In which we miss all the weather windows

We were so excited to get up to Marina Chiapas, and be among cruisers again. DSC_0004

It is a great marina, although they’re still recovering from the effects of the September earthquake and subsequent mini-tsunami. Friendly boats, great staff, and the facilities are like new. We’d planned to haul out here and repaint the bottom of our boat, but the slow repair schedule on the travel lift has us instead planning to haul in Banderas Bay. Why are we still here, then? Oh, glad you asked…

This is what it looks like when we get serious about engine work.

This is what it looks like when we get serious about engine work…an open well in the cockpit floor.

Before we left for language school, we contracted with a mechanic to have our engine head removed and a new head gasket installed. We’ve avoided writing about our engine lately, as it has been running perfectly but peeing oil for the last, uhm, year and a half—and it’s just boring to read about cleaning oil out of the bilge. We really hoped that a new head gasket would finally solve the problems that we’ve been endeavoring to repair for so very long. Of course, this did not go as planned.

Extraction

Extraction

Assessment, as they prepare to move the engine over to the dock. We had the dolly on the pier custom-built, because we couldn't find what we needed.

Assessment, as they prepare to move the engine over to the dock. We had the dolly on the pier custom-built, because we couldn’t find what we needed.

Both the mechanic and the machinist working on the engine head agreed: our engine was due for a total rebuild. Weirdly, this did not flip us out. We’ve been feeling pretty good about our finances lately; we had three whole weeks to make the repairs before the start of December and the narrowing of the weather windows in the Gulf of Tahuantepec; we trusted the mechanic; we were eager to solve the messy oil issues; we figured this would help us sell the boat when we were ready. Most of these things are still true.

Moving the engine off the boat. We were happy to be able to use the boom.

Moving the engine off the boat. We were happy to be able to use the boom.

DSC_0049Unfortunately, we got word this morning that we have an additional problem—pitting in the cam shaft and tappets. We need to order more parts from the excellent folks at Trans Atlantic Diesel, but it’s a holiday weekend. So now, we need to order parts; wait for FedEx; wait for the parts to clear customs; have the engine put back together; reinstall it to the boat; run the engine for 10 hours (you know, just tooling around the marina…); change the oil; and then wait for good weather to cross the Gulf.

Michu cleans out the empty engine room

Michu cleans out the empty engine room

This is really not a bad place to be, but the Christmas Winds are coming. As we move towards the New Year, the windows to cross the Gulf of Tahuantepec get narrower and farther apart. The southern coast of Mexico is beautiful, but we’re going to have to bomb past much of it. And, I swear, we have seen enough of Tapachula. There’s nothing to be done, of course—the engine is in pieces, it’ll be fixed when it’s fixed—but the tick-tock, tick-tock in my head is getting louder.

It doesn’t help that we are nearing the end of our journey on this boat. Yes, that’s right, we’re rebuilding the engine and painting the bottom right before we sell it—someone’s going to get a great boat, no question. We’ll probably put her on the market in April, looking to keep sailing until early May; but that’s just not very many months, and I’d rather not be spending them at the marina.

On the bright side, we had a lovely Thanksgiving! Making biscuits on the boat.

On the bright side, we had a lovely Thanksgiving! Making biscuits on the boat.

Lining up for turkey

Lining up for turkey

Despite not organizing until Tuesday, we managed to draw in about 30 people--pretty much the entire sailing population.

Despite not organizing until Tuesday, we managed to draw in about 30 people–pretty much the entire sailing population.

Aftermath.

Aftermath.

7 Comments on “In which we miss all the weather windows

    • We’re heading back to land life; two years was our plan, and we’re sticking to it.

  1. Nice report. Missing you guys a lot! Thanks for keeping us up to date. Steer clear of those Christmas winds and enjoy these last months of your journey. Hugs!

  2. Bummer on the engine!
    Wondering where you are planning to end the trip, sell the boat, and fly out from? Can’t believe it’s been almost 2 years!

      • Oh wow! Didn’t realize that was the end of the line!
        For some reason I had California in my head. Well, we better make the most of it :)

  3. It was strange not having Thanksgiving with you guys! First time in over ten years! (I think the last time was 2005 or 2006 when I was so sick I had to stay in Mpls)

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