Then it was time to attend to our engine problems. To save wear on my old fingers I have cut 'n pasted a message that I sent to Mark this morning. Persons not interested in details of mechanical problems can skip the following section.
This morning's weather forecast called for generally light winds from the south for the next 2 days. Then we can expect strong NW winds 20-30 kt on Friday and Saturday, with things calming down on Sunday. Arnold and I decided to motor out of this anchorage tomorrow morning if things are calm and take our chances sailing to La Paz, hopefully by motoring all of the way but sailing, even if it means staying out all night. So the task of the morning was to see if we could get the engine started.
The first two tries failed, even when we turned the alternator switch off to reduce the load on the engine. We then ran the starter with the decompression lever up and had another go which looked more promising but still didn't quite make it. Then we had a go with me holding a rag soaked in WD40 over the air inlet pipe. That did not work but I can tell you that there was plenty of air suction up that pipe. (I had to be careful that the rag did not get sucked up the pipe.) We tried one more time, this time with me squirting raw WD40 down along the air inlet pipe so that the vapors would be sucked up by the engine. That did the trick and the engine started OK.
We ran the engine for about an hour watching it and trying different things. The first thing that we noticed was lots of soot on the water, and whenever we gunned the engine heaps of soot would come out along with black smoke. However, when the engine was running steady at 1000 rpm the exhaust was mainly water and steam, with little soot on the water (unless we gunned the engine). We tried a load test to see how the engine would pull against the anchor in reverse. Initially it was dismal: the revs would not climb over about 700 RPM with throttle wide open. However, as time went on and the engine became warmer things got better. After 30 minutes we deliberately shut the engine down and restarted it with no problem. This was very comforting to us because it indicated that if the engine stalled as we are motoring out we have a good chance at restarting it.
We let the engine run for an hour, mainly to make sure that the starter battery bank is charged up for tomorrow's effort. At the end of that hour we performed the load tests and saw that the engine pulled nicely against the anchor with the revs above 1000 and still climbing. I then went forward and asked Arnold to try move the boat forward over the anchor and that was successful, with the revs above 1000 and climbing when I gave the signal to go back to neutral.
At this point I don't think that we have air in the fuel line or a blockage in the air intake, nor probably in the exhaust because the output looked as robust as ever and the engine temperature gauge stayed on or near the low peg; however I am ready to stand corrected on this. But we definitely have an anemic engine with some sort of problem. Could it be injector problem?
Anyway, our plan is to wake up an hour before dawn tomorrow and if the wind is calm we will start the engine and have coffee and prepare ourselves while the engine warms up. If the engine exhibits sufficient pulling power during our load tests it will be Adios Amigo for La Paz. We don't have a lot of choice in the matter, but please let me know if we should minimize engine hours or RPM to avoid engine damage.
Later in the morning Arnold went off for some snorkeling and I had a beer to celebrate our progress with the engine then lazed out reading a book and napping after a vegemite and cheese sandwich for lunch.
At mid afternoon we went ashore where I visited the tienda. The shop's boat had come in, so to speak. The lady had boxes of fresh produce and other supplies all over the floor. I purchased 2 loaves of Bimbo Bread, 4 bananas, and two really big onions.
Then we headed for the beachside cantina where we ran into a group of about 6 American trail bikers working their way to La Paz. We were introduced to one of the group, Kendall Norman, who has won the Baja 1000, Baja 500, and the San Felipe 250. Motorcycling aficionados will know his name. Chris, the leader of the group, lives in a villa at one of the marinas where he keeps his boat. We followed their example and ordered a meal of fried shrimp and tortillas which we enjoyed very much.
With a good meal and a large beer under our belts we returned to the boat and shipped the Zodiac and ladder onto the foredeck and the Mercury outboard motor to the stern rail to be prepared for an early start if the winds are suitable and the engine cooperates.
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