- Written by Captain David Captain David
- Created: 13 June 2017 13 June 2017
"Saying goodbye doesn't mean anything. It's the time we spent together that matters, not how we left it." - Trey Parker
Having said goodbye to Jennifer and little Annabelle, we left Nassau once again, and sailed to Meek's Patch. We waited there until the weather was good, then on the morning of the 11th we headed north. Squeezing around the south side of Russell Island, through the narrow passage between Eleuthera Island, and between the reefs.
Once out we set sail and headed for The Sea of Abaco. With the wind being light we motor-sailed most of the way. Then around 2:30 the starboard engine's overheat alarm blared and the engine shut down. We continued with one engine and the sails and waited for the starboard to cool. After an hour it was cool enough to examine it and I found that we had no coolant in the heat exchanger. I added coolant and we restarted the engine. An hour and a half later, again the alarm went off and the engine shut down.
We continued on the one engine and that evening once we had arrived in Little Harbour, I checked to find that again the coolant was gone. Now that is a scary proposition. To have lost coolant once could simply mean it has a pinhole leak and over weeks or months had drained down. Then the engine overheated and the remaining coolant boiled away. But to have lost all the coolant in an hour and a half, when I know it was topped up, means there is a serious leak somewhere... oh PLEASE don't be a cracked block, or head, or even the head gasket...
Well, I started taking the engine apart, and began with the heat exchanger. Lucky for me this is one of the first things you have to remove on the engine. That's lucky because when I got it off I found inside the exhaust port was thick with carbon buildup, and there were blobs of green jelly. That green jelly is boiled down coolant, so the coolant was going into the exhaust. The good news is that means it's likely not going into the engine.
So in my typical fashion I decided to clean some of the carbon buildup in the exhaust.. using what I had in front of me... a screwdriver. Slip... oops... oh damn! I just put the end of the screwdriver THROUGH the metal wall of the exhaust manifold. Ah-ha... and into the coolant jacket. The metal in this area had corroded away so it was so thin that my screwdriver went right through. There must have been a small leak, and that's where the coolant went.
So we headed to Marsh Harbour where we found a welder. He looked at our heat exchanger and gave us the good news. He had fixed an identical unit the week before, only there's had been in much worse condition. Well, one day and $150 dollars and we had our unit repaired and re-installed. Considering this might have been a few grand for a new engine, we got off really easy.
This was a good time to clean the heat exchanger and all the tubing, so that got done too (with the proper tools, not a screwdriver).
Follow up note: Two months later and we've not lost a drop of coolant, and there's been no more issues. So that really did solve the problem thankfully.
While we were waiting for the part to get fixed, Kyle and Rebecca took in a few more dives.
All this was just a prelude to some real adventure a few days later when we experienced a rage for the first time, with waves over 10' tall and...
"But that is another story." - Paul Sutherland, Hammy Hamster