Sunday, December 28, 2014

Afloat and Adrift

Yes we’re afloat.  We are fat and happy. It was a real kick for us to get everything ready then see this huge machine come take our home in its arms and carry it down the gravel yard, thru the gate, across the street, thru another gate and down to the water.  First they came to put the slings underneath.  Then they lifted us a few inches just off the big wood blocks under the keel.  I had twenty minutes to sand and paint those parts of the keel that I couldn’t get to when it was resting on the ground. Then she trundled on down to the salt water and got baptized. 
Traveler on the move once again. Marina Seca Guaymas.

Anyway, we splashed last Friday then did a test run of the new engine and tranny.  Omar adjusted the alignment a couple of times and we’ve got it pretty well tuned in now.  There is a slight vibration at the cutlass bearing but the engine is balanced perfectly. We’ll do another shake down outing tomorrow and if all goes well we will be on our way south.

A little bit this way, a little that.
 Alignment of the engine is tested with a feeler gage, a series of precise little metal gages that allows you to measure how well the shaft is lined up with the engine.  You turn the prop shaft and “feel” any differences as you turn.  If it binds on one side or the other then you loosen up the motor mounts and shift the engine slightly until the measurements are the same, port and starboard.  Same thing for the top and bottom, just raise or lower the mounts.  We adjusted it in the yard, then adjusted it in the water, then took the boat out for a 2 hour test run.  This morning, after the engine had cooled and the boat had settled herself in the water (with a big sigh, I might add) Omar adjusted the alignment twice more until it all measured perfect.
Sanding the keel where she had sat for 7 months.

But (there is always a “but”) there is that little vibration at the cutlass bearing where the shaft exits the hull.  It could be that the prop shaft is ever so slightly warped or that the new propeller is slightly out of balance.  We’ll keep an eye on that and if it gets worse then we’ll haul out and check the propeller and shaft and bearing. 

Another little thing that could be a little off is the propeller size.  The engine is supposed to develop 35 horsepower at 2800 RPM.  However she won’t go faster than 2500 RPM with the new prop.  Perhaps the blades are a little bit too large and the engine just can’t push it to the maximum speed.  At 2500 RPM we were going 7 knots and Connie was waterskiing off the back so it’s plenty fast for us.  But in a perfect world the engine would be able to reach its maximum recommended RPMs.  Maybe someday we will pull the propeller and have the blades reduced in size by an inch.

Omar showed up with the zincs just in time.
Aside from these two small concerns, the engine, tranny and prop are beautiful and shiny, and the boat drives like a dream.  It even backs up better than it used to do.  With the old left handed prop she pulled hard to starboard.  The new right handed prop pulls a little to port but not really very much.  I was able to back her out of the ways and into the bay about 400 yards in a straight line!

Would you trust this tire?
We are anchored just off the Fonatur marina in downtown Guaymas waiting on a Norther to blow herself out.  Most likely we’ll head across the Sea of Cortez on Monday.  In the meantime we are being social, provisioning the boat, and getting used to life on the water again.  Sure feels good.

Tina, Shane, Anne, Connie.  Good friends in the yard.

I just did the final reckoning on what we’ve spent on this repower and our 7 months in the yard and I immediately had to take a stiff drink of rum.  Gabriel’s yard there at Marina Seca Guaymas turned out to be a wonderful place to get work done and to leave the boat for the summer.  The people are friendly, both the yard crew and the fellow boaters.  The accommodations are sparse but the price is right.  You are changed $150 for the Travelift to pull your boat out of the water and get set up on stands in the yard.  Another $150 gets you back in the water.  We got a power wash for $50 so we didn’t have to scrub the hull too much before we painted it.  The boat storage costs $124 a month (for a 42 ft boat) to sit in the yard.  We can live aboard and use water, electricity and the restrooms for an extra $5 a day.  When I added it up, we spent $1400 for seven months on the hard, 37 days of which we were living there.  That averages out to a very reasonable $200 per month.

The final reckoning on the repower does not paint such a rosy picture but I do know of others who have spent a lot more to get their engine replaced.

Beta 43 engine complete and shipped to Veracruz           $9183
Import and transportation fees $2000    (I don’t know why this was so much. It was all pretty confusing)
Mechanic and fabrication costs for the install      $3000      (Of course we had some unexpected items)
Fiberglass work to rebuild the engine beds          $750     (Not anticipated)
New ZF 15M Transmission           $1400            (My bad)
New right hand propeller             $650          (Brass ain’t cheap)
                Total costs to repower with new engine, tranny, and propeller $16,983 USD

Connie, Jose, Omar, Scott and sexy new dinghy chaps.
What we’ve learned is that life on a cruising boat is fraught with the unexpected.  Most of the folks we’ve encountered out here have learned that you just take it in stride, don’t expect your plans to ever execute on the timeline you had in mind, and just live for the moment.  Sure we enjoy the beautiful anchorages and the little seaside towns we visit when cruising but we also enjoy the time in the yard or at the marina.  We’ve made lots of friends in the yard.  Everyone is working on their projects and yet have plenty of time to visit and compare notes on other people’s projects.  I think this last stint in the yard has helped me quite a bit as I’ve seen everything under the sun that can go wrong with a boat and I’ve seen how you fix it when it breaks.

Outside the wind is howling.  Connie is making pico de gallo.  Omar is at home practicing on his new ukulele.  I’m thinking about taking the dinghy into town so I can wander around trying to find a Pacifico beer store where I can refill those five empty Ballena bottles we have aboard. 
Monkey don't like no empty beer bottles.

And so I stepped on deck just now to gage the wind and waves so I could decide about going ashore or not and heard some whooping and hollering.  There, not 300 yards away was a panga with some young people aboard.  They were yelling, looking right at me.  The boat appeared to be drifting south across the windy, choppy bay. The Norther was still with us.  I looked hard, gestured with my arms as a question, then pointed at them and pointed at me.  They waved as if to say, “Come!”

As boats leave the yard the stands are gathered together in the back lot.
I dropped my head down below and told Connie I was going to check out this panga full of kids then jumped into the dinghy, put my life jacket on, and headed over there, the chop breaking over the bow and the wind whipping my jacket.  When I arrived I found four boys, early teens, in tee shirts and jeans in a 22 foot panga with no outboard motor, no oars, no life jackets… nothing.  It appeared that they had hijacked a panga from the beach and let it loose to drift downwind in the stiff breeze.  On the north shore where they must have started it was pretty calm but as they drifted south the fetch brought up a stiff chop and they were at the mercy of the wind and waves.  In a couple of miles drifting south they would have eventually run up on the rocks at the end of the bay but that might have taken them a couple of hours and it would be dark and cold by then.  They could have hurt themselves or drowned trying to get ashore.

I tried to take them in tow, fixing a bridle to my stern but the big panga had no steering and it kept tracking off to one side or the other slewing my small dinghy off course.  I tried getting back on the rear quarter of the boat with the dinghy and pushing alongside but that kept turning us, again with no rudder on the panga to hold her straight.  Alongside now, I got all four boys into the dinghy and told them to just let the panga go.  Let her drift.  The ring leader of the group refused to let the panga go.  He was a scrawny little guy but you could tell he was a tough little nut.  I soon gave up trying to get them to let the boat drift off. 

Gabriel raises boats AND sheep!
Let’s try something else. I had the guys in the bow of the dinghy hold the bow of the panga and I backed into the wind and waves.  Towing the boat this way worked just fine but we didn’t make much headway backing into the wind and waves.  By this time the sun was down and the wind and waves were not slacking off.  Water was coming in over the transom and we were all getting soaked.  So I changed course and headed across the wind toward the nearest shore.  They weren’t too happy about this as they hoped to get the panga back to where they stole it to begin with.

Sideways to the wind we made better progress.  On board Traveler, Connie was following me with the binoculars and worrying about the wind, waves, and approaching darkness.  Should she up anchor and come after us or get on the VHF radio and call for help?  She chose to wait and watch.  On shore I spied two police vehicles with their lights on.  Connie later told me that the officers were standing on the malecon watching the dinghy and the panga.  Finally we approached the shore and saw a group of fishing boats moored bow and stern.  I headed that way.  So did the police.  By the time we arrived the two police cars were there and a small group of men had gathered on the rocky shoreline.  The boys looked pretty worried at this point and the ring leader boy was shivering.  It was time for everyone to get to a warm, dry place. 

Photo by Ann on Galivant

I towed the panga so it would lie next to another panga that was moored in the water.  The two hulls touched and I told the kids to get out of the dinghy and onto their boat.  They did so, and started to hussle across the other boats towards shore.  I shouted at them, then gestured for them to tie the stolen panga to the moored panga.  They did so and I pushed myself off.  A man on shore yelled out to me “Gracias, Gracias” and I headed back toward Traveler, pushing through the darkening seas.  Halfway across the bay a harbor police boat crossed paths with me, arriving a little late.   Connie was waiting with a helping hand up, some hot soup, and a brow full of concern for my safety.  We laughed, hauled the dinghy up the side of the boat then retired below.  Crazy kids!  Imagine the scenes that were unfolding in four different households as these young boys tried to explain their way out of this one!

1 comment:

  1. O, those kids! Why can't they be like we were??? So happy you're back in the water! I could use a little warmth right about now! Have fun and be safe. Happy New Year!