There’s been a few postponements to our haul out due to other boats needing emergency lifts more urgently than us. But now, finally, it’s our turn. We need to haul to fit the new prop (impossible to do in-water), and whilst we no longer have any oil leaks from our sail drives (hurray!) we think it prudent to replace the bottom oil seals as these haven’t been done for several years. And Murphy’s law being what it is, you know what will happen if we don’t…
There were two reasons for not driving up on a beach somewhere to do this job – we’re missing a spacer for the new prop and need to get one machined by Wick’s workshop once we get the other prop off to measure it against. We also haven’t changed the bottom oil seals before and have no idea if we’ll hit any snags in the process. The last thing we want is to be on a beach with the job unfinished when the tide comes in! So we’ll have the security of being on a trailer instead, but because there’s no Yanmar mechanics here, we’ll still have to do all the work ourselves (ahem…in the spirit of full disclosure this will actually be Bruce’s job, ably assisted by yours truly).
The first challenge is to get to Wick’s boatyard, Helena Marina (OK, “marina” is stretching the truth a teeny-weeny bit, it’s more of a wall to tie up to and a boat ramp). It’s situated about 5NM up Warmun River to the south of Sorong, and the river mouth is VERY shallow so boats can only traverse it on a high tide. Wick sends his boatyard manager, Captain Dahlin (yes, that’s really his name. Where’s Peter Pan?) to pilot us through the shallows and from there it’s just a wiggly run to the boat ramp.
There’s only a small window of opportunity to haul out on the high tide, but when we arrive there’s no-one around so we tie up and wait. We eye the trailer dubiously, half expecting Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble to make an appearance. Finally there’s some movement and Wick arrives. Although the boat was measured last time we were in Tampa Garam, it seems the message didn’t translate to the yard so the trailer hasn’t been set up properly for our bridge deck height. The guys pile on more wooden blocks in an attempt to rectify the problem until it looks like a giant Jenga puzzle. No-one’s happy, least of all us, and Wick calls a halt to proceedings. We’ve now missed the tide opportunity so they’ll reconfigure the trailer properly and try again tomorrow. As we say from past experiences in New Zealand – “do it twice and get it right”!
Tomorrow comes and the trailer’s re-set and by lunchtime we’re ready to be hauled out. The trailer’s attached to the tractor via a wire and rope pulley system. There’s an automatic brake system but also a human brake as backup should anything go wrong. Are we worried? You bet!
But we trust Wick and his engineering background and it all goes smoothly (well, a bit bumpily) and we get far enough up the ramp to be able to work on the legs, albeit on a slope. By this time we have some other helping hands – Murray and Carol have just returned from their Christmas break in Bali, and another cruiser, Chris, is on site and willing to assist.
We hit the first snag – we can’t get the other (good) prop off – it’s well and truly bonded, which is positive in one way but means we can’t give Wick’s workshop the spacer to copy, and we won’t be able to change the oil seal on that side. We’re running out of time so we concentrate on the starboard side. Wick’s machinist arrives to measure the prop shaft and we show him a photo of the spacer. We’re dubious, but after a couple of hours he returns with a perfect replica and a spare – impressive stuff!
By late afternoon we have new oil seals and the new prop is on (securely!), so technically we’re ready to go back in the water. But now it’s low tide so it will mean spending the night on the ramp until tomorrow’s high tide. I can tell you, it’s decidedly weird being onboard a tilted boat, especially one that’s tilted aft – we lurch around like midnight drunks without any of the added benefits and sleeping is a bit of a challenge, but we survive, the boat’s fine and we’re lowered back into the water the next day mightily relieved.
It’s a far cry from our last haul out at The Boatworks on the Gold Coast. There’s no fancy stuff here, no nice frou-frou extras like laundries, showers or courtesy cars, but Wick and his team got the job done competently and safely, and for that we’re very VERY grateful. Phew! Hopefully that’s the last of our major work for a while. We’ll stay in Sorong harbour for a few days to provision and attend to other jobs and then we’ll be heading to southern Raja Ampat (Misool) for more diving adventures. Bring it on!