The old Westerbeke on it’s way out
Mia and I went back to the boat again yesterday. It’s about a 30 minutes drive from the house in Dunderbo to the city of Västerås, where the boat is hauled out. The trip takes us across the nearly-flat landscape of the Swedish countryside, past old farms and water mills and nearby an old Viking gravesite. There, large mounds of grass-covered earth – the burial sites – rise up from the flats, surrounded by large gray stones written with red runes and designs. We pass it each time we go there – and these sites are all over Sweden – and it’s becoming almost an afterthought. Until I remember - Vikings! How cool is that!?
The Viking site outside Västerås
Arcturus is understandably a bit dirty after a long, dark and cold winter under the cover. Black, gritty dirt covers the deck, but surprisingly the interior is clean and mold-free. When we visited the boat in March I feared what was to come in the summer, for the entire interior from the cabin sole to the coachroof ceiling was covered in a thin film of ice – condensation that had frozen over during the winter months. But it’s gone, and left nothing behind.
We took the cover off on Tuesday, and spent the day yesterday prepping to remove the old Westerbeke engine. It’s difficult to hide my enthusiasm for removing old gear from the boat, particularly this engine which has caused us trouble since the day we first sailed the boat up to Annapolis from Oxford when we bought it. I do admit that it’s been a workhorse as well – getting us all the way across the Atlantic, up through Scotland and into the Baltic – but it’s been a very tempermental one, and has frayed my nerves at times. Now I get to have the last word.
I started by removing all the wiring. The new Beta will have a brand-new control panel, so out came the old one. I have to admit that I was not very careful doing this – the wire cutters and I became good friends yesterday – and I pity whoever ends up with this engine after us, for they’ve got a nice puzzle to put back together now with no instructions. Then came the hoses, some of which went under the knife when I couldn’t make myself into enough of a pretzel to reach the hose clamps holding them on. Most of the hose was new prior to our Atlantic crossing, so I’m saving some of it. Then I attacked the engine mounts, recalling to my dismay that my friend Micah and I had epoxied in custom aluminum bases for the portside feet because the engine was too wide for the engine beds (one of the reason’s we’re downsizing) I unbolted the feet for now, but chiseling out those aluminum pads from their 1/2″ bed of epoxy is not going to be any fun at all.
I half expected Mia to come back by then, so I sort of took a break, washed my hands, had a snack and thought, ‘eh, I’ll save the rest for Sunday.’ She didn’t come back though, so I dove back in. The last bits to remove were the hardest – unbolting the coupling and removing the shift cable from the transmission. I don’t have any good work shoes to wear over here (I’d given my old running shoes to Mia’s brother Erik), and the shoes I had on had a very slick sole. That, combined with the coolant that had spilled in the bilge when I undid all the hoses and removed the heat exchanger, created a veritable ice rink where I was trying to stand. In the end I’d prop my feet up against a couple of blocks glassed into the hull to attach the ‘walls’ of the cockpit lockers too, and pretzeled my legs as best I could to reach under the fuel tank and towards the back of the little red Westerbeke. I could only see what I was working on with one eye, but I could reach it with two hands. I think I only lost one or two washers and a couple of nuts into the bilge. I still have all the tools.
One unfortunate side-effect of barefoot shoes…
I did notice a distinct advantage in working on the motor thanks to all the marathon training of late – my legs were rather limber, and I was able to contort them into shapes heretofore unseen on Arcturus . After a while the Osgood-Schlatter bump on my left knee – a condition I’v had since I was 12, cause by the patellar tendon pulling on the growth plate on the front of my shin, bone growing in underneath it and forming an awfully awkward-looking, though not really painful, knee – became snagged on something and started to hurt, when I’d have to readjust myself. But for the most part I was pleasantly surprised by my flexibility, which is something I’ve been earnestly working on for a while now (I can even do a full-fledged downward-facing dog yoga pose now, heels flat on the ground, thanks I believe to all the running I’ve done in ‘barefoot’ shoes. The lack of a heel on these shoes – ‘zero drop’ they call them in the industry – stretches your calf muscles and Achilles tendon over time, almost imperceptibly and without any conscious effort. I never thought it would pay off in the bilge of my boat.
By the time Mia returned from her run, the engine was ready to come off it’s mounts. I had arranged with Tommy, the boatyard manager, to come help us take the old engine out of the boat and lift the new one up onto it (with no mast stepped, we’ll need a crane or a forklift or something), but the new one has yet to arrive from England and Tommy goes on vacation next Thursday. The clock is ticking Beta Marine, and you promised me it would be here by the 12th! Let’s get moving!
But we can at least get the old engine into the cabin. I’ll mount a solid beam or piece of metal across the companionway and we can remove the old engine with a tackle, sliding it into the cabin so we can start cleaning up the bilge and painting everything while we wait. That will have to wait until Sunday, as Mia’s Dad’s 60th birthday base is happening tomorrow in Dunderbo – with 80 people, plus the family expected to turn out – so today I’ve been put into servitude to get ready for that. After breakfast I’ll be in charge of cleaning potatoes, then it’s onto the toilets!
Oh and after all that work yesterday, I ran home. Mia dropped me off just outside the city once we got onto the back roads, and with my Camelback and my running shoes, I took off (though I’d forgotten my headphones!). 2:22 minutes and 16.2 miles later, I made it home. The marathon is next Friday in Vansbro, a trail run of 26.2 miles, and yesterday marked my last real long run. Time to taper.