On Sunday night (local time), Nordhavn 76 Spirit of Ulysses developed a tiny leak inside the oil cooler causing the port side transmission to overheat. Smack in the middle of the Pacific Ocean between the Galapagos Islands and their next destination of Nuka Hiva in the Marquesas Islands, getting a replacement part was not an option. So the captain was forced to bypass the port side oil cooler altogether. For the remaining 1,700+ nm, SOU will run with the load to the port side engine at just 20 percent, and the starboard engine at 30 percent load. The situation is not cause for concern, reassures Captain Nikolay Alexandrov, and he sent a long a video to relay the crew’s anxiety level at the moment.
The crew had to make the quick fix while underway. Here is how Alexandrov and his team addressed the situation:
“We strongly believe we have a pin hole in the oil cooler due to galvanic corrosion or simply end of service life. We bypassed the oil cooler by disconnecting the two oil hoses and connecting them to each other. The oil hose ports on the cooler were capped. Now the engine is running on 20% load, 1,000 rpm. The transmission temperature is 182 degrees F – the maximum allowed is 215 F so we are well below that. Coolant temperature is 177 F. The starboard engine is running on 1050 rpm, 30% load, 176 degrees F coolant and 156 degrees F gear. Our speed is 8 knots, which is normal cruising speed for us. With this speed we have eight days to Nuku Hiva. Forecast is light following winds for six days, up to 25 kt E winds the last two days before making landfall.”
Alexandrov said he knew by the way the oil smelled and looked in the cooler (clear and no bad odor), that there wasn’t an issue with the transmission. Two new oil coolers were ordered and will be drop shipped in Nuku Hiva to be installed as soon as the boat arrives there.
Nordhavn Yachts Northeast broker Dave Balfour, who has encountered a similar situation while delivering a Nordhavn 43, is monitoring the scene online, and concurs the crew is in no danger whatsoever. “This is exactly why we put redundant systems on our boat,” said Balfour. “Things like this happen.” On boats like the N43 Balfour was on, the course of action would be to switch over to the wing engine. When a twin engine boat operates on just one of the engines, any differences in momentum or efficiency is negligible. Even though the lone running engine will have a tendency to cause the boat to pull to one side (in SOU’s case, to the left), the autopilot will make the steering correction. “They’ll just go on happy as a clam on the one engine,” he said.
Check out all of the live updates in Nordhavn 76 Spirit of Ulysses RIDES AGAIN!