Thursday, April 07, 2011

From the Captain

Sitting quietly at the San Diego Police Dock listening to cellophane crackling like fire under the boat. It's the constant noise of the pistol shrimp. Came into San Diego here, and somehow it's appropriate that this is where I spend the last night before heading off.

The last nearly two weeks have been "busy and wait". Arrived and got the transmission, and I was slow and didn't get it installed the next day. In the course of installation, I found a shaft bearing also gone so I hauled off the parts to the experts, and they ordered new bearings.

The weekend interfered, then the parts didn't arrive, then we found they were wrong. Finally got the parts and the assembly is put together and another weekend arrives. I'm working around and find another issue - so I deliver that to get addressed. No mechanic. Monday we have mechanic and parts - and he get's into and discovers a broken bracket and engine mount. In addition, he has disparaging things to say about the installation and some changes that really should be required.

That day is shot.

Fortunately, the mounts are stock and the bracket can be welded and beefed up. The next day, he and I work all day to install the engine mounts, lift the (250 Kg) engine up to do this, skid it back on the stringers to provide an extra 25 mm for a plastic disc to provide some vibration isolation and some flexibility, put it all together, do the line up and test it. Long, hard day - but it's done except for cutting off the excess end of the shaft so I can button up the engine compartment.

I check out of the marina, clean things up and get in a sweat to get going. Why am I getting stressed out and anxious? Is this why I went cruising? I only really need to get to the boatyard dock around 9 in the morning - so, I take a breath and stop. I'm staying the night and leaving in the morning fairly early.

Have a beer with John on Prudence and just chat - cruising, why we have boats, about happiness and people who work at making a lot of money but can't take the time to holiday and aren't at all happy. Stress, and the ills of western social structures, especially in the US. We covered health care, education, the military and the national budget. Much more sensible than rushing off.

Got away in the morning and got up to the yard. While they dealt with the shaft I headed out walking and on public transit to deal with Customs and Border Protection - I had to sign off my cruising permit and "clear". Three and a half hours of public transport and walking for perhaps 10 minutes in the office and one piece of paper - there really has to be a better way.

Back at the boat, motored around to top up with propane. It's now mid afternoon and the weather is squally and overcast. Good call to deal with the propane - that bottle was nearly empty.

Decided I wasn't really happy about leaving - partly it's hit me the magnitude of the undertaking and I'm intimidated with that.

I've been here before though, with work as much as anything when I've bitten off a project that seems to be beyond me. Always got through, and did some of my best work "on the edge". Indeed, I seem to have made a specialty of being out there - and this isn't that different.

Anyway, decided to stay another night so that I would have a full day of daylight to get off the coast and out of the bulk of the coastal traffic. Stayed at the police dock and that brings me back to where I started peacefully listening to the shrimp. Calm, quite, comfortable. Warm and well fed.

This is why I'm here and why I'm going cruising.

So, managed the 4 km hike to Starbucks for a coffee - and more importantly a decent internet connection from which I phoned home, and also updated my Airmail software. Home again, suppered and done for the day.

Tomorrow early, I really am away.