December 4, 2011 Trying out our New (for us) Headsail, and Bleeding the Engine

So, after a day of work on Saturday, we were really looking forward to a few hours of sailing on a beautiful, clear day on the Bay on Sunday.  The sun was out, and the wind was predicted to be about 11 knots in the afternoon.  We started the day by another first: we replaced our smaller Hood Yankee with a much larger headsail – we estimate that it is maybe 130 percent.  This headsail came with the purchase of the boat, and is obviously used, but still in fine condition.  It really isn’t very complicated to replace a sail on a furler after all, as it turns out, but it could be, I suppose, if you were doing it in 20-foot seas and gale-f0rce winds!  The furling line for the headsail was too short to accomodate this larger sail, so we’ll have to replace it.  Anyway, we were all ready to go try out our new, larger headsail to experience more power in lighter winds.  We tried to start the engine but for the first time since we bought her, she didn’t start.  She turned over, but wouldn’t catch.  The Diesel Clinic scheduled for December 3rd that Rick had tried to sign up for was already booked – darn – that would have been perfect timing!  Instead, we had to figure out what was wrong without the benefit of that class.

We diagnosed the problem as a fuel problem, but we’d run the starter for at least 10 seconds so the first thing Rick did was to drain sea water from the system.  The next thing he remembered was that our mechanic said that the most common source of engine fuel problems was air in the fuel line, so Rick figured out how to bleed the air from the system.  We found a blueprint for how to do it in some papers left from the previous owner, and by trial and error, Rick found the right adjusting screws and bleed the air from all the right places.  Voila! it started right up!  We’re not sure that indeed, air in the system was the problem (where would it have come from?), but at least Rick learned how to bleed it while in the safety of the dock, in case it is necessary again in less forgiving circumstances.  Now he needs to teach Cindy!  We decided that next weekend, we’d spend some time doing some engine maintenance, replacing the fuel filter and the oil, and getting started on that learning curve, with or without the class.

By this time, it was early afternoon and we really didn’t have enough time to do a “proper” sail.  However, we did get out of the slip long enough to put up the headsail alone and feel the wind fill her and power us forward – we can’t wait to play with her more!  The sail is MUCH more sail to handle than even our main sail – it will be interesting to see how she tacks, whether she will make it around the staysail headstay okay, whether she will make the sails harder to balance when sailing high into the wind, how we should adjust the fairleads, etc., but answering those questions will have to wait for another day.

This entry was posted in Engine, Sailing Northern California, Sails and Rigging. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *