Light at the end of the tunnel
As with my last post, I write having recently returned from the wilds of Argyll and Bute after another successful week’s work on Meander’s latest little refit. Again I had the company of my parents, Lyn and John, and also we were joined this time by a newcomer to Meander’s life, Brandt Steyn. Brandt is a young Australian of South African extraction who sailed with Lord Nelson when we were Down Under, and who is currently doing the rounds in Europe before deciding what he wants to do with his life. Like a fool, he volunteered his services for my week on Meander, and I took him up on the offer. Once again, we had taken a wee cottage at the nearby Barcaldine House, so accommodating the extra bod was easy enough. Dr and Mrs Steyn, if you are reading this, he was very well-behaved, and was a great help on the boat (in fact, he’s quite good at painting, so if you need the house redecorating…).
It was good to see that our man in Oban had done a good job of securing the engine and aligning it to the shaft, having first replaced the standard sump with the shallow version so the lump would fit in the space available. So for most of the week, John and I were working on the peripherals of the engine; he reinsulated the engine compartment whilst I relined the port cockpit locker to allow a more efficient use of the space (more room to dump stuff and things). His job involved getting covered in sticky glue whilst getting high on the fumes, whilst mine involved being folded up in the cockpit locker, occasionally upside-down.
A poor photo of the new engine installation
Once those two jobs were completed, we tackled the fuel system, which had received a large amount of attention in order to improve the filtering capability. You can just see at the back of the photo a white board with two primary filters / water separators, and these can be lined up individually, so if one is dirty, you can switch to the other. Unfortunately, in order to connect this lot, the diesel tank had to be emptied, which involved much faffing about with different sized containers and syphon pumps, but luckily we just had sufficient temporary storage capacity in 2 jerry cans and a big red bucket to take all the fuel whilst we disconnected the old (leaky) outlet pipe and installed the new shiny one. Once this was in place, and the main shut-off valve installed and shut, we could then transfer the fuel back into the tank. Not wishing to tempt fate, but it seems the additive I put in the fuel (Fuel Set) is very effective – the diesel looked pretty clean with no sludge coming out, and no sign of water either. Then, once this difficult bit was finished, which involved lots of being upside-down in the cockpit locker, John was able to complete the fuel system whilst I did other things.
The electrics, of course, also had to be connected, prompting possibly the most comical moment of the week. The battery connections are in a quite awkward position low down on the port side of the engine block. Access to this is best from the locker under the cooker in the galley, which itself can be entered (at least head and shoulders, and a couple of arms too, if you get the sequence right) from the port cockpit locker. When calling out for her youngest son, Lyn received the disembodied response: “I’m under the cooker”. If you could see how small the access to this space is from the galley itself, you would understand just how funny that might have sounded…
Whilst all the contortions and shenanigans were going on in and around the engine compartment, Lyn and Brandt were on prepping and painting duties (Brandt, incidentally, intends to start a Merchant Navy cadetship soon, so I feel I have done him a favour by starting his training early); the list of things to paint was quite long: the deck; the cockpit; the bulwarks; the hull; the spars to be ;