Any day that starts out with one of these has to good, right?
This is my normal breakfast. Refried beans, Valentina’s Salsa Picante (black label), and Chihuahua “Chester” cheese wrapped in a fresh flour tortilla and fried to a golden crispiness. My bean and cheese breakfast quesadilla. Lulu opts for the more traditional eggs on toast or, sometimes, cereal. She’s been trying out a recipe for granola that she refers to as “breakfast candy”. The recipe has, of all things, agave syrup which we just happened to have a bottle of on hand.
After our standard leisurely morning, I got to work on the engine’s cooling water system. Once I had moved everything out of the way and opened up the engine room from above, I climbed down in and got started installing the replacement for the leaky hose that I discovered yesterday. I wasn’t looking forward to trying to install the hose. There’s so little room between the end of the nipple on the bottom of the engine and the motor mount that it’s impossible to get your hand between them to push the hose into place. You have to put the end of the hose up against the nipple and then just start wiggling and cussing and hope the thing eventually slides on. However, turned out that I wouldn’t have to worry about that part of the job for a couple of hours.
Just to get an idea how the installation was going to go, I tried the other end of the hose on the coupler on the rear of the engine, just to see how tight it was going to be. Well, it wasn’t tight at all. Matter of fact, it was really loose. REALLY LOOSE! I pulled it off and measured the diameter: 1 and 1/8 inches. I measured the diameter of the old hose: 1 and 1/16 inches. I measured the outside diameter of the fittings: 1 inch even. Well crap on a crutch! So even the old hose was a little big but there was no way a hose clamp was going to take up an 1/8 of an inch of slop. So, back to the parts store it is then.
I checked the Captain George’s Cruiser’s Guide to find the location of Auto Zone. Right next to Wal*Mart. Which bus to Wal*Mart? The guide and our maps said either Sabalo-Cocos or Cocos-Juarez. Walked out to the road, old hose in hand. Caught the Cerritos-Juarez bus to the Mega store and the caught the Cocos-Juarez from there. Once I got to Auto Zone, I showed the clerk my old hose as well as the tag from Car Quest with the numbers on it in case he could cross reference it. He tried the number but nothing came up so he disappeared into the bowels of the stock room, my old hose in hand. Took awhile but he eventually returned with something that was as close as he could find. The bend wasn’t quite 90˚, closer to 70˚, there was a slight wow on the other end that was supposed to be straight and it’s inside diameter was 1 and 1/16 inches. I figured I could probably make it work. If not, there was one more pretty good sized auto parts store that I could try.
Back to the boat. Caught the Sabalo-Cocos bus to the bank on the main drag, got a little bit of cash, then caught the Cerritos-Juarez back to the marina. All in all, about a 2 hour trip.
Back at the boat, I was not really looking forward to getting on with it so Lulu fixed me a sandwich and a beer to kill a little time. But, once that was gone, there was nothing to it but to jump down into the engine room and git ‘er done.
Normally, in a story like this, now is when our hero finds that he worried for naught as the hose just slides on to the nipple as nice as you please. But this isn’t that kind of story. No, this is real life. And when it comes to boat maintenance, real life is seldom pretty. And today was no exception. I struggled and struggled and then struggled some more trying to get that stupid hose on to the nipple. I cussed out every engineer that ever worked for Westerbeke and then I cussed out their mothers for ever giving birth to the little assholes! And then I struggled some more, pushing and wiggling and feeling as ineffectual as I would if I was trying to make the repairs with my teeth. WHAT A HASSLE!
But finally, the damn thing was on. It wasn’t on quite as far as I would have liked but it was on far enough for a hose clamp to have something to grip. And, more importantly, it was as far on as it was ever going to get. Now for the hose clamp. I couldn’t leave the loose clamp around the hose while trying to wrestle it into place because it kept hindering progress. So I had to remove the clamp and open it completely up. Now all I had to to was wrap it back around and hold it while the screw took hold of the holes in the strap. Ever tried getting an open hose clamp back together one-handed? Where you can’t see it? Just to give you a taste of the good life, try this: Spread some miscellaneous nuts and bolts and sundry parts on the ground right outside the front door of your car. Now, with shorts on, kneel on them. Now, with your left hand, if you’re right handed and vice-versa, try putting an open hose clamp back together so it’s ready for the screwdriver, while holding the hose clamp under the front seat of your car. This is not frustration exclusive to boat owners, Anyone who’s ever worked under a car or in the engine compartment or, worst of all, under the dashboard, knows the feeling.
But suffice it to say that I did get the hose clamp back together. The other end of the hose was not as frustrating but it was no picnic but, eventually all the hoses were in place and clamped down tight. Having very little confidence in this repair, I fired up the engine to see how badly it was going to leak. I settled down with a beer to give the leaks plenty of time to surface.
By the time the beer was gone, the repairs were still not leaking. Could it be? I shut down the engine, closed the lid, put my tools away and decided that, at least for now, it’s all repaired. I didn’t, however, bolt the cockpit sole in place yet. Tomorrow I’ll run the engine again and then, if it’s still not leaking, I’ll bolt it down and assume that the leak has been repaired. I still don’t have a lot of confidence in the repair in the long run, however. I know it’s going to chafe through again. It’s just a matter of when. But, this gives us great incentive to sail instead of motoring. The engine doesn’t vibrate at all when we’re sailing and it’s off. When we haul the boat this summer I plan to make a much better, more permanent repair. Until then, we’ll sail as much as we can and hope for the best.
Disclaimer: Whenever I go off on some “poor me” rant like this, I have to remember that right now, our friends Ashlie, Sarah and Kay are probably saying something like, “Well, boo-freakin’-hoo! We’re up here in Oregon freezing our butts off and going to work every damn day while you’re down in sunny Mazatlán working on your engine while wearing shorts and taking beer breaks! Poor baby!” Puts everything back in perspective. Thanks, ladies.
Lulu got some more of our “getting underway” groceries and we got our check-out papers* from the harbor master. We’re now legal to leave on Sunday.
*In any port in Mexico that has a port captain or a harbor master, boaters are required to check in when they arrive and check out when they leave. Some ports, like La Paz, just let you do it by radio – very informal. Some, like Mazatlán, require forms to be completed. The purpose is basically to say that you are leaving with the same crew on board that you arrived with or, if not, what’s changed. Also, they want to know you’re leaving with a clean slate – don’t owe the marina money for instance. Some ports want to see the clearing out papers from your last port-of-call when checking in to know that you left your last port legally. But since places like La Paz don’t issue papers, it’s all sort of hit or miss. Coming from a country with regulations up the wazoo, regulations that are very explicit, it can be frustrating not knowing for sure what’s required in any given place. The good side is that, unlike not too many years ago, you no longer have to pay each and every time you check into or out of a port.