Sailing with the Penguin - April, 2010
Since three different people have pointed out to me recently that the S/V Rockhopper website has been languishing for some
time now, I am going to start attempting to update it at least monthly. While this is certainly not as exciting as reading
Suzanne's most recent Facebook post, at least it will be better than the cobwebs that have been on the site.
As we end April, we have finally moved back aboard Rockhopper. After two years of an unsuccessful attempt to use electric
motors for propulsion, Suzanne and I finally decided that we would go back to nasty, old, but reliable diesel propulsion. Partly
this was because of the problems getting the motors to work, partly because we realized that for any sort of long distance
cruising, we would have needed a diesel generator capable of powering the motors anyway.
Based on my last foray into this big of a project, I decided that we needed to hire someone to actually install the engine. This
was both a good decision and a not so good decision. The good part was that I had someone do the job that knew what he
was doing. The not so good part was that it took way longer than expected. We had originally been told the job would take
between three and six days. The final result was that we lived 43 days in two different hotels.
First, we took two weeks just to get the boat pulled out of the water at the marina. While the people at the Jordan Marine
Service have been very helpful and the place is laid back, we were stuck waiting for another boat to get finished before we
could get hauled. Then, when we got out of the water and got a look at the electric motor pods, we realized that they had not
lasted well. They were corroded, one of the shafts was bent from where the boat had laid on her side in our slip during an
unusually low tide and both of them had indications that water had gotten inside. In addition, the starboard side motor (the one
that had taken the brunt of the low tide) had started to leak into the boat where it was bolted to the hull.
We decided to have these pulled off and the holes sealed by the boat yard. Unfortunately, the “stainless steel” bolts that I had
used to install them had apparently been of such a low grade of stainless that most of them were corroded to the point where
they had to be cut off. This took a couple of days, after which the fiberglass had to be repaired and faired in.
Next, the cockpit sole, which I had resealed with 3M 5200 when I pulled the old motor out, had to be lifted. When I had put it
back in after the electric motor installation, I wanted to make sure it was secure. It was. According to the mechanic, it took him
an entire day with a crane, lifting and cutting, to get that up. However, by the 19th (a full month after we had entered the
boatyard), the motor was ready for installation. This took a full week and a half to be completed.
Part of this was caused by unexpected problems like the propeller shaft refusing to turn because it had sat for so long in one
position or the muffler needing to be replaced because the previous engine had overheated at some point and melted its
interior. Part of it is because of weather or other issues that have prevented the mechanic from working. We were finally able
to move back on board on May 1 and, while the engine is in and running, we are now having the fuel system replaced.
In addition to getting the engine replaced, we are trying to get the forestay replaced and a new roller furler installed, since the
previous R-F had fallen apart. We also have had the bottom painted and the sides of the boat cleaned professionally. We
were originally going to have it compounded and waxed, but we discovered after the cleaning that the hull had been previously
painted and there was very few spots where it was the original fiberglass gel coat. Since Suzanne wants to have the boat
painted anyway, we have decided to just get her cleaned up this year and have a complete top side paint job done next year.
While we had originally discussed a black and white paint scheme in keeping with our penguin theme, we are now going with
a cream and brown combination since we had the bottom paint done in brown and it really sets Rockie apart from the other
boats (but in a good way). Of course, changing that color scheme means changing the sail covers, but that is not a bad idea
anyway, given that the current sail covers are torn, abused and faded.
On a more personal note, Suzanne has finished her paramedic qualifications and is now certified to give me CPR in the event
that I stroke out from seeing the engine replacement bill. This has been a goal of Suzanne’s for about three years now, both
because it gives her a more portable skill to generate money while we cruise (oddly, there are very few sailing paralegals –
apparently, the sharks in the ocean do their own research and paperwork – sorry, Cecil!) and also to give her the opportunity to
give back to the community. Unfortunately, just as she was finishing up her course work last year, her father passed away and
between the emotional struggle of dealing with family issues and the legal issues of settling his estate, she was unable to
concentrate on finalizing the written test.
After a dedicated two months of effort, she has finally beaten the exam and is now ready to find someway to practice her
skills. In order to help her, I offered to eat a lot of greasy, fattening foods and drink heavily, but she is insistent upon practicing
on non-family members.
Until next month, fair winds…