As November approached, the cold bite in the air told us in no uncertain terms that we had overstayed our welcome in New York and it was time to leave before foul weather closed in around us and blocked off our retreat to the south.
On our last morning in Port Washington, we filled our water tanks, dumped garbage, fueled up, and began to motor out of Manhasset Bay.
Two minutes into our great southern migration smoke started billowing from the engine compartment and the heat alarm began screaming at me.
Did I mention me peeing my pants?
We immediately shut down the engine and hooked onto a very conveniently located mooring ball in order to assess the situation.
Now I am no expert mechanic, but after some thorough research and deep contemplation I deduced that something was wrong with the engine.
All joking aside, fixing a diesel engine isn’t my strong suit…but it’s going to be…along with maintaining and repairing electrical systems, marine toilets (aka, heads), sails, rigging, and innumerable other things which cruisers need to learn to do or go broke paying someone else to do.
In the case of our overheating engine the culprit was a burned out impeller in the raw water pump, which would come back to haunt us later (Ooo! Foreshadowing!). For now, though, I fixed the engine and was the hero to…well, no one on board, really, except perhaps myself.
So, what caused the impeller to burn out? I’m glad you asked.
I am ashamed to admit that I committed the cardinal sin of boating by forgetting to open the seacock. Yes, that is a real thing—I don’t make these nautical words up!
Basically, the engine is cooled by pumping seawater into, and back out of, the boat. No seawater getting in means a really hot engine. Bad juju. In our case we caught it in time to save the engine, but not the poor little impeller who died a horrible death.
Moral of my tale? Don’t forget the seacock! And don’t be afraid to try something you’ve never done, like diesel repair. We’re all pretty amazing creatures, and far more capable and creative than we often believe.
So, how did it come back to haunt us? I’m glad you asked that, too. But you’ll have to wait for a couple of posts to find out. Cliffhanger!
In the meantime, we left Port Washington and motored down the East River. The engine repair caused a delay just long enough to ensure that we had a very strong current raging against us all the way past Manhattan to Great Kills harbor on Staten Island where we tucked in for several days to ride out a storm.