Sunday, July 27, 2008

It started with a horn

[Kyle]A beautiful weekend for sailing but not for us, because we were working on the boat. If this were a car with a 100,000 mile warranty, I'd bet we were right at about 100,002 miles right now. Everything seems to be failing virtually at once. My plan for my short 2 day weekend was to replace the hailer horn that had failed once we left Maine's fog (see post The Twilight zone). During the interim our autopilot quit working reliably and we began to have trouble using forward gear (normally considered quite useful). We were told by Raymarine (makers of the autopilot) to send off the parts for repair, which effectively disabled all of our electronics; and later in the week Maryanne was occupied with diagnostic checks on the transmission issue - resulting in the recommendation of a new transmission.

So now without instruments, or a useful engine, stuck at the back of a mooring field too busy to sail out of, we decided the short weekend would be good for maintenance tasks and more spring cleaning. (We will be sightseeing eventually).

As is usual on my last workday of the week, I got up very early and by the time I arrived home it had already been a very long day and I was exhausted. Planning on dinner and a cocktail, followed by a cozy bed, Maryanne told me just before she went to meet me that the head (toilet) stopped pumping. In the tradition of male denial I went in there and tried to work it a few dozen times before brilliantly proclaiming it didn't work. Maryanne gave me the by now familiar eye roll. To her credit she did agree to try and fix the problem while I did the dishes (of which there were a great many). After taking as much time with the dishes as I could get away with, she still hadn't made any real progress and I was forced to take over what has got to be one of the most unpleasant jobs one can have on the boat - dismantling the toilet - while Maryanne nodded off on the sofa (I was exhausted and in no mood by that time to have help - I just wanted to push through it). Several hours later I finally had the thing back together and working better than when new. Having turned into a 21 hour day I was ready to collapse; Maryanne was very sweet and cleaned up and put everything away after me.

The next day, I finally got up the mast to replace the horn. The removal and installation made difficult due to the many wakes, leaving me swinging around or clinging hold of the mast; and due to the fact it had to be installed and removed 3 times before eventually working reliably. I kept getting it all together and Maryanne would call up to tell me it did not work; so I'd have to back up and start again - all while balancing the unscrewed radome (radar transmitter/receiver) on its stand while swinging around. Maryanne stayed below on deck to act as moral support, recover dropped items and send up anything I might have forgotten but needed.

[Maryanne]Life as support crew involves lots of waiting. The local Launch came by to ask where I got the maintenance guy from (I suspect he thought I'd smuggled in an outside contractor - and Kyle felt smug, thinking he must have looked like a professional rigger). Several hours later he came by again and said "I hope your not paying by the hour". I pretended not to be amused for Kyle's sake; by then he had been dangling from the mast on an uncomfortable bench seat for hours in the blazing sun - Jokes were not an option.

[Kyle]Making the most of being up the mast, I also inspected the rig, installed a new flag halyard and greased the top roller furling bearings.

The next day the forecast was for yet more storms, but I managed to retention the rig (the wires that hold up the mast) a - another 2 hour job.

[Maryanne] Anyway, the good news is the horn is now working again; and hopefully over the next two weeks we should have our electronics and transmission back and working. We still don't have the steering wheel off, despite several specialized tools and have more muscle arriving next week. This week we also found seawater in one of our buoyancy tanks, and I nearly blew my face off wondering why one of the stove burners would not light. I did however get all my money back from my abused credit card.

Definition of Cruising: Boat maintenance in exotic places (if you call Boston exotic).

Even my phone stopped working this weekend, although I did catch another fish, I had to return it to the deep as it was (at 22") undersized per Massachusetts fishing laws.

So, it did start with the horn, but I'm well and truly ready to for "it" to be over, and for cruising to return to traveling and preventative maintenance only - no more repairs.


Lou and Meg SV *Starrider* said...

Just to let you both know, S..IT happens to us all. In our 511 mile cruise last week we lost both our wind generator and anchor windlass. The wind generator quit when we needed it the most sailing at night with the radar on, had to start the engine for an hour to charge the batteries back up. Glad we added the extra solar panel, it kept up with the electronics and we had a surplus of power. Even after watching our 19 HDTV for several hours each night, running a fan all night, anchor light, etc, we were fully charged before lunch time each day.

The windlass was my fault. We dropped the anchor at Port Jefferson, it did not set (very rare). Hoisted it back up, when I hit the switch to drop it, Meg did not notice the rope to chain splice was stuck on the gypsy, I kept the switch on, and the brushes were fried in the motor. So we spent a day rebuilding the motor for the windlass on rocking deck. Lucky I did not need any parts.

Can you imagine if Meg and I, You and Kyle, were not handy and do it yourselfers what the cost of cruising would be? Paying someone for every little fix up job we do? It would be unaffordable, I am sure!

SV-Footprint said...

Gees Lou! I'm glad you managed to fix your windlass, and obviously managed fine without the wind generator (It's good to have so much redundancy!)

I think you give Kyle and me more credit that we deserve - I doubt I could rebuild a motor (even a little one). We are in awe.

Welcome back home - and congratulations on quite a journey.