Our Barge, Odysseus

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Waiting … Still Waiting, Friday, Saturday and Sunday

We didn't hear from Alain Friday morning and his cell phone was going directly to voicemail. By afternoon we were pretty tense, so we called Bourgogne Marine, where we knew he was doing the generator installation. Christophe said he had probably turned his phone off so he could eliminate distractions but he might be able to get to us that afternoon. Frustrated at not being able to leave the boat waiting for the call, we just sat around and stewed. Finally, Saturday morning about 9:30 Alain called, saying he would be in Ranchot by about 10. He arrived with his thumb in a big bandage and his father, a retired electrician in tow to be his right hand.
Technical sidebar - when we first stopped I took off the head cover and discovered that one of the valve rocker arms had come completely off the push rod. The #3 cylinder exhaust valve was not working at all. That's why the engine was shaking so much.
Alain took one look at that and yelped "Bizarre!" He had never seen anything like it. After taking the assembly apart and then putting it all back together, he attempted to readjust the valves. Nothing was working as it should; his diagnosis was either the timing chain had broken or there was a problem with the camshaft. Either way, major engine work was going to be required again.
As soon as we heard that, we were on the phone with Drinkwaard Motoren near Rotterdam, Holland. When we first bought Odysseus they had supplied some hard-to-find parts and we knew they sold reconditioned engines. After speaking with Arco van Houlingen, we decided that, rather than pour more money into an engine that we would never trust again, we might as well bite the bullet and buy a replacement. It would be an exact replacement for the existing engine; all that would be necessary would be to disconnect to old one, lift it out, drop in the new one, hook it up and off we would go. Yeh, right!
The major problem was that, if Alain was going to do the job, he said we would have to somehow get back to St. Symphorien, about 40 k and 12 locks. We weren't going to be doing that by hand! Off he went, leaving us to consider how we would get back. We were pretty disappointed he just left us with no help at all.
So it was going to be up to us to find an inflatable with an outboard, or even an outboard itself so we could figure out a way to get back. We made several phone calls but, being late Saturday afternoon, nothing too much was going to get done until Monday.
Just after we got the bad diagnosis, friends from last year, John and Sue on The Aryani showed up and tied up right behind us. They invited us over to drown our sorrows. Right after, a French boat we traveled with over last summer, Brise Nuit, also pulled in. It was old home day.

The Ranchot "halte fluvial".

The next morning, as they were leaving, Sue and John gave us the number of the mechanic who takes care of their boat, Phillippe Bouchiba, "Bouba," and told us to give him a call. He lives in St. Symphorien, is an independent mechanic, and, as a local, might be able to arrange the tow. We dialled the number on the card listed for English callers and left a message with his English speaking partner, Emma who, along with keeping Bouba in line, acts as a travel agent for French hotel barges. After a couple of calls back and forth, it was decided that Bouba and Emma and his two children would come up (ON SUNDAY AFTERNOON!!!!!), Cathy Jo and Emma would have some wine, the kids would fish, a Bouba would take a look at our problem.
After checking it all out, Bouba said he thought he could make the engine work enough to get us back to St. Symphorien but when I expressed my FEAR of taking off from a good, secure mooring into the river with no guarantee we would make it to another good mooring place, he said he would do the exchange where we were, beginning Wednesday at 2 pm.
After drinking of wine and shaking of hands, Bouba, Emma and the kinds were off and we plotted how we were going to make this happen.

No comments: