Heroes come in different forms

We find the problem. 10 years of grime and soot.

20th June 2020

St Mawes, Falmouth, UK  – Falmouth Marina, UK via Old Kea, Falmouth, UK & St Just, Falmouth.

Heroes come in many different forms. Some don face masks and rubber gloves and work for the NHS, others simply put their pants on outside their trousers and wrap a cape around their shoulders. Some came in plain clothes and simply don’t know they are heroes.

Still with a very sick engine we were getting to the bottom of our kit bag of things to try to fix it. One of the causes of black smoke coming from an engine is overloading and so Iain took it upon himself to once again check that everything was A-OK down below. Like a true man he donned a wet suit and squealed like a girl as the cold water made its presence known in places that remain seldom explored.

Once in the frigid waters the splashing began. He dived time and time again under Ruffian, exploring seldom visited places and as time went on the prop was burnished to its former shiny glory, the slime on the hull removed and the shaft rubbed smooth. As he emerged from the waters, with numb hands and feet it was clear that everything that had been underneath the boat was now on him. His hair crawled with tiny critters, hands were blue with antifoul and everywhere water could get, weed had got. In this state he questioned Fiona if a wash was required!

Hoping beyond hope that removing any growth would magically remove the engine problem we sparked it up and put the engine under load. Our hopes rose in line with the revs and were extinguished just as quickly by the clouds of black smoke that poured from poor Ruffian. We resolved that to fix this we’d need some serious expertise. Fingers and toes were crossed that on Tuesday Adrian, from highly recommended AJ Marine, would prove to be a complete hero and fix something that we couldn’t.

With nothing more we could do ourselves for the engine, and the summer having officially started, the paths and fields around the picture-perfect St Just were calling. Stepping ashore we strode into summers of Iain and Fiona’s childhood. Bales to hay stood in fields waiting to be stored for winter and flutterbye’s wafted in the gentle breeze. Far below us Ruffian nestled safely at anchor and shimmered in the heat haze formed in the newly mown fields. This scene of summer could have only been made more perfect by the addition of a farmer of a classic tractor. Cue the farmer of his old school Massey.

For most, the main draw of St Just is the centuries old church that sits surrounded by palm trees and exotic plants on the edge of the creek where waves gentle lap at that the base of a fabled well. For us it was the olde worlde boatyard. Tucked away boatyards often hide real gems, Valsheda the famous J class yacht was found rotting in the Hamble and Donald Crowhurst’s Teignmouth Electron sat undiscovered for years. Would St Just also offer up something?

At the far end of the yard Iain was instantly transported back to the 90’s. One of the most extreme boats of the era sat with brambles slowly taking over and it’s mast held up by a Heath Robinson array of ropes. Iain had discovered the legendary Ultra 30, “DBS”. The last time we’d seen this boat it was hurtling around St Peter Port, Guernsey with 8 people on trapezes doing what we then thought were breakneck speeds. Today, with no carbon, no foils, small racks and an agricultural construction it looked like a dinosaur, and a dinosaur it was.

Back on-board Ruffian while sitting in the sun we were up for our second surprise of the day. Iain’s phone pinged and within minutes we were expecting our first guest of the trip. Our whereabouts had become known to Henry, an old friend from our RS400 days. At that moment his and our worlds couldn’t have been further apart, he was sitting in his law firm in Truro dealing with the cut and thrust of complicated company mergers and acquisitions while we sat in Ruffian in the sun. Quick as a flash however he changed from this office setting and blasted across the flat water of Falmouth Harbour in his rib. Our worlds collided and they were both richer for it.

As Tuesday dawned we headed off to meet what we hoped would be our knight in shining armour. After a tentative motor across the bay we tied up in Falmouth Yacht Marina and waited with baited breath for him to stride down the pontoon.

After firing up the engine Adrian deployed his expert ear and as black smoke enveloped Ruffian, he picked out a ‘ting, ting, ting’ that hadn’t been audible to us. Quick as a flash he’d diagnosed the issue, briefed us on the causes and fix, and off came the exhaust elbow*. He was proving to be the hero that we’d hoped for and relief flowed over us.

Inside the exhaust elbow was like the black hole of Calcutta. It was full of 10 years’ worth of soot, leaving nowhere for the hot gasses to go apart from, either back into the cylinders or out at very high pressure, hence the black smoke. Then just as you’d expect of Iain he decided to give it a prod and Adrian imparted more useful knowledge by warning him away from it! He really was the hero of the moment, in more ways than one.

With Ruffian now 100% happy, Adrian has not only imparted his hard-fought knowledge to us, he has also given us the best of gifts. He’s given us freedom; freedom to roam; freedom to sail; freedom to anchor. We now just need to decide where that freedom will take us. * The exhaust elbow sits where the hot exhaust gasses leave the engine and mixes this exhaust with the raw water that has gone through the heat exchanger. This mixing enables the hot gasses to safely leave the boat without causing a fire hazard.

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Author: Iain & Fiona Lewis

5 thoughts on “Heroes come in different forms

  1. Phew great news that you are set free again and I now blame you for the dramatic change in the weather!
    I remember the Ultra 30 series too, amazing how much has changed.

  2. Relief! Glad that happened in a place you could help! We head out on Joyant tomorrow now we are able to cautiously venture out.

  3. The joys of marine engines always something you would never imagine could be so disruptive ! Great read as all your blogs are during there’s uncertain times, it’s good to see places I never knew were accessible by boat.

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