September 25, 2011
Before going to England to see family and friends and to celebrate my 60th birthday, we spent a couple of days exploring Valencia. It’s a good mix of old and new with some exciting modern architecture. The Rio Turia (I think it is) has been diverted around the city, following some serious flooding, and the old river bed is now an amenity/wildlife area, right in the city centre.
We berthed Muskrat in the new Marina Juan Carlos I that hosted the 32nd and 33rd America’s Cup and around which the Spanish F1 Grand Prix is held. It’s an excellent marina with very helpful staff but the toilet facilities are disappointing.
On returning to Valencia we were pleased to see that our new house batteries had arrived safely from England. We had tried to source them locally through a ship agent before arriving so that they could be fitted before we left for England.
That wasn’t to be, although the electrician arrived with the batteries on the appointed day we could see they were the wrong type (not sealed). So, he took them away and returned with some sealed ones but our suspicions were raised when we loaded them onto the boat as they felt far too light. Fortunately, the battery terminals were a different size and the electrician went to get new connectors, giving us time to research the batteries on the net. They were car engine starting batteries! Not at all suitable, as they would only last a matter of months, if that. I confess to being ignorant of the different types of lead acid batteries until faced with replacing ours. Without getting too technical, they need to be a deep cycle type so that they can be repeatedly discharged, which car batteries can’t.
Having installed the new batteries, we were keen to get back to Ibiza in good time to meet Adam, Stacey and their sons, who were joining us for nine days after their original holiday plans had been scuppered. We left Valencia at 0435 on Sunday only to return again at 0550 with an overheating engine.
Once back in our berth we set about investigating the cause. After checking the usual suspects: prop wrap, raw water pump impeller, thermostat, etc., we couldn’t find anything amiss so ‘phoned our ‘shipping agent’, Paco. He had helped us earlier, arranging for our dinghy outboard motor to be repaired and attempting to source the new house batteries (it wasn’t his fault they were the wrong type). He’d warned us he was going to be very busy over the weekend as ‘The World’ was stopping in Valencia for a few days. He still responded well and quickly arranged for a marine diesel engineer to be with us first thing Monday morning.
The engineer found that the heat exchanger (although the engine is similar to a water cooled car engine, it has a flow of sea water around the engine coolant in a heat exchanger, instead of air through a radiator, to cool it) was partially blocked with bits of the broken impeller we had failed to locate in Lexios last year. Some of the waterways were also severely reduced by corrosion and it was taken away for servicing.
After re-fitting the heat exchanger we took Muskrat out for a sea trial. Still it was overheating, although maybe not quite as much. The engineer recommended we have the boat lifted out of the water to clean the propeller as, he said, the fouling is particularly bad in Valencia.
Despite the overheating, after dropping off the engineer in the marina, we immediately set off again for Ibiza. We felt bad doing that as it broke one of our rules: not to go anywhere unless conditions are right because of external time pressures. However, Carole was worried sick about A, S & sons arriving the following morning without anywhere to go. Of course, as Adam said when we met them, they could easily have found a hotel to check into.
It was 1500 hours and we needed to be at the airport by 0900. Typically, we had a light easterly breeze which meant we motored all the way. We found we could keep the engine at about 2000 rpm without it overheating too much and were able to average 5 knots.
We arrived in the marina in San Antonio at 0720, tied up and hot footed it to the bus station to catch the 0800 bus to the airport, a journey of about forty five minutes, explaining to the bemused attendant that we would return in a couple of hours to complete the necessary paperwork. Phew! We made the bus with twenty minutes to spare, having originally allowed ourselves five days to get to Ibiza, a distance of 82 Nm.