Monday, November 6, 2017

Bump on a log

Not our log, just one floating by at anchor. The
picture doesn't do justice to how big it is but the one
that got us was much bigger.
When I was growing up, we knew a Filipino family with the surname 'Alog'. The running joke was to come up with new names for kids that went with 'Alog' (think 'Sit on', 'Trip on'). Yes it was juvenile, but we were kids.

The difference in water from the outflow of the Mamberamo River.
This is 16 miles offshore.
Well, you might as well call us 'Hit Alog'. There are big logs floating in the waters here.  Indonesia has some very large rainforests, in which grow some very large trees, which fall into very large rivers, which flood after very large rains and carry the trees out into the sea.  Where they float around for a very long time. So just because you aren't near a river mouth doesn't mean you're safe.  Some of the logs are small and stubby, some are the size of telephone poles and some are really massive.
After sailing in Indonesia waters for nine days and nights, we saw logs around but hadn't hit (or even needed to dodge) any. Then one night, after purposely slowing down in case we did hit something, we heard a couple of big thumps and raced outside.  We shone the spotlight on a big log slowly emerging from under our port transom. It pulled clear after a few seconds, but the damage was done.

The propeller strut had bent and the shaft pulled backwards with enough force to pull the engine off one mount and twist another two.  The movement of the engine caused the oil pressure sensor to be sheared off (which is how we discovered the damage--we only found it the next morning when the engine low oil pressure alarm wouldn't immediately shut off and Matt turned off the engine and headed down to see what was amiss).  Strangely, the shaft saver (which is supposed to be a sacrificial piece that takes the brunt of the impact and protects the engine and transmission) was slightly deformed,  but still in one piece. To prevent the out-of-true shaft from spinning and doing any further damage, Matt put the transmission into reverse to lock the prop down.  This resulted in losing a half knot of speed since the large 3-blade fixed prop had now turned into nothing but a sea anchor.  Luckily our friends on Field Trip had a puller and Matt was able to get the prop off the shaft, so at least we don't have excessive drag any more. Our next step is to decide whether to head down to Australia, where there are facilities to haul us out, get parts and do the appropriate machine work.
The stretch since we left New Zealand almost two years ago is the longest we have ever been away from 'civilization.' So there are a number of tasks we should get done anyway. Besides the auto-pilot issue, our windlass is acting up and our generator needs a new rear seal, so some proper boat expertise and access to parts is sorely needed.

Besides the propeller damage, there was just a light scuff on the bottom paint. The copper coat is sturdy stuff. Ever since the log incident, we have only sailed during daylight hours. This isn't so bad since our first couple overnight sails in Indonesia brought sudden squalls that seemed to hit with rapid shifts and gusts of high wind.  So shutting the boat down for the night has its benefits...

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