09 – 31 July 2011
So we thought the freezer was repaired. We had returned from our great excursion to Ronda, I thought I had gone off to Morrisons Supermarket to stock up of English goodies for the last time and Skipper thought he would give the engine and freezer a final run before our departure the following day. Well WE THOUGHT WRONG!!!
When I returned laden down with bags of groceries one look at Mark told me all was not well. The engine had been running smoothly, the freezer had been cooling down – but then the freezer went into overdrive causing the engine rev’s to drop dramatically, and the newly repaired freezer condenser copper pipes fractured causing frion (freezing gas) to escape around the engine compartment. This was not a good thing and we were back to where we had started 3 weeks previously.
It almost goes without saying that it was now the weekend and it was the beginning of a 2 week long summer fiesta in Algeciras, Spain where the shipyard was located that had performed the repairs. We really weren’t that confident in sending the condenser back to somewhere for the 3rd time but Marcus assured us they normally were very good at what they did and and we had been very unlucky, and basically we had little choice. We looked into the options of having a whole new condenser made but it was decided that they could just chop both ends off, totally replace the serpent copper coil inside and weld the ends back on. Sounds straight forward, but then they couldn’t get the right sized copper so Marcus had to source that for us and they were only working 4 hour days because of the holidays – time to sit and play the waiting game - again.
To add insult to injury we noticed our water pump going when we weren’t using any water and investigated further. Our newly installed (in Gibraltar when we arrived) fresh water pipes had all cracked and were leaking into the bilge. How can this be? We decided that when the frion escaped from the gas pipes it would have chilled the air dramatically and possibly cracked the pipes, there was no other explanation, and no solution except to remove and replace them – again. We like to have things to do but this was getting ridiculous.
To keep our chins up, we now had some kiwis in harbour to wait and play with. John and Maudi on Ariki Tai had just brought a brand new, straight out of the shipyard, Cigale 16m speed machine, had sailed it down from France and were having it shipped to Australia. The shipment date kept being delayed so they were playing the waiting game too. Then there was Berserka II with Craig and Pam from Auckland, they have been living in England for a few years and decided to buy a yacht and sail home instead of flying. They had had quite an adventurous crossing of the Bay of Biscay in some big seas and strong winds, then more lively sailing down the Portuguese coast. So they were doing a few repairs and projects before heading across the Med with a view to going down the Red Sea and heading for Asia. This was a talking point over several kiwi happy hours.
Pam and Craig were the first to escape Gibraltar’s clutches. A few days later we joined Ariki Tai for a harbour tour, as we had offered to help with their loading. They had been advised to be ready to be hoisted onboard the ship at 7pm and had checked with the agent at 4.30pm to check all was on schedule and advised it was. We had left the marina at 6pm and at around 9.30pm we finally moved alongside - well they had waited 2 weeks, what was another few hours - the ladder came down and several men boarded, the slings were attached and some time later the hoisting began – eeek we were pointing downhill this is not a good thing so we were slowly lowered again and the slings moved, on the 2nd attempt all went well and Ariki Tai was onboard the Seven Seas Transporter Ship. It had been a long afternoon, we should have packed happy hour nibbles, refreshments and probably dinner but we never expected such a delay.
Maudi had emptied all the food off to comply with Australian Quarantine laws (and kindly given it to us), so the cupboards were bare, it was water all round. It was Johns 70th birthday and he got a packet of crisps and a beer for his birthday dinner at 1am!!!! Maudi emailed us to say they finally left the ship at 12.30am, they had spoken to the Captain who had told them that as far as he knew the ship was not bound for Australia – we will be very interested to get further updates, just how many Brisbanes are there????
Friday afternoon Marcus called to tell us the condenser was ready, but it was too late for him to get across to Spain to collect it before they closed, and guess what – Monday was a public holiday!!!! But there was cricket, golf and another Grand Prix on over the weekend so the days just passed by, never has Mark watched so much sport while cruising. Tuesday morning the condenser finally returned and we set about to re-install it. We are getting good at this now, practice makes perfect, but it became apparent to both of us immediately that all was not well. It can only go in one way and it was all back to front. They had welded the ends on the wrong way round and the pipes were now facing in the wrong direction. Not surprisingly we were not impressed.
So for the fourth time the condenser leaves Gibraltar bound to Spain.
It is back Wednesday and we finally get it installed for what we hope will be the last time, the gas pipes are reattached, and it is refilled with frion. The engine is run for a couple of hours and the freezer is working, what relief. We have now run it three days in a row and it is still working, so at last we are ready to leave Gibraltar. Yesterday we cleaned all the aviation fuel, dirt, dust, bird droppings etc off the boat, polished it all up and she was looking great. After 44 days of mostly sunshine this morning it was raining and we have had wind gusts up to 30 knots, it has rained dirt and Balvenie is filthy. The rain looks to have passed, time to clean up again.
The weather and tides will now dictate our departure. There is no escape from Gibraltar for Balvenie just yet.
For info on the marinas and onshore facilities in Gibraltar click here to go to Balvenies Cruising Info blog.