The Day That Keeps On Giving

Wednesday January 16, 2013

So I guess I can finally talk about it on the blog now.  We didn’t want to say anything until we knew for sure how we were going to go about fixing it, but now we do.  If you’re sly on boats or read between the lines, you may have picked up that even though work has been progressing I keep complaining that we’re going to be here for awhile still.  That is because we originally thought the keel would be dropped, put back on the next day, and after a few more small things we’d finally be on our way.  But as anyone who’s done extensive work on a boat will know, one project always leads to another and another.  And it’s not until you start taking apart your boat that you realize how many more things need to be done to it.  We’re finding plenty, sure, but we’re at the point now where if it’s not dire we plan on working on it later, hopefully while traveling.  But when the keel came off, we were hit with the news that 6 of our 8 bolts are suffering from crevice corrosion and need to be replaced. This is bad news for us for two very big reasons.  1.  It has nothing to do with the accident of coming in the inlet, it’s just due to the old age of the boat, so this fix has to come from our pockets and not from insurance.  2.  Somehow, even though we’re only a few hundred miles from the boating capital of the world, there is no one in this area that can do the repair.  So what we were left with is the option to ship the 5,000 lb keel up to Rhode Island or Toronto at $2,000 round trip just to get it there and back, or to find someone that could fly to St. Augustine to do the work.

After having the yard search high and low for anyone in the area that could do the repairs, and then putting a thread up on the forums, we got information that there is a guy in L.A.  that is capable of fixing it and flies wherever you need him.  Doing a little more research and finding he comes highly recommended, we secured him to come out and replace our bolts.  It will be half the cost of shipping it to Toronto, but will still come in somewhere near $3,000.  So that’s one kicker, another two months of cruising budget coming out of our pocket, but the other is that this guy is not available to come out until February 12th.*  Best case scenario is that after he’s finished we get dropped back in the water in late February and have just over three months to make it down the 2,000 miles or so to Grenada/Trinidad.  We’re not even sure if that’s possible, and that’s if everything goes smoothly and there are no more delays.  It can be done, sure.  But we will be running.  A lot of the islands will need to be skipped and hopefully visited at another time.  If things don’t go well and we get held up even longer, we may be stuck in the States for hurricane season yet again.  We’ve even been toying with the idea of leaving the boat in Florida and going back to Michigan for the summer to get jobs if it comes down to it.  We’ve cruised the States and we’re over it.  If we’re going to be sitting around for months in a place we’re not absolutely in love with (although this is a lovely town), we’d rather be putting money back in our pockets.  Besides, we have a few friends with sailboats back home that we can bum rides off of.

If that news isn’t bad enough, the day just kept on getting better.  We were excited for any kind of progress to commence, so we were very happy that while strolling through the yard today we were stopped by one of the workers that told us he had time right then and would like to swing by and get the transmission pulled.  We bound back up the ladder and sat there while he went to work in the aft cabin, expecting to have the job done in 20-40 minutes.  That’s how long it’s taken Matt to do it in the past and now we had a pro doing it.  After an hour he pops his head out and says that he can’t reach some bolts because the engine is in the way and what other kind of access to we have to the engine?  We lift up a few steps to show him the access and he shakes his head at us.  “I’m not going to be able to get in there.  These are going to have to come off.”  After a few grunts from Matt, he pulls out his screwdriver and begins disassembling the steps.  The guy goes back to work and after another thirty minutes pass he comes back out.  “I still can’t get to the bolts I need.  We’re going to have to completely remove the engine for me to get the transmission out.”  We were dumbfounded.  How can Matt do this project so easily and someone that works on boats for a living wants to basically tear our boat apart.  Holding our politeness for as long as we could we told him to get a quote started and we’d talk about it more.

Having an engine pulled is a big deal.  It’s a very heavy object, and in our boat, situated in a very tight space.  It’s going to mean taking a lot of things apart just to make a space big enough for it to get out, and then some pretty heft equipment to lift it from where it sits.  The only positive is that while it’s out we can check/replace/fix any small things on it while it’s easily accessible, and replacing the motor mounts, another job that has to be done, will be much more simple with the engine out of the way.  Plus, insurance would once again be picking up the tab.  Here’s the thing though.  Matt took a look at the engine/transmission after the guy left and found out that he was going about it completely wrong.  Should Matt have the desire, he could still go in there and 20 minutes later have the transmission removed.  (In all fairness though, the bolts the guy was trying to remove are impossible to get to.  It’s just that there are a different set of bolts that will still get the transmission off)  The motor mounts can still be replaced with the engine in, it just makes it a little more difficult and time consuming.  (But we have…plenty of time)  Lastly, by having the engine removed it will make our insurance claim even higher.  And when you’re in a situation where you need to get a new insurance carrier (ours will only cover us through the Bahamas), you want to keep the claim as low as possible.  So we’re still debating what to do.  I think we’ll wait for the quote to come back before making a final decision.**

But that’s not all.  The day kept on giving.  Walking up to the boat shed to grab our bikes for a ride up to the grocery store we found that the men’s bike was missing.  I don’t know if I’ve mentioned before, but these are the yard’s bikes that we use.  Since we’re basically the only people that ever use them, the office has been nice enough to let us keep the keys to the locks full time and if anyone else asks for them, they send them over to our boat and we happily hand them over.  That happened yesterday, but I had gone back to the office this morning to see if the keys were back, which they were.  Somehow we had both keys, and only one bike.  Searching the grounds near the boat that had borrowed the bikes yesterday we did not see it and were completely clueless to where it has gone.***  See, this is what happens when people lend away things that don’t belong to us.  We’re really hoping it pops back up soon since that is our main mode of transportation and Walmart is much to far too visit on foot.

Then the cherry on top.  Going back to Serendipity to hang out for the rest of the afternoon now that we had no place to go, we walked down the companionway to a foul smell.  Both of us started sniffing around and asking “Did it smell like this when we left?”.  Sometimes Georgie has some really nasty farts, or her litter box will smell for just a minute right after she goes, so we thought that might be it.  And then we realized that to make room for the transmission guy we stuck her litter box in the head to get it out of the way and had not put it back.  Uh oh.  Moving around other things that had been taken out of the aft cabin and were now sitting in the salon we picked up the engine cover and found a nice little treat waiting for us.  On the quick soaking, fibrous rug no less.  And it was m-e-s-s-y.  Gagging while wiping it up, I had to quickly rush it outside and take the hose to it.  It’s not her fault, we know.  It’s ours for taking away her bathroom for half the day.  It was still the last thing I wanted to find waiting for me when I came back.  But now I think I’m getting to the part of the day where I’m almost jaded for bad news.  Got something else for me?  Bring it on!


* 1/18/13.  Just got a call from the keel bolt guy in L.A.  He can move his trip up from February 12th to February 2nd.  Finally some good news!

**We’re also a little weary to pull the transmission ourselves because we’re then liable for any issues connected to it.  It may be something best left to the pros.  And if they say ‘pull the engine’, we just might have to trust them on that.

***We found the bike the next day.  It turns out there is more than one set of keys, and the people that borrowed it the other day somehow scored the other set.  So while it was gone during our first yard sweep, we later found it chained to their boat.  Apparently they thought it was their’s to use exclusively.  They’ve been splashed and are gone now, and we’re pretty happy about that.

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