July 28

Well, I really think it is fixed for good now. Really. My last entry in the Ship's Log from the 25th described how we were towed into Musket Cove after our transmission sprung a leak from a broken hydraulic fitting. It has been 3 days since then and I have been working hard the entire time to put things right. First I had to find a proper elbow fitting as the ones available in Fiji are all too bulky and stick out too far. I was lucky enough to find another boat (S/V Califia, from California with Glenn and Glenna aboard) who had the exact part I needed. You may ask what happened to the original fitting we had for the last 2 years, well, it was lost with the old transmission. The bozos who removed the transmission took the fittings with them and never returned them.

The first problem I faced, once I had the proper part, was installing it. Imagine if you will you are in a dark closet. There are sharp metal things poking you from all sides. You do have a flashlight though, so you can see. Now imagine that at the bottom of the closet is a small hole about 4" square and in this hole is a space 2" square and in that space is a hole into which you must place 100 marbles. The hole is exactly the size a marble can pass through, but in order to get the marble in you have to stand on your head with one arm in the hole and feel your way in. Now do that 100 times. This may give you some idea of what it was like to screw in this fitting. This took me 7 hours over a 2 day period. You might say I am a lazy slob for working only 7 hours over 2 days. Well, the other 7 hours (assuming 2, 7 hour days) was spent thinking about HOW to get the damn marbles in the hole!

The next problem was to align the engine to the shaft. The shaft is fixed and must be straight. The engine is mounted in such a way that it can be adjusted in both the vertical and horizontal axis both in the front and in the back. The trick is to get the engine to exactly line up with the shaft. Unfortunately I have no experience doing this and only a little experience watching someone else do it. Fortunately the world of cruising yachts is a fraternity of like minded people who have all been in our position at one time or another. Glenn from "Califia" offered to help and ended up spending 7 hours with me doing the alignment. The reason it takes so long is that the tolerances allowed are quite stringent and demands patience and a high degree of precision. The coupling (two metal discs, one attached to the shaft the other on the transmission) is 5" in diameter and must be so straight that a gap of no more then 5 thousandths of an inch must be maintained around the entire circumference. If one side has 8 thousandths and another 9 thousandths you are not done. Small adjustments to the engine mounts must be made iteratively until the gap is consistent all the way around.

Then we had to tighten everything up and check it again! Frequently the very act of tightening the mounts causes the alignment to go off again and you start over. By 7pm though Glenn was satisfied (it requires great patience and an anal retentive attitude to do a job like this properly) and I thanked him for saying so. This morning I spent an hour or two getting everything else tightened up (we had removed the shifter linkage and broken a wire that had to be spliced back on) and by 9:30am I was finally able to test it in gear. Smooth as silk and the hydraulic fitting is well clear of the hull (at least a half inch - that's how close it is). I still have to re-install the genset muffler and the automatic fire extinguisher which both had to be removed to access the transmission. Then we have to repack the cockpit locker, again.

After the work was done last night we went to shore for happy hour and BBQ. The yacht club has a cute little outdoor bar called "The 3 Dollar Bar". Last year when we were here, briefly, it was the 2.50 bar. I have been told it was once the "Dollar Bar". Inflation I guess. They have a h BBQ pit (4 actually) and supply cruisers with fire wood, plates and cutlery and everyone brings their own meat and side dishes, builds a fire and cook and eat dinner. The atmosphere is friendly and large picnic tables accommodate groups of 10 at once. Everyone knows everyone pretty much and there were plenty of kids from other boats for Jonah to play with. We all had a great time and of course everyone asked me about our repair progress.

Our plan now is to relax today and pack up the boat so we can depart tomorrow. We have only 9 days till August 6th when we need to be back at Vunda Pt. Marina to get the boat settled in before we depart for the US. We hope to spend those days relaxing at one of the beautiful little islands this area is famous for. Stay tuned for more!