The Mother of Invention

They say that necessity is the mother of invention and if you spend time on a boat you have plenty of opportunity to put this to the test.

With the exception of the faulty autopilot that has necessitated Trish and I plus assorted volunteers hand steering for 2,500nm Novara has been behaving herself.

Until a couple of days ago when we left an overnight anchorage for two short day sails to Vancouver.

There was a slight smell in the cockpit, from a source I could not find, it got no worse and all seemed OK but it bothered me. After working through the boat, opening cupboards, lifting floors I still could not find it. The boat was moving along well, the engine sounded fine but I finally lifted one of the main engine hatches to take a look at the engine bilge. Smoke billowed out of the engine room.....get Tyler and Kaeli out of the saloon and on deck. What next, fire extinguisher...NO we are not on fire....smells unusual, switch off engine and drift in windless conditions....drop the dinghy and mount engine, strap dinghy to the side and use small engine to get us into a temproary anchorage 2 miles away.

The smoke finally cleared and I could get into the engine room to find that the fresh water coolant header tank had melted itself on to the engine? Nothing to be done but let the engine cool, get boat and crew safely to the anchorage and then sort out the cause. A local boat owned by a couple of Brits came alongside and offered us a tow, many thanks, quicker and easier than the dinghy.

Drop anchor and use both our dinghy and theirs to set the anchor for the night and then start to investigate what had gone wrong.

Check Raw water filters, all OK, change oil and filters that had been superheated, start engine (starts first time) and check water coming out of exhaust, all OK so not a raw water cooling system fault.

Chisel the melted cooling header tank off the engine and begin to check the fresh water cooling system, strip out the thermostat and fit a new one BUT what to do about the now destroyed and melted header tank.

Search through the boat to see what we have on board. Speak to Billy, the engine wizard at Wayfarer to understand what pressures and temperatures the header tank has to withstand and with input from Trish, Todd and I came up with this solution that got us the 45nm down to Vancouver.

A gallon fuel can, assorted pipe fittings plus some salvaged from the old tank and hey presto! It worked.