Pender Harbour April 7, 2022
|a broken forestay & Sail furler|
We’re in one of Canada’s most beautiful harbours … in fact it is one of the most perfect harbours we’ve ever visited. But we are not enjoying ourselves on this beautiful day!
It’s a perfect day for travel or for scuba diving. It’s still quite cold out, and as algae relies on the warmth of the sun to propagate tiny seedlings (called Algae Blooms) they're not around to cloud our vision and also wreck the photos Larry takes.
Larry has just announced: “If I were a dentist, I’d be really good at this!” The sound of his dremel fills our small living space. He’s trying to clean the tiny holes in the fuel injector on our auxiliary generator which powers the dive compressor. Without the generator we can’t fill our dive tanks, go scuba diving or take underwater photos.
Boat repairs are a Constant in our sailing adventures. Since we stepped onto Traversay III in 2000, Larry has bought spares and equipment to fix almost anything on the boat. This includes main engine maintenance and repairs, window repairs, generator repairs, toilet repairs, windlass repairs and refrigerator and freezer repairs.
We normally share cooking and cleaning while we're offshore, but if there's a major equipment breakdown, I take over all the domestic work so Larry can focus on the repair. He’s made many major repairs in the last 20 years while we were away from any outside help with repairs. He has actually repaired the windlass (the motor which lowers and raises the anchor) twice. These did not need to be PERFECT repairs, but they were good enough to keep us going when we were far from land or far from any help. We knew we were in precarious situations both times and we HAD to keep going ... once in Chilean Patagonia in 2010 and once on the Northwest Passage in 2013.
On December 23, 2004 our forestay broke 400 miles from New Zealand. I was able to help with the forestay failure by circling around the mast about 30 feet off the deck while suspended by a line and sitting in our tiny bosun’s chair. With the heavy wave action, I felt like I was at the end of a clock pendulum making bigger and bigger concentric circles around the mast. I was trying to remove a length of rope which was obstructing a halyard which we could use to temporarily replace the steel forestay in the genoa sail furler. When you consider that the entire rig including the mast and attached sails could fall down, one of us had to be willing to brave the heights. The decision was made that I would go up, because I knew I wasn’t strong enough to turn the heavy winch often to get Larry up there. In order to free the halyard, I needed to use both hands, so I swung like a pendulum … into and off the mast many times before I finished the job.
|the 50' furler had to be stretched across the deck|
I ended up with multiple bruises which matched the beautiful sunset photo taken that night. When we got into port after the 46-day 6,000 mile voyage to Opua, New Zealand we got out the replacement metal forestay that we’d stored and we worked together to install the new part.
Larry has a lot of equipment aboard and has been really successful in keeping us going when we have a breakdown. Even with the rare times when we’re close to a Boat Repair service, we've come to rely on ourselves. This is becuase of our despair at the poor service of some 'specialists' we’ve hired over the last 20 years. Notable in this regard is the mechanic/welder in Iceland who told us that our engine was now 'fine' and that all the engine supports were 'solid'. Imagine our horror crossing the Northwest Passage as each engine mount broke in successive jarring accidents all the way across to Tuktoyaktuk. As we entered the harbour in September with winter fast approaching, we had to keep our speed to a miserly but safe 1.5 knots. At any faster pace, the seawater came pouring in. We could have lost the boat and (for me) it seemed we might even lose our lives. I thought we'd have to 'winter over'and so I started searching for a place to rent ashore.
But this is where the Universe Delivers what it Takes Away. A brilliant Canadian engineer named Radovan Sumara was in Tuk working that summer as an engineer for the Horizon North Barge Company. He came aboard and helped Larry take out and re-install the engine mounts having first taken them to the company workshop to weld them.
|Our 'Hero' Radovan Sumara|
When possible, Larry buys the needed equipment himself so we can be more self-sufficient. We’ve also been able to help out fellow cruisers in the wilderness who just needed the correct size of bolt to get going again. At Pitcairn Island Wayne on a Canadian boat called ‘Learnativity’ endured a flooded refrigerator. We were able to give him our spare (he later replaced it).
|the morning after|
My own talents are more limited. I’m only competent to hand over tools and to use my own ‘auxiliary’ pieces of equipment. I’m quite handy with the pressure cooker, stove and my sewing machine. The original Singer (bought in 1975) was replaced 15 years ago by a Bernina quilting machine. These machines have enabled me to mend sails halfway through a long trip when we needed them. In the accompanying photo I'm fixing a sail in Caleta Suarez, Chilean Patagonia. I have photos of sail repair in the Beagle Channel and in the Lofoten Islands of Norway. I have even managed to overhaul our upholstery several times when I got tired of the 'old' colours and style and wanted ‘new’ furniture.
We feel fortunate that to a great extent, we have been able to look after Traversay III's problems ourselves. Afteer all, she's a GREAT vessel and has been equal to any of the sailing challenges that we've given her.
|On the Routeburn Track|