Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Oh No

It has been hot in Vuda Marina with no breeze and steady sun. The regular rain showers at night may cool the decks a bit, but it also means closing up the boat. We didn't get hauled out on Thursday as scheduled but did the deed on Friday morning. But there was one small problem.

As we got pulled out of our slip, Michael was supposed to back into the slings for the haul out. It is a narrow alley way and sailboats don't back very well. So as we approached the slipway, he needed to straighten out and put the boat into forward...only the forward gear did NOT engage! The two workers from the slipway were yelling "forward, forward" as the concrete piling/wall was quickly approaching the boat. Luckily Toba, the guy in the small fiberglass boat was still nearby and grabbed a line to pull the boat and one of the workers jumped aboard to help fend off. Barbara on the swim platform was also pushing and trying to stay aboard and not get crushed. It all happened very quickly. The workers were terrific and very capable. We got into the slings and hauled and had something new to stress over.

After our bottom cleaning (the hull actually looked pretty good!) and a set of new zincs, we got relaunched and then towed back into our "slip." We had friends help us get the boat into the slip and Toba did a terrific job as tow boat. It was a short distance and we got settled. Michael then went below to check the transmission out – being hopeful it was simply a slipped cable. We worked the boat back and forth as best as we could while tied in the slip and Michael came to the conclusion it was NOT the cables or linkage. Bummer. The problem was much bigger.

We put a new transmission aboard in 2008 before we left Florida for our cruise. So it had about 2800 hours on it. We kept thinking, "it's new" but then we remember we have been cruising for seven and a half years and have put some hours on the engine. This year in Fiji alone, it seems we've had to motor many places.

Now what do we do? We had planned to leave for New Zealand on Tuesday. A great weather window was there for the trip. We are a sailboat, so we could go without a forward gear. Michael did lots of research on a new transmission – but getting one in Fiji wasn't possible. Talking to the place in the US where we bought the last one, he learns they have discontinued this model. So we can't just simply take this one out and drop in a new one. More modification would be required for the engine (raising it a bit and dropping the prop shaft a bit). That would be something we would not want to do in Fiji after talking to several folks. We also kept hearing stories about parts not arriving or getting lost here in Fiji. We had a bit of a dilemma. Our insurance requires us to be out of the cyclone "box" by December 1. Yes, we probably could buy a rider...but that would be expensive. We are a sailboat, so we could simply sail to NZ and hope for a tow into the dock in Opua...a tricky dock with wind and current and lots of boats. There were also a few reefs to get through prior to leaving Fiji waters. Michael spent most of the weekend doing research and in NZ, he found two places that claimed to have the transmission we currently own (a ZF 10m). So he e-mailed them and would call them first thing Monday morning. Was it just listed on their websites or did they really have the part in hand? On Monday, he actually located one at Moon Engines in Auckland, a company that was incredibly helpful on the phone. It had a slightly different gear ratio than our 1.79 – but it went the "right" way to not overload our engine. It was a 2.04. It was also mighty expensive because they don't make them anymore! Michael also priced flights to NZ to go and actually pick it up and bring it here. To ship it, it would be close to $400 and it could be "lost" for weeks. He found a plane fare that was reasonable and we made the call on Monday afternoon that he would fly down on Tuesday morning to get it. He would return with the part on Wednesday afternoon. We could still make a next week weather window if it holds and it all goes together smoothly.

He arrived in NZ (actually stopping in the south island). At least he's been on the South Island – because with all these expenses this year chances are good that we won't be traveling there this year as planned. He got to the shop on Wednesday morning (today) before they opened and they gave him a lot of time explaining all the tricks of installation and aligning the engine. As I write this, he is at the Auckland airport with the part in hand waiting for his afternoon flight. He will be exhausted.

He will install over the next few days and we will probably test it this weekend. We will re-fuel again and be ready to go if everything works as planned. So all readers, please send all the good karma you can.

And today is election day in the US – we did manage to vote from Fiji. Hope they count!
At 11/2/2016 5:08 AM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 17°40.86'S 177°23.21'E

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