Baja haha XXII and running on one (1) engine and howling like a banshee


Subject:  Running on one engine and howling like a banshee!

Though not intentionally, recently we tested the full effects of running on just one vs two of our engines on the Western Flyer, our 41 Defever trawler; on the way back from Catalina Island.  I’m also cautiously trying to figure out a gentle way of explaining how my wife Patti ended up splayed out, across an open engine compartment, and howling like a wild cornered banshee, like she was about to die.  But there is no gentle way, so here goes.

For those not familiar, a banshee is a “fairy woman” who wails when someone in the house (or in our case boat) is about to die!  But I regress.  Our uneventful return trip home from the beautiful island of Catalina started out just before noon.  It was only supposed to be a three hour cruise home……..a three hour cruise; though it took four.  The seas remained calm, the sky was blue and some great fishing was also possible.

The boat was on autopilot, before during and after running on one vs two engines.  The first mate throughout the voyage migrated from the forward deck to the inside cabin settee, several times before finally settling down, into a horizontal position, before a full on nap mode ensued.


Sometime about six miles out from the Los Angeles light (breakwater entrance) my starboard engine coughed a little, then suddenly died out, with no prior warning.  I was hoping for some prior warning because while in Portland, Oregon, my mechanic Adam, Kodiak marine went through the trouble of installing some rather expensive cabin mounted vacuum gauges, whose soul purpose are to signal a restriction in the fuel flow, thereby giving me ample time to swap out the fuel filter(s).  Tomorrow another mechanic gets to look things over.


Above is a picture of what it looks like running with one engine.  Not much difference in the boats wake or performance.


As we entered the Los Angeles breakwater, our daily infamous hurricane gulch winds quickly shot up to about 30 knots; not a problem, this is a daily event from about two to five daily that we are most accustomed to.  My intent was to motor on over to the fuel dock, tie up and then restart the offending engine.  Steering with one engine is also not a problem.

While tied up at the fuel dock I decide to take on fuel, just in the off-chance that I miscalculated my burn rate and the starboard fuel tank was empty.  One hundred and fifty gallons of diesel later we are topped off and then I climb in to the engine room.  For those not familiar with changing filters on a diesel engine it’s usually quite simple.  It was hot but due to a healthy flow of adrenalin things or events possibly moved at a slower pace.

The usual takes place, remove a section of the floor, that lifts off, like a man-hole or in our case woman-hole cover.  Crawl into the engine room, inspect the racor filter, determine that I need to catch the residual flow of diesel fuel, climb back out, search for diesel from the now closing fuel dock, gather my spare filter, wrenches, rags, reading glasses, paper towels, flashlight, turn on engine room lights, pay for fuel; oh, did I forget to tell you the banshee, was nowhere to be seen.

Then suddenly on one of my last trips out of the engine room, my left foot, must’ve miraculously made full contact with some spilled diesel fuel, leaving a footprint mark on my way out, on our teak and holley floor.  The banshee, in her haste to wipe it up, slips herself up, lands three-quarters of her body across an open engine room with one-quarter of her body out, and now in a full all out wailing.  Did I think I was going to die?  Not yet, I thought someone else was dying.  Thank goodness she landed on her buoyancy compensator backsides, resulting in only a six-inch long purple bruise, and possibly a bruised rib or two.   As you know there are always two sides to every story, at least mine is now in print.

Hasta Luego!  (See you later)