February 2010: Get ready to leave La Paz

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Everything seems to take longer here in Mexico. I don't know why.
I blame it on tequila. Here's a little advertisement for tequila.

Seriously, though, it's time to get over to the mainland.
Tequila is cheaper there.

Besides, I plan on spending hurricane season in the northern
Sea of Cortez, so it makes sense to spend the rest of the winter
deeper in the hurricane belt.

I made a long list -- almost 30 things -- to be repaired, replaced, or cleaned up before taking off for Puerto Vallarta.

A big item: watermaker leaks. There were three. It didn't leak when I installed it, but as the boat has twisted and bounced, a few leaks developed around hose fittings. Leaks *have* to be fixed, or my cabinets and bulkheads will start to rot. That would be bad.

I really don't like right angle threaded hose fittings, but sometimes you have to use them. The problem is that a threaded hose fitting should be screwed in as tight as possible, which usually makes the hose barb face the wrong way. Initially, they were installed with the barb facing the way the hose needed to run. Now, they're screwed in as tight as possible, and the hose winds around so that it puts tension on the fitting in a way that makes it tighter and tighter.

It's not pretty, but who cares. It doesn't leak.

Normally this cabinet is closed, and one never sees it.

Another big leak was by the pressure regulator, which maintains a constant pressure of 80 PSI into the water maker. The right angle fitting is now a straight fitting, and the unit is installed at an angle so that the hose will fit.

It's not pretty, but who cares. It doesn't leak.

The last leak was on the 5 micron pre-filter. It's now fixed.
It's not pretty, but who cares. It doesn't leak.



Oh. Here's the obligatory blood splatter. It's not a boat project if you don't end up bleeding like a stuck tuna.




Hey, what's this? Why is Stella Blue hauled out again?
I just hauled out in Cabo two months ago,
and should have been good for the next two years.

It's Groundhog Day -- February 2.
That's appropriate, since I seem to be hauling the boat out
over and over again. This is getting expensive.

This yard doesn't have a travellift with slings. They use a special fancy trailer. A diver goes underneath to set up the hydraulic braces, and then they haul the boat out with a big tractor truck.

But, why?

Here I am, cutting that 60 day old coupler off of my prop shaft. A puller wasn't working, because something is bent along the keyway. I cut a groove down to the keyway, and wedged it open with a cold chisel and screwdriver, to remove the coupling without doing additional damage to the new $800 prop shaft.

Yes, the thousands of dollars spent in Cabo San Lucas were wasted.
They didn't machine the parts to a close enough tolerance, and with only 40 hours on the engine the new shaft and coupling are destroyed.

Welcome to the world of boats and boat yards.

Frankly, I think they didn't machine the new coupling at all, and just found one that fit a 1-1/8" shaft. The coupler should be so tight on the shaft that it needs to be pounded on, and I was wondering about that when I watched them put it all together. As you can see from the picture on the left, just a couple of microns of play between the shaft and coupling will let the metal parts work against each other, which will wear the metal down and let them get looser and looser.


Well, the keyway in the prop shaft is worn, but the shaft can be saved. I will cut a larger keyway, and move to a 3/8" key. Maybe that will handle the torque better.

I am so tired of dealing with this.

Here's the key, after only 40 engine hours. Yikes. It didn't slide forward, but did slide backwards into the transmission.

I'm hauled out at the Talleres Navales Berkovich yard.
This boat yard has been in the same family for three generations, and they have an excellent reputation as machinists who can make anything.

To the left is Eduardo and Abel, two of the brothers who run the yard and do the work. I like them. I'm in the machine shop with them as they turn the prop shaft on the lathe, and machine a new coupler down from steel stock. We're having quite a bit of discussion about
how to do it just exactly right. I mean, we're having a *lot* of discussion
about how to do it just exactly right.


Turning the new coupling.





I didn't let them take me off the trailer, although they would have if they really needed to. It was faster to stay here, and avoid being put on stands. Since there were six people waiting to go into the water, my job got priority. Sneaky of me.


Well, here's my third shaft and coupling setup. Note that we've put a different style of cross bolt, that's offset and serves as a fore/aft key. The key itself is now 3/8" by 9/32", which is a custom size. They didn't want to cut any deeper into the shaft or coupling. There's also a huge set screw on the new key.

We completely realigned the engine, and replaced two motor mounts that had failed due to vibration. That was scary. The alignment is now different, and the boat feels better. I think the engine was never properly aligned. Maybe that was a contributing factor for the constant failure.

I sure hope this is the end of it.




Okay... Here's our last dinner in La Paz. I'm having fun playing with all these new spices down here.





Now, it's time to get to Puerto Vallarta. That will take about a week. Mark flew down from California, and we'll have three folks for the crossing.

We left a present for everyone on the dock...


... and had a nice send off.


See you next time.

Click on pictures to see them full size





It's February.
I once enjoyed February nights in front of a fire, on the couch with my cat on my lap, reading a book. Sometimes I miss that.