Grinding it out…getting close

Kelly and I are sleeping well. Deep, exhausted sleep. The kind where I only wake up when my arm is completely numb and bloodless because I’ve passed out on it and have to drag it out from under me with my other arm to get the feeling and movement back. My own personal coyote mornings.

We have been working on seemingly every system of the boat for a week straight. All while entertaining, feeding, occupying and teaching our children. The good news is we have fixed nearly every issue ourselves. We paid Carol, the canvas lady, to stitch the ripped stack pack and reinforce the Bimini connector and a hundred bucks for the Volvo certified tech, Rick from Michigan, to set our minds at ease by examining the sail drive and adjusting the idle. Other than that though we have tackled and conquored all of our electrical issues, both 12 volt and A/C. I installed the gas strut that raises the transom yesterday. 80 newtons of pressure (no clue what that means but I can say it’s way too strong for me to even budge with my arms) first time doing that. Went perfectly! 

This morning I woke up on a mission. I’m tired and feeling low but there are challenges laid out and when one gets checked off the list Kelly and I are reinvigorated. I read and reread the bow thruster manual. It’s well written if you spend all day every day installing and repairing bow thrusters. If not, it’s a series of lines and numbers. Occasionally recognizable English words and a diagram or 2 that look vaguely familiar. I figured out that there was a factory diagnostic setting I could switch the control unit to….if only I knew where the control unit was.  Turns out it’s buried under plastic facing on the actual thruster deep in the bilge under floorboards screwed into the hull. Oh yeah, it looks nothing like the picture in ye olde manual. But, there were    4 tiny “dipswitches” literally half the size of a grain of rice when put into the right orientation will allow you to realign the actuator arm in relation to the thruster housing….ya with me? Deep in the bilge, this IS yachting folks. No fruity cocktails with umbrellas. At least not yet.

So, got the thruster motor back in shape and then, snorkel mask on, dove under to see why it isn’t working. Turns out that slamming the boat into God knows what sea state for 8 days is enough to shear a 3/8″ stainless bolt sending the retractable hull plate askew killing the ability to extend or retract. I was able to unbolt the plate. Now I will fill and fare the oval shaped hole (which should be round), dive again to try to extract the broken off end of the bolt from the housing, and then put it all back together. Great news is that once I took the plate off the fix on the thruster worked perfectly! We can thrust! Let’s all yell that loudly in unison shall we?!

So, yes, I’m going a bit mad of late. But we did go for a beautiful day sail on Sunday. Some amazing snorkeling (maybe the best yet) with the kids. We’ll ignore the bits about the windlass malfunctioning and the insane Philadelphia Irish charter captain screaming at us for anchoring near his cattle boat snorkel spot. The day was great. The sailing was lovely. Our spirits were, well, spent. But a couple days later we’re feeling better and getting it done.

We did break off a day Saturday for family time with no boat work to visit el Yunque  National Forest. The only rainforest in the national park system. It was incredible. Fortunately we were able to keep our foulies dry and clean by forgetting to bring them…on our trip….at the height of the rainy season…to the rainforest.  We got soaked and had a blast. What a beautiful and diverse island!  

We returned to the marina Saturday just in time to see the marina bar outside packed with screaming Puerto Ricans watching their country’s only medal contender these olympics yet, Monica Puig, in the gold medal tennis match. Quickly we changed clothes on the boat and hurried back to watch history being made. Seeing our family stuffed into the second row behind the bar a lovely local gal insisted (wouldn’t take no for an answer no matter what) that we have her seat. The enormous local fella next to her hopped up as well- no discussion – bienvenidos a Puerto Rico friends. Screaming, chanting, singing and crying we watched Puerto Rico’s new hero win gold. What an experience. Che, Gherty and Quinn play driveway tennis but can’t sit still to watch a match on TV. They were captivated. The energy was electric. They learned a lot about pride of country, sport and kindness whether they know it if not. 

So we’re still working. The list is nearly done. Kelly is steering the restaurants from the nav station while we do everything else. It truly is nuts. But that’s how we do. 

Did I mention we started homeschooling on board yesterday? That’s best left for the next blog.Stay tuned. Much love.


  • The Uncarved Block says:

    Glad for the update, Brother – I really feel for what you’re having to go through to get right again. The silver lining may just be that if anything goes wrong when you’re somewhere that isn’t part of the US you’ll know that you can fix it and get it done. Just like plugging in a fuel line while lying under a VW bus in the dark on the side of an interstate in Colorado at 3am with Semi-Trucks zooming by at 75MPH mere inches from the vehicle as your buddies use a highway flare and a Bic lighter to help you see exactly where to plug the fuel line in to the engine as your shirt soaks up spilled gasoline and, oh yeah, here’s an elastic hair-tie to hold that sucker in place for the next 125 miles till we can get to a town with a hardware store. It’s like that, kinda. And we’re all better for it, though we may curse the heavens and humanity while we’re going through it.
    We’re with you in Spirit, amigos. Much Love, Up the Republic!, Viva Boriqua, and whatnot.

    • Justin says:

      Thank you so much for your continued good vibes and grounded wisdom. I can bemoan our difficulties to no end forgetting how lucky we are indeed. I know it all too well, but sometimes hanging upside down wiring some stupid thing deep in the bilge with cuts on every finger it’s easy to forget. Much much love my brother!!

  • paul says:

    You can thrust! Much love!

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