Friday, May 3, 2013

Technical Update

Traveler under cover.  Shhh
Some of my Seattle boat friends are freaking out on my behalf as they figure out that Traveler is not only on the hard (pulled out of the water) in Mazatlan but that her engine has been removed.  I guess it's time to fess up and let our readers know just how deep in the doo doo we have gotten ourselves.

Remember that little hole in the hull from back in Puerto Vallarta?  My quickie patch job held just fine but we knew that it was only a temporary fix and we should head toward a respectable boat yard pretty soon.  Our friends Marco and Naida had some work down on their swift and sexy Passport 40 at Total Yacht Works in Mazatlan, Sinaloa so we headed north to Mazatlan to talk to the "Bob".  Marco had gone around and around with Bob Buchanan and Rafa Serrano getting his Passport re-powered and having bottom work done.  I say "around and around" because my good friend Marco is very particular about how things are done and he just couldn't keep himself out of the business of fixing the boat.  So daily, or sometimes multiple times a day, he'd go harass Bob about every big, and little, detail.  This pestering and pressuring and posturing and prevaricating between the two very similar but totally opposite men eventually fostered a good relationship between them and everyone is now happy.  
The Bob

So we went to see "the Bob".  And when we told Bob that Marco sent us he said that he'd have to charge us double.  No, not really.  And I digress.  

Once at the beautiful Fonatur marina and boat yard we brought Bob to the boat and he had a look at our electrical charging system and scupper issues.  When I opened up the engine compartment he said, "That's a lot of oil in the bilge... but then it IS a Perkins."  Perkins engines are famous for having leaking seals and burning oil and being loud as hell. But they run forever.  Even crippled, they run forever.  Bob had me start the engine and he put his hand over the oil filler cap.  When I revved it up he felt pressure on his hand.. not good.  Then when he removed his hand, dirty oil flew up into his face.  "Yup, back pressure." he said.   "You've got a lot of oil coming out of this engine.  It's coming out the valve cover, fuel pump, filler cap, and breather.  Could be a stuck valve, or maybe a problem with the rings."

My heart sank.  Bob shrugged in his casual way and gave me a half smile as if to say, "No need to worry. It's no big deal.  We can fix this."  We talked some more and I realized the magic of Bob. Step by step, day by day, we'd eventually set Traveler to rights.  Nothing is too bad, every problem is solvable, don't worry, and yes, be happy.  Just like the song.

Once we got Marco on the plane back to LA, Bob had more free time and we started digging in on some boat projects.  We had a two week wait to get into the yard so the Traveler crew had time to prepare.  I spent the time mapping out the electrical system spending hours on my belly with my hands in the bowels tracing wires.  I was able to identify and document every wire coming to and from the engine, the instrument panel, the charging systems, and the batteries.  It was an enlightening experience and it made me feel more at peace with the boat.  
Traveler uncovered

Once we were hauled out into the yard, the real brains behind the team, Rafa Serrano, did a pressure test on the engine.  "She's gotta come out." he said.  The Perkins needed a rebuild, that's IF there is enough left (tolerance-wise) to do a rebuild.  Otherwise we'd be looking at a re-power with a new Yanmar or Beta.  Rafa disconnected everything on the engine and one afternoon he popped it out of the boat with the help of a come-a-long and a crane truck.  See his picture in our last blog here. 

After disassembling the engine he sent the crank shaft off to be reconditioned and we are now hoping for the best... that the crank has enough life in it for the rebuild to continue.  If not, well then we'll find another crank shaft.  But we are not going to re-power.  And that is good because Marco wants me to go with the Beta and Bob wants me to go with the Yanmar and I certainly don't want those two going at it for my benefit.

Meanwhile, back in the yard I got to run may hand over the velvet flanks of the second love of my life. Traveler glistened fresh from the wash down and as I reached up and sweep my hand across her bottom and felt all those lovely blisters.  Then with the late afternoon diffused light they became all the more apparent as Bob and I observed them in relief.  How many?  A hundred?  Bob shrugged and gave me that little smile.  "We can fix this. We'll do a bottom peel, fix the blisters, and put on a barrier coat."

Today we have a crew of three workers who are just finishing up their second day scraping and grinding.  Dust settles on everything.  We have all the windows tightly shut.  It is an oven inside.  That's why I'm sitting here in the lounge writing a blog.  I'm waiting for the crew to finish up for the day then they'll rinse off the boat and I'll open the hatches and try to get it cool inside before the mosquitoes come out to play.  We will all drink cold beer.  They will have Pacifico Light, in the can.  I will have a Pacifico Ballena.
This one is sexier

Not the picture Perkins uses on his Plenty of Fish profile.
So let's see, we have an engine rebuild and a bottom peel, quite impressive.  I'll raise you that fiberglass repair on the cracked scupper.  What's that Bob?  You wanna wiggle something?  Let's wiggle the rudder.  Notice how it seems loose there at the point where the shaft enters the hull?  The bearings must be bad.  No Problem.  We'll drop the rudder, remove the bearings and replace them.  While we are at it, we'll check the cutlass bearing and prop shaft.  It's easy.  Simple.

Now we need some icing on the cake!  Let's pick something that is significant but not overwhelming. 

On the trip north from Bandaras Bay the transmission jumped out of gear a couple of times.  Could be a problem there.  So Rafa opened up the Hurth transmission and found nothing but chaos inside.  Broken teeth, worn clutches, snapped rings, a lost screwdriver.  Time for a new transmission.

  And now everything seems complete.  There is not one significant system on Traveler that we have not touched.

Petra, Connie, Ez, and Bruce noting the standing headroom
Just for kicks, the next day we took the dinghy over to another dock to see a Passport 45 ketch that Bruce Raymaker at Total Yacht Sales wanted to show us.  We brought along our friends Petra and Hans from the schooner Lifee P. Baker.  What a wonderful boat.  Much like Traveler (same designer) but a few extra feet longer, center cockpit, aft cabin, and an extra mast on the back deck.  Not sure what that's for. 

Once we got back to our messy, pock ridden, dusty boat Connie, Ezrah, and I talked about it and decided that we like Traveler just fine.  I'm sorry I was tempted, honey.  Bigger is not necessarily better.

The days roll by one after another like an infinite string of pearls.  We have our tea in the morning, our beer in the afternoon, and spend our evenings playing cards or watching a movie.  I'm replacing wiring, thru-hull valves, and fixing everything I can find that needs fixing.  Connie is fixing things like crazy, and cleaning, and sewing covers for everything on the boat.  Ezrah, realizing that we are going to be living in the yard for quite some time, is making his exit plans.  For me, I'm happy right here with Connie, Rafa, and the Bob.

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