The big repair – part 2

Getting the engine out of the boat is all about reducing the size of the cross section – and maybe about increasing the size of the opening (the sliding hatch might have to be uninstalled to gain a few more cm).

After removing numerous wires and hoses, it was time to remove the exhaust, the mounting bracket of the exhaust, various other mounting brackets, the heat exchanger as well as the coolant pump. The engine is a relatively compact block now, but still too large to fit through the hole!
All nuts that connected the manifold exhaust with the engine block have been taken off – most of them by drilling or grinding them off. How to now remove the manifold is still not clear. It would help tremendously in reducing the block’s cross-section.

More to come

The big repair – part 1

The trip from Ireland was one of most mechanically challenged trips with Tioga. We did not only have to replace our alternator that caught on fire but also the raw water pump due to a no longer fixable bearing problem.
it turned out that the significant delamination between the aft section of the keel and the hull, while fixed as much as possible in Ireland, required follow-up work in Germany.
Tioga took on water during the remainder of the season and the only possible place (after eliminating all other scenarios), that one also could not reach or see, where the water could come from was under the engine, ie close to where the delamination was repaired.

Getting to that section of the boat is a major undertaking. First, the pantry has to be removed, then the engine uninstalled and after that the catch basin under the engine.
Only then can one see the keel bolts, the aft section of the bilge and hopefully determine how to fix the problem.
Not exactly good news – but at least a path forward.
The silver lining – the engine has to be replaced anyways (due to its rusty state), the pantry needs a renovation (due to too much moisture finding its way into the wooden structure).

A new Yanmar diesel (57 hp) was ordered and now the work to remove pantry, engine etc has started.

First the upper shelves were removed, then the stairs and afterwards the backing plate of the stairs and remaining shelves.
Removing the counter top, faucets and sinks required more work as the large top could not be removed without breaking some of the counter top, remove cables, hoses etc.
Some of the underlying structure could be removed and the engine now very well accessed.
The challenge of removing such a large engine (71C four Westerbeke) is to get it out of the hull by lifting it through the cabin top opening. However, with 60cmx58cm in size, the opening is narrower than the engine is wide. So, as many engine parts as possible have to be removed. With some of the welded on or bolted on and then rusted together parts, we will see how long it takes to reduce the size of the engine sufficiently.
One of the first hurdles, the mounting bracket for the engine-driven bilge pump was taken this Sunday after remove the bilge pump and alternator first.
All coolant has been drained and lots of hoses disconnected.
In the next session, the exhaust needs to be tackled as well as the heat exchanger. We might reach a suitable engine size then and have to figure out how to disconnect the heavily rusted engine mounts.
More to come…

A huge THANK YOU to Urte for helping me along and keeping the spirits up high!

PS: It is ironic that we use the boat heat more ashore (in Nahant or Germany) than on the water. With temperatures around freezing and the heater on, we had a comfortable working environment.

The crew from Ireland to Germany

A couple of photos of our crew on the way from Ireland to Germany via Charbourg, Calais, Scheveningen and Cuxhaven to Kappeln, where Tioga will spend the winter in the boatyard.

Dan McMackin
John Fulghum
Josh Antrim
Klaus Krug
Peter Barba
Philip Kersten

With Klaus, we welcomed our 49th Tioga cruiser to the list. The total number of man-miles our overall crew has sailed stands at 118728nm by now.
Adding the 590nm of this leg to his account, Peter accumulated a total of 7459nm, putting him in third place behind Philip and Ulf (8030nm) (passing Corinna @ 7090nm).

This leg was many ways different and challenging.
We had a large number of technical challenges to overcome, some of them significant (delaminating keel, alternator catching fire, raw water pump falling apart).
We completely changed the routing and legs from 2 legs via Scotland-Norway-Denmark-Germany to 1 leg via France-Germany (due to the high number of Delta variant cases in Great Britain).
We had medical conditions to deal with (the captain almost losing an eye due to flying books in rough seas ;-), quite a few crew members dealing with Covid-like symptoms and more).
We had wind, lots of wind, and always – no matter which heading – from dead behind.
Due to our not brand-new digital charts, we ended up in the middle of a wind farm and got a formal warning from the Dutch coastguard.

In other words, we had another adventure and a great time with good friends on the water – creating more experiences and making memories.

More to come!!

Across the finish line in Kappeln

Staying over night at Schreyer marina turned out to be a good choice. We met very nice sailors from The Netherlands and Germany (with Korean roots), appreciated the clean facilities, low fees and very short distance from the canal.

While the world’s busiest canal (according to the captain) did not appear that busy on the previous day, we got a glimpse at what you could look like when approaching the locks in Kiel-Holtenau. A number of freighters were waiting in line to let the oncoming traffic pass. When the lock opened for our direction, it was quickly filled by four freighters with now room for pleasure boots.

We got the next look, were pleasantly surprised that this time no canal fees were due (we do not know why) and finally made it to the Baltic Sea. Sails were hoisted and we sailed with hundreds of other sailboats out to the open waters. A few hours later we reached Schleimuende, the entrance to the fjord, Schlei, started the engine and made it to Kappeln, where Tioga has a berth for the remainder of the season at Ancker marine (the same place we stayed at in 2015/16).

We were quite happy and proud that we actually made it this time. The number and magnitude of our challenges on this trip was quite extraordinary, where a number of them could have easily derailed the entire trip. In hindsight, this trip was more of an adventure than expected, but a great trip nonetheless; with a competent and very creative crew anything can get done.
Here’s to good friends, always calm, positive, results-oriented, with shortage of funny comments – Thank You!!

We wrapped up the weekend with a visit to the local beer garden (Forstbaumschule in Kiel) and the Marine Memorial in Laboe. We had a great seafood dinner on the boat (prepared by the captain’s favorite restaurant, Stark, in Kappeln), sampled various beers in the beer garden and enjoyed a nice dinner with Ingrid (the captain’s mother) at the local brewery in Kiel.

The Kiel Canal

Dawn broke early in Cuxhaven. We immediately began to replace the pump, thinking it would only take an hour. Four hours later the pump was actually installed. We showered and shaved and cast off.

We continue our efforts to deplete Tioga’s aging food inventory – some items dating back to 2015. We estimate the captain’s iron stomach has endured on this trip alone over a hundred years of expired food. We have proven that expiration dates are only a suggestion as we continue to find so called expired cans in the bilge.

We enjoyed delicious eggs and aged spam brunch on our way to the locks. Josh was most enthusiastic since he had visited the Spam Museum on his trans-continental bicycle trip.

The Kiel Canal is roughly 60 nm long. There is only one lock at the entrance and the exit.

We passed through the locks and entered the canal. The canal is lined with green pastures and trees. The boat glided effortlessly through the country side. But the crew was kept alert by the occasional oncoming 400ft cargo ships in the narrow canal.

Since we could not travel past 9pm, we stopped at the Schreyer Marina in Rendsburg.

Smooth Sailing

The North Sea is known for high winds, rough seas and storms. But Tioga experienced none of these.

We left Scheveningen and continued our downwind sail. It was a great day on the water. Lots of sun, endless beaches and changes to larger and larger sails to account for the diminishing winds.

We came across huge windfarms at night. The difficult part was the interpretation of all the lights we came across, such as anchored tankers, tug boats etc. These dangerous obstructions must be identified and avoided or the ship would be lost.

We tied up in Cuxhaven without the help of the overly critical lady with blond and red hair. We resisted the temptation to leave smelly cheese on her bow.

Huge cudos to Lars and Angela, who dropped the critical raw water pump just in time for our long trip through the Kiel Canal under engine.

We capped of the beautiful night with steaks & veggies on the grill and bottles of French wine.

Don Quixote rides again

Departure day was delayed by a day due to rough seas, high winds and what the French were calling a „Tempest“.

A medieval re-enactment featured the Black Night, horse jousting and even a damsel in distress. We got sandblasted at the beach, enjoyed the brand new promenade and wished we had brought our skateboards.

We changed the next destination to Scheveningen (which semi-educated Americans are unable to pronounce…). At 3:30 the captain and crew executed a precision departure through a complex harbor of bridges, locks and obstructions.

Tioga was off into the night.

Well past dawn, after sailing through an anchored fleet of tankers and freighters, we encountered a massive windfarm. The windmills went nearly to the horizon. On the charts we found two channels through the obstruction. Many hundreds of towering windmills were kept us alert. You could feel the tension on the boats. The blades of the windmills were significantly longer than the mast of Tioga and sliced through the air.

An encounter with one of these blades would swiftly demast if not bisect Tioga. Windfarms are often built on shallows, amplifying the already rough sea state.

That is when the channel disappeared. We were now on a slalom course through deadly rotating blades. The maze-runner and crew kept cool. As we approached the end of the windfarm, we received a direct radio call. The Dutch coast informed us that we were in a verboten area and were not permitted to be there.

The captain explained our predicament to the authorities, apologized and promised to never do it again.

The Dutch authorities left us with a stern verbal warning.

The day warmed, the sun shined and the day held. At times the sea was breaking and we could surf the boat. We arrived safely in Scheveningen to look for wooden shoes to go with our Holland-Windmill experience .

Letˋs jibe when we get to England and then cross over to France

After a bumpy, windy and fast night navigating the traffic separation zones, we were welcomed by a see of synchronized red flashing lights, ie a large windfarm, off the Brighton coast.

In addition to the shooting stars and satellites in the clear sky, we sailed along endless clusters of distant city lights. We jibed around the south-east corner of the windfarm and finally turned east towards France.

The sun rose and the white cliffs a mile to the North welcomed Tioga. We followed the British coast past the decommissioned Dungeness Nuclear power plant, located directly at the Straight of Dover (the shortest distance from the UK to France).

We crossed the traffic channel to France with heavy traffic and large seas, averaging over 8 knots speed and leveraging the AIS information about all the freighters around us. Also France welcomed us with significant white cliffs and rolling farmer‘s fields above the cliffs.

We announced our arrival to the outer Calais harbor on channel 17 while navigating the significant ferry traffic, one leaving, two massive ones entering the harbor right next to us.

Just as we furled the genoa and made contact with the bridge in front of the marina, the engine quit. We had not set the fuel tank selector switches properly during our last engine hickup when leaving Cherbourg. That was a quick fix and we finally arrived at a nice slip in Calais.

We settled in, caught up on sleep, strolled around town and sampled some of the local food&drinks.

A series of unfortunate coincidences

The sailors made Tioga ready for her next leg. The 20 knots winds and gusts to 25 would make for a tricky departure in the very narrow channel. The captain decided a safety line from the opposite dock would give us a little cushion. Throwing a monkey fist is part art and part science. No Tioga sailors will be eligible for the Cy Young award. A local jumped to assist with a fender and long heavy line. The safety line was a major help in eliminating any Hafenkino. We were off! As we cleared the inner harbor, the engine quit, just as we unfurled the genoa. The Diesel is essential not only for propulsion, but for charging batteries for communication and navigation. We sailed out as the Tioga‘s pit crew began to assess the latest engine malfunction. Was it related to our cooling issue? Was it related to the alternator issue? Was it related to the Irish water in the fuel? Or was it something else?

We tested the banana in the tail pipe theory. Moved on to cleaning out the water in the water fuel separator. And the alternator appeared fine, only reaching a temperature of slightly warm. Typically a diesel engine does not rely on electrical input. However, the Captain did notice the usual small warning buzzer when turning the key was silent. As the crew pondered the information we had gathered, Dan snuck below to read the diesel manual stored on the inside of his eyelids. It was time for Peter to go down in the hole (once again) to check the wiring. A loose wire turned out to be the culprit. A simple fix and the Diesel sprung to life.

The afternoon sail was a little bumpy with 6 to 8 foot waves coming in from port and the stern, but a great sail nonetheless. Dan prepared a pasta with bolognese sauce and sausages for dinner. The Tioga sailors are now ready for another round of night watches, with the hopes of arriving in Calais by noon tomorrow.

MacGyver has nothing on us

It is not difficult to find wine or cheese in France. Westerbeke water pumps are far more rare.

We removed the water pump, hoping for a local rebuild.

Frank‘s team at Chantier Naval Chantereyene swiftly clean, disassembled and evaluated the pump. Despite the complexity of the pump, they did not give up and tried to find alternative ways to repair the pump. They even thanked us for grandfather’s role on D-Day.

No,new pumps were available in the country but our friends in Tioga lane in Marblehead, MA, were able to airfreight one to Europe.

We did not want to forfeit days waiting for the pump to arrive. We were able to devise a creative workaround. By using the seldomly used emergency engine driven bilge pump and rerouting the water lines we developed an alternative cooling system for our engine.

After an arduous clean-up, the crew was rewarded by fine wine & dining and Marie, an entertaining waitress. A search for a nightcap was swiftly rewarded when we stopped at La Baueuse, Le chaudron baueur, and sampled the typical top shelf jars, reminding us of our nights in Antigua.

The next day, after leak testing and modifications, Tioga was ready to sail.