Monday, August 10, 2020

9 days in Stromness?

So on Monday evening I was in the marina 985 miles into my round UK trip with no propeller and several stretches of water where sailing single handed without mechanical propulsion would not be sensible, to say the least, so it had to be fixed. 

Sans propeller

Fortunately, I have a spare propeller but at home and in the garage probably buried under heavy things my wife would not be able to move, so help was called in and my recollection of where I had left it was correct or not far off and it was packaged ready to go by late afternoon. Finding a courier to do a pick up and delivery to Orkney in a sensible timescale took rather longer. Particularly annoying on several sites there was no indication of timescales and on others you only found out it would take a week after filling all the details through to payment. Finally, I settled on DPD who “promised” a two-day delivery and a pick up was booked for Tuesday.

What it should look like opened.

That left a lot of time for speculation on the owners group web site as to why a new prop (fitted last winter) should come off, the only thing that was obvious was that the locking allen screw had not done it’s job, probably because the thread locker had not worked and being towed at 11 knots had probably not helped. 

Update: After Sancerre was lifted and the prop and rope cutter were removed for maintenance it became evident that the rope cutter had chewed on something serious, fortunately the damage was repairable but it may explain how the prop was loosened. When putting the engine into gear on route to Plymouth there was a loud bang which at the time I thought was the rope cutter in action, although others suggested it was the prop not opening correctly, it took several changes in gear from forward to astern to clear what ever it was - probably a rope, net or both. It is possible that this was also tangled around the prop, at least after trying to go astern to clear it. The strain was clearly a lot more than I had originally thought and its possible that this loosened things enough that a fast tow finished the job. 

I had left the old retaining nut onboard and a local marine engineer cut and shaped the “key” necessary to stop the prop rotating on the shaft, and a local boat builder swapped a stainless split pin long enough to fit with some of my shorter rigging split pins.

With a GPS track and my recollection of what happened since the last time the prop was obviously there, which was only a few tens of yards away, it was worth looking for the prop and a diver spent some time looking for it but to no avail, it was buried in a metre of fine silt and nowhere to be seen even in the very clean water.

The package finally turned up on Friday, probably having missed the ferry on Wednesday and I spent 3 hours fitting the key to the prop and removing much of the crud on the propeller. The diver came back on Saturday and had the propeller on in a little over an hour. Whilst he was waiting for me to shorten and file the key to fit the shaft he gave the boat a quick scrub and the whole thing, including the key, postage and a generous tip for the scrub, cost less than a scrub would have done on the Hamble.

Many thanks to all concerned in getting the job done.

It looks like I will be in Orkney until Wednesday, there were strongish F4-5 headwinds yesterday and today it’s 15 knots in the marina  and similar is forecast for tomorrow. Apart from gentlemen not sailing up wind, that against a 6 or 7 knot tide (more in places) going through the Pentland Firth, could create very uncomfortable and dangerous seas. From Wednesday there should be following winds albeit somewhat light and variable for several days for me to get to Lindisfarne probably with 2 or 3 stops on the way.

The marina was very reasonable priced at £100 for a week, run largely by volunteer boat owners as are other marinas on the islands.

Stromness – Hunda Sound – Sinclair’s Bay 

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