The engine WORKS great!

After many days, I have finally solved the oil pressure problem. The engine runs just fine now. Unfortunately I am still not positive exactly what was wrong. All of the parts of the puzzle look excellent.

I eventually, successfully, removed the 37.6kg (almost 83 pound) flywheel. This was by far the most significant obstacle in getting to the solution. It is held on by a single very large nut in the center that is screwed on really hard. In the space available in the engine room, it is very difficult to apply enough force to remove it. Even with a special torque multiplying tool, I just could not do it this time in the normal manner. Eventually I figured out a way to use a hydraulic jack, to push on the end of a tool and generate enough torque. Once I figured that out, it was actually relatively easy.

Of course, you must keep the flywheel from turning and the forces involved are just as large, so that takes some ingenuity also. You don’t want to just jam a pipe into the flywheel and break some part. Causing a NEW problem that is probably virtually impossible to fix.

Here is a photo taken at about the time I successfully got the nut to turn.

The method that worked.

The method that worked.

Look Ma! No Flywheel!

Look Ma! No Flywheel!

Look Ma! No oil pump!

Look Ma! No oil pump!

Of course carrying the heavy flywheel out into the main cabin is not easy either. And my toes were definitely nervous that I would drop it. Likewise the paint job and woodwork were worried. But all went very well.

A tremendous amount of the delay was was when I would run into one of the many ‘you can’t get there from here’ problems, and have to think about it for a few days. And, when I was ready to reassemble things, I needed to clean the affected area of the engine very thoroughly, and let that dry so that I could then put on a primer, and let that dry and then put on paint and let that dry. In order to not have rust on the engine, I need to keep the paint in quite good condition. And it is all complicated and difficult to see everything. So, it pays one to lay in there in various positions, while shining lights from all directions, to make sure that everything necessary was first clean, and then primed, and then painted, with no missed spots.

I’m very glad to have the engine reliable again. Even though there are a lot of years on the engine, there are not a lot of hours, and very little wear. So, with luck, she will be a dependable friend for many more years.

Changing the subject:

I have Google News set to bring up new articles about Jeanne Socrates. BTW, I think she pronounces her 1st name almost like the English word John, but I’m not sure. Please give me the official version if you know.

There is a new and very nice article summarizing her adventure in more detail at:,-solo-circumnavigator,-looks-back-on-her-journey/114221

I think it might be helpful for the non-sailors reading this to have a little assistance. These are the things that I thought might be better to know about in advance.

AP = Auto Pilot
RRU = Rudder Reference Unit (This usually tells the autopilot, how much it needs to turn the rudder in order to get the desired effect. Knowing this, may help the autopilot to do a better job. For example, under certain combinations of wind, sea and the particular sails that the boat is using, you may have to have the rudder quite a bit off-center in order to steer a straight course. If the autopilot has the right software, it may be able to get a lot smarter by knowing what the angle of the rudder is as it works.)

Cooker = a term common in the United Kingdom. The stove she cooks her meals on. In an American kitchen it might be called a ‘range’. Which seems like an odd word. ‘Home on the Range?’ They typically run on propane or kerosene, and have 2 or 3 burners on top and an oven and sometimes a broiler. Space is at a premium, so good boat stoves tend to be smaller than in a house.

The article also mentioned that the gimbals of the cooker wore through before the end of the trip. Since boats in general and sailboats in particular tend to be tipped to one side, often for days at a time. It helps to have the cooker on pivots so that it stays approximately level even though the boat can be 20° or more to one side. And on a boat 20° seems like 45° or more. Especially since it’s usually jumping up and down at the same time. It would be a major nuisance if you could not keep the stove approximately level. And like so many things when you’re traveling long distances, out of sight of land, for weeks and months at a time, small things can become life-threateningly important.

Just try doing a strenuous activity, that you must do well or you will die, and add to the mix not being able to eat proper food because you cannot cook it. You may have hundreds of pounds of rice and beans and pasta on the boat, but they don’t do you much good unless you can cook them. And, there is the combination of fact that if something becomes very difficult to do, in an environment where just opening the hatch and looking around to make sure that a ship isn’t going to run over you is already so difficult that you can hardly do it. You can imagine that if cooking your meal becomes even more difficult than that, that there will be a tendency to not do it as often as you should. Which can lead to lead to a nasty downward spiral.

Another reason that microwaves are sometimes seen.

running backstay = The ‘backstay’ part is hopefully clear to everyone. You have this really big pole, the mast, sticking up more than 50 feet into the air with sails hanging on it that are generating huge forces to make the boat go through the water. There have been successful sailboats that just have a specially designed pole with no wires supporting it. But the vast majority of sailboats use very carefully designed wires to dramatically increase the strength of the mast. The backstay being the one that goes from the top of the mast to the back of the boat. If you have more than one mast, then usually each one has some equivalent wire. In addition tsimilar wires that go to the sides of the boat and to the front of the boat.

On older design boats that had a very long boom, you could not just simply run a wire from the top of the mast to the back of the boat. The boom was just too long. So, they had two backstay’s, that could be easily released or tightened up with a block and tackle. If for example, the boom was out to the left, you would probably be using the backstay that lived slightly more to the right.

When you want to change the boom to the other side, which might happen quite often, you needed to release one backstay and tightened the other as the boom crossed the centerline. If you released a backstay too soon, while there was still significant load on the mast, the mast can fall down. I have talked to people who learned this lesson the hard way.

With modern boats, I never see this, however. With a boat like Jeanne’s and Alegría, there are 2 wires, that can each support a sail, going from the front of the mast towards the front of the boat. There are various names for these. This type of boat is usually called a cutter and on Alegría, we call the forward most sail the jib and the smaller, inner sail, the staysail. Frequently the staysail causes a lot of strain on its wire that pulls forward on the mast. This can easily break the mast, which is also hardly ever good.

So, it is common, to have a running backstay attached near where the wire for the staysail attaches to the mast and running back to someplace towards the back of the boat. Not usually all the way back. However, this means that when the boom needs to come over further, the running backstay may be in the way. So, at the appropriate time, you need to release one running backstay and tighten the other. Ideally, you would tightened the 2nd one BEFORE you release the 1st one.

Virtually every part of any boat has a special maritime name. To make it even more confusing these names are almost always words used on land to mean something else entirely. And it is not rare for boaters to use them incorrectly, which makes it even harder to learn the correct version.

On a boat we usually refer to the standing rigging and the running rigging. The standing rigging includes those wires that are virtually permanent. These are usually holding up the mast. And the running rigging usually consists of ropes, now days made of polyester or some exotic super fiber. The running rigging regularly changes. Raising and lowering sails, etc. So the running backstay would be a backstay that frequently changes. Since you want it to be very low stretch, almost all of it is usually stainless steel wire, with a special quick release fitting at the bottom or a block and tackle. The super duper boats are using man made fibers that are lighter and have less stretch than steel. But the cost and other disadvantages keep them off of Alegría.

I particularly liked the quote, ‘Take your time, act early…’ regarding weather. The wind can change very suddenly and cause life-threatening situations. However, it usually gives you some warning if you know what to look for. And like most things in life, if you are in a panic, especially if things are breaking all around you, or that is a distinct possibility in the very near future, you will not function as well, and you will certainly not enjoyed as much as if you have already made proper precautions when it was easy. Pretty self-evident stuff.

Especially important when there is only one of you. Like a chess game you need to be thinking at least 3 or 4 moves ahead.

When we were sailing near the equator, on our trip to and from the South Pacific, in an area called the doldrums, we quickly learned to pay attention to the many relatively small white puffy clouds. Most of them had very strong winds, often from a different direction, underneath them. So, our solution was to as best we could, with a very light winds that we were experiencing most of the time, was to try to steer a course that did not cause us to go underneath any of these clouds. That was often possible with effort. But, if it looks like you were not going to be able to miss the cloud, you reduced the amount of sail that you are carrying, in anticipation of a sudden increase in wind speed. Perhaps 80% of the time that did occur. And it was certainly worth doing unnecessarily for the other 20%.

Many years ago there was a very funny commercial for Tropicana Twister, a fruit drink. The following link talks about it:

There were many good commercials for this product, but the one I am thinking of, had a stereotypical, ‘holier than thou’ preacher who was telling us in very pious tones to certainly avoid Tropicana Twister. “It’s more excitement than decent people need.”

Well, going under those particular clouds with their sudden violent wind also qualifies as “It’s more excitement than decent people need.” I use that phrase a lot.


Changing the subject again:
Please take the time to have a look at:

She was honored with a Google doodle recently. I was not familiar with her and found the article extremely interesting.

Be sure to have lots of fun every day,



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