|Huddled around a space heater lent to|
us by another boat in the yard
The boatyard, despite being full of friendly people, is a dust bowl in the middle of nowhere. We have to walk a quarter mile to use the bathroom and every other day reveals more reasons to open our wallet. There is ice on the boat and last night our whole boat was shaking from the wind.
So are we ready to throw in the towel and crawl back to Chicago with our tails between our legs? As happy as it would make our parents, no way. First of all, Chicago is 20 degrees and snowy today. Second, we have had a great year and feel that the best is yet to come. Don't get me wrong, we're not happy about the time and money we're spending here but we see it as another step in our journey.
We have been able to spend more time together as a family than ever before. Although sometimes having the kids 24x7 can feel like a burden, it is the main luxury of our current path (along with sleeping in as long as the sun and kids allow us). Even though we have only been to the Bahamas and along the Eastern seaboard of the U.S., neither of which sounds particularly exotic or exciting, we have had memorable experiences that we will never forget. We have met many wonderful people and made fast friendships that we hope will last. The friends that we met in Beaufort last July helped make this trip more tolerable by welcoming us for Halloween, having dinner with us, and lending us a truck. Also, we have been lucky to have had visits from family so we haven't felt as homesick.
If all goes well, we should be out of here this week and we can plan our escape down south. I really hate to write those words because if the past is any indication, "if all goes well" seems to be a rare event in the world of boat repair. Fortunately, we are working with a competent and helpful team at Jarrett Bay.
For those of you that are interested in the minutia of boat repairs, here is the saga (so far) of our recent haul-out. I myself have almost nodded off just writing about it.
- The purpose of the haul out was to fix the chunk that we took out of the keel in the Bahamas. That turned out to be the simplest task. Matt's temporary repair seems to have held just fine and the thick layer of barnacles that covered it also helped seal the spot up nicely.
- The shift cable on the port engine that snapped while we were trying to dock was replaced. The other day, Matt brushed the starboard engine shift cable ever so slightly while working on something else, causing it to snap. That has now been fixed too. Much better that it break now than when we are in the middle of maneuvering the boat in a tight place. Since the shift cables were snapping like twigs, we also decided to have the throttle cables replaced as well.
- The starboard engine had been shimmying at high (for us) speed. The cutlass bearings needed to be replaced and we decided to replace the ones on the port side too. The parts had to be ordered from the U.K. because of our European boat's neediness for metric.
- Although the bottom was painted just a year ago, enough of the paint had flaked off (and/or blasted off by the power wash we got when we were hauled) to make it worth re-doing while we were out of the water anyway.
- While the bearings were being examined, the mechanic noticed that the propeller shaft was slightly off kilter so we removed that (which required the boat being lifted and the rudder being removed). A few days later, we were notified that there was a crack in the shaft so a new one needed to be obtained and machined (fortunately we didn't have to get it from Europe).
- The propellers were a bit dinged so we had them reconditioned and balanced (since again the main expense of doing it would be the haul-out).
- Our starboard rudder was weeping water and so we drilled holes to drain it and are having the problem areas repaired with new fiberglass.
- We have noticed that there has been grease under the roller furling over the last six weeks or so. According to ProFurl, when that happens, your bearings' days are numbered. We didn't want to have to replace the bearings while in the Caribbean so we tackled that job here. It took Matt and two mechanics a lot of effort to try to remove the roller furling unit and Matt finally ended up having to drill out a screw, which it turns out did not need to be drilled out (duh!). Suffice it to say that it was incredibly difficult to remove it and we started to wonder whether it was a good idea to start the project after all. The ProFurl America rep was very helpful and got us the new bearing kit quickly and we were able to get the new bearings in and the roller furling reinstalled, which was also very difficult.
- Matt rewired all the charging systems and removed the old diode based battery isolator with new (and reportedly more efficient) ACRs.
- Our batteries have been showing a voltage drop recently. After much internet research and discussions with various experts, Matt discovered that the charger for our battery bank was not set up correctly and so our batteries have not been fully charging, pretty much ever. Batteries don't like not being fully charged and they have started to go bad. Matt worked with an electrician here to determine which batteries were good and we are replacing two that are bad. Hopefully with the new settings on the charger, the battery bank will be happier. On a side note, even after the batteries were switched off, our system continues to get power back fed from some unknown source. It is unclear whether this is a serious issue and reportedly it can be very difficult to isolate the source of this kind of thing.
- An example of how relatively simple things can take an inordinate amount of time is one of our diesel fuel fills on the port side. When we last got diesel, Matt could not get the cap off that fill. While here, Matt spent several hours on various days trying to remove the cap, including applying cold, heat, leverage, and percussive maintenance (hitting it really hard). He bent several tools. The cap would not budge (the fill itself did come loose). If it had been anywhere else on the boat, we could have easily removed the hose clamp and replaced the whole fill. However, the hose for this fill is behind our refrigerator, which weighs 300 pounds and required Matt and another big guy to finagle it into place. Matt finally decided to cut a hole above the fridge and put in a "vent" (cause now its a vent, and not just a big hole in the wall, see?). Now that he had access to the deck fill, he was able to see that it was not all hose going to the fuel tank, but sections of schedule 80 PVC in certain sections to accommodate some tight bends. The PVC was fine, but the glue had deteriorated over the years so several sections of pipe had to be re-glued together (all while trying to access everything through a small 4"x6" hole). Hours and a fine layer of fiberglass dust later, everything was back together. As it turns out, the hole - I mean "vent"- is probably a good idea anyway, since moisture tends to build up in there. Plus it's got a nice cover on it and looks good.