Jan 04

“How we’ve spent two weeks working non-stop but accomplished seemingly nothing,” or “What is the diameter of that goddamn pin?”

Tag: boat workJonathon Haradon @ 1:11 am
I’m tired. We’ve worked for nearly two weeks and have yet to accomplish most of our major objectives for this trip. I feel a combination of a sense of accomplishment at working hard for two weeks, mixed with frustration at little visible progress. ‘How come you have done seemingly so little?’ some of you might ask. Other more direct people might simply say, ‘are ye incompetent?’ Maybe. But I think my tussle with the baby stay (the inner of two wires at the front of the boat holding up the mast) is illuminating. Since we are planning on replacing the babystay, we need to know the size of the pin that connects the wire to the fitting, so that the fitting we buy to replace the old one will fit. So all I need to do is remove one small pin. The pin is my objective. At Matt’s advice, I take our largest screwdriver up on deck to unscrew the pin. The pin, however, having probably only been put in or taken out a few times in the last 30 years, and certainly none at all in the last five years (while the boat was in storage), has other ideas, and refuses to budge. I spend 15 minutes attempting to unscrew the pin with that screwdriver, which is admittedly too small for the job. I had hoped muscle power would overcome the screwdriver’s inadequecies, but apparently my muscles are inadequate also. Returning to the boat interior, I ask Matt and Jonny for ideas. Go ask Miguel, our new-found friend and yard manager, for a larger screwdriver, they say. Off I go to find Miguel, who isn’t around. I ask Arturo, another local mechanic, if he has a large screwdriver. Nope. He refers me to another local, and again I come away empty-handed. Goodbye to another fruitless 20 minutes, perhaps longer, given my poor Spanish skills [see ealier posts for more on those skills]. Back to the boat, where I sit and ponder. Five minutes. I think. Earlier in the week, we used a random piece of metal to unscrew hose clamps; perhaps I could find a larger piece of random metal to fit this much larger screw. I go and measure the size of slot on the pin. 18 mm x 4 mm. Ok, commence searching. Five minutes. 10. 15. Alright, I think I have the perfect piece! but it’s 17mm x5mm. Maybe I measured wrong and this one will fit. Silly me. Of course when I try to fit it in, it doesn’t go. Aargh! At this point I am faced with a dilemma. Continue searching, or, since it is so close, try and modify this piece. Well, since searching more would be boring, and modifying it involves using power tools, the choice is obvious.. I get the drill, screw in the piece of metal to a block of wood. Next, I get the grinder and begin grinding away at the metal. I’ve never used a grinder before, and this is kinda fun. Fifteen minutes of getting tools, tool use, and cleaning up yields what I hope is a usable piece of metal. I test it and it fits! Mini-victory! Now, I get the vice grips, chomp them down with all my might and insert my homemade screwdriver-apparatus into the head of the pin. Ten minutes later, and the pin is finally removed. At last. 80 minutes after starting, I’ve removed one pin. Victory, albeit over one pin. There are many more parts to deal with on this trip and I think they each will individually take 80 minutes of attention. And this is how we’ve worked non-stop yet accomplished seemingly nothing.

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