Saturday, May 11, 2024

2024 May 8th Days 40 - 42, One step forward, 2 back to Neyland and Sandy Haven Bay then Arklow.

This cruise is turning into a bit of a nightmare, fortunately this problem "only" caused me 13 hours of motoring, 2 days, one night in a marina and quite a lot of worry until things were sorted. It was foggy when I woke at 04:00 so I went back to my bunk to wait for daylight. Things had not improved much if at all, I could hear another boats anchor being hauled up but importantly I could not hear the fog signal from St Ann's Head; I have heard that from Dale Shelf and Sandy Haven Bay (which is further away) on quite a few occasions to I decided to leave on the assumption it was not foggy there.

A quite busy picture, I went out using the GPS map, Radar and
AIS, also the autopilot that gives more time to keep a lookout
and check the instrumentation. The radar is not quite aligned
with AIS and the real world here, corrected later by a couple of
degrees to make it spot on.
Typically the fog signal started up as I rounded Watwick point, not as dense as on previous occasions I have been through here with visibility about a cable (c 200 yards). 
Making up to 10 knots with 5 knots of tide helping. The red
shaded area is the radar collision guard zone.
Close to the spring tide I was making great progress towards Arklow, rather further on but 35 miles shorter than getting there via Carnsore Point but with the tide only a couple of hours longer than just going to Carnsore. 

Then the engine started producing way to much smoke from the exhaust. I stopped it to decide what to do, it was necessarily a quick decision as the tide was about to turn and if returning to Milford I wanted the strong tide to help. Also to let the engine cool if it was overheating.

I decided to turn back primarily so that if it was a serious problem such as a blown head gasket I preferred to be at Milford rather than in Ireland. Having started the engine I put it in gear and there was a metallic clunk but the smoke much reduced (as became clear later a lot of weed had clearly come off, I had also put it in reverse in case it was weed - a not uncommon issue), It was still more smoke than I was comfortable with but hopefully it was not something serious. 

The clunk turned out to be a red hearing, it happened again but worse at Arklow and after some head scratching I found that if one of the fuel cans was put in the locker with the filler aft and if it moved just so, it interfered with the back of the combined throttle and gear selector - I have been putting a can in there since I got the boat and this was the first time it had happened, something to guard against a repeat is now on the work list.

With some difficulty with the engine running I checked the oil, there was no sign of water so a cylinder head gasket problem was less likely and the favourite was weed or rope around the shaft or propeller causing the engine to be loaded and running inefficiently and not burning the fuel properly. I carried on at modest speed and carried the tide into the Haven and made my way to Neyland Marina which had a berth available in the fully tidal section. I preferred this to the slightly closer Milford Haven Marina as it is not locked and there are a number of serious marine engineering companies locally.

Neyland Marina
I got into a nice berth and as I hopped onto the pontoon a chap came to help, it turned out he had previously owned an Achilles 24 and a 9 meter, the current owner of the A9m turned up next day - there are lots of Achilles boats around the Haven, they were built not far away. 

73 miles in eleven and a quarter hours.

It was early evening but I took some hand held pictures with my waterproof compact camera without lighting in the very murky water, the waterproof  pole mountable GoPro's battery being flat. The picture was very blurry but the propeller was clearly OK but there appeared to be either weed or weedy rope around the shaft. I attacked it with the boat hook and then went for a shower and fish and chips feeling rather better although if I had not got it off I might have a very unpleasant swim in the morning, even with the wet suit, mask etc. Or if it was some random weed in the marina I would be back to square one.

GoPro and waterproof light on the boat hook .
Screen grabs from the video

A screen shot of my second attempt at getting to Arklow when
I was monitoring 3 dangerous AIS targets two heading north
and projected to be very close and another coming south, also.
close. The heavy dashed line ahead of me is the track from the
first attempt.
With the shaft clear it just remained to test it, but first there was two trips to the COOP, a twenty minute walk mainly uphill and two shorter walks to collect fuel, all with trips up steep, long access bridges to pontoons- the tide having a 7 metre range. I left late afternoon, the sea trial was successful and I went to Sandy Haven Bay for the night, a rather lengthy trip as I was battling a spring flood tide.

To Sandy Haven Bay

My second attempt was more successful although the wind never went above 5 knots so I had to motor all of the way. 

Approaching Arklow (right) where I anchored for the night at dusk.

 85 nautical miles in just under 15 hours.

Click here for The Skerries and Ardglass.

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