The internet connection had been restored at Club Nautico Reloncavi on Tuesday the 29th of November following a six-day outage. The system had exploded from surges during the restoration from yet another power failure in Puerto Montt. The fix was a temporary and tenuous one that had been cobbled-together by the phone company from old parts while waiting for new equipment to arrive from the US. Nonetheless, by wandering around I was able to find some wifi signals sufficient to post an addition to the blog, to download a week of emails, to track the FedEx package and to contact BlueSky to further troubleshoot the solar panel controller.
The FedEx package with the forestay fitting replacement kit from Selden was showing online as being in Santiago, released from Customs and "Tendered to authorized agent for final delivery". This boded well for its previously estimated Wednesday delivery; however, this is Latin America, and we have learned there is more than one meaning of mañana. We enjoyed a fine sunny day waiting for Juan, the stainless fabricator to not arrive.
On Wednesday, as we waited for the FedEx package and for Juan, the wind continued strongly from the south. Mid-afternoon Alexandro came down the float to tell us the next finger installation was right through the middle of Sequitur, so we needed to move onto one of the new fingers, allowing the crew to continue on Thursday. The wind was forecast to abate in the evening, but by sunset it was still strong. We gambled on a calm early morning, and we won. Edi and I were up at 0630 and we easily warped Sequitur around in glassy-calm conditions.
With Sequitur now stern-to, we finally have easy access to and from the float through the transom doors. It is a level entry to our stern platform and it would have been wonderful during the past couple of weeks in easing the loading aboard of all of our supplies. Shortly after we had finished breakfast, the yard crew arrived and began installing the next finger.
While we waited for the now one day late FedEx package and the many weeks late steel fabricator to arrive, I hoisted the dinghy off the deck and down into the water using the spinnaker halyard and the electric sheet winch. I then cut off the chafe and refreshed the shackle attachment on the end of the spinnaker halyard.
Next I lifted the outboard engine off its mount, which was convenient now, immediately adjacent to the float and at waist level. I lugged it over to the dinghy, attached it to the transom, connected the fuel line, pumped the bulb and whispered a prayer to the outboard god. I pulled the cord and the engine started immediately. I was delighted; this is the first time I have run it since April in Valdivia.
In the early afternoon, as I was puttering in the cockpit, one of the yard crew came by to tell me a package for Sequitur had just arrived at the gatehouse. As I was walking up the ramp to fetch the package, I stopped to chat with Max of the Australian sloop, Volo. I asked him about stainless steel fabricators, and he told me of one "up the down street a few blocks from the junction with the up street, and then up a side street a bit. You can't miss it; the doors are normally open". I asked him to translate "up street" and "down street".
Armed with these wonderful directions, as soon as I had
picked-up the FedEx package and dropped it aboard, I grabbed the wind-generator mast tail and took a bus into town. By the time I had arrived at the end of the up and down streets, I had forgotten whether I needed to go up the up or the down. I walked up the up a few blocks, then down the down, all the while looking into the side streets for something that looked like a stainless steel shop's open doors. And there it was!
In my non-Spanish and the non-English of the foreman and a fabricator, hugely assisted by a dry-erasable board on the office wall, I communicated what I needed, specified the materials and the dimensions and was delighted when told it would be ready mañana. I asked; "mañana mañana o mañana tarde? The fabricator said "tarde a cuatro", tomorrow afternoon at four. I was on a roll, and dared not ask the price.
I walked down the down to the main road and along it to the Mercado Angelmo. Along the way, I paused to take-in the working waterfront. At the potato wharf was the usual assortment of small craft dried-out at low tide.
Further along there were two boats being rebuilt on the narrow strand between the high water line and the sea wall. Here the boat owners seem to get a few extra lives out of ancient wooden craft, where at home the boats would long since have been abandoned.
I walked around in the Mercado, closely examining all of the fish in all of the stalls. Mostly the fish were farmed salmon and merluza, and I saw some that looked like mackerel. At two of the stalls were some small diamond-shaped fish, like sole, but vertical rather than horizontal. I was told they were reineta. I bought one for 2000 Pesos and the lady threw it to a colleague to clean, skin and fillet.
Back onboard, I opened the FedEx package from Selden and examined its contents. Everything required for the fitting replacement was included, except the rivet gun. There were rivets, cap-screws, drill bit, thread lock, Torx bits, cotter pins, fishing line, fishing wire and washers. According to the detailed, illustrated instructions, the drill bit and rivets are required only if the halyard sheave box is the type riveted to the mast, rather than screwed.
The instructions for the two types of screw-fitted sheave boxes looked easy. The ones for the riveted box were more complex, involving drilling, filing and riveting. With odds of two to one that we had the easier install, I went up the mast to see what we had. Of course, since Sequitur never chooses the easy path, she has the riveted sheave boxes in her mast.
Looking at the set-up on the mast, and reading the instructions, I could see that, if our sheave boxes had been the screw-in type, changing the forestay fitting would have been well within my ability to do. However, not having a rivet gun, let alone a 6.5mm one, and with no access to one, there is no way I can do this job on my own.
Tom had warned me of the possibility of needing a 6.5mm rivet gun, so before David had flown back to London last week to tend to family affairs following his father's death, he confirmed he had a proper rivet gun and was able and willing to do the job for us. Earlier, through Alexandro, I had spoken with a local Beneteau owner who does all of the fit-out rigging and maintenance for the many Beneteaux here in Puerto Montt. He is scheduled back from a ten-day trip to Vina del Mar on Monday the 5th.
Thursday evening I prepared the filete de reineta to see whether it was worthy of a larger purchase. I lightly sautéed it in butter with basil leaves, and served it with tarragon-seasoned basmati rice and a butter-sweat of julienned carrots, onions and garlic. To hedge our bet, I accompanied it with a bottle of Undurraga Brut Royale. The hedge won; the fish had a mushy texture and a rather mundane taste. Fortunately, the wine was excellent, and I had bought only the one fish.
In the early afternoon on Friday Edi and I linked a couple of buses up to Supermercado Lider for another round of shopping, and hauled-back a full wheelie bag, and three other fully stuffed cloth sacks. After we had stowed everything, I took a bus to the bottom of the down street and walked up to the steel shop. They had stuck to a textbook definition of mañana; the fabrication was complete, exactly as requested, crafted from 6mm 316, bent to fit the wind-generator mast while leaving a 1mm gap between the flanges on each side, drilled with twelve holes each fitted with 6mm stainless bolts, nuts and lock washers. The cost was 40,000 Pesos, slightly under $80.
The wind was howling out of the north as I used the new pieces to splint the severed mast tail back onto its stump. However; I left the job there for the day, as the wind was just too strong for me to comfortably and safely work in the somewhat precarious position required. I was surprised that Juan Moya, the delinquent steel fabricator did not show-up proudly bearing his four-week project.
At Lider we had found some wonderful asparagus, freshly arrived from Peru, so had I spent fifteen minutes or so selecting the six best bundles out of the two-hundred or more on display. Among many other things, we also bought another dozen-and-a-half filets of blanquillo, two dozen on-the-vine tomatoes and a large bouquet of fresh basil. Dinner was delicious.
On Saturday the wind continued in the mid-20-knot range from the north. For much of the day it steeply slanted the frequent rain showers, making remaining below a wonderful option. I continued to troubleshoot the BlueSky solar controller, but I had become rather frustrated with the email chain that had developed with BlueSky tech support during the week.
From the email conversation, it appeared as if I was dealing with a call centre in India or the Philippines, with an operator who simply asked questions off a list, and who seemed not absorb the meaning of the answers he received. In my initial email I had told him the answers to each of his subsequent questions. I found it totally unbelievable; it was as if I was living through a Monty Python skit. It was very frustrating, to say the least.
I read and re-read the fourteen emails in the thread, trying to see if I had missed something. I pored-over the manual looking for something I may have mis-interpreted. I became more frustrated. To relieve the frustration, for Saturday evening's dinner I prepared tarragon chicken breasts with oyster mushrooms, shallots and garlic, served with fluffy basmati rice, garnished with sliced tomato with shredded fresh basil and accompanied by fresh Peruvian asparagus. This was wonderfully complemented by a 2011 Carmen Insigne Chardonnay, which drinks like a $15 bottle for only $3.75. While none of this fixed the Solar Boost, it did boost my spirits.
Also boosting my spirits is the announcement that my son-in-law, Bram, who had a run-away-best-seller with his iPad and iPhone game, The Little Crane That Could, is developing a new game to be ready for iPad and iPhone download in time for Christmas: Hover Biker http://www.stolk.org/HoverBiker/.
We slept-in on Sunday; the view up through the rain-splattered hatches above our bed did not encourage an early start. We did eventually get up, and Edi prepared a delicious brunch of ham and eggs with sauce béchamel and toasted baguette, but the day continued gloomy. Rain sprinkled from the low overcast each time I started outside to continue with the wind-generator installation, so we remained cocooned.
In the late afternoon the rain showers finally stopped, and a few blue patches began to appear. There was no wind, the water was glassy and I could find no excuse not to continue with the wind generator installation. I spent well over an hour on top of the solar panel arch, supporting and juggling the heavy generator while making and securing the electrical connections while trying not to step on the panels or to drop tools or the generator through their glass faces while maintaining balance from the wakes generated by a steady parade of boats passing by in the channel. Shortly after 1900 the job was complete.
After breakfast on Monday morning I went up to the marina office to speak with Alexandro on a few points, primarily about contacting the mast rigger, who was due back from his trip to Vina del Mar. He phoned the rigger and told him we now have illustrated instructions translated into Spanish. The rigger said he would be at Sequitur mañana. Oh, what a wonderful word the Latin Americans have! I dug deeper and learned it would be mañana tarde.
I read and re-read the previous few day's email thread with BlueSky, looking for some lost meaning. I took another round of readings inside and outside the charge controller, and finding them identical to what I had initially sent, I sent off a rather heavy email, including all of the present readings, and asked to be passed on to a supervisor, not an offshore call-centre supervisor, but one back at headquarters in California. John replied, saying it was only him and Rick doing the tech support, and they were in the plant in California. He asked what I wanted to do now.
I asked him to to call me on the satellite phone. A short while later John called and we talked for, according to the timer on the set, 18 minutes and 39 seconds, going round and round until we finally both agreed that the charge controller was not working. After we hung-up, I followed his advice and refreshed all of the connections, which I had refreshed a few days previously in my initial troubleshooting. An hour later, with the same anomalous readings, I resolved that the controller was kaput. I bypassed it, and made the solar panels feed directly to the batteries. We will need to use the solar panel breaker, switching it on and off as our controller.
I went to bed still thinking of the solar controller, and laid awake for half an hour running through my mind the sequence of events during the installation of the new battery bank. One anomaly continued to pop up; the installer from Gami had needed to gain an extra couple of threads on two of the new, shorter battery posts. For one he had moved the temperature sensor for the Magnum inverter/charger to an adjacent battery.
For the other, he had cut off two lugs from wires and spliced the wires together onto a single lug to fit onto a crowded post. What if one of the removed lugs had been a temperature sensor for the solar controller? Things began to make sense to me, and I relaxed and fell asleep. In the morning, my thinking was confirmed; the temperature sensor had apparently been mistaken for a common lug and had been discarded and replaced with a new ring lug and was sending a closed circuit signal to the controller.
So, I dug my way back in to the BlueSky Solar Boost box, removed its cover once again and removed the leads from the terminals labelled TEMP SENSOR. I then dug down to the bypass wiring, disconnected it and led the solar panel wires back to the controller, then switched on the breakers and Voila! The MPPT Active LED began a slow blink. I adjusted the MPPT pot until it came on steady, indicating Bulk Charge. We again have a working solar controller. The next step is to adjust the Bulk, Acceptance and Float levels, and further fine-tune the settings.
We waited for the rigger, who the previous day had said he would be at Sequitur mañana tarde. By my experience, the afternoon starts not at noon, but at 1500, after the lunch-time siesta. When 1600, 1700 and 1800 had come and gone without the rigger, I spoke with Alexandro, who called the rigger and was told he would be at Sequitur mañana mañana, tomorrow morning.
For dinner I made a frittata with caramelized Spanish onions, crimini mushrooms, yellow and green peppers and shredded fresh basil, and served it with pan-fried red potato coins and sliced tomatoes.
We waited until 1300, officially well past the end of yesterday's mañana mañana, then we went ashore, caught a bus into the Mall, and walked in search of the Hertz office. It was not where the Chilean Hertz brochure showed it to be. We found a Europcar office only to be told they had no cars available, so asked them for directions to Hertz. We followed their directions and still we found nothing. We asked in a service station with no luck, until we asked a young carabinero lieutenant, who had pulled in to refuel. He radioed to get directions, then told us he would drive us there. We got in and drove around several blocks with still no Hertz. He eventually dropped us at a small local car rental agency, where we rented a car for a day.
We had rented the car to run a series of last-minute errands in preparation for heading out. Our first errand was a trip to the airport to a little crafts shop, where we had seen some exquisitely hand-crafted leather goods when we had dropped-off the rental car from Santiago in October. We had searched in vain for similar belly packs throughout the shops in Puerto Montt and Angelmo. Fortunately, our favorites were still in the airport shop. It was a good lesson: When you see something you really like, buy it then and there; don't rely on finding it elsewhere.
On our way back, we stopped at Sodimac to buy new fire extinguishers; Sequitur's were just at their expiry date.
I also bought a three-metre length of galvanized 9mm chain to secure the dinghy and motor. We drove back to Sequitur for lunch and to see if the rigger might show-up. As I was chaining the dinghy and motor to the float, I was hailed by George, our delinquent rigger. He was working on a freshly re-rigged ketch down the float, and said he would be over to Sequitur shortly. While I waited, I carried on with chores, which included mounting the new fire extinguishers.
While continuing to wait, I emptied the contents of four jerry cans of diesel into the main tank, bringing it back to full. We had burnt 80 liters running the Espar furnace for heat and hot water for 45 days, plus we ran the generator for 16.3 hours. Adding the diesel to the tank was simple, with Sequitur stern-to on the float. I simply stood on the float and poured into the filler on the upper part of the starboard transom.
By the time I had finished my chores it was nearly 1830, and the rigger was still on the ketch. I walked over to talk with him, bringing with me the forestay fitting and the illustrated instructions, now translated into Spanish. I invited him over to our cockpit and we spent half an hour going over the instructions, examining the installation kit and taking a look at the mast from the foredeck. George said he would start mañana. I narrowed him down to 0930.
Edi and I then loaded six empty jerry cans into the trunk of the rental car and drove off to Supermercado Lider. Sequitur's fridges, freezers, wine cellar and pantry were now fully stocked. Nonetheless, we combed the aisles, allowing the stock on the shelves to prompt us on anything we may have missed. We filled a large shopping cart to near overflowing. On our way back we stopped at a gas station and filled four cans with 20 liters each of diesel, plus two more with 20 liters each of gasoline for the outboard engine.
Among the things we bought were some winter squash, some heads of cauliflower and broccoli and a couple of hands of green bananas, some just beginning to yellow. By the time we had lugged everything aboard and stowed it, it was nearly 2200 and we were rather hungry from our lugging. For dinner I sautéed two filllets each of fresh blanquillo with basmati rice and asparagus spears.
At 0900 I went out onto the foredeck and spent about twenty minutes arranging the rigging, lowering the jib and the staysail and generally preparing for the rigger. Then I went below for breakfast, knowing I would have plenty of time for it before George arrived. I was right; he arrived at 0950.
It took George a while to familiarize himself with the B&R rig and absorb its stability. Then I hoisted him aloft as he assisted with the mast steps along the way. He had quite a time breaking-free the Torx screws securing the forestay fitting, but eventually got them moving. Shortly before noon he had the old fitting out and he came down to exchange it for the new one, to pick-up the rivets and rivet gun, the new screws and the Lock-Tite.
We were blessed with a warm, clear and calm day, and by very few wakes from passing traffic. At 1320 George signaled to be lowered from the mast; he was done. I told him that I would re-tune the rig, re-hoist the sails and tidy-up.
He had been at it for three and a half hours, plus half an hour the previous evening, plus whatever his travel time. I asked him how much, and was nearly floored when he told me 25,000, about $50. Riggers at home charge $75 and up an hour, and charge for their travel time, their cell phone time and their pee breaks. George has no receipt book or invoice pad, so I gave him cash and took a photo. Hopefully Selden won't balk at my rigger expense reimbursement claim without a receipt.
As soon as George left, we rushed ashore to return our rental car, due at 1400. On the way up the ramp we met Max of theAustralian sloop Volo. He had just received their zarpe after three days with the Armada. We had our boat portfolio with us and were heading to the Armada office on our way back to ask for a zarpe for mañana.
In the Capitaneria when we arrived was Roger of the British ketch El Vagabond. He was there on his third visit and we chatted with him for half an hour as his zarpe was finally completed and issued. There was only one person in the office for the holiday. When our turn came, we asked for a zarpe for this evening, figuring we'd be best to start there and work our way forward. It was likely Edi's smile that won it, but the young Petty Officer eventually relented, and within half an hour we had a zarpe for 0700 mañana, and all the way to Puerto William in the Beagle Channel.
We spent the remainder of the day squaring-away the rigging, hoisting the motor and dinghy, and generally preparing Sequitur for sea, finally! We are leaving for the south mañana, and we will most likely be out of communication for an extended period. Our ETA Puerto William is 08 January.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.