Speedwell of Rhu Ship's Log

4 th to 6 th of May 2013 - Southwold and some incidents

Crew : Helen and Andy
Destinations : Southwold and Ipswich.
Distance : 93 miles

Saturday 4 th May 2013

A trip up the coast to Southwold. After an 0815 lock out we had an uneventful sail up the coast to Southwold, arriving with enough rise of tide to get over the bar without having to wait.

Following the instructions that the harbour master had given us over the phone the previous day we hugged the north breakwater before heading into mid-stream and finding the helpful harbour staff waiting to take our lines on the visitor's staging.

Our drinking water tastes and smells awful, it looks like we've picked up some contamination that even our Seagull filter can't completely remove, so we'll pick up some battled water in own tomorrow.

(When we got back to Ipswich Andy emptied and disinfected the water tanks. The water was fine for the rest of the season so we think we just picked up some contamination when we filled up after the winter. We did notice that all of the hoses on the pontoons at the marina have just been replaced, but we don't know if that's just coincidence.)

Sunday 5 th May 2013

Spent the day as tourists in Southwold, including a few pounds for the not to be missed slot machines in the under the pier show .

Monday 6 th May 2013

Doing the engine checks this morning the dipstick came out looking like it was covered in mayonnaise, so we've got water in the engine oil. The chances of finding a marine engineer at short notice on a bank holiday Monday weren't good so we decided to change the oil and get the boat back to Ipswich. Fortunately we carry enough spare oil on-board for a complete change.

Pumping out the oil we got at least a pint of water out before the oil started to arrive. Well this explains why the coolant level has been dropping recently, and why the oil level seemed a little higher than I (Andy) through I'd filled it to. It seems like this has been happening for a while so I reckoned that it was a slow leak from the cooling system into the oil and we should be able to get home OK with a sump full of fresh oil.

By 0930 we were ready to go, then the engine wouldn't start. It struggled to turn over, the same symptoms that we'd had a few weeks ago with a loose connection. Before starting to strip things down again we plugged the boat into shore power for half an hour to give the batteries a top up, had a cup of tea, then tried starting the engine with the battery charger still turned on to give things a helping hand. The engine started fine, so I think we had a recurrence of the bad connection.

We finally slipped at 1020 and motor sailed down the coast in light winds. As we got to Orford Ness the fog came down and we felt our way down the coast on the radar until it lifted again.

Off Felixstowe I (Andy again) was trying to cut in a bit too far inshore from Wadgate Ledge beacon when the depth dropped to 0 and we ground to a halt. According to the chart we should have had just enough depth, but the chart also mentions sand waves in this area so I really should have paid more attention and stayed out in deeper water. Fortunately we were at the bottom of the tide so we weren't going to be stuck for long (although if we'd had more tide we may not have grounded in the first place...) and with a combination of sail and engine we managed to work Speedwell off the bottom and into deeper water, making our way sheepishly back along our previous course then out to Wadgate Ledge beacon, across the shipping channel and into the river.

Finally back on our berth at 1845 after more than enough incidents for one day.

Subsequent investigation by a marine engineer found that the cylinder head gasket had started to fail (and also that our engine oil cooler wasn't far off failing as well) so the boat was out of commission for over a month while we had the cylinder head serviced and a new oil cooler fitted. At least this gave me time to re-wire the battery negative circuit so that I now have much better access to the bus-bar that was causing the connection problems and can get the connector properly tight (in its previous location I couldn't get a spanner onto the nut properly so it was never really secure). As extra insurance I've invested in some heavy duty jump leads so we can make temporary repairs if we need to.

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