Hello from Jo and Mike aboard Morning Star. We arrived in Saipan on May 28th after quite an eventful passage. Firstly we didn’t see any wind over 10 knots for the entire trip. The average was around 7. Whilst this is enough to get Morning Star moving, the combination of the dacron cruising sails (which are a good 10% smaller than the race sails) and an extra 100kgs of cruising gear, meant she was really struggling in the light breeze. We did however have 200 litres of diesel onboard and I had every intention of using all of it.
The engine however had other plans and halfway through the passage decided to stop. This was in the middle of the night and I decided it could wait until the morning to investigate further. The fact it had just cut out, suggested a fuel problem as it would also still turn over – just not run. I checked the primary filter, the liquid inside all seemed to be the same colour, but there was a bit of diesel bug around the bottom of the glass. I thought I better drain this out to start with. That’s when I realised, to my horror the filter was full of murky water …. Literally all water.! I then went to the secondary filter. Again, this was fill to the brim with water. Not good!
I set to work draining the fuel tank. I was draining it into a coke bottle then into a bucket and as it was all water, I then threw it over the side. Some people talk about the silly mistakes they make on the 3am shift. For me, I’m at my worst first thing in the morning. And so, I had put the top of the Racor filter unit in the bucket I was pouring dirty water into and didn’t think anything of it ……. until I heaved it over the side. It wasn’t until I watched it sink into 3,000 meters of water that I realised what I had just done. So – that was the end of fixing the engine.
A day later, after I had calmed down from this simple act of stupidity. I disconnected the fuel lines, put in a clean secondary filter and hooked the system to run out of a jerry can. After bleeding the engine back to the injectors, it finally coughed back to life. Whilst this didn’t give us much fuel to play with, it did mean we could motor into port and keep our batteries charged. With this limited amount of fuel, it took us 12 days to get to Saipan.
On arrival, we were in for more difficulties. We believed we had the correct visas to enter Saipan but it turned out that this wasn’t the case. We were told by Border Control in no uncertain terms that we were to turn around and leave their territorial waters immediately, or we would face a $5000 fine and further consequences. It took a lot of back and forth but we were finally able to prove we had a genuine problem with the boat and were granted 7 days of ‘parole’ on the island to fix it. Whilst it was a good outcome, it was quite an unpleasant experience.
After this initial difficulty, we are now loving Saipan. The locals are friendly and helpful, we have met some American yachties with some great stories to tell, and have been exploring the island.
I fly out on the 2nd of June, and Ken Gourlay is flying in (with parts for the Racor filter) to sail Morning Star to New Caledonia with my father.
Many thanks to Jo for the update and we wish her well as she heads to New Caledonia for her next race. Across the journey to Osaka, Jo took no photos and she’s kept up with tradition on this next leg! The shots we’ve used were taken by Fujimoto San as Morning Star left OHYC.