Trip Reports

Condo Made of Stona-The Sequel (28-Apr-2002-20-00):
8:00 PM local time, Saturday, April 20 (1800 April 20 UTC) 27 24 N 033 40 E. Temp. 73, Humidity 38%, Cloud Cover 0%. Abu Tig Marina, El-Gouna Resort, near Hurghada, Egypt.

Greetings from the crew of Maverick.

We're back here in Abu Tig marina, where we've been stuck for quite a while now. We were one of the first boats here, and three waves of cruisers have come, done their inland travel, and then sailed off while we've stood on the dock and smiled and shouted our best wishes for a safe passage. We've got a few hurdles to get over. The one that's keeping us here is the problem we've had with our Perkins 4-107 ever since we lost oil pressure on the way to Oman by reason of the bracket on the oil cooler chafing through the unit. The noise we've been hearing since then, and the reason we babied the engine all through the Gulf of Aden and particularly up the Red Sea, was not a sticky valve as Chief Engineer Terry Shrode and the Captain had thought, but a much more serious spun big-end bearing on the number one cylinder. We were fortunate that we did not push the engine, and made it to the safe haven of Abu Tig instead of having the engine throw a rod in the middle of the supposedly pirate-infested passage. We're also lucky to have found Nafea Anwar, a very good local diesel mechanic and a sweet guy, in whose hands we've placed the future of the engine, and by extension, our voyage. (Has the reader noticed the frequency with which the Captain, who to put it mildly is not given to being particularly generous with terms of endearment, has referred to Egyptians and Muslims in general as "sweet?") But even Nafea is not a magician, and the repairs have had to await the arrival of parts, some of which, of course, turned out to be the wrong ones. So as I write this, the block of the engine sits on its side next to the nav station along with the transmission. The engine is disassembled down to the crank, and the head and other assorted parts are stowed on the ice box and here and there throughout the boat. It's been over three weeks now since the engine was first torn down, and we hope the last part will come in by today or tomorrow, when reassembly can begin. Then we'll have to do sea trials to make sure everything is OK before we can start looking for the ever-rarer weather windows to take us up to the Suez Canal. Weather is still iffy in the Med, so although we're anxious to get going, we might not have been happy had we been able to depart earlier only to face cold and threatening weather.

Meanwhile, there are other areas of concern. The rigging, only three years old, is showing signs of fatigue. Of the eleven 1x19 wires that hold up the rig counting the detachable inner forestay, four including the headstay were found, upon the Captain's regular inspection of the rig, to have one broken strand. We have the Norseman or Sta-lok fittings on board to fix two of the four, and another one is the inner forestay, which we have never used. But we will have to leave the aft port lower shroud, on our double spreader rig, until Turkey where we hope to have access to more rigging materials. Our rig has swaged fittings at the top and Norsemans at the bottom. Terry and I set up the rig and the Norsemans we installed are sound. The breakages have occurred at the tops of the wires, where they enter the professionally done swage.

We had a bit of fun lowering the headstay to the quay behind us, to which we were med-tied. We left the bottom end of the headstay attached to the stem fitting, and attached a line to the top of the extrusion. The weight of headstay and extrusion could then be lifted with the jib halyard independently of the top headstay fittings. Then the Captain went up the masthead and, as the halyard was tensioned to take the pressure off the eye holding the headstay to the mast, released the clevis pin. We also had a guy attached to the top of the extrusion, and while master rigger Terry Shrode lowered the halyard, a third person on the quay used the guy to direct the top of the extrusion and also to keep tension on it so it wouldn't fold in half. We got it down, installed a Sta-lok, and raised it using the same method. Hope it holds.

Another problem has been the Martec folding prop that since the Tahiti incident with the reef has been slightly out of balance, though the shop back in the United States did the best they could to straighten it. The Captain finally bit the bullet and coughed up the nearly $900 for a new one, as the vibration had started to concern him. Too much vibration in the prop could compromise the cutless bearing and the strut, or so he thought. To accomplish switching to the new prop, we borrowed a different kind of hookah from one of our friends at the marina here. This is a floating device that can be thought of as a dive compressor that goes directly to the regulator so you have no tanks. With the Captain assisting, Mr. Shrode managed to install the new prop without too much difficulty, but the water was cold; at 27 degrees north we're well out of the tropics.

The Simpson Lawrence windlass motor, rebuilt once already in Australia, had to be rebuilt again. But a local electrical shop was found that did it for 20 Egyptian pounds, or less than $5 US.

Mr. Shrode also repaired the furling line that, the reader may remember, parted in the gale near Safaga. This was complicated by the fact that the Hood furler has a cover that fits over the drum and needs to be removed to change the line. Perhaps no one told the Hood people that the stainless steel cover would weld itself through galvanic corrosion to the aluminum drum when repeatedly exposed to seawater. Or perhaps they didn't know that these things were installed on boats, on the pointy end, where, drat the luck, most of the splashing occurs. The stainless cover had to be sawn in half with a Dremel tool in order to remove it.

Our rebuilt Signet anemometer gauge was also brought from the states and reinstalled, only to find that the masthead transducer that worked when we sent the readout back to the states had now failed. We think that an induced charge from a nearby lightening strike fried the tiny coils in the sending unit. We've sent for replacements but still have no anemometer.

The dinghy floor had to be re-glued with two-part inflatable glue, and by now we've had to re-attach the entire bottom of the Zodiac/West Marine tender.

And so on. The reader may feel that this old boat is just falling apart, but the reality is that all the things that have failed were quite new before we left. The engine had 800 hours on it and the rest of the above, save the dinghy, were less than three years old and of very good reputation. There's no question that we are disappointed in their manufacturers in some cases. But cruising boats take an incredible amount of abuse, and though our gear failures are a bit above average, we are also pushing hard to make it around quickly, so have done as much sailing in one year as most world cruisers have in three, with the attendant wear and tear.

We're getting restless. Mr. Shrode and I, in a rambling discussion the other day, and we've got time to ramble, opined that in the absence of the sailing itself, we scarcely could have found a reason to leave hearth and home so far behind. We enjoy seeing the different countries but the Captain would no more have left Theresa at home to fly to Egypt or Borneo, than he would have suddenly acquired a taste for beets. It's still untying the lines and leaving the harbor, getting one's rhythm back for the open sea, seeing the miles flow under Maverick's keel, and finally making landfall in some far-flung cranny, that stirs the blood. A lot of cruisers don't like the passages, but for us, it's the time we really feel the flush of adventure, like the seamen of olden days.

Next report from this location: Disasters

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