Solstice – TFFT!!!

I hate Winter! Long, long dark nights and cold very short days.  Well – cold for me at least.  I guess it’s all relative but having grown up in the sub-tropics I find it’s getting cold once the temp drops below 200C (680F).   I can fully understand why birds and whales migrate for Winter and seek the pleasures of much warmer climates.  Which is exactly what I wish we were doing at the moment. 

As in the last post (Where are we at?) we are having Vaega tolu’s engine replaced and getting some other work done whilst the boat is out of the water.  It would be great to be able to do it myself but I don’t have the skill, tools, space or time to do it at the moment so it is being looked after by others.

During a long phone conversation with the mechaninc we talked about boat specifications a new engine was ordered and paid for at the end of March and sitting in the corner of the mechanics shed early April.  Given that tradesmen are busy I understand it couldn’t be installed immediately so I ask the question – “when can we expect this to happen?”

“I’ll get to it after Easter,” comes the reply.

Easter passed: April 25 – ANZAC Day passes:  May 4 Mayday longweekend passes: still no news of haul out.  A phone call and photos on Monday 16 May to tell me the boat was lifted last Friday and work to remove the steering pedestal and take out the cockpit floor has commenced.   If you can think in calendar terms that meant haul out was Friday 13 – for the notorious reputation of this boat that could been seen as an ominous sign. 

In those five weeks since haul-out lots of work has happened.  Tim (NAUTICARE) has fixed the leaking rudder post, patched a scar in the keel that was sustained in our horror night at Hexham Is, shifted the fresh water pump to a more accessible location, thought long and hard scratching his head over how to manage the fuel tank and general tidy up of the engine room.   The fuel tank is now in the ‘too hard basket’ and we are to continue using a fuel bladder.

Whilst all that has been happening the mechanic has taken ‘Grumble’ (pet name for our old engine) out and put the new engine in. “OOP’s! – engine mounts need shifting” Looks like we made a slight error in thinking an exact same series engine would fit the same old mounts.  Engine comes out so a new bed to place the new engine in can be built.  Great work Tim – engine goes in. 

Phone call from the mechanic – “How heavy is the boat? I don’t think the gear box supplied with the new engine will be big enough.”  I thought we had discussed the size and weight of the boat when we decided on a replacing the engine.  New engine comes out and shipped back to Yanmar for a bigger gear box to be fitted.  At the same time we find out that the newer engines work at a different rev speed compared to the old ones so the propeller blades are the wrong angle.  Propeller and shaft come out so the prop can go away and have the blades pitched to suit.   Another discovery – there is major pitting on the propeller shaft.   The new engine returned from yanmar with newer gearbox and has been installed and connected to everything.  Now we’re just waiting on the new prop shaft so it can fill the 2” hole in the boat and it can be back in the water. 

The badly pitted prop shaft in need of replacing.

All the while we’ve been getting on with our lives at home the social media groups that we belong to have been filled with a multitude of posts from fellow cruisers of crystal blue waters, catching fresh fish as they sail,  enjoying anchorages in the sun and drinks on beaches at sunset.  We will be there soon!  We’ve started a pile of ‘boat stuff’ and are ready to pack bags as soon as we can.  But there are a few things to do first – a trip to Sydney to see my eldest son (haven’t seen him since before the start of the pandemic), keeping checking in on my father and finish a few house projects that we’ve started.

It now looks more towards the end of July before we head north to set sail to join our fellow cruisers and friends in the sun and escape Winter.  At least we’re past this year’s Winter solstice TFFT (Thank F#@k For That) and the nights will soon shorten and days get warmer and longer

Where we’d rather – and soon will be!

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