After a long weekend of boat projects, we are finally wrapping up and planning our departure for Tonga on Thursday. We received the batteries and the new transmission on Saturday. I had the 300 lbs of new batteries installed by Saturday evening and tackled the transmission install on Sunday. With the Mermaid passing me tools, we had the old transmission removed and the new one in place by Sunday evening, but the shaft coupling was a half an inch above the transmission coupling. As a result we had to raise the entire engine up and then align everything. This proved very difficult because the bolts on the engine mounts had not been spun in 30 years and they were almost seized to the posts. After an entire afternoon of soaking them in PB blaster and removing a huge stainless bar from the galley to get more leverage, we popped them loose and were able to raise the engine up the required half an inch. This would not have been possible without the use of a bottle screw jack I borrowed from the large yacht ARIA. I am happy to report that as of this evening the transmission is installed, the shaft couplings aligned (to within .005 of an inch), and the stuffing box adjusted. The only thing left to do is place a new piece of starboard under the exhaust riser and then test everything out. Hold your breath for me as this is by far the largest and most technical mechanical project I have ever undertaken by myself. I had my trusty book by Nigel Calder to guide me on the alignment but I’ll still be holding my breath when I put her in gear tomorrow.
So about the recent theft… We were doing our laundry the other day and while the clothes were drying we decided to go grab a beer at the hotel. We also filled the propane bottle earlier that day and I was really tired of hauling it around so I left it in the laundry room, that was FULL of video cameras. I thought that someone would have to be pretty bold to steal it in front of all those cameras. I also knew there was a decent chance it would go missing if I left it but I was tired of carrying it around and we have another one anyway. Sometimes I like to do these tests of human decency. Well, humanity failed and the bottle went missing in the hour we were gone. Two local girls saved the day and told me to ask next door at the store because one of the workers took it. The response from Chinese lady #1 was that the cameras don’t record and there is nothing they can do. The local girls didn’t like this answer and stormed into the laundry room to confront Asian lady #1 and #2. They were adamant that worker guy #1 took it and wouldn’t give up. I was just enjoying watching this drama unfold and was more amused than upset. Asian lady #2 ended up driving to the guys house up in the mountains to retrieve my stolen bottle. After the bottle was returned by Asian lady #2, worker guy #1 appeared in the laundry room to explain to me that he was just keeping it for us and was going to return it the next day…..riiiiiiiiiiight. I didn’t buy it and neither did the two awesome local girls. We tried to thank them by buying them something from the store but they would only accept our thanks and friendship. Thank you again Loige and Kisa!!!!
Despite the run-in with sticky fingers worker guy #1, we’ve really been enjoying Samoa. The locals are so helpful and incredibly friendly, the landscape magnificent and the amenities convenient, but this anchorage leaves much to be desired. Truth be told the fish smell from the cannery is starting to get to me. There is also a really bad Dengue Fever epidemic on the island and people of all ages are dying every day. We have to completely cover ourselves in mosquito spray each time we go to shore. Those who have been following the blog know just how much I love mosquitoes, and those that can kill you put my paranoia into DEFCON 5.
We are riding out yet another shear line tonight that is whipping 30 knots into the bay with driving rain. We’re very glad we tied off to the large ship mooring while it was calm. Looks like the SE winds will start to clock easterly by mid-week. We’ll use the rest of the passing high to put the trades on the beam and sail the 325 miles SW to Tonga. Thursday night and Friday will be in stiff trades on the beam but the weekend looks really nice. We’ll leave Samoa Thursday evening and plan to arrive in Tonga by Sunday afternoon. Vava’u promises clam anchorages, great diving and kiteboarding, cruising friends old and new, and all the amenities to keep the Princess happy. We’re both very excited.
I’ll try and get the pictures and a couple videos uploaded before we leave. In the meantime here are a couple pics of the transmission install: