Just Like Old Times
After spending two days working on Ganymede’s outboard engine, trying to get gasoline through the fuel system to the carburetor so it would run, I hoped my struggle would be over. After all, I had pulled the starter cord probably eighty times, bathed my beard and front in a sudden spurt of fuel, whacked my knuckles several times, and gotten wet to the shoulder in a vain effort to retrieve a tiny clip that turned out to be the disappointing sort of plastic that sinks. But it was running, and that was splendid, because we needed to motor to the boatyard for a haulout. And it was just as we were coming into the dock at the yard that the engine cooked up a new surprise. I had been expecting it—the aluminum shifter inside the throttle arm was very badly corroded, and I’d recently been trying to scrape the flaky deposits off—but somehow it was still inconvenient when the piece finally broke and the engine would not go out of forward gear just when I wanted to add a little reverse propulsion to slow down a bit.
Luckily, we’re used to engines that are either on full throttle or not at all, most of our past voyages being peppered with them, so it was just like old times as I cut the the engine off and coasted in, trusting a surged spring line to take Ganymede’s way off.
We were at Casey’s Marina in Newport, very conveninetly right next door to the Coronet shed where I work, so all my tools (and a good few of the shop ones) were ready to hand. All day at work I kept looking out the window to see whether Casey was getting ready to haul Ganymede with his hydraulic boat trailer, but the right stage of the tide wasn’t until late afternoon. I had wanted to start working on the rudder gudgeon that has been weeping a tiny smear of water since Ganymede was launched, and that I had unsucessfully addressed in Colombia, but had to wait for a very thorough pressure washing. It was worth the wait, though, because the pressure wash saved me lots of time later on—I did bottom prep for barely an hour before applying antifouling. I did have time, though, after the pressure wash to go into the aft cabin and grind out the old repair that had failed.
That was sufficient horror for one day, so I vaccuumed as much dust up as I could and took off to the friend’s house where we’re staying during the haul. The next evening I ground, drilled and punched out the ½” copper rivet that had been letting water in, then filled the hole with thickened epoxy, and epoxy-potted the remaining bolts.
The next item was the lower rudder gudgeon, which had been slowly wearing away at the bronze hinge pin, and by now was clanking most horribly every time there was light chop in the anchorage or a passing wake made the rudder move. I had prepared some UHMD bushings, and now used the shop’s heavy-duty right-angle Milwaukee drill to ream the pintle and gudgeon holes from ¾ to 1 1/8th. It was heavier work than I had suspected, and after bending the shaft of the bit and nearly burning out the drillmotor, I decided to do just the lower one and keep the rest of the bushings as spares.
The other ones, after all, aren’t as loose as the bottom ones were. I also took the time to drill and tap a few holes into the underside of the keel for the attachment of a piece of bronze bar to act as a lobster-trap line deflector. Several times Ganymede has snagged pot warp between her keel and rudder, and it’s usually awkward to get it off, since most of that sort of fishing seems to go on in places where I don’t care to swim.
After all that hard work, putting on three coats of bottom paint was a breeze, as was repainting the sheer stripe and making it wider.
Still, I had to take an entire day and two extra afternoons of of work, and still wouldn’t have got done if Casey hadn’t preferred to launch us on Monday rather than Saturday,as we’d planned. Saturday was spent instead cleaning, compounding and waxing the hull (most of it), and putting on Ganymede’s new lettering. The original was pretty chipped and beat up, and we’d wanted bigger letters for some time, since folks complained that the name on the side was hard to read. We’ll, they’ll be able to read this.
So now Ganymede is ready to launch again, and since the engine parts haven’t come in yet, we may have to make the return to the marina strictly in forward gear. It’ll be just like old times—the bits of them it never occurred to me to miss.