For the last week we have been tied up at Bundaberg Port Marina for some engine tender loving care (TLC.)
When we first noticed the very small oil leak we decided to immediately jump on the problem and get it fixed before it became a major issue. We ordered parts and had them sent ahead of our arrival at Bundaberg.
After two hours of working in a cramped engine compartment and removing bits and pieces of diesel engine so we could get access to the "leaking bit" out came the oil cooler. A bit of corrosion was evident on the leaking pipe, but because the job was so difficult and the other oil pipe was looking tired we decided to replace that as well. Get it done, and then it's done. We ordered the extra parts, and waited.
And waited. Friday came and the parts were not in the mail delivery. So we had to wait the weekend. The only thing to do was eat cake.
During the weekend we gave the oil cooler a bath in hot vinegar for two hours to descale and clean its innards, and we cleaned the engine bay; degreasing the block and engine bay sole and then removing the waste water/oil in a bucket to be disposed of responsibly. We put down new bilge nappies to catch any future petroleum-based residue the engine may produce in an effort to keep these residues from entering the marine environment.
Monday's mail yielded the parts and with gusto we got cracking on getting the engine back together. The oil cooler, parts and pipes were reassembled and the mating surfaces masked ready for painting. The parts had to be painted otherwise the salt air environment of the engine bay would start the rusting process pretty well right away. A few hours later, the parts were dry.
Then the fun began. Getting the two pipes to marry with the holes in the engine block along with balancing the banjo bolts and four small copper washers into a cramped and difficult place to reach took about an hour and a half to get the assembly back on the block, square and well seated with the bolts done to the specified tension. Much swearing was audible.
Once the oil cooler and pipes were back on, the next job was to put the engine mount and engine leg back and re-align the engine using shims under the foot. This was easier said than done. Thanks to the office staff at Bundaberg Port Marina, we were able to use one of the staff's car jacks under the engine block to lift the engine clear of the foot, position the shims, and marry the mounting bolt through the foot into the mount without loosing any fingers.
We connected up all the cooling pipes and made sure no tools were left in the engine bay. The final job was to top up the engine oil and turn the key.
We let the engine run, under load and at cruising revolutions (2,800 rpm) for an hour. Success. No oil leaks. First Contact is ready for sea once again.
On Tuesday 5th June we went to Bundaberg (which is 18km away from the marina, but fortunately the marina runs a courtesy bus to the CBD each weekday at 0930.) We loaded 2 weeks worth of food onto the boat, ready for our trip north. The weather forecasts showed a strengthening wind later in the week. The new forecast is released by the Bureau of Meteorology around 1600 each afternoon, so we waited to see what it had to say.
The new forecast was not horrible, but not flash. The wind was to strengthen to 15-20 knots and then 20-30 Thursday. While not a huge problem for a yacht like ours, the direction was not good. The wind was to turn more easterly making the 30 knots blow directly onshore and make the one and only anchorage - Pancake Creek - open to the the wind and swell.
Rather than leave and get stuck at Pancake Creek at anchor for the next three days we have decided to wait here at Bundaberg. We are anticipating leaving here on Friday morning to anchor in the Burnett River before a 0200 departure Saturday morning so we make Pancake Creek, 70 nM north of us, on a rising tide.
In the meantime, we have supplies.