“Gc rushed up the flybridge visibly in distress, his hair standing straight on his head, his face still bearing the marks of the pillow.” – It’s Patti recounting this time. “He looked disoriented. It was 2 am and Salvo and I were on night watch. Gc, with a strange look on his face, finally managed to utter a few words: ‘We’re sinking! We’re sinking! Is everything ok? Aren’t we sinking?!… Salvo and I looked at each other not knowing what to think. Then Salvo barely had the time to ask: ‘Captain are you all right? Are you not feeling well?’, when Gc quickly disappeared leaving us wondering… ..had the captain lost it?”
Gc chipped in feeling the need to explain: “In my defense, I hadn’t slept in a few nights....It must have been the sound of the bilge pump going off that night while I was asleep that triggered my dream of Gladan sinking… The dream felt so real that it took a while for me to calm down. I jumped out of bed, run upstairs, asked Salvo and Patti whether we were sinking or not, and then found myself alone downstairs in the saloon. Only then it finally hit me; it had just been a dream and everything was actually ok….At that point, I made my way upstairs once again, this time to explain things and apologize to Salvo and Patti, who couldn’t stop laughing!! What a night!”
Now everyone was laughing, wihle taking another sip of dark, sweet, aged rum. I started picturing Gc in his pants, half asleep, running upstairs ready for action…and I realised how much pressure every captain is constantly under…
“And then, of course, the generator broke down!” – Gc started sharing another critical moment of the crossing.
“I think it was exactly a day and a half after we fixed the water maker. I was on night shift and, while doing my routine checks, I noticed that the freezer temperature was -14 instead of -18. The batteries were running low and needed topping up so I went to turn the generator on. At first, it started but, after a few seconds, it went off! The error code on the generator signaled ‘no cooling water flowing’.
That usually means that the impeller is not working.
We just needed to replace it, which was not a big deal as I always carry spare parts, including old impellers….easy job! When opening the cupboard where the spare impellers were meant to be I couldn’t believe my eyes…. it wasn’t there! I emptied the cupboard, checked everywhere inside, but … nothing, it just wasn’t there! I mean…. there were loads of other impellers but not the one I needed for the generator.
I did not know how to tell the crew! Less than 2 days before it was the water maker and now this!!
This was a major issue, much worse than the water maker breaking down! If clouds persisted, the solar panels would not produce enough energy to recharge the batteries which would mean no freshwater AGAIN, no freezer, no bread maker, no autopilot, ultimately no navigation instruments….no nothing!”
OK, maybe the captain slightly exaggerated there….with 1,100 Watts of solar panels -even at reduced capacity due to the overcast sky- surely they could still use some of those things. But they would have certainly needed to say goodbye to freshwater (as they could have not used the water maker without generator) and the freezer…with all its content!
Gc assembled the crew around the table and broke the news about the generator. While Edward went to count the energy bars left in his grab bag ;), the others started to analyse the situation. What options were there?
- modifying one of the spare impellers to fit the one that needed replacing – very difficult to achieve as in order for it to work it has to be a very precise fit.
- fitting an alternative pump to cool down the engine – hoping it lasts for the next 3 weeks!
“We decided the second was definitely our best chance”. Said Salvo. “While Gc listed all the various pumps onboard of Gladan, my attention was caught by the washdown pump, (this is a pump that can suck water either from the sea or from the water tanks). I came up with this idea…what if we use the washdown pump, set on seawater, and attach a long hose that would reach the generator (from the front to the back of the boat)? That way we could bypass the impeller and feed saltwater straight into the cooling system….That might actually work!” Salvo recalled.
Everyone agreed that this could be a solution, providing the pump had enough flow to cool the engine down. Definitely worth a try though!
After an entire afternoon of trials, manufacturing the right hose adaptor to avoid any leaks, it was time to test it. In an atmosphere of absolute silence, buttons were pressed, the pump was on, the flow of seawater started and the generator came to life. Now the moment of truth. The silence became deafening, everyone’s focus was on the generator: would it stop within the first ten seconds or would it stay on? Would the flow be enough to cool the engine down or would the temperature sensor stop the engine once more?
A few more moments of suspense were followed by an explosion of happiness and high fives! It worked!! All crew went back to their stations, making water, baking bread, recharging batteries… Once again the super crew had saved the day!
In between crisis, the entire shoulder of Jamon that was bought in Las Palmas was ‘being reshaped’, mahi-mahi was cooked and eaten in all possible ways; as sushi and sashimi, grilled, panfried….
Lasagne, risotti, fish soups and more pizza were cooked and consumed daily. Blame it on the constant crisis on board or on the sea air, the crew always had a healthy appetite and the best moment of the day was when the chef on duty would say ” food’s ready, let’s sit down and eat!”