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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Done. Well for now anyway.

Once again we spent a good part of the prime cruising season working on the boat. This year, projects included:

o Finishing the teak deck removal project (started almost 2 years ago)
o Completing the non-skid deck
o Install a new solar panel arch and solar panel
o Rebuild a teak hatch that has been coming apart for 5 years
o Refinish all the exterior teak
o Repair the mainsail
o Align the engine

When I first put the project list together I added up all the time I thought I would need and it came out to about 55 days (more than 2 months). We had planned for a month and a half in Marina Mazatlan, so it was clear I was going to have my hands full. As it turned out I was able to combine projects into one day; take apart the hatch that needed rebuilding while the paint on the deck dried, repair the mainsail after applying a coat of Cetol to the exterior teak. But I think in the end I worked all but about 3 of our 46 days in the marina. I guess that's what I get for goofing off all summer long.

We almost had a show stopper at the end. Linda had left for her visit to the Northwest and I began the final project: Align the engine. A month or two before I had checked the alignment and found that it was pretty far out, so it was obviously past time to do something about it. However, when I started I immediately found that the coupler between the transmission and propeller shaft was broken (probably caused by the bad alignment) and that the bolts for one of the motor mounts had stripped their beds (probably the cause of the bad alignment)!

Good thing Linda was in Seattle, because the vendor for the coupler is close by in Lynwood. A quick phone call had a new coupler on its way. But that didn't take care of the cause of all the problems, the stripped bolts. It was not only obvious that I needed to do something about the bolts, fate was telling me to do something about them. Right when I was thinking I should remove the shaft zinc to make the alignment easier, the diver walked by and asked if I needed anything. "Yes", I said, "would you mind getting into the cold water and taking off the shaft zinc"? Then, right when I was thinking that I needed some heavy duty epoxy filler for the job, my dock neighbor reminded me that he still had the filler that I had loaned him.

That settled it, I was going to do a good job. No need to tempt fate any further. All that was required was removing the two bolts, turning the engine mount 90 degrees to expose the stripped hole (it turned out that only one hole was stripped, the other just needed a longer bolt. Fate again). Drill out the hole and then epoxy a nut into the bottom of the enlarged hole. Sound's easy huh? Did I say this was on the back engine mount? The engine mount that's located under the exhaust system? The one that you can't work on unless you actually lay on top of the engine? Yeah, it's that one.

After a mere 4 hours of yoga I had a nut bedded in epoxy a full two inches under the engine mount. Hopefully it will be strong enough to hold against the vibration.

A couple more hours of yoga and I had the engine aligned. (To align the engine you have to kneel with your head below your backside and use a feeler about the thickness of two pieces of paper to make sure the shaft and transmission are completely in alignment. If they are not aligned, you have to extract yourself from said yoga position and crawl into the main cabin, there to make your adjustment that will hopefully bring everything into alignment. If not, you get to do it again. I think I only did it about 10 times. It's a zen thing).

We left Mazatlan with our very spiffy looking and smooth running boat yesterday and are headed for Chacala. The engine seems to be holding together after 20 hours of motoring and the cat didn't even get sick after not being underway for a month and a half. Looks like fate is keeping up her end of the bargain, so far.

John, Linda and Ziggy
Bahia Chacala
21o 09.78' N 105o 13.71 W