30 Oct Guest Post – Fire in the Engine Room by Don McIntyre
“Shit it's full of smoke!” ...Mark’s famous last words!!
I jumped to the engine room. And sure enough!! FULL of smoke. I shut the door immediately confused…. we were at anchor with the Generator running after dinner…Mel had turned it on 2 hours before charging the batteries and to increase the load for the generator (not good to run the engine on a light load) I decided to turn the aircon on for the first time since Subic…about 15 minutes later the battery charger and aircon tripped off? I was trying to guess what was happening (with my foot up in the air in the saloon, as my Gout is still raging) and Mel reading me all the gauges by the pilot house when I thought…? wow!!…and said to Mark…. check the gen now!
The motor of the gen was still running, so we killed that and all battery switches…I could not see flames, too much smoke. I went to shut down the blowers into the engine room BUT they were NOT on??..so that was good and bad…at least it was not a raging fire which it would have had to be to produce that much smoke with the blowers on….but more likely just smouldering electrical stuff!. So, I turned on two blowers both sucking the smoke out of the engine room and held the E.R. door slightly open to draw air from the cabin now smoky too…all the time looking for flames ready to shut down the blowers immediately…
When there was too much smoke to breath, but enough to see, I held my breath went in and removed covers on the gen looking for flames. Fortunately, there were none. After a few trips in and out catching my breath, we could see everything was stable and no fire, but just a sad burnt out looking electrical generator with burnt paint and who knows what mess inside!!…the engine room temp was 44C, so we had over loaded the gen in a very hot room!!the Gen master circuit breaker did not trip for some reason and because the engine of the gen is water cooled, it was fine and just kept purring away while the backend fried!
A frustrating mistake that has thrown another spanner in the works here…it is now Thursday the 5th, yesterday morning after a sleepless night, I started the Gen with the circuit breakers off. Engine fine, but within 1 minute of turning the electrical on, we had smoke and blowing red hot embers coming out of the vents!! Oh no!!
Sam is the man here at the yacht club and he told me about “Jim the Generator man”. He is away in Hawaii, but is now my new best friend. He is a Northern Lights Gen agent…so he is back on the 19th May.
I fly to Australia tomorrow and back in on the 17th…between now and then we are trying to do some long-range diagnostics…hopefully we will be out of here and on the road again to Tonga by the end of the month, but this is a major and must be brought back to new condition as it drives the dive compressor.
We all spent the day today working on the boat, while Carrie went sailing on a yacht with the coolest name “X”. I told her not to feel guilty about it when she returned to ICE (thinking she was coming back to work) …but no, she declared she gave up guilt some years ago and was just returning for hat and sunglasses!!
Now the regular afternoon showers have begun…I am in the yacht club under the tin roof surrounded by all the returning divers…the sun will be out again in about 20 minutes. It works like clockwork!!
If you have to be stuck somewhere, Palau is just the ticket. Unfortunately, it is a little more expensive than the Philippines! But the people are great…
Mark and Carrie went Diving yesterday and came back eyes bulging after seeing so much. Mark had an early night and the girls went to a live show in town.
Engine rooms are a grand adventure, and now I know they need a smoke detector with external alarm.