Monday, November 28, 2016

Oil, Oil Everywhere

Friday November 25, 2016

The day before thanksgiving, I had done an oil change on our trusty Atomic-4 engine.  It was a dozen hours past it's scheduled 50 hour change, and I wanted to get that out of the way.  Well, I guess I was a little distracted and a little rushed to get back to visiting, and I put off doing a start-up test afterwards.  I should know better.

Friday morning, up bright and early to try and get in at least 50 miles in before dark, I started the engine.   Hmmmm... that oil pressure looks a little low.  Still well within specs, but lower than normal at a cold startup.  As I watched, and the engine warmed up, the pressure slowly started creeping lower.  At this point, I knew something wasn't right, and I ran below to pull off the engine cover.

I was greeted by the glistening sheen of oil everywhere!  It seems, in my haste to finish, I had committed the cardinal sin of forgetting to close the valve used vacuum extract the oil out of the engine!  It was now under full oil pressure, and squirting oil out mightily!   I quickly shut down, and no permanant damage was done, but what a mess!  I had managed to pump two whole quarts of oil all over the engine and into the bilge!!!

The next four hours were like one of those cleanup scenes you see on the beach after the Exxon Valdez.  After bailing over a gallon of oil-contaminated water out of the bilge and into containers, we went through half of our precious stock of paper towels and a bottle of detergent cleaning everything up.  The bilge is finally clean, but trace amounts of oil continue to weep out of hard-to-reach places on the engine, requiring constant touching-up.

And so, we finally set out, and only got in about 25 miles for the day.  We anchored behind one of the islands that form a regular chain to one side of the ICW in the wide shallow Indian River.  It turns out that this regularity isn't an accident. These islands were created from the dredge spoils when the ICW was originally dug.  This particular island was bigger than most, and had deep enough water behind it to form a good anchorage.  It's a popular spot for day trips and picnics, and there were several dinghys beached there when we arrived. There was also an intact shoal-draft sailboat washed completely up on the beach, with a bow line tying it to one of the trees. 
Another Victim of Matthew
 Another gorgeous sunset ended the day.
Sunset at Mile Marker 925
Amazingly, late at night when I had let my eyes get dark-adjusted, I could not only see the dim outline of the beached boat and its mast, but up at the top of the mast, the anchor light was still feebly glowing with a ghostly light!  This is more than a month after Matthew!

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