Sometimes it's what you don't know that you know that can screw your day.
17 May 2018 | Isla Mitlan
Early today, we made the decision to move from La Gringa to Isla Mitlan, about four miles away. It was blowing quite well in La Gringa with gusts into the mid 20 knot range which isn't that bad but the swells were running from the southwest right into where we were anchored with about a 2+ foot height making it quite rollie. When Zephyr was built, they put the pipe that the anchor chain comes through at the windlass so far forward that it has to be raked backwards into the depths of where the chain has to go. I do it every 30 feet so it doesn't stack up and fall over on itself. A pain but a necessary pain. Today, as we were getting ready to leave, the old boat hook that the last owner had used for this job broke. Now it had broken before but not as we were pulling up the anchor in 25 knot winds. I had to pull in extra chain just to get at the end of the hook. Once retrieved, we headed for Mitlan. It was still blowing from the southwest so it would give us nice protection. We pulled in and dropped in the south area called Bahia Las Rocas, just south of Mitlan. It was fine till we had lunch when the winds switched to out of a more western direction along with the swell. As we pulled up our anchor chain to move to a better protected place, I had Tracy put the engine in forward and nothing happened!!! WTF , we were going no where. I let out more chain so the anchor wouldn't come loose and rushed below. I yanked up the floor boards so I could see the prop shaft. It was slowly rotating as Tracy gunned the engine. I yanked open the engine room door to make sure that when she put it in gear, it actually went into gear. I watched as the transmission spun nicely. I pulled up the floor boards over the shaft coupling and found the transmission doing it's job but where it couples to the shaft, I watched as the shaft just sat there as the coupling joint turned nicely. The screws we had tightened when we reattached the shaft to the transmission when we replaced the cutlass bearing had all come loose. We'd tightened them but as the engine got used and it's been used a lot since Panama, they had worked themselves loose. I, of course, had visions of a failed transmission, miles from any where we could get help. I get in a panic mode and always think the worst before looking at what is actually wrong. Always been a problem with me. With the chain let back out and resnubbed, I took a large allen wrench and worked my way around the fitting that wraps around the shaft tightening all 8 screws as hard as I could. With that being done, I returned to the bow and started pulling up the anchor again and off we went to a more protected anchorage. It's still blowing in the low 20 knot range but the swell is less and as the sun goes down, both the swell and winds should slowly tapper off if it does what it has done for weeks.