25 July 2021 | Pension Tiare Nui
William Ennis | Lovely today
We've worked every day since we arrived last week: 10 days running. We've done a lot of work and might even splash the boat a few days early, although we'll await a decision until later. We're both pleased with our progress, but it's wearing on us, too.
Today's work is a great example. There are some sailing terms to explain but I'll do as little of that as I can.
The main sail is suspended vertically from the aft side of the mast, with the side of the sail facing the mast connected to the mast via metal parts that allow the sail to slide up and down with little friction. We have a very old mast so the sliding parts on newer sails don't fit into the groove in our mast. To adapt our old mast to our newer sails, we bought and installed a "StrongTrack", an HDPE plastic track that fits our mast track as well as the new sail sliders. We did this before departing our home port of Seward, Alaska. After 11 years of use, most in the intense sun/UV of Mexico and the South Pacific, the track was simply too damaged to keep: the bottom 6 inches actually broke off last season!
We ordered a new track and it duly arrived in Alaska in a spiral of plastic track inside a 42" octagonal box. After its arrival, I reinforced the box (photos on the site) and we brought it with us, its dimensions requiring that we fly with United rather than our preferred Air Tahiti or Air France. Nevertheless, it survived the trip and has been taking up floor space in our tiny kitchenette since our arrival.
To install the new track, the old one had to be removed and unfortunately, that required that we remove a bolted-on fitting that connected the boom (the horizontal member that holds the bottom of the main sail) from the mast. The fitting we had to remove has the interesting and historic name of a "gooseneck". There are 8 bolts that hold the gooseneck fitting to the mast, and after 11 years of salt water, vibration, and heat, those bolts were NOT easy to remove! Using an impact driver and hammer, with Conni's help, I removed the machine screws. That was our first 2 hours of work. As installation-master, Conni took it from there.
Conni removed the old track fairly quickly, dragging it out of the mast while keeping it aligned with the mast. We drove back to the bungalow and grabbed the box containing the new track and hauled it to the boat. Under Conni's direction, I helped her insert and raise the new track into the mast, then she completed the operation by tightening the special fasteners that hold the track to the mast. She used white electrical tape to coat the side of the gooseneck fitting to prevent electrical corrosion with the mast. I had found the appropriate replacement machine screws, "chased the threads" (using a tap to clean the old threads in the mast), and inserted in those mast holes a material that prevented electric corrosion between the stainless steel machine screws and the aluminum mast. We re-mounted the gooseneck fitting to the mast. Finally, she found the correct replacement for a special pin that allows the gooseneck to swivel in the fitting, mounted that, and we were done! It was masterfully accomplished, and no doubt she learned a lot when she removed the old track, but she's so good with mechanical systems. When she decides to take on some mechanical system repair, I go about my other business, knowing that her work will be done correctly. We both joke about the "Livsey micrometer eyeball", since she's so good at determining sizes of mechanical parts.
It was SO hot today and not a breath of wind, so we both completed a few other smaller tasks, and called it a day.