The monster

We have a monster in the basement, its big, green, smelly and sometimes it keeps me up at night. The last two nights it kept me up, wondering what was wrong with it…

The emperor, the only ornamented sea mark in the world?

It all started when leaving Arkösund on Sunday, as there was barely any winds to get us going we awoke monster. We passed “the emperor” (the only ornamented navigation mark as I know of) on our way, made the customary salute and continued on.


After some hours we noticed that the thermometer indicated that the engine was running hot.  Engines running hot is not a good thing so we immediately went into idle. Idling eventually made the

Scary stuff, when your temperature reader looks like this

temperature go down so we decided to continue on low RPM towards our goal but where now quite worried. The day continued like that, we went on low RPM, changing to idle, turning it off to sail for some parts when the wind returned for some brief moments. We spent an hour or two just floating around, not wanting to start the monster neither having enough wind to actually get somewhere.

As I’m not an engine wizard and this seemed too serious for me to muck around with so we figured that we should call a wharf to see if they could help us. The first one we called, conveniently located just by the fairway we where floating around in, could not look at our problem until earliest in two, maybe three weeks. No dice for us. The next wharf, located a bit off the route in the harbour of Loftahammar didn’t pick up the phone on Sundays. We decided anyway that our best bet was to continue southbound and try to find a wharf on the way, so we kept limping along and eventually reached  a natural harbour close to Trässö, just north of Loftahammar.

The following morning (Monday) we called the wharf “MarineService” in Loftahammar as soon as they opened, we where welcome there the same day! We set sail and thanks to good winds reached them around lunchtime. They got a mechanic down to the boat in just under and hour.  We started the motor, idling at the quay and he took measurements. He wiggled a little on the contact to the temperature sensor and all of a sudden it seemed like the temperature went down. Great! What a relief, it’s just a bad connection! We let the motor idle some more, increased the RPM for fifteen minutes, all the time using an IR-thermometer to get the real readings on the engine. Everything looked great. We thanked the mechanic,  paid for his time and set out to find a nice natural harbour to relax in. After going for twenty minutes the temperature crept up again, going into the red zone. Damn! Seemed like wiggling a contact didn’t solve our problem, we need to turn back and get this fixed!

The reason it looked so good when the mechanic was on board is probably because we just idled and never actually put any load on the engine as we didn’t engage the propeller. However, I had started to suspect that the engine actually was running at a good temperature, but the temperature sensor had some problems. To confirm this theory we had to borrow an IR-thermometer sensor and run the motor with load, but when we got back to the wharf everyone had already left for the day, so we spent the night in Loftahammar.

Running in circles to test the engine leaves funny tracks in the plotter

Tuesday we started the day with pestering the wharf employees until they borrowed us an IR-termometer, we then set out of the harbour and motored in circles just outside it to see what would happen with the temperature on the engine. I guess it must have amused, or confused, someone. Our suspicions eventually got confirmed – even when the temperature instrument indicates that we are in the red zone the motor itself never goes above 70C. We returned to the wharf, dropped of the ir-termometer and set of again!

We initially had the idea of sailing along the coast line, but the winds where

Passing “The blue maiden” (“Blå Jungfrun”) island on our way to Byxelkrok

better for a short jump over to Öland, so here we are now, in the harbour of Byxelkrok. By the way, the last two hours the wind died down completely, so we really got to test the motor again on the way over, it runs like a charm. Still going into red but now we know that this means very little.

This is the short version of the story, there where many more theories around what could be wrong with the motor, both from us and from helpful strangers, there where nightmare scenarios that kept me awake, thinking that the journey will end before it really started. There was stupid stuff I did, unknowingly, during the spring fixing of the boat that I thought might have destroyed the motor. But I’ll save you all of those details. In the end though, I’m really impressed with the guys from MarineService in Loftahammar, they did a great job, gave us a great prices and the mechanic who came to our boat took his time to explain stuff to us, which made it possible for us to later draw our own conclusions. We really learned from this.

It’s good to be out on open water again!