Adventures with Awen

Well, the time finally came.  We had sold the old Moody Blue, so we now had a little bit of money to deal with boat problems.  We had bought the Draiocht, so that we had a reliable runabout while we were sorting out the Awen‘s engine problems.  We had bought a new motor for the Awen, and that was now waiting for us in Campbell River.  Ken had created an amazing jury-rigged contraption on the back of the Awen to hold the little 9.9 hp outboard that was going to help us get to Campbell River.  The westerlies had calmed down at last.  We were now ready to take the Awen to Campbell River and get her “repowered”.

Sounds simple, eh?  Not if you’ve been around boats for awhile!

The Awen‘s engine would only run for about an hour or so, before overheating (the block was pitted just underneath the head gasket, and gases from the cylinders were bypassing into the coolant system, boiling the coolant out and causing the engine to overheat).  So we ran the main engine until it overheated, then ran the outboard while the main was cooling, and repeated ad nauseum for two days.  Sometimes we barely made speeds of 3 knots, other times we were luckier, and had the wind and currents with us and got up to the amazing velocity of 5 knots.

We got into Campbell River, and after that, life was a bit of a blur.  The original concept was to pull out the old engine, then drop in the new one, and hope that everything fits OK.  Of course, the new engine is a bit bigger (57 hp as compared to 40 hp) and much more modern.  So, do you think it really would be all that easy?  No, of course not.  One week gradually dragged into two weeks as a new engine bed was constructed, the exhaust system was completely replaced, a new battery was installed, wiring issues were addressed, and so on …  The mechanics were good, and the work was done well, but no one can ever predict how long (time) or how much (money) an engine replacement will take.

In the meantime, we had much to keep us busy while the mechanics were working on the engine.  We had a list of “winter” projects that needed to be done, and spent our days tromping around Campbell River on foot picking up all the bits and pieces we would need.  Once we had accumulated as much stuff as we could carry, we would head back to the Awen (we were staying onboard her), drop our load off, and head back out to get more stuff.  We averaged about three trips a day.

Life in Campbell River wasn’t all bad.  We had a chance to catch up with friends – a long time friend from my UBC days, and some new OTG friends that we are just getting to know.  So there were lots of good ideas shared and stories told!

Finally, last Thursday, we were off, with a new engine installed and the Awen able to move under her own power for more than an hour at a time. We were pretty “citied” (a new word that I have created that is the opposite of “bushed”), and very happy to be underway.  The weather was absolutely splendid – sunny, a light southeast breeze at our backs, and the currents running in our direction.  It can’t get any better than that!  We were still traveling slow – the new engine needs about 50 hours break in with specific speeds that you need to travel at within those 50 hours.  The first ten are spent at 60% throttle, which is quite slow.  We also will need to get a new propeller, as the one we currently have is too small for the new engine, and thus not very efficient.  This will be a future issue that we will need to work on.  In any case, we made it to Kelsey Bay Thursday night, and then home Friday afternoon. Yeah!


Image: Awen’s new engine.