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.