Thursday, April 17, 2014

Repairs In Paradise

Morning in Boot Key
We’ve had so many repairs since leaving home, it makes my head spin just thinking about it.  For some reason, I had an unreasonable fear that if we waited until we got down to the Keys, everything would be more expensive…  While that isn’t entirely untrue… Services here in Marathon seem to be not only priced reasonably, but the available workmen here are accessible and reasonably priced.  And, more importantly, when they’re done, the thing is FIXED!

Pumping out the pond
During the installation of our solar panels, we discovered that we had an unwanted saltwater pond beneath our bed.  We sucked out the water and noted that our rudder post was leaking.  It wasn’t dire, so we put it on the back burner that until the solar is finished…

Now that the solar panels are happily charging away, we had run out of excuses to ignore the leaking rudder post and so, once again, we tore our bedroom apart and found that our pond had returned.  We sucked out the water and investigated further as to WHY there was a pond… Even with the post leaking, we should have a drain hole that allows the water to make its way to the bilge…  Yep, the drain hole was plugged up with gunk.  Bruce freed that up, then we turned our attention back to the rudder post.

He and I took a look at it.  He tried explaining to me how it works, which I kind of get…  But all I could see in my mind’s eye was us messing something up and water gushing into the boat at an alarming rate.  I just don’t want to be “that boat”.  You know… the one that sunk on mooring ball S4.  So, I bailed on him and asked that he call a friend, a male friend for some assistance.  I know… cowardly of me…  But with the luck we’ve had in DIY repairs…  No way I’m touching this one!

Rainbow is a good omen
The next morning, a friend came over with a big wrench.  He and Bruce took a stab at it and found that the nuts were not budging.  There was no longer a pond by the way…  So the leak wasn’t so bad that we would have noticed if it hadn’t been for the plugged drain hole…  But, we need to get this fixed before crossing any Gulf Streams and such…  Bruce and Rodney quickly decided that we would be better off having a professional take this on, so we made an appointment with Marathon Boat Yard and Marine Services.  

You might recall from an earlier post, this is the boatyard that did the free seminars our first couple of days here.  We had heard good things about their work since then from other Cruisers and they could get us in the next day.  

Jezabelle up early
We got up early to prepare for the journey of less than a mile, but we wanted them to have all day to do the job… just in case…  We left the dinghy on our mooring ball and headed over to the boatyard mid morning.  

Narrow channel entrance
The approach was easy, head for the old bridge and turn to starboard.  The channel leading to the boatyard was plenty deep, although we did see some depths in the 9 ft. range… 

It was still disconcerting having the steep rocky shore close enough to flip a coin.  

We got a line ashore to help the stern come around
The true fun began when we got to the boatyard.  There was a long dock where we had planned to tie up, but several unexpected boats had arrived late in the day yesterday and they were lining the dock and even rafted two deep.  The other side of the basin was also lined with boats.  We slowly made our approach wondering where we would fit and saw the boatyard men waving us over to raft up to another boat on our Port side.

The instructed me to bring the nose in and let the wind blow the stern around so that we could just head right out when we were done.  

Rafted up
So, in the small space, we did a little pirouette and slid into our waiting spot “Captain Ron” style while I anxiously kept watch on our newly installed solar panels and their close proximity to the fishing boat now behind us…

It looks bigger than it seemed when I was driving that big boat around...
Whew!  Glad THAT’s over!  The guys tied us off and disappeared, leaving only Joe, who would be our hero today.  You might remember Joe from an earlier post as well.  He was the Fiberglass Repair Seminar presenter who had impressed us so much.  I was glad to see that he would be our guy today.

He boarded and took a look at our situation, then he went right to work.  I waited in the cockpit listening to the loud banging coming from down below.  Joe had to give it a pretty substantial hit to get the nuts to give it up… something I would never have felt comfortable doing… He exposed the packing material and found that we use 3/8 in. packing instead of the more common 1/4 inch material… figures…  They didn’t have it in stock but he was able to get it from another local business pretty quickly.  

Our Joe at work
After a short disappearance, Joe returned with the proper packing in hand and had it installed within minutes.  He was very patient and showed Bruce just what to look for and what to do should we need to repeat this job in the future.  He left the excess packing material with us as well.  

I waited in the cockpit while Bruce went in to settle the bill…  I had a number in my head as to what I figured this job would probably cost us and wasn’t surprised when Bruce came back and told me the total was indeed, what I had anticipated.  Imagine my pleasant surprise when he also began to read off the list of other goodies he had bought that were INCLUDED in that total bill!  Bruce had gone on a little shopping spree for spares when I wasn’t looking!  And it was all within the cost of what I had figured on paying for the rudder post repair alone!  Hooray!  Finally something that DIDN’T cost us more than my first born child...

So now, we’re all fixed up, our rudder won’t drop out of the boat, we won’t take on water and join the Sea Monsters at in the Tongue Of The Ocean… At least not for THIS problem!  And I can’t say enough about the professionalism of the folks at Marathon Boat Yard and Marine Services.  I only wish that we had saved some of our other repairs until we arrived here… it might have lessened our frustrations and saved us a few bucks...

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