Jan 10

a challenge already

Tag: boat work,musings,victoriesjonny5waldman @ 11:45 pm
A couple of friends have emailed me, asking about our progress. Have we sailed Syzygy yet? Is the engine running? Have we practiced motoring around the marina, in and out of our slip? Have we fixed our leaky water tanks? Until last night, my answer was a sad litany of qualified justifications and hedged excuses. Here’s what i mean: Q: Have we sailed yet? A: Nope… but we were GONNA sail yesterday, and were all set to do so. Sails up, stuff stowed, everything set. We were especially eager to sail for the most ridiculous reason, though. We wanted to cut up the port water tank while out at sea. Why? Because it wouldn’t fit out the companionway, and was just sitting there, a big hulk of stainless steel, in our cabin salon. Why couldn’t we just cut it up at the marina? Because the jig saw is really loud, and the marina master specifically told us not to use power tools on our boat, since we’re docked so close to a bunch of fancy beach-front houses. Given that we’re so new to most everything we’re doing, we didn’t wanna get kicked out of the marina for making a racket. So anyway, we really really really wanted to go sailing. Thing is, the tides totally screwed us. Actually, the marina sorta screwed us, too. The canal entrance to Marina Real is shallow — about 5’6″ shallow. Syzygy has a draft of 6’6″. So she can only get out of the marina when the tide is at least 1′ above the mean. And yesterday, high tide was at 4:30am. Here’s the chart for Jan 3rd: 3:10 AM MST Moonrise 4:26 AM MST High tide 0.62 Meters 7:15 AM MST Sunrise 1:49 PM MST Moonset 2:13 PM MST Low tide -0.20 Meters 5:40 PM MST Sunset We didn’t find this out until 8am, though, and by then it was too late. It all the begs the question, though: how does anyone go sailing around here? Are all the sailboats trapped in the marina until the stars align? At any rate, that’s why we didn’t go sailing. Q: Is the engine running? A: Yes, finally. This is a shameful story too. We put Syzygy in the water a week ago, and it felt glorious for about 10 minutes, until Matt tried to start the engine, and it just wouldn’t catch. Some small puffs of gray smoke came out of the exhaust pipe, but that’s it. So — and I hate to admit it — we got towed to our slip. Yep. We got towed, by a dinky little dinghy, with a tiny outboard motor, about 100 feet, over to our slip. And we almost crashed into the dock. It was pathetic. Anyway, we were gonna have a mechanic look at our engine, but Matt persevered. On the advice of another sailor, he bled the fuel line, letting pockets of air out so that diesel fuel could proceed straight to the engine. It worked. So the engine now runs. And we know now how to start it. Q: Have we practiced motoring around the marina, docking and such? A: Well, we had planned to spend days doing this, but got caught up a) dealing with the damn water tanks, b) not being able to start our engine (see above), and c) running around San Calors and Guaymas buying tools and supplies we needed. Q: Have we fixed our leaky water tanks? A: Not yet, but we’ve made good progress. We got the starboard watertank out of the boat, but the port watertank is a couple of inches bigger, and wouldn’t fit out the door. After finding the hand-saw worthless at cutting through 1/8″ stainless steel, and after having melted through six metal-cutting jig saw blades, and after having tried-but-finally-decided-against removing the companionway trim (to widen the door), we found a cutting disc for our grinder. After a brief test, we also decided to screw the marina rules and go for it. So late last night, we closed the hatches, padded the tank in pillows and cushions and blankets (to muffle the sound), and hacked away at the thing. Actually, Matt and Jon hacked away at the tank while I stealthily patrolled the dock, VHF radio in hand, so that we wouldn’t get busted. We used a code to disguise our operation: Shark to Whale – Are we clear to begin feeding? Whale to Shark – The waters are all clear to begin feeding. Proceed. -15 minutes later- Shark to Whale – Papa shark is, uh, getting bitten by electric eels. Mama shark is taking over, because she has thicker skin. Whale to Shark – Copy that, Shark. How’s feeding going? Shark to Whale – Uh, feeding is slowing down because, uh, the shark’s teeth are getting dull, and we don’t have any dentures. Also, there’s an oil spill. Whale to Shark – Um, copy that. Waddya mean, an oil spill? Shark to Whale – The waters are cloudy. It’s hard to breathe or feed, Whale. Whale to Shark — Ah, copy that. Shortly before midnight, the feeding was over, and for the first time in weeks, things seemed to go our way. Nobody haggled us for making noise. The grinder didn’t break (though Matt ground the cutting disc down to a tiny nubbin.) The power didn’t go out. Nothing caught fire (though Matt did burn a hole through a cushion, and ripped two blankets, and filled the cabin with smoke, and covered every surface in metal dust). NEVERTHELESS, we got that friggin’ water tank cut into 3 chunks, and got it out of the boat. Mission accomplished. Actually, that’s only the first half of the mission. The old, leaky watertanks are out of the boat, and now we’ve gotta build new tanks, which we’re gonna make out of epoxy-coated marine-grade plywood. We’ve cut the pieces, but run out of time on this trip to continue…so it’ll have to wait. All of which brings up a good point: the whole “fix up the sailboat thing” has forced us to readjust our perhaps overly-ambitious, landlubber-style, deadline-driven agendas. It’s put us in some tough spots, and brought out anger, frustration, exhaustion, and unwarranted criticism. It’s forced us to discuss out approaches to solving problems together, and forced us to admit to each other that we’ve got to be more patient and easy on each other. And we’ve only just started. It’s a challenge already.

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