Thursday, April 1, 2010

Red letter day -Beta!

After measuring the come-along (in Honduran Spanish, a 'senorita')against the engine compartment, I pedaled back to the ferreteria to exchange it for a fine Chinese 1-ton chain hoist.I also bought myself a crowbar. Then we scavenged the shipyard perimeter for strong-back and blocking materials. Doug cut some plywood to line the hull. Our strongback, a 4x4, needed some bracing, and so did the battery shelf which held up its starboard side. With this motley crew, we awkwardly inveigled the Westerbeke toward the companionway, then through the companionway. The biggest problem is that the companionway is not on the centerline of the boat where the shaft and engine are. The pros don't do it the way we did it! I don't know how you spent the first weekend of spring, but we surfaced on Sunday night looking like coal miners.

On Monday, the yard said 'no problema' to everything we asked, but in the end we towed our own selves around to the lift slip. Thanks to that delightful chain hoist, we didn't need the 'four strong men' who were supposed to physically lift the 500+ pounds out of the tiny space. Removing the hard dodger simplified matters significantly. The travel lift operator, the only English speaker in the crew, sent down his 'brazo' and we cranked the Westerbeke up and out with the chain hoist as the 'Hyster'(fork lift), moved the Beta into lift-off position.

Kind of like a baby arriving (as if I'd know!) via stork, the Beta flew in and slowly squeezed down the companionway. Our 'four strong men' in the cockpit echoed our 'arriba's and 'abajo's and the more urgent 'stop!'s to the lift operator. The Beta will be named Stan- if the name sticks - for Beta's US rep who has been a prince to deal with. Its first official act was to gush its very clean motor oil onto me. It sat on the first step while Doug unbolted a few more bits. We climbed in and out of the boat gracelessly through the forward hatch as we adapted to the new crewmember. The re-engining ceremony was accompanied by degreaser, a toilet brush and a toothbrush for buffing around the shaft log and stringers. White epoxy paint in the engine compartment would have been lovely, but let's be realistic!

Meanwhile, outside it's Semana Santa - Holy Week. The shipyard workers fled Wednesday at noon; Javier the taxista told me only the poor people like him had to work. Today we watched a lancha loading a dozen or more people, bags of groceries, bottles of water, a yapping dog, and a parrot in a cage, for a trip to the beach.
But we've also met people who are afraid to go to the beach - swine flu/gripa porcina still concerns them. I saw three security guards at a bank, dressed like storm troopers, but for their white surgical masks - didn't have the nerve to take the picture, though!

Next up - shaft alignment - woohoo!

I forgot to mention some clever engine shifting ideas I came across online. One was the use of a partially inflated basketball as a roller under the engine. The other was a long lever arm, which would have enabled a pivot point where there was plenty of headroom (in the companionway for example). Thanks to a French boat with deep lockers, we were able to upgrade our strongback to a 2 1/2" pipe with a 1 1/2"shaft inside; using the crowbar for leverage, the new engine is responding well.

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