Iluka is a small fishing settlement with no marina or mechanical outlet. Luckily there is a marina across the river in Yamba. That was a good place to start looking for help.
What could have been wrong with our boat engine though? We checked the oil level. Yet again we were having diesel in the oil sump. Hmmm…If it was not the lift pump that we had changed in Brisbane months back when we had the same alarm going off, then it must be the fuel injection pump. We had serviced this in England before leaving on our sailing around the world. We had done just over 1100 engine hours ever since. Was the fuel injection pump due an early service perhaps? Most likely.
We had a brief chat on the phone with a mechanic in Yamba. He confirmed our theory and guided us in the right direction. Sorin started taking the fuel pump and injectors out. Big endeavour!
In order to have access to it, we had to empty our utility room. We moved everything in the saloon. In no time Mehalah was turned into a mechanical workshop! We had to live with it until the pump was serviced in Lismore and back in its place. Luckily, it only took a few days work around the clock to regain our normal life.
The service received from Lismore Diesel Centre was outstanding. Best engineers who asked all possible questions for an accurate diagnosis. They, then, serviced the pump in less than 24 hours. Thanks Lismore Diesel Centre!
The speedy turnaround enabled us to take advantage of a good weather window the day after everything regained its place aboard Mehalah. The boatyard in Bundaberg Port Marina accommodated this last minute change and there we were with less than 5 days delay.
Marinas and boatyards are particularly expensive in Australia. Once Mehalah was on the hard, we had to turn around a long list of jobs in the shortest time possible. Working hard from dawn to dusk we completed all the maintenance work in a week, our shortest full maintenance haul out ever. We were exhausted but proud with our work. Our Oyster Yacht was turning heads again!
Once Mehalah was back on the water, as we were entering the Bundaberg Port Marina for just one night in order to ensure everything was hunky-dory before re-joining the Humpback Highway northbound, we have the surprise of touching our newly anti fouled bottom. With a muddy underwater surface, the damage was insignificant but my grief was not!
Once we made sure we had no leaks or other surprises, we hoisted the sails again to find an empty highway…our ‘voyage companions’ were in a hurry to make it north to warmer waters. They could not waste a moment, given the impeding annual big event – giving birth to their calfs. It was kind of a sad ‘highway’ without their company, but we had no doubt that it was not long before we would be reunited. And so it was!