Lest you become concerned that we are too relaxed on this white sand beach….a calm anchorage is perfect for boat projects. We started with only two modest goals: (1) change the sacrificial zinc plate underwater and (2) switch the genoa sheets end over end so the less worn end would replace the more worn end tied to the sail. We were pressing our luck because we started the day violating Cruising Rule #1: One boat project per day. But, we easily finished these tasks and were about ready for a swim when we thought that our primary winch on the port side was leaking/rotting.
The first clue was water dripping on Andrew’s feet last night in bed. The second clue is rusty, mushy stuff squeezing out from under the winch. With several days worth of tropical rain and the wave we splashed over the side, it seems water seeped in through a poorly sealed fitting or a developing weak spot in her deck core.
When leaks happen, the fix is never simple. First, you usually have to remove furniture, roofing or other aesthetic coverings to reach the working parts that might be causing the leak. We removed the bedding, mattress, and a cupboard that hangs above our feet in our bedroom. Then, Andrew removed ceiling panels to get a good look. We are at anchor, so we can’t remove these large items and place them on a dock or dry land. Instead, they must be moved and stored for the time being in other areas of living space. Once the roof is out, Andrew will want to fix everything he can find that requires the roof to be out - violating Boat Maintenance Rule #2: One project at a time.
Upon opening up the roof, the winch didn’t look bad after all but there was a leak coming from somewhere else. So, we had to hunt that down. I was sent on deck with the salt water hose to spray the deck in the general area of the leak to determine which bolt or fitting was the culprit. Andrew stayed down below with a flashlight waiting for water to begin dribbling out. 10 minutes of spraying later, nothing.
We figure we would give the water some time to soak in, so we break apart the winch from the top side to see why gross mushy stuff is leaking from the bottom. Upon lifting the winch out of its frame, we find that the drain holes between the winch and its deck fitting are clogged with rust, salt, possibly one maggot, and general grime. Later we learn it was not a maggot at all. We have mud wasps building little nests in any tiny hole they can find to lay their larva in until they hatch. Andrew set to work with his dental pick cleaning out the drain holes and scraping the mush off the fitting while I hand him tools and hunt down the winch grease. We may as well re-grease the winches while we have them torn apart.
As soon as both of us are good and greasy, the leak starts again in the bedroom. It still isn’t immediately clear where it is coming from. Andrew takes the flashlight and peeks here and there. Finally, it seems it must be coming from where the lifeline gate is connected to the deck. We recently moved the swim ladder to this side, and the weight of our climbing has probably wiggled the deck fitting enough that a weak spot in the seal was tested. I abandon my winch greasing project to hold the screw driver steady on the top side of the screws on deck while Andrew twists the nuts from below. We loosen the fitting, create a gap and shove more sealing material around all four screws. We repeat the process to tighten them down. Hopefully that problem is solved.
We finish cleaning and greasing the winches, put them back together and then set to work replacing the insulation, roof, mattress, and bedding. While Andrew works on the roof I start to put away all of the tools, winch grease, and miscellany that has collected around the project. I slice a golden apple, peppered salami, and brie. I drizzle the local honey that tastes like tropical flowers smell over the cheese. And I break up four squares of chocolate with hazelnuts. I drag the beanbags on our new favorite sunset-viewing spot on Sonrisa’s bow. When Andrew is finished with the roof and has rehung the cabinet, we drag the mattress back into place and I wrangle the mattress cover and sheets onto the bed. Everything is put back together, we are sweaty, hot, and ready to relax.
We hop in and float in the “backyard pool” for a bit, then we dry off and settle on the beanbags for sunset, tasty snacks and a cold Hinano beer.