are sailors and we've copped a lot of online flak for that from purist sailors who'll have full sails out at even the hint of a whisper of breeze and are quite happy moving along at 2 knots per hour. That's not fun for us for several reasons.

Let's say for example that we estimate that getting from 'island X' to 'island Y' will take us 8 hours at 5 knots, that's approximately a 40 nautical mile trip. At 2 knots of speed the same trip would take 20 hours.

So at 5 knots we can get started around 08:00 hours and expect to arrive at 16:00 hours which gives us plenty of daylight to drop anchor in an unknown anchorage or move on to anchorage plan B or C.

There are three ways we can get that 5 knots speed: put the sails out if the wind is favourable, use a combination of sails and engine or just use the engine. Over our time on A B Sea we've used the engine quite a lot and that means the sound of the engine running normally is etched into our unconscious.

Near to the end of July 2020 as Aannsha and I were motoring south and east along the coast of Turkey on our way to Kaş the engine of A B Sea did something out of the ordinary and instantly we both glanced at each other indicating that neither of us had imagined it.

It was just a little misstep, a fleeting moment when the engine revs dropped slightly and then recovered. At the time we thought that maybe something had caught around the propeller, maybe we'd snagged an old fishing line. Either way the engine returned to running at its normal speed and sound. We shrugged it off. In a future blog you'll find out the significance of this seemingly insignificant moment.

Off to Kekova

After arriving at Kaş marina, doing some more maintenance and settling in it was time to slip the lines and head off to Kekova Roads which is 18 nautical miles to the east. Accompanying us on this planned week long trip was Jim on Acheron and Kev on Barbara Ann. The plan was to check out some new anchorages that we didn't manage to see when we last visited in early 2019.

On the way to Kekova we noticed that we seemed to be blowing a bit more light coloured smoke out of our exhaust than was usual. It was a Hmmm moment. We continued our trip.

Just as we got to the entrance to Kekova I heard a quick beep from the engine control panel at the helm. It was gone before I had a chance to glance down to see what it was. Some minutes later it beeped again. This time I was watching and the end red light on the control panel briefly blinked on at the same time that the beep happened. It was the low oil pressure light. That wasn't good.

We continued on to our first planned anchorage with the beeping and the corresponding red light becoming more insistent. As we prepared to drop the anchor and went into engine tick over, the beep and the light were fully on. It's an annoying sound and rightly so because all it made me want to do was to switch the engine off to stop the noise.


As we were safely anchored and the engine was still too hot for me to do any poking around we decided that we'd ask Jim and Kev (they both have experience with engines and tech) what they thought might be wrong. The collective opinion was that it was either a blocked oil filter, a blocked oil sensor unit or a failed oil pump. Those three possibilities would be checked out the following morning, right now it was time for sundowners.

The next day I opened up Nigel Calder's Boatowner's Mechanical and Electrical Manual and read what he had to say on the matter at hand. He had several options that would cause the low oil pressure warning light to come on and I decided to start at number one and work my way through the list.

Point number one was not enough oil in the engine. I'd checked the oil level when I W.O.B.B.L.E'd the engine before we left Kaş marina. The dipstick showed the oil level at slightly below the top notch. Here at Kekova I pulled the dipstick, wiped it clean and dipped again. The oil level was now slightly below the bottom notch. The beeping and oil pressure warning light had been indicating a very low oil level. That wasn't good.

I topped off the engine with fresh oil and visually checked the bilge area in the engine compartment, there was not a drop of oil in the bilge, therefore there were no leaks. Hmmmm.

Had I made the rookie mistake of not wiping and double dipping the dipstick at Kaş marina? I honestly can't remember as we'd been in quite a hurry to slip the lines and get moving. This was something that I'd have to keep an eye on. Meanwhile we were in the beautiful Kekova area and it was time to begin exploring.

Ancient ruins

We stayed at the first anchorage of Sıçak Koyu for 2 nights and enjoyed a hike to the sunken port ruins on the other side of the land spit followed by a welcome cold beer at one of the two restaurant jetties. Then on day 3 we upped anchor to head further into the Kekova anchorage area to Üçağız. That night all four of us dined at the famous Hassan fish restaurant and the following morning Kev, Aannsha and I took a 30 minute hike up to the fort/castle that sits atop the hill overlooking the sunken city and the many restaurant jetties of Kaleköy. This fort/castle boasts the smallest amphitheatre in Lycia and the views are spectacular.

In next week's blog I'll tell you all about the journey back to Kaş marina and how we discovered exactly how much oil we were burning through. Until then stay safe.

To watch the video that accompanies this blog click here.


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