Melek and I wanted to see Barbuda as part of our cruise around the Leeward Islands in the Caribbean and instead of sailing to Antigua and then up to Barbuda we chose to take advantage of a light weather day and motor the 60 miles directly to Barbuda from St Barts. This would save us at least a day if not more and if the wind is not east or north of it east then the sailing angle makes for a rough ride to Antigua.
Well fate got us, because our port engine konked out halfway there (luckily I had us leave at 4am to give us plenty of time just in case). It seemed to be starved of fuel and the Racor fuel filter housing was not full. This led me to believe the filters were clogged, so I changed them but still could not get the engine started. At this point I gave up in the middle of nowhere and decided we would deal with it in Antigua…..after we enjoyed all we could of Barbuda (you read about all our adventures last week, right?)
Once we sailed the 35 miles from Barbuda, around the east coast of Antigua, and into Falmouth Harbor on the south coast I went to Marine Power Services (MPS) in the northeast part of the bay (walk 20 minutes to the left from the marina and take a left at the intersection…you will see a CAT sign in front). We got a super awesome young local named Kevin and he correctly diagnosed the Racor housing itself was clogged. He took them (I said to do the starboard side also) back to the shop and took them apart, cleaned them, and rebuilt them.
Once they were back in the trouble was bleeding the air from the fuel lines. The engine has a manual priming pump installed, but it seemed to not be working. It turns out it was clogged after 20 years and we figured this out and unclogged it when we took a fuel line direct from the rebuilt Racor to the engine and bypassed the priming pump and secondary filter. As I tried starting the engine the place the hose should have gone from the pump and 2nd filter started squirting fuel out.
After this it was simply a matter of putting everything back together priming the engine while we had the injector fuel lines opened to bleed air (loosen the bolts on top) and then starting it up.
I learned all kinds of things helping Kevin out. First, make sure you close the raw water intake or you will flood the engine and ruin it. Second, how to bypass different filters temporarily to get fuel to the engine. Third, the location and importance of the manual priming pump. Finally, even though I change the fuel filter every 200 hours, try to pour diesel into the Racor housing with the drain open to clean it out each filter change, and use biocide in the fuel tanks each year after 20 years the housing can still get plugged up and need to be rebuilt.
Just goes to prove that sometimes cruising is simply doing boat work in exotic locations!!!! Haha. Now that that is all done and the engine is running again Melek and I can go see the Nelson’s Dockyard, which I will tell you all about on Thursday.