new coversIt’s been a watershed week and it isn’t even Wednesday yet.  First, something to celebrate. By using old canvas and joining the Arlington TechShop,  I custom made 11 hatch covers, 7 drawstring storage bags and an aft bench seat.  Then, by buying fabric bolt ends at deeply discounted prices, I designed and sewed an aft bed cover with 4 pillow shams and a new quilted V-berth cover.  I spent less than $500, including the two month membership in the TechShop. A professional would have charged up over $2000, so not only am I quite pleased of the creations, I’m jumping up and down at the savings.

That’s a good thing too, because we had a major setback this week with Dolce Vento’s repairs.  Just like scary unprotected electrical wiring, termite-eaten 2/4’s or  lead pipe plumbing that you discover when old sheet rock is pulled from the walls to gut a kitchen, our marine contractor found a severe misalignment of the drive shaft and engine — the real source of a nasty vibrating wheel we experienced on our first power driven voyage.  It made steering difficult and potentially dangerous (envision steering a car whose tires are not balanced or aligned properly).  Originally, we, including our surveyor (aka boat inspector),  believed the vibration could be eliminated by reconditioning our “out of tune” feathering MaxProp propeller (repairable for a mere $700-900). Boy, were we wrong!

It’s “Back to the Future” – our power train coupling connections don’t meet!  When the mechanic started replacing the rigid overly compressed drip-less stuffing box (a gizmo that prevents water from flooding the boat where the drive shaft comes through the hull), he discovered that the engine output shaft coupling was out of alignment with the drive shaft coupling by  3 degrees (envision an Oreo cookie with all the icing shifted so the two chocolate biscuits have no icing between them on one side and the other side has too much icing between them so when you rotate the biscuits they rotate unevenly often causing the biscuits to break).  The picture below shows that there is about 1/8″ difference in the two sides of the couplings because they are not in alignment.

To make enginethe coupling connection work, whoever installed the engine shoved and smashed the couplings together; in essence they jerry-rigged them with a “driver saver” contraption; hence vibrations sufficient to shake you silly. At first glance all looks well, but when you take the cover off (think pulling off the sheet rock) you see a what appears to be somebody’s DIY job, the root cause of severe wear and tear to the couplings, beating and batting the hull about with the vibrations, and potentially the complete loss of power if the couplings break. If we want to ensure that we will have power when we need it, we must fix this “coupling connection” problem to the tune of over $12,000 (No visits across the pond for us for a few years, for sure).  Neither John nor I can slip our 46′ 28,000 pound boat using sails alone into a berth that’s half way down the pier nestled among a bunch of other boats the same size, especially with a 10-15 knot cross wind.

If that were not enough excitement,  John’s off shore sailing class had to be cut short this week as well.  He became very ill on the leg from Ft. Lauderdale to Biscayne Bay (the launch point for crossing the Gulf Stream to Bimini). He abandoned ship at 6:00 AM Monday morning, going ashore and finding civilization with the help of his captain and a fellow student (the boat was anchored next to a national park so they had to walk an hour to find civilization — God bless the Hilton app; he used it to find a room).  Needless to say he was disappointed, but reported that the first day on the sea was great.  Such an optimist! He gained valuable navigation skills and helm experience.  He’s home now, resting and taking it easy for a few days.  I declare his experience a success, even though a bit short.  We’re ready to do some coastal and off shore sailing together!

Tomorrow we will tackle the coupling connection problem together.