Trauma in the Night – Rapa style

The engines (both main yacht and dinghy’s outboard) have had more trauma than any engine should have in a lifetime. Fortunately, the outboard engine has proven very resilient: the latest survival challenge was to be dumped upside down in the water when the crazy winds here flipped the dinghy over in the middle of the night. We went out only a few minutes later (hard to tell something happened, except the bumping noise of the dinghy against the main hull was slightly different), but we lost everything that wasn’t attached (3 oars, a bailing bucket & sponge). The fuel container was floating a few meters behind the boat, still attached to the engine, which was secured to the dinghy, which was secured by a line and a cable to the main boat. No problem, just flip the dinghy upright in 80+ km/h winds and ~1 meter “seas” — in the anchorage! Absurd. Very few days here have not had high winds and choppy waters. This is not a normal South Sea anchorage. Even now it’s howling outside, but the winds have settled down to about 50km/h; gusting as I write this to 65! The Rapans have a legend about not cursing the wind…

I didn’t mention the engine cover. It was attached to the outboard, but not when we righted the dinghy. We now descend further into our self-imposed nickname of “ghetto dinghy”. To be fair, we did a pretty good job of repairing the dinghy during our first week here after the thrashing it received on the journey. And we repaired the first engine trauma (seizing up due to oil circulation problems) about a week ago at Rapa’s community workshop. We’d already scheduled this coming Monday back in the shop to work on the water circulation, which I only noticed wasn’t working after we left the shop the first time.

About our beautiful new engine cover: To protect against the salt spray, I covered her moving parts with a laundry wash bucket (purple) and then wrapped her entire top in a rubbish bag (black with white labeling). Very attractive!

However, the facelift came after resurrection: Drain the water out of the air intake, drain the carburetor, pump fuel through from the tank to clear any water in the tank, then try starting… Can’t pull-start. Won’t crank even a little. Water in the cylinders! One of the intake valves was open when she last stopped… Pull the spark plugs, watch the sea water dribble out and wonder how long this engine will last… Pull the crank start a few times to eject any remaining water; spray a bit of lubrication into each cylinder, crank a few more times, and restore the plugs.

Pull, pull, pull… Hmm. Pull, pull – cough. Pull, pull… Vroom. Whew! So that’s the rough guide to getting a flooded outboard going again. Wipe down the engine  exterior with fresh water, then an oily rag, put on her new hat and we’re ready for the promenade around the neighborhood. The black bag makes a pretty flapping noise, sort of like a flag in this wind – perfect for our own little parade.

Now, on to read about Bosch diesel injector pump overhauls… (and hopefully I’ll add a photo soon, but internet is too limited at the moment to upload one so you’ll just have to imagine…)

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