45 ℃ is hot
If we can avoid it, we don't go down into the engine room, says 1st machinist Annika Franks.
Until the early 1800s, small boats, oars and muscle power were needed to move a sailing vessel from the quay. Then came the steam engine, and when the Statsraad Lehmkuhl was built at the Tecklenborg shipyard in Bremerhaven-Geestemünde in Germany in 1914, coal and steam had been replaced by oil.
The Statsraad Lehmkuhl's first engine was a Tecklenborg-Carels 2-stroke with an output of 600 hp at 166 revolutions per minute. The engine was replaced in 1955, and again in 1981. Then the ship got a six-cylinder engine producing 1125 hp at 750 rpm, manufactured by Bergen Diesel.
A sailing ship
The engine is only started when absolutely necessary, Statsraad Lehmkuhl is, after all, a sailing ship.
It is the 22 sails with an area of 2,026 m2, 1/3 of a football field, that we want to push the ship along. Sails doesn't make noise, they stabilize the ship in the sea, and they save the planet from CO2 emissions. Statsraad Lehmkuhl reaches over 18 knots in good wind with all sails set. By engine, the top speed is only 11 knots.
From Arendal to Yokohama, the ship used the sails 62 percent of the distance.
Using our Climate Impact Report, below, you can check for each leg:
It is 1st machinist Annika Franks and chief engineer Robert Kristiansen who ensure that the engines on board work as they should. The engines, yes, because there are three. The ship also has two Caterpillar C7.1 auxiliary engines.
- These we use to make electricity when the main engine is not running, says Annika Franks. When we sail, we are at anchor, or in a port where we can't get power from shore.
Before Statsraad Lehmkuhl embarked on the One Ocean Expedition, the ship had a large battery bank installed, with the same capacity as four Tesla cars.
- When the battery is full, the auxiliary engine switches off automatically, and all the electricity needed to operate the ship then comes from the battery. In normal operation, there is power for approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes, after which an auxiliary motor starts up again, explains Franks.
The batteries also handle peaks in the electricity consumption.
- When we start a pump or turn on an oven in the galley, it draws a lot of current in the start-up, more than what only one auxillary engine can deliver. The battery handles these peaks, so that we don't have to start up the other auxiliary engine and burn diesel.
The batteries are not charged by the auxiliary motors alone. When the ship sails, the water flowing along the hull causes the propeller to turn. The rotation powers a generator.
The ship has to sail at over 8 knots for the generator to be really efficient, so not a lot of electricity is produced this way. But the solution has an additional function.
- We can use the generator as an electric motor if we want to, and run the propeller with electricity from the battery, says Franks.
A nice backup solution should the main engine stop in a difficult situation.
Franks makes her visits down to the engine room as short as possible.
- It's 42-45 ℃ down there, that's hot! On a normal working day, I spend maybe two hours working on the engine. We don't really have that many maintenance tasks, we check oil, measure air pressure, change filters, and prevent things from breaking by checking, cleaning and lubricating them.
In addition to her work in the engine room, it is Franks' job to ensure that all the other electrical and mechanical systems on the ship work properly. From the machine that produces fresh water, ventilation, laundry, the toilet system, to the equipment in the gallsey.
- Right now I'm trying to fix the coffee machine in the crew mess. It's not going so well. I've worked more with the main engine than the coffee machine, but it's not that easy to just call and get a technician, says Franks.
Fresh water production
On a long voyage with many people on board, getting enough fresh water is a challenge. Fresh water is used to wash the decks, in the shower, in the toilets, and for cooking and drinking.
Statsraad Lehmkuhl has six large fresh water tanks, but at times there are 170 people on board, and even though everyone knows that they must conserve water, fresh water needs to be produced on the ship.
- On large ships, steam is used. Salt water is boiled, and the salt free steam condensed, Franks explains. But that requires hot engines, hotter than the one we have here.
At Statsraad Lehmkuhl a process called reverse osmosis is used. Seawater and fresh water are separated by a membrane that permits water molecules to penetrate, but not the salt. When the pressure in the seawater is increased, water molecules pass through the filter and are collected.
- We normally use 10-12 cubic meters of fresh water a day, but can produce as much as 14 cubic metres, says Franks.
Annika Franks is from Silkeborg in Denmark, and is a trained machinist.
- I always liked doing something with my hands. I like to say that I have helped my father, who is a janitor, since I was old enough to be in his way, she smiles.
Franks sailed with Statsraad Lehmkuhl for the first time as a volunteer crew during the Tall Ships Race in 2019.
- It was a fantastic experience. I had just graduated, and didn't know that you could work as a machinist on board. That's when I started thinking that I wanted to sail with Statsraad Lehmkuhl again.
So Franks has worked as an intern in the engine room on two Atlantic crossings. This was so nice that she took leave from the job she had just started at home, to take part in the One Ocean Expedition leg between Chile and Fiji.
In Manila, Franks went on board again, this time in a temporary position as 1st machinist. She quit her job back home.
- It's great to be here. Fun to sail on a tall ship, she laughs.