Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Furry friends

Exploring the rock also included an occasional sideshow by the locals. These cute furry creatures seemed to have no problems around us big cousins and our clicking cameras but we were reminded by our guide that they were still wild animals and we were not to feed or try to pet them. Yes- they can be aggressive, but they seemed to enjoy climbing on a few people as we passed by, and play effortlessly on the railings, along the rocks and roadside as we walked past to our next point of interest.

The Apes (I have a tough time calling them apes) are a species of tailless monkeys called Barbary Macaques. These Macaques can be found in Morocco and Algeria, with those in Gibraltar being the only free-living monkeys in Europe today. Here on the rock our guide told us there are four clans that dominate different areas. The British army takes care of the population and their well being. They actually get fed every day partially because they otherwise come down into town and have been know to wreak havoc in the city.

Cute little guys tho- everybody likes monkeys!

The Pillars of Hercules

According to Greek mythology, when Hercules had to perform twelve tasks, one of them was to bring the Cattle of Geryon from the West to Eurystheus. On his way he had to cross what is now known as the Atlas Mountains.

Instead of climbing the mountains, as he easily could, he used his superhuman strength and his indestructible mace and split the mountains in half. That split connected the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea and the rocky outcrops left behind on either side became known as the Pillars of Hercules.

The stretch of water between the two is now known as the Gibraltar Strait, and it was these pillars that the Mediterranean people believed nothing lay beyond except wild seas, the lost continent of Atlantis and the Isles of Hesperides.

On the northern side is the Rock of Gibraltar and on the south, Monte Hacho also known as Jebel Musa, in Ceuta.

The Gibraltar Strait is just 7.7 nautical miles or 14.24 km of sea at its narrowest point and it ranges between a depth of 300 and 900 metres. It is a natural gateway from the calm salty waters of the Mediterranean Sea with almost no tides into the rougher tidal Atlantic Ocean.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Back to the basics

There has been a recurring statement that keeps popping up and I think most people might have had the same thoughts at one time or another.

"If we were only back home at the shop this would be a breeze!"

Still, we somehow manage to figure out how to get things done. Today's project was how to mount the high output aux alternator. We hashed this over for a while and found several non-ideal places where it would almost work but in the end found one great one. The problem was that it was where the normal one was mounted. Since we need to use both we also had to find a new home for the outcast one too(it's complicated). Since it was smaller we found a suitable location for it too. A tape measure and a few scribbles on a pad later I was up making a wooden mockup.

We have the tools and materials for wood crafting here- No problem. Richard finds a wooden example presented to a fab guy is much better than any amount of scribbles on a page. We also have the ability to set it into place to make sure it will work how we want it to before someone goes to all the time making the real thing. Rapid Prototyping is being used quite a bit in industry.

It's amazing what can be done with a few basic tools and scraps of wood scrounged from the dumpster. Sure, it would have been easier with all the proper tools back home, but the view wouldn't be near as nice. I did make quite a mess on deck tho.

Off to the steel fab guy tomorrow.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Out of the tube!

The days continue to be a flurry of activity above and below decks. The engine has been micro-nudged into position and left alone a couple of days to sit just to see if it will settle different on it's mounts(it didn't) and we decided to finally lock it down and call it home. He got it to where a 3 ths feeler gauge would slip in anywhere around the coupler without any difference in drag. Today I custom cut the bolts and put them in the flanges and connected it to the prop shaft. It might not mean much to outsiders but it kinda means another milestone has been accomplished here.

I have spent most of my time since my last post down below decks crawling around what I would describe with a geek reference as Jeffries Tubes. Star Trek fans know what the technical function of these are but were actually used as some sort of pause in the story for some random dialog exchange. The difference here is that the tubes in my ship are not nearly big enough for another person to have a conversation with, and also if a passer-by outside was listening close enough all they would hear from me would have been a random dialog involving alot of swearing. I have bruises that make me look like a battered spouse.

I finally think I properly re-coated all the odd surfaces and corners where I continuously stuck my head, elbow, knee or butt (pick one or multiples) and made it out of there. I also managed to hang the random lengths of tubing, clamps and exhaust hardware, tacked up a new copper bonding strip(ham radio thing), as well as tidied up a few wire cables on the way out. This tube is very schmick now! Richard tossed a bunch of crap into the lazarette (my way in) so I cant wiggle down there again.

On to the next project! We are getting close.

Monday, July 30, 2012


"Come on out to the boat", he says.
"See the Med" he says.
"We'll have some laughs", he says, "It'll be fun".

Most of you may have heard the real definition of cruising is fixing your boat in exotic locations.
Today's lesson is offered up as a warning to others in case you people ever hear the previous sentences. Use your best judgement.

Just so people aren't thinking it's all nice weather, deck chairs, Rummies, and books, I submit the following picture of the awesome view I've had for the last couple of days.

It was time to dive back into removing the old exhaust system. It was actually original to the previous-previous motor when it was a 3-53 or something like that. Richard installed the 4-53 about 22 years ago and the system looked good and fit perfectly so he just bolted it right back up. Most of it was water jacketed monel (better than stainless) and was truly a work of art. It was also really heavy!!! It took up most of this crawlspace behind the pilot house, under the deck, between the rail and the cockpit. It was a monster that started way up by the motor and snaked it's way under the floor and up to the top of the crawlspace and back down to the hull then turned into a couple of rubber mufflers and went all the way back almost to the lazarette where it turned around and went halfway back again and exited the boat through a huge 4 inch pipe and gate valve assembly. There is no way we want to tackle the casting and thru-hull at this time so it is the only part that stays. It still looks good, we'll just hook up to it as it is.

Since the exact origin date of the old system was unknown and also because it recently developed a good sized hole (after all these years) it was time to change the whole thing out. Sure- it probably could have been patched, but where was the next hole going to show up? It had to go.

Unfortunately, because of this hole, this whole crawlspace was now black with soot. It's messy stuff. I've been scrubbing, scraping, prepping and painting it all like new again. I've also learned how to bend my body into new shapes to turn around and wiggle my way down this far. Once all the new pipes show up it's going to be really cramped in here! Best to get at this now. I am in an area of the boat not too many have been or will ever be in quite a while.

Hindsight- 100% accurate, 100% useless.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The New is IN!

We got the old Detroit motor out and the new motor in. Due to our intense prep the last couple of days the hoisting event went without a problem. Not a hiccup at all. Well, there was one little hitch...

The guy with the Hyab showed up early morning, picked up the new motor off our cart and set it in his truck for added ballast, then swung the boom over to the boat and hoisted the old motor out as I guided it out the hatch from below and Richard from above. We previously lined all the critical edges of the pilot house hatch with some thin plywood and used up almost a couple of rolls of tape. These edges had high potential for damage and thought the added insurance was worth the work. A ding in the varnish can be repaired but the wood does not grow back if a chunk is torn out. It turns out we didn't even come close.

Once the old one was out and set in the truck, the new one was hooked up, swung around and dropped right in, also without more than a brush by a rubber hose. The crane guy was impressed how prepared we were. He was in an out within the hour (more like 40 mins). Our goal was to not disturb the morning guests at the little cafe's on the marina walk the truck had to drive past to get to us. We have been stressing over this for days. It was over now, we were all giddy.

It went so fast that the ONLY thing that we didn't catch till the truck was gone - We didn't fly out the old trans and load it in his truck. It was pushed back in the corner of the pilothouse(way too heavy to lift) and we kinda forgot about it. No big deal, we went old school and used the main halyard and hoisted it out ourselves and lowered the new transmission the same way.

We spent the remainder of the day doing the shuffle of the new motor down into it's bunks, had some precarious moments but recovered nicely. Now the transmission is coupled to the engine and some trimming had to be done to the ways where it all mounts. Richard whipped out his chisel and hammer and started banging away just like I imagine Noah did (but I don't think Noah was doing an engine swap). I was amazed how nice the oak timbers looked after all this time and still smelled like fresh cut oak after 89 years when I picked up a curled shaving.

The other project on the agenda was to get off the seawall and back into our slip. We had not accomplished this due to the flighty winds gusting these last few days. A few big boats were due in and it was going to make things tough bue we were also kind of in the way where we were. When the water glassed out at 4:30 this afternoon all hands went into high gear. We had 3 guys moving around on the wall and docks, one extra guy aboard Astor, a guy in the marina push-boat, and I was in our tender. It was quite an operation of pushing, pulling, and a few tense moments when the breeze came back up but we got back to our spot and tied up all snug just fine. Not 10 minutes later a huge cruiser turned down our row and snuggled in right next to us. We were also treated to a very uncharacteristic thunder storm 20 minutes after that. I couldn't believe our awesome timing on that one. Thanks to the crew of the marina once again! The big cruiser kind of blocked our view, but that's Ok, we are a mess right now anyway.

Friday, July 20, 2012


Much has been accomplished since the last post, but it's amazing how fast the days are cranking by.

The motor finally was rousted from it's hiding spot but not without alot of help from a great local import and customs company called Redwood that was brought into the game to sort it all out.  From what we are guessing it was all just part of the common hissyfit between Spain and the Brits that has been going on for eons. But let's not get into that now.

We also moved the boat over to the seawall from the dock today in prep for the heavy lifting. The guy with the Hyab (crane truck) stopped by for a look and seems to think it won't be a problem. He is good to go, first thing Monday morning. I still have to paint the transmission.

The engine bunks got a second coat of mousy grey on them and are looking quite nice. I managed to stuff my brush up fairly high under various mounted hardware bits, floorboards and plumbing and seemed to get more of it on the timbers than myself, but it was a tough call.  The only thing I couldn't get was the very bottom due to a slight trickle of water coming from the back. Richard says we'll dive back there later and look around to see about sealing things up. He is not too worried about it.

We even got in a much needed run into the square for provisions. We had a list of hardware needed for the motor, I ran out of bilge paint, got a couple of loaves of frenchie bread, fresh fruit, but most of all I was almost out of the Coke-light for my rummers! Our little cart was quite loaded that day. More on the town reports later...

The biggest chatter on the dock today was from an early morning incident. Richard and I were prepping the tender for the big move when a guy came down the ramp and asked for a favor. It seems he was up on the seawall chatting on the phone and the strap on his backpack broke and it fell in the water. He needed our help in retrieving it but said it was still floating. We untied the inflatable and he hopped in with Richard and they started around the long dock to the other side. I walked towards the seawall to see if I could see it. Sure enough it was floating about half-pack. Staring at it closely I saw it was sinking and yelled at them to hurry it up, but there was no way for them to hear me. It was more of a mental message I guess. I walked to a section of the dock that has a finger between a couple of boats and out to sum things up. Yup. It's going down. Now there is only a quarter pack above water. I remember thinking, "one of us is going swimming" and turned around to find only me on the dock. After a quick pocket check for anything that couldn't get wet, I did a nice push off dive off the end any lifeguard would be happy about and met the pack as it was about 2 feet under the surface. That thing was heavy! I went back up and latched onto a mooring line with this thing as high as I could get it till the boat came around and handed it off.

I saved the pack but unfortunately not most of it's contents. Inside was this guys nice Canon digital SLR with zoom, Mac laptop, and iPod among other things. He at least was talking on his phone and it wasn't in there too. I'm pretty sure the electronic stuff was toast. He also had his wallet and passport in there too so I did not go swimming for nothing. It probably would have been a while before the divers came around and found it. We thought it was odd that the guy didn't even think about going in after the pack himself. Geez! I probably would have been over the edge so fast and hit the water before the pack!

Ironically- one of the items in my pocket during the swim was also my little Olympus. I knew it was there but was not concerned. Since it is waterproof, I can still take pictures. I briefly thought about taking a pic of him hosing his computer off (not something you see every day) but I thought this was hitting him while he was down and thought best to leave him in his moment.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Staged for flight

After two days of swearing at stuck bolts, random sessions of beating on same stuck bolts, severe cases of tool abuse, a few blocks, chains, and a couple of beams- we actually managed to shuffle the old Detroit from it's engine bed (where it has been for 22 years) all the way back to it's pre-flight position under the pilothouse hatch. Actually- it was more like a series of small lifts, slide backs, turn 90 degrees, big lift, shuffle back, turn back 90 degrees, shuffle sideways and set down. Exactly as planned!

And nobody was killed!

Tomorrow I dive into a world of scraping, cleaning and a painting the engine bay while we wait for the new engine to become un-missing, and also a weather window to do the flights of the old-out and new-in.

Yes- the weather actually got a bit feisty today. It is quite gusty and predicted to be this way for a couple of days. A good time for inside work.

Friday, July 13, 2012

What do you DO all day?

One of the most common questions cruisers hear is "What do you do all day?" This was one of those days that just disappeared.

We made some major progress this week but we were approaching a point where we needed some materials and hardware to continue. Our main concern was having everything we need to keep working. Today was Friday and the town pretty much closes up for the weekend (at least the shops we needed) so we took a day off from working on the boat to scrounge up what we needed so we can work through the weekend.

This also gave me a chance to check out more of the city. It was a walking tour. We walked all over the place. What we needed proved to be quite tough to find. To make it even more complicated, none of it was found at the same place. It turned into an egg hunt that took several hours. Our list was very simple. Some lumber, chain, a chainfall, and a bottle-jack. Some stores were dead-ends but usually led us to another. It was pretty crazy but we got our stuff we needed. We got some interesting stares as we wheeled our overloaded hand cart down the sidewalk.

Our path took us down main street. I didn't think about taking pictures(we were on a mission) until we ran into these guys. I thought is was pretty clever. It might be difficult to tell from my rapidly snapped picture but the guy on the sidewalk is holding up a stick of wood and the guy on the top is holding onto the top of it. There is no other means of support. Neat trick. They were a little boring tho. That's all they did. It takes more than this to get stray coins from me!

On our quest for parts we walked all the way around to the other side of the rock. This is the more dramatic side you always see in pictures. The city is built right up to the base if it. I guess this rock is riddled with miles of tunnels carved into it by the Brits and you can easily see the various gunports and other holes even from the streets.

There will be more on this later. For now we have our cart full of hardware and had to get back. It was hot!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Some views

I only have a quick moment to upload some pics and hit the bunk. Days are very busy right now and much is going on. I had a brief moment to walk around the marina and take a few more pics of my immediate surrounds.

This is the backside of the rock. Watching closely during the day I can see vans heading up a tight twisty road and there is also a cablecar going up this side. That zigzag in this pic I thought were the steps, but might only be a wall. I'll go find out when I get time.
Another view of our quiet little marina. The keen eye might be able to find Astor's sticks.
The housing styles are quite a mix of new and old. Ancient military installations are still everywhere and part of the daily commute.
These things are placed right out on the seawall. A daring move that our coastal commission would probably have never let happen. They are actually quite functional as a wind break and protect the boats quite a bit.
    The tiny little marina entrance and we are a quick right turn once in. I guess it was a tricky move for an 85 ft schooner. Outside are scores of tankers and freighters waiting to offload somewhere around here.
But the view I have been actually summoned here for. This old beast has been in it's bed for about 20 years and will be wiggled out here shortly. THIS should be interesting...  The new one has yet to be delivered(supposed to be last week) and nobody seems to know where it is at the moment. Near as we know it is between here and Germany. I may have to call on some friends that know how to cuss in German for us.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Learning to duck... again.

11 hours on the first flight, about an hour on the second, a couple of hours waiting around in airports, and a two hour car ride after landing gets one to places like this. Day two and I'm still getting into a rythm and balance of the project but I thought I'd get in a crack at an update.

Either jetlag hasn't caught up with me yet, or somehow I managed to dodge the major effects of it. Maybe I got enough sleep on the plane on the way out? My internal clock is just a bit off but it is sorta because things are done at odd times here. Lunch is typically at 3 pm and dinner is not until 9pm. It doesn't even get dark till around 10.

The boat is tucked into a quiet marina in a quiet little part of the city. We are right off a boardwalk that has a bit of foot traffic, but not as much as one would think. Looking from the boat we see the backside of the "rock" but from this side it is not all that spectacular. When I get a chance I'll go run around and get a better picture. We are also surrounded by several builds of condos that are reportedly "winter homes" and appear vacant. For such a nice place one would think there would be people everywhere but it's not that way at all. It's kinda spooky.

I'd say the weather was great but that wouldn't do it justice. It's just downright awesome. The morning starts off very still and right when you think it's going to be a scorcher the breeze kicks in and makes things just on the warm side of perfect. Today it got hot enough that the sun exposed deck is a bit too hot to walk on so it has me taking every other step looking for shade. Most of the last couple of days I manage to get by without even donning flip-flops but today I dug them out to venture off the boat a bit. Nights are very comfortable wearing only shorts and light shirt (it's currently after midnight). Every now and then appears a gentle wisp of a breeze!

We dove right into the big project of "find the motor" yesterday and started unloading the pilot house of all the storage items tucked into the abyss down in there. Today was more of the same but we actually got out some of the major bulkhead and engine covers that surround the old motor. We are actually getting some dancing room in the pilot house now. Richard says it is going way faster than he thought it would. The main issue is that they developed a major exhaust leak the last time they were out and pretty much everything down in the pit is covered with black soot and it goes all the way back to the laz. Just carrying the items right off the boat gets us covered in the black mess. It's pretty ugly. I've been stationed on the dock cleaning everything and piling it all back up on deck as it dries. We look like a huge floating garage sale and I really could have made some extra cash several times today. The deck is a maze of gear, lines, parts and bags but we still have room for the deck chairs under the sun tents. Wandering around I haven't bashed my head yet but have knocked my hat off a couple of times on some close calls.

The neat part of my job has been that I am in direct line with all the other tenants on the dock as they pass. The range of nationalities is quite amazing and I'm working on matching the greetings in a handful of languages. It's kinda fun!

As always there are a few characters here on the dock that more than likely will get a page dedicated as the days go by.

Gotta go for now...

Friday, June 29, 2012

Going places...

Hey! Look at this! A new post! This must mean the travel blog is being dusted off once again.

As some of you might have picked up from other sources- Yes, I am on countdown to collect a few more stamps in the passport. This trip looks like I am going about +9 time zones forward from normal and once effects of this time travel wears off I will post back here and there with views, antics and a few details of my surroundings.

Technically this is a working trip so there is a chance reports will be spotty. That's what I'm selling it as, but I doubt people believe I actually work at all (Paula doesn't). Once a balance is worked out between the tasks at hand and the required lounging about I will attempt to seek out a reliable wifi connection and check back in.

You are warned. TIA for tuning in and I hope you enjoy the notes.