The last ten days, while Doug has been at sea, alone, heading towards Hawaii from Nuku Hiva, have gone slowly here in Vancouver. And while it’s felt slow to me, I know time will have been even weirder for him.
The seven day passage from Tahiti was a lesson in the bendiness of time. Time off (mainly sleeping or cooking) flew by. Watches, for the most part, didn’t. A three hour stint of steering the boat under the moonlight could feel like just a few minutes one night, and never-ending another. The three minutes between banging on the floor to ask for relief and somebody’s head popping up to say they’d be there in a minute dragged ridiculously. As did the next ten minutes waiting for them to get their drink and snacks and life jacket, and get up on deck to take over. Continue reading “The Illusion Show”
What’s a pony doing on the ocean?!?!? Well, not much, as it turns out. I ordered a replacement motor for the autopilot drive through eBay (another nightmare, worthy of its own post if I ever get round to it) just before we left Tahiti. I contacted the seller in England to confirm that he could ship to French Polynesia and the shipping cost. He said it would take a week for him to order the part, then the DHL “Express” shipment (GBP 50, about US$80) would take 2-5 days.
Continue reading “DHL – The Shetland Pony Express of the South Seas”
I know of three types of mains voltage systems in the world: 100 Volts (Japan) and the 110-120 and 240-250 Volt systems (the Americas, China and a few other countries use the former, European countries and their former dependents use the latter). Illusion was built in the US and so endowed with a 120v system with American sockets. When I settled in New Zealand (a former British colony), I began Illusion‘s partial conversion to 240v…
Continue reading “Soldering on: 240 Volt Day”
I am still surprised by the confusion that emanates from others when I mention that we’ll be departing their island soon. Of course, they know that Illusion‘s main engine is not functional, so that helps to explain it – I tell them that we’ll sail to the next island. It is a sailboat…
Continue reading “Engineless”
Starting a diesel engine can be a challenging process. As I mentioned in Engine Drama, running a diesel engine is rather simple: fuel, lubrication and cooling. Starting is another matter. Since diesels run without electricity (no spark plugs), the fuel is ignited by heating the air inside the cylinder. Much of this heat is provided by compressing the air when the piston moves up the cylinder – a simple thermodynamic process (it’s the opposite of letting a gas out of a cylinder: like dive or propane tanks, whipped cream cartridges, etc. – high to low pressure transitions chill the gas). To achieve this, diesel engines have significantly higher compression than standard gasoline engines.
My engine also has an intercooler, which transfers some of the exhaust heat into the intake air, boosting the efficiency of the engine (higher combustion temperatures cause more complete fuel burning). Heat in the cylinder walls and pistons (from previous combustion cycles) helps the process, too. But these processes can’t help start a cold engine. Enter the lowly glow plug…
Continue reading “Glow Plugs: A success story”
For anyone who’s followed this journey for even a little while, they’ve probably already heard many references to our engine failure. I wanted to write about it in some detail, but it’s a long story so I’ve broken it into parts. This post is about the turning point where I stop trying to fix the engine and decide this is going to be an engineless journey.
Continue reading “Engine Drama: The day it all went horribly wrong!”
For anyone who’s followed this journey for even a little while, they’ve probably already heard many references to our engine failure. I wanted to write about it in some detail, but it’s a long story so I’ve broken it into parts. This post is more about the details of our main engine problems, and so is a bit more technical, but hopefully not as tedious to read as it has been to experience it…
The story starts before we knew the engine was going to die. There was a period of relative calm in the Southern Ocean between New Zealand and Rapa, when we were running the engine to charge the batteries and make slightly better progress. We noticed the exhaust had some black smoke; since the wind was slight and from behind us, the smell wafted over the boat, too. I thought the turbo might be dying, since it has been sitting, rusting externally, for a few years. But the turbo turned out not to be the biggest problem.
Continue reading “Engine trouble: the background”