Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Good, the Bad, and the down right Ugly!

The Good: I’ve made good on the promise I made to myself of getting more involved locally and trying to meet some people who race in the area. Last week I went out on a J80 in the Galveston Bay and had an incredible day on the water. These boats really are fast and a lot of fun to sail. We had an almost perfect day. This was a check out sail of sorts to see if I could actually sail or not. I’ve been invited back so I guess that means I pass. Hopefully, I actually am in town some Wed. or Sat. soon for the evening races.

The Bad: This one blows my mind and is severely damaging my wallet as well. I pulled Romance out of her slip to get the dingy off the davits so I could motor around the lake. (In case you are wondering the top three entrants for the naming contest are Blava, Reality, and The Duck) Everything was going fine until I headed back into the slip. The wind was up so I was moving a little faster than normal to keep some control of that big full keel. As I lined up on the slip and came about a quarter of the way in I throttled down, threw her in neutral, then reverse, throttled back up and no luck. I don’t slow down a bit.

I made a pretty good jump from the boat to the dock to try and get in front of her to slow her down, but that was pretty futile. The only thing that really saved me, the boat, and the dock from a major collision was the fact that I keep a small floating barge in the front of the slip to make it easier to clean the hull. The barge took the full brunt of the boat and forced Romance to slow down preventing me from ever touching the wooded dock itself. Thank God.

So what’s the point of this story? Well, my transmission went out. No more neutral and no more reverse. Obviously this isn’t a good thing for close quarters maneuvering. I started making calls to see who could help me out and the only mechanic who wasn’t booked four weeks out was Blue Water Ships Stores here in Kemah. They sent some one out and little did I know the mechanic was actually their refrigeration guy. Something he let slip at the end of the day. Well, he went to work pulling the trans out, but never before have I seen someone who more closely resembled the old adage, “A bull in a china shop”. In an attempt to pull the gear out he somehow managed to kick/break off a thru hull valve. For those not familiar with these it resulted in a hole in my boat about the size of a quarter that was rapidly letting water in. Sinking would be the correct term.

So the fridge guy started hammering a rag into the hole and letting me know all was well. He then took to slashing the plumbing for my raw water wash down pump in an effort to restart my air conditioner since the thru hull he broke was the water feed for the AC. Now I have a broken thru hull and plumbing to redo. Even more amazingly, he started blaming the broken valve on electrolysis. It certainly wasn’t something he felt he was liable for.

After contemplating the day’s events I called Blue Water and told them not to bother coming back and not to expect a payment for me for the work done as the damage Romance received was far in excess of the 4 hours work by his mechanic/fridge guy.

Thankfully I found a really good shop through my boat broker who stepped in and took charge of the situation. Y.E.S. assessed the situation and asked when I was leaving town again. Fortunately I had to be back in NM for class so while I was out they arranged a tow boat to come pull my disabled Romance (no transmission remember) over to the shipyard, hauled her, repaired the thru hull, and put her back in my slip in a days work. They’ve also picked up the gear and have shipped her to a specialist in my type of gear and will reinstall when she returns. So I am back on track, but I am guessing this will set me back a total of around 4k before it is all said and done. And that is if they can rebuild my gear. A new one will be 4K all by itself.

The UGLY: Heads. Oh god have I learned to head the heads on boats. There is another thru hull on a boat that pumps in salt water to flush the head. Turns out over time if the hoses are not carefully flushed with vinegar then extreme deposits of calcium can build up clogging the hoses. I had a mother of a clog. I guess the previous owners never flushed the system with vinegar. The 1.5 inch hose was blocked down to .5 in and the calcium had become dislodged completely blocking all water flow. Several feet of pipe had to be replaced, but not before much of the waste water had been allowed by a technician to run into the bilges. It’s all back together, but not only have I flushed the toilet, but the whole of the bilges have been well flushed to boot.

Ok, that’s enough boat love for today.



Anonymous said...

There is only good news here. Unless he really had to wack the through hull, consider it may have given way at sea 500 miles from no where while you were asleep and giving you no time to figure out where it was leaking before you needed to abandon ship. There are those of us that give our through hulls a good wack each time we are hauled out for that reason. Not fool proof but works. there is a bright side to everything.

Lee Winters Cruising Blogspot said...

There is definately some truth there Terry. What really bugged me is that they tried to use the event as an excuse to replace all the thru hulls. The guys from Y.E.S. inspected the other and believed them to all be solid. In specting the broken one it looks like they dropped the gear on it. The boat is completely bonded so electrolysis shouldn't be a severe issue. Regardless, I am getting work done by more experienced professionals now and I know at least one ball valve is brand new.