Well we had planned on leaving the slip at 0845 and we were exactly on that time mark when we departed. All went well even as we cruised toward the area where if there are going to be high winds, they start here. The winds kicked up about a 1.5'-2' chop but not bad. We continued on, rounded the bend at Wallula Gap to the stretch where the winds are usually blowing like the devil. Surprise, surprise, no wind, calm waters, blue skies and a beautiful day to be on the water.
When we got a bit further downriver we spotted about a 32' houseboat that appeared to have been blown up onto the rocks at the shore, most likely by the winds from the prior day. We called it in to the USCG and continued on our way.
I had planned an early departure in case we ran into high winds and waves and had to slow down. As it turned out we were going to arrive at McNary lock about 45 minutes early thanks to the 2+ mph current helping us along. I called the lock on the radio and asked if we could pass through on arrival instead of waiting for the scheduled time. They OK'd the early lockage so we got in and tied up about 45 minutes early. They lowered the water and we were out of the lock in about 15 minutes from when we had tied to the bollard.
When we left the lock we still had no wind and a beautiful day. That was not to last long as we had an engine overheat alarm about 2 miles from the lock. The port engine showed as the hot one so we shut it down. Tom opened the engine room hatch and couldn't even see in because of the heavy smoke/steam. We drifted around for about 30 minutes until he could get into the engine room to inspect the engine.
He found what looked like the source of the leak. A 1/2" 90* "street ell" coming out of the heat exchanger had a length of pipe screwed into the femail end of the ell and there was coolant dripping from the fitting. It looked like there was a possible crack at the threads. Here's the ell he thought was faulty.
Had there been any winds blowing we would have gone into the Umatilla marina rather than risk going back through the lock on one engine. There was no wind so we called the lock on the VHF, explained our plight and asked for another early lockage rather than wait another 3 hours to the next scheduled one. They obliged us so we started back to the lock.
I must admit that my "pucker factor" was extremely high as we entered the lock. I could just see us crashing into the wall and damaging a boat I was about to put up for sale. Then, to top it off, there were 5 people standing on the walkway at the top of the lock watching and waiting to the the big boat smashed to smithereens inside their lock.
As it turned out it took me 3 attempts to get up next to the bollard so Jim could get a line around it. He did and secured us tight to the wall. Thank heaven for bow thrusters. We got out of the lock after being raised to the top and started a loooong journey home, now on one engine and running against the current.
We got home about 6:30 without incident and got Beachcomber secured in the slip. We unloaded a bunch of perishables into dock carts and my wife picked us up. We got home, went for a swim then stuffed ourselves on her wonderful spaghetti with homemade sauce.
I had called the owner of Columbia Marine Center from the boat while we were drifting around. He suggested we take some photos of what we thought was the damaged part(s) and send them to him, and he agreed to meet us down at the boat at 10:00 today.
He spent about 2 hours down in the engine room and found this:
The 1/2" galvanized ell had a pencil lead-size hole in the bottom and that's where the coolant had leaked out. He disassembled it and took the bad part and adjacent parts so he could find replacements.
On the way back all 3 of us decided that we would wait a few weeks before heading back downriver. We all have things on our schedules that need to be taken care of so in a couple of weeks we'll regroup and see how everything looks for the dates for the next trip.
All things considered this could have been a LOT worse. The silver lining is that ell could have given way when we were crossing the bar or 25 miles offshore in the Pacific. It was a beautiful day to be on the water and the day just happened to be turned upside down by a $1 part. That could have been a LOT worse.