Ship's Log               s/v Uliad 


 

 December 2 :

 

     One of the things that I've been meaning to do for a long time on Uliad is to clean the winches.  Uliad has 7 of these drums that are used to wrap various lines around and tighten up sheets, halyards, travelers, and such.  The process is to take the whole contraption apart, clean each little gear, paint everything with a light coating of grease, and then put it all back together again.  The company that made our winches is said to recommend this job be done several times per year.

     I confess, I haven't bothered in 4 1/2 years now since I paid someone to do it back in Florida.   Maybe it's one of those "if it ain't broke, don't try to fix it" things, or maybe its the gnawing thought that these winches are getting old and hard to find parts for anymore.  So why risk taking it apart and losing something.  At least that's what I told myself as I was idling away the afternoons in some remote Pacific anchorage in the last few years and thinking that I should really get around to this job.

    But now on the dock in New Zealand, I had run out of excuses.  So I paid Emmett to do it.  Or rather I've "hired" him to help with the job.  So this week we unscrewed the retaining ring of the first, smallest, and most sheltered winch in the cockpit and I showed him each little part...how to clean off the old grease with a rag and a pan of gasoline, dry everything carefully, and then paint each little gear and shaft with waterproof grease as it all got reassembled.  Everything went great.

Emmett learns to clean winches...

    Then we moved on to the big cockpit winches on the starboard side.  This time we worked together stripping them down and repeating the process.  I was a bit worried as to what I might find after years of neglect, but to be honest, I couldn't find any corrosion, wear, or trouble spots.  When the drums were lifted, I could still even see the brush strokes where the rigger back in Florida had painted the inside with winch lube.  So I'm glad I didn't lose too much sleep over winch maintenance in our years of cruising. 

    Next we'll move on to the two winches on the mast--I'm still a bit nervous about what those will look like as they are the most exposed to salt spray.  Then my goal is that by the time we get to the last couple of winches, Emmett will be able to tear them down and reassemble them all by himself.  The job is really not that bad, but for some reason I seem to avoid it.  And what are sons for, if not to assign those tasks you really don't like to do yourself.  (How do you think I learned to shovel the snow off a driveway so well?)

 

December 15:

     We finally got all the winches finished and fortunately didn't find any surprise problems while taking them all apart.  This has left nothing left but a few cosmetic issues that have been perennially on the bottom of the boat project list.  Years ago I bought a spray can of engine enamel in Perkins Blue color with the thought that I'd touch up some of those paint chips on our diesel.  Time went by and other things seemed more important, while that can of spray paint waited patiently in the engine room, stuffed behind a tool box until today.

     You see, Kathleen has a thing about smells on the boat.  So I've learned that any project involving an odor that lasts for more than 5 minutes is best avoided unless Kathleen is off the boat.  So I've learned to plan my varnishing, beer brewing, or whatever around days that Kathleen is away.  It's one of those little things that helps keep the peace living in tight quarters.

     So today when Kathleen was out, I first vacuumed up all the loose dust and dirt all around our engine before spraying on a degreaser, then washing the whole thing down.  By the time Kath returned, the odor from the degreaser had dissipated.  At least I was SURE it had.  But there's something about having an extra X chromosome that also endows women with an extra astute sense of smell...I'm sure of it.  Anyway, after asking Emmett and I several times if we smelled something, Em finally caved and told Mom about the stinky stuff I sprayed on the engine.  Guess I won't be pulling out that spray can anytime soon.

 

December 20:

      Finally got the engine painted while Kathleen was out Christmas shopping:

Newly painted Engine!!

      Fans are running in hopes that she won't smell the fumes by the time she gets back!

 

December 24:

     Merry Christmas from Uliad:   Our Video Christmas Card

     Christmas is a bit funny here in the southern hemisphere.  Very few Christmas lights or decorations...but since it is the height of summer and doesn't get dark until 10pm I guess nobody bothers to string lights all over their houses.  The locals tell me that the preferred way to spend Christmas Day is to pack up the family and go to the beach...which tells me exactly where NOT to be tomorrow!

     Today I spent the day working at the urgent care clinic (time and a half holiday pay!)...everybody wants their colds to be gone in time for Christmas.  Ugh!  But now that's behind me and I can sit back with a glass of wine and enjoy the Christmas Eve tradition of sitting up and waiting for the boy to fall asleep before playing Santa Claus and filling his stocking which, lacking a fireplace on Uliad, is hanging from the mast.

 

December 25:

     Santa found us again this year, which is more than I can say for the New Zealand mail.  Kathleen was quite peeved that the game she bought for Emmett online never arrived.  So Em had to content himself with opening a half-dozen other gifts instead.  For the record, he got a music book for his ukulele, a "Cuponk" game, a new wetsuit, and a stocking full of other assorted stuff.  Kathleen received new camp chairs for the beach, a gift card to buy some artwork, scented soap, and chocolate.  And for me: a new pair of Keen sandals, a tenor ukulele to join Emmett, and a new pair of dive gloves.

    Every year it keeps getting a little more difficult to find room onboard for any new gifts, but I think we all did a pretty good job of buying only things that will fit...except for the second ukulele.  Not sure where I'm going to stuff that.

    The afternoon was spent at a cruiser's barbecue at the marina.  The marina donated a ham, and another boat donated a couple of legs of lamb.  The rest of us brought potluck dishes and we all sat around for hours feasting and talking about all the things that cruisers talk about.   All in all, a pretty good Christmas, but the absence of family was noted by us all.  My Dad and brother are coming to visit us in another month, so I just keep reminding myself of that. 

 

December 27:

 

     We've kept up a busy social schedule the past few days paying visits to several families we've met here.  Robin and Rand are American expatriates here who have taken us under their wing.  They introduced us to the Meadows family who live on a farm near town complete with pigs and lambs and (much to the delight of Kath & Emmett) Labrador Retriever puppies!!  I was pretty sure that Kathleen was going to come home and say we should sell the boat and just buy all 9 of them, but somehow she managed to keep her will power and say goodbye to the soft, wiggling mass.

 

December 31:

 

     Our next social call was to visit our friend Roger who has moved his boat up to the Bay of Islands about an hour north of us by car.  We arrived just in time to duck below and hide out from the remnants of a tropical storm that had wandered south to hit New Zealand.  I was reminded why we are hiding out down here in this chilly, rainy land:  while it blew 50 knots offshore, we were snug in a quiet bay with little more than25knots blowing across Rogers mast, enjoying games and food all afternoon.  I was so thankful to be snug down here instead of "out there" on a stormy day like that.

     Back to work today, and right on schedule, the sun came out to taunt me from behind the clinic window. 

 

 

 

                                                                                                                                   

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