Sunday, February 28, 2010

Galapagos to Easter Island Day 6

Pacific Ocean - 11 30.3S, 102 07.9W
930 nm SW of Galapagos
0700 Report

There was a short-lived afternoon easing of winds and waves yesterday, but brisk winds continued through the evening and night. hours, and are unchanged this morning blowing 17-22 knots from 100 degrees mag. (this more easterly direction is good). All in all, things out here look pretty much the same this morning as they did yesterday, but I know this must be a different patch of ocean. As Gram said, it is a lonely planet out here. We have not seen a single boat in the entire 900 miles, although Jo and I once thought we saw some lights on the distant horizon, and there was a very brief AIS target several days ago. I am not sure when that was, as days seem to meld into one another as we approach our midpoint.

We have not encountered the idyllic down wind reaching conditions we had expected/wished for - we are a bit harder on the wind than desired, and the consistent 20 knot winds have kept the sea state lively - but all in all we are moving quite fast in the right direction. We made 226 nm over past 24 hours and if there is any boredom, that's a good thing as I do not wish for ocean passages to be exciting. The usual complement of flying fish lie on the side decks this morning; squid count again zero. Otherwise, decks are very clean, albeit akin to a salt farm.

When the boat is moving this much we tend to eat out of wide white plastic bowls (the kind with rubber non skid rings under them), but any lack of elegance was more than made up last night by filling them with herbed chicken, basil Parmesan pasta, and a Mediterranean salad with stuffed grape leaves.

GRIB files continue to suggest that winds will diminish and will be quite light come March 3/4, several days outside of Easter. We will deal with that when the time comes. Right now, 1017 nm to go.

Galapagos to Easter Day 6 - Watches

Pacific Ocean - 10 59'N 101 49'W - 1050 nm NNE of Easter Island

Watches are your life offshore. My watch schedule has me on from 7:00 to 9:30 at night and then again from 2-5 in the morning with an easy daytime watch from 10am to 1pm. This works quite well with my sleep schedule as I get a nice nap in the afternoon when I am naturally tired (only time I normally drink caffeine) and can sleep after my 5 o'clock watch as it is just still dark. I also have come to love my complementary Jet Blue "lights out" sleeping mask. They sure look stupid, but make a big difference when trying to sleep in or take a nap. When not sleeping you have to figure out something to do to pass the time. Particularly at night I have been getting to know our navigation program "Expedition" much better, playing with some of the advanced sail testing analysis functions to help refine our Polar diagrams. These tables tell the program how fast we can go in any given condition. The better the polar, the better the weather routing it can perform, and hopefully the better prepared we are for our trip. Unfortunately, the old garbage in-garbage out thing still holds true and it is proving difficult to get a decent weather forecast for this part of the world. We have seen steady 18-24 knots of wind since we left and while the direction has been pretty much dead on, the computer models only show 12-15 knots of wind...sorry have to pause a minute to throw two flying fish out of the cockpit before they make too big a mess...back now. Man those are smelly fish!

The rest of my time I have been reading mostly. I had hoped to spend more time doing some writing and editing for some electronics articles I am working on, but it has been a bit rough. I spent some time working on my French with Rosetta stone, but that is also hard with the sea-state. I took off my scopolomine patch on day 3 as I was having some adverse reactions (cotton mouth and dilated pupils). Haven't ever had that before, so maybe it was just a faulty patch, but I am doing OK (not perfect, particularly at night) without so haven't bothered trying a different one.

Since I titled this post "Watches" I also have to rant a minute about my apparent inability to wear a functioning watch. I would say my bad luck started about 3 years ago when I broke the crystal on two skagen watches in 3 days....don't even know how I did it, but apparently I hit things with my watch without really knowing. My bad luck continued in Panama when my Seiko's battery died. I managed to find the Panama repair center and had them replace the battery, but they had some problems reseting the hands correctly and I think managed to break the stem. 5 days later, after we had left the country of course, the stem fell out. I spent countless hours trying to get it fixed in Ecuador with no success as no one had the parts I needed. Sierra took it home to be fixed and I went on to my backup watch, a Optimum-time black rubber sailing watch with a broken band. I really liked the functions on this watch, so for Christmas asked for the nicer Ronstan stainless steel version. In the meantime, my jury-rigged band broke again so I was very happy when Matt arrived in the Galapagos with my new pretty watch. About 4 weeks later, when cleaning the bottom in prep for our first departure, the band broke. Luckily I found the watch on the bottom and e-mailed my friend Peter Muir at Ronstan in Newport who was happy to help get me a new band sent to Sierra. I had a fabric band that I was using with the black rubber watch that I transfered over to the new Ronstan. This worked fine for about 4 weeks, but two days ago, after reeling in the big swordfish, the watch face was blank. It doesn't seem to be the battery as the light turns on. I will try to open the back up once it calms down, and see if there is a reset button, but otherwise I will have to hope Peter can help get a replacement sent to Sierra for delivery to Tahiti. In the meantime, I am finding it very frustrating to not have a timepiece on my wrist, particularly offshore where your schedule is pretty important.

Lastly, thanks for all the e=mails and check in's with regard to the Tsunami. We were in the best possible location, in the middle of nowhere with the nearest land 13000 feet below us. I did some cool calculations on the wave based on the data that was send by my dad. The quake occured at 1:34 am EST and was forcast to reach Hawaii at noon local time. This means that the tsunami was forcast to move at 350 knots and would therefore have a wave-lenght of about 13 miles, taking about 2.25 minutes to pass by a location. This speed fits with the descriptions of when it hit the galapagos. Our friends Soggy Paws were in the harbor where they say about 6' of water left and came back in over a few minutes time. Apparently the town had been evacuated, but no-one thought to tell the boats in the harbor about the potential problem. On the other islands (Santa Cruz, and San Cristobal at least) the port captains had the harbors evacuated as well. If you want to read more about it, I am sure Sherry has updated her blog ( with much more information. If anyone has heard about any damage/status of Easter Island, we sure would appreciate a synopsis. If they had severe damage, we may want to divert to Pitcairn or the Gambiers sooner rather than later.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Galapagos to Easter Island Day 5

8 59.3S 100 00.3W

We are safe and have not noted any effects from Santiago earthquake or Tsunami. From information we have gathered from your emails and a SSB radio net, initial wave energy is moving 350 mph and has already passed us without effect. There is something to be said for being in 12,000 feet of water!

Thanks for your emails.

Galapagos to Easter Day 5

Pacific Ocean - 08 47.9S, 99 52.3W
712 nm SW of Galapagos
0700 report

It was blowing a steady 20 -21 knots through the afternoon yesterday and these winds continued all night long. We brought in the jib and traded it for the more dimunitive staysail before dinner yesterday, and left the staysail flying through the night. Motion was dampened somewhat, but seas are seas. We healed a lot less however, and this was a fair trade for 1 - 1.5 knots boat speed. Now, in the early morning hours, the wind seems to be abating as I am regularly seeing readings in the 15 - 17 knot range. Sea temperature has dropped from 82 degrees in the Galapagos, to 80 degrees through the Equatorial Current, to 78 degrees here and wind direction is also finally coming a bit more east. I am optomistic that we are geting away from the effects of the current, and that wind and seas will lay down a bit over the course of the day. As/if this happens we will again shake out the jib with the ability to sail a bit fatter (read as more comfortable) course towards Easter.

A 24 hour total of 197 nm 6AM - 6AM was quite respectable, especially when you consider we were only flying our staysail and a double reefed mainsail through the night hours. In terms of life on board, our delicious dinner of Jo's beef tenderloin bourgignon, fresh broccoli, and potatoes was followed by watching an episode of "24", which we have gotten into in a big way - good for morale!

If the wind and seas lay down a bit, we will try to fish again today. 1217 nm to go.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Freight Train a Runnin' All Night Long

Pacific Ocean
06 37.3S 976 41.9W - 525 miles SW of Galapagos
0700 Report

It was a boisterous night with winds averaging a very steady 19-20 knots. We are steaming along, averaging over 9 knots SOG (speed over ground), and had another very impressive 24 hour run of 217 nm from 6AM - 6AM. I must say that this has been less than comfortable, as a confused sea state is bouncing us around quite a bit, and we are waiting for a bit less wind and a more consistent sea. In his well known world voyaging book, Jimmy Cornell writes of 2 adjacent areas that tend to have these types of conditions, as well as some squally weather. We have not seen a squall in over 24 hours, but we wonder whether the conditions might be associated with the warm and NW flowing Equatorial Current that we have nearly passed through. Cornell writes that one should attempt to avoid these patches of ocean, but they are located back to back of one another and south and west of the Galapagos extending roughly from 3S to 8S and 90W to 108W. There simply is no way to reasonably avoid these zones. Hopefully, this also suggests that conditions will ease as we approach 8S later today - and this will be welcomed by all.

For those interested in the culinary aspect of this voyage, Jo made her famous chicken burritos last night and this was accentuated by Gram's home made salsa. We polished off the brownies for desert and are clearly feeling well enough to eat!

I count at least 6 flying fish on deck today, and no squid. In a bit of erratum, I incorrectly reported yesterday that there was bird poop on deck. I later realized that the black splattering was squid ink (aka squink). Gram reported that a posse of small squid attempted to board us in the middle of the night - one even got into the pilot house. Fortunately, squink cleans up easily, and I do not see any today.

All is well but we look forward to reaching 7something south, and the potential for a respite from these winds and seas. Grib files predict general easing over the next several days, and (ironically) you might find us complaining of too little wind come March 2/3. Such is the life of a sailor! About 550 miles down, and 1396 nm to go.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Galapagos to Easter Day 3 - The one that got away

Pacific Ocean - 05 30.3S 96 20.9W - 400 miles SW of Galapagos

The weather was nice enough this afternoon to put out some fishing lines to see what we might get. Around 3:00 the fishing rod started buzzing like crazy and you could just make out a sizable fish running the other way. We managed to slow down from 9 knots pretty quickly and I got on the rod, having to spray water on the reel to keep it from overheating as the fish pulled out yard after yard of line. I magaged to get him about 30' behing the boat when he jumped the first time....A VERY large, probably 5' or longer swordfish (or Marlin, I don't really know how to tell the differnece from that distance). He started running out more line and was over 100' away within a few seconds. There was no way we could board a fish like that safely in the 6-8' confused seas we were in so I got him back to about 50' away and cut the line. We lost one of your favorite lures (large pink rubber squid/feather), but is would have taken at least 30 minutes to get him much closer and then he would be much more tired out (as would I). We may be going to fast for anything other than REALLY big fish which at least right now is not what we want as we have no room in the freezer. We will have to re-evaluate our fishing plans tomorrow.

We are now reaching off a bit more than we planned due to the confused sea state, so we really hope the wind goes more east soon and or the northerlies forcast for our last day or two come through, otherwise it could end up being a miserable beat back up to easter if we get too far west.

En Route Easter Island Day 3

Pacific Ocean - 04 27.5S 093 45.1W -310 miles southwest of Galapagos
Thursday, February 25th - 0700 Report

Late afternoon and evening yesterday was delightful with steady winds and reasonably smooth seas without a great deal of chop. We enjoyed a wonderful dinner in the cockpit - Jo's homemade chili, guacomole, and tortillas with brownies and fresh pineapple for desert on our watches. The night began with a sense of smooth coasting towards Easter Island. Daylight this morning, however, finds seas up a bit with a bit more and faster motion - not awlful, but not as pleasanntly smooth as last night. I cannot go forward yet to check and clear decks (I would have to wake someone), but I can count at least 3 flying fish and 1 squid on windward deck. A bird has followed us overnight, and I can see some presents from it as well.

We continue to move right along with a bit more east in the sotheast breeze ( a good thing) on a course averaging 214 degrees mag making 9 knots or so over the ground. We have made 203 nm over the past 24 hours (6AM - 6 AM) which is not bad as we have been sailing for comfort and not for speed - if we were racing the reef would be out of the mainsail and we would be harder on the wind. Sky is overcast this morning, but no rain in sight.

All is well and crew is in good spirits with1616 nm to go.

Midnight Watch - Day 2

Pacific Ocean - 03 46.8S 093 59.3W - 250nm SW of Galapagos

It is just after midnight and I am on watch but there is not a whole lot to watch but a beautiful moon and starlit night out here. We FINALLY left Isabella Island, Galapagos yesterday morning , 5 weeks later than planned and very ready to leave our beautiful anchorage. By the middle of yesterday I was doubting why we ever wanted to leave the cozy confines of a harbor but now that the seas have calmed down it all feels good. The boys are being good to me and letting me take more of my wafch hours during the day as I have not mastered the nap thing as well as they have but I think we have come up with a schedule that works for all of us. Our first fday out the winds were from all over the place, the seas were confused and it poured for the 2nd day straight( the first day on Mon postponed our departure). Early this morning was still pouring and very squally so a bit unerving but we ended up with a beautiful afternoon and the seas have calmed down. Wind is a steady 15 knots and we are moving at a consistent 9 knots towards Easter Island ( 250 miles down and a mere 1650 to go!). We are all reading alot and trying to stay rested in these short versions of sleep patterns. Must say tho' 3 people sure beats a couple having to share the whole watch which is what most boats have.

We were so lucky to have been able to impose upon our friend Malcolm to fly to Galapagos with our propeller piece as Gram's plan to go to England to retrieve was thwarted by our overextended Visas . There sure is alot to keep track of and we were lucky that they allowed us to stay in Isabella until we could fix the boat. We got to know alot of people in that town and were feeling almost like honorary citizens...even were allowed to charge food at the little store there..just like French and Brawn(yet oh so different in available products!) We were at anchor much of that time with another boat /Soggy Paws from Florida who are wonderful new friends...Sherry and Dave are the epitome of cruisers who always offered help and knowledge and tools and support to make up for the problems the boat was giving us. They hope to leave for Easter early next week so we think our paths will cross again.For anyone interested in the more technical version of our prop saga both Gram and Bill have posted versions on the blog and they intend to write a magazine article about having to pull your prop in the water which I think was a pretty awesome feat that few boats would attempt.

All in all I would say the Galapagos is a magical kind of place and would encourage any of you to try to get there while it can still be visited. The species and origins of the animals and flora there is very unique and I sure hope that tourism does not harm it. We are all still happy to be in sunny places though I miss my Maine family alot. Hope all is well and that we continue to get pieces of news from any and all of you. Emails are a great treat and we feel so lucky to have the sat phone aboard that allows us this bit of connection with the real world.. Will get back on a more regular email schedule now that we are moving again... It's hard to believe that Feb is just about over...spring is around the corner for you all while we continue on eternal summer!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Busy Beavers

We have been quite busy, and have neglected to post any blogs. Here is a 12day synopsis.

Wednesday Feb. 10th – Gram, in Quito on his way to England, learns of Visa confusion and cannot deliver the propeller to Bruntons for repair. We elect to ship the defective hub to Brunton, and continue to search for a method to have the part hand carried to us…customs would add a 3 week delay. An ASB (all sailors bulletin) is emailed to past and future crew asking for a volunteer to join us in the Galapagos – accompanied by our propeller hub, of course.

Thursday Feb. 11th – Good friend and Bermuda delivery crew Malcolm Willard offers to help us, and Bruntons ships the hub to him in Vermont. We, and our good friends on Soggy Paws cannot pass up the opportunity of a visitor from USA, and we load Malcolm down with more gear.

F/S/S - Shipment from England is confirmed, and packages are delivered.

Tuesday, Feb. 16th – Malcolm leaves Vermont bound for Galapagos. He overnights in Guayaquil.

Wednesday, Feb. 17th – Malcolm arrives in Isabela at 4 PM with propeller hub and parts. He has our never ending thanks.

Thursday, Feb. 18th – In the morning, we take the hub, blades, and new sets of conical and thrust bearings and seals and rings to the mechanics shop in town. We construct the propeller but need to make 2 phone calls to England with questions. We had asked for assembly instructions including torque and a detailed drawing, but these were not included in the package sent to us – and a large part of the reason why we tried to transport the parts back to them for factory assembly. We are instructed to torque the blade locking nut to 30 NM which we estimate as the included tool has no allowance for attaching a torque wrench. We finish the job and return to the boat by 1 PM. With the better part of the afternoon available, we decide to re-install the propeller then, and gain ½ day on our schedule. We shared a congratulatory bottle of champagne with Malcolm and Soggy Paws.

Friday, Feb. 19th – Morning sea trial appears to be successful, but when we dive to check blades and prop nut, blades are noted to be loose, and prop must be removed. By this time the practiced dive team was able to remove the prop in 45 minutes. We return to the mechanics shop and have a ½" socket drive welded to the locking nut, to enable a precise measurement of torque. We also find that we installed the conical bearing upside down, allowing the blade to settle and loosen. We check the illustration in the "users manual" we had referred to in assembly and this is ambiguous. It is not difficult to flip the bearings, but when we carefully tighten the locking nut to 30 Newton-Meters (NM) it is clearly too tight and will not allow blade rotation. It is after 5 PM in England, and the company would not provide us with an after hours number in case of problems. We are confused by the figure we were given and revert to the method of feel and common sense, which worked out to about 19 NM. Once we were finished, the crack dive team re-installs the prop in ¾ of an hour (we are getting too good at this), and subsequent sea trial is successful.

Saturday, Feb. 20th – Pre departure preparation continues. Exhaust flow sensor alarm was malfunctioning during sea trial and is made operational. We attempt to get exit "Zarpe" but are told that "system" is down. Attempt to top off diesel and gasoline, but gas station is closed on weekends.

Sunday, Feb. 21st – We had noted lack of rudder position indication in sea trials, and entire morning is spent troubleshooting. Robert Kramp of Kramp Electromics in Southwest Harbor Maine, our number 1 electronics person, once again proves he is an ace by making himself available on a Sunday to help find a cause. We end up learning that both rudder position indicators pulled up just enough from their seats to lose contact. Both! Easy fix and alignment 4 hours later. Again attempt to get exit "Zarpe" but are told that "system" is down.

Monday Feb.22 – Obtain diesel and gas in the morning with help from riends on Soggy Paws and Infiny. Obtain a defacto zarpe as a word document, as system is still down. Departure is delayed by rain and more rain, accompanied by thunder. We elect to wait until Tuesday morning, and have a relaxing evening.

The BIG Trip - Galapagos to Easter - Day 1

Pacific Ocean - 03 01.2 S 092 22.2W -135 miles southwest of Galapagos

It was a day later than our plan due to torrential rain and Zarpe frustrations on Monday, but Tuesday morning we hauled anchor and were on our way...finally! The wind started out from the south-west, so we motorsailed south-southeast for most of the day. I say most of the day because everytime it started to clear, the wind would switch to the southeast and we would tack over and sail southwest. Then we would reach the next rainy cloud and the wind would either die or switch to the southwest again. Over the afternoon and night we stopped and restarted the engine some 4 -5 times and tacked back and forth almost as much, but we made pretty decentt distance and kept our fuel consumption down to about 25 gallons over 24 hours.

We had a minor work-party yesterday when we realized our big radar was not working properly. Luckily Bill had the name of a tech at Furuno who was very helpful in troubleshooting and we discovered that the unit needed to be re-tunned. We have had to re-tuen twice now, which is very odd and not explainable by Furuno yet, but at least we know what to do now.

We are now in clear skys and 15kts of breeze from the southeast, reaching off towards the west-southwest, with the plan to dogleg left as the wind shifts furher east as we head south. It is a bit lumpy out here with rather confused seas, but hopefully that will ease with the wind as we get further from the ITCZ. Mom made papaya chutney this morning so the boat smells great and we are now making 9.5 to 10 knots speed which will help put some miles between us and the more variable weather to our North.

All is well. Only 1764 miles to go!

Saturday, February 20, 2010


Puerto Villamil - Isla Isabella - Galapagos - Ecuador

Listo means finished and we finally are. We put the prop together on thursday morning and then on the boat on Thursday afternoon. Friday we did a short sea trial and discovered a problem that required us to remove the prop, take it back to Jorge's shop and reassemble the prop. Then we reinstalled, did a sea trial, and all is well! This afternoon we do a final re-torque of the prop nut and install the cone zinc anode on the back end and then we are totally done with that job. It has been a lot of work and quite frustrating at times, but Bill and I worked VERY well together and we did a pretty amazing feat. Dave took some cool shots underwater of the installation (though it was fairly murky that day).

Today we are doing some final shopping and finishing up final boat chores. Tomorrow we start preparing for sea (pull dingy, motor, awnings) and we should be leaving Monday morning for Easter Island.

It is looking like about 12-14 days to Easter. We will do a much better job of keeping the blog up to date once we get underway, so stay tuned.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Mission Aborted

Isabella - Galapagos - Ecuador

Wednesday turned out to be the day from hell.  I don't usually get too upset
about anything, but at one point, waiting in line to try to get on a plane
BACK to the galapagos, all I wanted to do was curl up in a ball and cry a

My day started at about 1:30 am due to the noise in the hotel I was staying
in.  I slept a little more before getting out of bed 4:00, giving up as it
was still noisy in the hotel.  I left the hotel at 5:30 and headed to the
airport.  First step was to wait in line for about an hour due to
Ecuadorians trying to change tickets at 6:00 in the morning....Next stop
$40.80 exit tax...seriously, why the 80 cents?  Then up to immigration where
my day started to fall apart.  I spent about 25 minutes convincing them that
they should let me leave the country.  I had paid my $200 expired visa fee
in Puerta Ayora and had a stamp in my passport as well as a stamped copy of
the deposit receipt as the officer there wanted the original.  Of course,
now the imigration officer at the airport wanted the original.  Eventually I
got them to accept that as ok and just before they were about to stamp my
departure I asked if I would have any trouble coming back in 6 days....

Big problems was the answer.  In my broken spanish I got across the boat
issues, the propeller repair and my need to return to the boat with the
repaired part.  They just told me I couldn't come back for 9 months again
and again and there was nothing THEY could do about it.  They suggested I
might be able to get a visa from the consulate in the states (not really
possible) or I could try to get my current visa extended in Quito, but that
reportedly takes 3 days and I had just 36 more hours to leave the country
before I could be deported if caught in Quito.

I am not worried about it here in the Galapagos as there are no immigration
officials on Isabella and the officer on Santa Cruz understands our
situation, so at that point my priority became getting back to the boat

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Traveling Fool

Quito Ecuador

Yes, your eyes are not fooling you, I am writing you from Quito today. Long story short is that our Autoprop propeller has to be repaired (hub replaced actually) due to what I can only explain by a manufacturing defect. Because customs in Ecuador is a black hole where you packages sit for anywhere from 14 to 21 or more days I am flying the faulty propeller to Clacton-on-sea, UK, just east of London, meeting with the manufacturers, and bringing the newly assembled propeller back on Sunday. We hope to install the prop on Tuesday and hopefully be ready to leave for Easter Island by the 20th at the latest.

Don´t think this is an enjoyable break from the boat. On Friday I left the boat at 5:30 am to go to Puerto Ayora (2.5 hr boat ride each way) to deal with my expired visa. Then Saturday and Monday was spent booking airfare, hotels, car, etc. This morning (Tuesday) I left at 5:30 again, met the immigration officer, took a cab to the bus terminal, a bus to the north end of the island, a ferry across the channel, a bus to the airport, a plane to Quito, and a cab to my hotel in Quito. Tomorrow morning I have a 7:30 flight to Houston, then red eye to London arriving 7:30 am on Thursday. 2 hours drive should get me to the factory.

It also shouldn´t be all bad. I am staying with an OCC (Ocean Cruising Club) contact who should be interesting and I should have Saturday to do some shopping (maybe a waterproof camera, new laptop, hopefully a chandlery for some hard to find parts. Also we are picking up a new AIS (Ours got fried when we hooked up the antenna wrong when testing the SWR on the new antenna) and a block for Soggy Paws. I also got to drop off a custom toggle to get made in Quito for Soggy Paws so it is good to help.

Plan is to leave with prop and parts on Sunday morning, arriving Quito Sunday night at 10:15. Then a 10 o´clock flight back to Santa Cruz and just enough time to catch the ferry back to Isabella.

Hopefully all goes to plan, they let me back in the country, and we come to a reasonable agreement with the prop manufacturer. We are documenting things as we go and plan to write an article about the whole process of removing a prop in such a remote place once we leave and have the time to do so. In other publishing news, Ben has a draft of my latest SatCom testing writeup and it should get out shortly after I arrive (still need to fill in one or two more numbers I didn´t have a chance to test before I left). Then we get to combine the two and shop it to the mags which are purportedly interested.

Last note: I had a coup and managed to get a bunch of free cell phone time so I will try to call people before I get back to Isabella and don´t have service on that card anymore. Dad, expect a call Sunday night around 7:30-8:00 Pacific time when I land in Quito.

Sunday, February 7, 2010


Isabella - Galapagos - Ecuador

So the newest of our sagas is how stubborn and determined 2 men (Bill and Gram) come to do the nearly undoable...jokes on me tho' as they did finally get done what they needed after 2 days of extreme perserverence. Story goes...we were cleaning the bottom of the boat-something you do before a long sail as all the scuzzy buildup from these warm waters slows you down quite considerably. To do this we used our scuba gear so we could be down for long enough and me needing scuba and buoyancy practice decided to help. Not a bad job but in working on the propeller Gram noticed that it had a wobble on one of the blades which was not a good thing. So for 2 whole days Bill and Gram worked on getting the prop incredibly difficult thing to do underwater and with tools that went thru 3 iterations of being worked and reworked at a machine shop here on this tiny island. We have determined what is wrong and are now fighting with the prop manufacturer in England to make good on a manufacturing defect. In the meantime we are kind of stuck here although both our time in the Galapagos and our Visas to be in Ecuador have run out. Luckily they seem to be at this point understanding and are willing to give us a little more time to decide what we do now.

So, my days have been looking like lots of cooking,cleaning and reading with a little bit of swimming. We love this little island and have gotten to be friends with some of the store owners who are very friendly and helpful. We go to town most days...either to buy food or use the internet. We can do emails from the satellite phone but need to use a land connection to do any internet "surfing". We try to buy only a day or two's worth of fresh stuff at a time as we either walk or ride bikes the 1+ mile from dock to town. I have been running 3-4 times a week but it is so hot that I can only go for 30-40 min. There's another boat here with us that we do dinners and cocktail hours with. Tonight we are going to have a desert and movie night.We have done all the sights there are to do here...a dive, a great snorkel amongst some volcanic tunnels and a horseback ride/hike into one of the volcanos. There are some pics posted on our blog( Link is on the right hand side on the top if you want to check them out. Everyday we see sealions and penguins (they are sooo cute). There are alot of rays and colorful fish to snorkel with and on occasion a sea turtle...usually 2, one on top of the other actually. A few afternoons we have been entertained by hundreds of blue footed boobies flying in formation and all together diving into the water (fishing) to create quite a wave and commotion. Love the wildlife and REALLY love the weather...Do not miss winter at all!!

We are hoping to speak tomorrow AM with the CEO of the prop manufacturer and come up with a game plan. Our friend on the other boat thinks they need to fly the part here from England and help us install it since shipping it on its own would take weeks and could be held up in customs. We'll see if they will buy that...not sure what the compromise would be. Our stocking clerk(Bill) luckily has a spare prop on board but it is just a regular one, not the feathering one this is and so inferior for some applications. But, we may leave with that and try to get the replacement shipped to us somewhere down the line. Will definitely post an email once we know when we can move on. Until then... are we having fun yet????

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Problem Found

Isabella - Galapagos - Ecuador

Yesterday morning after having fully cleaned the grease out of all the parts we discovered our problem. There seems to be a manufacturing defect on the hub that precluded the blade from being fully tightened or allowed it to loosen over time. We are currently in negotiations with the supplier so I am going to hold off on further discussion or photos for now. We are now spending less time in the water or with greasy hands, but much more time on the phone. I did add photos to the last few blog entries, so hopefully my descriptions will make a little more sense now.

We do plan to head up into the hills to visit the local farming village this afternoon with Dave & Sherry from Soggy Paws and we enjoyed a movie night on their boat last night. Overall it is a pretty nice place to be stranded but we are all looking forward to some certainty and getting on our way.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Popping Open a Prop

Isabella - Galapagos - Ecuador

We started this morning with a phone call to England to try to get any tricks for taking apart the propeller.... None from the guy in the office and not much more later by e-mail which we didn't even get till lunch anyway so we headed to the Mechanic/Welder at 9:45 to see what we could figure out.

Jorge, and impressively skilled and experienced mechanic, did a nice job of making a spanner using an allen key for the pins and just drilling holes in some flatbar. With the prop in a vise and a short pipe as an extension, he was able to finally break the grease caps off. Once inside we saw our primary problem...the nut that holds the propeller onto the hub has a locking screw that is left hand threaded and has tabs to lock the nut from spinning off. On the two loose blades, both of these could spin together as the blade was just not tightened down fully. As we got the nuts off and the blades off the hub we could see that the bearings were in fine shape and this whole problem appears to be due to some problem during assembly in the factory 4 years ago. My best guess is that the thrust bearings weren't fully seated in the hubs when it was assembled and the nuts were torqued and along the way it seated properly allowing some slop in the blades. We will find out more when we talk to the supplier tomorrow morning, but we have new seals that we hope will fit coming in from Pueto Ayora on Wednesday and the bearings looked great, so we are hopeful that we can just put it back together (correctly this time) and reinstall it.

This is all being recorded for a magazine article that Bill and I are going to write once we get out of here. It has been exhausting and dirty work, but we are making great headway. In the mean time, we have almost two days with little else to do so it will be a chance to return some of the favors to Dave on Soggy Paws and catch up on some other projects and hopefully a little R&R.