Monday, June 13, 2011

The Bitter End

Today our sailboat, SV BLISS, was hauled into the dry storage yard (behind the boat in this photo), where it will sit for awhile. Someone once called Marina Seca (dry marina) and it's plethora of masts, "The forest of broken dreams."

We were scheduled to splash the boat in the wet marina last Thursday, and in my final preparations, I mounted the 31" destroyer-type wheel on the steering post. I had rented a slip for a day/night to do final loading of the boat, and once in the water, we would motor over to the slip, take care of stuff and then motor out to the mooring the next day. I had also rented a mooring (and that's another post).

The helm felt funny, and when I turned the wheel something snapped under the cockpit floor and the wheel spun freely. I emptied out the cockpit lockers and climbed in to find one of the sheaves had broken from it's mounting. I devised a way to fix the problem, and bought the parts to do that. When I tried to move the rudder it would not budge.

Somehow the rudder had frozen to the steering tube during the two months in the workyard. That precipitated the break in the sheave mount.

I tried long levers; I tried spraying lubricants; hammering; dripping muriatic acid into the steering tube in case the problem was barnacle infestation. All the time working under the cockpit in a space the size of the trunk of a compact car. Temperatures were hitting well over 100° (ten miles away, in Empalme, the record was broken at 114°).

I soon realized the entire steering post/steering tube would have to be cut out of the boat. That would create a ragged hole 5 inches in diameter where the thing sits now, if I can drop the rudder. It's a big job, and I've had enough of big jobs for awhile. I decided to put the boat in storage until parts can be found, a place to drop the rudder can be located (I need a pit about 6 feet deep under the stern), the money could be earned to attack the problem (boat yard fees increase each month to discourage long term project boats) and I'm ready for it. I cancelled the launch, the slip and the mooring.

We've spent more money than we wanted to, we missed Loreto Fest completely, and the last 2-1/2 months have been hell. I've been getting up at 5-6 am daily, working to sundown, and sometimes past that. I'm exhausted from the physical labor and working conditions, and lack of rest: I've had to work every day because the yard fees have gotten so high it's a waste of money to take time off.

All this, and I end up with a boat I can't use.

As a consolation, I've kept the dinghy out of storage and we will use it for snorkeling and short fishing trips around the bay. It's pretty small (7-1/2 feet) but it will have to do for awhile.