The swelling around my eye has now spread across my eyebrow and eyelid. It looks like I’ve had a 4 year old experiment with purple and blue eyeshadow. Soothing the pain with Ibuprofen and being overly careful. I can’t bare to look in the mirror, it’s too depressing.
The direction of the wind is coming directly from South West - the direction we need to go in which means we are being pushed East. Unfortunately it’s not possible to sail directly into the wind. It’s times like these, when the wind is sending us in the wrong direction, it would just be great to stick the engine on and continue on the desired course. We can’t, as our engine is still not working. It’s starting to sink in that we have engine failure. Gulp! This means we can’t escape unwanted oncoming tankers, storms, sharks, pirates etc. The last 2 are not even realistic but being so exhausted, my imagination is in over drive.
It’s about 2am during mine and Karla’s watch and we are at a loss at what to do, we don’t want to be heading East especially after our storm escaping detour. I decide to wake Jason, in hope that he may have a brilliant idea. Turns out we are pretty screwed. It’s now about 3am and after looking at weather grib files, our route and current wind movement Jason and I go through our options. The most attractive option right now is to divert to the Cape Verdes, get the engine fixed, refuel the tanks and our fruit supply and then continue our journey. However by doing this we would need to detour several hundred miles and lose at least a couple of days, in addition to what we have lost already. Another con would be the possibility of losing Stu as he has his family arriving in St Lucia on the 9th for a weeks holiday and at this rate we might not be able to make it there before the 13th. Which is inconvenient for us too as Tommy and Jasmine are arriving on the 12th. Another factor to consider, we would need to be towed into Mindelo marina due to engine failure and try get an engineer lined up. We figured that if we could just try get the engine working then we could motor to Cape Verdes and save quite a bit of time. Stu and Jason now have the floor boards up in the salon and trying to troubleshoot the engine. We work through a process of elimination. First thing is the impeller. We detach the water supply and bung it quickly to prevent flooding. Next thing I know, I’m in the engine room unscrewing the component where the impeller lives. I’ve never touched an engine before and now I feel like a contortionist, hugging a gigantic engine under the floor boards of our home! Jason has already lost one of the spanners down in the bilge, I’m using the last one we have of that size and we don’t have any spare bolts. No pressure! I’ve successfully got the cover off, Jason and Stu inspect the impeller and it all seems to be ok. Back on with the cover for the impeller and the water inlet is tightened back on. The guys check the engine thoroughly again to check if there is anything noticeably out of place or damaged. Everything seems fine. The Volvo Penta manuals are now out and Stu is going through every chapter. It’s approx 5am and we’re sweltering in the salon but absolutely determined to fix this damn thing!!!
Getting some fresh air outside, Stu perks up and tells us that his future father-in-law is a Volvo engineer and figures he’ll be up within the next hour to head off to work. We have a sat phone on board so at around 6am he calls, no answer. He then tries Amy (his finance), she informs us that it’s Sunday! We’ve totally lost the plot calling people this early on a Sunday and probably causing all sorts of panic. Finally we get through to Amy’s dad and he advises we change the secondary fuel filter, our luck is in as Jason has one of these in his engine spare parts box, and it seems easy enough to change. The new fuel filter lives under our bed, which has now been tipped upside down, out with the engine spares box and the guys crack on with changing the filter. It’s still boiling hot, the guys have sweat dripping off their faces down into the engine room and we all have so much hope that this should get it working. Until we realised the bleed pump isn’t working properly and now a bit stumped on how to bleed the engine through. By this point it’s about 7am, I had been up since 12am and so decided to get a few hours of sleep and left the guys to it. They continued to tinker, changing the other filter and draining it to find a load of sediment. I am told that sediment sits on the bottom of the tanks but since we were bouncing up and down in the storm it must have mixed in with the diesel and therefore made it’s way through the pipes and into the filters. The engine is still not working!
I opened the cabin door 4 hours later to find it spotless and walked outside into the cockpit to find Stu on an absolute mission. He had cleaned the galley, salon, cockpit and even washed and hung up some dish towels. What a luxury! Jason sits me down and says “ We’ve been thinking, what do you think about just heading straight for St Lucia and not stopping?” Hand on. What has happened in the last few hours? Neither Jason or Stu had got any sleep and they were now reconsidering our diversion and so determined to get to the other side and complete our voyage, with or without a working engine. “Sure!” I said, their faces were now beaming, the boat was ready thanks to Stu and our crew morale was now increasing and determined as ever. We figtured if all those legends, years and years ago could do it without an engine that why couldn’t we! We just need to get into the trade winds which were about 50 miles South of us, and who knows with all those days at sea we might be able to fix the engine too. Worst case scenario we’d just need a tow into the marina at the other side. We would also save some time by not stopping at Cape Verdes, initially to fix and refuel the tanks but at this point there is nothing to refuel as we won’t be using or needing any diesel for the engine and have enough in the tanks to run the generator.
We reached out to Jason’s dad and a couple of other friends crossing the Atlantic to pick their brains about our engine and to source any engineer contacts for Monday morning, who we could call and help us troubleshoot over the phone. Everyone pulled threw for us and throughout the day received emails of support with contact details. We took it easy for the rest of the day. Karla and I taking turns to helm in barely any wind, just trying to keep the boat heading in the right direction in 4 knots of wind, which is more challenging than it sounds. Just after dinner the wind became more consistent and a little stronger so we hoisted the beautiful Code Zero and picked up speed throughout the night heading for those trade winds!