Never leave port on a Friday - a sad tale from Crystal Blues

Getting home the hard way - but what happens when the outboard dies?
Ley and Neil Langford
Most of the time Sail-World's real-life tales sent in by cruising sailors are of dreamy far-off destinations, stimulating adventures on land, stunning sunsets and good times with other cruising sailors. However, just to balance the equation, the following story may help to bring some reality to the dream. Neil and Ley Langford have been cruising for many years, with their fair share of exotica, but not this time:

Never leave port on a Friday, and never sail with a woman onboard - well we won't go there. So we broke all the old rules last Friday and were severely punished!


We cleared out of Singapore heading for a 4 day stopover on the Johore River in Malaysia. We anchored overnight and departed just before dawn with favourable light winds and current. Then the dawn peace was shattered by an engine alarm - coolant temperature was high. Despite having the necessary parts on board we soon found ourselves limping back to Singapore under dinghy power.

When the alarm sounded we shut down, quickly hoisted the sails and slowly made our way through one of Singapore's big ship anchorages. As we sailed we started stripping the engine cooling system, starting with the gearbox oil cooler - if the impeller had failed the parts would be pushed through the system to that point.

A handfull of rubber bits confirmed our assumption, so we then started removing the seawater pump. We kept sailing, letting the engine cool down and when the breeze stopped we dropped anchor just east of Changi airport.

The water pump location on the Cummins is tucked well forward, where access is mainly by feel, not sight, through a small opening under the galley sink. Our 11mm ring spanner was too long for Neil to use in such a confined space, so on the back step we used the angle grinder to cut it down.

All was going well until the last bolt head sheared off as we released it. Now we had no wind, no motor and nine nautical miles to return to the marina. (Editor: Well that's better than it happening in the middle of the Pacific)

With the dinghy sprung with long lines, just aft of midship, we hung all our fenders overboard to protect the hull.
We saw two Dockwise transports - wish we could have hitched a ride
Ley and Neil Langford

Well smothered in sunscreen and holding an umbrella we did shifts in powering forward, sitting in the dinghy. Steerage was via the autopilot as we moved at 3.5 to 4 knots back to the marina.

Half way back the 18hp Tohatsu outboard motor started cutting out. It would start again after a few squeezes on the inline priming pump, but it was quite stressful as we were drifting in a ship anchorage.

We were sun burned, dehydrated and not having much fun!

Fortunately our good neighbours, Peter and Somkuan of MV Inn Lieu came out in their large RIB dinghy and towed us the last few miles home. Once inside the marina we maneuvered under dinghy power and quietly slipped into our pen.

Now the 'holiday' can begin again.

To read more about the doings of Crystal Blues and her crew, http://svcrystalblues.blogspot.com/!click_here

Crystal Blues 1
Ley and Neil Langford