May 18-29 – engine problems in the Whitsundays

We left Scarborough Marina on May 18 and anchored a short distance away north of Sandhill.  Next morning we headed north to Whitsunday Island to meet up with Nick and Kathy on Impala.  We motored for almost three days when the engine overheated.  Jim changed the impeller because one of the impeller blades broke off.  The manual says it’s essential to find any lose bits to avoid blockage.  We hoped it wouldn’t come to disassembling the whole thing.

On the 23rd the Beta generator developed a problem with the fuel line, not running well, so Jim changed the Raycor and Beta filters after we dropped anchor in Refuge Bay at Scawfell Island.  20-51.632S, 149-35.948E in 26 ft.  No wind, overcast, water surface smooth as glass and it’s very warm.  We started noticing butterflies.

On the 24th we motored to Mary Port Bay at Brampton Island and anchored in 35ft. close to Impala.  20-47.884S, 149-15.882E.  As we approached the island we started seeing a lot of butterflies flying back and forth between the islands – I mean a serious number of butterflies.  And there was Impala surrounded by butterflies – it was a memorable moment and a missed photo op.  Mary Port Bay was like a postcard with a sandy clay bottom and gentle rolling swell.  Too bad we couldn’t go in the water.

May 25 we upped the anchor at 9:40am and reanchored in Neck Bay on Shaw Island at 2:20pm.  20-27.515S, 149-04.652E.  There were a few butterflies, it was sunny and windy and the water looked dirty.  Jim replaced the primary fuel filter on the Yanmar and replaced the fuel filter on the Raycor and disassembled the Raycor and cleaned it.  It was impossible to get to shore because of the rocks and coral.  It was good holding in the sand/mud bottom but we spent a rolly night from the swells.

May 26 our anchor was up at 9am and we reanchored at 12:30 in Whitehaven Bay on Whitsunday Island.  20-17.497S, 149-03.233E.  The engine overheated just at the end of the Solway Pass just as we were coming into the Bay.  Jim tried to work on it while I tacked across the bay.  It was a stressful and frustrating day in paradise but Impala picked us up and took us back to their boat for lunch.  A rain squall came through at 6:30pm.  This place was hopping with boats, charters, day boats and sea planes coming and going.

May 27 – Jim found the impeller piece, fixed the engine and Impala gave us a ride to shore for a long walk on Whitehaven Beach.  At 2pm we upped the anchor and attempted to motor but the engine overheated again so under sail only, and with Impala’s help, we managed to drop the anchor at Cateran Bay on Border Island at 5pm.  20-09.291S, 149-01.942E.  51 ft.  At this point we decided to go to Plan B, skip the other islands, and work our way in to Airlie Beach for repairs.  Jim checked out the engine and observed that the coolant in the heat exchanger was low even though the header tank was full.  He added coolant to the heat exchanger and hoped that might solve the problem.

May 28 we left at 8:20am with no engine but used it to motor through the pass.  We anchored at 12:30pm in Sawmill Bay on Whitsunday Island in 27ft.  20-15.623S, 148-56.450E.  Again Jim checked out the engine.  Running at 24rpm for about 10 minutes the temperature was good.  At least it was a lovely sail into the Bay but it feels like nothing is going right.

May 29 we left Sawmill at 9am and motored into Abell Point Marina,  We had rain early in the morning, no wind, and we were glad to be in a berth to sort out our problems.  The Yanmar and the Beta got a thorough inspection and both were fixed.  The Beta fuel line was reconfigured and cleaned.  You can ask for details.  The Yanmar got a new heat exchanger cap and you can ask for details.


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