Mupe Bay and Isle of Wight Circumnavigation


Baybreeze’s Yanmar 4JH3E engine needed a basic service, so I thought I’d give it a go. In its previous service over 300 engine hours ago before departing for the Azores, just the engine oil and oil filter were changed. This time it was time to change the Racor fuel/water separator filter and the main fuel filter as well. This meant having to bleed the fuel lines of trapped air. The procedure is pretty straightforward:

  1. Engine Oil: Run the engine to full operating temperature (say 15 minutes) to reduce the engine oil viscosity thus making it easier to pump out. Introduce an extractor pump to the sump via the dipstick and extract the used engine oil. Add new oil to the engine so that the dispstick shows a final oil level about midway between the top and bottom limits (about 5.3 litres Heavy Duty SAE 15W-40 Engine Oil are required for this engine).
  2. Engine Oil Filter: Remove the old oil filter by hand or by using a filter wrench. It helps to enclose the filter with a plastic bag to catch any oil spillage. Moisten the seal of the new replacement oil filter with clean engine oil and and screw it on hand tight.
  3. Racor fuel/water separator: Unscrew the brass T-bar on top of the separator and remove the cover. Remove the old filter and replace it with a new one. Top up with diesel fuel, put the cover back on and screw the top back on.
  4. Engine Fuel Filter: Remove the fuel filter on the engine block and replace it with a new one. Moisten the seal with diesel fuel and hand tighten.
  5. Bleed the Fuel Lines: With the oil and all filters replaced, it is time to bleed the fuel of trapped air. The engine won’t start otherwise!
    Stage 1: Loosen the bleed nut on top of the fuel filter head. Use the hand pump located on the side of the engine to pump fuel through until it emanates through the bleed nut. This may take awhile. Then tighten the bleed nut.
    Stage 2: Crack open the nuts holding the injectors in place. Now crank the engine over (switch on, press start button) for about 10-15 seconds. Diesel fuel should now appear at the injector nuts. Now tighten the injector nuts.
  6. Fire up the engine! You’ll be pleasantly surprised to see and hear it run!

Everything else seemed to be in order and so we were ready to go.

My Guests

Our trip was planned for Sunday 9 April to Wednesday 12 April 2017. My guests for the trip were my farmer friend Shaun Taylor, a complete novice, and Murray Burton, an experienced day skipper and part yacht owner.

Shaun Taylor
Murray Burton










We planned to head to Newtown River for an overnight stay at anchor then to head off at about mid-flood tide so as to arrive at the Hurst Point tidal gate just as the tide was beginning to ebb, thence on to Mupe Bay.

Rig Check

A few weeks earlier I had tensioned the standing rig according to the Island Packet specifications. While under full sail I wanted to

Loos Gauge tension settings for temperatures less that 10 degrees Centigrade as recommended by Island Packet.

check the rig tensions, especially to see whether there was any degree of slackness on the leeward side under strong winds. This would indicate that there was insufficient tension.


On inspection I found the leeward rig to be too slack for the settings shown on the left. The Island Packet recommendation for temperatures greater than 27 degrees Centrigrade requires readings 3 points higher all round. I shall make this adjustment and recheck while under sail at a later date.


Can’t Stop the Engine!

After a night’s anchoring in Newtown River, we weighed anchor and headed towards the Needles Channel a couple of hours before high tide. We’d had just set the sails and tried stopping the

The engine fuel solenoid. The plunger covered by a rubber sleeve is to the right though not visible in the image.

engine but it failed to stop. The problem persisted after several attempts. Luckily, my farmer friend and crewman Shaun sauntered below deck and within a minute or so, the engine stopped. When asked what he had done, he said that he had located the fuel solenoid and pushed in the plunger. That stopped the flow of fuel to the engine thus stopping it. We were all relieved! I had also learned something new and that is always good!

Does the Prop Shaft Rotate When in Gear?

On the sail to the Azores, I was told that keeping the gearbox engaged would prevent the propeller shaft from rotating, thus preventing unnecessary wear on the shaft and stern gland. However, while making way under sail it becomes difficult to disengage the gearbox (i.e., put it in neutral, a requirement to start the engine) if the speed through water is more than 3-4 knots. So, the question is: With the engine off, does engaging the gearbox prevent the propeller shaft from turning? Well, apparently not! When the prop shaft was checked, irrespective of whether the gearbox was engaged or not, the prop shaft always rotated! This is still rather puzzling.

Mupe Bay Anchorage

Having departed Newtown River around 1000 BST, we arrived at our Mupe Bay Anchorage around 1530 BST, having travelled with the tide under a combination of motor and sail. Baybreeze being a heavy displacement long-keeler, I tend to motor when wind speeds fall below F3.

The Mupe Bay anchorage (the north end of Warborough Bay) looking north-east.

The overnight forecast was for gentle variable winds with a northerly component. I was woken by a wind change around 0230 BST to find the wind blowing F3 from the east. What a change! By the time of departure at 0500 BST the wind became a steady F3-4 from the west – ideal for our eastward return.

The Return Leg

Departed Mupe Bay Tuesday 0515 11 April, an hour or so before sunrise and close to low water. As the wind was a handy westerly, we expected to count on the tide and wind to take us all the way the the eastern-most point of the Isle of Wight when the tide would change and propel us towards Osborne Bay. There we would anchor for lunch and a light snooze!

The day was beautifully sunny and the wind a treat. All went to plan. However, our planned departure from Osbourne Bay at an hour or so before low water was a little late in making way for Beaulieu River where we planned to pick up a buoy for the night. The contrary tide started to pick up and the wind became a Force 4 southwester thus making it difficult to make progress against both wind and tide. Worse still, we appeared to be in the thick of ship traffic. While just north of Cowes, behind us a ship was approaching then decided to hold ground while a cruise liner approached the turning basin from the north. I guessed it was turning to port to head eastward – confirmed with a two blasts signal later. Following the cruise liner was a smaller cargo ship also with a pilot boat, its intentions unknown (headed west, as it turned out). Then there were the high-speed ferries coming from and going to Cowes. Quite a hair-raising experience while trying to make way against an Force 5 wind and spring tide in a sailing vessel approaching the precautionary turning basin!

Finally, when all dangers were clear and as we were not making headway we decided to call it a day and headed downwind and with tide for home at Shamrock Quay. How marvelously calm it is traveling with wind and tide after hammering against it awhile!

Nevertheless, a lovely day’s sailing!

Distance logged, 131 nm; engine hours, 12.