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Saturday, November 24, 2012

When $1300 Is A Cheap Repair


Cedric of Fred's Marine,
Pointe A Pitre, Guadaloupe,
scales our mizzen mast,
winched up via our bosun chair.
“Honey, that doesn’t look right,” is undoubtedly invokes dread when my husband hears it. Didn’t help that we were getting rained on while heading into the wind and knew we would be for a while.

Even though my lack of sailing know-how is still somewhat appalling, I’m not completely clueless.  We’re pretty good about keeping ship-shape, which among other habits means when we’re moving on the water, nothing’s loose.  All parts are tied, cinched, strapped or stowed. So when I saw a turnbuckle dangling rather than solidly attached on both ends with a thick wire cable, I drew Wayne’s attention to it immediately.

This particular turnbuckle’s purpose, along with a couple similar cables and turnbuckles (shrouds / stays), is to keep our mizzen  (rear sail) mast connected.  Even though we’ve yet to our mizzen sail, the unplanned disconnection of a large pole that rises over 20 feet through our boat would be very, very bad.

Wayne “MacGyvered” the mizzen shroud to connect the disconnected part to our boat’s port jib winch.  This rendered that particular and frequently used sail unusable, given the wind direction, forcing us to “motor” rather than sail in to our destination, Pointe A Pitre.  But, we got there safely; no mishaps.

Wayne removes his "MacGyver" fix, as it
served its purpose.
However, this makeshift repair was not practical over the long haul.  Dutifully, we set out to integrate Wayne’s mechanical know-how and my ancient high school French “skills” to find help in Pointe A Pitre’s Bas Du Fort marina.  Naturally, it was lunch time, shops were closed for it, so we had to wait….

Our first stop we found someone with the know how, but when we asked him when he could do the repair, he said, “Never; I’m so busy I shouldn’t be in the shop right now!”  Serendipitously, when we figured we’d finally find someone to help us address another issue, regaining our reverse gear by replacing our current propeller, we struck gold.  Cedric at Fred’s Marine couldn’t help us with our propeller, but said he worked on rigging.  Noticing a turnbuckle in their inventory similar to ours, I asked, “Could you help us fix our mizzen standing rigging?” He responded, “I can look at it right now on your boat, if you’d like.”
And he did.  Not only that, he also re-attached our flag halyard line, our windex (wind direction indicator that sits atop the mast) and inspected all our other “mast holders” (shrouds and stays).  Three out of four lower stays were cracked on the mainmast.  We replaced all of them as Cedric was able to complete the work in the next few business days. 

Cedric diagrams our standing rigging issues.
The total for this work, parts and labor, was ~$1300, not chump change for us.  We had planned to replace these stays in about 6 months, when we expect to be back in the U.S.  Wayne figured it would’ve cost us a bit less in the U.S., maybe a couple hundred less, though he budgeted for more than that.
We felt a lot better getting this fixed before we set out for a 40+ mile sail to our next country, Antigua.  Cedric even talked us out of making some repairs, offering simpler, more cost effective alternatives, so we feel he had our best interests at heart.

Even with our repair bill in hand, we were grateful for the work
Cedric did.  See the swage crack on the terminal end
Wayne's pointing to?  Keeping it in place, unaware
of its defects, could've been disastrous.
“You dodged a very expensive bullet,” fellow cruising friend Scott Dickens (see http://home.earthlink.net/~kimdickens/ for more on Scott & Kim) emailed, when he heard.  We agree, and are grateful to Cedric and Fred’s Marine.

Cedric also put us on track with the folks who were able to help us regain reverse gear…. More on that in another post.