Sunday, February 24, 2008

Refit in San Diego

Week two of the refit has been encouraging with progress on most fronts. The bills are going up as well but we haven’t reached our budget yet. I think it will be close.

We have had a lot of progress this week. On Tuesday, Alberto, the mechanic arrived and spent the afternoon disassembling the exhaust elbow and the oil cooler. Once removed the leak we suspected during the test sail was obvious. There were several pinholes in the iron pipe just below the mixing elbow. That was sent to the welders to have a new stainless unit made up. The oil cooler was badly corroded and will need some major surgery or replacement if a suitable replacement can be found. The leak in the injector system may have been a loose connection that was found after some of the equipment was removed. If that is the case I won’t need that injector pump rebuild estimated at $1500. Replacement of the engine mounts will have to wait till next year. After an exhaustive search Alberto thinks he found some but cost was prohibitive at $400 each. Since then I received an answer to my query to the Camper& Nicholson archivist indicating a manufacturer and model number of the replacement items. He is also sending me a copy of the original plumbing and wiring diagrams for the boat. No doubt it will have little semblance to the existing arrangement after 34 years of alterations but it may answer some questions about some of the wires that don’t seem to go anywhere.

Alan Katz (alias Dr. Electron), the electrician, did his magic yesterday and all is well power-wise and I am now much more knowledgeable on the boat’s electric and electronic systems. We got rid of the starting bank of 4 group 27, 12V batteries, as they were at least 5 years old and one or 2 were defective, thus the boiling off I experienced last week when I turned the systems back on. We replaced them with 2 similar batteries and added 2 more 6V golf cart batteries to augment the house bank. The solar panels are now fully operational with the addition of a 20-amp controller. It was nice to see current going into the charging circuit even on a dull day. Alan also reorganized the charging circuits to optimize the system’s capabilities. He also gave me a short tutoring on the Furuno Nav-net system comprising the radar, GPS, chart-plotter, depth/fish-finder and knotmeter functions. The former owner wanted redundancy so there is also a Simrad wind/depth and knotmeter system as a backup.

The tracing of the plumbing system discovered some interesting aspects. The supply tube of the water-maker, which was not used by the former owner, ended just above the bilge. Had it been turned on it would have supplied purified water to the bilge pump! A few other lines had been cut as systems were added or changed over the years and I was able to pull out about 20 ft of old clear plastic tubing. I also found that the manual bilge pump discharge hose was not connected. It is amazing what you can find by pulling up the deck boards.

The mast work has been delayed till next week. Hopefully the engine will be back running so that we won’t need to be towed to the crane site.

Fran arrives tomorrow from Puerto Vallarta tomorrow afternoon. The laundry is done and I even bought groceries. All is well aboard GOSLING.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Finally onboard in San Diego

Night 3 onboard at the Shelter Island Boatyard, San Diego.

Thursday, 14 Feb: After a tiring day of flying around Mexico, courtesy of Orbitz (one of those web based el cheapo travel companies) where I was routed from Puerto Vallarta, through Guadalajara, Mexico City and Cabo San Lucas, I finally arrived in San Diego. The ticket was cheap so I guess I got what I paid for.

The last 2 days have been a blur. Thanks to the generosity of the broker I have been able to get in contact with all of the experts needed to do the work on the boat. Unfortunately many of them can’t start for a few days or weeks but as of this afternoon it looks like our target date of 12 March might be achievable. The companies I had counted on to start the work early all bailed on me, including the engineer who was supposed to be finished by now. I can’t blame him too much as he blew a knee in a skiing accident in January. He is supposed to be coming tomorrow to start his bit. I now have an electrician lined up for next Wednesday and a rigger to do the mast work at the end of the month. The electrician, Doctor Electron, was highly recommended by a cruiser in Puerto Vallarta. His initial inspection today was reassuring. I may not have to get as much work done as I expected and he recommended some changes to my battery system that will significantly improve my power availability. The batteries that had previously boiled off will most likely have to be replaced but I will be able to improve my house bank while reducing my starter set.

I have come to the realization that it is impossible to do any project of this type without a reliable source of communication. Everyone I speak to needs a phone number to reach me and I can’t always rely on the good graces of the broker, particularly on the weekend. My search for a cheap cell phone was rewarding today. I found a pay-as-u-go system today with 200 anytime minutes for under $50.00. Can’t beat that! I got my first wrong number at 5:30 the next morning….

Meanwhile, between shopping trips to Target, West Marine, Home Depot, Goodwill, groceries and other bits I have been able to get some of the onboard projects started. It is a steep learning curve, figuring out the systems. I now appreciate the requirement we had as new members of a ship’s company when we were tasked to trace the systems onboard our new ships. I wish it was as easy on this boat but much of the wiring and plumbing is inaccessible, however, by lifting bilge boards and settee cushions I have been able to trace the important circuits, valves and fittings.

Yes, that was Goodwill in the last paragraph. There were no pots, pans, cutlery or crockery onboard when we bought this boat. One of the boxes I unpacked contained a set of dishes Fran had ordered from Target. The remainder of the equipment I needed came from Goodwill and the Salvation Army stores. They have big ones here and they are very popular stores with lots of dedicated shoppers. I even got a 10% discount for being over 55!

Saturday 16 Feb: More running around today. Some of the plumbing items I need require specialist stores. You can’t find plumbing bits for a 34-year old boat built in the UK at Home Depot so a trip out of town to a specialist-plumbing store was needed. That took most of the day as I had to do 4 stores to find the right part.

I spent most of this evening going through the 5 binders that the former owner left with the boat. They contain most of the technical literature for the equipment on the boat. The former owner was a techie and wanted lots of shiny electronic gizmos so I have some pretty fancy equipment onboard. After purchasing the boat in 2003 he had approx $45K of improvements done. This included rewiring the boat to 12V from 24V, refrigeration, new sails and running rigging and replacing all of the electronics. There is even a weather-fax here somewhere but I haven’t found it yet. There is also a 2 meter rig! The learning curve has steepened!

Until today the weather here has been horrid. Yesterday we had rainsqualls on and off all day but today we had a change for the better and it was warm until the sun set. Nights have been quite cold. I’ve had to use sail bags as extra blankets!

Sunday: Bought a nice wool blanket at Goodwill and shopped at Home depot again. I should have bought shares! Good progress today in the warm sunshine, finally. Also found a free internet spot but I have to drive about 6 blocks to the parking lot of the Holiday Inn to use their service. Beggars can’t be choosers…..

More next week.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Anticipation in Puerto Vallarta

It has been a frustrating month trying to set up a work schedule to ensure the boat will be ready to sail by mid-March.

We are still in Puerto Vallarta so all dealings and arrangements must be done by e-mail and service down here isn’t as regular as we have been accustomed to up north. However, we aren’t dealing with snow and rain so there are some consolations.

Our first problem came up when the boating insurance company in Victoria that we had been dealing with announced that our application had been rejected by Lloyds because of: “ the age, the low value and the condition of the boat, as per survey and recommendations”. It is inconceivable that such a highly respected company as Lloyds would reject an application for a boat built in 1974, in the UK, to their own strict specifications. On quizzing the agent I was told that they don’t normally insure boats under $100K. With regards to the survey, there are no red flags that can’t be set right, and besides, what experienced sailor will sail away on or buy a boat that is unsafe. The strong construction of the C&N boats and their reputation are what finally convinced us to buy Gosling. Needless to say we were ticked! We were really puzzled when we applied online to a company in Vancouver and were immediately accepted for a Lloyds policy. Go figure!!!

Lining up experts to deal with the survey recommendations has been a problem. Some of those we had arranged to do work have not responded to e-mails so we have been forced to enlist others. Luckily, here in Puerto Vallarta we are in a cruising heaven so there are lots of people down here who know who to go to in San Diego. Their recommendations have been fruitful and we now have commitments from a rigger, mechanic and an electronics specialist. Everything seems to be lined up now and, hopefully all will get done in time to meet our 12 Mar target date. Much of the work would probably be cheaper if done in Mexico but the price of parts is much more and many boaters have had very bad experiences when shipping parts south of the border. At least at Shelter Island I have the advantage of the complete variety of tech experts and the availability of just about any part needed.

Gosling was out of the water from the 10th of Jan to the beginning of this past week. Clark Hardy, our sales rep (and guardian angel) at Yachtfinders has kept us up to date on progress and reports that the bottom job was very well carried out.

Fran and I have decided that it will be better if I arrive in San Diego earlier than originally planned to supervise the work and get Gosling ready. I am booked out of here on the 12th via Mexico City and Cabo San Lucas, however, Aeromexico has been playing games with my reservations. As of the time of this posting I am leaving here at 0700 and have a 12 hr layover in Mexico City.

On another note, we have been in contact with Passat II. Unfortunately we won't be able to see Barry and Sandra as they are still in transit from Mazatlan where they spent a few weeks including attending the famous Mardi Gras. We were able to have their CFSA burgee delivered in time before they cast off for points south.

More in a week or so after I get to San Diego.