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Sunday, October 19, 2014

October 19, 2014-Boat Work in Chiapas

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Quiet Day in Marina Chiapas

We’ve been back in Mexico for more than a month. It has been an enjoyable time of tranquil days mostly spent working on boat projects.

While boat maintenance can sometimes be viewed as tedious drudgery, it can also be an enjoyable pastime depending on one’s attitude and approach. Our approach has been to have a relaxed routine with some time for work each day but also with time for daily exercise, for preparing and enjoying home cooked meals and with evenings free for a little good tequila and our favorite TV show.

The days run together as we tackle the boat projects one after another at a gentle but steady pace. If the work it takes to complete some minor task often seems disproportionate to the result, we don’t mind, our satisfaction comes from the time spent doing it and knowing that, in the end, our boat will be a little better.

When we are involved in a project there is a zone we can enter where we shut off the outside world and just putter along, focused entirely on the work, and where neither schedules or objectives matter. The activity becomes an end unto itself. Before we realize it we come to the end of the day and maybe we have accomplished something or maybe not, but we knock off feeling good for having done it. And anyway, the tequila calls to us.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Now the cleaning task begins

Take winch servicing for example. Our eight Barient sail-handling winches were made 35 years ago by a company no longer in existence, so parts and repairs are not readily available, and they live in a salt-water, sun-drenched, and dirty environment. We use them for all everything, in all kinds of conditions, and they take a real beating. It would cost a fortune to replace our winches, so we try to take care of them.

To keep winches operating smoothly requires periodic cleaning and oiling. We disassemble each winch and inspect every part. There are many gears and roller bearings and a lot of other bits and pieces, each of which must be scrubbed in solvent with a brush or scraped to remove the grease and dirt. When I have finished cleaning I inspect the pieces closely and often I find it is still not clean; it needs more brushing or scraping. Sometimes I just start over. It doesn’t matter. It’s the doing it that counts.

When everything is ready the parts are and oiled and greased and we reassemble the winch then spin the drum to test our work. If it whirls effortlessly and nice clicking sounds come from the pawls we are happy. Then we put in a winch handle and see that everything turns the proper way and works perfectly. When it does, which it usually does, it is nice. It takes a day to do one of these winches, but it’s worth it.

At the beginning of this month we had a long list of projects, mostly little things but a few major items. Hammering away at them every day we’ve managed to get the list pretty much checked off. In addition to the winches we had many small electrical repairs to make and several mechanical items to fix. We also had several sewing projects. Judy worked a week making new bug screens for our hatches. We made the old ones when we in Mexico 15 years ago and they needed replacing. Fortunately, and amazingly, we still had netting and material left over from the first job to make new ones. She got into the task and did a great job and we know the new ones will last another 15 years.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Ready for Re-launch

We also did a haul-out this month. We just finished the haul-out and re-launched the boat on Friday. It involved some keel work and replacements of through-hulls and sea-cocks, as well as the normal sanding and painting of the bottom. The project went well; while we tackled the repairs, the workers at Marina Chiapas did the sanding and painting and we were happy with their cheerful and steady progress.

Much is going well but we do have our problems. Our new mainsail, which we ordered from Fareast Sails in Hong Kong, has disturbed our tranquility. When we put the sail on the boat and measured it we found it did not match the design specifications. We’ve been communicating with Fareast Sails to understand why this happened and what are going to be the consequences of the discrepancy. At this point they are giving us a bit of double talk and basically denying responsibility. They say we asked for a custom shape and that caused any problems there might be, and can only suggest to us that we ship the sail back to them so they can look at it. Then, if they don’t agree that there is a problem, we have to pay for the shipping both ways, plus, presumably, the import duty to get it into Mexico again. Meanwhile we would be without a suitable mainsail which we need to sail north. Will we ship it back? Probably not. So far, from how they have responded to us, we have no confidence that they will acknowledge the problem. We think the sail, while not optimal, will be usable. In the next week or two we will go sailing and check it out more thoroughly. If it is not usable we’ll have to look at our options.

Was it a mistake to buy a sail from China? We saved a lot of money by going that route and if the sail turns out to be usable we’ll just consider it a lesson learned but not too much harm will have been done. Otherwise, I don’t know.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Judy at Casa Mexicana, Tapachula

Meanwhile, what else has been going on? While the boat was in the boatyard we moved off and stayed in a delightful little boutique hotel in Tapachula. Called the Casa Mexicana, it was filled with art and had a virtual jungle in the inner courtyard. Casa Mexicana was a haven of peace and quiet. We enjoyed it.

But we are back aboard now and we will work towards finishing off our list and getting ready to set sail again. The hurricane season is drawing to a close, and like migratory birds, we will soon be on our way.

Click here to see more images.

Click here to see the whole work list.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Chiapas

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Anonymous Jim Slosson said...

At least as much work as owning a house--maybe more, and your life could depend on doing a good job--way different than not cleaning out the gutters.

20 October, 2014 14:47  

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