Sailing off


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Engine trouble! Something small?Water in the engine!

The engine cap with water drops....
June 5th 2011

Now in retrospect it all started on the way over from Langkawi to Phuket. The little trouble with starting the motor. Yes we had the problem checked and yes there was a small electrical error that was fixed before we left for our month long trip after Tinker’s Birthday on the 2nd of May to sail around Thailands islands. How exciting!!!!! It is so great to leave the marina which must be one of the hottest places on Earth- really.
It is also a working and fixing place for most boat owners. Everyone is busy either getting ready for a trip somewhere or fixing things and there are always things to fix on boats. Our first few days out were easy going and relaxing. Our first real destination was Kho (meaning island) Phi Phi Don and that is where the engine problem became a more serious matter and so we cut our month long trip plans and were towed in back to Phuket marina by our friends Chris and Barrie from Apsara. Firstly we were dropped of outside the marina as it was not possible to enter on tow. We had to wait for the right tide and a few dinghies to safely push Cognac into it’s spot at marina. A bit anxious and it all went well. It took a few days to get the mechanics to show up and give us some good news. Neither of us thought that things could turn up to be serious. They did! Unfortunately! There was water in the engine! BIG TROUBLE! all mechanics were busy on different projects and could not help us. We pumped out the mixture of oil and water and filled some parts of the engine with break fluid to stop corrosion until mechanical help would come…long wait when we knew that things could only get worse. There was also a question of salt versus fresh water in the engine. We tasted it and could not be sure. It turned out to be salty. The worst possible. Our moods deflated and really worried we still waited another 2 days until the whole team of Volvo mechanics had time. And than more bad news. They started to disassemble the parts and than more parts and more parts. It became apparent that the engine needed to be rebuilt. After more waiting even that proposition was put under question.
The wait is very draining and the whole situation was very upsetting for both of us. Days were very long and extremely hot. The inside of the boat disassembled with what was left of the engine suspended in the air. The engine is very large about 5 foot by 2 and about a ton in weight so it was all a huge operation. As the days went by we became mere and more anxious even deliberating new engines which would be a bigger operation than rebuilding the old one as all the other parts would have to fit and that is no easy matter not to mention the incredible cost probably 40k+.
And than finally a little piece of  good news. We could rebuild! Hooray! At this time we were offered to move out of the boat and stay with our friends at their Andara apartment until the work was finished. Thank you Chris and Barrie!!! It was going to take 3 weeks that turned out to be 6 weeks plus. Really with all the little fixes and sea trials 3 months.
The trials of taking the engine out of the boat and not damaging anything in the process – difficult and requiring incredible attention to detail and foresight. The trials of checking on the work in progress at the mechanics requiring patience forethought and more patience with lots of driving. The trials of transporting the engine back to the boat was nervous not to mention the hundreds of parts that came with it. Fortunately our mechanics were professional and rather meticulous. Thank you to every one and each of you for all the work that you have put into making sure that we could sail again.
Huge thank you to Leon and Volvo team!
Have a look at the picture story to tell more and hope that none of you would have to go trough such experience.
It might sound rather odd and a boat is almost like a “baby”. Ones happiness is totally connected to how the boat “feels” and performs. We rely on it to keep our life safe and when that is put into question something very deep gets “shaken”. The belief about personal safety questioned! Certainly not like a car!

PS In the end the fault that caused all the problems has been found after the “new” engine was installed. Great comfort as we now know what the problem was. The part was smaller than a car key and the hole that was punctured in the part just a little bigger than an end of a pin.
Not looking good at all and there was still hope.

A few days later parts are looking really bad.


Almost clear now that the engine will need major repairs

More bad news and question re cylinders

Engine has to be pulled up and inspected below. The boat is dissasembled
 and temporary workshop set up

Had difficulties pulling the engine up

The engine has to be  rebuilt if possible.
Parts have to be tested first

What used to be the oil now looks like mud. The salt water has caused
a lot of corrossion by now.

Not the best time. Worried...and still a waiting game.
The news is all bad

The arrival of the re-built engine in parts all wrapped in gladwrap.
This was quite an operation and Robert waited for it for days
in the unbearable heat. 

Trolleys and trolleys of parts arriving to Cognac.

It took 6 men to bring the head on board.
A very careful operation not to damage anything in the process

Bit by bit at a time

With extreme care

And more parts. The job of putting it all together...enormous

Semi assembled

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