Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Heart of Gold Repair Update

The last time I wrote about the ongoing drama surrounding the rigging repairs on board my boat following my disagreement with a drawbridge, I stated that "with any luck I'll have the boat back sometime this month."

That was early October.  I have no luck.  Clearly.

Over the following six weeks or so, I've had two separate occasions to go down to Alameda and look over the work in progress.  I found lots of work and very little progress.  Mostly the boat was just sitting idle like so:
HofG Rigging Repair

Bear in mind that in 2009 it took me about a month to replace all of the standing rigging on both of my masts by myself using a pair of pliers and a bosun's chair.  Most of that time was spent waiting for the rigging shop to cut and swage new wires for me.

For some reason it's taken Svendsen's Boat Works over twice as long to re-rig only one of my two masts even though the rigging shop is on the premises, they've got a crew and a crane to help them, and they had three months to get ready for the job.  I'm not really thrilled about this.

Still, after five and a half months of waiting for the insurance claim, the mast manufacturer, the riggers, and a massive pile of mismanagement and delays, the whole thing is done.  I found out it was finished when I was writing a plaintive email asking how things were progressing.  The reply: "The riggers say it's ready anytime you want it. We just need to wash it." 

Almost a week later I finally had a chance to head down to Alameda and do some last-minute fine-tuning.  At first glance, I was thinking that the boatyard really needs to fire whoever they've got washing boats down there.  Upon further inspection, it was pretty clear they just didn't bother.  Instead, the deck was littered with clevis pins and other detritus from the rigging work.  Five months of dust had been cemented to the deck and hull from the recent rain.  The Heart of Gold looked almost as bad as she did after I spent fourteen months away at sea and off to war in 2008/2009.

After a quick turn around the deck picking things up, I decided to hoist the sails and make sure the new running rigging was in good order.  The main sail and mizzen went up easily enough, but when I tried to unfurl the jib, the brand new roller furler bound up.  Only halfway unfurled, the sail was stuck in place.  When I went forward to see what was the matter, I found the furling line wrapped up outside the housing and spent a few minutes wrestling it back into place so I could re-furl the sail.

Here's a shot of how it was set up:
HofG Jib Roller Furler

To avoid binding up, the line is supposed to run through the opening on the right where the cage is designed to lead it onto the drum instead of allowing the line to get caught up under the rotating disk at the top.  It's a bit tough to spot in this picture, but cast into the cage above the opening is an arrow with the word "LINE" imprinted on it.  This makes it perfectly obvious to the most casual observer that this was put together wrong.

Other problems were less of an issue.  The new turnbuckles are stainless steel instead of bronze.  They're pretty, but they don't look quite right next to the few old ones that are still on board:
HofG Rigging Repairs

My main complaint with Svendsen's is that everything took such a long damned time.  I expected some major delays on account of waiting for the insurance company to pay out and for LeFiell to take a break from making missile bodies and jet engines so they could manufacture my new mast (which is gorgeous by the way).  But once the mast arrived at the yard I really expected the whole project to come together in a week or two. 

Instead it took over two and a half months.  When I'd ask about the delays, I was given every excuse you can think of including a backlog of small racing boats that apparently took precedence over taking care of me after all the waiting. 

What really irks me is that they didn't even bother to call and let me know it was done.  I don't know what kind of profit margin they've got going there, but it seems to me that there should be some sense of urgency when someone's waiting for you to finish tens of thousands of dollars worth of work.  Just saying.

On the plus side, the bowsprit is a bit shinier:
HofG Bowsprit and Furler Repair

Now that the boatyard was finally done with the rigging, it was up to me to get the boat home.  The last time I did any work on board, I was concentrating on getting the engine up and running after it's brief submergence back in June.  I hate working in the engine room because it's a bit cramped:
HofG Engine Room Working

Still, with some help from my friend Matt, I was able to fire it up and test it running both ahead and astern.  Everything worked reasonably well, but the raw water pump wasn't pumping any water.  Looking closer, I noticed that the belt was loose and the pump wasn't turning at all.  The fix was a simple matter of replacing one of the two fan belts in the filthy, rusty hole:
HofG Engine Belts

After that, the wet exhaust started puking out more seawater than I'd ever seen. 

With the cooling system up and running, it was a simple matter of scrubbing things down and making ready to get underway the next morning.  I'd been without my boat for far too long to keep waiting.

Stay tuned for bloggage on that little adventure.  It started off as a pleasant day of sailing and slowly turned into a tale of darkness and gloom with impending disaster around every turn.  In case you're worried, I did survive.

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