1000 hours

People sometimes ask how long I’ve been sailing. It’s not something I grew up with, except from the outside; watching my brother and wondering. My life had always been firmly on land. It wasn’t until around eleven years ago that  my husband came home one day and announced that his best mate had taken up sailing and he was going to try it too. I quickly put my hand up as well and then began a period of apprenticeship on a boat called Trouble!

It was only a couple of years later that we decided to get our own boat, and we took delivery of Ariadne’s Clew in Sydney mid-2008. During the past nine years we’ve put a lot of nautical miles under our keel. Around half of that has been under sail, and the other half under motor.

Like a car, the engine needs servicing regularly, but unlike a car, you measure the service period in time not distance. Back in our marina pen after our night out, it was time to begin a much overdue 1000-hour service of the boat’s 3-cylinder 40 horse-power Yanmar diesel engine. We’re used to doing the regular scheduled services ourselves. Well, Derek usually tackles that on his own or with a mate. But this one is more comprehensive and complex. For convenience and to be doubly sure, Derek had booked a mechanic in months ago, but he hadn’t come and had’t come, and we were sick of waiting. We followed the instructions and, to be sure, we called on our friend Andrew aka McGyver, who also happens to be a diesel mechanic.

Remove the companion-way stairs to reveal the engine

Replacing gearbox oil after draining

Drained – filthy engine coolant and oil

By the time Andrew arrived we had done the messiest jobs – draining oil from the gearbox and engine, and coolant from the heat exchanger. We found the engine had been leaking somewhere, creating a nasty pool of black oil-sludge in the sump. After much siphoning, scooping, blotting and wiping we took a bucket full of waste oil to the disposal tank at the back of the yacht club and scrubbed ourselves clean in the bathrooms.

The saloon transformed into a mechanic’s workshop

Andrew assisted us to clean out the mixing elbow and seawater cooling pipes, replace the impeller… and so on and so forth until it began to get colder and darker and later… Ah the joys of messing about in boats. Not quite the sort of messing that dear old Ratty had in mind I’m sure.

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