My plans to retrace Captain Cook's unfinished voyage have been postponed a year while I work on the next Marine Diesel Basics book and get my new boat SV Oceandrifter ready for sea.
Kuan Yin was back in the water just over a week ago and since then I’ve installed four new engine mounts and aligned the new transmission that I installed with the help of Nelson Pilgrim last fall. (As well as doing lots of little jobs.) My thanks to Peter Jarrett for showing how to align an engine over the winter.
Aligning an engine may be a small step for a professional mechanic but it feels like a major advance for me personally. Last summer, I was too unsure even how to take out the old transmission to do it myself and waited a week for someone to do it for me. Hopefully the alignment has been done correctly and there will be no knocking noises or vibrations or wear of the shaft or the gears once I get underway.
The boat’s batteries all had to be replaced after just four years, I think because of undiagnosed charging problems that led to excessive sulphating of the batteries which then hardened during the winters. The result was that the batteries would not hold a charge even when “full”. Again, hopefully, the new alternator (from Start Auto in Toronto) and smart regulator will keep the new batteries fully charged.
Today, the weather is cold, grey and windy. There’s been a gale a warning most of the weekend and Kuan Yin has been doing her Gale Rider Two-Step at the wharf – riding the waves and pulling on her 6 lines! We have had sunshine, and snow and fog in the last fortnight. And occasional icebergs have been seen drifting south.
Leaves may be slowly coming on the trees and bushes here, but the sea ice is still thick along the coast of Labrador not so many miles north of here.
What’s left to do before heading north?
1) install new engine water pump – this requires a new bracket to be designed and welded. Unfortunately the man who was doing the work was taken seriously ill this weekend; thankfully he is making a good recovery, but it’s Plan B for me.
2) go for sea trials – make sure all the nuts stay tight, the belts run true and show no wear and that the transmission runs 100%. There is still a question that I may have to reverse the Morse cable to the transmission, because the new lever points Up on the new transmission and the old one pointed DOWN. But I’m not going to go that until I’ve had a chance to run the engine and check the gear at the dock.
3) load up with food for three months – the essentials are tea, milk powder, porridge oats, baking powder, raisins, flour, butter, apples and root vegetables.
Then head north on a nice day and avoid the icebergs.
I will be sending a SPOT location message daily so anyone interested should be able to track my location on Google maps. check back here for regular updates.
The plan is still to try to reach Kujjuaq in Ungava Bay, the destination of the voyage of 1811 I’m attempting to retrace. That would be a round trip voyage of close to 3000 miles before September. Or at least to reach Okak, some 700 miles down the coast from here (and 85 miles beyond the last human settlement). That’s where the voyage started from in 1811.
But, I’ve worked hard preparing for this voyage, both on the boat and earning extra money to pay for all the equipment on Kuan Yin. (And my thanks to everyone who found a room for me to paint, a floor to swab, something to edit or research or write and allowed me to earn the extra dollars to keep up more or less with the bills!) Having put in years of time, effort and money, I do not want to now ruin the actual experience of the Labrador by stressing myself over “having” to get somewhere. Like life itself, the voyage will be what it is will be.
Have a great summer.