As our time in South Africa draws to a close, we’re focused on preparing for the big miles ahead to cross the Atlantic. Although I felt like we spent a lot of last year preparing for passages, given the significant legs crossing the Indian Ocean, there’s a lot to inspect, and re-inspect. This is the time to catch up on anything that might have slipped on the “routine maintenance” schedule.
One of the first jobs was replacing the impeller Totem’s Yanmar (a decision typically guided by engine hours). And…good timing! Jamie found a wear point along the blades that prompted a further internal fix. Dodged one.
The engine had a few hoses that all decided it was about time to give up. Jamie saw signs of a bulge in the exhaust hose; when he removed it, the hose literally burst at that point. Yikes! The metal coil inside that gives it strength and rigidity had failed. It’s not the kind of failure that causes catastrophic damage, but Murphy’s law would probably have had it give up at the worst possible time. Glad we could deal with this one at the dock instead.
Jamie was able to get exactly the size hose he needed from the chandlery that’s inside the gates at the False Bay Yacht Club. They weren’t sure what to charge him for it, and just told him to take it and ask back later. He’s in there every few days for boat bits and checks on it. They haven’t come up with a cost but they’ve provided lots of referrals and advice in the meantime. There’s no hurry. Have I mentioned how much we love this place? Wonderful people!
Another routine inspection, along the steering system, showed that the quadrant hat slipped about half an inch. This caused it to rub on the structure that holds steering cable sheaves, causing friction and possibly wear. It’s also probably the source of a grating metal-on-metal sound we’d been hearing occasionally. Very glad to have THAT fixed! We have had to employ the emergency tiller once before and would prefer never to do that again, especially on a big passage.
Our galley faucet required attention. A costly, cheaply made household tap we bought in Malaysia in 2014 was corroding badly; the mix of metals made this inevitable. The problem is that we also no longer have a working foot pump, we only have a pressure water system. That means having the tap fail when we’re on a passage could be a huge inconvenience. We were able to find a solid stainless tap here, and it’s a better fit too. The lower profile that reaches out a little farther, so that it’s easier to run water with a port heel without water spilling outside the sinks. Because it’s made in South Africa, it was a terrific value as well. Score! Hopefully this one gives us years of service.
For some time, Jamie’s been bothered by the way the dual-filter Racor system was(n’t) working – that’s it pictured at the top of the post. It seemed like only one of the filters was really being used, but after taking it apart multiple times, the cause remained a mystery. Dismantling it further, he discovered the selector valve between the filters failed…an old plastic part just giving up. Because of the position it was stuck in, fuel was being drawn almost entirely through one filter instead of both. We can’t replace the part here, but Jamie’s rigged a temporary fix until we get back to the States.
Not all of our prep is about fixing or replacing things that have worn. Thanks to the affordable labor rates and very favorable currency exchange rates for us in South Africa, we can get a few things done on Totem that we haven’t otherwise been able to afford.
Most exciting for me is having cockpit cushions made. We haven’t had proper cushions on board for years: new cushions were just too expensive when the prior set died in 2011 (high labor rates and a really bad time for the US/AU exchange rate), so we just bought some pool foam strips to cushion our bums. It’s gotten us by, but they’re not that comfortable, they got hot, and they’ve been disintegrating. THESE? Awesome. Closed-cell foam, soft without being squishy, low profile. A local upholstery shop made the covers. Nothing fancy, not even remotely, but this makes the cockpit so much more pleasant…whether it’s sitting on watch or hanging out with friends.
Most exciting for Jamie was buying new lines. We planned to replace the main halyard; it was time. We thought we’d probably have to ask Ty to bring it to Namibia in his luggage, and expected to spend about $450 for the line we wanted. Here’s where South African rates were a huge win. After spending time choosing from the fantastic selection in a local rope maker’s factory shop, we were able to get not just the main halyard, but lines for our mainsheet, genoa sheets, to replace our 8-year-old Dyneema lifelines, and more… for about a quarter of what we’d expect to pay in the States.
Some of the other jobs knocked off in the last few weeks:
- Replaced a failed control box for the Adler-Barbour fridge compressor, which had been installed for less than a year. Bummer!
- Spliced a new painter for the dinghy.
- Removed jackline from mainsail, and webbed slides directly on instead.
- Cleaned mixing elbow and reinstalled with new gasket. Had diesel mechanic by to have a look for an expert opinion, and got a bill of good health for the Yanmar 4JH3/TE.
- Unpickled the watermaker, which had put it to bed after arrival in South Africa, given our extensive time in marinas and away from the boat. Replaced the 20 micron filter and got it up and running with product water at 120ppm. check!
- …and a host of other tasks, from clearing the propane locker drain to replacing various filters, o-rings, hose clamps, etc.
Provisioning has also been more extensive and organized than usual. South Africa has a good selection and good prices. Thanks goodness for that, because there’s more food on Totem than we’ve had in years. Every locker is full!
And on that note, I’m off to the shops for a final run.