Friday, April 6, 2012

Boat Trouble

The R/V Silver Streak

The R/V Ugle Duckling

Being towed back to port by Vessel Assist
On Wednesday I met up with one of our captains, Lou, with the intention of helping him bring the R/V Ugle Duckling through the Hiram M. Chittenden locks in Ballard.  I thought I would only be out for an hour or two and had no idea how strangely the day would unfold.  On our way through the locks we found out that one of our other Captains, Eric, was launching the R/V Silver Streak at Shilshole Marina.  Eric was planing on taking the Silver Streak out on the sound to test its performance after recently having it lengthened.  Lou was already planing on dropping me off at Shilshole Marina so it was very convenient for us to meet up.

At the Marina we helped Eric and launch the Silver Streak.  The boat started fine and everything seemed mechanically fine.  Lou departed on the Ugle Duckling and Eric and I left shortly after.  The Streak is a much faster boat than the Duck so we quickly caught up and I snapped some photos of the Duck plodding along through 1 to 2 foot chop.  This is when we first had a problem with the Silver Streak.  It seemed to loose power and then after a minute or two it quit.  Not too alarmed, we changed one of the fuel filters and it started right back up again.  At this point we would have headed back to the marina but Lou called us on the radio sounding a bit distressed.  The seas had increased to 2-3 foot and the 540Lb depressor weight has slid to the starboard side of the Ugle Duckling, causing it to list quite badly.  

I though to myself, how could we have been so stupid to forget to secure the weight?  And now with Lou aboard by himself in those seas there was little anyone could do.  All Eric and I could do was motor along side trying to beat down the waves and coach Lou along to more protected waters on the west side of the sound.  This only lasted a few minuets before our engine quit again.  Again Eric and I changed filters and speculated about diesel fuel that had sat too long.

Soon we were in more protected waters.  Lou wrestled the weight back in place and after changing the secondary fuel filter on the Silver Streak we thought we had our problems fixed.  Lou continued on to Bremerton while Eric and I headed back across the sound to Seattle.  Unfortunately our troubles only got worse.  The engine would only run for few minuets at a time and restarting seemed to be getting more difficult.  

Eric is a good mechanic and I know a thing or two as well but these diesel engines are complicated.  Soon Eric and I were both on the phone trying to get some advice.  We were both well aware of the fact the wind was blowing us into shore.  After a few hours we had tried everything we could think of; there was nothing left to do but call for assistance.  

We were disappointed that we were unable to fix the problem but grateful for the captain of the vessel assist that towed up back to the marina.  Now we are quite confident that there is a blockage in the fuel line between the tank and the fuel filter.  With the tank three quarters full and with the boat rolling around in the waves there was little more we could have done.

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