Slashfin Engine Change – Intern Diary, Entry Eight

Some days are less about the science and more about the practicalities of making science happen.

Written by Gary Lyon, June 25 2018

Slashfin Engine Change – Intern Diary, Entry Eight

The practicalities of managing an eco-tourism vessel

When any client walks through the front door of the Great White House, they may have arrived for shark cage diving, whale watching or even a meal at the restaurant, but no matter what their planned experience is; Marine Dynamics will always strive to give that client a 5 star service.

Now the client will only usually see the end product of the company, be it a wonderful meal, or a Humpback whale sighting aboard Dream Catcher, but there is a great deal of work that goes on behind the scenes to ensure a magical experience for each and every client. Such a behind the scenes activity is the maintenance and up keep of the three main client boats, Slashfin, Dream Catcher and Whale Whisperer.

In order to avoid any highly unlikely mechanical failures out at sea, and along with the daily before and after trip cleaning and inspecting, each of the 4 engines on Slashfin and Dream Catcher (2 on Whale Whisperer) have regular maintenance and services, just like your car engine.

With the added problem of salt water, it is essential that these maintenance tasks are completed on schedule and to the highest standard in order to avoid any issues at sea. Like your car engine, boat engines have the same service intervals, albeit in hours running and not miles driven, and after a certain number of hours, maintenance needs to be carried out, such as:

  • Gearbox oil changed every 50 hours
  • Full engine and gearbox service every 100 hours
  • Timing belts changed every 1000 hours

These maintenance tasks are carried by three of the skippers here at Marine Dynamics, Francois, Sean & Jan, and on Monday it was time for the biggest job of all, replace all 4 engines on Slashfin. As I am a fully qualified motor vehicle technician (I worked for Volkswagen in York, England before going to University), I offered to lend a hand; the skippers gratefully accepted. I was pleased about this because it is always a good idea to show any company that you want to work for that you are adaptable and can do more than one thing, it increases your employability.

So, early Monday morning we set to work on replacing all 4 slashfin engines, and I’m pleased to say that after a full day of hard work, the help of a truck with a crane on it and battling through the odd shower, we manged to get all 4 engines changed in the one day, which was no mean feat! I thoroughly enjoyed the day and it was fun to get my hands dirty again with oil and grease as well as having a bit of light hearted banter with the skippers, but I was exhausted!

Luckily we had a braai that night, so I could relax with good food, beer and ‘intelligent’ (loosely used!) conversation, to get myself ready for another exciting day here at the Marine Dynamics Academy.

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Written by

Gary Lyon Marine Biology Student, Scientific Internship

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