Sunday, November 3, 2013

Death by a thousand cuts

After a much too exciting arrival, we have settled into boat fixes and life at the boatyard. It can be depressing to spend time at what is essentially a big boat hospital. However, we are well aware that things could have been much worse.

As we pulled alongside the fuel dock at Jarrett Bay (in Beaufort, NC) to pick up our project manager and mechanic to help diagnose a vibration, we thought we were fighting a current that was pushing us off the dock. Missing the first attempt, Matt brought us in on our second attempt in reverse, and the boat started swinging in a weird circle and was headed for the dock piling. Trying to slow the speed in reverse and pivot the boat, he gunned the port engine forward--only to find it rocketed the boat backwards even quicker.  It took a second before Matt realized that the port engine was stuck in reverse.  With only one engine operating properly and the other trying to swing us in circles, he managed to motor the boat back out into the river in a wide arc and we put the anchor down to regroup. 

With 3 other large boats tied up in the basin, we narrowly missed needing to make an insurance claim. After confirming that the transmission cable was DOA, we decided to skip the employee pick-up and go straight to the scheduled haul-out. Even without any current in the haul out area, it's still difficult to operate a large cat at slow speeds with just one engine.  Too slow and all the boat wants to do is turn. Too fast...well, that's not a great idea in a confined space.  Worse, when you try to reverse to slow the momentum with just one engine, the boat will pivot radically.  Suffice it to say Matt was happy to get tied up with just a bit off a "kiss" to the forward starboard bow.

We hauled out to fix the chunk of keel that we knocked loose in the Bahamas and to check out a shimmy in the port shaft. But now that were are hauled out, the list of tasks (and dollars flying out of our pockets) is growing: fixing that port transmission cable, putting on another coat of bottom paint, replacing the bearings in the furler, and on and on.  The problem is that almost every close examination reveals something that could be bettered or fixed.  As an example, the port side vibration seemed to be due to a bad cutlass bearing. The starboard shaft isn't vibrating yet but the bearings could use replacing too. Just sourcing the bearing, which the boat manufacturer says is "standard" in any marine store, is proving to be troublesome as they cannot be found anywhere except Europe and other equally remote areas.  Before pulling the bearings, the mechanic "dialed" the shaft which revealed a slight bend.  This in turn required that the boat be lifted up to take out the whole rudder (and we had to wait for the 200-ton lift to be repaired because it died right behind our boat while trying to move a fishing trawler the size of a small house). And while we're at it, the propeller looks a little battle weary and could use some gussying up. We may or may not go that far, but you get the picture. We may be here longer than the week we thought it would take. It is soul-sucking but necessary. It's times like these that we wonder if it would have made sense to pay more upfront for a newer boat.

On the plus side, we got to spend Halloween with the friends we met back in July. Conrad and Mark had been very anxious about what we were going to do for Halloween because that is their favorite holiday now. We know because they have said it about 50,000 times. Brian, Cheryl, and Peyton came and got us from the middle of nowhere and saved us from being Halloween orphans. And we had one of the best Halloweens yet. The boys came away with quite a haul and they have big plans for it all involving building a candy model of an electronic game called Battle Dragon. We actually had to talk them into eating some of it--what?

We also discovered the cause of the leaks in our dinghy that appeared when we were in Cape Lookout. We had thought she was just showing her age and that the epic dinghy ride for sushi was the last straw, but while Matt was repairing one of the holes he found a tooth from one of the fish that was having a feeding frenzy around our boat one night (so much so that we kept hearing heavy thuds against the hull and found the bait fish on our transom the next morning). He identified it as an Atlantic Cutlassfish. We used to raise the dinghy every night but have gotten a bit lazy some nights. I guess we'll go back to playing keep-away from the crazy sea life.

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